Home » , , , , , » The Secrets of Parkerville Series - Book 4 - Future Tides by Nancy C. Wilson & Harriet Trevathan

The Secrets of Parkerville Series - Book 4 - Future Tides by Nancy C. Wilson & Harriet Trevathan

To quote a famous saying, Time and tide wait for no man, that may have been true at one time, but in the year 3066, this saying became passé. In that year, there seemed to be no safe place to live or bring up a family.
The Secrets of Parkerville Series - Book 4 - Future Tides
The Secrets of Parkerville Series - Book 4 - Future Tides by Nancy C. Wilson & Harriet Trevathan
The world stopped being humble a thousand years ago. Arrogance and violence were flourishing, and immorality was now the norm. The town of Bastion wasn’t very large; however, it was the final holdout against the unruly and corrupt in this part of the world. The only true drawback to Bastion was its proximity to New City, which seemed to be closing in. New City had become the main port of entry into the world of every immoral and depraved being known to mankind. The gates into Bastion were slowly but surely falling apart, as the innocent were becoming corrupt and leaving for the fascinating world of the city. Ethan Parker was the Pastor’s son. He was a genius, fluent in every type of computer programming ever conceived of. He was not challenged, nor was he tempted by any outside influences, which could make him or his friends leave their home. Bastion was also the home to the finest SoftTech University in the world, at least what was left of the intelligence of the world. All students outside of Bastion had to be tested, in order to be able to attend the university. Moral and civil issues were part of the curriculum, which lead a number of young people to this particular school. There were still people outside of Bastion who desperately wanted something better for their children. It was a situation where those who still wanted to have children the old fashioned way, wanted a better way of life for them. One Sunday morning, during Pastor Parker’s sermon, a life-changing event took place. Nathan Baker came bounding into the church wide-eyed and disheveled, disrupting the Pastor’s never-ending sermon on love, family, and morality. Samuel Baker and his wife were shocked to see their son behaving in this manner. They rushed up to him, his mother pushing back his hair, and giving him a good once over. He seemed different, even a little older. He’d only been gone a little over two months, but something had definitely changed. His face was tanned, almost sunburned. He pulled away from his parents and made his way toward his friend Ethan. “It’s there, Ethan!” Nathan gasped, nearly out of breath, “It’s there, just where you thought it would be.” ****** In the ancient archives of the past several era’s; Ethan Parker and his friends poured over facts and history books, searching to find something they knew somehow to be true. Finally, they found it. Back in the 1940’s, a man was working out in his field. His wife was walking toward him, bringing him his lunch. He stopped plowing and started towards her, when all of a sudden, he disappeared right in front of her. She screamed and ran forward, but never saw her husband again. No one ever knew what happened to that man. Was this just an example of an urban legend or had this farmer stepped into a time warp or another dimension? Ethan Parker volunteered to try and find out. He knew the approximate location of the field, but whether or not it was still there was in doubt. However, he was determined to find it with the help of his friends. Ethan Parker, Del MacKenna, Liam Fitzgerald, Walter Davis, Calvin Keaton, Nathan Baker and Tobias Kane were recruited to begin the search; however, after three months of hardship and no leads, they returned to Bastion. All save one, Nathan Baker, who stayed behind to search further. As Nathan walked up to the pulpit, Pastor Parker willingly stepped aside. “Ladies and Gentlemen, there is a way out. There is a way to recover what we’ve lost.” Nathan said these words with certainty. Nathan’s Discovery After three consecutive wars and the effects of global warming, most of the coastlines of all the continents were gone, as well as many of the world’s islands. The war was not only nuclear, but some of the bombs that fell were engineered to mutate living organisms. Mutant, enormous reptiles and other animals had overtaken the areas of the world closest to the equator. Most humans, who were affected, died off. The human system could not survive the mutations, but a few did . . . especially the women. Only a few women within each decade developed powers. A huge wall was built across the middle of the United States to protect the North from the South, and the large cities that had survived were also fortified. Traveling between these cities was nearly impossible. By the year 3000, the intellect of those who had only minor mutations was amplified, making them super humans. Many of these mutants had settled in Bastion. These individuals broke away from New City and settled in this small suburb to try and change things. There, they developed amazing inventions, as well as starting SoftTech University. One of the first inventions was a force field, surrounding Bastion, so they had little fear of outsiders infiltrating their town. Seven young men decided to make an expedition into the unknown. The site they were looking for was hundreds of miles away, in a devastated area of the country. This part of the country was off limits; no one really knew the condition of the land. At the start of the expedition, the men were anxious and excited about what they hoped to find, but as they approached the probable sight, they discovered a barren valley, devoid of trees, with only weeds breaking through the blackened soil, along with some strange looking rocks or stones scattered over the land. They stood transfixed, staring at the immense wasteland before them; no one was sure where to begin. Looking toward the east they detected what they thought could have been a very large riverbed at one time. Ethan started walking, trying to get the feel of the land. He walked back and forth, for over an hour, but could not get over the vastness of this undertaking. He set up his equipment and the men scattered to see what they could find. While walking around the area where Ethan had set up his equipment, Nathan bent down to pick up what he perceived to be a large rock. Upon further examination, he discovered it was quite lightweight with strange markings and levels of colors, appearing almost like limestone or granite. “Hey, guys,” Nathan hollered to the others, “let’s pile some of these rocks in a circle to make our campfire!” “Nathan, we don’t need a circle of rocks,” Ethan yelled back, “we have our own fire mats.” “I know, but the rocks will keep the fire intact, and once the rocks are hot, it should keep us a lot warmer. We can put one of our fire mats inside, what do you say?” “Sure, all right,” Ethan, yelled back at him. “I need some help, Liam, come over here and help me with these rocks.” Liam was just as surprised that they were so lightweight. Together he and Nathan began stacking the rocks in a large circle. “Nathan, these are strange looking. I’m not so sure they’re even rocks,” Liam said, placing the last one. “Well, they make a great looking campfire,” Nathan answered, as he placed a fire mat in the center. “Okay guys, you’ve played with the rocks long enough, let’s get back to business and spread out,” Ethan ordered. First they staked out the circumference of the land, which was about five square miles. Next they divided the land into seven parts. For two months these young men walked and took notes, as they navigated each and every mile of their designated land. They found nothing and were extremely disappointed. Finally, they decided to go home and regroup. Nathan, not wanting to give up, stayed behind. Ethan told Nathan to concentrate on the area one mile south of the center; he felt something was there. Early one morning, as Nathan was waking with the muted sun above, he threw his solar blanket off, and when his arm fell across the rock formation, half of it disappeared. This frightened him at first, but very slowly he got up on all fours, spread the rocks apart, and crept into the warp. Feeling a little lightheaded at first, he stopped. After a few moments, he continued to crawl forward, one small inch at a time. The dizziness began to subside after he was completely through the portal. He finally sat up and saw fires and total destruction all around him. He’d found it! He’d found the time warp and it was just where Ethan thought it would be. Slowly, he got back down on all fours and backed out of the circle of rocks. After a couple of weeks of extensive research, he realized the time warp was like an old 31-day clock. His uncle had been fascinated with ancient timepieces, and he showed Nathan how the pendulum on them worked. In very tiny increments he would wind the screw on the pendulum to get an exact second. He realized each second on the clock represented a minute in the time warp. He set the clock for an hour. He entered the warp, slowly, but stealthily, as he went back through time again. When his dizziness subsided, he was sitting toward the right of the rocks, staring at a huge old factory. He looked up at the musty, yellow sky. The sun was lower in the sky, but seemed a little brighter than what he was used too, though it had always been covered by dense pollution. People were coming out of the factory, as a loud whistle started blaring. Nathan crawled behind the stump of a large, dead oak tree and waited until everyone was gone. As he walked closer to the factory, he saw some trash imbedded in the fence surrounding it. He soon found an old newspaper and looked at the date. It was dated July 12, 3007. He realized the month and day didn’t apply, but he was sure now that his calculations were right . . . one hour was sixty years. Nathan knew he was taking a huge chance, but each morning when the time warp was fresh, he’d venture into it, going backwards and forwards until he could easily navigate the warp’s timeframe. Finally, he stepped through into a field, confident it was the year 1867. This campfire was the perfect compass he could use to mark the portal. He had to shade his eyes, as he’d never experienced the full strength of the sun. Although it was a cloudy day, the sunlight coming through the clouds made it hard for him to see. Taking off his shoes, he walked around the field, not wanting to leave. The fresh air, acre upon acre of beautiful grass and tree-covered mountains in the background was breathtaking. He saw flowers he’d never seen before. He heard the breeze rustle through the trees, and the sound of birds and insects. He ran and jumped, delighting in his glorious find. He then followed the sound of running water, which took him to the edge of a brook. Clean, clear water was washing over soft stones; as he stared in disbelief at the fish he could see in the water. The river was very wide in some places and narrowed to a race, journeying toward an old mill. “How can I leave this and go back to that hell?” he said out loud. He looked through the trees and saw a doe walking with her fawn, and was startled to see two squirrels jumping from branch to branch. He was a little frightened at first, as he’d never been so close to live animals before. Nathan thought he was in heaven, as he walked around this wonderful time on earth. He soon found a dirt road, covered with wagon wheel ruts and horseshoe impressions. He searched for something, anything, to take back with him; to prove he’d been there. And yes, he knew he had to go back. He had to share all of this with his family and friends. In the end, he found the perfect thing . . . a wagon wheel. It was an actual handmade, wooden, wagon wheel. Wood was a rare commodity in the year 3066. Disease, pollution, fire, and war had destroyed the great forests of the world, by the hands of mankind. This was proof, but could he bring it back to the future? ****** Nathan finished his speech, to a room of silence. His parents looked up at him, sincerely proud, but with some apprehension. The other six men sat stunned, but excited, wishing now they hadn’t left and could have enjoyed Nathan’s find with him. “So where is your proof, young man?” Pastor Parker asked. Nathan smiled, stepped down from the pulpit and walked down the aisle to the front door. He stepped out for a second and returned with the wagon wheel. Everyone’s eyes lit up and all rushed out of their seats to touch and smell the wood. This was real wood, not fabricated or made to look like wood. Pastor Parker took his place back behind the pulpit. He motioned for all seven young men to come forward and explain to the congregation why it was so important this time warp had been found. He already knew the reason, and his son shared all of his hopes and dreams. All seven walked up to the front of the church and stood on the platform. Ethan was the first to speak. “If it’s possible, we want to take 12 strong families back into the past to design and build a town separate from the rest of the world. This town and its people will grow and prosper for one hundred years. There will be four cornerstones of this town, with four chips in each of these cornerstones. When the time comes; when God, love, and morality have returned to this particular civilization, the town will be brought back into the future.” No one said a word at first. Then, the questions started, which families? Who will build the town? What happens to history? Will this town affect the history of the world?” Ethan waved his hand, trying to get the congregation to ask one question at a time. “This is too dangerous. This was not thought out. What about the children? What if you can’t find twelve families willing to go?” “Please, ladies and gentlemen,” Ethan demanded, “you’re asking too many questions at once. With all the technology we have today, there won’t be anything to be afraid of. We’ll take all of our knowledge with us. The houses in this town will not be made of this wood. They will be made to withstand over one hundred years. We will take our plant knowledge, our irrigation and farming techniques . . . all will go with us. It’s our only chance!” The congregation looked stunned at first, and then started back with their avalanche of questions. “Listen, dear people,” Pastor Parker interjected. “Listen to what my son is trying to say to you, even though the building materials will be of this century. The roads, fauna, water, food, and electricity will all come from the era in which we will be living. We will be using our technology to make our lives comfortable and we will also be taking our humix with us, to teach the children and build the town, plus the humix will have all knowledge of the histories of that timeframe.” One little girl stood up and asked a very simple question. “May I take my huggy pillow with me?” Ethan looked down at her sweet innocent face and smiled, “Well, I don’t see why not, as long as you keep it hidden under the covers, okay?” “Okay, then I’ll go!” she announced, as everyone smiled down at her. One lady stood up and asked another vital question. “Who will lead us? Who will be responsible for our safety and who will assure us that all of these wonderful things will take place?” “The rules and obligations of this town will be read before anyone signs on,” the Pastor answered. “There will be rules, but they will be for the benefit of our future when this town returns.” Looking out on the younger women of the town, Pastor Parker added delicately, “This is a very important subject to the marriageable women of this town. You will need to grow your hair back, ladies. The style of this century will most definitely not fit in with the styles of the century you will be encountering.” “And who says any of us want to go with you, Ethan Parker?” Minta Root yelled out. Ethan rolled his eyes at his friends and said under his breath, “I knew she’d be trouble.” Hairstyles of 3066 were very different and basically didn’t exist, as most women had their heads shaved. The style of this century was head painting. The beauty shops not only hired hair stylists, but also employed artists who decorated heads. The painting of a head was considered vogue. Minta was wearing painted yellow swirls and curls all over her head with a pink flower dabbed here and there. It was quite beautiful. The curls continued down and around her neck. Each week you could have the paint removed and have a new look . . . blue curls, faces, or purple flowers. One girl had a duplicate of her face painted on the back of her head. Painting was easier and much more fun than hair. Once married, most women grew out their hair, leaving behind this adolescent head style. The older women in the congregation wore their hair short. Pastor Parker took command of the pulpit once again. “You have seen me week after week standing here addressing the issues of what’s wrong with our world today. It’s all about family! Young women are choosing not to get married, not to have children, and are leaving us for a life of what they perceive as more exciting in New City. Once they roam outside of these gates, they’re lost. Most of them cannot get back. They are swallowed up by the degradation of the life in the city and we are trying to stop this. We are only trying to save them.” “If you have any doubts about this new, wonderful future we’re promising you,” Ethan pleaded with the crowd. “Please come to the stadium tonight and watch some ancient, historic films. I promise you, when you leave, you’ll all want to sign up.” Ethan looked directly at Minta. “Oh, we’ll be there!” Minta yelled, as she and the rest of her friends giggled and walked out of the church. “Ethan, what ancient historic films are you talking about?” Toby asked. “I don’t know; some old movie chips my mother watched, before she married my dad, and some dated nature and travel chips.” Ethan stepped off the platform and went to the first row, where his mother was getting ready to leave. “Mom, do you still have those old chips?” She smiled at him. “You little genius . . . yes I do. You know, it’s such a shame they don’t make chips like that anymore. They were fun, exciting, and romantic. She sighed and kissed him on the cheek, as the rest of the congregation filtered out of the church. Time to Decide Pastor Parker’s congregation was gathered in Bastion Hall at SoftTech’s great auditorium. Hundreds of voices could be heard in muffled tones. Most were curious, others were excited about this new way of life that some of them might be embarking. But, the rules had yet to be read. It was now six months after Nathan Baker’s exciting revelation. The time warp was very slowly taking shape into something that could be used as a transport into 1865. However, they discovered there was a problem, a very big problem. The time warp had limitations, as to when it was available and when it was not. When Nathan was working with the portal, he discovered there were times when the portal wouldn’t open. He documented this, but since he had only been there for three months, he couldn’t guarantee the portal would always be operational. The original seven men returned to the portal’s location. They were able to erect a shelter and a temporary telescoping portal. The portal seemed to open very early in the morning. That was when Nathan’s arm, first went through. Each young man took his turn going through the warp, experiencing the fresh air and feelings of vastness that overwhelmed him. They all hesitated in returning to their own time. This showed them there should be no problems in convincing the congregation into wanting to start up a new life there. Being variants of every kind of science, the men took samples of the minerals in the earth surrounding the warp. They also took water samples from the small creek near the portal. It was the purest water they had ever seen. Earth samples, water samples, plant samples were all tested and tested again. They were all satisfied with their findings and were about to return to Bastion, when the warp closed. They were sitting in the field, squinting up at the sky, through their thick sun guard glasses, when a storm cloud passed over them. A few drops of water fell from the sky. Rain . . . real rain, not artificial! “Hey, get a vial and catch some of it. This is great!” Nathan yelled. They gathered some rainwater, and just as they were about to return through the warp, it had completely disappeared. The circle of stones that had identified the portal was still there; however, as they tried to go through, they just kept stepping over the stones into the field. As the rain continued to come down, they ran for cover into the nearby forest. All night they tried going through the portal. But it was gone. It had closed and they had no way of knowing when or if it would open again. The next morning, very early, all seven came out of the forest and looked toward the circle of stones. It looked the same. Doubtful, Nathan walked toward it with the others following. He put his arm through the circle and it disappeared. They all heaved a sigh of relief and slowly went through, back into their own time. Now they knew it was either the time of day or the storm that had closed it. They didn’t understand why. Nathan could have sworn he was in the field at that very same time eight months earlier and it hadn’t closed. If this was the case, if the warp was sensitive to the time of day, or the weather, it was imperative they find out why. “Oh, this isn’t good. This could ruin everything. If it’s the weather that trips the warp to close, we’re in a lot of trouble. How can we predict the weather in 1867?” Toby grimaced. “I can,” Del said. I’m your weatherman, or in more precise terms, meteorologist. I guess you don’t know all of my numerous talents.” “Well, I’m astonished, the man’s a genius!” Toby laughed. One thing they all agreed upon, they would go into the portal in teams from now on, never all going at the same time. It was just too dangerous. After six months of checking and rechecking all of their figures, they came to one conclusion. As fantastic as it sounded it had to be true. The time warp opened early in the morning and closed just before sunset. And, it closed during inclement weather. This would mean that it would completely close during the winter months and open sometime the following year in the spring. Del assured them he and his buddies could definitely come up with weather reports in 1867 so there would be no surprises. “Liam scratched his head as he asked Del, “How’s that possible?” “Please,” Del responded, “the Babylonians were predicting weather in 650 BC from cloud patterns. And if you want to go back even further, there’s the Chinese . . .” “Okay, enough, we believe you. Your job will be to inform us when the warp will close or open, okay?” Liam concluded this particular conversation, as he knew Del could go on and on about the weather. It was his passion. They now knew the weather could be predicted. But they couldn’t stop winter from coming. Or, could they? Could they possibly fool the time warp? This was all speculation. This time warp could close and not open again for days, months, even years. There had to be more to it. ****** The meeting was about to begin in the auditorium with Ethan Parker, the first to stand and speak to the congregation. “We want to thank all of you for coming. This is a very positive attendance and although some of you may have just come out of curiosity, we know others are here to try to make a change for the better in their lives and the lives of their children.” At this point, Pastor Parker came up and took over for his son. “My dear friends and neighbors, the time has now come to make a serious commitment to a great and extraordinary journey. However, I must inform you that at the present time there are some drawbacks.” “Whoa, what drawbacks, what’s going on?” someone yelled from the gathering. The crowd was no longer quiet, murmuring could be heard throughout and all of it was angry and doubtful. Ethan, who was standing beside his father, now motioned for Del MacKenna to come forward and explain the meteorological problem with the time warp. One on one, Del was a veritable motor mouth; however, confronting hundreds was definitely not his forte’. He reluctantly came forward, wide-eyed and taking large gulps of air, as he started. “Um, I . . . err . . . we have taken great pains, or rather we’ve studied the situation inside and out. We’ve tested and retested, and we’ve come to the conclusion that at this time the portal is extremely unstable,” he concluded with a smile. “Unstable? What have you gotten us into Pastor? Why would you get our hopes up like that, and what are we going to do about it?” angry voices yelled. The Pastor once again came before the crowd, with his arms outstretched in a calming gesture. “Please, calm down. We didn’t bring you all here just to give you bad news. We want you to understand the possible problems and risks involved. The one thing we can tell you is, the warp is closed at present, but will open again next spring. These are the conclusions these young men have come to, and to insure their calculations, they’re going to take turns staying at the portal, testing it each day until next spring.” “This gives us all a chance to ready ourselves for this wonderful opportunity God has given us. We will be able to bring back a more powerful and stronger town than we have now. During this time we need to assemble the necessities that we will be able to take with us. However, I must make you understand that this will be a test of our fortitude and strength, for all of us. We will be building our homes using the resources of this century. We need to keep the trees and forests surrounding this wonderful valley to insure our privacy and seclusion. That is why we will not be cutting down trees, unless it’s necessary. Also, having our homes and buildings made from our modern day resources will be completely economical and we will never have to worry about replacing them or repairing. I must explain another important matter to you. We are immunized in this present time against any and all diseases, but that may not be the case in 1866. Your immunizations may not be effective in that era. We will give you lists of the diseases of that time. We can take medical equipment with us, but that may not keep you from coming down with certain illnesses. “Now, I’ve explained some extremely important issues for you all to think about. But I assure you the outcome of this journey will be more than worth it. Compared to the mentality of that century, we are more than capable of enduring what lies ahead.” “Are there any questions? Well then, in the next few months we will be preparing to journey back in time.” 1966-Vent Visits Parkerville The shops in Christmas Time seemed so out of place this time of year in Parkerville, 1966. However, a few made decorative changes conforming to the seasons, so they remained open for business throughout the summer. Carmella’s Sin was one of the restaurants open all year, as well as the small antique shop Skye had visited with Chad. This time of night, it was strange to see a dim light on in the back of the antique shop. The motion cameras in the trees outside all of the shops, could detect the smallest light of movement. Someone was sitting in the old winged back chair, spiraling a funnel of smoke streaming up to the ceiling from a pipe, and fingers were lightly tapping on the arm of the chair. The spinning wheel in the back of the store began to turn. Faster and faster it went, until a figure appeared in the seat. Elvira Moon got up from her chair and walked to the back of the store. “Mr. Vent, how long has it been?” she smiled a sultry smile, taking off her old familiar hat. “Miss Moon, I never get tired of that ride,” Theron Vent replied. Elvira removed her glasses, along with an old overcoat, presenting a very curvy and lovely woman to Vent. She walked up to him and caressed the back of his somewhat greasy head. Her sweltering green eyes and long auburn hair always caused a small stir in Vent. Elvira wasn’t exactly enamored of Theron Vent, no woman was. However, she knew she needed to keep in good standing with him, so she reluctantly acquiesced to his advances. “You know, I’ve always been glad you grew your hair back. Contrary to belief, I’ve never liked bald heads, no matter how they were painted.” “I’d do anything for you . . . you know that.” Elvira said. “I’m very glad to hear that,” he said, taking a long pin out of his coat pocket and inserting it in the back of her neck. The shocked expression on her face made him frown, as she dropped to the floor. “Too bad, I really liked you, you know. You just got careless with that Davis woman.” He turned back to the spinning wheel as it started to turn again. Now another figure appeared on the seat of the wheel. “Welcome home, Miss Moon,” he smiled and offered his hand, to a woman who was an exact replica of Elvira Moon. “My, my, what an excellent match,” he sneered. “Now, pick up that body and throw it in the trash outside the back door,” he ordered. The replacement did as she was told. “Well now, that should cause a little excitement,” he said smiling. A Call to Arms The call spread quickly to the most important residents of Parkerville. Life had been so calm and almost back to normal, after the danger of the marmadon. Dr. Mark Stevens took the body back to his lab and life got going again. Once again, love and romance was in the offing. Skye MacKenna was making plans to leave soon and venture into the future to find her parents. She was getting more and more excited to go through the warp and experience things she’d never dreamed of. Then late one night, a strange buzzer sounded in the Davis household waking everyone. Tommy and Sara Davis rushed down the stairs and into the hidden room. There on the desk was a small metal box . . . glowing red. Tommy picked up the receiver and listened carefully to the message. The message was short and to the point. It simply said, “He knows.” “We’ve got to get over to Memory Hall,” Tommy said to Sara. They went out of the room and up the stairs to get dressed. Standing at the top of the stairs their daughter, Laura, was waiting. “What is it?” Laura asked. “Something we’ve been dreading for a very long time. Go back to bed, Laura, your dad and I have something very important to do tonight.” “But, Aunt Sara isn’t there something we can do? I don’t know what the problem is and I’m not asking, but I think we both feel helpless,” Skye said, as she walked out of her room. “Both of you know if there is anything you could do, we’d ask. But for now, we have to join the others at Memory Hall and see what there is to do. So, just go back to bed and try to get some sleep. I don’t think we’ll be long.” Sara hurried off to her room and Tommy walked down the hallway, already dressed, and gave both girls a kiss on their foreheads. “It’ll be all right girls, I promise.” Tommy then yelled for Sara to hurry and then went back downstairs. A moment later, Sara came out of the bedroom, struggling to put on her jacket. “Go back to bed girls,” Sara said, as she hurried down the stairs to a waiting Tommy in the kitchen. “Yeah, right, I’ll just get back in bed and fall into a deep sleep,” Laura snickered. “Me, too, let’s go down and get something to eat,” Skye suggested. As Laura followed Skye down the stairs, something occurred to her. “Hey, do you think the message is still on the box?” “I have no idea, but we’ll both be in more trouble than we’d ever want to be in,” Skye answered. “Oh, come on, it’s just killing me not knowing.” Laura pressed her finger along the side of the panel and it popped open. “Laura, come on, we can’t do this,” Skye cautioned. But Laura was already inside, walking toward the box, which was still glowing red. Look at that?” she said as she approached it. “No,” Skye whispered. “Why are you whispering? No one else is here,” Laura laughed. She picked up the receiver and Skye rushed to put her ear next to Laura’s. They both heard the voice say, “He knows.” “ I’m not sure, but I think I know what that means,” Laura said. “So, what the heck does it mean?” “I need to think about it, but there’s one thing I have to do,” Laura said, leaving the room. “Alright, I’m listening. What do you have to do?” Skye walked out behind her and made sure the panel closed. “Come on, let’s get dressed. We have to go to that meeting.” Laura said going back upstairs. Both girls dressed quickly and rushed back downstairs. “Look, someone is bound to see us, and we’re not supposed to follow them. Oh heck, let’s just go,” Skye sighed and reached for her jacket. Laura laughed. “Oh, I know you so well.” Laura turned off the kitchen lights and both girls hurried out the back door. “Don’t forget to blink twice,” Skye reminded Laura. “Well, duh,” Laura grimaced at Skye. The girls saw a light in Marabelle Fludge’s bedroom window. “What is she doing up this time of night?” Laura hissed. “She’s creepy. I think she’s part zombie or vampire, but she doesn’t miss a thing,” Skye whispered. “Well, she better not follow us,” Laura whispered back. “Why? Where are you going?” Carol Jean’s voice made both girls jump. “Carol Jean! What the heck are you doing up?” Skye said, catching her breath. “Hey, I watch this house, too, when I can’t sleep. So, are you going to the big meeting?” she asked, falling in step with them. “Oh, I’m not even going to ask,” Laura said, sounding exasperated. As they passed the Kane house, they saw a silhouette of a tall young man, standing at the light post on the corner. Skye smiled at him as he fell in with them. “Todd, have you heard anything?” Laura asked. “No, just that dad was called to the meeting.” “Your dad? Wow, now that’s a little strange,” Laura said frowning. By the time they were at the top of the hill, more kids had joined them. They were about to start down the hill toward Memory Hall, when they heard footsteps approaching. In a loud whisper, two more voices said, “Hey, wait up!” Cassie and Chris joined them, and Joshua was right behind. Everyone started walking slowly and quietly, down the short hill. Just as they reached the entrance to the small road that led to the side entrance, there was a scuffle behind them. “Marabelle, you stepped on the back of my shoe. You’re walking way too close,” one of the kids, hissed. “I can’t help it if your shoes are too big for you. Oh, and as for you, Miss Skye, who knows it all, I am not a zombie and if I were a vampire, you would have been dead a long time ago.” “Oh, just shut up, Marabelle!” another kid whispered as loud as she could. As the kids drew closer to the doors of Memory Hall, Ralphy was standing outside listening. “Ralphy, have you heard anything yet?” Carol Jean asked her brother. “Yesh, he said sadly. The bad man knows about us . . . he’s been here.” “How do they know?” They all drew closer to the hall doors and listened. Even Marabelle was silent. “Yes, that’s right, they found Miss Moon’s body in the trash receptacle outside her store. There was an intake of breath from Skye. “Miss Moon’s dead?” Skye whispered. Chad came and put his arm around her, much to Todd’s chagrin. They all continued to listen to find out who did it. “He’d been there the night before and murdered her. At least that’s what the coroner is saying. He’s dangerous now, more than ever. He’s found us. No one knows how long he’s known about us. He has to be stopped.” Justin finished. Goodbye to the Past Nineteen people stood in front of the stone-time warp, early in the morning. Most were simply saying goodbye and good luck; to the people they loved. There was Justin, along with his wife, Marion, Sara and Tommy, and their daughter, Laura. Skye stood with Chad, and Cassie was with Joshua. Rose Baker stood with her sister, Bernadette. “Oh please Bernie, come with me. You’ll get to see Emily, father and Lila. It’s not too late. Please come with me. I’ve never been anywhere without you.” “I can’t Rosy, I just can’t leave mother. As horrible as she is, she is our mother and someone needs to look after her.” “She doesn’t love you Bernadette, she’s never loved anyone, and you know that.” Bernadette bowed her head as a tear escaped down her cheek. “How well I know that. But, there are other reasons I must stay.” “All right, I’ll give father a hug from you and kiss Emily for you.” Rose said. Chris, Geri, and Todd Kane stood off to the side. Carol Jean and Ralphy stood with Marabelle, Jim and Cookie Edwards stood close by. Jim was holding one of the keys that would open the large glass doors to the time warp. There was one other person who stayed in the shadows, hoping to go unnoticed. “It’s time,” Justin said. “We need the keys.” Tommy motioned for Jim to come forward, who held the keys to the glass doors, he then, put them into the locks, and the doors swished open. “Okay, step quickly through the doors,” Tommy said. Before Sara entered with the rest, Tommy took her by the shoulders and looked deeply into her eyes. “If anyone can stop that man; you, Laura, Skye, and Dottie can,” he whispered in her ear and kissed her. Sara nodded and then stepped into the time warp. Skye, Laura, and Rose were waiting inside as Sara quickly stepped through the doors, which closed immediately, while one other person stepped in at the last second. “Wait, there’s only supposed to be four going to the future,” Tommy said. The four turned quickly around to see a solemn faced Carol Jean standing behind Rose. “I had to come, I need to go with you,” Carol Jean said. “Why?” Skye asked. “This is not a game, Carol Jean, this is very serious and you don’t have a good reason to come with us,” Sara admonished. “Yes, I do. I need to find my real mother. The woman who has been saying she’s my mom all of these years, is not my mom,” Carol Jean said angrily. “What?” Sara asked, shocked. “Margaret is not your mother?” “No, she is not!” Carol Jean repeated. “Look, I couldn’t tell anyone up until this very second. No one knows, except my dad and Ralphy. My dad has been so unhappy all of these years with that woman. She promised to love his children like her own, but she never has. Ralphy has suffered the most. I’m going to find my real mother and bring her home,” Carol Jean said emphatically. Sara just stared at Carol Jean, not knowing what to say. Rose went to her and put her arms around her, and hugged her. “Of course, you have to come with us, sweetheart. Your reason is just as important as ours. We all need to find someone we loved and lost.” Sara went to the intercom and pressed the button. “Tommy, it’s okay, Carol Jean is coming with us. She wants to find her biological mother, so it’s all okay.” “Yesh, yesh,” Ralphy hollered. He was jumping up and down, very happy. Mr. Myers was standing on the small hill behind the crowd of people around the time warp. He was trying to be as discreet as possible; however, he wanted to see that his daughter got off okay. He was also happy he might see the love of his life again soon. “Good luck, honey, and good luck to Carol Jean. I’ll see you soon,” Tommy said, back to Sara. Rose looked at Sara and said, “Let’s get going.” Sara smiled at Carol Jean and nodded her head in approval. Laura and Skye hugged her and said they would all help to find her. “Okay, gang, this is it,” Sara said, standing in front of an elaborate panel to the right of the opposite glass doors. She took a deep breath, “I’m going to set the time and year to when Pastor Parker and Tommy agreed upon. We will arrive in the year 3069 and there will be someone waiting for us on the other side. “Okay, here goes,” Sara pushed the button that would send them all to the future. They all held hands and felt a tingling go through their bodies. Immediately the opposite door turned a smoky black and they could no longer see their friends and family. Anyone, standing close enough to the intercom and listening, could hear what Carol Jean said to Sara, that she wanted to find her real mother. Those people listening were dumbstruck. No one would have guessed that Margaret wasn’t her real mother. They all murmured among themselves. Marabelle looked stunned, and for the first time, she had nothing to say. She turned and walked away, both sad and angry. Now she understood why that Myers woman was never that nice to her friend. Cassie was also stunned. She couldn’t believe her ears and she sincerely hoped her friend would find her real mother. She took this to heart, since she was still looking for her own parents. ****** Todd was sitting on a garden bench near the stone arch. “I love that girl,” he said. “Which girl?” Chris asked coming to sit next to him. “Well, I grew up with Laura, so I will always love her, but I fell in love with Skye, the moment I first laid eyes on her.” “That’s not something I want to hear,” Chad said, coming over to them. “Can’t help it, Chad, I love her,” Todd said looking up at him. “Well, get over it,” Chad grimaced and walked away. ****** “Oh, dear, how will I ever explain to Mother where Rose has gone?” Bernadette asked. “That’s why I’m with you. We’ll be very careful how we word it, won’t we, Bernadette?” Marion asked. “Yes, yes of course we will thank you so much for accompanying me, Marion. I could always count on my dear sister, Rose. God bless her soul,” Bernadette said, wiping tears from her eyes. “Bernadette; Rose is not dead, she just went to visit your father and Lila.” Marion reminded her. The Past Meets the Future A large glass door glided open on the other side of the portal and the future stood in front of them. Two young men stood next to a large, gray transport, large enough to seat eight people comfortably. It was also slightly suspended off the ground. “Please, be our guests,” one of the men motioned, while the women hesitantly stepped into the vehicle. “Pastor is expecting you.” “Yes, I know,” Sara began. The young men listened to Sara, but could not take their eyes off of Skye, Laura and Carol Jean. “What is this thing?” Skye asked pointing to the transport before she got in. “Oh, I know, its kind of old, but we needed something large enough to carry all of us. The one young man apologized. “I’ve never seen anything like this before in my life. Where are the wheels?” Skye asked still mesmerized by the vehicle. “Why would we need wheels?” The young man queried, with a smile on his face. “Well, how on earth do you drive it?” Laura asked. “Drive it?” The second young man asked looking doubtful. “Girls, just get in. This is what is called a ‘hovercraft’ in this century. You don’t drive it, it’s all programmed; and you just tell it where you want to go.” Sara said matter of factly. “Gees, that is so cool.” Skye said giving it a good once over. “Can we take one back to 1966?” “No, I don’t think that’s a good idea.” Sara said. “Actually, I enjoy driving in our time.” Once everyone was settled in their seats, one of the young men gave the directive for Bastion and then settled back in his seat. Neither of the young men could help their fascination towards the younger women. “Wow, we’ve never seen girls like you before,” one of them said. “What are your names?” Skye asked, feeling extremely self-conscious. “Ben,” the first one said. “Weston,” the second said. “Are you both still in school?” Sara asked. “Oh, yes, ma’am, we go to Soft U,” Weston exclaimed, still staring at Skye. “Well, you are a pair of very good looking boys,” Rose blurted out. “Excuse me?” Ben asked. Sara laughed. “Well, it’s been a long time, but I think she means strike.” “Oh, well thanks a lot,” both said grinning. The hovercraft was at high speed at this point, looking out of the windows at the future became impossible. “How fast are we going?” Skye asked. “Oh, about 300 miles-per-hour. We’ll be there in no time. Cassie’s Story “You know, I already miss everyone, I mean, no one knows how long they’ll be there?” Joshua and Cassie were driving around the countryside in Joshua’s new car. He loved driving it and could not be more grateful to Cassie’s grandmothers for giving it to him for his birthday. “Cassie, they should be back soon, all they have to do is turn the time back. It could be tomorrow or next week. We really don’t know, but they’ll come back as soon as they can. From what I’ve heard, it’s a pretty scary place, so I doubt they’ll be hanging around too long.” “I’m so happy Carol Jean will finally find her real mother,” Cassie said. She had to live with that witch for such a long time.” “I’m glad, too, but we need to find your parents. With Sara and Skye, and the others in the future, this is the best time to contact your Mom and Dad.” “I know, but all I hear is that terrible static, I can barely make them out.” “Look, let’s head over to the Keatons and have a talk with them. I think it’s time for them to help you.” “You’re right, let’s go.” Cassie said. Joshua parked outside the Keatons and together they walked up the steps to the front door. They went in, but no one was in sight, so they started to walk towards the living room; when Geri came out of her bedroom upstairs and looked out over the banister. “Hi Cassie, Hi Joshua.” Geri called out. “Sorry, I’m just a little down with all that has happened.” “It’s okay, we understand; but it will all get straightened out soon, I just know it.” Cassie reassured her. Justin came out of his room and his eyes lit up when he saw them standing in the doorway to the living room downstairs. “Thank God, you’re here,” Justin said, with a big smile on his face. “Marion! Cassie and Joshua are here.” Cassie turned to Joshua wide-eyed, wondering what was going on. Chris heard his father’s voice, and walked out of the kitchen, eating a sandwich. “What’s going on, Dad?” “Chris, you need to see this too. We don’t have much time, so everyone come up.” Chris pushed past the twosome, while Cassie and Joshua followed him up the stairs towards the secret room. “Cassie, come here, hurry.” Marion yelled. As they walked up behind Marion, Cassie could see her mother’s face through Marion’s screen on her desk. She could see her mother talking to Marion and she was stunned. “Joshua, come here,” Marion waved at him, “this is Cassie’s mother.” Joshua didn’t know what to say, but just smiled at the older woman who resembled Cassie. “Oh, he’s very handsome, Cassie. I hope I can meet him in person one day.” Joshua smiled and backed away, so Cassie could talk to her mother. “Mom.” Cassie said in a whisper and closed her eyes for a second. Once she regained her faculties, she went to stand in front of the screen. “Where are you and why did you leave me?” “It wasn’t our doing, sweetheart. Your father and I were coming to pick you up at the pool, but two cars stopped us. They flashed a light in our eyes and we turned up in this horrible place.” “Helene, that means you’re both together. Where’s John, I need to speak with him.” Justin said urgently. “No, we were separated after the holidays, they figured out Cassie could find us on the radio, that’s when the transmittal stopped.” “Listen to me, Helene” Justin said firmly, “We’ll find out who took him, I promise.” Cassie turned to Marion and Justin. “So why did they tell me they were dead?” Cassie asked. “I even went to their memorial services, and I had to talk to a therapist.” “It was one big cover-up. We got a letter explaining about their death, but we finally found out it was a lie,” Marion explained. Justin broke in, “We had to wait until we had proof. We finally found a way to talk to your mother, close to Christmas. We’re so glad Cookie gave you that radio. Your mom asked me not to tell you anything about our conversations. “So who is Cookie?” Helene asked. Joshua smiled, “She’s my mother. “Mom? You knew Cookie, when you were a teenager; her real name is Edith. “Oh, yes, now I remember. Gosh, I haven’t seen all my friends in so long.” “Mom, she’s a wonderful person, and I was so happy to hear you and Dad through the radio, but there was so much static at times.” “We had the same problems on our side, sweetheart, but hearing your voice was so wonderful,” Helene coughed and apologized. “Mom, are you okay?” “I just have a little cough. It’s nothing to worry about.” “At least we’re talking now and I can see my beautiful daughter’s face,” Helene paused for a moment, trying to get control. “So, how long has Daddy been gone, and where are you, Mom?” “I don’t know. I’ve been in this room alone . . . for months.” “Mom, just to let you know, I don’t want you to worry about me, the Keaton’s and Joshua’s family are so wonderful to me.” There was a quiet moment. “Cassie, listen to me, you can’t trust all the people in Parkerville, I know for a fact there are a few bad ones.” “Yes, we know, but it’s been a great place to live and the Keatons have been wonderful to me.” “Yes, I know the Keatons are more than trustworthy, but, there are ruthless people in Parkerville, who keep their eyes on you, through cameras. Sweetheart, these bad people knew you would obtain powers someday; and they want to use you and three other girls. That’s why we kept you away from that place all these years. Don’t you know that?” “Yes, we know, but I have powers and the other three girls have similar powers just like me: Marion’s younger sister, Gina; Sara Davis’ niece, Skye; and Cookie’s niece, Ruth Ann. We all have the power to stop the town from going to the future. “I don’t think Pastor Parker understands that the town wouldn’t survive in his time.” Cassie said. “Oh honey, we tried to keep you safe, and right now, I pray you are.” “Mom, I live with the Keaton’s, and Justin is a Keeper. He’s a good man and he would never do anything to hurt me.” “The windows here have been blackened and I can’t see out. I do know I’m in a tall building, but there was a horrible storm. I don’t know if it was at night or day, but I could hear alarms going off. Now there are huge cracks in the glass and I also felt the building swaying. There was so much noise, screeching all around me, and then I must have passed out.” “Helene, that’s horrible! We have to do something Justin; we have to find her!” Marion said. “I’m sorry, Marion, I haven’t eaten in a couple of days, I didn’t mean to upset you. No one came with any food yesterday or today. I have water, but it’s not enough.” “Oh, I’m so sorry, Helene, you don’t deserve this. What type of information are they trying to get out of you?” Marion asked. “I don’t know, but I know they took blood out of both John and I. When we woke up our arms were sore and there were bandages around them.” “I see.” Justin said and walked out of the room. When he came back into the room he looked at the screen and asked Helene a pertinent question. “Helene, do you recall them doing any other tests on you and John? Did they take any skin grafts? Were your eyes out of focus for a while?” “Yes, to everything you just asked me.” Helene said a little wary. “I think I understand now.” Justin said. You and John are the parents of a very special girl, and they wanted to test both of you to see if you carry any of those genes.” Helene was quiet for a while. “Then they’ll be contacting other family members?” Helene asked Justin. “I don’t think so. I think they got what they wanted from you and John.” Justin said. “Now we just need to find the two of you.” “Mom, do you and Dad think you’re in the future?” Cassie asked? “Some of our friends just left for the future. Maybe they can find a way to talk to us.” “I believe we are in the future, too, since we were drugged. I remember someone mentioning no one will ever find us. I also remember them laughing at us, but I’m so worried about John. I just want a chance to see him one more time and know he’s okay. I can’t see anyone, but I hear certain voices at times.” “Don’t worry; we’ll do whatever we can to bring you and John home.” “Wait!” Cassie broke in, “Wait! I think I hear something, something in the distance.” “What do you hear,” Marion asked? “I don’t know, a chime or something; I’ll try harder to hear it tomorrow.” “Okay, we’ve got a start.” Marion said hopefully. “I can’t stand the waiting,” Cassie cried. “How much longer are Skye and her aunt going to be gone? Is there anyway to contact them?” “I don’t think we can and I don’t know how they can contact us,” Justin said. “Cassie, I’m just happy you’re okay,” Helene said calmly, “and Marion, thank you so much for taking her in. She’s all we have.” Then there was quiet and the screen went black. Cassie started to leave the room, then, she turned back. “I need to talk to Ruthann, right away.” “Well, I know she’s home, I can call her.” Joshua offered. “I can help with that.” Chris said. Chris left the room and went downstairs to the phone. Within the hour Ruthann was at the Keaton’s front door. Cassie hugged her as soon as she came in. “I need to talk to Story.” Cassie said taking Ruthann’s hand. “Well, all you have to do is ask.” With that said, Ruthann immediately turned into Story. “Give me both your hands.” Cassie said. When the two girls held hands, Cassie closed her eyes and concentrated on Skye. “Okay, I understand.” Story said. “Skye, you need to search for Helene and John Evans. You need to search the future for Cassie’s parents.” Marion and Justin stood and watched the two girls, amazed. The two girls bowed their heads and waited. “They are not here. Look to the past.” Skye’s voice came through to them. “The past?” Cassie asked. ****** Cassie couldn’t sleep and finally got out of bed and walked down the stairs. Everyone was sleeping and she was alone. What was that noise? She kept thinking over and over. “Oh, God, help me. Please give me my family back.” She walked into the living room trying to think. After a while, she fell asleep on the sofa and was dreaming about Mrs. Dickerson. She was swimming in the city pool, trying to catch up with her daughter, Donna. Donna, where are you? Cassie dreamt. “You don’t want to get lost . . . like me.” Cassie suddenly woke up. “What was that?” she said, waking up looking around. “Where am I, and why am I thinking about Donna Dickerson?” Cassie slowly walked up the stairs and fell into her bed. She slept soundly and woke up, when she saw shafts of sunlight radiant against the walls of her bedroom. She rubbed her eyes and tried to wake up. What was I dreaming, and who was I thinking about? “Oh, well, I’ll remember once I get downstairs for breakfast.” Welcome to Bastion The hovercraft, carrying its precious cargo, sailed across the land at great speed. The women seated inside sat in contoured seats that molded to everyone’s specific body type. They were one step beyond comfortable. “Aunt Sara, the windows are covered. I can’t see out,” Skye complained. “Well, the craft goes so fast, I would think it would hurt your eyes to look out.” “You know, nothing is going to be the same here. The terrain you will encounter will be vastly different from what you’re used to. We’re in a far different century,” Sara warned the other women. “Oh, I can’t wait to see my real mom,” Carol Jean said preening. She smoothed her hair and pressed her dress with her hands. “Do you think she’ll like me?” “Honey, I know she’ll love you, she’ll be so excited to see you after all these years,” Sara said patting her hand. “I’d still like to see outside,” Skye grimaced. “So would I,” Laura agreed. “Don’t worry you two, I think you’ll get your fill of it soon enough,” Sara said. “Right, we’re through the gates,” Weston remarked. “I’ll have to ask you to put your eye guards on, before you get out.” “Eye guards?” Skye asked. “Sun glasses,” Sara smiled. All of a sudden, the hovercraft stopped. It bounced a little and then the doors slid open. “Welcome to Bastion,” The young men said in unison, then laughed. The five women got out of the craft and looked around them. The atmosphere that greeted them was gray. No sun, no clouds, no trees, grass or flowers of any kind. They could feel a kind of breeze on their faces, but it seemed artificial. “What happened? Did someone kidnap mother nature?” Skye asked, looking around her. “I don’t know about the rest of you, but my eyes are tearing up. I can barely see, even with the sunglasses,” Rose said. “Yes, it’s a little difficult at first, but I’m sure our eyes will adjust to it,” Sara said. Hundreds of people had gathered, in what they assumed was the center of town. They eyed the alien women from another time, and watched their every move with skepticism. “Welcome,” said a distinguished young man, striding towards them with his hand out. “Hello,” Sara replied. “I’m Michael Parker, Ethan Parker’s younger brother, and I cannot tell you how happy I am to finally meet you all.” “Well, we’re happy to meet you too,” Sara said shaking his hand. “Look how they’re dressed, is that the way they dressed back then?” One woman asked. Laura and Skye looked at each other and checked each other out. “Is something wrong with the way we’re dressed?” Laura asked. “No sweetie, we’re all dressed just right for our time, don’t worry about it.” Sara smiled. “I can’t believe the way they’re dressed.” Laura said. The women of the future were dressed in plain A-line type dresses or pantsuits, some with short sleeves, some with long sleeves but all were devoid of color. Mostly grays and beiges, some were black and white, but no essential colors could be seen. Someone in the crowd said, “Wow, they’re just like the rest of us.” “Well, we’re not exactly from Mars,” Skye answered, a bit perturbed. “Look at their hair,” a young girl remarked. “Yep, and it’s real,” Skye said tugging on it, while the crowd gasped. “What’s wrong with you people? Haven’t you ever seen human beings before?” Carol Jean asked. “Well now, girls, let’s give everyone a chance to meet you later on in the church,” Michael said, while gathering the women together and heading them toward a tall gray building. “Actually, we’re the first they’ve seen from the past. Now they know about the first people who traveled to the past, lived there, and were perfectly happy and healthy,” Sara whispered to the girls. The women could not stop looking around the town as they walked to the church. They each recognized this town from a far different perspective. “Holy smokes, I could walk this town blindfolded,” Laura said amazed. “Yes, Parkerville is laid out exactly the same way,” Sara realized. “Gosh, I wonder who lives in our house,” Skye asked. “It really doesn’t matter. Look around, everything here is so stark and plain,” Laura said. “I mean; there’s no color, no sun, and no blue skies. If I had to live here, I would hate it.” “So, now you know why I didn’t want to leave your time,” Dr. Mark Stevens said, walking up to Laura. “Mark, I’m so glad to see you, a friendly face among the natives,” Laura said, taking his hand. “Dr. Stevens, I want to see my mom . . . my real mom,” Carol Jean said, grabbing his arm in excitement. “Well, what makes you think I know her?” Mark asked puzzled. “My dad told me she works in a laboratory. Her name is Jane Adams Myers,” Carol Jean said. “Janie Myers is your mom?” Mark asked, surprised. “Yes, yes she’s my mom,” Carol Jean said her eyes lighting up. “Well, maybe tomorrow, would that be okay?” Mark asked. “No, I want to go to her now . . . right now,” Carol Jean demanded, her eyes narrowing at Mark. “Carol Jean, I think it might be better for your mom, if she knew you were coming, and could prepare herself for you. Don’t you think? I mean, it’s going to be a shock to her,” Sara advised her. “No, I’ve waited long enough. I’ve waited too long and we’ve had to put up with a woman who cares nothing for us. I want to see my mom now,” Carol Jean said, tears rolling down her cheeks. All of a sudden, the crowd parted, as if letting someone through. A voice continued to say, “Excuse me, pardon me, excuse me!” At which point, a small woman approached Carol Jean. She walked up at her, and in a very soft voice said, “Then turn around my girl.” Carol Jean slowly turned around and looked straight ahead. Then she looked down at a very pretty, blond haired woman, who was only about 4’ 9”. “Mom?” Carol Jean said, her eyes watering with tears. “Yes, sweetheart, I’m your mother.” “Oh and aren’t you pretty, I’m so proud of you for coming to find me.” Janie said. “Oh, Mommy,” Carol Jean fell to her knees and hugged the woman. The two women were sobbing now, holding each other. The other four women were wiping their own tears away and trying to compose themselves. There was a lot of talking and murmuring as the crowd of people watched a very emotional scene. One woman, standing at the front of the crowd asked, “You mean she’s got a child?” Sniffling and wiping her eyes, with a tissue someone had given her, Carol Jean replied with vehemence. “Yes, she’s got two children, Ralphy and me. Got anything to say about it?” “Well, no, I was just wondering,” The woman said, backing into the crowd. “How about that, Janie’s got a kid!” a man said and he began to clap his hands. Janie blushed a bit, but no one had ever seen her so happy. Others started clapping and came closer to the mother and child. Sara, Laura, Skye, and Rose went to stand around Carol Jean and her mom. “It’s wonderful to meet you, Mrs. Myers,” Skye said. “Mom, this is one of my best friend’s, Skye MacKenna, and these ladies have been my friends for, well, for always.” They all went over to Janie and shook her hand. Skye hugged her and said, “Now, I just need to find my mom.” “You’ve lost your mom, too?” Janie asked. “She was kidnapped,” Skye replied. “Don’t worry. If she’s here, we’ll find her,” Janie said. “That’s right, we’ll find her,” a man said, walking up to Sara and putting his arms around her. “Oh, Dad, I can’t believe it’s you,” Sara said, relieved to see him. “ Honey, I’ve been waiting so long and searching even longer to find Dottie.” “You mean this is my grandfather?” Laura said, startled. “Yes, girl, I’m your grandpa. So how do you like that?” he smiled and grabbed Laura in a hug. “I absolutely love it!” Laura said, hugging him back. “Wait a minute, that means you’re my grandpa, too?” Skye said, walking up to him. “Little Skye song. I sure am, and we’re going to find your mom just as soon as possible,” he said, hugging her. “Hey everybody, these are two of my grandchildren and this is my first time to meet them. I am surely blessed,” he smiled. Everyone in the crowd started murmuring, smiling, and getting closer to the newly formed families. Michael Parker was a little uneasy, that the families were meeting out in the open like this. “Look, can we all go into the church and get to know one another better and maybe introduce ourselves to everyone. It’s not really that safe out here with all of these people around, you know what I mean,” Michael warned. “He’s right,” Janie said, taking Carol Jean’s hand and walking her over to the church doors. Cassie’s Grandmothers Marion was making scrambled eggs, when Cassie walked into the kitchen and sat down. “Can I help you, Mrs. Keaton?” “Yes, would you get the orange juice out of the fridge?” “Okay.” Cassie went to the refrigerator and got the orange juice and plopped it on the kitchen table. Then she sat down deep in thought. “Um,” Marion said, sitting down and facing Cassie. “So, what’s on your mind, honey?” “Oh, just thinking and trying to remember what that sound was I heard.” “Well, eat something and you may remember what it was. It might finally pop up in your mind.” “Okay, but it’s not really that important. It will come to me, once I’m not thinking about it.” The rest of the household came into the kitchen to eat breakfast, and they talked about what had happened the night before. Marion kept checking the screen, but no one was showing up. Cassie was sitting on the porch, ready to go for a ride to Marshall City. She decided she needed to get away from Parkerville and visit her grandmas. They always made her happy. Joshua showed up and Cassie jumped into his car. “Gosh, I really need to get away for a while, Joshua. I think I’m going crazy. My dreams are upsetting and I need a nice quiet weekend.” “Darlin’, we both need to get out of Parkerville for a day. I know your tryin’ to find out what’s going on, but we need to have some fun for at least one day.” “Let me tell Mrs. Keaton we’re going for a ride, be right back.” Cassie came back out with a sweater slung over her shoulder. “Thanks, Joshua, you’re right; let’s get out of here!” ****** Joshua was driving down the street, where Cassie’s grandmothers lived. Both Sadie and Sandra were already waiting on the porch, as they watched Joshua pulling into the driveway. “Hey you two, we knew you were coming to visit us today,” Sadie yelled. “Well,” Sandra stood up and walked toward the car. “I’m so glad you two came to see us, but I have a feeling something has gone wrong. Now, tell me what’s bothering you, Cassie.” “No, Grandma, there isn’t anything wrong. We just wanted to visit you.” Sandra took Cassie’s hand and led her into the house, while Sadie took Joshua’s hand, with a big smile. They sat down on the sofa and Sandra told them she had a nightmare. “What did you dream?” Cassie asked, a little worried. “Now, dear, I always know when something isn’t right.” Sadie started, my teapot had a very strange whistle this morning.” “Yes, Mother, it did seem a little off, but Cassie, something dreadful is happening here.” “I know, I had a horrible nightmare a few weeks ago and I couldn’t find my lamp next to my bed. So I tried to find the light switch near my door, but I hit an invisible wall.” Cassie confessed. “Good heavens! Were you asleep, dear?” Sadie asked. “I don’t know,” Cassie looked at Joshua. “I didn’t tell anyone, especially you, since I didn’t want you to worry about it.” “I won’t worry about it if you let me know what’s going on.” Joshua said. “You know there are strange things happening in Parkerville.” “Joshua, ever since your birthday when those big weird creatures showed up, I knew you had enough to worry about.” Cassie said. “So, that’s what I saw in my nightmare,” Sandra said, “but there was something else. A very horrible man came into your room. He told me his name was Vent and he was coming to take you with him.” “Yes, Grandma, someone was in my bedroom. I didn’t know what to do and I wanted to tell you the next day, but I thought it was just a bad dream.” “Cassie, there are good things and bad things happening in Parkerville, and sometimes, there are terrible things that come out of our dreams,” Sandra said. “I’m really not certain what happened, Grandma, I didn’t know what was real or not, but I didn’t see him . . . I just heard him.” Sandra was frazzled, listening to Cassie’s nightmare. “Sweetheart, we have to try and find out what’s going on. Would you be more comfortable in our spare bedroom, dear? Of course, Joshua can sleep on the couch.” “Oh, wonderful!” Sadie yelled. “We haven’t had a young, handsome man in our house in years.” “No, Mother, they’re on a quest. They have to find the answers for all of our families and friends to be safe.” “Yes, a quest!” Sadie said grasping the situation. “Oh, I do need a handsome knight to keep me safe, don’t you think?” “Yes, Mother, I’m sure that would make you happy.” Sadie smiled and sat down in her rocking chair. “Come on; let’s sit on the porch, Mother is finally going to have a nap.” The threesome quietly left the living room. “So, tell me the real reason you are here, Cassie.” “I spoke to my mother, through Marion’s screen.” “Oh my, what wonderful news, is she okay?” “No, she isn’t. She’s in a dark room alone and she’s miserable,” Cassie said. “Mrs. Emerson,” Joshua started, “I saw her mother, too. We really need to find her.” “Sweetheart, your family; just call me Sandra or Grandma, or whatever you like. I know you love my granddaughter, so you don’t have to be so formal with me, okay? Now, finish your story.” “Well, Cassie and I were both watching the screen with Mr. and Mrs. Keaton, and it seemed they may be in the future. It’s kind of weird, since Skye and Sara left for the future yesterday.” “Why in heaven’s name, would anyone go to the future,” Sandra said. “Now, I’m worried for them, I hope they can get back.” “No, Grandma, it was planned to find Skye’s parents and Carol Jean’s real mother.” “I don’t know the whole story of why Carol Jean’s mom stayed in the future, I suppose I’ll find out someday. I just can’t believe two sets of parents were kidnapped.” “Well, I believe now that things are going to start to right themselves and the puzzle pieces will all fit together soon. So, does that mean you’re going to the future too?” “Um, no, we’ll have to search somewhere else.” “There are many paths within the future and the past, but you have to be positive to go down the right one.” Sandra explained. “How will we know what path to use?” Cassie asked. “When you were talking to your mother, did she give you a clue, or did you hear something?” “Yes! I heard something, but it was so faint.” “Concentrate, Cassie, I know you can hear it again, in your mind. Just forget everything around you, and just close your eyes and listen,” Joshua’s words were soft and loving. “Okay, I’ll try,” she said, as she closed her eyes and no one made a noise. “Hey,” Sadie yelled out the window. “Did someone ring a bell, a school bell; or was I dreaming?” “Yes!” Cassie ran into the house and hugged her great-grand mother. “Yes, I think I know, now!” “What did you remember, Cassie?” Sandra asked. “It was a school bell! Joshua, we have to leave. We have to go back to my hometown.” “How did you know about the bells, Cassie?” Joshua asked. “The school bell in Parkerville is more like a buzzing noise. My old school had a chiming sound. There’s a difference, that’s all.” “That’s great!” Sandra said. “What was the name of the city where you lived?” “Oh, let me think,” Cassie concentrated. “How could you forget the name of the city you lived in,” Joshua asked. “Gosh, I just have to think about it. We moved so many times; we only lived there for a few months.” “Darlin’ we need to start with Marshall City and go backwards from where you lived. Maybe you’ll remember the city before that?” “I do remember some of the names that were called out on the train. A voice said Bridgeport, Marshall City, and Avondale. “Well, darlin’ that’s great, but just forget the name of the city. We can drive through Marshall City and find the train station.” “Henderson City! That’s the name. How could I forget that?” Cassie smiled. “Now, sweetie, go get some clothes and start on your adventure. Just make sure you call us, if you need help,” Sandra asked. “Grandma, don’t worry. I’ll take good care of Cassie, since I’ll be there holding her hand.” “I do have to tell the Keaton’s we’re starting on our trip to find some clues. Can I use your phone?” Cassie asked. “Of course, you can use my phone, my house, and everything I have, but just be safe. I can’t lose you and Joshua, so get back as soon as you can.” A Visit to New City Skye and Sara walked through the gates of New City and Skye’s first impression was unbelievable colors. “Gees Aunt Sara, it looks like a clown threw up.” Skye said sounding nauseous. All the buildings big or small were painted many different colors. There were no numbers or addresses just blocks of colors. The largest building was painted a brilliant blue. Sara tried to remember the color scheme for what was what. “Yes, it is kind of sickening, but you have to remember that these people who live here haven’t had a decent education. Most of them don’t understand numbers or street names really.” Sara whispered trying not to offend anyone. “And that’s the way Vent wants to keep it.” “Okay, it’s been a long time, but let me try to explain which building is what. Now, the big blue building is Theron Vent’s, that where we’ll be heading. The pink buildings are all restaurants or bars or eateries. The yellow buildings are for parties and they are always having parties in New City. The two toned buildings are for apartments. Like that green and yellow building over there, that’s an apartment building. Actually all of those buildings to the left of us are apartment buildings; the ones on stilts are very expensive. They have wind downs in their apartments. You don’t go out a door, you just stand on a glass circle and it winds you down to the ground and you come out there where the walk way is.” Just then someone came out of a blue and green wind-down. At first he wasn’t recognizable, but Sara told Skye to quickly head for the nearby red building. “It’s Danny, I’d know that sneer anywhere. We can’t let him see us,” Sara said narrowing her eyes. “Quick, into that building!” Sara took Skye’s hand and hurried into the building. “Welcome, welcome.” An enthusiastic voice said as the two women entered the building. A ball-headed woman, with elaborate paintings all over her head and down her back, came up to them. She had three long thick black eyelashes on each eye, bright purple eye shadow, and red brick lipstick. Tiny monkeys hung from her ear lobes and they were moving. It was a little disconcerting, but Sara ignored it all as if it were natural. The rest of the shop had pictures on the walls of every kind of baldhead with flowers that seemed to be growing out of their scalps. There were also extremely lovely paintings of the renaissance era that could also be converted to the back of the head. “Oh my gosh, are you the artist? I mean can you paint things like that on the backs of peoples heads?” Skye asked. “Oh yes my dear, I am the art-teist of all that you see.” Den-ise said proudly. “And now I see you’ve finally decided to go strike with a new look!” she said. Just at that point the curtains at the back of the shop opened dramatically and a very large woman appeared and narrowed her eyes at Den-ise. “I am also an art-teist of this shop. I am Alondra…she said with great emphasis, and most of the paintings you see here, are mine.” She also had monkeys attached to her earlobes; however, these monkeys were a bit larger and appeared to be biting her. “Stop it, stop it.” She hissed and gave a whack to the little ones attached to her ears. “I can say with great modesty, that between the two of us, we can make you so strike before you leave this shop, that no one will recognize you.” She said. “So, what do you say, can we offer you both a seat?” They both started walking towards Skye and Sara. “No, we just wondered in and we’re still thinking about it,” Sara said graciously. “Oh, my dear, I understand with crops like yours, I would hesitate, too. But my dears, everyone wants to be strike these days and you two would be strike beyond belief. I have the perfect ideas for both of you. Oh, and always ask for me, Den-ise, when you come back, and I just know you will!” “I would prefer you ask for me…Alondra, when you come back, and I just know you will.” Skye and Sara started backing out of the salon as Den-ise followed them. “Yes, we certainly will, Den-ise. We’ll come to you first,” Sara promised. “Or if you’re not here, we will definitely ask for you Alondra.” As they exited the shop, Skye was mystified by it all. “What exactly is strike,” Aunt Sara? “Like I said before in the hovercraft; strike is a compliment. It means pretty, beautiful, handsome, glamorous, and chic. All of those! If someone says that to you, it’s a compliment. Oh, and the red buildings are scalp salons, and believe me, with hair like ours, they’d love to scalp us,” Sara laughed. “Aunt Sara, were those real monkeys on Den-ise and Alondra’s ears?” Skye asked. “Yes, I’m afraid they were; you’ll find a lot of strange things in scalp salons.” Sara laughed. “Don’t you mean beauty salons?” Skye asked. “Well, they think it’s beauty, but I never did,” Sara chuckled. Trig “Aunt Sara, that building over there where Danny came from, Mom must be in there. We’ve got to go and get her out of there.” “Okay, I think he’s gone. He looked really angry so, maybe he won’t come back for a while. Let’s go.” Sara took Skye’s hand and rushed over to the building. They both stood on the windup and pressed a button to go up. Skye was so nervous and excited; she could barely stay on the glass circle. “I know, sweetie, I’m excited, too.” Sara hugged her. As soon as the floor opened up, something went whirling by their heads. They both ducked. “So, you’re back, you little rat!” came a scream from a woman. “Mom?” Skye asked, looking shocked. “MOM?” the woman shouted. “Uh, sorry,” Sara apologized, “We were mistaken. We thought you were this child’s mother.” The woman stood with her hands on her hips, glaring at Sara and Skye. She was dressed in a sort of kimono and had very long dark brown hair. “Who the hell are you?” The woman asked, walking towards them. “We’re here in the city to look for this young lady’s mother and we saw Danny Elliott coming out of this apartment, and thought . . .” “Oh, wait a minute, that jerk lives with a woman called Drina. She can’t stand him, and yet, he puts up with her. He comes to me, for well . . .” “Oh, never mind, we understand.” Sara stopped her. “Well good, he owes me and I’m not giving it away free. Know what I mean?” she said. “What’s your name?” Skye asked. “Trig,” she said haughtily. “So what’s your name, kid?” “Skye,” she answered meekly “Well, you’re a strike kid and I mean really strike. I love those wigs you two have on. Where’d you get them?” “Um, they’re real . . . not wigs,” Sara said, patting her head. “No kidding? I’ve never seen real hair before,” Trig said, as she removed her wig. “Ah . . . that feels better. How can you stand to wear it all the time?” Trig asked. “Well, it’s something you just get used to, Trig. Can you tell me where Danny lives with this Drina woman?” Sara asked. “Yeah, sure, he lives over on pink and purple, in a yellow and blue wind-down. Hey, and if he doesn’t come up with some way to pay for it, he’ll be out of there, too.” “I like you, two. Would you like something to eat or drink?” I got some flows if you like that sort of drink?” Trig asked. “No, but thank you, Trig, I’m really glad we got to meet you, and you’re really strike!” Skye said. “No problem. Hey, come up again sometime, and I’m sorry for throwing that cup at you.” “We both totally understand,” Sara said with a smile. “Yeah, he is a jerk isn’t he?” Trig said. “He certainly is,” Skye agreed. They rode the wind-down and Sara noticed the city was starting to wake up. There were quite a few people now milling around the streets. “I think we’d better come back . . . maybe tomorrow.” Sara said and started walking toward the front gates. “No, I want to find my Mom now, today! Don’t you understand, we’re so close.”? Skye stood where she was and would not budge. “Honey, Danny was probably heading for Vent’s office. We do not want him to know we’re here. We’ve got to get back to Bastion, before things here get rough,” Sara said. “Let’s make it, girl,” a guy walked up to Skye and grabbed her hand, taking off with her. Skye screamed and the guy hit her across the face, and continued to drag her along with him. “Get away from me, pervert!” Skye yelled. The guy screamed in agony then looked up at the girl and said, “You’ve got it wrong babe, my name is Rayne.” Then his arm started to swell up and turn purple. Everyone stopped where they were and watched the young man in agony. He dropped to the ground, writhing in pain and just stared at the two women standing over him. “Don’t ever touch me again!” Skye screamed. “No one had better touch me.” She said narrowing her eyes at the crowd. The crowd moved on, ignoring the guy on the ground. Some even stepping over him. “Come on,” Sara said, and both women walked away, leaving the young man in shock. Trig was watching from her upstairs window. “I wouldn’t want to mess with either one of those women,” she laughed. The Quest Joshua opened the door to his car and Cassie slid into the passenger seat. “We’ll have to get some clothes, Joshua. We could go to that Mostellers store in Marshall City, when we almost saw that movie with Skye. It could be a while, before we find out anything.” “Well, that’s okay with me. My mom has been trying to get me to buy some new clothes for a long time. We have a charge account at that store.” Despite the reason for their current quest, they each had a good time picking out new clothes. Cassie was amazed at the good taste Joshua had. Of course, Cassie had to buy another suitcase to hold all of her new clothes. “Okay, now we should go find Bridgeport,” Joshua said, loading up the trunk of the car with all their new things. ****** They finally stopped at Bridgeport and found a nice restaurant. It was a long drive and they were tired and hungry. The waitress came by and Cassie asked some questions about Henderson City. “Well, honey, I heard that city isn’t the town it was years ago, I haven’t been there recently.” The waitress winked at Joshua and put her hand on his shoulder. Joshua paid for their meal and they were off again to Henderson City. “It wasn’t that long ago that I lived in Henderson City, how much could it have changed?” She asked. “Cities change a lot just within a few months. I wouldn’t worry about it.” Joshua assured her. They went to the train station to look up the next city on their line. “Mister, is the next city on your line, Henderson City?” Joshua asked. “Yes, sir.” “So, can you tell me how many miles we have to go?” “Well, it’s close to about a hundred miles.” “Okay, thanks.” Cassie walked up to Joshua and said they better get on the highway, since it’s going to be a long drive. “Well, darlin’ where should we stop for the night. Do you remember any nice places around here we could spend the night?” Cassie had to blush. “Well . . . we just need a place to sleep. Let’s try that hotel over there.” Joshua had a big smile on his face, but she knew she could trust him. They entered the hotel and Joshua paid for the room. They unlocked the door to the room and there was a nice full bed and a couch. “Okay, Joshua, the couch is all yours.” “That couch? I’m over six feet!” “That’s not my problem.” “Well, sweetheart, I saw a movie where a couple put a rolled-up blanket in the middle of the bed. It sure would be nice to hold your hand, a little while.” Cassie had to laugh, but she said she trusted him. “It’s not going to happen buddy, it’s the couch or the floor. Remember now, I’m one of the girls who can stop the future, so you don’t want to mess with me.” ****** The next morning, the couple woke up, took their showers, and dressed for the long day ahead. They knew they had to get on the road soon, since time was ticking away. “Okay, Cassie, I hope you can remember where you lived in the city.” “I’m sure I’ll remember, but I need to find my friend, Donna, first.” As they got closer to the city, Cassie remembered her way. She only made a few mistakes with the directions, but they were getting closer. “Joshua, we need to find the school, so we can hear when the bell ring? The schools here have a longer season then we have in Parkerville, but the hours should be the same. It’s got to be about 3:00 or 4:00 p.m., but I can’t remember. After we hear the bell rings, we need to drive to Donna’s house. I can’t wait to see her again.” Cassie and Joshua were trying to find some decent music on the radio, when the bell finally rang. “That’s right; the bell rings at 3:00 p.m. why didn’t I remember that? Okay, I need to call Marion, and let her know we made it here safely; she can pass it on to Cookie and my grandmothers. Rose While Sara and Skye were off on an exploration of New City, Rose was making the biggest decision of her life. Pastor Parker, his wife and Rose, were sitting in the Pastor’s office drinking tea. After two weeks in the future, thinking about things, mostly the past, Rose Baker had just given them a proposal that they were taking very seriously. “Yes, after visiting my father and sister Lila, I have decided I missed out on life and love. I want to go back to when I was twenty and in love with a young man. “But Rose my dear, that ship has passed, many years ago. I just don’t think it would be prudent to go back to that time. Other things could happen, it could be a total disaster.” Mrs. Parker pleaded. “Oh, and sending twelve families back a hundred years wasn’t a venture in itself? No, I am determined. This time there is only me who might possibly suffer and I am more than willing to take that chance. I’m begging you.” Rose asked most sincerely. Pastor Parker stood up. “I want to see all four women in my office. As soon as Sara and Skye come back, have Laura and Carol Jean come with them. If this is agreeable with your sister companions, it will be agreeable to us.” Rose knew she’d won. She knew she’d be going back in time to make up for the bad decision she’d made all those years ago, to please her mother. She’d let Cal go. This time, she wouldn’t make that mistake, again. All five women met in the Pastor’s office and agreed that Rose should be given a second chance at happiness. It was agreed that Rose would say goodbye to her father, sister and nieces, that night and in the morning step back into the time warp to a new future. **** “Honey, are you sure you want to do this?” Rose’s father asked her putting his arms around her. “Yes, Dad, I have to.” Rose said hugging him tight. Bernadette and I never knew what it was like to be loved. No, that’s not true, Bernadette knew what it was like to be loved, at least until Mother scared Nelson off. Oh why did I let her do that to Bernadette?” “But, we were just getting to know you Aunt Rose.” Lila’s girls came up to hug her. “Well, at least I got the chance to meet you. Oh, and I just fell in love the moment I saw you sweet girls. And, my sister would be so proud of you Emily.” She said to Bernadette’s daughter. “Rose, please, stay here with us.” Lila pleaded. Jeremy likes you so much and you’re a part of our family, even though you haven’t been here long.” “I like your husband Lila, he’s wonderful, and you have a sweet family. You and Jeremy were meant to be together. But, I was meant to be with Cal and I’m going to make that happen. I hope you understand?” Rose said wiping a tear away. “Of course we do. We ran away ourselves and the only thing I regret is not taking you and Bernadette with me.” Her father said. “You know, one of these days, we may come back. Or maybe just me, to set things right with that witch who’s made life so miserable for you and Bernadette.” “Dad that would be so great!” Rose said, her eyes lighting up. Rose said goodbye to her big family and hugged all the girls, especially Emily, Bernadette’s daughter. The five women stood before the time warp early the next morning. They all said their goodbyes to Rose and wished her luck and happiness. **** Pastor Parker had more instructions for Rose. “Now Rose, as soon as you go through the doors of the time warp; you need to step on the round scale directly in front of the screen where you will press the year 1925. Your body will adjust itself to that time, the time when you were twenty years old. Every organ in your body will regress to the age you were in 1925. Do you understand?” “But, my mind Pastor; I want to remember, I have to remember?” Rose asked. “You will only be pressing the body monitor, nothing else. You will remember; if you really want to.” Pastor queried her. “Yes, I want to.” Rose said excited at the prospect. “Actually, you will be the first to use it. No one else has regressed back to a younger age, so once again I want to caution you. I cannot be responsible for this endeavor of yours.” “I understand Pastor, I take full responsibility.” “Now Rose, no one knows you’re coming, so there will not be a welcoming party for you there. You must go and find your man and leave Parkerville before anyone sees you. “I will, I promise, no one will see me.” Rose stepped into the time warp, Weston, Michael and Pastor Parker put their glass keys into the door and it swished open. Sara had an additional key, however, it wasn’t needed. Rose immediately stepped onto the circle and pressed the year 1925. Slowly the circle turned, and a kind of blue print of her body appeared on the screen as she slowly rotated round and round. When it finished rotating, she stepped off the circle. She was dizzy at first and couldn’t quite get her balance. She leaned against the opposite door, but she hadn’t changed. She took a deep breath, balanced herself and pressed the panel for the doors to open. A cold wind hit her in the face and she almost fainted, but she knew it had worked. She stepped out into 1925. A young woman again, ready to take back her life. “I can’t believe it, she whispered.” Rose turned her ankles back and forth and noticed how slender her legs were and how small her feet were once again. “Oh if only I had a mirror. It doesn’t matter, I feel young, I feel so wonderful and healthy and…” At this point she took a deep breath and ran up the hill and into town. No one was up, not a soul was in sight. Rose crept around the house and went into the kitchen through the back door. She carefully made her way upstairs to her room. She grabbed her suitcase and opened her closet doors. “Oh.” She whispered. “My beautiful clothes, I’d forgotten how pretty they were.” She knew she had to keep going; she threw some chintz shifts and dresses in her suitcase; along with some matching cloche hats and Mary Jane shoes. She grabbed her pale blue wrap coat and matching cloche hat (oh, I remember this coat, I loved it) she thought, she grabbed toiletries from her bureau and stopped for a moment to look at herself in the mirror. “Oh my.” She said as she put her hand up to her face. “It’s a far different face than the one I saw in Billy’s store.” She whispered. Then, coming back to her senses, she quickly packed toiletries into her portmanteau. Opening her bureau drawer, she hurriedly threw in some underwear and stockings and rushed out of her room. She wrote a quick note to Bernadette and stuck it on the icebox, and then she stopped for a moment, her eyes looking up at the kitchen ceiling. “Oh Bernie, I’d love to see you right now, my little sister, so beautiful and young again.” Then off to her new life she ran. Cal had just gone into the stable when Rose came out the back door. She set her suitcase and portmanteau down outside the stable doors. “Morning Cal.” Rose said sauntering over to him. “Well, Rose, you look great, where are you off to this early in the morning?” Cal asked grabbing a stable broom to start his work. “Aren’t you a little afraid your mother will catch you with a low life like me?” Cal said sarcastically. “I’m not afraid of that old witch. It’s my life and I’ll do whatever I want with it.” Rose said to him. “Do you mean that?” Cal asked startled, dropping the broom. “I’ve never meant anything more in my life.” Wrapping her arms his neck, and kissing him. Cal picked her up and swung her around the stable. “Rose, love of my life, will you marry me?” Cal asked. “Yes, yes, yes! A thousand times yes.” Rose said. Cal grabbed his jacket as Rose went over to one of the horses and kissed him on the nose. Trickster was a large black stallion and she would miss riding him in the mornings. He nuzzled her as if he knew he wouldn’t see her for a while. “We can always come back and get him. He is your horse, your father gave him to you.” Cal reminded her. “When we get a place to board him, I might just do that.” Rose said. “Sure.” Cal smiled as if he knew a secret. “I know a real nice place.” “Come on, let’s hurry, before anyone wakes up.” Cal and Rose headed for his truck and then they were gone. ****** A very sleepy headed Bernadette came into the kitchen to put the teakettle on. She shuffled across the kitchen floor in her slippers and bathrobe, to the sink and started filling the teakettle up with water. She yawned and put the kettle on the stove. She then went to the icebox to get the milk out, that’s when she saw the note. She just stood for a second and stared at it. It was in Roses’s handwriting with just ‘Bernadette’ written on the outside. Dear Bernadette, I don’t have a lot of time to think about what I’m going to say to you. I guess I should say I’m sorry, first of all; but I’m not. I’m going off with Cal and we’re going to be married. I love him Bernie, I have for a long time and now I’m going to do something about it. Please try to forgive me. Mother doesn’t care about either one of us, all she’s ever wanted was control. You must do whatever you can to make yourself happy. I am. Love, Rose Bernadette sat down at the kitchen table and put her face between her hands. Then she got up and rushed out of the kitchen and up the stairs to Rose’s bedroom. “Rose!” She screamed. “Rose!” Everything was just as Rose left it. Her bed was made as if she’d never gone to bed the night before, however, most of her clothes were missing, and her suitcase and carpetbag were also gone. “Is this a joke Rose; because I’m not laughing? Come out Rose, you can’t leave me.” Bernadette continued to scream. “What is the matter with you girl? What are you doing in here?” Her mother asked stomping into the room. “Where is Rose?” “Move!” Bernadette yelled at her mother as she ran passed her and down the stairs, through the kitchen and out the back door. She ran to the stable and called out for her sister with a lump in her throat. She heard Trickster whinny and she went over to him. She could still smell the scent of Rose’s perfume around him. “You can’t do this to me Rose, you just can’t.” Bernadette slumped to the stable floor in great heaving sobs. “Get up, I’ve read the letter, if you can call it that.” A stern voice came from behind her. “You’re making a fool of yourself. All right, so she’s gone. I say good riddance to an ungrateful child. And to think she’s run off with that no good young man who has to sweep out stables to earn a living! I’m so ashamed!” Wilhelmina said to her youngest daughter. “She’ll be happy, mother.” Bernadette said as she got up off the stable floor, wiping her eyes on her robe. “She’ll be very happy.” Bernadette said and slowly walked back toward the kitchen door. Taking on Vent Skye was tired of waiting around, waiting for something . . . anything to happen to help find her parents. She was half afraid to think about her dad. She wasn’t sure if he was alive or dead, but she was determined to find them both. Rose had decided to return to her past; her young past and find the love of her life and be happy. Skye was happy for her. Carol Jean was obsessed with her real mom and tagged along everywhere she went. Janie was equally happy she had a daughter to take care of and talk to. They were inseparable. The same could be said for Laura and Mark Stevens. Laura was in love and didn’t know what to do about it. Mark felt the same way and both wanted to live out their love and dreams back in the year 1966, but how was that possible when they were both from two different eras? Skye was really tired of hearing about this conundrum every night, which left Skye and Sara to map out where Danny had taken Dottie. Pastor Parker and his wife were gracious hosts, and their guest rooms were surprisingly pretty and comfortable, unlike the outside Bastion, which always seemed gray and overcast. Enough was enough. One morning Skye was up before anyone else. She got dressed, pulled her long hair back and tied it at the nape of her neck. She didn’t really want to call too much attention to herself, when she traveled into New City to confront Vent. Weston was waiting for her, as he had promised the night before. He was to take her into New City and take her to Vent’s office; however, he was not to tell her aunt or anyone else where she was going. He was happy to give her a guided tour, but Skye was only interested in meeting Vent, and demanding the whereabouts of her parents. The ride into the city was fast, but Skye learned some things about Weston that surprised her. She learned he was from Seeber, a city above the waters. He lived on what they call a ‘dial’ and he was private about it, some of the other students at the college looked down on ‘water kids’, so he was careful who he told. “Well, I think your city sounds wonderful and most importantly, safe.” Skye smiled at him. “I’d like to visit it someday and meet your family.” “You’d love the shore, it’s beautiful and when you live on a dial, it’s the greatest thing to wake up, walk out on the rim, and look down at the tides.” Weston said. Weston was glad he told her and appreciated her interest. “Our Mr. Petrie is our Mayor and he’s really great. I want to take you there so you can meet everybody.” “And I’d love to go and see it myself. Wow, what stories I’ll have to tell when I get home.” Skye said. “Yeah, I guess sooner or later, you’ll have to go back. I just wish you could stay around for a while so I could show you, well, the future.” Weston said. ****** Weston parked around the corner from Vent’s bright blue office building that her aunt had pointed out a few days before. Skye hesitated as she stood in front of the ghastly colored building. She’d told her aunt the city looked like a clown had thrown up all over it. But it was far worse than that; the colors were garish and sickening. She just wanted to get this meeting over with and get back to Bastion. “Well, come in young lady,” Vent said delighted. Then he saw Weston. “Well young man, I see you’ve brought a friend with you . . . a very pretty friend. “You’re Skye MacKenna, am I right?” Theron Vent slithered out from behind his huge desk. He was a tall, thin man with black shiny hair parted in the middle and slicked back. He looked a little like a cartoon character to Skye. He came forward and offered his hand to Skye. She smiled at him and gave him her hand. Immediately, Vent was stunned and started to fall back, clutching his injured hand. Weston’s eyes followed the handshake and the shock that came across Vent’s face. He’d never seen Vent out of control and this scared him. Not for himself, but for Skye. “What are you up to, kid?” Vent blasted Skye gripping the corner of his desk. “Nothing, I simply shook your hand. As you can see, I have an electrifying personality,” Skye said smiling. Vent composed himself, slicked back his hair, and carefully returned to the chair behind his desk. Skye started to walk forward, but he held up his hand to stop her. “Don’t ever try anything like that again, kid,” Vent said, narrowing his eyes at her. “And Weston, what do you have to do with this walking wall socket?” “Uh, I just offered to bring her here to talk to you, Mr. Vent,” he said. “I had no idea she could do that.” “Oh, my dear boy, you have no idea what this girl can do. If I were you, I’d stay away from her.” “Look.” Skye said narrowing her eyes at Vent. “I’m here to find my mother and father. You know where my mother is and you know, because one of your major jerks kidnapped her and was seen by my aunt,” Skye spat. “Well, how unfortunate,” Vent replied. “He’s really not known for his brains.” Vent didn’t say a word for several moments. He took a deep breath and looked at Skye. “All right, yes, I know where your mother is. I even know where your father is,” he leaned back in his chair and smiled at her. “You’re not going to tell me are you?” Skye said, her eyes boring into his. Vent met her gaze and smiled. “I might, if you behave yourself.” He said. “I can do that,” Skye said undaunted, never taking her eyes from his. “Weston, your little friend here seems extremely brave and mature for her age. Maybe you should have warned her what a fierce enemy I can be.” “I didn’t think there would be a need for that Mr. Vent.” Weston said. “Well, not today young lady. Maybe another time, I’m very busy at the moment.” Vent said trying to get rid of her. Both Weston and Vent noticed Skye’s bracelet turning black. “It’s going to be today. I’ve come a long way to find them and you’re going to take me to one or both of them. If not, I can make you very sorry.” Skye said, her eyes turning black. Weston slowly started to back out of the room. This meeting was something he could never have imagined. “Stay right where you are,” Vent said to Weston, his voice even and threatening. “But Mr. Vent, sir, I never thought this kind of thing would happen. I mean, it was really cite at first. I didn’t know she could, I mean, I don’t want anything to do with this sort of thing,” Weston stumbled to find the right words. Vent continued to try to stare Skye down, when he noticed his arms were burning. He got up, bending forward, and slammed his hands down on the desk. “Stop this!” He yelled, his eyes narrowing at her with a murderous look. “Take me to them, or it can get much worse.” Skye said her voice even and threatening. “Let me put it this way, if you don’t stop using, whatever power you have, you’ll never see either one of your so-called parents . . . again,” he said through gritted teeth. Immediately his arms stopped burning and her eyes went back to normal. “You do have the most strike eyes, Miss Mackenna,” he said, knowing he had full control again. “Stop, just tell me where they are,” Skye said in an even tone. “Oh, I’ll do better than that. I’ll show you where your father is. That’s what you want, isn’t it?” he said with a greasy smile. Skye nodded. Weston was on his guard now. He didn’t like the way Vent was talking. He’d seen it before and he watched him, and then he went and took Skye’s hand. “Come this way,” Vent said, coming from behind his desk and motioning for Skye to follow him. They walked through a glass portico, or what Skye thought was glass. It was actually in the form of a water curtain. She also felt like she’d walked down a flight of stairs, but she seemed to be on an even surface. “What happened?” she asked Vent. “What do you mean?” Vent replied. “I feel like we’ve just gone down an elevator, but we’re still walking on even ground,” Skye said a little shaky. Vent laughed, uproariously at her. “Oh, my dear, you are so archaic. We did just go down about eight levels, and what, tell me, is an elevator?” “It’s kind of like a wind-down, sir, Weston offered. “Or a wind-up, whichever way you’re going.” “Oh, I see,” Vent, laughed again. They came to another entryway with elaborate columns on either side. They walked through, and again it felt like a waterfall, but they were perfectly dry. Here, there were rows and rows of glass cylinders filled with a clear liquid. Something was inside of the cylinders, but Skye couldn’t quite make it out. As they came closer to one of the cylinders, her eyes widened. They were people, human beings, with tubes running into their chests. Skye started to shake, because she knew instinctively what was coming. They walked past many cylinders, while Skye kept her eyes focused straight ahead. Finally, Vent came to stand in front of one in particular. “Father, meet daughter, and daughter meet your father,” he laughed. Skye hesitated, staring at Vent. When she did turn to look at what had been her father, she fainted dead away. The plaque showed a name on the cylinder . . . Frank Mackenna. The man inside the cylinder had tubes running into his chest, his eyes were open; however, they stared sightlessly into space. Weston picked Skye up and carried her back through the portico. He then followed Vent to a room on an upper floor. “Now, let’s see, what do I want,” he mused. “Oh, I know, it’s perfect. We’ll have a dungeon,” he smiled. Immediately, the room turned into a dungeon-like atmosphere, complete with hard stone floors, shackles hanging from the cold stonewalls, with rats lurking about the room. Weston was still holding on to Skye, reluctant to let her go. “Mr. Vent, you must be kidding? You can’t leave her in a place like this, please don’t do this?” “Weston, you work for me, do you not?” “Yes, sir, I do, but I don’t like leaving her here like this. She just wanted to find her parents. She’s really a cite girl, if you knew her,” Weston pleaded. “And you know her, do you? Well, I say you don’t. You’ve never met anyone like her kind before, but I have,” Vent spat. “And you don’t think her aunt, cousin and friends won’t come looking for her?” Weston challenged. “Put her down . . . now!” Vent yelled. Reluctantly, Weston lowered Skye’s limp body onto the stone floor. “Shackle her wrists,” Vent ordered. Softly, Weston brought her arms up and shackled her small wrists. That’s when he noticed that the bracelet she wore was still black, but it was now giving off an eerie buzzing sound. “Take that thing off of her!” Vent shouted at Weston. Weston went to remove the bracelet and got an agonizing shock. He was thrown across the room and knocked unconscious. “Well, better you then me, kid,” Vent said. Then he looked down at her and with the back of his hand he struck her on the side of the face leaving a huge welt, then he back handed her again giving her a swollen lip. “That’s for the electric shock kid.” “Now, there’s just one more thing I’ve got to do.” He took a small laser from his pocket and a beam of light came on. He twisted her head and gathered the long hair that was tied at the nape of her neck. He drew the beam across her hair and cut it off, leaving a burn mark on her neck. “Ah…Patrick would be so proud of me!” Vent smiled. Holding up the long gleaming hair he said. “Now that should bring a pretty penny, as the old saying goes. But wait, I can just cut off your hand and the bracelet will fall off! Genius. If I do say so myself! Better than that, I can simply slit your throat you little…” Once again he took the laser and was about to slice through Skye’s hand when he heard shouting coming from the hallway outside the door. “Mr. Vent, come quickly, they’re coming and we can’t stop them. Please sir, hurry.” “You know, you’re one lucky girl. If I only had more time… oh what is it now?” Vent then lifted Weston’s unconscious body and dragged him into another room. “Sorry, but I can’t have you running back to her aunt and telling her where the girl is. I know I’ll have to deal with her sooner or later . . . it just has to be later.” “On second thought, maybe I should kill you now.” Vent stood for a moment looking down at an unconscious Weston. “No, I’ll just kill two birds with one pebble, or something like that, when I return. Now don’t go anywhere.” He laughed as he hurried out the door. “Mr.. Vent, please hurry, there’s no time left, they’re coming!” A voice yelled outside in the hallway. No, I just don’t have the time, that bracelet is giving off a signal. It’s those damn women, they’ve come for her.” Vent said and hurried off. Henderson City “Joshua, I remember everything, now. I guess I just didn’t want to come back here, since my parents aren’t here, so it’s going to be a little hard for me.” “Cassie, you’re a strong person, stronger than me. I doubt I could do anything like this.” “Well, you can figure out all the hard things, so I think we’re a good match. We just have to be smart about finding our clues. When I lived here, I didn’t have many friends, except for Donna Dickerson, I was new, and it was hard to get in the groove here.” “I understand.” Joshua said. “I had to move from school to school every year; I just wanted to live in a nice town and be happy.” “Well, I’m glad you want the same life I want, and I hope it will be with you, Cassie.” Joshua hugged Cassie and kissed her tenderly. “Well, I need to concentrate now, I only went to school here for a few months and then school ended. I stayed at the pool, as much as I could, and Donna lived a couple of blocks from our house.” “Did you like living here?” “Yeah, I really did. Donna was a good friend.” “It’s really a shame you couldn’t have stayed in one town at least. But I would never have met you if you had.” Joshua said kissing the top of her head. “You know, I’ve tried to ask Justin about everything, but he just says we can’t talk about it yet. I believe Justin knows, but he can’t say anything about it.” “Well, Cassie, we need to find out what’s going on, when we get back.” The couple finally found Donnas house, but the house was up for sale. “No!” Cassie shouted,” walking toward the steps and sitting down . . . defeated. “Okay, there’s a phone number on the door, so we can ask about the house tomorrow, but we need to find another hotel and put our luggage away. We have to pretend to be interested in the house, not the last owners.” ****** “Okay, the realtor said we should be at the house at 10:00 a.m.” “Cassie, I’ve been noticing, it looks like most of the guys around here have their hair kind of short.” “Don’t you even dare! You look great in your suit, you’re really dressed for the part. Hopefully, the realtor will only be focusing on me.” “What if the owner is a woman?” “Well, than everything will fall into your hands, once she sees your curly blond hair and those amazing eyes, she’ll melt away. Especially, if you say darlin’, we’re in luck.” “How is that really going to work?” “Most likely, they’ll only want to get the house off their hands.” ****** The couple drove up to the Dickerson’s house and parked the car in the driveway. After a while, a man came out of the house, and walked toward the couple. “Hi, there, I’m sorry to have to tell you, but this property was bought last night.” “Oh,” Cassie frowned, “I guess we should have contacted you a week ago, but we’ll keep looking; thanks for telling us. “Aren’t you two a little young to be buying a house?” the man asked.” “Oh, no, my mother and father are also looking at houses, so my brother and I need to call my parents and see if they found another property. We may have to rent, until we find something.” “Good luck, honey, you might look on the west side of the city. Most of this side is getting a little too crowded. Everyone wants to live here, now.” “What happened?” Joshua asked? “Didn’t you hear about the tornado last week? A tornado set right down in the middle of the city. I have to say; I’ve never seen such a mess. It was scary at first; I thought it was coming near my neck of the woods. Those old hotels were swaying and making so much noise, but they’re going to implode them in a few days. I can’t wait to see them get torn down. They should have been torn down years ago.” “What old hotels?” Joshua asked. “Hoffs Hotels, they’re connected in the middle with a breezeway. They’re the tallest buildings in the city, twenty-five stories high. They were built back in the roaring 20’s by some gangsters, so I’ve heard.” If your family is looking to buy a house, the west side is the best place to look. With the hotels coming down, prices are going to go sky high around here, mark my words.” The man laughed and turned toward his house, while Cassie and Joshua got back into the car. “Cassie, we still have time to find your parents, but we have to get to those hotels before they tear them down.” “Joshua, drive down this street next to the Dickerson house and drive around to the back of the house.” “What’s on your mind, darlin’.” “Just stop near that shed on the other side of the fence. Fortunately, there isn’t anyone outside.” Cassie got out of the car and walked up to the fence, looking around. She then moved one of the slats in the fence and slipped through. She quickly walked up to the shed and was happy the lock was still there. Thanks, Donna, I knew you were a great friend. Now I need to find something, which could help me find my mother. She remembered the code, which was 1-9-6-5 and she pulled on the lock and it opened. She removed the lock and went to Donna’s desk. Cassie found the tin box, where they kept their secrets, and then she found three envelops in the box. She put them in her purse. “Thank you, Donna.” Cassie put the box away and slipped out of the shed. Soon she was in the car and they drove away. “Let’s get out of here, I don’t know if anyone saw me back there.” Joshua pulled up to a restaurant and the twosome sat down at a table. They placed their orders and Cassie pulled out the envelopes. She saw the dates and started to read the first letter. “So, you had a great friend in Donna. I wish I could have known her.” “Yeah, she was my only friend here. It’s hard to find friends when you move away every year, and sometimes-just months. My parents were so paranoid. And now I know why.” Joshua watched as Cassie read the first envelope and told Joshua she missed seeing her at school and being her friend when they were together. Then she read the second letter and she was so sad. She knew she wouldn’t see her at the pool anymore or in school again. Cassie stopped reading and just stared straight ahead, feeling sad. “Cassie, I’m so sorry things are so messed up right now and you had to leave a good friend behind, but, things are going to start getting better, I just know it.” “I just miss her so much. I had no friends when I lived here, except for Donna. The kids around here were little snobs.” “Well, you have lots of friends in Parkerville and we’re finally going to find your parents.” “You’re right,” Joshua.” Joshua watched Cassie open the last letter and she had a big smile on her face. “Joshua, I’m not sure about my dad, but I know where my mom is.” She said, a little too loud. The waitress walked over to their table and put down two glasses of water. She looked at Joshua and winked, and then she stared at Cassie. “Do I know you?” Cassie looked up at the waitress. “I used to live here. We’re going to see the city, just to see how bad it is. I didn’t get a chance to see much of the city, when I lived there.” “Hey, I remember you, you’re Cassie; don’t you remember me? I was in your homeroom.” Cassie paused for a moment. “Yes, you were a cheerleader . . . right?” “Yes, I’m Hanna Thomas and I remember you had that big party at the pool on your birthday. My brother still has a huge crush on you.” Cassie smiled at Joshua and asked, “So, how are you doing, Hanna?” “Well, my dad lost his job, so I had to drop out of school. Actually, a lot of people lost their jobs, you’re lucky you got out of here.” “So, what happened to the city, and how many people lost their jobs?” Joshua asked. “I don’t know, but that tornado didn’t help. A lot of businesses had a lot of damage and the owners didn’t have the money to build them back up.” Hanna started, “but hundreds of people left in throngs. It was like the city was dying after the tornado touched down.” “I’m so sorry, Hanna,” Cassie put her hand on her arm.” “Did you hear about the tornado?” “Yes, I just found out, how many people were lost?” “Oh, gees, a lot of people died. It’s the worst thing that’s happened in Henderson. But, like I said, the downtown stores were really damaged.” “Hanna, where are the Hoffs Hotels?” Cassie asked. “Oh, they’re about five miles south of town. You can’t stay there you know, they’ve been closed for a long time.” Hanna warned. “I know someone who lives close to them, we’re going to see if she’s okay,” Cassie said. “So, what can I get you two?” Hanna asked. “Oh just a couple of ham and swiss cheese sandwiches.” Cassie said. “I’ll go get your sandwiches.” Hanna nodded and left. “Okay, we’ll be headed south, at least we know where we’re going.” Joshua whispered. “I’m so relieved.” Cassie sighed. Cassie hugged Hanna and Joshua paid the bill, with a huge tip, and the couple took off. After that, they started towards the Hoffs Hotels. Much “Time is not yours to keep… time is not yours to keep…time is not yours to keep.” Skye kept hearing those rhythmic words. She was finally coming to, after the horrible shock of seeing her father. “What? No, stop it,” she said, shaking her head, trying to wake up. “Are you awake?” a voice calmly asked her. “No, yes, I think I am,” Skye said, still reeling from the shock. “Wait a minute, why am I talking funny? Oh, my face feels like it’s been through a meat grinder.” Skye said trying to talk with a swollen lip. “Can you focus?” The voice asked. “I think so.” Skye answered. “Good, then get up and walk around the room,” the voice softly continued. She was sitting on a cold stone floor with her arms shackled to a stonewall. “As you can see, I’m hardly in any position to get up and walk around the room,” Skye said in an angry voice. “Get up and walk around the room . . . now!” The voice sounded harsher now. Skye worked to get up, but fell in a heap, when her arms did not come away from the wall. “You know who you are and you know your arms aren’t really shackled. Now, one last time, get up!” Skye got to her knees, brought her arms down and pushed, with her hands to raise herself up. “Right,” the voice said. Skye looked up, and saw for the first time, who had been speaking to her. “Much!” she said relieved. “Yes,” he answered. Dottie/Drina Drina was asleep, a very uneasy sleep. She tossed and turned in bed, clutching huggy pillow, which seemed to try to squirm out of her reach. Danny watched her from the doorway of his apartment. He had a cup of coffee in his hand. He liked to watch her; he loved looking at her. He reflected on what he’d had to go through six years back to bring her here. He felt no guilt for what he had to do. He vowed he’d get her back, and he did. The problem was; she was starting to remember things, bits and pieces. She moaned and slowly turned over. Sleepy eyed she tried to focus on him. “What’s wrong?” she asked and tried to sit up. “Nothing’s wrong, in fact, everything’s right.” Danny smiled as he sipped his coffee and continued to stare at her. “Go away Danny, I need to wake up and get dressed.” “Why? Where are you going?” He asked. “I, I don’t know, it seems like, I have to go somewhere, somewhere important.” Drina said as she sat up quickly and looked around the room. Her long dark hair tangled and falling in her face, she was a sight to behold. “Come on, get up, I’ll make you something to eat.” Danny reluctantly turned and walked away. She continued to sit there trying to focus. She brought her knees up and wrapped her arms around them. Then she propped her chin on her knees. She looked like a little lost girl. But, she was a woman, a wife and a mother. She just couldn’t remember whose; she couldn’t remember anything. Danny walked out into a large empty room. He pressed a button on the wall and a table with chairs came up out of the floor. He walked over to a large tempered glass screen and pressed another button. “Talk” the glass wall said. “Hot coffee with cream, toast, buttered” Danny replied. “Thank You” the wall answered. A soft humming could be heard and in no time a small portion of the glass wall was raised. “Hot coffee with cream, toast, buttered.” The automated server announced. Drina padded softly across a floor that illuminated as she walked. She sat down at the table and Danny brought her coffee and toast. “Thanks.” She said softly. She picked up her toast and dunked it into the coffee. “I will never understand why you ruin perfectly good coffee like that.” He chuckled. “So, what are you going to do today sweetie?” He went to sit across from her in the other chair. “Um, I don’t know. Oh, I need to call Sara.” Drina said as she dunked another piece of toast. “Sara? Sara who?” Danny asked cautiously. “Sara, ah, Sara...I don’t remember. Oh my brain feels so foggy. Do you remember what I was going to do today?” She looked at him hopefully. “Yeah, as a matter of fact, I do. You were going shopping for some new clothes. You were going to click on Sarus and call up your clothes screen. Any of that sound familiar?” Danny raised an eyebrow at her. “Oh yes, yes I do remember. I need to bring up the clothes screen. Oh that should be fun! I might even go in myself. Did you fix the hologram?” “Yes I did, you can spend the whole day there if you want. Just remember to put the bed down before you do. Now, I have to get to work, so will you be okay?” “Shopping? Absolutely!” Drina smiled and dunked her toast. Danny walked over to a circle on the floor. It illuminated as he stood on it. “Down.” He said. As he descended into the floor a tempered circle of glass enveloped him. He waved to Drina, who was turned in her chair to watch him go down. She didn’t return his wave, she simply watched him. As soon as he was out of sight, she got up from her chair and walked back into the bedroom. She pressed a button on the wall and the bed disappeared into the floor. She then walked over to a large glass panel. “Talk.” The panel said. “Hi Sarus; I want to go shopping.” Drina said. “On screen Ms. Drina or by shop?” Sarus asked. “By Shop today Sarus, please.” She answered. Drina closed her eyes as she always did when Sarus did his magic. She heard humming noises. Then, she heard voices. “Hello Ms. Drina and how are you today?” Drina opened her eyes and turned around to face a wonderful large clothing shop. Sales clerks were at her disposal, and came over to greet her. The bedroom had been transformed into an extravagant atmosphere full of shelves with colorful scarves and sweaters; rows of rails full of gowns, dresses, blouses, every kind of clothing a woman could dream of. All in Drina’s favorite colors, Danny had programmed it that way. And just so she wouldn’t be lonely shopping by herself. He created holograms of all her friends who could happily shop with her. She smiled as one of her “friends” pulled out a beautiful blue cashmere sweater and held it up for her approval. “Oh yes, yes, it’s perfect. I must try it on.” She quickly walked over to it. ****** Danny Elliott was not a rich man. He was also not as young as he was when he first met Dottie. He was however a genius with what the older generation called software and had friends in very high places. Following Dottie back into the past when she had told him it was over between them undid him completely. He loved her and knew that no one could ever replace her. She was honest with him. She’d told him she’d seen someone that she could love the rest of her life and she wanted to be with him. The only problem was, he existed in the past. She and her sister Sara had been watching the progress of the people in the past. They knew of the time warp, but very few if any were allowed to use it. Their father governed it and he did not like Danny Elliott. He thought Danny was like all the rest of the vermin who littered the streets. Controlling people and monopolizing everything they could get their hands on. So, it was with great reluctance that he finally let his daughters go back into the past. He set the warp for 1945; Dottie and Sara were both 18 at the time. Sara’s boyfriend Tommy Davis insisted on going with them to keep them safe and to introduce them to Parkerville society. Tommy was also aware of Danny’s intentions towards Dottie and he was also Danny’s archenemy. Tommy was one of the good guys and loved Sara very deeply. They were to be married and decided the best place to start their lives was in Parkerville. Tommy Davis had been back to Parkerville before. In fact, he had made a good friend there when he first ventured back. Justin Keaton was a good guy, but his girl friend Marion, constantly kept him on his toes. Poor Justin was head over heals for the girl, but she just wouldn’t co-operate and let Justin “catch” her. Due to the laws of Parkerville regarding unmarried, available females; and the fact that Sara and her sister Dottie were both very eligible and beautiful girls, Tommy decided it would be better if he and Sara were married before they went through the time warp. Just as they were all about to leave and enter the time warp, Danny showed up to stop Dottie from entering. He screamed and shouted at the top of his lungs. Dottie took one last look at him, sadly waved and entered the time warp. “I’ll get you back, I swear, I’ll get you back.” Danny screamed. He looked at the satisfied face of Dottie’s father holding the key to the warp, and shook his fist, once again swearing he’d get her back. ****** The wind-up opened out onto the main street of New City. He looked up and down the street to spot any of his cohorts, but there was no one, at least no one he wanted to associate with. He straightened his jacket and walked to the pharmacy. They knew him well there. “Hey Dan.” The pharmacist remarked when he saw him. “Yeah, hey.” Danny replied. “I need another supply, make it bigger this time. “I can’t do that.” “What do you mean you can’t do that?” Dan said sounding ominous. “Look, I don’t want a scene; it’s not up to me.” “So, whose it up to?” Dan asked. “Take it up with your boss.” With that the pharmacist turned his back, hoping this Elliott guy would drop the whole thing. No such luck. “Look pal, what’s your problem? The money’s good right? You supply me; I supply you. Now, hand it over.” Dan threatened. “I told you; take it up with your boss! He said, ‘no more’. I have no control over it. Talk to Vent.” The pharmacist yelled back. “I’ll be back. Have it ready.” Dan turned on his heal and walked out. ****** Theron Vent was no one to mess with. He was one of the heads of Uni-med. He did Dan a favor by getting him the memory block for Drina. There had been no problems getting more of the drug, until now. Drina was starting to talk about people and places she shouldn’t be remembering. She needed more. Not to mention, she wasn’t very receptive to Dan’s affections. Yeah, he’d go see Vent. He’d make sure Vent knew just how important it was to keep Dan supplied. He could play games too. He could play some pretty dirty games. Dan walked down the street with a purpose now. He was angry; he’d had enough of the big shots of this city. It was time to show them just how important he really was. ****** Drina was bored with shopping. She walked back to Sarus and just said “off” and the shop disappeared. She turned and walked out of the bedroom into the large room that served as the living room. She hated the blank walls and the furniture that was hidden beneath the floor, for some reason she couldn’t explain, it seemed strange to her. She stopped at a certain spot and said, “chair up,” a beautiful leather recliner came up out of the floor and Drina collapsed into it. “Wall on” she said to the wall directly in front of her. “Portrait or landscape?” the voice asked. “Landscape.” She told it. “Country or City?” It asked. “Farm country” She replied. “Why did I say that?” She asked herself. “I’ve never seen a farm, have I?” The entire room turned into rolling green fields of wheat and corn. She turned the chair round and round and each wall was a different scene of farm life. A white farmhouse with green shutters, a walkway leading up to the front door was enhanced on either side with flowers of all different colors. An oak tree with sweet little swings hanging from it was alive with children running ‘round it and pushing the swings. The skies were blue with lazy white clouds slowly ambling across them, playing hide and seek with the sun. A farmer was walking in from the fields to the sound of a dinner bell ringing. “Ah, how beautiful and serene; what a wonderful calming life to have.” Drina reflected. All of a sudden she sat straight up in her chair, like she was remembering something. ****** He could barely make it back to the wind-up. He’d forgotten his air skip, which would have made his journey back to the apartment much quicker and less painful. That ‘thing’ that guarded Vent had a punch to end all punches. He barely got a fist in himself. Confronting Vent was a really bad idea. His man nearly killed him when he started shouting. The fist in the gut really hurt. But he was lucky to still be alive. No one would miss him. No one. Well, at least there was Drina, his beautiful Drina. She was still his, for the time being. How much longer he could afford to stay in this apartment was up to Vent. He’d had to make some promises. Promises he wasn’t sure he could keep. Meantime, no more drugs. Not until he came through on at least one of those promises. The glass cylinder turned and opened, when he reached the top floor. Drina was there, but not to greet him. “So, you’re back! What have you done, Danny? What the hell have you done to me?” she screamed at him. Danny stood transfixed, unable to utter a word to her. Vent’s men had beaten him to a pulp. He should have known better, but he always bit off more than he could chew. He wasn’t quite sure what she meant, but he knew in his heart, she was remembering. “Hey, babe, did something happen to Sarus again?” he asked hopefully. Drina turned and walked into the kitchen. “Talk,” the glass wall said. “A knife, a big sharp knife,” Drina said. A large sharp knife appeared before her on the counter. She started back into the big room, where Danny still stood. She brought the knife up in her hand and started walking toward him. “Dottie, NO!” Sara screamed, as she came up in the glass cylinder with the others. “Dottie? Who’s Dottie?” she asked. “You are, my sweet girl, you’re my beautiful sister, Dottie,” Sara said, pushing Danny down on the floor. “Dottie? Put down the knife. Come on, put it down, sweetie,” Sara coaxed. Dottie dropped the knife and screamed. She put her hands to her head and could not stop screaming. Danny laid on the floor with tears streaming down his face. She turned round and round until she collapsed back into the recliner. “Who am I?” she asked, looking up at Sara, then down at Danny. “You’re a mom and a wife, and my sister,” Sara said softly. Sara went to her and knelt down, taking Dottie into her arms. “Oh, Sara, I think my head is going to split wide open,” Dottie sobbed. “You’re remembering.” Sara smiled still holding her. Carol Jean, Laura, and Janie all gathered around her. “I can’t believe I’m seeing you again, Aunt Dottie. Laura went to put her hands on Dottie’s shoulders. Dottie reached up and put her hand on Laura’s. “Gees, your Skye’s mom,” Carol Jean said, stroking Dottie’s hair. “She never was mine,” Danny said, “but I tried.” Dottie looked at him on the floor. She narrowed her eyes at him and they turned black. Danny scrambled up off the floor and backed away from her. He’d never seen her eyes turn black before. She got up from her chair, pushing Sara away; she went towards Danny, she had no use for a knife now. Danny’s eyes got bigger, as she slowly walked toward him. Sara went to Dottie and touched the back of her neck. Dottie collapsed onto the floor. “Get out of here, or she’ll kill you,” Sara warned him. Danny hurried to the glass cylinder and went down. On his way down, he hollered, “She was mine!” Dottie came around, just as the glass cylinder closed. She looked around at the women, surrounding her. “Where are Skye and Julie?” Dottie asked. “Julie is fine, she’s back on the farm and she’ll be so happy to see you,” Sara comforted her. “And Skye?” Dottie asked, putting her hands back to her head. “Wait a minute, I remember something. Skye and a blond-haired boy and something else, blood running down Danny’s face. Yes, a young girl who called me Mama,” Dottie looked at Sara, hopefully. “It’s a long story and someday I’ll tell you all about a ride on a spinning wheel, but for now, that was Skye, wanting desperately to see you again, before your disappearance, she reached up and scratched Dan’s face, before she passed out from the drug he injected her.” “I will kill him,” Dottie said, “Oh, yes.” she hissed. “He… will… suffer.” “Where’s Frank?” Dottie asked. “This is way too much for her to handle right now,” Janie said reaching into her bag. “Just hold on a second Dottie, I’m going to give you something that will return your memory to you.” Janie shot something into Dottie’s arm and then ran her hand over Dottie’s forehead. Dottie closed her eyes for a moment; memories were bounding back to her, the bridge, seeing the young girl, looking up at Danny for one second before she went blank. “Maybe we should give her some time to settle down and remember.” Janie said. “No, I’m remembering, I’ve been in the dark for so long, a world Danny created to keep me in his little insane world.” She said. “All right, take me to Skye,” Dottie said, straightening her hair and adjusting her clothes. The women looked at one another and didn’t say a word. “What?” Dottie asked, looking perplexed. “We don’t know exactly where she is,” Sara said. “She left this morning with a boy named Weston. We think she asked him to take her to Vent.” “My little girl is in Vent’s hands?” Dottie said, “Let’s go.” Without talking or waiting another minute, Dottie was in the glass wind-down and motioning for the women to join her. Saving Helene Marion was so relieved to know Cassie and Joshua were all right; she called Cookie to share her relief. “Oh, Marion, I was so worried for them; and now they’ll be able to bring Helene back to Parkerville.” “Yes, I need to tell Justin and the kids that they’re okay.” Marion said. “Mom, sorry, but I was listening to you talk to Joshua’s mom. What’s going on?” Geri asked. “I don’t know what I’ll do if they don’t come back.” “Oh, honey, I just talked to Cassie and they’re fine. They will call us, if anything goes wrong, but I’m sure everything will be fine. Chris was standing back in the hallway, trying to hear what his mother was saying to Geri, then, he left the house to find Story. Marabelle was just sitting on the porch, staring at the Davis house. Chad passed her house and waved, they both smiled, but it seemed the whole town was sad and depressed. ****** “She wrote that her mother saw my mom going into one of those hotels with two men. That was several weeks ago. We have to find her, but she’s probably still being watched.” The couple found a motel and paid for three nights, then Cassie called the Keaton’s. Marion was happy to hear from them again. She asked if they were all right? “We’re fine, we think mom’s in a place called Hoffs Hotels. We’re on our way now.” “Cassie, I spoke to your mother again, and she sounds very weak.” “We’re doing the best we can. If you speak to her again, tell her we’re on our way.” “I will sweetie, just be careful. We don’t know who has her yet.” Marion warned. ****** Joshua and Cassie parked in the lower lot of the parking garage. The sign said $5.00 for the day, but no one was there to take the money. There were some expensive cars parked in the center, but a lot of them had their windows smashed in. “I’m a little worried about leaving my car here.” Joshua said. “I’m hoping we won’t be that long. Should we look for somewhere else to park?” Cassie asked. “No, I guess this is just as good as anywhere else, and it’s the closest we’re gonna get.” He answered her. “Okay, Joshua, we need to find a wrench or something else heavy, in case we need to break down her door.” “I’ve got a toolbox in the trunk, I’m sure there’s something there we can use.” Joshua said. He opened his trunk and found what they needed. Cassie put a wrench in her purse and Joshua brought a gym bag with a crowbar. Finally they stood in front of the first hotel. Cassie called Marian from a phone booth across from the hotels. “Great. Can you see any movement from the hotel windows?” Marian asked. “Not yet, I’m just not sure which one they have her in. Joshua is searching the second hotel, which is close by.” “How many hotels are there?” Marion asked. “Two, they’re really neat looking. They look like huge round brownstone turrets left over from the renaissance. The problem is, the windows are large and arched; which means the sills are made of stone and they’re deep; but they’re really cool looking.” Cassie said. “Anyway, please try to contact mom again.” “Okay, I’ll tell her to hit the window.” Marion promised. Cassie hurried over to the first hotel, stepping carefully around all the trash, glass, and metal that was strewn about. She kept listening for her mother to hit a window, but she stopped when she saw a huge sign saying the hotels were going to be demolished. There wasn’t a date, and she still wasn’t able to hear anything from her mother. “Joshua, can you hear her?” Cassie shouted, but didn’t hear anything, so she stood where she was and tried to concentrate. “Cassie, over here.” Joshua motioned for Cassie near the breezeway between the hotels. “Listen.” He said. Off in the distance they heard large machinery approaching. The street was basically clear. There were signs up that warned of the demolition, so everyone must have been told to move their vehicles out of the street ahead of time. “NO!” Cassie shouted. Then she stood perfectly still, closed her eyes and concentrated on her mother. She went to a nearby bench, bowed her head, and prayed that God would lead her to her mother. Then she heard a voice from behind her telling her where her mother was. “Much.” She smiled. “Joshua, she’s in the second tower on the 25th floor. We need to get into the lobby and use one of the elevators.” She said. “Are you kidding? They won’t be working now!” Joshua said exasperated. “Yes, they will, they’ll work again for the time we need them.” She assured Joshua. They both walked up to the lobby doors. There was a chain hooking the doors together to keep people out. “Like I said, how are we even going to get in?” Joshua asked folding his arms across his chest. Cassie looked at the chain and then reached out and touched it with her hand that had the bracelet on it. The chain simply broke in half and fell at their feet. “Whoa!” Joshua said looking at the thick chain lying on the ground. They walked into the lobby, which had seen better days. There was broken glass and dried up leaves everywhere. They approached the elevators and once again, Cassie closed her eyes and concentrated. “Push the button for up.” Cassie said. Joshua pushed the button, at first nothing happened. Then they heard wheels begin to move and after a while the elevator came to a grinding halt in front of them, and the doors grudgingly opened. “Are you sure you want to do this? I’m not sure I trust this rickety old thing.” Joshua asked before stepping inside. “Let’s go, we don’t have much time.” Cassie pushed him in. They pressed the 25th floor and the elevator buzzed and groaned and finally came to life lifting them higher and higher until the doors finally opened on the 25th floor. “Now, which room?” Cassie thought out loud. “Look down there; there’s an old tray of food left at that door.” Joshua yelled and hurried down the hallway towards it. Just as they reached the food tray, a rat scurried away from it. Cassie instinctively screamed and that’s when they heard her mother’s weak voice. The door was locked, so Joshua started to search through his tools to remove it. However, all Cassie had to do was concentrate and when she turned the knob, the door opened. Cassie hurried into the dark room, adjusted her eyesight, and found her mother lying on the floor. “I ran out of gum and mints.” Helene said in a weak voice. Joshua picked her up and carried her to the elevator. The three of them rode down in silence. Joshua praying that the elevator would deliver them safe and sound to the first floor. He carried her out of the building and to the nearest bench where he left her in Cassie’s care while he went to get his car. Cassie cradled her mother’s head in her lap. Helene looked up once at her daughter and smiled. “I love you, mom.” Cassie said caressing her hair, and bending down to kiss her on the forehead. “I love you too, sweetheart…you saved me.” Then her mom leaned back and relaxed. Joshua came back and got as close to the bench as he could. He then carried Cassie’s mom and gently placed her in the back seat and covered her with a blanket they’d brought with them. They stopped at a nearby handy mart and got Helene some milk and a sandwich. Once they were out of the city, they went to the motel. Joshua carried Helene into the room and laid her down on one of the beds. At last, they felt safe. “I can ask you now, how on earth did you do that back there?” Joshua asked. “You mean the doors and the elevator?” Cassie asked. “Yeah.” “Well, you know I have these powers.” Cassie said shyly. “But I also have a little help from what Skye and I call our guardian angels. I’m still not quite sure how he works, but somehow between him and this bracelet, I can figure out things I normally wouldn’t know. I don’t know anything about elevators, but all of a sudden I understood the mechanism of how it worked. I pictured it and somehow, I made it move.” “Well Darlin’ all I can say is, your one in a million.” “No, I’m one of four in a million.” Cassie then looked over at her mother, to make sure she was okay. Starr Trig got dressed as fast as she could. She slipped off her kimono and quickly pulled a shift over her head. She stood on her wind-down and went out into the street, where people were milling around looking for anything to entertain them. “Hey, Rayne, how’s it going?” Trig passed the young man, who was still trying to come to grips with what landed him on his rear end on the street. “Hey, Trig, did you see what hit me?” he asked. “Nope, didn’t see a thing,” Trig said laughing. Trig walked into a pink building and waited for her friend to finish her act. “Starr, over here,” Trig hollered, over the din of the customers in the bar. “What’s up?” her friend asked, as she sauntered over shaking her lei skirt at a customer, while walking past him. “Hey Slub, I need a flow over here!” Starr shouted. “Want a flow?” she asked Trig. “No, you know I don’t drink that stuff,” Trig sniffed. “So, what’s up?” Starr asked, pulling up a chair “How would you like to end your shall we say, friendship with Vent?” Trig grinned. “I just met two women who I know could take Vent down; and, one’s just a kid. Now listen. These two women came looking for Danny. One of them, the kid, and man is she a strike kid. Well, anyway, Danny’s been keeping her mother, that Drina woman, in the dark. I think he kidnapped her, and now this kid and her aunt are looking for her. So, what do you think?” Trig sat back proud of herself. “ So, what’s that got to do with me, and what I owe Vent?” Starr asked perplexed. “Oh, I forgot, as they were leaving, Rayne grabbed the kid and tried to lead her away. She screamed and he slapped her. The kid went crazy, and the next thing you know, Rayne is on the street all spread out, with his arms swelling up and turning purple, and both women were standing over him. He even screamed like a girl!” Trig laughed. “No kidding?” Starr asked in awe of what Trig just told her. “Yeah, our Rayne got his own back and more,” Trig said triumphantly. “So, how do I meet these women?” Starr asked, conspiratorially leaning in close to Trig. “Well, I saw them walk out of the city together, which means they probably plan on coming back tomorrow. They’ll head to Danny’s place and that’s where we’ll meet up with them,” Trig smiled. “What do you mean we, Trig? You don’t owe Vent anything. What’s this got to do with you?” Starr narrowed her eyes at her friend. “You do not want to meet these women by yourself. At least I’ve met them and they liked me. I’ll just be the go-between,” Trig said. “I’ve heard of women like that, but I’ve never met any, but I’ve heard of them,” Starr said, seriously thinking it through. “Okay, we’ll do it.” “Let’s go.” Trig said and started for the door. Helene Joshua and Cassie sat next to a sleeping Helene, waiting for her to wake up. There were huge trucks going towards the hotels with wrecking balls, excavators, bulldozers, and huge cranes. Joshua turned on the TV to see what was going on, while Cassie called the Keaton’s. “Cassie, I take it you’re all safe?” Marion asked. “Oh I can’t wait until all of this is over and you’re all back home safe and sound.” “Me too.” Cassie agreed. “So far, no one should know what happened, but I still don’t know where my father is. If he were in the hotels, I would have known. So, now we have to find another clue to bring my family back to Parkerville. Joshua is putting some ice on a washcloth, to bring mom’s fever down, we stopped and got her some food, but, she’s really dehydrated.” “I know we saw a hospital in the city; but it would be safer to find a clinic, outside the city. I think we need to get out of here as soon as possible.” “Well, we’re just glad Helene is okay for now, we are trying to locate John, we just have to be very careful.” Marion said. “It’s funny, but I have this strange feeling that dad’s not that far away.” Cassie said. Frank “Dad,” Skye whispered. “Dad, wake up, wake up I need you,” Skye continued to whisper, not wanting to alert the guard at the door. Skye never asked how Much did things; she just accepted his miracles as normal. He’d told her when she was conscious, that her father was alive and lying on a bed in the room. The light in the room was very dim; she could hardly see the figure of her father lying on the bed. Much went to him and put his hand over Frank’s heart. “He’s breathing and he has a normal heart beat. He’s been in suspended animation for so long; maybe he’s just not ready to wake up.” “Dad! Hello in there. I need you to wake up,” Skye said in a loud whisper. “Hey, what’s going on in there?” A guard came into the room and saw Frank lying on the bed. He also noticed Skye wasn’t shackled to the wall any longer. “I’m getting Vent,” he said starting to walk out the door. “No, please don’t do that,” Skye said walking over to him and grabbing his arm. Immediately he couldn’t move. “You know, maybe I should put you in one of those cylinders?” Skye mused. “No, honey, don’t do that. No one deserves that,” came a soft voice from behind her. “Dad?” Skye said, turning to see her dad trying to sit up. “Daddy!” Skye ran over to him and put her arms around him. “Oh Skye, my baby girl, you’re all grown up!” he struggled to talk. “Almost,” she said, still hugging him. “Be careful, sweetheart, I’m not quite back to myself yet. All of a sudden everything went black. Every bit of light was gone. Skye blinked twice and was able to make out a few things. The guard was on the floor, her dad was gone from the bed and there was no sign of Much. “Daddy? Daddy where are you? What’s happening?” Nothing. She walked to the door and pushed it open. She could hear footsteps of people running, they sounded frightened. She called for Much, but there was no answer. She walked to the next room or what she thought was a room. She pushed open the door and saw something lying on the floor. Skye walked over to the body on the floor and nudged it with her foot. The body groaned and started to move. “Mr. Vent?” The voice asked. “No, sorry.” Skye answered. “Skye?” “Yes, who are you?” “Weston, I’m Weston. Where are we? What happened?” “I don’t know; I shouldn’t even be talking to you.” Skye spat at him. “Look, Vent told me to remove your bracelet and it threw me against the wall. That’s all I remember, then waking up in here.” “Hey, how can you see me? I can’t see a thing.” Weston asked rubbing his head. “I can see perfectly.” Skye said in a cold voice. Then she slid down on the floor next to Weston. “Good, then maybe you can get us out of here.” Weston said. “Wait! Someone is trying to contact me.” Skye whispered. Skye heard Cassie’s voice, and then she heard Story’s. She got very quiet and seemed to be concentrating. “They are not here, look to the past.” Skye said out loud. “Who are you talking to?” Weston whispered. “Nothing that concerns you, I’m leaving now.” Skye said starting to get up. “You can’t leave without me!” Weston said. “I can leave anytime I want, why should I take you with me? “Skye challenged. “I know this city better than anybody, I know where to hide, I know how to get you out of here. Good enough?” Weston replied. “How do I know you won’t just take me back to Vent? And, I have to find my dad, he’s disappeared, again.” “Your dad? You mean he’s alive?” Weston asked in disbelief. “Yes, I believe they’re all alive. All those people in those cylinders, and when I find my dad and mom, we’ll let them all go. That’s my plan. You got a better one?” Skye asked. “Wow, you are cite, I’ve never met anyone like you before. Are all the girls back in your time like you?” Weston asked. “Pretty much.” Skye said. “Shhh…be quiet…. I hear voices.” Skye whispered. There was talking outside their door. It seemed to be coming from the room Skye had been shackled in. She lowered her voice. “We have to stay put for a while.” “I have to ask you something.” Weston whispered. “Now?” Skye asked looking into his eyes. “Yeah, it’s kind of important, at least to me.” Weston replied. “Okay, what is it?” Skye whispered. “Do you believe in God?” Weston asked. “Yes, of course I do, why ask me that?” Skye asked, surprised. “I don’t know, I guess because, like I said, I never met anyone like you before.” “Weston, it doesn’t matter what century we’re in, God is the same, past, present and future and we all call on him to be our guide in this life.” “Well…. weren’t you angry at him; when your mom and dad were taken away?” Weston asked. “No, I didn’t know what happened, and when I did find out, I was angry with the evil that took them away.” She continued to whisper. “Yeah, I understand that, but I think Vent planned on killing me and I wasn’t sure where I was going to end up.” Weston said, frightened. “He may still do it.” “No, he’s not going to get that chance.” Skye promised, her voice softer. “My mom thinks the way you do. I just have so many questions about God.” Weston said and then sighed. “Look, we have enough problems trying to figure out who we are and why we’re here. At one point you just have to say, okay Lord, you know what you’re doing, I’m just going to sit back and see what happens, if I can help, just let me know.” Skye said matter- of- factly. “You are...so cite.” Weston said. “C’mon, let’s get out of here.” Skye got up and reached down to help Weston up. “My hand is right in front of you.” She said guiding him. Weston reached up and grabbed Skye’s hand and together they managed to make their way out of the room. “Wait a second.” Skye whispered. “Okay, let’s go.” She took Weston back into the room where she’d been shackled. “Dad?” She whispered. “He’s okay, take Weston and get out of this building.” Much answered her. Skye did as she was told, knowing she could trust Much. The two of them stayed close to the wall as they wondered down corridors trying to find a way out in the dark. They could still hear voices and the voices were growing louder, then they saw small beams of light coming towards them. “It’s Vent, and he’s coming this way.” Weston shuddered. “Okay, we’ll deal with it.” Skye said. “Stand absolutely still; don’t move.” “He’s coming!” Weston said squeezing Skye’s hand. “Shhh…! He won’t see us.” Skye said. “Check every room on this floor, they’ve got to be here somewhere; people just don’t disappear!” Vent growled. “Or do they?” Skye had to giggle at that. “Lights just don’t go out either, sir.” One of the men said angrily. “Yes, something evil is at work here men, we must be on our guard at all times.” Vent cautioned. He stopped for a moment looking straight at Skye, but not seeing her. The men rushed by as Vent turned and went back down the corridor. “What are you doing that he can’t see us?” Weston asked. “It’s not me, it’s Much, my guardian; at least that’s what I call him.” Skye said blithely. “I think I know my way out of here now, I see a light up ahead, it’s probably Vent; but it’s the only way we’re going to get out of this building.” Weston said taking the lead. Weston never let go of Skye’s hand, he wasn’t sure how she was doing it, but it was clear that Vent couldn’t see them. Weston took Skye through the door to Vent’s office where she first met him and hurried out the main door. The Carousel “Oh, what a relief, now, we’ve got to get away from here. Wait, what happened to your face, what happened to your hair?” Weston asked, looking stunned. “Yeah, well; Vent apparently beat me up and then chopped my hair off. He got the back of my neck pretty good too; it really burns.” Skye said. Then he checked the back of Skye’s neck. “Ouch…that looks pretty bad.” “It doesn’t feel too good either, neither does my eye or my lip.” Skye said. “That dirty rotten spineless coward!” Weston said, grabbing Skye and hugging her. He then held her away from him and looked into her good eye, the other eye was swollen as well as her lip. “Look, I know a great doctor, we need to get you to her.” He said. “I’ll go, as soon as we’re safe.” Skye said. “Well, let’s head back to Bastion.” Weston said walking around the corner to where they’d left the hovercraft, but it was gone. “Hey, there she is!” Some rough looking men came charging out of Vent’s building. “Now what?” Skye asked, perplexed. “Come on.” Weston grabbed Skye’s hand and ran towards the nearest alley, away from Vent’s building. They raced down more alleys and hurried around corners; until Weston was breathing so hard he had to stop for a moment. He leaned up against a wall huffing and puffing; he leaned down and pressed his hands against his knees, trying to get a breath. “Look Skye, you keep going, I can’t go any further.” He said completely out of breath and struggling to talk. “Let’s go.” Skye said grabbing Weston’s hand and ran with ease, bumping into people who didn’t seem to care. Weston felt a strength coming from Skye, some kind of power he didn’t know she had. Then she stopped. There, in the middle of a large square was a carousel, a monster of a carousel, painted gray with gray and black horses in statuesque galloping positions. The mirrors above were ornate but the spaces between the mirrors were blank. “Wow, I’ve never seen a carousel like this before.” Skye said in awe. “Why here of all places? I mean, in the middle of the city? I’ve seen carousels before, but they were pretty, the horses were painted all different colors; some prancing, some standing still; but all of them looking friendly and fun. These look ominous, threatening even.” She said. “Well…this one is kind of different.” Weston offered. “Here, let’s get on.” “Awe no, I’m not getting on that thing. I’ve had enough surprises for one day, I don’t need anymore and we should be getting out of here.” She said backing away. “Get on.” A voice said from out of nowhere. “Look Weston, I don’t like to be forced to do anything, so don’t push it.” Skye said narrowing her eyes at him. “Hey, if you don’t want to get on, don’t, we’ll just keep on going.” Weston said a little taken aback at Skye’s anger. “Didn’t you just tell me to get on, again?” She asked. “I said it once, look let’s just go.” Weston said taking her hand. “Get on.” The voice said again. “Okay, I heard it that time, and it wasn’t me.” Weston said looking around. “I know.” She said. “Fine, if I must.” Skye said, reaching up to grab hold of the reins of a horse. Weston followed suit and grabbed on to one of the reins of a horse, himself. They both jumped up on the saddles of their horses, then, slowly, the carousel began to move. The music was strange, but in a way, relaxing, even soothing. Skye remembered being very young and her mother putting her on a brightly painted carousel at a park. She felt so happy and proud sitting atop a white steed and waving to her dad as the horses went round and round. Other children were on the great merry-go-round, laughing and waving to family and friends; but, this was different; no one else was around except for Weston. This was strange; there wasn’t even a person she could see, who was running it. Skye tried to see something as the carousel rounded the same spots each time. There wasn’t even a gold ring she could grab for. She was ready to get down off the horse and jump off when she saw something amazing. Another carousel appeared opposite the one she was on, like a mirrored image. There were children laughing and waving at her, and then…she saw her, a little girl with long dark pigtails waving with all her might at Skye. Bright blue eyes, wearing a pink flowered dress with a pink checked pinafore, white laced socks and shiny black patent leather shoes. She was atop a white steed and her mother was standing beside her. Waving. “Oh, gees, it’s me.” She said. “And mom!” Three more rounds with the same little girl waving to her; with her mother. She waved back the last time, with a tear escaping down her cheek. “If only I could go back to those times.” She whispered. Weston noticed the blank screens between the mirrors were now filled with animated pictures of their past. The carousel slowed down. Next came the time she was on her bicycle riding down the hill near their house. She waved at the top of the hill, and then started down. She had just gotten a new bike for her tenth birthday. “Oh no, I know how this ends. I can’t watch.” Skye said putting her hands over her eyes. Next, she heard children’s voices and she took her hands away from her eyes. She saw her nieces waving to her from their swing set on the farm. Julie and Stan were there waving also; and in the background was Mac, just staring at her. Another round saw Julie, Stan and the kids, but Mac was gone. Now the fountain in Parkerville came into view; with Chad standing and waving to her, but someone was behind him. She couldn’t quite make him out, but she knew instinctively it was someone sinister, someone evil; and while Chad was waving, the figure behind him just stared at her. Then, Skye saw her friend Cassie waving; no, beckoning to her with Joshua standing next to her. “Does she need me to come home?” Skye said out loud. After that, it was her Aunt Sara standing next to Laura and, wait a minute, her mom! Sara, Laura, Carol Jean with her mom and Dottie were all standing at the statue in the square waving for her to come to them. Two other women were with them, but Skye only recognized one, Trig. “This is now, this is happening now.” Skye yelled. “Get me off this thing, I know where they are!” An Achilles Heel Trig and Starr were waiting outside the wind down when the women came down. “Hey, remember me?” Trig said looking at Sara. “Yes, I do, you’re Trig; what are you doing here?” Sara asked. “We’ve come to help you.” Starr cut in. “Oh, this is my friend Starr.” Trig said introducing her. “Janie? What are you doing here? Someone got a drug problem?” Starr asked. “Well, they did.” Janie answered. “Starr, I don’t think you can help this time.” Janie said. “I know I can. I know a lot more than you think about Vent.” Starr assured them. “Who is this?” Dottie asked. “This is our resident surgeon and entertainer.” Janie said smiling at Starr. “Surgeon?” Carol Jean asked, surprised. “The best.” Janie replied. “Yep, anything you need removed, this lady can do it.” Janie assured them. “Well, thanks Starr, but I don’t need anything removed right now.” Sara replied walking past the two women. “You don’t understand, I know Vent’s Achilles heel, I know how to bring him down, but I need help.” Starr said quickly catching up to the women. Sara stopped and looked at Starr. “Okay, let’s say you do know what makes him tick, how is that going to help us?” The Stones Skye and Weston both jumped down from the carousel and ran back the way they ‘d come. Back down the alleys and around the city blocks. This time however, Skye led the way and had Weston by the hand. He felt the energy go through him and this time he wasn’t out of breath. Finally, they were standing around a corner from the fountain near Vent’s office. They peered around the corner and Skye saw her mom and the rest of the women waiting and talking. She also saw Vent’s men with their arms crossed watching everything and everyone. “Come on.” Skye said starting towards the women. “Wait, don’t you see Vent’s men, they’re just waiting to catch us.” Weston cautioned. “Do you see those women at the fountain?” Skye asked with a huge smile. “Yeah, so?” Weston shot back. “Just wait.” Skye said leaping from her hiding place and running to the fountain. Seeing Skye, Vent’s men started for the fountain. Skye ran into her mom’s arms and held on to her. Dottie had one arm around Skye with tears rushing down her face and her other arm was holding up a hand for Vent’s men to stop. Laura, Sara and Dottie had complete control of the area. Vent’s men stopped in their tracks and backed away. They went back to stand in the doorway of Vent’s building. Mama, oh mom…I love you so much!” Skye said still wrapped in her mom’s arms. “Skye? What’s happened to you?” Sara said looking horrified. “Oh, Vent beat me up and cut my hair off.” Skye said. “No!” Dottie held Skye at arms length to get a good look at her daughter. “How could this have happened?” Dottie asked. “In my defense, I was unconscious.” Skye said laying her head on her mom’s shoulder. “Or he couldn’t have done it.” “Oh Skye, your eye, your lip, your hair!” Laura cried. “You’re a mess.” Carol Jean came up to her and hugged her. “I’m so sorry Skye.” “Oh my gosh, you’ve got a nasty burn there.” Janie said looking at Skye’s neck. “I’ll kill him.” Dottie said through gritted teeth. “Look, sweetie, we have a friend here, Starr, who says she knows how to bring him down. We need to listen to what she has to say.” Sara said giving Skye a hug. “Okay, um, Vent is absolutely terrified of his brother.” Starr said then standing back and clasping her hands in front of her. Janie had her bag out and was treating the burn on the back of Skye’s neck. “So, where do we find this brother?” Dottie asked. “Well, that’s the difficult part, from what I heard, he’s in the past. I know this is impossible to believe? But his brother lives in the past in a place called Parkerville.” “WHAT?” All the women yelled, eyes wide. “Yes, it’s the truth, it sounds crazy but this guy said it’s true and this brother comes to visit Vent once in a while and Vent tries to hide from him.” “Yeah, I should know, he forced me to let him stay at my place, while his brother was here. He also made Danny take care of things at his office.” Trig said with a little smirk. “Anyway, his brother is vicious; those cylinders are his brother’s idea. He had them built. Anyone who disagrees with Vent or his brother Patrick gets put in those things. I’ve seen them; I snuck down there once and couldn’t believe what I was seeing. They terrified me.” “Patrick? Patrick Cavanaugh?” Sara asked shocked. “No, it couldn’t be, it can’t be, not Chad’s father? I mean, I know he’s kind of weird, but, he’s Chad’s father.” Skye said with fear in her eyes. “He’s the only Patrick I know of in Parkerville.” Sara said. “You must be wrong, there’s got to be someone else or she got the name wrong.” Skye argued. “No kid, I didn’t get the name wrong. That guys name is all over the place, he owns most of these businesses, really. Even though Vent claims they’re his. Rumor has it that the brothers use to invent things and people in the labs in Bastion. But then, the people there kicked them out.” “We’ll look into it as soon as we get back. We’re jumping to conclusions and we need to get our facts straight.” Sara said trying to comfort Skye. Skye felt better about it and turned to her mother who had a worried look on her face. Weston started to back away from the women; he wanted to get away from this scenario as quickly as possible. He backed right in to the waiting arms of two of Vent’s men. “Get off me, leave me alone!” Weston yelled struggling to get away. “Leave him alone.” Dottie said walking toward the two men. “You really think we’re afraid of a few women?” One of the men snickered. “No, I think you’re both too stupid not to be afraid of women.” Sara said. ****** All four women including Skye lifted their hands up; and the stones around the fountain flew up into the air and started circling the statue. It was an incredible sight and everyone near the square stopped what they were doing to come and watch the spectacle. They could not believe what they were seeing. Rayne came towards Skye and watched her with a newfound respect. “It’s you, you’re the one that turned my arm black and blue and knocked me down.” “Yep, that was me.” Skye said with her swollen lip. “You’re a cite girl, even with your face all messed up and your hair off.” Rayne said. “But you gotta understand that men like me have certain needs.” “Whoa, they even use that line in this time? First of all, you’re not a man, second, I’ll tell you something my brother-in-law said to a guy once. You need to keep your ranch hand in your pants and not be using it where nobody wants it.” Skye said trying not to laugh at Rayne’s expression. With that, Skye took a tiny stone and flicked it at Rayne’s forehead. “What are you a magician or something.”? He asked. “No, I’m just a girl who wants to be respected. There is only one of me in this world, so I have to look out for me.” She answered. “Well it doesn’t look like you did take care of yourself, looking at your face.” He said. “Hey, if I hadn’t been unconscious, it wouldn’t have happened.” She answered him. “So, Vent got to you did he?” Rayne asked. “Yeah.” Skye said with vehemence. “Okay, I’ll get rid of him for you.” Rayne said matter-of-factly. Starr and Trig came to stand by Rayne. He wasn’t the smartest kid they knew, but they liked him. “Aren’t they something Rayne?” Trig asked the teenager. “More than something.” Rayne said staring at Skye. “Forget it kid, she’s way out of your league.” Starr laughed. “I don’t know, maybe I could get her to join my league.” Rayne smiled. “Not a chance.” Weston said coming to stand by Trig and Starr. ****** Mark, Carol Jean and her mom went and sat across from the fountain on a stone bench. The girls continued to walk around the fountain twirling the stones that were now turning different colors. The crowd started to get bigger and Vent’s men had no idea how to handle the situation. “Where’s Vent?” Dottie asked them. “He’s gone.” One of the men answered not taking his eyes off the stones. “Once again, where’s Vent?” She asked. Two men appeared behind Vent’s men grabbing them by the neck. “Where is he, or should I ask what century is he in?” “Dad!” Skye screamed and ran to her father. “Frank!” Dottie rushed over to him and hugged him. “Tommy?” Sara said walking to her husband who had one of Vent’s thugs by the neck. “We’ve got to talk.” Sara said to her husband. “What’s up?” Tommy asked, letting go of Vent’s man, then shoved him forward. “We just found out that Vent is back in Parkerville visiting his brother who is just as dangerous or more so than Vent.” “Who is he?” Tommy asked. “Starr says his name is Patrick.” Sara answered. “Oh no, not Cavanaugh?” Tommy asked. “I don’t know, but it doesn’t sound good. We’ve got to get back there.” “Ah, girls? I’m doing this all by myself. Hi dad.” Laura said holding up the twirling stones. “That’s my girl!” Tommy said. “You’re doing a great job.” “Oh, right, okay let’s do this.” Sara yelled. Laura, Skye, Sara and Dottie lifted their hands and brought them down. The black statue of Vent started to break apart and fall into the fountain. Great chunks of Vent fell into the fountain and into the square. Finally, Vent’s head rolled to the feet of his men and they jumped back. People stood back and watched amazed. No one knew how to react. “Go on, get out of here. You have no power anymore. Your boss is a coward and left you here to deal with this mess. If I were you, I’d find someone else to work for.” Tommy said. Once the statue was gone the women got together and whispered to each other. Then they stood back and raised their hands up again, twirling their hands and sculpting something to take the place of Vent’s awful statue. Something started to take shape and by the time they were finished, a beautiful gray image of four children holding hands in a circle with their heads back, laughing, looking happy and having fun. As an after thought, Skye added pigtails to one of the statues of a little girl. Sara brought her arms up again, and the waters began to flow. The fountain looked wonderful. People stood back in awe of it, wondering what to think of the whole thing. The women expected applause, but no one knew what to make of it. The owner of the bar Starr worked at came over to the women. “What’s going on here? Who do you think you are coming into our city and changing everything? You’re not welcome here and I’d advise you to put things back the way they were. We don’t allow children here. They get in the way.” He said standing and looking up at the new statue. “You’re wrong, Slub.” Trig said coming towards him. “Yeah, we like the new statue. And it’s going to stay.” Starr sniped at him. “Look Slub, you don’t work for Vent anymore, he’s gone. He slithered back under the rock he came from.” Trig smiled. “He can’t boss anyone around anymore. “Yeah, well that’s what you think. He’ll be back and he won’t like what he sees and I’ll be the first one to tell him who did it.” Slub spat. “We did it. So are you going to tell on us?” Sara, Skye, Laura, Dottie, Frank and Tommy all approached Slub. Janie, Carol Jean and Mark got up off the bench and came over to support Trig and Starr with the others. “Oh okay, I see what’s going on here. Well, Vent’s men will back me up!” He said looking around for someone to take his side. “I don’t think so.” Frank said. “And, while we’re at it, is there anyone here who’s lost someone or hasn’t seen a family member for a while?” “Yes, oh yes, my sister has been missing for months.” A young woman cried out. “Hey, my boyfriend’s been missing too.” Another girl yelled. A lot of people came forward with friends and relatives who’d gone missing. Frank and Tommy told them to follow them. They led them to Vent’s office and took them to the corridor to the glass cylinders where Frank had been trapped in suspended animation. “We’d better go along in case someone needs help.” Janie said to Mark. Janie and Mark followed the huge group of people into Vent’s office while his men just stood around, not knowing whether or not to stop them. “He is not going to like this Starr.” Slub said, walking back to his bar. “Well, I love it!” Starr said throwing her arms out and deftly rolling her stomach round and round dancing for anyone left to watch. “She dances too?” Sara asked amazed. “Of course! She’s the best surgeon and belly dancer anywhere!” Trig said proudly of her friend. Trig put her hands on her hips but could not match Starr’s perfection in the dance. Other women joined in trying to mimic Starr; all in all everyone was having a good time. Dottie put her arm around Skye and hugged her. “Skye, I thought, well, I didn’t think, I didn’t know.” Dottie started, trying to apologize. “Mom, I know all about it. I know who kidnapped you and how and when and well, just everything.” Skye said wrapping her arms around Dottie. “How on earth did you change the molecular restructure of that fountain?” Trig asked. “I couldn’t have done something like that by myself, it took four of us to pull it off.” Skye said. Feeling a little self-conscious in front of Trig and Starr, Skye turned to Carol Jean. “Oh, by the way, Carol Jean, you remember Weston? He saved my life.” Skye said. “More like she saved my life.” Weston corrected. “Thank you Weston, for taking such good care of my girl here. Dottie said giving him a hug. “Are you going back to Bastion, now?” Skye asked. “No, I think I’ll go home to Seeber for a while. I miss my family.” He said. “Oh my gosh, you’re a water person, you live on one of those big dials over the water; right?” Carol Jean asked. “Uh, yeah, I do.” Weston said cautiously. “Not a lot of people know it, though.” “My mom told me about Seeber and the dials. It’s fascinating.” Carol Jean said. “Glad you think so.” Weston smiled. “And Weston, my friend, you’ve got a lot of hang-ups, but always know that God loves you very much, you don’t need to worry.” Skye assured him, and then gave him a hug and as an after thought, she kissed him. Weston didn’t want to let go of her. He knew he could easily fall in love with someone like Skye. Rayne was watching and his eyes lit up when he saw Skye kiss Weston. “Hey! How come he gets kissed and I get a rock thrown at me?” Rayne yelled. “He’s cite.” Skye answered Rayne. “Uh, Skye? I still want you to visit Seeber and meet my family.” Weston said. “I want that too, but for now, I’ve got to go with my mom and dad. You understand, right?” Skye asked. “Yeah, I understand, I guess I’d feel the same way about my own parents.” Weston answered her. “I think it’s time we left the city and headed back to Bastion.” Tommy cautioned. “Yeah, I think that’s a good idea, let’s get going.” Frank said putting his arms around his daughter and wife. “Oh thank God, we’re all back together again; and we’re going home.” Dottie said. Tommy, Sara and Laura got into the back seat of the large hover craft the men had brought. Frank, Dottie and Skye got in the front; Janie, Mark and Carol Jean navigated the craft back to Bastion. Trig and Starr said their goodbyes; but, sincerely hoped they’d see them again. Good News and Sad News Joshua and Cassie pulled up outside the Keatons house. The Keaton family came rushing out and down to the car. Helene was sitting up in the back seat, fully recovered and feeling well after the horrific time she’d had in the hotel. Justin gave her his hand and helped her out of Joshua’s car. Helene hugged Justin and Marion. She remarked at how much taller Chris was than his father and what a darling little girl Geri had turned out to be. “Come in.” Marion said, taking Helene’s arm and leading her into the house. Standing in the entry of the Keaton home, Helene was impressed with the warmth and beauty of their home. “Oh Marion, this is just lovely, so warm and inviting. I want to make a home like this for my family.” Helene said. “Mom, you’ve got to meet the grandmothers, they’re wonderful and they just can’t wait to see you again.” Cassie said. “Well, first, I’m going to have to get some clothes. When they took us, they didn’t exactly let us pack. Eventually, they gave me a nightgown and a few dresses; I guess they thought I’d need. They were good at bringing trays to us everyday for a while, then a week ago it all stopped.” Helene said. “Luckily, I had some mints and chewing gum that kept me going; but, they turned off the water a couple of days ago.” “Don’t worry mom, we’ll go shopping, we’ll have a blast in Marshall City.” Cassie smiled and took her mom’s other arm. “Any news from John?” Helene asked tentatively. “He’s alright mom.” Cassie answered. “I don’t know exactly where he is, but I know he’s okay.” “How do you know this Cassie?” Helene looked at her daughter surprised. “Well, Story and I held hands while trying to figure out where you were, in the future or past. We also concentrated on dad, and the answer we both got was, that he was alive and well. We don’t know where he is though.” Cassie sighed. “Who’s this Story?” Helene asked walking into the Keatons house. “She’s my cousin Ma’am.” Joshua answered, setting down Cassie’s suitcase. “Together, those two are phenomenal.” Marion said smiling. “And when the four of them are together, there’s no stopping them. We’re all very proud of them Helene.” All of a sudden the phone rang and Marion went to answer it. “Who is this?” Marion asked concerned. “Bernadette, is that you, what’s wrong, are you hurt?” Marion blurted out. “What’s wrong?” Helene asked walking over to Marion. “The line went dead. I’m sure it was Bernadette, but her voice was so weak and I couldn’t understand her.” Marion said worried. “Justin, take Cassie’s things up to her room, and Helene, I think you should go lie down, you’ve had a long journey.” Marion proposed. “Mrs. Keaton, Joshua and I will head over to the Bakers, I’m really afraid for Bernadette.” Cassie said. “Mom, I think she’s right, follow Mr. Keaton up to my room and lie down, we’ll make sure Bernadette is okay.” “Well, I am a little tired. But please wake me up and let me know what’s going on?” Helene asked. ****** Joshua and Cassie jumped in the car and headed to the Bakers house. As soon as they were there, Cassie got out of the car and hurried to the front door and rushed inside without knocking. She called out for Bernadette and heard a moaning sound coming from the living room. “Bernadette!” Cassie cried and rushed into the room. Bernadette was lying on the floor near the fireplace. There was blood everywhere and Bernadette was in and out of consciousness. The phone was lying on floor. “Cassie?” She said in a whisper. Doctor Ross “Joshua, did you ask Justin to send for Dr. Ross?” Cassie called from the living room. “He always seems to show up just when you need him.” “I didn’t even need to say anything, Justin said he’d send him right away.” Joshua answered. Just as Joshua hung up the phone a knock was heard at the front door. Joshua went to open it, but Dr. Ross had already let himself in and was headed for Wilhelmina’s room. “Well, well… Wilhelmina, have you hurt yourself then? Looks to me as if you wore yourself out.” Dr. Ross said with conviction. Suddenly, there was another knock on the door. Two men, wearing light green uniforms, went straight to Wilhelmina. She was about to say something, but Dr. Ross just had to throw a few, exploding cotton balls, over her head. “Doctor, I think we need to take Mrs. Baker to the hospital. Not for her good; but to get Bernadette away from her mother.” Joshua said. “I think that’s the right medicine, son, so get her out of here.” He said to the two men carrying Wilhelmina on a stretcher. “And make sure she has a rough ride.” “Now, Joshua, where is that lovely Bernadette.” “I’ll take you to her, she’s in the living room with Cassie. We’ve tried to make her comfortable.” Joshua said. “She’s here Dr. Ross and she’s bleeding.” Cassie said solemnly. “Why would a nice, sweet person, have to live through all of this anger, day to day. It’s a shame she had that woman for a mother,” he said, following Joshua. “Well, well, Bernadette, who got the worst of this fist fight?” “I guess I wasn’t fast enough, this time Dr. Ross, but it’s a joy to have you in my home.” “Sweetheart, you need to go to the hospital. You’re lucky Cassie and Joshua showed up when they did.” Dr. Ross took her pulse and felt her forehead. “We’ll get you fixed up in no time.” Two other interns gingerly picked Bernadette up, and put her on a stretcher, once she was safely in the ambulance, they quietly drove off. ****** Bernadette The ambulance took Wilhelmina and Bernadette to the hospital in Marshall City. Joshua and Cassie hurried to the Keaton’s to try to contact Bernadette’s family before it was too late. They rushed into the Keaton’s and explained everything that had happened. “Mr. Keaton, can you get through to the future? It’s imperative that her family knows that she may not make it. We’ve already called Rose and she’s on her way to the hospital. “Well, that could be a problem,” Justin said. “No, Justin!” Marion said. “We have to get Lila and Emily here; yes, we’re breaking most of the rules, but this would be Emily’s last chance to see her mother.” Justin looked down at his shoes and then his eyes watered. “You’re right, this is an emergency, and we’ve got to try.” The four of them went upstairs to the secret room. “Now I need to find, Ryan, he’s a good friend; if anyone can help us, he can. Justin sat down at the desk and went through a desk file. “I need some time alone to work through this. There are a lot of channels I need to go through, if this is going to work. Marion took Cassie and Joshua downstairs and made some tea. “Marion, should we try to find Sara?” Cassie asked pacing the kitchen floor. “No, they can’t just go to a telephone; they have a different way of contacting us here in Parkerville.” After an hour of waiting, Justin finally heard Randall’s voice. “Justin, this is extraordinary; I’m amazed that you got through, what’s wrong?” “I’m sorry to be the bearer of bad news Randall, but your youngest daughter Bernadette is in the hospital and she’s not expected to make it.” Justin said sadly. “Bernadette, my little girl? What happened?” Randall asked, sounding crushed. Justin explained the brutality of Wilhelmina against her daughter to Randall. “I want that horrible witch arrested!” Randall yelled into the phone. “You won’t have to, apparently Wilhelmina had a stroke and she’s not able to move or speak, she’s also in the hospital.” Justin explained. “We’ll be back as soon as possible. Lila will want to see her sister, and Emily needs to meet her mother. Can you somehow meet us Justin?” Randall asked. “Of course, I’ll meet you at the warp in a few hours our time.” Justin said. “All right, I’ll prepare the girls for bad news and get them through the warp.” “I’ve got to tell Marion, Cassie and Joshua that things are set for you and the girls to come back.” “Who are Cassie and Joshua?” Randall asked. “Joshua Edwards, Jim Edwards’s son, and Cassie Evans; John and Helene’s daughter. Someone kidnapped them and we just now found Helene. We’re still searching for John; we think they may have taken him to the future.” Justin replied. “No, John’s not here.” Randall said. “If he were, I’d know about it.” “Living in the future has always been a challenge, we’re lucky we live in the nicer part, where people care about one another. Look, I’ve got to go and get prepared. I’m going to get a pass to be in Parkerville with the girls within the next few hours. I pray we’re not too late.” “That’s good, Randall, I’ll be watching for you.” Justin said and then disconnected his line. A Visit from Vent Vent quietly waited for his chance to come up through the fountain warp when no one was around. Then he quickly made his way to the Keaton’s house. He waited for his chance and almost got it when he saw a young man and a girl hurrying into the house. There was some kind of commotion going on that he couldn’t figure out; however, his focus was on Cassie. He needed to get her alone, somehow. He waited and watched through the window outside. He saw the group go upstairs. “No, I need to get her alone.” Vent hissed. The next thing he saw were three people coming down the stairs and going into another room. He hurried to the next window, but he couldn’t see a thing for all the shrubbery around it. He didn’t dare move anything or make any kind of commotion. “Look, I’ll make us some tea or hot chocolate. Which do you prefer?” Marion asked. “Oh mom, I feel so bad for Bernadette.” Geri said sliding into a kitchen chair. “We all do sweetheart, but she still might make it. Let’s keep our prayers up.” Marion said, putting her hand on Geri’s blond head. “I just can’t believe her mother turned so vicious.” Chris said. “I can. And if she lives, she’ll go to jail.” Cassie said vehemently. Geri brushed tears away from her eyes and said she wanted to go to her room for a while. “You go right ahead sweetheart.” Marion said softly. Geri got up and ran out of the kitchen and up the stairs to her room. Vent saw a blur of blond hair run up the stairs. “Finally, my chance!” Vent smiled. He quietly turned the handle to the front door and tip-toed in.” Looking both ways, he crept up the stairs to the room he supposed the blond girl went into. The room was dark at first; however, after adjusting his eyes he saw a figure lying on the bed. “Now, I’m here to take you with me, girl,” he whispered. “So don’t make a sound or I’ll have to plug your mouth. I’d like to slap you around a bit, like I did your friend, but time will not permit.” “Finally… I’ll have my brother’s respect.” Vent said as he leaned over the figure in the bed. Helene rolled over, moaning, pretending to be asleep, then, suddenly rose up in bed and shouted, “You worthless demon.” She remembered a pair of scissors lying on Cassie’s nightstand and was able to pick them up and plunge them into Vent’s leg with all her might. Vent screamed like a banshee, ran out of Cassie’s room and limped down the stairs in pain. Chris came running from the kitchen and when he saw Vent, he threw the teapot at the back of Vent’s head and Vent lost his balance for a moment. He held his head with one hand and limped out the door as fast as he could with the scissors still embedded in his leg. Justin ran out of his bedroom, as did Geri and Helene. He ran down the stairs, chasing a limping Vent, while Cassie and Marion watched in shock as the men chased Vent. Chris, Joshua and Justin all ran after him, but he got away in Joshua’s car. “Joshua? You left your keys in the car?” Justin asked exasperated. “Hey, I never expected someone from Parkerville to steal my car!” Joshua yelled back angrily. “All right, I think I know where he went.” Justin said heading back into the house. “Unfortunately, I think he knows this town, so if he’s not there, I need to put out an alarm to be on the lookout for Vent. 1966 - The Return They stood at the future time warp ready to return to their own time. Not promising anything to Pastor Parker upon leaving. The Pastor was extremely sorry for all the danger Skye and the others had been through. He wanted a promise that when the time came, Parkerville would arrive complete and beautiful in his time, the future. They shook his hand and were gracious in their gratitude for all he had done for them, however they avoided the subject of the town traveling into the future. ****** The group was surprised to arrive at the same time Randall Baker, his daughter Lila and a young woman stood waiting for the warp to open. “So who are they?” Skye asked. “That’s Randall Baker and his oldest daughter Lila. I’m not quite sure who the younger woman is, but I can take a guess.” Tommy said. “Who dad?” Laura asked. “Bernadette Baker’s long lost daughter, I would assume.” He answered. Tommy and Frank approached Randall Baker and the two women, who seemed extremely solemn. Carol Jean, Laura and Skye looked at each other, not knowing what to think. “Mr. Baker, we’re surprised to see you here.” Tommy said holding out his hand. Randall Baker returned the handshake and introduced his daughter and granddaughter to the group. “Lila, of course some of you remember, and this is Emily, Bernadette’s daughter.” “Lila, of course I remember you and it’s nice to see you again, but I’m afraid something is a little off here.” Sara said. “Mr. Baker, I’m surprised to see you at all; what on earth takes you back?” Tommy asked. “A very sad occasion.” Lila answered. “My sister is lying unconscious in the hospital not expected to live.” “Dear God, what happened, you don’t mean Bernadette?” Dottie asked as the others came closer, in shock. “Yes.” Randall acknowledged. “My witch of an ex-wife lost her temper and apparently her mind; beating Bernadette over the head with her cane. I’m going back to see my daughters and to make sure justice is done to that woman.” “How did you come to find out about Bernadette?” Tommy asked. “Justin Keaton. It seems he has a friend, who has a friend and he was able to get in touch with me. I can’t tell you how glad I am that he was able to reach me. This is an emergency, I need to see Bernadette and Rose; and get a few other things straightened out.” “You know that you can count on any one of us to help you.” Dottie offered. The girls just stood back with tears running down their cheeks. “Come on now, Bernadette is still alive, there’s always a chance.” Janie said trying to comfort her daughter. “It doesn’t look good.” Randall said. “Look, can someone else be a little positive?” Emily said with anger in her voice. “I’m meeting my mother for the first time and I’m excited. She’s got to be all right.” Emily pleaded. Lila put her arm around her and tried to reassure her. Tommy took his keys out and unlocked the doors to the warp. Everyone filed into the warp and waited for the doors to close. ****** On a bench in the garden of time, sat a very anxious Todd Kane. He could not take his eyes off the doors to the time warp. His best friend Chris had been a best friend by calling Todd and telling him that he thought the group was coming home. Todd tagged along with Justin, who was extremely peeved that his son Chris had disclosed something that was private and under emergency circumstances. Todd got up from the bench and approached Justin, once again. “So, when, Mr. Keaton, come on, you must know when; I mean you must have some sort of idea.” Todd pleaded. “Todd, for the umpteenth time, I don’t know the exact time; all I can tell you is very soon. They should be here any time now. But Todd, I keep telling you it doesn’t mean Skye and the others will be with them.” “Yeah, I know, I just keep hoping.” Todd said and went back to the bench. On the hill, opposite the warp, a man and a small boy or what looked to be a boy, stood and waited also. “Meebe today Daddy, meebe today?” Ralphy said looking up at his dad. “Yes, maybe today Ralphy.” He answered him and ruffled his hair. ****** Marshall City Hospital, Intensive Care Unit. Bernadette Baker was the name on the door. No visitors except immediate family. Rose was by her side. She held her hand, even though there had been no response for hours. She talked to her, read to her, brushed her hair and constantly told her how much she loved her. Rose had already visited her mother who was taken out of intensive care and wheeled into a private room. When Wilhelmina opened her eyes, Rose was standing near her bed, staring at her. “I’ve thought you were many things mother, but not a murderess. I’ve been so wrong all of these years. You’ve always been a vicious conniving witch. Capable of anything, including murdering your own daughter.” Rose said with great vehemence. Her mother lay there staring at Rose, then, she managed to move her head back and forth. “No? Are you trying to say, no? You didn’t try to kill her?” Rose asked coming closer. Then, Wilhelmina just stared at Rose and didn’t move. “Well, I know you did, there was blood all over your cane. So don’t try to worm your way out of this. If you live, you’ll spend the rest of your life in prison. Sound like fun mom?” Rose spat at Wilhelmina. When there was no reaction from her mother whatsoever, she turned on her heel and left. ****** 1966 - Home Again The doors opened to the warp in the garden and the families stepped out. Justin was there to greet the Baker family and the others. Tommy and Frank shook Justin’s hand as Sara and Dottie were welcomed back by Marion, who had joined Justin before the doors opened. Laura walked behind Sara and Tommy. She looked like she just lost her best friend. “Honey, Mark will be here shortly. He loves you; you know that, he just had some last minute work to take care of. We’ll be so lucky to have him, but it’s a big step for him to leave the future and come back to our time. You do understand, don’t you?” “Yes mom, I know all that, it just doesn’t make it any easier. I really miss him and it’s only been a few hours.” Laura sulked. Sara put her arm around her daughter and tried to comfort her. The girls were next to come through the doors; Todd stood up and walked towards Skye with tears in his eyes. Skye ran to Todd and jumped into his arms; she hadn’t even noticed Chad was not there. Frank and Dottie watched their daughter and just looked at each other, not knowing what to make of this behavior. “Don’t worry.” Sara said to Dottie. “That’s Todd, he’s harmless, and he’s just totally in love with your daughter.” “Yes well, I’ll allow it this time, but there are going to be some ground rules.” Frank said. Todd held her and hugged her and could not stop kissing her. Then, he held her away from him and took in the damage that had been done to her in the future. “I don’t want to know, I only want to know that you’re okay and you’re not going back there.” He said. “No, I’m not going back there, but I did meet some really neat people.” She said. “Look, my hair will grow back and Janie fixed my neck, my eye and my lip.” Skye said. “You can tell me later how all that happened to you, but right now, you’re in my arms and you’re safe. That’s all I care about.” Todd said. ****** Jay Myers was standing at the top of the hill as usual, watching the warp doors. When he saw his daughter and his Janie step out, he was beyond happy. Ralphy was a head of him as he ran down the hill towards his sister and mother. “Mama, mama.” He shouted as Janie knelt to gather him in her arms. “How are my girls?” Jay asked as he slowly walked to Carol Jean and Janie. “We’re fine dad.” Carol Jean said, smiling and hugging him. “Jay.” Janie said and held out her arms to him. “The love of my life.” Jay said taking her into his arms. “So…where’s Margaret?” Janie asked. “She’s gone.” Jay answered. “When she found out you were coming home, she left.” “Good, because I’m home to stay.” Janie smiled. “Thank God.” Jay said picking her up and swinging her around. “Carol Jean and Ralphy laughed and clapped their hands for joy. ****** “I have a car waiting.” Justin said. “But, there’s so many of us.” Skye pointed out. “No worries, we’ll all fit. If it’s alright; we’re going to the hospital first in Marshall City to get the latest news on Bernadette.” Justin announced. “We all want to go. Janie Myers here is a doctor and may be able to help. She ‘s from the future and knows a lot more than our own doctors today.” Sara said. “My mom is the best, and she even brought her wonderful bag of medicine with her.” Carol Jean said proudly. Janie smiled at her daughter and said she’d do her best. Jay had his arm around her and everyone saw a completely different man. For the first time in many years, he was happy. “Well, the problem is whether or not Bernadette wants to come out of the coma she’s in. She’s been very unhappy these last few months and I’m just not sure how she’ll react or if she’ll react.” Marion said. “It’s my fault, I should never have left those girls in the hands of that witch. I honestly thought they would find husbands and get away from her. I had to get Lila out of there along with Bernadette’s baby. She threatened to kill her.” Randall confessed. There was in intake of breath when they heard this news. They knew she was a villainous woman, but they never knew she was capable of murder. “Skye, Cassie would have been here, but she’s with her mother and she wanted me to tell you that she’ll meet with you later and you can both talk about your adventures.” Marion said. “Oh my gosh, she found her parents? That’s wonderful, and I’ve found mine.” Skye said happily. “Yes, she found her mother with Joshua’s help, but we’re still searching for her father. We haven’t been able to locate John; it’s just a complete mystery as to his whereabouts. We know he would never leave Helene alone like that and risk her life if he could help it.” Justin said. The group walked up the hill from the time warp and as Justin said, a large limousine was waiting for them, plus Justin had driven his own car there, so there was plenty of room for everyone. As Justin drove through town and out the gates towards Marshall City, Tommy had an idea. “Vent has something to do with John’s disappearance, I know it. We know he’s back in Parkerville.” Tommy said. “I’ll say he is. He broke into our house and tried to kidnap Cassie. He got the surprise of his life when Helene stabbed him with a pair of scissors. He limped out of the house and got away before we could catch him.” Justin said. “Wait a minute, he was limping and you still couldn’t catch him? So, did you follow him?” Tommy asked. “We thought we knew where he went, but we were wrong. Now it’s a new game, we have no idea where he’s hiding out.” Justin said. “Well, we may have some news about that. His brother lives here and he’s afraid of him or should we say intimidated by him. But he may have gone to him as a last resort.” Frank offered. “So, who is this brother?” Justin asked. “Get ready for this Justin, Vent’s brothers name is Patrick Cavanaugh.” Tommy said looking straight ahead. Justin slammed on the brakes and looked at Tommy incredulous. The limousine in front of them, noting that they had stopped, also stopped. The driver got out and headed back towards Justin’s car. “Everything all right sir?” The driver asked. “Oh, you have no idea.” Justin said putting his head down on the steering wheel. “It’s alright, let’s keep going. We’ll deal with this later.” Justin told the driver. “As soon as we let the Bakers off and the girls, we’ll head over to the Cavanaugh’s.” Justin said. “What about Todd?” Frank asked. “You know, that’s a good reason to stop by the Cavanaugh’s. Todd and Chad are rivals for Skye. Skye’s been seeing a lot of Chad for a while now. But I think her true feelings came out as soon as she saw Todd today. So, Todd could stop by wanting to talk to Chad about her. What do you think?” Justin asked. “I think my little girls been busy since we’ve all been apart.” Frank said disgusted. “Come on now Frank, our Laura’s been gone for a while too, and now she says she’s in love with this doctor, Mark Stevens. How do you think we feel?” Tommy said. “Both girls are still teenagers.” “Okay, let’s get back to the plan, what do you think of Todd wanting to talk to Chad?” Justin asked once again. “Yeah, great idea, I think it will work.” Tommy said. “Sure, fine. Let’s give it a try.” Frank agreed. ****** Once inside the hospital, Randall and his girls hurried to the desk clerk to ask which room Bernadette was in. Jay, Ralphy and Carol Jean went to the waiting room with the others. Randall, Lila and Emily hurried to intensive care; and when Rose looked up and saw her father, sister and niece, she burst into tears. “How on earth?” Rose asked her father. “It’s a long story sweetheart. But I’m here now and I’ll take care of everything.” Janie hurried over to Bernadette and took out a strange looking white shiny thing no bigger than a man’s wallet. She passed it over Bernadette and then looked at the readings on it. “She’s very weak.” Janie said, then looked through her bag and picked out a syringe of some kind and pressed it into Bernadette’s arm. Immediately Bernadette opened her eyes and looked around her. “Father?” She asked. “Yes, baby, it’s me.” Randall said going to her side. “Someone is here who desperately wants to meet you.” “Mama?” Emily said and she went to Bernadette. “My baby.” Bernadette whispered. “Did I die? Am I in heaven?” Bernadette asked. “No, it’s me, Emily; and we’re all going to be together from now on.” Emily said smiling. Someone else was standing in the room, had been there since Bernadette was first brought in. He never left. No one could see him, but that didn’t matter to him. He was there for her, and now he could see her and their daughter together. A nurse came into the room and was astounded at all the people standing around Bernadette’s bed. “I hope you are all family?” She asked. “Yes, we’re all family.” Randall acknowledged. “Why Miss Baker, you’re awake. That’s wonderful, I’ll just get the doctor.” The nurse said. ****** Randall Baker stepped outside Bernadette’s room, he wanted his granddaughter to bond with her mother and he also had something to take care of. “Where is Wilhelmina Baker?” He asked a nurse passing by. “She’s in room 241, but you need to be family.” She said. “I am.” He said. And continued to walk down the corridor thinking of what he was going to say to her when he saw her. He hesitated outside her room before he went in. Her eyes grew large at his unexpected visit. “Hello Wilhelmina.” Randall said coming closer to her. The only movement she could make was to move her head back and forth. “No? You don’t want any visitors? Well, gee, that’s too bad; because here I am.” She continued to breathe heavily and watched every move he made. “What a shame you can’t talk, my goodness, I’m wondering what you’d have to say to me after all these years, my dear.” Randall said this as he walked over to a chair and picked up a spare pillow. She watched him and kept moving her mouth, and at one point, tried to talk. “What’s the matter dear? Are you trying to say you’re sorry? Are you sorry for trying to kill Bernadette? Now that would be a first, wouldn’t it? Saying your sorry for the first time in your life.” Randall said with vehemence. A nurse came in at this point to check on her IV, and take her pulse. She looked at Randall and at the pillow he had in his hand. “Um, sir, I think Mrs. Baker has enough pillows under her head. Maybe I should take this one.” She said as she gently removed the pillow from Randall’s hand. “Nurse, I’m not the only one who thinks Wilhelmina needs another pillow under her head in this hospital. There may be a few more in to visit this woman.” Randall warned. “Yes sir, there’s a police officer outside her door. When and if she is well enough, he’s ready to take her to the city jail to await an arraignment.” The nurse said. “I’m to keep an eye on her.” Once again, Wilhelmina watched and heard what was being said. Her eyes widened at the prospect of going to jail. ****** Randall went back to Bernadette’s room and there was another guest there. “Hello Mr. Baker, it’s wonderful to meet you; I’m Cassie Evans.” “Well, hello Miss Evans, it’s nice to meet a friend of my daughters.” He said shaking Cassie’s hand. Looking over his shoulder, Cassie was surprised to see a familiar face. “You’re here?” She said out loud. “Who’s here, who are you looking at?” Randall asked Cassie. “Um, Oh, I guess it was just a shadow, with all these curtains around the bed, I thought I saw someone.” “You know Cassie, if you look around every nook and cranny in this hospital you’ll find lots of shadows and a few ghosts.” Randall said. “You’re not kidding.” Cassie said sadly. “Well, can I come in or is it just family?” Skye asked. “Skye! You’re back!” Cassie said excitedly. “Oh wow, should I ask what happened to you?” Cassie asked as she stepped back to look at her. “No, we can talk about that later.” Skye sighed. As the two girls hugged each other and together went over to see Bernadette, the shadow moved behind the curtains. “Nelson’s here.” Cassie whispered to Skye. “Where?” Skye asked looking around. “Behind the curtains. I have a feeling he’s been here all along.” Cassie said. “How bad is she?” Skye asked. “The doctor said she’s got some brain damage. She goes in and out of consciousness, but her daughter is here. That’s Emily over there talking to her. Can you believe it? She finally gets to see her baby girl!” Cassie whispered excitedly. “Well, she’s hardly a baby, but she’s Bernadette’s. She’s really pretty isn’t she?” Skye asked. “Yes, she looks like a younger version of Bernadette. And it’s so good to see Rose.” Cassie said. I don’t know her as well as Bernadette, but when I visit Bernadette, she talks about Rose and her children, all the time.” “What do you mean you don’t know her as well? You know her as well as I do. Don’t you remember the fun we had with them at the pajama party? And when we first met them? How strange it was to watch them argue over cookies?” Skye asked. “Skye, are you losing it? I didn’t meet Rose until she came to visit once with one of her daughters.” Cassie said looking very confused. “Oh, for petes sake. I forgot. Once we went to the future, Rose changed her life. Okay, give me your hand.” Skye said. “Why?” Cassie asked giving Skye her hand. Skye held Cassie’s hand and closed her eyes remembering all the memories she held of Bernadette and Rose. At one point she took Cassie’s other hand, and concentrated on what happened in the future. Cassie’s eyes flew open and she remembered everything they shared with the Baker sisters. “Thank you!” Cassie said to Skye and hugged her. “I imagine Aunt Sara is going to have to do the same with Marion.” Skye said. Rose never left her sisters side, from the moment she was admitted to the hospital. Another woman entered the room and went to stand next to her mother. She put her hand on her mom’s shoulder. “How’s she doing mom?” Rose’s eldest daughter asked. “Not too well sweetie, but finally having her daughter next to her, is a dream come true.” Rose said “Faith.” Bernadette reached out for Rose’s daughter’s hand. “Faith, sweetheart, this is your cousin Emily. My daughter.” “So wonderful to meet you Emily. I hope you’ll be staying. I want you to meet the rest of your mom’s family. I have a brother and three sisters. So, you have a lot of cousins to meet.” Faith said hugging Emily. “And you, must be my grandfather?” Faith asked Randall. “I most certainly am. And, you look so much like your mother my dear.” Randall said hugging her. Randall looked at Rose and winked. “You made the right decision Rose.” ****** “Oh, this will not do. No, some of you will have to leave. There are way too many people in this room. You must remember; this is intensive care.” The doctor warned. Rose took her daughter’s hand and said, “Honey, go back out with your dad and the others. I need to stay with her.” “I understand, mom.” Faith went and gave Bernadette a kiss on the forehead. “I love you Aunt Bernie.” “Love you too Faith.” Bernadette managed to whisper. “Come on.” Skye said to Cassie. Both girls leaned down and kissed Bernadette, and then they went to Rose and gave her a hug. “This is going to sound really weird Rose, but I didn’t know that I knew you so well. Please forgive me.” Cassie said. “Oh Cassie, that’s perfectly understandable. I’m very glad Skye clued you in.” Rose smiled. Before the girls left the room, they both looked at the shadow behind the curtains and smiled at Nelson. He smiled back at them, but kept his vigil over Bernadette. ****** Randall looked around the room and noticed someone was missing. “Has anyone seen Lila?” He asked. “No, I haven’t seen her for a while now.” Rose answered. “Me neither.” Emily said still clutching her mother’s hand. Lila was watching the guard outside Wilhelmina’s room. She waited until he stood up and stretched and walked a little way down the hallway. She slipped in unnoticed and confronted Wilhelmina. “My father made a deal with you. You didn’t keep it.” Lila said walking towards the hospital bed. ****** Justin pulled up outside the Cavanaugh house. He was driving his own car, so there was nothing-suspicious happening. “Okay, you know what you’re going to say, right Todd?” “Yeah, stay away from Skye.” Todd replied. “Oh for pete’s sake, no, you’re just going to let him know that Skye is back and at the hospital with everyone else watching over Bernadette. Got it?” Frank said. “Yes, I’ve got it.” Todd sighed. Todd got out of the car and went up to the elaborate front door of the Cavanaugh’s. He rang the doorbell, and their maid answered it. She gestured for Todd to come in and then closed the door. Once inside, the maid motioned for Todd to sit down on a bench in the parlor. Within a few minutes Patrick Cavanaugh approached Todd to ask what he wanted. “I just wanted to tell Chad that Skye was back and at the hospital. Bernadette Baker had an accident and she’s not doing well.” “I see, well, my son is not here at the moment. I’m sorry to hear about Miss Baker, however, I will be sure to tell my son as soon as he gets home. He’ll be very happy to hear that Skye is back. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have a lot to do.” “Yeah, sure. Thanks for passing on the message.” Todd said and walked towards the door. “It’s working.” Justin said. “He’ll probably sneak his brother in and try to kidnap one or both of the girls.” Justin drove away from the Cavanaugh’s home and watched as three people quickly got into Patrick’s car and started to back down the driveway. “You were right. Chad must have been there; because three men got into Mr. Cavanaugh’s car.” Back at the hospital, Justin wasn’t ready for the other two girls to show up. “Gina, Ruth Ann?” Justin asked as he walked into the waiting room. “Mr. Keaton, we would have been here sooner, but Cassie just called to let us know. We’re so sorry for Bernadette.” Ruth Ann said. Not long after Justin, Frank, Tommy and Todd arrived back at the hospital; Cavanaugh with two other men came hurrying through the door. Justin and the others had taken seats in the waiting room and pretended to read magazines and newspapers. Todd noticed immediately that Chad was not with his father. “That’s strange.” Todd whispered. “What?” Justin asked. “Chad’s not with them.” “So, who are the other two?” Frank asked. Sara came around the corner and ran straight into Danny Elliott. “What are you doing here?” She yelled. Frank immediately got up and went to stand beside Sara. “I will see that you are never heard from again. That’s a promise.” Frank hissed at Danny. “I…I just came with.” Danny started. Patrick gave him a killer look and Danny went quiet. “Leave me alone.” He said, and hurried out of the room. Patrick quickly left when he saw it was a huge mistake to be seen with Danny. His brother stayed in the shadows and no one seemed to notice him. Theron Vent started to back quietly out of the room when he was stopped short. “Where’s my car?” Joshua asked, standing right behind him. “Look kid, this has all been a big mistake. Your car is parked near the fountain back in Parkerville.” Vent whispered. “It better be.” Joshua warned, and then walked away. Vent could not believe his luck. He figured if anyone caught him, bells and whistles would go off. Joshua casually went back into the waiting room and joined Cassie, who was having a serious conversation with the other three girls. “Joshua, something’s up. Chad wasn’t with his father.” Todd whispered. “So?” Joshua asked. “Justin took me to his house. I was supposed to tell him that Skye was back. His father said he’d tell him. But, what is his father doing here with those two creeps? Something’s wrong and I think it’s got something to do with Cavanaugh’s house.” Todd said. “Let’s go.” Joshua said. Both boys got up and started walking out of the waiting room. Todd stopped to talk to Justin and Frank before they left. Justin nodded and Frank told them to be very careful. “And just where do you think you’re going?” Cassie said jumping up from the chair and following Joshua and Todd. “Oh gees.” Joshua said. “Yeah, where are you two going?” Skye joined in. “Okay, we’re going to the men’s room, want to come along and wait outside?” Todd quipped. “You know, two girls going together to the ladies room is done, but two boys? No, I don’t think so.” Skye rebuked. Todd clued the girls in on what was going on. They wanted to check out the Cavanaugh’s house before they went back. They had to be fast. “We’re going.” Skye said. “No, you’re not. You have to stay here and keep those creeps busy. That’s why they’re here. You really don’t think Cavanaugh gives a damn about Bernadette Baker do you? His wife isn’t even with him. No, as soon as he heard you and Cassie were here, he high tailed it over here.” “Skye, you stay here and keep them busy. If there is any chance of finding out what happened to my father, I’ve got to know.” Cassie said taking Skye by the shoulders and looking into her eyes. “Okay, I totally understand. Just be very very careful.” Skye said, then went back to sit with Gina and Ruth Ann. “What’s going on?” Gina asked. “They’re going to Cavanaugh’s house and dig around, they think there might be some clues there about Cassie’s father.” Skye said. “Shouldn’t we go with them?” Ruth Ann asked. “No, we have to stay here and be bait for Cavanaugh and his creepy friends. He wants to try to kidnap one or all of us.” Skye said. “Why on earth Mr. Cavanaugh?” Ruth Ann asked. “Well…it all started in the future.” Skye began. ****** Meanwhile, Todd had the keys to Justin’s car and had just arrived back in Parkerville with Cassie and Joshua. Todd parked around the corner from the Cavanaugh house and the three of them walked quickly together down the sidewalk to the house. “Where do we start?” Cassie asked. “I’ll ring the doorbell and ask if Chad is back yet.” Todd answered. Todd walked up the walkway to the door and rang the bell. No one answered, which to Todd was strange. “Let’s try the back door.” He suggested. They went around to the back door and looked in the kitchen window. The maid was seated at the kitchen table, but she wasn’t moving. Humix. She’s been turned off?” Todd wondered out loud. Todd pounded on the back door, but no one came to answer it. “Oh, this is really weird. Let’s go in and have a look around.” Joshua said. The door was locked. “Now what?” Todd scoffed. “My dear, would you like to do the honors?” Joshua smiled. Cassie gave him a sarcastic grin and went to the door. She looked at the doorknob, closed her eyes, and then, opened it without a problem. “Holy smokes!” Todd exclaimed. “Yeah, she’s a really handy girlfriend.” Joshua laughed. “Come on, let’s go in.” The three looked all over the house, in every nook and cranny; but there was no sign of anything or anyone that looked suspicious. “Okay, let’s get out of here before someone comes back and catches us.” Todd said. “Cassie, what about that ‘friend’ of yours. Can he tell us anything?” Joshua asked. “Oh, I keep forgetting about him. Oh gees, Much? Are you here? Can you tell us something?” Cassie asked holding her fingers to her temples. “Secret room.” The voice told her. “Oh my gosh, there’s a secret room!” Cassie said excited. “Where?” Todd asked. “Much, can you help us find it?” Cassie asked again. “Not a real wall, house; not that small.” He said. Cassie closed her eyes again and started to walk into different rooms. She kept her eyes closed until she came to a room off the living room that seemed to serve as an office. She turned round and round, but couldn’t quite make out where the wall was not a wall. She walked towards the window in the room. She pushed on the window. Nothing happened. “Darlin, that’s just a window, it looks out over the yard.” Joshua said going to her. She dropped her head in defeat and grasped the curtain cord to steady herself. The fake window opened and before them was a staircase. “Cassie! You did it!” Joshua said picking her up and kissing her. “Who would’ve ever thought!”? “Let’s see where this leads us.” Todd said, feeling like an intruder. Down the stairs the three went, going deep underneath the Cavanaugh house. They ended up facing a door. Another locked door. Once again, Cassie closed her eyes and concentrated on the doorknob. Unfortunately, it was a double door and the second door was bolted. “Oh gees.” Cassie said frustrated. “Come on darlin’ you can’t stop now.” She closed her eyes and tried to move the bolt back. Nothing happened. “Please, oh please, help me get the door open.” Cassie cried. The door sprang open and before them was a very large room that looked like a laboratory. Seven large cylinders filled with a water- like substance stood to the left side of the room. The three walked toward the cylinders. When they walked to the first cylinder, all three uttered a cry because there was a body in the cylinder, they all knew. “Chad.” Todd whispered. “Mrs. Cavanaugh.” Joshua said. “Dad!” Cassie cried and started pounding on the cylinder. “Stop it, Cassie stop!” Todd went to her and pulled her away. “I think they’re still alive.” Joshua said examining the tubes that were coming from their chest cavities and traveling through another tubing system finally emptying into a large blue tank. “They are.” Much said. “Who the heck are you?” Todd asked; shocked to see another person in the room. Much stood with his hat in his hand as usual, ready to help Cassie. “Oh Much, I am so glad to see you. Can you help us, please?” Cassie asked. “Yes.” He said. Much went over to the blue tank and shut it down. He then went to the side of one of the cylinders and opened the cylinder. All of the water-like fluid drained back into the tank through the second tube. “Hold him.” Much said, as he removed the tube from Cassie’s father’s chest. Todd saw a cot against one of the walls and rushed to get it. “Here, lay him down on this.” Todd said. Joshua and Cassie carefully caught John as he collapsed onto the cot. Much removed his tube and closed his hand over the hole in his chest. He did the same for Mrs. Cavanaugh, whose tube was in her neck. Then he went to Chad. He put his hand over the wounds and slowly, they started to come around. “Why would you do this dad?” Chad screamed. Then he came around and realized it was the last words he spoke before his father put him in the cylinder next to his mother. Mrs. Cavanaugh started to cry and reached out for Chad. “Stay.” Much said to her quietly. “Dad?’ Cassie whispered to her father. He had not come around yet. “Cassie, I think he’s been out longer than these two.” Joshua said. “Look, I’ve got to call Justin and let him know about this. I’ll be right back.” Todd said running up the stairs. He found a phone in Cavanaugh’s office and called the Parkerville switchboard to get an outside line. “Pinky? I need to get an outside line to the Marshall City Hospital, hurry, it’s urgent.” Todd said breathlessly. “Got it.” Pinky said. “Could you please ask Justin Keaton to come to the phone?” Todd asked the receptionist at the hospital. Todd waited and the next voice he heard was Justin’s. “Oh thank God. Mr. Keaton, Cassie’s dad is in a laboratory in Cavanaugh’s basement, along with Chad and Mrs. Cavanaugh. They were imprisoned in some weird cylinder’s full of water or something… Oh no! They’re back. I gotta go.” Todd said. “Todd? Todd?” Justin kept repeating. “What happened?” Frank asked coming up behind Justin. “We’ve got to get over to the Cavanaugh house. He’s got Chad, John and his own wife in some sort of glass encasement. I think they’re still alive, but, Todd didn’t say.” ****** Todd heard car doors slamming, and men swearing and Mr. Cavanaugh pushing someone into the kitchen. “Well, that didn’t work. What was I thinking taking you two with me?” Patrick said glaring at Vent and Danny. Todd quickly put the phone back in its cradle and raced down the stairs closing the fake door behind him. A second later, Cavanaugh charged into his office, then, he started pacing back and forth. “I don’t trust Keaton, or the others for that matter. Something’s up, why would that boy come here to tell Chad that Skye was back? As far as I know, he’s Chad’s rival. No, that doesn’t make any sense now that I think about it. We’ve got to rethink this whole thing.” “There’s nothing to rethink, we almost got caught and we’re better off not trying another stunt like that.” Vent said. ****** Todd got through the double doors just as he heard Justin pacing back and forth in his office above them. “Well, what happened? Did you get a hold of Justin?” Joshua asked. “Yes, I think they’re on their way.” Todd said breathlessly. “Okay, but what if they come down here?” Cassie asked. “Dad is still weak, we can’t hide him.” “Cassie, I’m so sorry for what my father did…I had no idea he was that evil, I always just thought he was a cold sort of man.” Chad apologized. “He’s not even a man, he’s a monster.” Debra said putting her arm around her son. “If anyone comes down, I can hide you all. When and if that time comes, all of you must stand behind me in a row.” Much said. “I’m sorry little guy, but I don’t think standing behind you is going to help any of us, but thanks for the gesture.” Joshua said with a little grin. Much narrowed his eyes at Joshua. “Joshua, don’t be disrespectful to Much!” Cassie reprimanded. “Stand behind me.” Much directed Joshua. Once again, Joshua grinned and went to stand behind Much. He clasped his hands behind him and kept grinning. The others lost sight of Joshua the moment he stepped behind Much. ****** A car pulled up outside and Justin Keaton, along with several other men jumped out and headed for the front door. They all charged into the Cavanaugh home without ringing the doorbell or knocking. Two of the men headed for the back door and came in through the kitchen. Patrick Cavanaugh was sitting quietly at his desk, pretending to work. “Justin, what on earth are you doing here?” Cavanaugh asked. “It’s over Cavanaugh, we know you’re behind the cylinders in the future and the ones you have here, in your basement. You’ve been experimenting on humans for a long time, but it’s over.” Justin said. “Take us to the lab or we’ll tear this house apart until we find it.” Tommy said. “Gentlemen, you’ve got the wrong end of the stick here. I’m just one of you. I don’t have a clue of what you’re talking about and you have no right barging into my home and accusing me of some pretty horrible things. I’m going to have to ask you to leave.” At this point Cavanaugh got up from his desk and started towards the front door, hoping the men would follow. “Where’s Todd?” Justin asked. Two more men came in through the back door and approached Cavanaugh. “Yes, where’s my son!” Bud demanded about to take Cavanaugh by the throat. “Hold on Bud, we know our sons are here somewhere, and we’ll find them, but for now this man deserves more than a choking or useless threats. I brought some help with me.” Jim Edwards said glaring at Cavanaugh. “Come in girls.” Jim called out. Skye, Gina and Ruth Ann came to stand before Cavanaugh, whose face turned white as chalk. ****** Marshall City Hospital “Lila, come with me.” Randall said softly taking his daughter by the arm and leading her out of Wilhelmina’s room. Wilhelmina visibly took a deep breath in relief. Emily was sitting on the side of the hospital bed with her mother’s hand in hers. Every once in a while she’d smooth her mother’s hair back and lay her cheek next to her moms. “So, anyway, I met this boy and his name is Neal and well, at first I didn’t like him. He followed me everywhere. Then, well, he sort of grew on me. “Oh sweetie, I’m so glad my little girl met a nice young man. Are you serious about him?” Bernadette asked. “Mom, I’m thirty-five, yes, I was serious about him, and married him five years ago. We have a little girl and guess what her name is?” Emily smiled. “Whatever it is, I know she’s beautiful like her mama.” Bernadette replied. “Bernadette. That’s her name! I named her after you. Neal loves the name and I wish I could have brought them both back to meet you. But, you’re going back with me and live with us forever and ever.” Emily said hugging her. “Oh my sweet girl….” Bernadette started to say, and then her face contorted into a pained expression and she passed out. “Nurse! Nurse! Please hurry, something’s wrong with my mother!” Emily yelled. “What’s wrong?” Nelson said behind the screen. “She’s passed out and who are you? You’ve been there since we first came in.” Emily said, obviously upset. No one else was in the room at the moment, so Nelson came from behind the screen. “Can you see me?” He asked Emily surprised. “Of course I can see you, now. Before I just saw a shadow of someone behind the privacy screen. So who are you?” Emily asked once again. “A very close friend of your mother’s my dear.” Nelson answered. Then the room started to fill up with nurses and doctors, so Nelson went back to his vigil behind the screen. “Please miss, you need to leave the room so we can help your mother.” One of the nurses said to Emily. Reluctantly Emily walked towards the door, then turned and said, “If I have to leave, shouldn’t he leave too?” She said pointing to the shadow behind the screen. The nurse quickly looked behind the privacy screen, but no one was there. “Who are you talking about?” The nurse asked. “Oh, but he….” Emily started. “Miss, please, you must leave.” The nurse insisted. Emily waited outside the door of her mother’s room, pacing back and forth. Randall and Lila came up to her and put their arms around her. Marion, Sara and Margie were there to comfort her also. Rose came over with her daughter Faith and husband Cal to see how Bernadette was doing. “I just don’t understand grandfather. I saw him, I talked to him, I know he didn’t leave the room before I did.” Emily said confused. “Who are you talking about?” Rose asked. “The young man who was standing behind the privacy screen all this time. I told the nurse if I had to leave he should leave too.” “There was no other person in that room but us.” Rose said. “I’ve been with Bernadette since the beginning. So, what did he look like?” “Well, he was really kind of cute. He had on some strange clothes with suspenders, but he had brown curly hair and one of the curls was hanging in his eye. He had blue eyes and a kind of crooked smile.” Emily described Nelson perfectly. Randall Baker stepped back from his granddaughter and looked earnestly at her. Rose just put a hand to her forehead as if she was going to faint. Cal put his arm around her to steady her. “What’s wrong? Why are you looking at me this way? Honestly, he was there, I’m not mistaken!” Emily cried. “Nelson.” Randall Baker said and went to sit down. “Nelson.” Lila repeated and went to sit by her father. “Oh my dear Lord, it has to be.” Rose said and turned to hug Cal. Emily went to her grandfather and her aunt. “You told me many years ago what happened. You told me my father’s name was Nelson. Is that who’s in there with my mother?” Emily whispered. Randall let out a huge sigh. “Yes, we think it is, it has to be. But how can you see him and we can’t?” Randall asked. “I can also.” Sara said. “I’ve known he was there all along. “So have I.” Marion agreed. “Honey, some of us can see things, others can’t. You have that gift. My daughter and my niece also have it. They know Nelson and have had many conversations with him. So please don’t be afraid of him.” Sara explained. “Cassie, Gina and Ruth Ann can also see him. My daughter Laura never knew who he was, just a very nice young man that she’d see around the old library once in a while.” “Oh, I’m not afraid of him at all. He’s my father. I want him to know that I love him and I’m proud to be his daughter. But, he’s so young, how did he die?” She asked. ****** “Where’s the secret lab?” Jim asked the girls They looked around the room and were confused at first. “I assure you gentlemen, there is no secret lab, now, I’m asking you for the last time to leave.” Patrick said. Vent and Danny both smiled and crossed their arms. Ruth Ann walked over to the window, she watched as the same bird continued to fly to the same small bush. Patrick started to sweat; he wiped his brow and tried to engage Justin in a different conversation. But Justin wasn’t having it. He watched Skye and Gina as they were all drawn to the same window. “It’s here.” Skye said. “Yes, it’s here somewhere.” Ruth Ann said searching all around the window. All at once, Gina tugged on the window blind and the door opened and the stairs appeared before them. “Good work girls.” Justin said grabbing Patrick and shoving him towards the stairs. Vent started to slowly back out of the office, hoping no one would notice him. “Really? Did you think we’d miss you?” Frank said coming up behind him and grabbing him by the back of the shirt collar. ****** “Someone is coming down the stairs.” Cassie whispered. “Quite a few people are coming down.” Much said. “Well, are we rescued, or do we hide?” Joshua asked. “I think we’re rescued.” Much surmised. “Justin.” John smiled. “Of course.” Cavanaugh was first through the double doors of the lab. He was quite astonished to see the number of people waiting for him; including his wife and son and the newly rescued John Emerson. Debra went up to him and slapped him as hard as she could across the face. Then she punched him in the stomach. Cavanaugh narrowed his eyes at her and started to back hand her, but Justin stopped him. “You deserve that, and more, after what you’ve done to these people. Your own family.” Justin said, disgusted. Cavanaugh went to stand behind his desk. He was angry and desperate. “John, it’s so good to see you.” Justin went to shake his hand and pat him on the back. “You’re okay aren’t you?” Justin asked. “He’s fine, it’s takes a little while to come back to yourself, doesn’t it?” Frank asked. “It sure does. I don’t know what you did Much, but I’m back to normal now. John said. “You morons just don’t know what you’ve interrupted. This was an attempt to create a new race of people, people with unbelievable powers. All I wanted was some blood and some skin grafts. I wasn’t going to keep the girls, just get some DNA from them. What was the harm?” Cavanaugh said glaring at Justin. “You didn’t have the right.” Justin answered. They all started in with threats and finger pointing. No one was left out. Vent and Danny were backed against a wall. Cavanaugh seemed to keep his cool; however, the next moment he had opened his desk drawer and drew out a strange kind of light blade. It glowed green when he touched the handle. He proceeded towards Debra as she tried to console her son. “Debra?” Cavanaugh said and she turned to confront him. He stuck the light blade into her quickly then backed away with no expression on his face. Debra screamed and clutched her stomach, then fell to the floor. Justin and Tommy grabbed Cavanaugh and made him drop the blade. Debra was lying on the floor writhing in pain. The girls and Chad went to her immediately. Much went to her and put his hand over her stomach. Soon she was out of pain and lying on the floor peacefully. “She’s not dead.” Cavanaugh chuckled. “No mere woman strikes me and punches me in the stomach. She deserved what she got. Besides, it’s just a heat blade, I thought I’d try heating up that frigid heart of hers.” He said with no remorse. All four girls looked up at him and stared until he was frozen and couldn’t move. “What’s going on? Why can’t I move?” Then he saw the girls staring at him. “Oh, I get it, more tricks from the four little sirens.” “Thanks girls.” Justin said. “Debra, are you okay, can you move?” “Yes, I can move.” Very slowly Debra got up off the floor. Chad and Joshua helped her up from the floor and then Chad went to Cavanaugh. He stared at him for a long time. “I always thought you were my dad. I respected you, was proud of you. And it was all lies.” Chad said. Skye watched and listened as Chad confronted him. “Oh, poor boy, are we going to cry now?” Cavanaugh said pretending petulance. “No, I’m going to kill you.” Chad said derisively. “You wouldn’t be any better than him.” Skye said. “Oh I don’t care about that. He has to be gotten rid of as soon as possible.” Chad said. Cavanaugh’s demeanor changed. He knew Chad was angry, but he also knew that the good men of Parkerville would protect him from the boy. Cinder and Blister appeared at the top of the stairs and came down to the lab. “They’re here sir.” Blister announced “Who’s here? What’s going on? Can you please remember you’re in my house?” Cavanaugh yelled. “Right. Please take the girls, Joshua, Todd, Chad and his mother to the place we discussed Blister.” Justin directed the dog. “And keep them safe.” “Yes sir. Please follow us.” Blister asked of Debra, the girls and boys. Debra stopped to look into Cavanaugh’s face. Then, she smiled and walked out with the others. Justin looked at Much. “Much, I would appreciate if you went with them.” Much nodded and followed the others up the stairs. “What are you going to do with us?” Vent asked Justin. “Oh, we aren’t going to punish you.” Tommy said smiling. “No, we don’t have that authority.” Jim said. “But, you will be punished for your crimes.” Frank joined in. “And we’ll breath a sigh of relief, knowing you can’t hurt anyone ever again.” Bud said. “No.” Cavanaugh whispered. “No, you can do that, you don’t mean you called them?” He asked. “Yes, we did. But, before we take you to them, there’s something we’d like you and your brother to know.” Justin said. “Grab a chair.” “You forget, I can’t move.” Cavanaugh said. “You need to call the girls back.” “Frank, would you do the honors?” Justin asked. “I’d be glad to.” Frank said smiling. Frank concentrated on Cavanaugh for a moment, and he was free. “How?” Cavanaugh started. “You’ve had the wrong end of the stick for a long time Patrick, the girls have powers, but they got them from their fathers. We carry the genes, what you call ‘the mutant genes’ from the future.” “But that’s not possible, Kane there doesn’t even have a daughter.” Vent said. “No, I don’t.” Bud started. “But I did. My wife had fraternal twins; Teddy had a sister. She didn’t make it, however, since they were twins, she passed on her powers to him. It’s unlikely, but it happens. Teddy won’t come into his powers until he’s sixteen.” “Just as Geri won’t come into her powers until she’s sixteen. Marion’s father was also a carrier of what you call, the mutant gene, thus, Gina has it. Sara’s father carried it and Tommy’s daughter Laura; and Frank’s daughter Skye.” “This is all so ridiculous, I don’t believe a word of it.” Cavanaugh laughed. “Would you like a demonstration?” John asked with a grin on his face. “Yes, okay why didn’t you stop us from putting you in the cylinder, if you had the power?” Vent asked John. “To protect my daughter.” John said angrily. “I did the same.” Frank said. “Only I have two daughters to protect. Julie doesn’t even know what she can do.” “Wait a second. We took blood samples and skin grafts from both you and your wife and there was nothing there.” Cavanaugh said, questioning John. “My poor wife. She never said a word, and how she suffered, almost died in that horrible hotel you kept her in. No, you won’t find anything in blood samples or skin grafts. Are you really a scientist?” John asked. “Yes, the best. So, please tell me, where would I look to discover how you obtained your powers and how you transferred them to your daughters?” Cavanaugh asked. John looked around him and the others nodded at him. “You would look to the sky.” John answered. “That’s not an answer!” Cavanaugh yelled. “You wanted to use the four girls to take the town back to the future. You thought they had chips implanted in them that had that power. So did Pastor Parker. None of you knew. And now, you won’t be able to tell anyone. So, the secret stays with us.” Justin smiled. “Any other questions?” Justin asked. “Who are you, really?” Cavanaugh asked folding his arms across his chest. Justin looked at the other men and Frank said, “Yes, Tell him.” “We’re not from this planet. We knew what the Pastor had in mind many years ago. We couldn’t let that happen. We took the place of every family that came back here one hundred years ago. We’re a peaceful race and we knew that not much would change with the pastor sending twelve families back one hundred years. Humans will be human no matter what time they exist on earth. As primitive as it was, we did think he had a good idea, so we decided to elaborate on that. We decided to keep the idea of a chase and girls who had reached a certain age would be given bracelets to determine their eligibility for marriage. There is so much more to tell, but you really wouldn’t understand. So, does that answer your question?” “So…. you think you’re better than us? You destroyed twelve families over one hundred years ago and you call yourselves peaceful?” Cavanaugh smirked. Justin laughed with the others. “No, we did not destroy anyone, we simply exchanged places with them. They never really knew what happened. They lived a perfectly happy life where we came from.” “Well, I don’t want to hear anymore. I want out of this whole mess.” Vent said. “Yeah, this is all too ridiculous. You really want us to believe you’re from another planet?” Danny said laughing. “We can do things you can’t possibly imagine.” Frank said to Danny. “I don’t know, I can imagine a lot of things.” Danny said facing Frank. “Can you displace yourself from a cylinder?” Frank asked him. “What?” Danny asked, amazed. “We can come out of ourselves if we need to. My being was not in that cylinder, so even though our bodies were encased in those cylinders, John and I were not. But, I doubt that you will understand any of this. Your mind cannot fully comprehend it.” Frank smiled. “I am a genius.” Patrick said narrowing his eyes at Frank. “I can comprehend anything.” “No, you can’t, however, you are arrogant enough to believe that. Most humans are.” Jim said. “Another demonstration.” Frank said, dissolving in front of him and reappearing beside him. “So, any other questions?” Justin asked. Cavanaugh was unmoved by this display, however, Danny and Vent backed up against the wall. “Yes, there’s one you haven’t explained. That girl Ruth Ann, where does she get her powers?” Vent asked. “I mean, she’s a joke.” “Oh right, that’s my brothers daughter.” Jim answered. “She’s extremely diverse, her real name is Story; she has the power to change herself into just about anything, if she needs to.” “That’s right, now let’s go, the Chamber is waiting for us.” “Look, there has to be another way, you can’t imagine what the Chamber will do to us, where they’ll send us. Please, we won’t tell any of this to anyone.” Cavanaugh begged. “What’s the Chamber?” Danny asked coming forward. Vent turned white as a sheet with the sheer mention of the Chamber. “I…I won’t go.” Vent said and tried to run out of the room and up the stairs. At the top of the stairs, Cinder was waiting. “Avin’ a bad dye, are we sir?” Cinder asked. Vent stopped midway. He broke down in tears and collapsed on the steps. Seeing his brother so broken, Patrick held his head up and went up the steps kicking his brother as he passed. The car was waiting for the three miscreants as they all climbed in and started for the gardens of time. When they arrived, all the men accompanied Danny, Vent and Cavanaugh down to the time warp. Waiting at the warp were three young men, very muscular and dressed in brown overalls. The young men were bald and extremely grim looking. One of them held up a sort of tablet, Justin signed it with a laser pen. “May I ask where you’re sending them?” Justin asked. “Yes sir, they’re being sent to the linx.” He answered. “I was hoping they’d be sent to the band.” Justin said. “Well, I guess we can arrange that.” The young man said. “Don’t we have any say in this? It’s not fair, we should have a say in our punishment!” Cavanaugh argued. “You didn’t give anyone a say as to whether or not they lived or died. You murdered Elvira Moon. Believe me when I say that you’re much better off where you are going Vent, than what the moon singers had in mind for you.” Justin said. “What’s the Band?” Danny asked. “Is that some sort of music?” “No, it’s more like, well, like a mound of manure. The Band is short for Bandini.” Jim said. “Apparently you’ve never been on a farm.” He chuckled. “Enough of this.” The young man said. “We must be going we have others to drop off.” The three men followed the Chamber into the warp and the doors closed behind them. ****** Nelson and Bernadette “Sweetheart, sit down.” Randall said to his granddaughter, Emily. “When it was discovered that your mother was pregnant with you. Nelson and your mother came to see us. They wanted to get married. Anyone could see how much they loved each other. Well…Wilhelmina was furious and forbade any marriage between them. In those days, your mother had a lot more gumption than she ever did again. She was determined to marry Nelson. I took your mother and Nelson to the pastor in Marshall City and they were legally married.” Randall finally divulged. This shocked Rose and Lila; their father never told anyone that Bernadette and Nelson were legally married. Not even Wilhelmina knew. “That’s what she was hiding in her secret drawer. A wedding certificate.” Rose whispered. “I want to see him.” Emily said. Her mother was sleeping peacefully when she went back into her room. Emily saw the shadow behind the curtain and walked towards it. “You’re my father, aren’t you?” Emily asked quietly. “Yes.” Nelson answered. “I wish I could hug you.” Emily said, tears rolling down her cheeks. “I can brush your cheek.” And with that Nelson put his hand out and let his hand brush across her cheek. “I felt that!” Emily said smiling. “It was like a butterfly touching me.” “It took a lot of practice, but sometimes I was able to do that to your mother. I’m not sure she knew it was me though.” Nelson said. “I always knew it was you.” Came a voice from behind them. Emily held her breath. “Mom?” She asked. “Oh mom no.” And she began to cry. “Don’t cry sweetheart, please don’t cry. I’m so happy, I can’t tell you how happy I am that the three of us are finally together.” Bernadette said. “Well, sort of.” “But mom, that means that you’re…” Emily started. “No, oh please, no…” A sad Rose was kneeling at Bernadette’s bedside. Bernadette looked back as Rose laid her head on Bernadette’s chest and clutched her hand. In an instant, Bernadette was standing behind Rose whispering to her. “It’s all right Rose, it’s all right now.” “Mom?” Rose’s daughter came and helped her up and held her as she sobbed. “I’m free, I can finally hold my darling Nelson again. I feel so alive and I’m not afraid of her anymore. I know who she is now and I should never have been afraid of her.” Bernadette said. Bernadette and Nelson both ran their hands down the sides of Emily’s face. Emily closed her eyes and smiled through her tears. ****** Wilhelmina was in and out of consciousness. She still couldn’t talk or move from the stroke she’d suffered. “I should never have been afraid of you. You’re not even my mother. You threatened to kill my baby. You had already killed her father and my mother. You set out to ruin all our lives. Rose was so smart to run away from your selfish clutches.” Bernadette said. Wilhelmina’s eyes grew large and she struggled to sit up. She made a strange animal like sound and a nurse came rushing in. “What’s up lady?” The nurse asked with very little feeling. Wilhelmina just kept staring wide eyed at the two people no one else could see. “Bernadette?” A voice called from behind them. “Mom?” Bernadette answered. “Oh my baby girl, how much you’ve suffered at her hands.” A beautiful young woman said embracing Bernadette, as she glared at the old woman in the bed. Finally, as the nurse was adjusting the IV slowly dripping into her arm, Wilhelmina screamed, “No!” Octavia Clyde Baker was standing over her sister, smiling. “It’s over Willie, your rein of terror is over, happiness will return to the Baker residence now.” Octavia said, running her hand down the old ladies cheek. “My daughters and grandchildren are well rid of you.” With that, Wilhelmina Clyde Baker closed her eyes and was gone. ****** Epilogue Music was playing and the bandstand was crowded with the younger generation. Chris Keaton had his arms around a beautiful young girl with blond hair down to her waist. “Do me a favor?” Chris asked her. “Anything.” Story answered. “Can we leave Ruth Ann behind now?” Chris asked sweetly. “I like Ruth Ann.” Cassie said dancing around them with Joshua. “I like her too.” Joshua said grinning. Gina and Michael were sitting the dance out on a nearby bench. “Hey, you didn’t use any of those powers you have on me, did you?” Michael asked. “Well, that’s insulting, did I need to?” Gina asked frowning. Michael gave her a once over look. “Absolutely not.” He said kissing her. Skye and Todd were dancing while Dottie and Frank kept their eyes on them. “I don’t think my parents trust you.” Skye said. “They shouldn’t trust me.” Todd said and winked at her. “Oh sweetie.” Skye said. “I can take care of myself.” “Yes, I know, but give a guy a chance once in a while.” Todd said. “Can I cut in?” Chad asked coming on to the dance floor. “Sure, be my guest.” Todd said. “I’m leaving with my mom tomorrow.” Chad said holding Skye close. “I know, your mom told mine. I guess you’re going to look for your brother.” Skye said. “Yeah. I never knew I had an older brother. I was just three when mom meant Patrick.” Chad said. “What is your real last name?” Skye asked. “Cavanaugh. So, I guess I’m still Chad Cavanaugh.” “That makes sense, if his brother is Theron Vent, then his real last name is Vent! Patrick Vent.” Skye surmised. “She kind of settled into his way of life. He was never mean to her, that I know of, but I could tell she never warmed up to him.” Chad said. “To him, mom and I were just a cover-up.” “Does she know what happened to your real father?” Skye asked. “No, she told me he just didn’t come home one night. She searched for him for months, and then she meant Patrick, and he took my fathers last name. Maybe we’ll find answers now.” Chad said. “Didn’t your mom think it was strange that he took your father’s name?” Skye asked. “I have a lot of questions for my mom, I’ll get to the bottom of it all; but first I need to find my brother and hopefully bring him home.” “Are you coming back to Parkerville?” Skye asked. “We have the house and there’s plenty of room. We’ll just close up the laboratory and make a real home.” Chad said. “I’m glad.” Skye said hugging him. “Would you mind if I kissed you goodbye?” Chad asked. “Not at all.” Skye said wrapping her arms around him. Chad wrapped his arms around Skye never wanting to let her go. He kissed her and held her tight. Debra Cavanaugh looked up at her son after saying her goodbyes to her new friends. She felt so sorry for him, she knew what leaving Parkerville was costing him, but she had some secrets she had to let go of. Maybe he’d forgive her, maybe he wouldn’t. The song ‘Chances Are’ started to play. Todd moved in and tapped Chad on the shoulder. “Okay, I leave her in your hands; for a while pal.” Chad said. “Well, do what you have to do pal and take all the time you need. And, by the way, I wish you and your mom well.” Todd said. “Thanks.” Chad said and left the dance floor. “That was really nice of you.” Skye said. “There is one thing I wanted to say though. I told you I’d never go back to the future.” “Yeah, that’s right. You meant that didn’t you?” Todd said wary. “I met a lot of really neat people there, a boy who lives on a dial over the water and two ladies who are pretty far out. Weston is the name of the boy I met who lives over the water. That really fascinated me. I’d love to go there sometime and see it. Would that be so bad?” Skye asked. “No, only if I can go with you.” Todd said. “I’ve got a lot of catching up to do with my family, we’re going to see Julie, Stan and the kids tomorrow. My mom can’t wait. So…the future will have to wait for a while.” Skye said. “Like I said, that’s fine if I can go with you?” Todd repeated. “Cool, and I’ll even take you on a carousel ride.” Skye laughed. “Skye, I’ve been on carousel rides.” Todd said with a chuckle. “Not like this one!” Skye grinned, then reached up and brought his mouth down to hers. The next song came on and it was ‘Hang on Sloopy.’ “Hey, everybody! Line dance, where’s my man?” Marabelle yelled. Todd was about to run off the floor when he heard a familiar voice. “Right here lovey dovey!” Mac Brennan said, striding across the floor and took his place in line for the dance. “Oh, I’ve seen everything now!” Todd said, seeing Marabelle and Mac together. “Hey darlin’, let’s you and me take a walk in the park.” Joshua said with his arm around Cassie’s waist. “Oooo… that sounds like a good idea. I want to smell the scent of mint and taste a snowflake on my lips.” Cassie said. “And I’d like to taste that new lipstick you’re wearin’.” Joshua laughed and together they ran down the steps of the dance floor. “Okay, now where are they going?” John asked his wife. “Don’t worry, they’ll be back.” Helene answered and gave her husband a big kiss. Laura and Mark were busy talking about Mark opening up a lab there in Parkerville. You could see the two were in love, however, Tommy put his foot down on his teenage daughter getting too serious. Teddy finally got up the nerve to ask Geri to dance with him. Or was it Geri’s idea? Ron and Carol Jean were laughing and having a great time line dancing. Janie Myers had her own clinic and was very happy and very busy. Dr. Ross was grateful for the extra help she offered and Janie always had a supply of cotton balls on hand. Ralphy was watching it all from atop a nearby roof. His mother, his father and sister were happy and that’s all he ever wanted. He laughed and clapped his hands. “Come down seely boy, we are all so happy, come join us!” Misha called up to him. “Aw…. leave the boy alone Misha, he’s happy where he is…” Jake laughed. Will met a girl who’d had a crush on him for a long time. He was trying his best to keep up with the others in line, but, finally grabbed her by the hand and found an empty bench. Freddie was still searching for the girl of his dreams, but, so far, none had appeared. Randall Baker decided to take back his house in Parkerville. He was in the process of renovating the house from top to bottom. He wanted to get to know Rose’s husband and his grandchildren and visit the gardens in Parkerville from time to time. Emily decided to stay behind and sent for her husband and daughter in the future. She also knew where to find the love of her parents any time she needed them. Lila had a pass to come back to Parkerville any time she wanted. Her husband Jeremy and her girls loved it so much; she knew she’d have no problem talking them in to staying. Pastor Parker’s biggest fear had been realized. No one wanted to take Parkerville into the future. The corrupt wanted it for themselves. The good people needed it to stay there. As Tommy Davis once told the Pastor, “Why mess with perfection?” Justin Keaton went up the steps of the bandstand and approached the microphone. “It’s time.” He said. The men of the community formed a circle with family and friends holding hands and spreading out from it. It looked like a huge sun with shafts of light radiating from it. Other members of the community smiled and stood back to watch. “Are we ready?” John asked. “Yes!” Came the reply from those connected to the circle. In a moment a light from above, engulfed them, and they disappeared. The lights on the gazebo went out and everything was quiet. Then, in the blink of an eye, everyone was back to where they were before the light. Skye and Cassie felt dizzy for just a moment. “I can’t see a thing.” Skye said reaching for Todd. “I can’t either.” Cassie said, her hand holding Joshua’s. A second later, the lights on the gazebo came back on. The band music started playing again; the kids started dancing, laughing and enjoying themselves. Sara, Tommy, Justin, Marion, Bud, Margie, Frank and Dottie were all sitting together watching their children having fun. John and Helene were holding hands and leaning against the gazebo watching their daughter dance with Joshua. “Ah.” Tommy said. “Isn’t it good to be home?” “Yes, Sara said, it seems like forever.” And Sir August? He was happy to stay in dreams, perhaps he’ll appear in yours some night.


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