Fire and Ice–Chapter 8A in the Panooksa Saga

Idea by Tom Austin                                           Originally written by Tom Austin

   Revised, and greatly improved by Award Winning Author Meg Sorick


“WHAT?” Milly asked.

“Its like I said. You have one helluva horny cat,” said Brad.

“That’s impossible. I had him fixed just after I got him,” she said picking the cat up and cuddling him.

“Well, if that’s true he didn’t get the memo. But he sure gave it the old college try.”

She rolled her eyes at him. “Whatever. You’ve been gone for nearly two hours!” Then pointing to the can of paint stripper, she added, “Aren’t you supposed to be stripping walls?”

Brad scowled. “You’re the one who kicked us out of here in the first place!” He looked at Quincy and sighed. “Can’t seem to catch a break around here, buddy.” Then, as he walked to the sitting room, he said over his shoulder, “As you wish, your majesty.”

Milly heard him adjust the step stool, and begin scraping the walls once again. She put Quincy down and he immediately ran towards the sitting room, and his vantage point on the couch. Milly slowly followed, trying to figure out how to explain the unbelievable events of the afternoon.

“We had a visitor while you two were out,” she said, leaning against the doorframe.

“Huh. Well, I hope we just won the lottery, and this person was holding a great big check,” said Brad. The scraping continued.

“It was the old man from 14 Rillington Place.”

Brad froze in mid scrape. Still sitting on the step stool, he turned to face Milly.

“What are you talking about?”

Milly slid all the way down the door frame to the floor. “I’m telling you the old man came to see me. He had a message for me…”

“A message? What kind of message? From whom?”

“My … my parents.”

Brad shook his head to clear it. “Your parents? Your parents are dead, Milly. What the hell are you talking about? What kind of Jedi mind trick did he pull on you?”

“Don’t yell at me, Brad! I’m telling you the truth!”

“Do you know how crazy that sounds? A message from beyond the grave? What is he, some kind of angel or something?”

“He said he was a messenger. That’s what he told me to call him. Messenger.”

Brad hung his head. “Milly, I care for you. I really do.” He gave a sharp laugh. “Ha. In fact, I spend so much time thinking about you, I can barely concentrate on a damn thing at the hospital. And here I am, trying to help around the house, when clearly I don’t know what I’m doing. All I want is to do make life easier for you, Milly. But that’s besides the point.” He ran a hand through his hair. “Milly, I don’t know what you think just happened, but you must have been dreaming.”

“How can you say that? You saw him just as clearly as I did that day at Rillington Place!”

“I know… I know, but… there must be some logical explanation. Milly, ever since you left the hospital, you’ve been … different. I understand that you felt you needed a change. And I totally support you, but it’s as if you’re disconnected from reality, you know? Like, one minute your head’s in the clouds and the next, you’re ordering me around like your personal slave. What’s going on with you?”

Milly felt numb. She didn’t think she had disconnected from reality. But something had caused her to leave the hospital. And something had made her rethink a career in medicine.

“I’m sorry if I’ve acted like an ogre. I know there’s something not right with me. But I am telling you the truth. The old man had a message for me. And he wants me to teach you something.”

“Milly, this is ridiculous,” he said, tossing the paint scraper on the floor. “Teach me something? Is it time for Sesame Street? Today’s episode is brought to you by the letter D, as in door.”

“Apparently, there’s a doorway in the closet that leads to some place called The Second Realm.”

Brad snorted. “And I suppose Thor is on the other side just waiting to take us across the Bifrost Bridge to Asgard. Come on Milly, come down to earth. There is no doorway, and there is no “Second Realm.” You’ve read Lord Of The Rings one too many times.”

Now Milly was angry. She got up off the floor, walked over to Brad till they were nose to nose. “I don’t know about you, but I don’t like being called a liar. Why can’t you just accept the fact there are things we don’t understand yet? Just because we don’t know something doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. People thought the world was flat, but that turned out to be a great big goose egg. Wasn’t it Einstein who said, ‘the more I learn, the more I realize how much I don’t know.’?”

“Alright, alright,” Brad said, throwing up his hands. “What did Mr. Mind Trick say about this very ordinary looking closet?”

“He showed me how to open the doorway to the Second Realm.”

Brad gestured for her to continue. “And how, pray tell, do you do that?”

“He said that if you touch the upper left hand corner of the molding, then the upper right hand corner, and push on the very center of the wall, a doorway will open up.”

Brad clapped his hands together. “Ok, what the hell? Lets give it a try. I already feel like an idiot, so what do I have to lose?” He reached for the molding. “I’m now touching the upper left corner. Hmmmm. Nothing’s happening. Now for the right corner. Still nothing. Oh, I remember, push on the very center of the wall.” Just then, the molding began to glow and Brad gaped at what was happening. “What the hell…?”

He extended an arm which promptly disappeared into the wall. His forearm felt tingly, and cool air moved gently over the hand he could no longer see. From the other side, he felt a meaty hand envelope his.

“Oh, Ceerist!  Something is pulling me!” he yelled. Then suddenly, he was gone, and the closet was empty.

Brad found himself lying on a hillside, with a silhouetted figure standing above him, laughing.

“This must be your first time. You fought well,” said the dark figure.

As Brad gathered his wits, taking in the green grass and the blue sky, a large hand grabbed onto the back of his pants, lifted him up, and looked at him.

“Hey, put me down, you big galoot!” yelled Brad.

“If that’s what you really want.” The shadowy figure placed Brad on his knees.

Slowly Brad stood up. “Where am I, and who the hell are you?” he demanded.

“You’re in The Second Realm, and my name is Merlin.”


Milly was beside herself. The man she cared so much for, loved, had just been pulled into another into another, possibly dangerous, world. And judging from the speed he was pulled, whoever or whatever was on the other side of the doorway was of considerable strength. It was no time to be helpless. She wasn’t going to let anything happen to her man. She loved him more than life itself.

With a deep, calming breath, she walked into the now empty closet and pressed the appropriate corners of the molding, in the proper sequence. As the molding glowed, she stepped through onto green grass beneath blue skies. Somewhere in the distance, she also heard Brad cursing his head off. Over the last few weeks while his buttocks healed, she had learned that Brad had a very colorful vocabulary. Now, at least, his stream of profanity provided a good trail for her to follow. When she found him, Brad was swearing a blue streak at the rather large fellow holding him off the ground by the seat of his pants.

“Put him down this instant, and do it gently, or by all that’s holy, you’ll regret the day you were born!” Milly yelled, surprising herself for the ferocity of the threat.

“You mean this guy?” asked the huge man, pointing at Brad.

“Put him on the ground gently. Very gently. This very instant,” she ordered.

“Ok, lady.” He set Brad, lightly on the grass. “You know you sound like my mom.”

Milly pointed her finger. “Don’t you ever do that to him again. He’s mine.”

Brad ran to Milly and hugged her tightly.

The big man was nodding. “Yup. You sure sound like my mom all right. Maybe you know her?”

“I might. What is your name?”

“Merlin.”

“Merlin, ok. My boyfriend and I are new here. Do you mind if I ask you a few questions?”

“You mean you two aren’t married? I thought you said he was yours?”

Brad interrupted. “She meant to say we aren’t married, yet.

“You mean she’s special?”

“That she is, very special indeed.”

Milly started to blush. “Ok, ok. Let me ask the questions,” she said. “You’re not human are you Merlin?”

“Shucks no, I’m a Troll.”


Further musings of Meg can be found Here!

Check out her Bucks County Novel series right Here!

Buy her award winning book Three Empty Frames at Amazon Here!

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