“Resolution” – Chapter 13d – Panooksa

Idea by Tom Austin                                                     Written by Tom Austin

Revised by Tom Austin

Milly sat up in bed leafing through a magazine that was almost ten years old. With tubes going in and out all over her body it made moving a chore. Every move had to planned out well in advance. Turning pages had to be done very carefully because of the intravenous tubes going into to her hands. With nothing to read except one very out of date magazine, Milly was left with only one other choice and that was to try to sleep. Whenever she tried to sleep she was constantly woken up by the hospital intercom. If someone wasn’t being paged some parent was. “Mrs. Milligan, please return to x-ray. You forgot your son.” All of a sudden an orderly banged on the door.

“Everybody decent in there? I’m here with another exciting lunch from our cafeteria”.

Milly had been poked, prodded, asked countless questions by an unknown number of people countless times. She had even tried to sleep without success, and she had enough. She responded in a most atypical manner.

“No, I’m not decent!. I’m taking naked belly dancing lessons with a rose in my teeth. Do you have any idea how dumb that question sounds?”

The male orderly put the tray of food on a table. He put his hands in his pockets and slowly approached the bed.

“Look Dr. Shine-Foster. I know nobody wants to be in a hospital. Do you think I enjoy saying dumb questions like that or delivering this stuff masquerading as “food” to you?. I do it because it’s part of my job. I’ll make a deal with you. When I bring your dinner I’ll just knock on your door and say dinner. You cool it with the snarky remarks OK?”

Milly thought about what the orderly said, and what she had said.

“Sorry for biting your head off. It’s just that I’m so bored in here. I’ve been poked, prodded, and stabbed more times than can I count. And to top it all off I have my own personal vampire.  Please let me make it up to you in some small way. For starters why don’t you just call me Milly.”

“And my name is Peter. I have an idea. I’ll go get you a paper so you catch up on current events. It’ll be today’s paper honest.”

“If could hand me my purse I’ll give you the money”

“No need. It’ll be my treat. Do know how long it’s been since I’ve had a real conversation with a patient in this hospital?”

“I have no idea”

Milly tried to hand Peter a five dollar bill.

“Neither do I. It’s been that long. I’ll be right back.” He rushed out the door.

Just after Peter left Dr. Keiko Toshiro arrived followed by Brad. Dr. Toshiro closed the door.

“From what I just heard I think you’re coming down with a classic case of cabin fever. I know it’s no fun being in a hospital bed. I broke my ankle last summer and I was in here for only two days.”

Suddenly Brad cleared his throat.

“Oh, that reminds me your preliminary blood tests came back. Do you want to know?”

Brad was the first to reply.

“I want to know, to know what’s going on. But at the same I don’t want to know, you know?”

Then Milly chimed in.

“I just want to understand what’s happening to me”

Dr. Toshiro lifted her chart. First, she read the chart silently, then announced the findings.

“Well, you’re both going be parents. It looks like someone breached the dam and found a new place to live” she said to Brad.

“And I didn’t help matters.”

That statement from Milly got Brad’s attention and caused Dr. Toshiro to ask for clarification.

“Let’s try that one again. This time with clarity.”

“I’ve been off the pill for a week. I really wanted a baby.”

Dr. Toshiro couldn’t let this error in judgment pass silently. “Whoops”.

Milly started crying. Brad spoke for both of them.

“After we got engaged we talked about having kids. We didn’t plan on having children for a couple of years. We’re still learning about The Second Realm. In a way, we’re kids ourselves- new to this world. But thanks for telling us.”

Suddenly there was a terrific thunderclap. Dr. Toshiro walked to the window and looked out.

“That’s odd. The sky is blue. We’re not scheduled to have inclement weather. And there isn’t a cloud in the sky” she said.

“This is a perfect example of what I was talking about Keiko. We’re so new we didn’t know the weather was “scheduled”.” said Brad.

“Right now my concern isn’t the weather. It’s Milly. She shouldn’t be reacting in this manner. From what I can tell this should be a very normal pregnancy. If this reaction is hereditary than I feel sorry for all the women in your family. That’s why I want a blood sample from you.” Brad went white again. Dr. Toshiro grabbed him and eased him into a chair.

“Oh lordy. This so embarrassing. Do you really need blood?.”

“Brad! Tell her this very instant or I’ll tell her your middle name,” said Milly

Brad bowed his head. He moaned and whined like a little kid.

“R-” roared Milly.

“Damn Damn Damn. You got me by the short and curlies. But please promise me you’ll never ever tell another soul. Even if you think they know don’t say a word.”

Keiko Toshiro had a look of utter confusion on her face. She had no idea what she was about to hear.

“When I was a kid I broke my nose. This wasn’t one of your typical breaks. There was blood everywhere. It was coming out in buckets. And when I saw my blood on my sleeve my legs just folded up. I passed out, and when I went down like a tree. Flash forward a couple of decades and the kid is now a cardiac surgeon. I can do multiple organ transplants. I’ve been up to my elbows in blood and guts. But I’ve never been able to give blood or have blood taken without having to lie down. Would you want a doctor who’s afraid of his own blood?”

Dr. Toshiro looked like she was thinking. Then she looked at Brad while she pointed at Milly.”

“I see your point. Now see mine. See that wonderful woman in the bed behind me?. She’s your wife. And she needs your help. Specifically your blood. Now come with me. I’ve got a cot with your name on it. And if you give me any more sob stories I’m going to personally bust your honker so bad I’ll get the blood that way.”

Brad slowly shuffled his feet towards the door to Milly’s room.

“I’ll bet you know judo and karate.”

“Yes, I do…and a few other Japanese words.”

Peter the orderly returned with the paper. As Milly read the paper she discovered there was a column with all the names of people who had been admitted to hospital in the last twenty four hours. To make things worse there was a very unflattering photo of her in her husband’s arms in the emergency ward out cold and soaked to the bone. To add insult to injury there were five words beside her photo. “She might be with child.” Milly was furious. 

“Those god damn bastards. Haven’t they ever heard of privacy?” Milly was so angry she threw the paper against the wall.  As it sailed through the air it almost hit Dr. Toshiro who was just coming through the door.

“I thought I should warn you. There a so-called newspaper that-”

She ducked and the paper sailed over her head.

“Well, I think that confirms it. You saw the photo” she said.

“How the heck do they know I’m pregnant? I just found out myself.”

“The paper “Our Town” is much like a tabloid in your dimension. I think it’s called The National Enquirer or something like that. Their “stories” are very rarely based on fact and mostly on conjecture and rumor.”

“Well somebody should take them to court or something.”

“I guessed you would not be very happy when you saw the photo so I went down to the gift shop and got you some cosmetics so you could look a little more feminine. They very rarely publish a picture of anybody looking fantastic. And from your most recent blood results, I think it’s safe to unhook you from all this plumbing.”

After unplugging Milly she went into the bathroom. “AH!. That feels so much better. Every time I had to use a bedpan I felt like was wearing a metal diaper. Would it be alright if I took a shower, Dr. Toshiro?”

Clutching Milly’s medical chart to her chest  Dr. Toshiro slowly approached the bathroom door.

“I’d like you to wait just one more day so all the holes we put in you will start to heal up. But if you want to give yourself a sponge bath have at it.”

“Oh, I’m beginning to feel human again. Thank you. And I want to apologize for being so bitchy.”

“Milly you have an excuse that has a nine-month warranty. You’re pregnant! Your hormones are going wild.”

“Whatever you say, Doctor. When I get home I’m going to soak in the tub for about a day”

Just then the hematology lab paged Dr. Toshiro. She picked up the phone.

“Toshiro here, something the matter?”

The chief of the lab answered.

” It’s Dr. Foster’s blood. I won’t say what it’s doing over the phone, but I need your opinion. Now!”

“Resolution” part 2 -Chapter 13d –Panooksa

Dr. Keiko Toshiro wasn’t fond of going to hematology. But that’s where she sent the sample of Brad’s blood. She came out the elevator in the basement, passed some sickly green ceramic tiles, and dodged some empty gurneys. When she got to the lab she was not in the best of moods.

“Alright, what the hell is going on? I sent Brad Fosters blood sample here. What’s all the damn mystery?”

She was immediately ushered to a microscope and slide. Dr. Toshiro looked through the lens.

“Everything looks normal. Wait a minute. What the hell is that?” she said.

“That’s what I’d like to know too,” said the chief of Hematology.

“Put this little bugger up on the big screen. I want to see its DNA structure.”

The chief rushed around the lab. Within a few minutes, the special widescreen monitor flickered to life.

An image flashed on the screen.

“Now we’re going to see if this thing is worth the money we paid for it.”

The chief of the lab adjusted the focus.

Dr. Toshiro crossed her arms and looked puzzled.

“OK, that’s more like it. Let’s see what’s going on.”

The chief of the Hematology lab moved the camera a micron at a time. Dr. Toshiro stood in the middle of the lab with her hands in her pockets and watched the screen.

“Good, good, good. Why were you so reluctant to say anything on the phone. And why am I here?”s asked Dr. Toshiro

The lab chief nudged the slide.

“That’s the reason I paged you'”

On the big screen, there were some objects that were clearly not human. It soon became very obvious that some of Brad’s reproductive DNA had obviously been meddled with.

“Just what the hell are you?” she asked while she stared at the screen.

With no answer forthcoming, she walked to the phone. She dialed 000, which was code for a hospital-wide emergency. It also overrode the normal hospital intercom.

“Will Dr. Brad Foster report to his wife’s room stat.”

Brad was in the cafeteria when he heard the page. He was about to pay for lunch. Instead of handing the cashier some change he handed her the entire tray.

“When ya gotta go, you gotta go.”

The cashier turned her head and quietly cursed “Damn Doctors.”

Brad turned, yelled, and started running. “C’mon folks. Be nice. Make a hole!!”

Instead of taking the elevator to the maternity wing he took the stairs. His unusually long gait allowed him to scale a single flight of stairs in approximately 10 seconds. When he was up to the sixth floor he trotted into his wife’s room. Milly looked great. And the tubes were gone.

“Oh thank god. I thought something was wrong”

Dr. Toshiro was already there.

“There is. With both of you. And why are you so out of breath?”

“Cafeteria,” said winded Brad

Brad bent over trying to catch his breath.

“So naturally you felt compelled to set a land speed record by scaling six flights of stairs. Why didn’t you simply teleport?” asked Dr. Toshiro

“New kids remember?”

Dr. Toshiro rolled her eyes then shook her head. “I swear you two are going to drive me to drink.”

Brad sat in a chair beside his wife’s bed to catch his breath. After a short while, he asked what was going on.

“OK, Keiko. What’s with the page? I hope you know you damn gave near a heart attack”

Dr. Toshiro was ready with her answer.

“I didn’t ask you to sprint up the stairs like a crazed gazelle. As for the page, we think what’s wrong with both of you. You know that blood we took from you?”

Brad wanted to make a snarky remark. But one squeeze of Milly’s hand told him not to.

It took only a few seconds for Brad to single out the words she emphasized.

“Wait a minute. What do you mean “both of us”?” asked Brad.

“Your reproductive DNA has been tampered with. Have you ever been exposed to radiation, or had a really nasty kick right where it counts?”

“No to both”

“What about head injuries”

“No to that as well. Always wore a helmet”

There was silence while the two mulled any other possibilities. Then Milly almost exploded.

“What about Messenger!”

Dr. Toshiro and Brad looked at her.

“When Brad and I first met Messenger it was at 14 Rillington Place in our dimension. He really messed with Brad’s head. Brad was sweating all over, totally incomprehensible, and had one heck of a  headache.”

“What happened right after that?” she asked.

“I had to drive him home. He could barely walk let alone drive. He was like a zombie.”

“Any other injuries?”

“Not to us”

“What do you mean?

“My father started getting an irregular heartbeat right after Messenger brought my parents to The Second Realm .”

“Any other injuries to anyone else that Messenger may have been responsible for?”

“Sirena Telford”

“I’ve met her. Charming woman.” Keiko pretended to put her finger down her throat.

“Anything else Milly”

“Not that I know of.”

“Alright. But I still want to know what is growing inside you. The monitor beside your bed measures a fetal heartbeat. We put this strap on your tummy and we have a listen. Normally we do this at the end of the first trimester.”

Dr. Toshiro moved the sheets down and exposed Milly’s tummy.

“Call it professional curiosity, or anything you want, but I want to know what’s inside you.

The stethoscope-like device was placed on Milly’s stomach and the digital readout was activated. Normally the monitor would read 90 to 110 beats. It read 220.

“That’s it. I’m ordering an emergency amniocentesis to be followed by an ultrasound’.

The procedure did not go as planned. Every time Dr. Toshiro came close to withdrawing some amniotic fluid Milly’s heart raced at an almost deadly rate. At one point Dr. Toshiro started cursing in the few Japanese words she knew.

“I don’t understand this. If I didn’t know better I’d swear the little stinker knows what we’re trying to do. Then let’s try an Ultrasound. Milly, we’re going to take the needle out. When it’s finished coming out your tummy will be covered with a clear gel. It’ll feel like some dropped a lot of hair gel on your tummy. Whatever is inside can’t stop us from taking a peek inside.”

As the gel was applied Milly said that felt cool and gooey.

“That’s exactly what it’s supposed to feel like. If you want to see what’s inside just turn your head. And watch the monitor.”

As Dr. Toshiro moved the transducer it became very apparent that Milly was not carrying a baby. Milly became more than concerned.

“That face…it’s not human…it’s….” Dr. Toshiro nodded and a nurse gave her something to knock her out. The face resembled that of a gargoyle.

When Milly became conscious she was back in her room. She noticed another intravenous bag and another tube going into her arm. Brad was in the room as well as her mother and father. Milly was holding her mother’s hand with her right hand and Brads with her left hand. The wind picked up outside.

A glow suddenly appeared near the wall. Then a human looking person suddenly appeared. The glowing silhouette of a person stood near the wall. First, it addressed Tyler.

“Dr. Shine, Messenger erred in the worst possible way. What he did was not according to the plan, He did what he wanted to do. He was to bring people here that truly wanted to be here. He was not to bring people who were about to die from an accident. Nor was he supposed to cause injury when bringing anybody to this realm.”

“I was your Sentry award. I was sent here to watch over him and to intervene when and if necessary. Dr. Shine, I must apologize for Messengers clumsiness. His ineptitude caused the heart flutter. Only your going back in time will erase the mistake which caused it.”

The creature looked Milly and Brad.

“Messenger knew he was dying. When he injured your head Dr. Foster he altered your reproductive DNA. I must ask you never to have any other children in this timeline. They will not be human.”

The silvery figure looked at Milly.

“Messenger wanted his replacement to be from his body. You are not carrying a human baby. You are carrying his replacement. It will resemble him”

Milly started to cry and squeezed the hand of her mother even harder.

“Finally, there is the matter of Sirena Telford. There is no excuse for what he did and no way to make up for it in this timeline.

“The only way to correct the mistakes of the past is to go deeper into it. Brad, Milly, you will be returned to the morning you first met Messenger or as you called him Panooksa. You will have no memory of The Second Realm, the doorway, living together or anything that transpired during that time period. Everything that happened after you met Messenger will be erased from your mind.

“You mean everything Brad and I experienced will be gone?” Milly protested.

“Everything from that day forward will be gone for it will never have happened. You have a chance to rekindle what you have now, but only in your past.”

“Dr. Shine. You and your wife will be returned to that point in your time to the car you were in before its brakes failed. You have a second chance to see your daughter grow up.”

“And Sirena Telford will be returned to her living room before she sat down and picked up the pistol. She will not remember this for there won’t be anything to remember.

Brad tried to say something but there was a flash of light.

A moment later Milly found herself trying to navigate traffic in the city. Brad pulled up to his parking spot beneath the hospital. The car Tyler and Tilly were in was parked. They decided to walk down the road moments before the brakes gave, and Sirena found herself in the living room of her mansion staring at the gun.

The End

“Changes” – Chapter 12b-Panooksa

Idea by Tom Austin                                                Written by Tom Austin       

                                           Revised by Tom Austin

After a while Milly stopped hugging Brad. He held her by the shoulders and said “I think we should have a long talk.”

Milly sat cross-legged in one chair, while Brad sat in another chair. He tried to look at Milly’s face but his attention was drawn to the one place he knew he could not go-for now.

“Could you do me a favor and cross you legs or something. She’s looking right at me.”


“You know what I mean”

“No. I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

“OK, put your index finger on your belly button”

Milly did.

“Now put it at very top of your panties”

Milly moved it to the proper location.

“Now put it between your legs touching the chair”

When Milly did that she said “You mean “she” is making you nervous?”

“Immensely. And she’s making it very hard to concentrate. And I stress the word hard.”

Milly started to giggle. “I didn’t know “she” had that power over you. That’s really cute you calling her “she”. I’m going call him “he.” She pointed right between Brads legs.

Brad stood up, adjusted his pants, let out a sigh, then sat down again. “Oh that feels so much better”

Milly giggled some more. “All this is so new to me.”

Brad set her fears to rest. “I still want to marry you, live with you in The Second Realm, hopefully in that house you love, and when you want to be a mother be the father of your children.”

Milly was so relieved to hear that she ran over to Brad and smothered him with kisses. “Thank you, I love you, and I want him.” And she pointed directly between Brads legs. She touched his pants. “Oh my.”

So that’s what he is talking about.” she thought.

Brad recovered his composure after Milly touched him in a very sensitive area, and she had returned to her chair. Only this time Milly put a blanket in her lap. She rested her head on her thumbs while her hands looked like they were praying. In a way she was.

Brad continued.

“Before you say anything more I’d like to finish. The matter of sex is really becoming uncomfortable for me. Not the physical act, but what you want and what I want. First, you say you want to wait and I understand the reasoning behind that request. So I back off trying to make things easier for you. But then you ball me out for not paying enough attention to you. And to really mess me up when I do try show you I’m very interested in you-you freak on me.”

“Now I’m willing to wait if that’s what you want, but I think a civil ceremony here, and a church wedding in The Second Realm just won’t work. I think a quickie wedding in The Second Realm with your parents, Merlin, and Sirena as guests will work. And I apologize if the words “quickie wedding” are inappropriate but it was the best I could think of.”

“Working at the hospital here in the city is getting to be a real bore. I’m teaching and seeing patients, but the hospital treats people like slabs of meat in a butcher shop, and to make the situation worse they’re now referring to patients as numbers. I don’t treat numbers I treat people! And I want out. Your dad wants me to work in The Second Realm and I want to give it a try.”

“So to sum things up. No more mixed messages. Either you take me as is, or we should forget the whole thing. No more trying to make me into something I’m not. A church wedding minus all the religious stuff in The Second Realm, and I work in The Second Realm.”

There were tears in Milly’s eyes. She stood up and slowly walked towards him. She looked deep into his eyes. She held his face in her hands.

“I was hoping you’d say what you did. I want to be an ordinary housewife and homemaker and I want to it to happen as quickly as possible. And I want you to make crazy, sweaty love to me every day.”

“Hey, lets get a little realistic shall we”

Milly laughed. “OK, every weekend. And if you cut the grass I may have a little surprise for him.” She pointed directly at what she was talking about.

Brad grabbed a piece of paper and wrote furiously on it.

Milly walked up beside Brad. She looked sleepy and put her head on Brads shoulder. “What are you writing?”

“After we move in we should invest in a goat.”

Showered, and appropriately dressed Brad knocked on the door of his soon to be in-laws. Brad attempted to disguise his voice and spoke with an English accent.

“Package for a Dr. Shine from the estate of Dr. Michael DeBakey”

Brad saw Tilly rushing through the living room and he concerned she might fall.

“Slow down young lady.”

“Good heavens, Brad! We weren’t expecting you and Milly for another week.” She looked around. “I don’t see her. Where is she?”

“It’s you I’ve come to see. It concerns a matter of the heart.”

Tilly and Brad sat in matching chairs, and faced each other.

“Are Milly and you all right?”

“We are now. Lets just say she made a number of requests of me that I found difficult to live with. But we talked things over, and we made a number of changes to the arrangements to the wedding that I wanted to let you know of.”

“I was afraid this would happen. Let me guess. She told you she wanted you to wait, then gave you hell for not paying enough attention to her.”

“Tilly, how in thunder do -”

She got up, went behind Brads chair, and started playing with his hair.

“When I was a young woman I made exactly the same mistake with Tyler. Almost lost him too. But like you and Milly we talked it out and smoothed out the problems. But please, tell me exactly what happened.”

For the next half hour Brad spilled his guts. He left out the part about Milly wearing only a tee shirt and panties. Tilly did not need to know that. “Now that the civil ceremony is history what do you propose to do” she asked.

“We plan to use the time allotted for the civil ceremony to box up our things, and to transport them to the house. Milly wants to be, and I quote, “become an ordinary wife and homemaker as soon as possible.” What we need to know is if there is any way to have a church wedding in The Second Realm as soon possible.”

Tilly went into the living room, open up a drawer, and pulled out a pamphlet. She then put it on a small table in front of Brad.

“Here in The Second Realm we’re free of all the religious entanglements of your dimension. So basically all you have to do is show up, say your vows, and that’s it. Everything you need to know is in this pamphlet.” She tapped it three times for emphasis.

“Tilly, you are heaven sent. This is exactly what we need.” He was so happy he gave Tilly a bear hug and kissed her on the cheek.

“Oh my heavens. Nobody’s done what you just did for ages.”

Brad realized what he had done. Tilly saw his shocked expression.

“Don’t worry. I won’t tell her. Now scoot.”

I really like that boy,” she said to herself.

“I’m back my love.”

Milly walked into the sitting room. “What do mean you mean you’re back. I thought you were reading”

Milly sniffed the air.

“Pipe tobacco. I’d recognize the scent anywhere. You’ve been to my mom and dads.”

“And your mom is fantastic. See this pamphlet? In it is all the info a person needs to know to get married in The Second Realm. And the best thing is you can have your church wedding anytime you want.”

Milly jumped into his arms. “Does mom know about us?”

“She guessed. Plus she had the same problems with your dad.”

Brad gave her his Visa card and told her to buy her wedding gown.

“Brad, there’s so much more to a wedding. I’ve got get a manicure, a pedicure, shoes that go with the dress, and I’ve got to get my hair done. The garter,-”

That’s when Brad cut her off. “It’s all in the pamphlet your mother gave us. Apparently that church has a nifty little cottage industry going.”

It was all right there. Everything Milly needed to know was at her fingertips. “Do you want me to go with you to pick out the dress?

“Oh no! You stay right here. Men are verboten! Men are not supposed to see the wedding dress until the day of the wedding.”

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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, 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!