ANGEL (no wings)

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Science Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic
A woman, Karen, loses her husband in a plane crash in the mountains of North Carolina. Somehow, her young son survives, and tells her a strange story about a man who comes to their rescue, and disappears. A religious person, Karen joins forces with an Atheist, Marion, who works for the Vatican trying to verify or debunk miracles. Together, they encounter a man who tells them an incredible tale of another world that parallels ours, and how the existence of that world influences ours in seemingly miraculous ways.

Submitted: July 17, 2017

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Submitted: July 17, 2017

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ANGEL(no wings)

 

 

“We knew for certain, that if help didn’t find us pretty soon, we were going to die.” The speaker, a wispy, slender blonde woman looked as though she just might collapse under the weight of her testimony. She exhaled, and continued. “We were all either sick or getting sick from the water we were drinking from a nearby stream and we couldn’t boil it, so we figured it was full of something bad. No sleep, the mosquitos were merciless day and night. We were covered with bites. The food we had brought in our back packs was gone, and we didn’t really know enough about the jungle to gather what we needed.” She paused and looked down and then continued. “Of course we kept trying our phones, but nothing happened.”

“If you could, Mrs. Jacoby, remind us how you and your companions got into this situation in the first place.” Walter Justin, the man conducting the inquiry for the Vatican Commission on Miracles, had asked only one of two people who had volunteered, to speak under oath on what had happened in the Peruvian jungle two years previous.

“It was actually a river tour. ’The Iquitos Tour Plan’, it was called, supposed to last four days. On the second day a freak storm forced the pilot of the boat, a small one, to take an estuary he didn’t know. Water from upriver swamped the boat, we went aground. The pilot jumped overboard and tried to guide the boat out again.” She paused, and shook her head. “He went under and didn’t come up, died trying  to save us, poor man.”

“Do you want to stop for a moment to collect your thoughts?” Justin asked.

“No,” the woman said, sighing deeply, “I want to get this over. At that point, the boat was sinking, so the five of us jumped into the water and got onto dry land and into the jungle. The boat drifted away. None of us, or course, knew anything about survival in the jungles of Peru, so we stayed together, found a clearing and in a short time knew we were in deep trouble.”

“Mrs Jacoby, I think every one in the room is aware of the problems that the five of you faced in the next week or so, and they were insurmountable to say the least, so there’s no reason to recount them again. As best you can, why not give us your account of the event that saved all of your lives.” Justin had interrupted the woman as gently as he could to speed the testimony. She watched his face as he spoke, and nodded.

“After a time we were all rather delirious with whatever kind of illness we had contracted and powerless to do anything. We just tried to be comfortable, on the ground, all getting weaker—-and then suddenly somebody was giving us water! Fresh, clean water from some kind of container! A stranger was there, from nowhere. And he had pills with the water. He told us that the pills would help us with our stomach cramps and chills. There was food in liquid form in small plastic bottles—-tasted wonderful!”

“What did this man look like?” interjected Justin gently.

“When I recall him, he was average tall, fair skinned, possibly caucasian, I think, a light beard. I remember his voice mostly, so kind and reassuring, especially when he told us that help was on the way. God, were we glad to here that! We learned that search parties were already looking for us and actually not that far off. I think about two more days went by and then we heard a boat, a large one, coming up the river. By that time we were strong enough to make some noise.”

“Was the stranger with you when help arrived—-did any of the rescue party see him?” asked one of the listeners.

“No.” She paused again for a moment. In front of her was her husband who had accompanied her to the hearing, but would not testify. He mouthed the words I love you and smiled, and nodded for her to finish. “Some of you, or many of you came today to here me say that I witnessed a miracle. Four other people who were with me won’t talk about it because they really don’t know what they witnessed. What I can say is that a stranger came into our midst and saved our lives. He gave us water, food and medicine when we most needed it and perhaps called for help. Where he came from is unknown to us, and everyone else. The fact that he did this is certain, because I am sitting here. Is that a miracle? An act of God? An intervention by something other than we are? It’s a question I’ve asked myself many times and still goes unanswered—-and will for as long as I live. Thank you for listening to me. I’m through talking now.”

“Well, that was about the strangest thing I’ve ever heard. I’m not sure what to believe.” Karen Hughes said this as she looked over her menu at her companion, a woman named Marion Knowles who sat across from her in a diner they had found after leaving the testimonial meeting organized by Walter Justin. 

“You read the documented reports the same as I did,” Marion replied. “These people were missing for almost two weeks, and all reported pretty much the same thing—-even found a few of those plastic bottles with remnants of something inside. The fact that one of them would testify was pretty amazing, given all the crap spread around on the web! She held up all right, given what she had to say.” A waiter came and they ordered.

“So, is this going down as a bona fide miracle? Does this have the hallmarks? I mean, no explanation for the stranger from the deep jungle, healing pills, what do you think, Professor?” Karen laughed softly as she threw the challenge at her partner.

“No miracle from this corner, I’m sorry to say. He could have come from anywhere, a boat nearby, or camp. The pills, could be anything, quinine, an anti-biotic or combination that he carried. We don’t even know how ill these people were. The food is easy—-a supplement you can get at Walmart.” She spoke between mouthfuls of food. Marion was in her fifties, and actually had been a Professor of Psychology for some years before taking up her “quest” and research on miracles. She was animated on the subject, an expert on miracles although she did not believe they existed. There was a reason for everything; the reason she was an Atheist. “Wouldn’t a selfie have been nice, although that would have been expecting too, too much!” They both laughed at this idea, photos had been discussed and dismissed as the survivors had other problems.

“You’re comparing your own situation with this one, as you always do, of course, aren’t you?” asked Marion.

“The location, timing, all have their merits, and are problematic in deciding which way to jump on that one, you have to admit.” Karen, a softly attractive thirty-four year old with shoulder length black hair, looked over her coffee. They had talked, at length, about Karen’s situation many times before. It was the reason the two woman were together now; had become fast friends.

Over a year had passed since the incident had happened that was so catastrophic as to blow apart Karen Knowles life, change it irrevocably and put her on a path that was unthinkable until now.

Her husband, Glen, had been an aeronautics engineer even before they met. Recruited just out of college, he went to work for a large firm and as such flew around the country for leisure and business. In his twenties, he had earned his pilots license and later he and a good friend went in together buying a Cessna Stationair air plane. It was expensive, but Glen earned well, Karen worked as a teacher and with only one daughter, Danielle, it was a dream that both wanted.

A time came at the end of one March when it was decided that Danielle would accompany her father, along with his friend and his two children on a week outing to Kentucky. There they would stay with a friend at his horse farm, something new to all of them. Since both Glen and the friend were pilots, flying was a simple decision. Karen had relented at first, but the flight was relatively short and it sounded fun. She had to teach and could not get time off.

The trip went well for the first part of the week. FaceBook showed pictures of all of them, six year old Danielle on horseback, and the seven year old twins likewise, all smiles and laughter with their dads. They talked on the phone several times; things were great.

The decision to fly back on Sunday morning was made despite the fact that weather was dicey. Glen’s friend, Tom, would fly, more experienced in weather, but they both thought little of a problem, since the reports said their route looked good. They took off. They were headed for RDU but when they crossed the North Carolina state line things went bad quickly. 

“We’ve got a problem with oil pressure.” Glen could see quickly that his friend, the pilot, was correct. A freak line of storms had popped up from nowhere on their southwest with a drop in temperature.

“Can we put down anywhere—-I don’t know how long we can stay in the air.” The pilot spoke gently, knowing small ears would pick up alarming language.

“You’re better put out a call, man. I can’t see shit in this storm. Maybe there’s a small airport somewhere in the area.” He listened as Glen radioed a call for help, knowing it was probably futile.

Karen was looking forward to seeing her guys soon. Missing them terribly, not seeing them for a week, she was preparing a nice dinner for their return Sunday evening. She expected a phone call late afternoon after they landed, and when it didn’t come, she called the airport.

“I see they filed a flight plan, also see storms out ahead of them so. . .they might have flown wide, sometimes happens in these cases.” The voice on the phone didn’t sound reassuring and soon enough the flight was reported as missing and Karen’s life went into a tailspin.

The storm system that lashed the North Carolina Appalachian area lasted into Monday and search teams were already started into where they thought Glen’s plane had gone down. The media, of course, grabbed the story, and seeming indifferent to the fact that Karen would probably be on the receiving end of only the worst of news, tried to ask the most intimate of questions. Karen braved some of them and friends shielded her as best they could. Then, on the morning of the fourth day, came a call.

“Mrs. Knowles, they found the plane!” A hurried voice answered her pickup from RDU. The man on the phone continued. “A helicopter heard a distress call and spotted it in a ravine. We’re on the ground now. I’ll call you back as soon as we get inside.”

Although the children had escaped major injury because of their location in the aircraft, the men weren’t so fortunate. Glen had been killed outright. He had come to the rear of the plane to be with the kids and somehow was not strapped properly in place and was thrown about mercilessly. Tom, though injured, lived, but would be in for a long recovery. Karen knew none of this until she got to a local hospital where they had been taken after the rescue. The hospital was in North Carolina, but some hours from her home. When she walked through the hospital doors, she sensed the worst. Greeting her was the former wife of her husband’s friend and co-pilot, whom she had never met.

“Karen, oh my god, I’m so, so, sorry!” Her face was a mask of intense grief and anguish. Karen’s own eyes flew wide with the sudden realization of  something gone terribly wrong.

“Oh! No! No one said anything! It’s not Danielle! Don’t tell me it’s Dani. . .” The woman rushed to her and held her, face to face. 

“No, sweetie, no. Danielle is okay.” Her voice softened, tears welled up, streamed down. “I’m afraid it’s Glen. He didn’t make it.”

They had kept the young children in a room by themselves, away from any media, until parents or immediate relatives could arrive. Amazingly, they suffered only cuts and bruises, but were checked for concussions and broken bones as a precaution. Karen walked in to find her daughter dressed in a pale pink hospital gown sitting on the edge of a bed. She was eating jello.

“Hi mommy!” The six year old seemed to be unaware that her father was gone. Karen moved to her side and sat on the bed not quite sure what to do.

“How do you feel? You look pretty good after all you’ve been through, any pain, hurt anywhere?” Karen smoothed the girl’s short pale hair.

“Uh uh, I feel okay. My head hurt for a while, but it’s okay now. The nurse gave me something.” Karen watched as Tom’s ex-wife came in and went to her twins who greeted her. She asked the woman how Tom was and she answered that he was not critical, but in and out of consciousness. He would survive. To this, Karen nodded thankfulness.

“I saw daddy in the plane, mommy. He looked really hurt, his head. We were all so cold, and hungry. Their daddy, daddy’s friend, couldn’t help either, he was hurt and couldn’t talk.” Danielle took another helping of jello and swallowed slowly and seemed to compose herself. And then she said, “That’s when the man came.”

“What man, honey? Where did he come from?” Karen tried not to sound too incredulous.

“I don’t know, from outside, the snow.” Danielle said this matter of factly. “He had stuff to eat and drink and something that made the plane warm inside.” 

“Are you hearing this?” Karen said to the woman across the room. “A strange man entered the plane and helped the kids? What is this?”

“I’m hearing the same thing over here. These two are repeating it almost word for word. It’s got to be true. Maybe one of the locals knows something, got there before anyone else? Who else could it be?” The woman’s face wore a look of pure amazement.

“Mommy, daddy’s dead, isn’t he?” Danielle’s sudden statement caused Karen to spin around and stare, open mouthed, at her daughter.

“Did someone at the hospital say this to you?” Karen asked her daughter. She would be angry at that. Angry and upset at not having the chance of breaking heartrending news to this most precious child.

“No. When the man was there with us, he told us little stories and then said that other people would come soon to get us and take us away. He told the twins that their daddy was hurt, but probably would be okay.” Danielle looked down and then took her mother’s fingers in her small hand. “He told me that daddy was hurt really bad. He said that sometimes when people were hurt so bad they couldn’t be helped and had to go away and couldn’t come back. That where daddy went was a good place and that he could see us and probably later we would see him. I asked him if that meant my daddy was dead and he said yes.” Karen was crying openly now, the tears flowing down, dripping onto the bed linen.

“You were so brave! All of you!” Karen said this so that the two children across the room could hear, and their mother nodded. She too, was crying and hugging her own.

An investigation into the “Appalachian Miracle”, that the incident had now become known as, was thorough. No local had made it to the crash site prior to the first search and rescue aircraft that spotted the downed Cessna. Almost four days had passed since the plane had gone down, and the first of the two men who entered the half-buried plane were aghast to find the three children alert and talkative, seemingly okay after their ordeal. The injured pilot had, at least, been treated with superficial first-aid. The children didn’t speak of the stranger until the hospital, apparently unaware that a man appearing out of nowhere, in a blizzard, inside a wrecked aircraft, caring for injured victims, and then disappearing just when help arrived, was something totally out of the ordinary. After all, they were young children, and to their minds, the near impossible, when it happened, and to their benefit, was to be expected. 

Just how they found the plane was the largest mystery. Soon after the crash, an ELT signal was detected, and then lost. The signal was not on long enough to get a GPS fix. Then, on the beginning of the third day, the ELT came on again, transmitting for a few minutes, giving searchers more information, then went off. On the fourth day, it came on and stayed on as the planes were in the air and eventually guided them to the missing Cessna. The children were asked about the ELT, but of course, they had no idea what that was.

Karen Hughes had been born and raised a Catholic, gone to Catholic grammar school, high school and even Catholic college. When Glen had been killed, she had briefly suspended her belief, then began to attend church again, and actually became more rigorous in her faith. During this time she met and became friends with Marion Knowles.

“Dear Karen,” the email began. Karen was wary of uninvited emails, but the sender, VATICAN MIRACLE COMMISSION, more than peaked her attention, so she opened it, and read on, “my name is Marion Knowles, and as an investigator of so-called miracles, I wanted to know if it would be at all possible to interview you regarding your recent involvement in the “Appalachian Miracle”. I know you have, no doubt, been approached, or even talked to before, but my interest in this event is not the usual. Email me if at all interested. Thanking you in advance, regards, Marion”.

They met over lunch at a restaurant Karen had chosen near her home in Raleigh. They liked each other at once. Both widows, Marion had lost her husband some years before in the first Gulf War; a career officer. She had a son in college. Marion was upfront with Karen about her views on religion from the start.

“I’m an Atheist. I tell you that with the understanding that you may or may not be a practicing member in a religious organization and feel uncomfortable with me. How are we doing so far?” She smiled at Karen, who laughed out loud at this contrasting woman.

“I’m just fine. I’m a Catholic and comfortable as can be with myself. Curious as hell as why you would be associated with the Vatican in any way?”

“Yeah,” answered Marion. She was taller than Karen and younger looking than her years with short, professional hair, and crisp, stylish clothing. “I get that a lot, but who better to question a miracle than someone who can’t believe they exist. Actually they check on the ones associated with would-be saints almost all the time, you know, in order to be become one.” To this, Karen nodded. 

“So why be part of them at all? It would seem the Church probably wouldn’t care at all about what happened on a mountain in North Carolina.” Karen had been screened by several media folks for lots of articles, but nothing like this.

“I use their name and authority for that reason alone. It gets me into doors otherwise closed to me. Weren’t you curious by the email?” Marion smiled knowing she was right.

They talked for over two hours. Marion had every piece of print literature made about the crash, every photograph; she was thorough. Karen added intimate details that Marion could not have gotten anywhere else.

“Of course the kids told you what this guy looked like?” insisted Marion.

“Oh, to be sure! Especially the twins. They’re a bit older, actually only a year or so, but they were pretty detailed right down to his shoes, which were a kind of boot,” answered Karen.

“So, what can you tell me that I didn’t get from the papers.” Marion recorded everything, with Karen’s permission.

It was summer and Karen was reorganizing her life. With Glen’s death she had realized two large insurance payouts: a life insurance policy they had both agreed upon that they had on each other, and another policy she was unaware of from his company. With this money and time off from school, and her new friendship with Marion, she was rethinking her future.

“Why not throw in with me for a while? I could use an assistant and, to tell you the truth, my writing skills just suck!” With this statement, Marion convinced Karen of something that had crossed her mind anyway. Marion introduced Karen to the world of investigation and the undoing or proving just what was or wasn’t a miracle.

They used Karen’s home as an office on the east coast, Marion was from Chicago and had an office there, and between the work given them from the Vatican, which was sanctioned and official, and things that just came through the media, the two were busy. Both women had incomes, they were able to sell articles from time to time and a book was planned. One day they found time to have lunch in Raleigh and took Danielle. It was three years from the time of the plane crash.

“Mommy.” Danielle, her blue-green sparkling eyes fixated on something across the pale blue cover of the dining room table cloth, had seized her mother’s hand and squeezed it tightly. Startled, Karen glanced at her daughter.

“What is it, honey?”

“It’s him, the man.” Danielle said this softly, almost lovingly, her eyes never leaving the object caught in her gaze.

“What man, where?” Both women asked together.

“The man from the plane. He’s sitting right there, at that table.” The little girl insisted. Two tables over, sitting alone was a man reading a paper. Now, in the low light of the restaurant, in the afternoon, it did appear that a man resembling that whom the children had described, was indeed sitting, waiting to be served.

“Are you sure, sweetie, you’re not mistaken?” Karen asked her daughter. Danielle looked at her mother as though she had just discovered her under a rock.

“Mommy, my eyesight is perfect! It’s him! How could I forget!”

“What should we do—-I mean, if she’s right, should we approach him?” Karen turned to Marion, who shrugged, laughed and said, “Look’s like the decision’s been made.” Danielle was already on her way to the man’s table. The impetuous nine year old wanted to know. Marion and Karen followed.

“Excuse me, mister, could I ask you a question?” By the time the startled man had looked up from his paper to see the little girl standing there, the two adult women were at her side. A little embarrassed, he scrambled to his feet. He was taller than Marion, with a handsome, asiatic, clean-shaven face and smartly dressed for the weather in a light grey blazer and slacks. He smiled nervously showing good teeth.

Danielle sat quickly, lacking the pretense of her adult companions. She was sure she knew this man and didn’t hesitate.

“Are you the man who came into the plane after we crashed—-you stayed with us—-you told me my daddy was dead?” Her bright eyes focused up at the smiling(still standing)man who seemed to hesitate just for a slight moment(would he suddenly run away?)then he sat, and looking straight at her, began to talk.

“I am that man. Although I remember you, and the other two children very well, I don’t recall your name.”

“Danielle, my name is Danielle. What’s your name? You never told us!” She was so excited to meet him again.

“You may call me Henri. I’m sorry,” He spoke to the women, “please sit, I’m being rude! Share my table if you haven’t eaten, please!” They did, their faces once reflecting their surprise now showing curiosity. A waiter came, took orders for drinks and disappeared.

“You can’t imagine the questions—-“ Marion started to say, and Henri put his hand gently up.

“I can imagine those questions, I anticipate them, but before I attempt to answer anything relating to the incident, I need to tell you, show you something about myself and what I am.” Drinks came and for a moment they busied themselves with their menus, and ordered.

“What I’m going to show you, explain to you, is a bit difficult to understand and probably impossible to believe. Nevertheless, I’ve got to do it. There are some folks, physicists, who already are beyond theory in their thinking, but people like yourselves aren’t quite there yet. He took a napkin and spread it out and drew a series of five concentric circles close together. On the third circle from the center he placed a dot.

“This represents us, sitting at this table, exactly now, and everything on the planet, okay?” They nodded. On the fourth ring next to the dot, he placed another dot.

“That dot represents where I come from, where I live, my world, similar, but different, and in many  ways the same. The only difference between the two dots, is time and dimension. We are generations ahead of you, our technology being quite different.” He smiled and shrugged.

“You come from another planet?” asked Danielle.

“No, sweetie, but it might seem that way to you. I’m not an alien, but a human being, just like you. Think of me as coming, more from your tomorrow, than another planet. Does that make sense?”

“You have found a way of moving between dimensions, times, if that’s possible?” asked Karen.

“Yes, but we can’t just do it at will. Certain things have to happen, linear things, things I don’t really grasp myself. Every few years the opportunity presents itself. The time and place occur, we move or not.”

“Are there other worlds, other dimensions, say, like us or you?” asked Marion.

“Don’t know, don’t want to know. Believe me, this is all I, we, can handle. I’ve been in your ‘place’ if you will, for almost seven of your years. I’m kind of like a soldier. I have a home, also.”

“Were you the person responsible for saving the folks in the Peruvian jungle, those five in the boat?” asked Marion.

“No, that wasn’t me. I know of that particular event and the man involved. It wasn’t very special, just larger than most, and got a lot of attention in your media. Have you an interest in that event?”

Henri asked the women.

“There was a special hearing conducted by the Vatican Counsel to investigate that one,” said Marion. “It was thought that it might have miraculous. . .applications, would be the best way to put it.”

“Ah, religious underpinnings. So strange when I find them in your society, and how people attach such significance when it comes to things pertaining to religion.” Henri was eating while talking.

“There’s no religion in your time, society?” asked Karen, looking at Marion.

“A little bit of background is in order. We have a much smaller population in general, probably half of what is on the Earth now. We are, by and large, a composite race. That is, we have few if any racial profiles left. Religion did have some historical context long ago, but it was brief. Contemporary religious beliefs held by anyone today are probably almost nonexistent. We have no need. Questions?”

“Why are you here? If your society is, seemingly, better than ours in some ways, why come here at all—-and why involve yourselves in these incidents and save lives—-what’s the upside for you?”

“Best question of all, because many of us have asked that very one of our leaders.” Henri had finished eating, as had the others and were being served coffee or tea. “Now, another brief history lesson. When there was the first break through, that is, we could observe another dimension and know that you guys really existed and were not just theoretical, we didn’t know what to do. We watched you, and learned. Saw that you were us, only different, with different problems, which you know well enough. We compared societies and after a long, long debate, we decided the human thing to do was to help—-“

“Why not just announce yourselves, let us know you exist and offer help that way?” said Danielle. The little girl had been listening.

“We will, but only after a period of time, after examples set by us to show, well, good will if you will, by us. Any other way would be too much culture shock. Baby steps, I think, is the term you use.”

“Here’s a question that’s been on my mind. How do you know just when to step into a situation—-how, for instance did you arrive at Danielle’s crash site just at the right moment?” asked Karen. Henri looked at the women and Danielle and stood. He excused himself and stopped a waiter who was nearby and came back to the table.

“Danielle, do you like to play video games, or is that a silly question?” Danielle jumped up and declared, “I need cash!” Marion and Karen both produced dollar bills and Danielle headed toward the small room full of video machines.

“Now that you got rid of Danielle, you can tell us how you got to the site so quickly,” said Marion.

“Sorry about that. I’ll leave it to your digression as to the telling Danielle about how I arrived at the site. Actually I arrived before the accident. I saw the plane come in and crash—-so sorry I was unable to save your husband, I would have if possible, but he died on impact, I’m sure—-“

“Wait a minute!” Marion interjected. “You had to know before hand about the crash! The man who saved the five on the tour boat had to know before hand and was waiting also! Is that true?”

“It is. I was given prior knowledge that the crash would occur.” Henri slid his hand over and covered Karen’s own hand. “Of course, we have to wait for the actual event to happen and be certain of our knowledge.” He looked at her face, her eyes as he spoke. “The plane was buried for weeks until it was finally found, and of course, no one was alive. We only knew after it was found, and was a fact.”

“And so both my daughter, and my husband were killed. That was what actually happened.” Karen was trembling, her eyes filling now.

“No. What actually happened was, your husband expired, your daughter was saved by an unusual event, something unexplained. She is right over there, playing a video game. That is the reality.” Karen looked to her left and could see her little girl furiously pummeling the machine to do her bidding.

“We never thanked you for this, this, what ever  you did. Does any one ever thank you?” Karen squeezed the man’s hand.

“You guys are the first to catch us in the act! I shouldn’t be surprised, we’ve done this too many times, but this coincidence was just the freak that did it.” He shrugged. “It had to happen.”

“You do it often, like, every week or month?” asked Marion.

“Oh, no. Several times a year, maybe, and the events are chosen carefully. Remember, there might be consequences that follow our actions. We don’t do anything large—-and nothing man-made, like terrorism. We watched your 9/11 with the same horror as you did, but of course we could do nothing.” Henri sipped coffee, trying to recall some of his events. “Remember about three years ago, a bus full of kids in Mexico went off the road, down a ravine and caught fire. All the children got out but two. Actually, only the driver and one child that he pulled out survived. That one was one of my best works.” He smiled in remembrance. “Kids are amazing. So full of life, so unaware.” He glanced over at Danielle. “Very much like your beautiful girl. Will you tell her the truth, how close she came?”

“Eventually, but for now she needs me, and Marion—-and school. She’s missing her father, but she doesn’t really know that, yet.”

“How far into our future can you see, I mean how much distance are you from this time?” asked Marion.

“So you do believe me, my story and my circumstance!” laughed Henri.

“I do, I have no choice and there’s no other logical explanation for what’s happened here. Of course, there’s no telling any of this,” she looked at Karen, who nodded approval, “to anyone else. Who the hell would believe us. We would need you! And you, mister, I believe will be long gone!”

“To answer your question of how much we can see is difficult. Apparently, these parallel time lines are not positive things, are not clockwork reliable. So, as your now, as you experience it, becomes your history, and we view it, we need dates and times from media and such to be accurate to do our job. Think of us watching a TV show, it’s intermittent most of the time, bad reception, if you will. When we step in, we need to be precise. We have made mistakes in the past, in the beginning. To project too far ahead is meaningless. The farther you get from the now of both our points of view, the less accurate things become. Events on your timeline get random, out of sync, if that makes any sense. We’re getting better. That’s another reason that we’re taking our time with all of this.”

The waiter handed Henri the check and Karen snatched it from him.

“Believe me, it’s the least we can do!” He laughed.

“I’ll accept it as a parting gift. I really must leave you now and I can truly say that meeting you and your little girl again have been an enormous pleasure, one that I probably won’t experience again!”

“Any way that we can keep in touch, or is that too much to ask?” Marion was stretching.

“Can’t do that,” Henri smiled. “What happened today was unavoidable, and understandable, but planned relationships are not allowed. Believe me, I wish is were otherwise. Would make my life a little more bearable.”

“Makes sense. Good luck to you, and God bless,” said Karen, “although it probably doesn’t mean much to you.”

“Coming from you, it means a great deal,” he said. They hugged all around. The little girl had returned and she gathered him in her arms, reaching around to squeeze his mid section.

“Thank you for coming to get us in the plane. I guess we would have been in big trouble without you there.” She looked up at him.

“It was the best moment of my life, so far,” he said, and walked away.

In the next weeks and months, the women monitored the events of calamities large and small from all over the planet. They tried to think as Henri’s people would, and were able to spot a few where it seemed he, or one of the folks like him, might have stepped in and aided someone. Then, at about eighteen months, a group of skiers who had been trapped by an avalanche in the Alps, their small chalet buried suddenly and all contact lost, somehow mysteriously was located, contact made, when a portion of the caved-in roof was mysteriously opened to the sky and a cell phone got through. A searching plane during a fly-over, had reported seeing a single individual in the area moving about on a snow mobile only the day before. Nine people were rescued unharmed.

“That’s got to be Henri, or one of his,” said Marion.

“Yep,” commented Karen as she buttered a muffin for Danielle who was getting ready for school. She was almost twelve now, had skipped a grade and attended a special magnet school for gifted children. She was already heavy into the sciences. “It has all the earmarks.”

More time passed and one day Karen received a large manila envelope stamped special delivery, so unusual she had to sign for it. She opened it immediately. A single eight by ten copy of a photo was in her hand. She was looking at a young woman standing in front of a podium, a distance of ten meters or so, dressed in a plain, pale dress. Her hair was almost shoulder length, swept up stylishly, her eyes focused down at the platform. If she was speaking was impossible to say, but was possible to discern was that the young woman was Danielle a few years older than the present. Her heart racing, Karen turned the photo over. Copied on the back was print of an article, the headline read “Danielle Hughes is presented with the President’s Award for excellence in Science at Stanford University in her freshman year.” She started to read the article but was drawn to a handwritten message at very bottom.

“Remember I told you that there were consequences for the actions we take. Those consequences sometimes turn out to be good ones.”

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