Author: MeanRunt PM
Roarke finds a woman with total amnesia on Fantasy Island. And he must fight for her life. In more ways than one.Rated: Fiction K+ - English - Words: 13,345 - Reviews: 3 - Favs: 1 - Published: 10-03-05 - id: 2603849
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
All Fantasy Island characters are the property of Aaron Spelling, Sony Tri-Star and TPTB. Any other copyrighted characters are the property of their respective TPTB. We're only borrowing them for a while. We'll give them back when we're done ... Maybe. Anyone else belongs to us and can be used only with our permission
It was - if there ever was such a thing - a routine day on Fantasy Island. The fantasies of the guests on the island were not complicated. In fact, they were, for the most part, almost mundane. By noon, Roarke had everything taken care of. Even the necessary and ever present paperwork had been completed in record time. Because occasions like this were extremely rare, Roarke decided to indulge himself and spend the rest of the day at a secluded cove on the opposite side of the island from the main complex. It was sort of his own private sanctum sanctorum. Lawrence could handle anything that came up, and in an emergency, the butler had his unlisted cell phone number. If necessary, Roarke could be back at the main house in less than a half hour.
He was slowly driving along the road by the seashore, drinking in the beauty of the island, and mentally planning out his day of rest. So far, the sum total of his plans for the afternoon was to lie on the beach and soak up the sun while listening to the waves and watching the seagulls flying overhead. To his thinking, that was enough.
Suddenly, something on the road caught his eye. At first he thought it was a large garbage bag, thrown out by some careless motorist. As he got closer though, he could see it was a woman lying in the middle of the road. She was not moving. To all purposes and intents, she seemed to be dead. He stopped the car and practically ran to her.
She was in her middle thirties. Slim and very beautiful, even with her injuries. As he neared her, he could see that she was not dead, merely unconscious. She looked as though she had been severely beaten. There was a large gash on her head and her light brown hair was caked with blood. There were numerous ugly bruises and cuts on her face and arms, and her clothes were ripped in scores of places. Her left ankle was swollen and purple. Sprained at the very least.
Roarke took out his cell phone and called 911. Then he went back to the car and retrieved the first aid kit and several blankets from the trunk.
He covered her to prevent shock. Then he poured some antiseptic on a gauze pad and carefully began to clean some of the blood from her hair and face. As he did that, the woman stirred. Slowly she opened her eyes. Even through the redness, he could see that they were green-blue.
"Who? … What? …" She mumbled. She tried to sit up, but Roarke gently restrained her. It did not take much. It was evident that she was very weak.
"Do not try to talk or move." Roarke cautioned her. "Help is on the way." In the distance, he could hear the ambulance siren.
The woman closed her eyes and was once more unconscious.
The Doctor came into the waiting room. "Mr. Roarke." He said. "The lady is doing very well. Even though she was severely beaten, most of her injuries are superficial. There were some minor internal injuries, but mostly cuts and bruises and two cracked ribs. Her ankle is only mildly sprained. However, she does have a very severe concussion. As a result of this, she has a near total memory loss. She cannot remember anything before you found her on the coast road. She doesn't remember her name or how she got there. The only clue we have is this." He held up an ornate gold pendant. It was inscribed with the initials 'A B' in a flowing script. "The chain must have broken and it must have fallen into her clothes when she was attacked. The nurse found it in her bra when she was preparing her for examination."
"May I see it?" Roarke asked.
"Of course." The doctor handed the medallion to Roarke.
"You must be Mr. Roarke." She said as Roarke came into her room. "The doctor said you found me lying in the middle of the road and called the Emergency squad. He also told me all about you. He told me that you are the proprietor of Fantasy Island. He said that Fantasy Island has magical properties, and that you use this magic to grant people their deepest fantasies."
"It's a little more complicated than that, but in essence, he is correct. And you are … ?"
"A mystery woman." She replied sadly. "Everything is a blank."
Roarke held the locket to her. "Does this mean anything to you?" He asked. "The nurse found it on you when you were brought in here."
She took the pendant from him and studied it carefully. Slowly, she shook her head. "I'm sorry, it means nothing to me. Those are obviously my initials, but what they stand for, I haven't the first clue."
"Who is that?"
"That is not a person. That's the military alphabet. Able … Baker … Charlie … Delta … Echo … Fox. Therefore, A B … Able Baker." He thought for a moment. "Obviously you are not an Abel." After a few more moments his face brightened. "I know. What about Abby?" He asked.
"Abby … Abby Baker." She smiled as much as her bruised and swollen mouth and face would allow. "Why not? Abby Baker is as good a name as any other. At least until I can remember my own name." She held out her hand. "How do you do, Mr. Roarke. My name is Abby Baker."
Roarke gently took her hand, being careful not to touch any of the bruises or cuts. "How do you do, Abby Baker. I am very pleased to meet you." He returned her smile. "I think I had better leave now. The doctor said not to stay too long. You need to rest so you can heal properly. I shall return later."
Over the next few days, Roarke was a frequent visitor to the hospital. This time, he came into Abby's room carrying several large boxes. "Well, Miss Baker. The doctor says you are well enough to go home."
"Wherever home is."
"You still do not remember anything?"
Abby shook her head sadly. "Nothing. I've tried and tried, but as far as I am concerned, anything before last week does not exist."
"Do not push yourself too hard. Everything will come back to you in due time."
"And if it doesn't? The doctor said that my concussion was a very bad one, and that there was considerable swelling and probably some brain damage as a result. He said it's entirely possible that my amnesia could be permanent."
"Then we shall deal with that when and if it happens. First of all, you need a place to stay. I have taken the liberty of reserving one of the guest cottages for you." He put the boxes on the bed and opened one of them. "You will also need something to wear. I'm afraid the clothes you were wearing when you came in here were so badly damaged, they were not worth keeping. The nurses threw them out as soon as the police had gotten everything they needed from them as evidence." He took out a dress. It was simple but tasteful. There was also a selection of underwear in the second box. The third box held a pair of low heeled dress shoes. "I had to guess at the sizes, but the salesperson said that if anything does not fit, you could return it. No problem."
"They're all so beautiful." She said. "But you've done so much for me already. I cannot possibly accept these things."
Roarke motioned her to the bathroom. "I think you had better accept them. That is, unless you intend to leave here wearing nothing but that hospital gown."
She went to the bathroom and returned a few minutes later wearing the outfit. Everything fit perfectly.
"Excellent!" Roarke beamed. "Now, Miss Baker, shall we go home?"
Roarke escorted her into the living area of the guest cottage. Lawrence was waiting for them.
"I have prepared a light brunch and have turned down your bed." Lawrence said. "If there is anything at all that I can do to be of further service, do not hesitate to call."
"Thank you, Lawrence." She said. "Everyone here has been so kind to me. I don't know how I'm ever going to be able to repay you."
"No payment is necessary." The butler replied. "It has been our pleasure. Just get well. That will be payment enough." Lawrence bowed courteously and left the house.
Abby poured a cup of tea for herself and for Roarke. "Do I deserve all this attention and kindness?" She asked as she sat on the couch. "Who am I? … What am I? … Why was I on Fantasy Island? … Was I here for a fantasy? … If so, what was it? … Do I have a family? … Why was I attacked? … Did I know my attacker? … " Absently, she took a sip. "I've asked myself these questions over and over this past week, and I'm no closer to an answer now than I was the day you found me."
"According to the Island Police, they have no clue as to who attacked you or why, either. I have had them do some investigating. They have sent your picture and fingerprints to Interpol, the FBI, Scotland Yard, the RCMP, The Rurales, and numerous other police agencies. Even the Russian and Chinese police. No one has any record of you."
Abby smiled at this. "That's a relief. At least I know I'm not a criminal. Or if I am, I've never been caught. That still doesn't tell me who I am, though."
Roarke placed his hand on her head. "The answers you seek are in here. Sealed inside your brain. I can help if you want."
"You mean you can make me remember?" Abby said. There was both excitement and fear in her voice.
"Not exactly. I can take you into your past. Perhaps that will help you to remember."
"You can? When can we start?"
"Right now if you wish."
"Yes. I wish. What do I have to do?"
"Nothing. Just sit back, close your eyes, and clear your mind. I will do the rest."
Abby leaned back on the couch and closed her eyes.
"Now I want you to slowly count backward from ten to one." He took her hands in his. "Do not be afraid. I will be with you every moment."
Abby took a deep breath. "10 … 9 … 8 … 7 … " She felt as though she was floating on a multicolored cloud. The colors swirled gently around her and softly enveloped her. " … 3 … 2 … 1"
They were standing in a corner of a lavishly appointed bedroom. A woman sat at an ornate dressing table. A hairdresser was working on her, and a manicurist was polishing her nails.
Abby looked in the mirror above the table. The woman's face looking back at her was her own. "Is that me?" She whispered to Roarke.
"There is no need to whisper. No one here can see or hear us." Roarke said aloud, deliberately sidestepping her question.
A maid came into the room carrying a simple but obviously expensive dress. "Your dress, Miss Burroughs." She said, curtseying.
The woman turned to face the maid. "Not THAT one, you clod!" She hissed. "You IMBECILE! What do you think you are doing? Do you actually think that I would be seen at one of my fabulous parties wearing THAT rag?"
"No, Miss Burroughs." The maid said timidly, keeping her eyes to the floor.
"Then why did you think you even had the right to show it to me? Or DID you think at all? Bring me something more appropriate. Or is THAT too difficult for your infantile brain to comprehend?"
"No, Miss Burroughs." The maid said barely above a whisper.
"Then DO it!"
"Yes, Miss Burroughs." The maid curtsied and backed toward the door.
"And take THIS … THING with you." Amanda Burroughs threw the dress at the retreating maid.
"Yes, Miss Burroughs." The maid picked up the dress and made a hasty exit.
"SERVANTS!" Amanda fumed as she returned to the dressing table. "They're all morons. Now look at what she's done. My hair is mussed. Fix it, Andre!"
"Yes, Miss Burroughs."
"And don't pull. Not even one strand. Not if you value my patronage." She held out her hands. "And that worthless piece of … Look at this! She made me chip a nail." Amanda held her hand to the manicurist. "Do something about that, Maggie."
"Madge, Miss Burroughs. My name is Madge."
"Maggie ... Madge ... Whatever. Just be quick about it. I haven't got all day. And it better not hurt."
"Yes, Miss Burroughs." Madge and Andre said, practically in unison.
Roarke took Abby's hand. Now they were in a magnificently appointed ballroom. There must have been at least two hundred people there, eating, drinking and chatting. The men were all in tuxedos, and the women wore elegant gowns. There was even a small orchestra providing background music. There were a multitude of representatives from the media, and numerous digital and video cameras were recording every second for later presentation to the public.
"I hate these publicity bashes." One man was saying to another. "Do you realize I had to give up a foursome with Tiger, Jack, and Ernie at Pebble Beach for this? You have no idea the hoops we had to go through to get a decent tee time. Then out of the blue I get an invitation to this. There was no way I could have played even one round with them and still gotten here on time."
"I know what you mean." The other man replied. "I was supposed to spend the weekend in Tahoe with Goldie and Kurt. But you've been around long enough to know that when Amanda Burroughs throws a party … You attend. Or else!"
Suddenly, there was silence. Even the orchestra stopped. All eyes focused on the grand staircase. At the top, Amanda Burroughs stood wearing a form fitting, opaque pearlescent silk gown that seemed to shimmer as she moved. It had taken the terrified maid eight outfits and the poor woman had to suffer through eight tirades in order to find one that suited Miss Burroughs.
Slowly, elegantly, Amanda descended the staircase. She looked for all intents and purposes like a queen surveying her subjects.
At the bottom, a man came up to her. "Miss Burroughs. I am Tom Patterson of API. Is it true that your contract with Steven Lucas for his new picture is in the seven figure range?"
Amanda laughed shallowly. "No. It's not true. It's more like in the high eight figures. After all, if you want the best, you have to pay for it. Through the nose. And Dah-ling, I am the VERY best there is."
"Rick Fitzsimons. " Another reporter said. "National Peeper. Is it true that you and Jon-Erik are … "
"NO COMMENT!" She gave him a withering glare and the hapless reporter backed away.
A woman came over to her. The two of them put their faces close but not touching, and blew kisses into the air. Flashes went off as reporters and journalists captured the moment for posterity.
"Amanda, Darling." The woman said. "I was absolutely thrilled to be invited to this little get together of yours. I haven't seen you since we made Blue Harvest together. That was what? … Four years ago?"
"Hello, Celina my dear." Amanda said, pasting on a fake smile. "I understand you will be co starring with me in the new Steven Lucas epic. I'm so looking forward to working with you again. Excuse me, dear, there's someone I have to talk to." She practically ran from the puzzled Celina.
She went to a small crowd of people and all but dragged a small balding weasel faced man from the group. "Okay, Murray. What is Celina Donalds doing here?" She demanded.
"Darling. She is your co star after all." The ferret faced man replied in an effeminate voice. "It would have been very tacky not to have invited her."
"And just how did SHE get that part? I thought we agreed it wouldgo toa no talent unknown." Amanda hissed. Just then, another photographer came to them, his camera poised. Amanda smiled her plastic smile, and the photographer took the picture. "MURRAY!" Amanda pulled the cringing man into an empty room off the ballroom. "I want answers! I want them NOW! … I'm waiting!"
"Amanda ... Baby ... Boopsie ... Precious. Don't sweat. You'll ruin your mascara." Murray charmed. "It was out of my hands. The director personally recommended her to Lucas for the part. I'm afraid you'll just have to live with it, Sweetheart. You ought to know by now, if you want to survive in this business, you have to learn not to antagonize the director."
"SCREW the director! I pay you a ridiculous amount to look after MY interests. Not to suck up to everyone in sight. I want her off the picture. I don't care HOW you do it. Just DO it. That is, if you want to continue as my manager."
"I'll do my best."
"You'll do a HELUVA lot more than that! I want her gone by tomorrow evening at the latest. And Murray. Make it look like it was her idea. You GOT that?"
Abby turned to Roarke. "I've seen enough. Can we go now?"
"Of course. Just close your eyes and slowly count forward to ten."
Abby closed her eyes. "1 … 2 … 3 … " She was once more in the cloud of swirling colors. " … 8 … 9 … 10."
She was sitting on the couch in the guest cottage. "Was that really me?" She asked.
"I was hoping you could tell me." Roarke replied.
"It wasn't real. At least it wasn't real to me. It was like I was watching a scene out of a horribly gothic soap opera. If that really was me, I'm glad I can't remember. Amanda Burroughs is a cold, self centered, heartless witch. I don't want to be her."
"Then our next priority is to find a future for Abby Baker. I am going to set up a series of tests with a psychologist friend of mine to find a suitable career for you."
"That's great. As long as it's not a movie star." She smiled broadly.
"We can start first thing tomorrow. Tonight, if you feel up to it, I would like to take you to dinner. It will give you the opportunity to show off your new wardrobe."
"What new wardrobe?"
"The one we are going to shop for this afternoon, of course." He smiled mischievously.
The evening was exquisite. The dinner was superb, and afterward, they had spent the night dancing to a live combo in an open air pavilion. As Roarke and Abby strolled to her bungalow, she leaned her head against Roarke's shoulder. "This night is perfect." She sighed. "I wish it would never end."
"I could arrange it, if that is what you really want." Roarke said softly as they climbed the steps to the cottage porch. "But if the night continues forever, then the day will never come. And who knows, the days ahead may be as beautiful as the nights."
"As beautiful as you are." He turned her to face him. He cupped her face in his hands. "And you are very beautiful indeed." He pressed his lips to hers. The kiss was sweet and warm and had just a hint of passion.
She seemed to melt into his tender caresses, and her head began to spin with emotion.
Slowly, almost hesitantly, he ended the embrace.
"I think had better go now." He said, his voice husky with desire. "Before I do something I will definitely not regret." He kissed her softly and then left.
Lawrence was waiting for him when Roarke came into the living area of the Main House. "Good evening, Lawrence." Roarke said. His smile almost went beyond his ears. "And it truly is a good evening. What are you doing up this late?"
"Technically it's good morning, Sir. And I couldn't sleep. Although I am not as well versed in the psychic sciences as you are, I have an overpowering sense that Miss Baker is in very grave danger. And that it is going to come to pass very soon. I am very concerned about her."
"Yes, Lawrence. She is in danger as long as her attacker is at large."
"I understand, Sir. But I feel that it's much more serious than that. I have the feeling that whoever … or whatever is pursuing Miss Baker is very evil."
"You may not be wrong, my friend. I have had the same feelings too. That is one reason why I have been spending so much time with her. In a way, I am trying to prevent the inevitable."
"I understand, Sir. You are merely protecting her. That is very noble of you, Sir." Somehow, the twinkle in the butler's eyes betrayed the seriousness of his words.
Roarke reinedhis horses to a stop in a small meadow tucked between two rows of low hills. While Roarke loosely tied the horses to graze, Abby took a basket off the saddle of her mount. She placed a blanket and a tablecloth on the ground. Then she sat down and motioned Roarke to join her on the blanket. She snuggled in the crook of his arm.
"This is absolutely beautiful. A perfect day. A perfect place and a perfect companion." She snuck a quick kiss to the tip of his nose and half laughed. "I cannot imagine someone like Amanda Burroughs being this captivated by something as commonplace as a picnic. It just goes to show you how very different Amanda and I are."
"You talk as though you and Amanda Burroughs are two different persons." Roarke gently nuzzled her ear.
"We are. We have absolutely nothing in common. I am not Amanda Burroughs. And I don't ever want to be her. I am Abby Baker. It's as simple as that. And Abby Baker is all I ever want to be."
A man stepped into the far edge of the clearing. Abby turned pale and gripped Roarke's arm tightly. "That man … I remember him … that's the man who … He's the one who attacked me!" She gasped.
Roarke was on his feet in an instant. "Nicholas Beale." He said coldly.
"Nicholas Beale?" Abby stared at the man. "You know him?"
"As in Beelzebub." The man answered smugly
"The Devil?" Amanda's face was a pasty gray-white.
Beale gave an exaggerated sweeping bow. "At your service, Miss Burroughs."
"There is nothing on Fantasy Island that would interest you." Roarke said grimly.
"Oh, but there is something on Fantasy Island that is of interest to me. It … or should I say she … interests me very much." He snapped his fingers and a briefcase appeared in his hand. He reached into it and took out a piece of parchment. It had a gold seal attached to it with red ribbons. "What I have here is a contract. I won't bother you with the legalese. In simple terms, it states, that in exchange for fame, stardom, wealth, and power, Amanda Burroughs … " He pointed to Abby. " …That's you ... Agrees to sell to the Devil … " He pointed to himself. " … That's me ... One soul. The period of the contract being seven years. That is the standard length." He handed the document to Roarke. "You may examine it if you wish. It's all legal, I assure you. Signed, sealed and delivered." He grinned … devilishly. "By the way, just for your information, the seven years were up two weeks ago."
"You cannot have her soul." Roarke said.
"I almost had it on the Coast Road. That is, until you came along and intervened. She's a real spitfire, she is. Fought like a tiger. She even managed to get away from my clutches. She was fantasizing about getting away from me completely, and that's how she wound up here on your island. She was hurt very badly. I figured all I had to do was wait for her to expire … " He shrugged his shoulders nonchalantly. "But then you found her. You know, you have an annoying habit of interfering in my business, Roarke, and it irritates me no end. One of these days, I really must do something about that. But, business before pleasure." He held out his hand to Abby. "Miss Burroughs. If you will be so kind … "
Roarke stood between Beale and Abby. "I said you can not have her soul."
"And why not?" Beale said haughtily. "I do have a contract, after all. The soul is mine, and I want it. Period. End of discussion. Come Amanda." Beale ordered.
"Your contract is with Amanda Burroughs. This is Abby Baker. She has no memory of her life as Amanda Burroughs."
"Baker … Burroughs … No matter what she calls herself now. A soul is a soul." He looked at Roarke and a malevolent grin spread across his face. "This one is different, isn't it, Roarke? You're personally involved with this one, aren't you?" He stood, silent, for a moment. "Never let it be said that the Devil isn't a sporting man. I'll give you a chance to win her soul." His eyes glittered wickedly. "Not with wits or words, though. That takes too long and frankly … it's just plain boring." He pointed to the ground. Two fallen branches suddenly morphed into razor sharp rapiers. "I understand you have quite a reputation as a swordsman. Now is your chance to test it against a real opponent." He picked up one of the swords and tossed it to Roarke. "Winner take all. I must warn you, though. I am the Hades fencing champion. Forty three centuries in a row."
Beale and Roarke parried for a few minutes, each feeling the other out. Then, suddenly, Beale lunged viciously at Roarke. Roarke sidestepped easily and returned the thrust. Beale deflected it with the same ease, and the duel was engaged.
After what seemed like centuries, they were still fighting. They were evenly matched, and neither one had given or received any advantage. They had both drawn blood, although neither of them were seriously injured. Roarke had several cuts on his left arm, and he limped slightly on his right foot after he had stepped into a depression in the ground. Both of Beale's legs had been grazed and he had a superficial slash across his chest. Both men were covered in sweat and were obviously near exhaustion. They were locked in a stalemate at this time. Swords crossed at the hilt. Neither one was able to break the other's grip.
"Hey, Burroughs." Nicholas Beale called through clenched teeth. "You are really going to like it down there. We have some really big names there. Nero, Vlad Dracul, Henry VIII, Hitler, John Wayne Gacy, and we even have an option on a Middle East Dictator who has been in the news lately. There are even some of your people there too. Frank Sinatra, Joan Crawford and Mae West to name a few." He managed an evil grin. "Just say the word and I'll end this little game right here and now. I'll even introduce you to Sam Goldwyn."
Suddenly, Roarke grabbed the Devil's shoulder firmly with his free hand and fell backward. Thrown off balance, Beale went sailing through the air and landed hard on the ground. The sword flew out of his hand. Before he could recover, Roarke was on his feet. He put the point of his sword touching Beale's heart.
"Touche." He said. "You are beaten." He brought his sword to the salute.
"Foul!" Beale said as he got up. "You know that physical contact is not allowed. You cheated. Her soul is mine!"
"Since when do you play by the rules?" Roarke challenged.
In answer, Beale lunged at Roarke and grabbed him in a bear hug. At the same time, a knife appeared in his hand. He plunged the knife into Roarke's side.
Roarke staggered back a few steps and then, like an enraged bull, grabbed Satan by the throat. He placed the edge of his sword against Beale's adams apple like a garrote. "Surrender!" He hissed. "Return her soul, or with my dying breath I will have your head." He emphasized his threat by tightening his grip on the sword. The edge bit into the flesh on Beale's neck. A rivulet of blood trickled into his chest.
"You cannot kill me." Beale gasped. "I am immortal. If you destroy this incarnation, I will only come back as another."
"I may not be able to kill you." Roarke hissed. "But I can cause you a great deal of pain." The sword bit even deeper into the demon's throat. The blood gurgled and frothed with every breath that Beale took.
"Forefit." The Devil wheezed. "You win. I surrender all claims to this woman's soul."
Roarke released his grip. He swayed slightly and his legs began to feel like rubber. Abby came and steadied him.
Beale took out a handkerchief and dabbed at the blood running down his neck. The wound was already beginning to heal. "I may have lost her soul, but you have not won, Roarke." His briefcase once more appeared in his hand. He reached into it and took out the parchment. "I will honor my word. Here is your contract, Miss Burroughs, or Miss Baker, or whatever you choose to call yourself. Do with it as you will. Frame it. Put it in an album. Burn it. Line the litter box with it. The choice is yours." He threw the paper on the ground. "Now, as much as I would like to stay and chat, I'm on a very tight schedule. I've got a half dozen present and former Congressmen, Two ex Prime Ministers, an Arabian Oil Baron, scores of ex wives and husbands, and a California winery owner to collect, and I'm running a little late. Tah. Tah." There was a clap of thunder and a cloud of sulfur laden smoke, and Nicholas Beale was gone.
Gently, Abby lowered Roarke to the ground. "What did he mean that he had lost but you did not win. I have my soul back."
"Yes, you do … have your soul … back." He gasped. Roarke held up his hand. It was covered in blood. With Beale's departure, the knife had disappeared from his side as well. "I'm bleeding … Not just … what you see … but internally … as well ... If the bleeding … is not stopped soon … I will bleed … to death."
"No! I won't let you die. You saved my life and I'm going to do everything I can to save yours!" Abby searched through Roarke's pockets for his cell phone. It was not there. It must have fallen out during the duel. Since the two of them had fought over the entire meadow, the phone could be almost anywhere.
She balled up several of the napkins from the picnic basket and stuffed them into his shirt. She fastened them with strips of the tablecloth that she had torn off. "That should hold for a while. I'm going to go for help. If I remember correctly, there's a house just a few miles from here. I can call for help there." She kissed him gently on the cheek. "Please, Roarke. Don't die."
She ran to the edge of the clearing. The horses were gone. "Oh, God. What am I going to do now?" She anguished. While she was in reasonable shape, a forced run of two or three miles was clearly beyond her capabilities. She took a deep breath. "I have no choice. If I don't, Roarke is a dead man." She started down the road. After about fifteen minutes, though, her legs felt like lead and her lungs burned from the effort. It would be so easy to just sit down and rest for a few minutes. Or a half hour. "Have to keep on." She panted. "Roarke."
Just then, a man appeared on the road. He was riding Roarke's horse and leading hers.
"Please!" Abby gasped. "You've got to help me … Mr. Roarke … he's been hurt … Parson's Meadow … Please!"
"I'll do what I can, Miss Baker." The man said. He reached down and placed his hand on her shoulder. Suddenly, Abby realized that she was not afraid anymore. Everything was going to be all right. She did not know how she knew. She just knew. The man handed her the reins of her horse. "There's a house about a half mile from here. Ride there and call an ambulance. I'll go to the meadow and stay with Mr. Roarke."
A nervous Abby Baker paced the waiting room. Lawrence sat on a couch. "Really, Miss Abby." He said. "It won't help Mr. Roarke one bit if you wear a trench in the carpet."
Abby sat down beside Lawrence. "I know that, but I don't know what else to do. I'm so worried. He was so close to death back there in the meadow. If that stranger hadn't come along when he did, Roarke would be dead now. By the way, where is he? I haven't seen him since we arrived at the hospital. I'd like to thank him properly for his help."
As if on cue, the man entered the room. "Excuse me, but I could not help overhearing. I was only doing what was necessary."
"You saved his life, Mister … Mister … I don't even know your name."
"D'Angelo … John D'Angelo." He held out his hand to her.
"I can't thank you enough, Mr. D'Angelo." She said, taking his hand. "It was like a miracle, you being on that road just when we needed help the most."
"Miracles do still happen, Miss Baker."
"Will you be staying on Fantasy Island?" Lawrence asked. "I am certain that Mr. Roarke will want to thank you personally. I know he will want to give you a generous reward as well."
"I'm sorry, but I am on Fantasy Island strictly on business." D'Angelo said. "Now that it has been concluded, I will be leaving immediately. As for a reward, none is necessary."
"Will you be returning to Fantasy Island anytime in the future?" Lawrence asked. "If you plan to come again, perhaps we can fully show our appreciation then."
"I'm frequently on Fantasy Island, although I cannot say precisely when I will be returning." D'Angelo took out a business card and handed it to Abby. "If you ever need me, Miss Baker, just call. I'll be here."
Abby looked at the card. It was framed in gold and simply said 'John D'Angelo' in an elegant gold script. In the upper right hand corner was a small pair of golden wings. "Mr. D'Angelo. How will I get in touch with you? There's no address or phone number on the card ... Mr. D'Angelo? … Mr. D'Angelo?" She looked up. D'Angelo was gone.
She went to the hallway. It was empty.
"Which way did he go?" She asked the nurse at the station across from the waiting area.
"Which way did who go?"
"The man who just left the waiting room."
"Miss Baker. I've been on duty at this desk for the past six hours. No one has entered or left that waiting room except you and Mr. Lawrence. And certainly not in the last few minutes."
Abby walked back into the waiting room shaking her head.
"Is there something wrong, Miss Abby?" Lawrence asked.
I'm not sure. There is something very strange about John D'Angelo, though. We both saw him in this room and we both talked to him. But the nurse at the desk across the hall just told me that no one came in or left since we arrived.
He also called me by name. And not just here, but also on the road. I've never met him before, and I never introduced myself to him. At least not as Abby Baker. Another thing. When I encountered him on the road, he was riding Roarke's horse. Roarke himself told me that no one is able to ride that stallion except him."
"Strange." Lawrence mused. "Very strange indeed."
Just then, the doctor came to the room. "Mr. Roarke is a very lucky man." He said. "The wound missed his spleen by centimeters. It also didn't hit any major organs or blood vessels. If it had, he would have bled to death before help could arrive."
"But he was bleeding profusely when I left him to get help." Abby said.
"I am the one who examined him when they brought him in the emergency room, Miss Baker. There was only a moderate blood loss. And practically no internal bleeding to speak of. Sometimes, to the untrained eye, even a small amount of bleeding can appear to be much worse than it actually is."
"I'm sure Mr. D'Angelo told the paramedics. There was blood everywhere. His clothes were practically soaked in it."
"John D'Angelo. The man who was in the meadow with Mr. Roarke when the emergency squad arrived there."
"According to the report from the ambulance crew, there was no one in the meadow except Mr. Roarke. By the way, how did he get that wound anyway? According to the same report, there was no sign of any devices large enough to cause it."
"He … ah … tripped and impaled himself on a tree branch." Abby lied. How could they possibly believe that he had been wounded in a duel with the Devil for her soul? "When can I see Mr. Roarke?"
"It may be some time. They just took him to the Recovery Room before I came out here. Why don't you and Mr. Lawrence get something to eat? By the time you return, Mr. Roarke should be able to have visitors."
As they walked toward the entrance, Lawrence shook his head slowly. "To paraphrase a quote from Alice In Wonderland, the mystery surrounding our Mister D'Angelo is becoming … curiouser and curiouser."
Roarke's recovery was swift. Even the doctors were amazed at the progress he made. After four days, he was well enough to be released from the hospital. By the end of the second week, the only visible sign was a welt of pink scar tissue. Even that was rapidly fading.
He was sitting on a lounge chair on the patio of the Main house when Abby came there.
"Terrific news!" She gushed. "I've got a job! Your psychologist friend said that I have a flair for fashion. Probably something that must have seeped through from Amanda Burroughs. Anyway. I went and talked to the owner of the boutique downtown. She agreed to hire me as a fashion coordinator. It's only on a trial basis for now, but she said if I do well, she'll keep me on permanently. I start Monday." Her enthusiasm was almost visible.
"Congratulations!" Roarke beamed. He started to get up, but Abby gently pushed him back into the chair. "No you don't. You shouldn't be overexerting yourself. You need rest. Doctor's orders. Lawrence says … "
"LAWRENCE!" Roarke practically shouted. "Lawrence has been hovering over me like a mother hen ever since I got out of the hospital. All he will permit me to do is go from my bed to this chair. And from this chair to my bed. With only an occasional stop at the bathroom to take care of necessary functions. I am ready to climb the walls. Just for the exercise!"
He leaned toward her. "Tell you what, Sweetheart." He stage whispered out of the corner of his mouth. "How about you and me blowing this popsicle joint. You distract the guard while I throw the rope over the wall."
Abby laughed loudly. "That was the worst Bogart I've ever heard." She said between giggles.
Roarke's face took on the look of a dejected puppy. "But I was doing Cagney." He said in mock indignation. "Seriously, Abby. I do want to go for a walk. I promise I won't go far. Perhaps if you come with me, Lawrence won't yell too loudly when we return." He rose and extended his arm to her. "Besides, it will give me the opportunity to be seen with the most beautiful woman on Fantasy Island."
She put her arm on his. "When you put it that way, how could I possibly refuse?"
They walked slowly down the path.
"Abby." Roarke said. "Back there on the patio you said I did a bad impersonation of Humphrey Bogart. Does that mean you are remembering?"
"I wish it did. All week they've been having a Bogart marathon on the Late Late Movie show on TV. He was a remarkable actor." She paused for a few seconds. "I wonder if I knew him." She shook her head. "It doesn't matter. That part of my life is in the distant past. As far as I am concerned, Amanda Burroughs is long dead and gone. I am Abby Baker. I have a home, a job, a future, and people I love." She turned to him. "Roarke. I want to stay on Fantasy Island for the rest of my life. I want to become a citizen. Is that possible?"
He led her to a nearby bench and they sat down.
"It's very possible. I will talk to the people in Immigration and Naturalization. The paperwork should only take a few months at most. Tell me, when you said that you had people you love on the island … does that include me, by any chance?"
"Of course that includes you. Especially you. I love you, Roarke. I think I've been in love with you since I first opened my eyes on the Coast Road.
Oh, I've told myself all the reasons why what I was feeling for you couldn't possibly be love. That I was grateful to you for saving my life … and my soul. That I saw you as my hero, my knight in shining armor. That you are an authority figure. That I am indebted to you for all your kindness and generosity. That you are just plain drop dead handsome. The problem is, no matter how I juggle or rearrange the arguments, the result is always the same. None of the above. All of the above. The truth is … I love you. Plain and simple. I love you."
"And I love you. I think I started falling for you when I first saw you lying on the road. I too, told myself the lies over and over again. That I was being a good and generous host. That I had a duty toward you. That I was just protecting you. That what I felt was akin to concern or empathy toward you. Then, when Beale tried to take your soul, I realized that I couldn't live without you. I love you, Abby Baker. More than you will ever know." He gently lifted her face to his and kissed her. It was hot and passionate and at the same time tender and cool. After some time, he reluctantly broke the embrace. He held his side and grimaced.
"Roarke. What's wrong?" Abby said, the color draining from her face.
"Nothing. Just a slight twinge, that's all. Probably from all the adrenaline pumping through my system. I do think we should start back to the house. Lawrence is probably getting ready to call out a detachment of Island Marines right about now."
"You know, Roarke." Abby rested her head on his shoulder as they retraced their steps to the house. "Right now, my life is just about … " Suddenly, she stopped. Her body seemed to be frozen in position.
"Abby? … ABBY!" Roarke waved his hand in front of her face. She did not move and her eyes continued to stare straight ahead.
There was a man standing on the walk in front of him. "She can not see or hear anything, Mr. Roarke." He said. "I am John D'Angelo. I believe you know me."
"Yes. I remember you. You were the one who saved my life in Parsons Meadow. It's not too clear exactly what happened there, but I vaguely remember you."
D'Angelo reached into the air and plucked a business card from nowhere. He offered it to Roarke.
Roarke studied it. It was similar to the one that D'Angelo had given to Abby, but on this one, his name was in black with black wings and a black border. "You are correct. I do know you. Or at least I know who you are. You are the Angel of Death. Is that correct?"
John D'Angelo solemnly nodded.
"Then why did you save my life back there in Parsons Meadow?"
"Escorting souls to Judgment is only one of my duties. We were monitoring the battle between you and Satan very closely. When it became apparent that you would not survive without intervention, I was given the task of saving your life."
"And now you wish to take it?"
John D'Angelo lowered his face and stared at his shoe tops. "It is not your life that I am here for."
"Then who?" Roarke looked at Abby, still motionless. "NO!" He shouted. "No. You can not have her. I have fought the Devil himself for her right to live, and I have paid for that right with my life's blood. If I have to fight you for that same right … " His face was harsh and grim. " … I SHALL!"
"I can understand your feelings." D'Angelo said. "And I sympathize with you. Particularly after what I witnessed just a few minutes ago. If it were up to me … " He sighed heavily. " … However, it is not up to me. I have my orders, and they must be obeyed."
"DAMN your orders!" Roarke shouted. "If you want her, you will have to go through me to get her. As you are well aware, I can be a very formidable opponent."
"I am aware. And I assure you, I have no desire to do battle with you. Let me talk to my superiors. Perhaps … " He snapped his fingers and was gone. A few moments later, he reappeared. "I have conferred with them. My supervisors agree that it is highly irregular, but it is not entirely unheard of. They have granted a two week extension. At that time, you will be permitted to present your case to the High Tribunal for consideration. They alone have the authority to cancel my orders.
I must warn you, and I can not stress this enough. You are to tell no one of this. Especially Miss Baker. If you do, the extension will be revoked and the orders will be carried out immediately. This time, there will be no appeal. Do you understand this?"
Roarke nodded solemnly. "I understand."
"One more thing. In all of eternity, there have been very few cases like this presented to the High Tribunal. Even fewer have been successfully argued. And none of them by mortals." He held his hand to Roarke. Roarke grasped it firmly. "I wish you luck, Roarke. I almost hope you do win."
D'Angelo snapped his fingers and was gone.
" … as perfect as it could possibly be." Abby continued as though nothing had happened. "If I were to die now, I would die happy."
Roarke grabbed her and held her tightly to him. "Do not say that! Do not EVER say that!"
"Roarke! Let go! You're hurting me!" Abby pulled herself from his grip. "What's wrong with you? You look like you've seen a ghost."
"I wish I had seen a ghost. A ghost, I could deal with."
The two weeks passed much quicker than Roarke would have liked them to.
He pounded on Abby's door with all his might. "Please let her be here." He prayed. When she opened it, he held her tightly. He pushed her inside and closed and locked the door. "Thank goodness you're home. Where were you earlier? I called and no one answered the phone. That's when I came over here."
"I was taking a shower." She said. "By the time I got to the phone, you must have hung up. Why? What's the matter?"
"That's not important. This is. I do not want you to leave this cottage for any reason. And you are not to open the door to anyone. Anyone! Do you understand? Promise me you'll do as I say!"
"Roarke! What's going on? You're scaring me!"
"Just do as I say!" His voice had an edge of desperation to it.
"But why? Can't you at least tell me what is happening to make you this upset?"
"NO! Just do as I say! Trust me! I love you!"
"Well, you certainly have a weird way of showing it! Two weeks ago, you pledged your undying love for me. Since then, you have virtually ignored me. You've cloistered yourself in the chapel, or locked yourself in the library. Lawrence says you've barely eaten, or slept more than a few hours at a time. Now you come barging in here like some raving maniac and order me to lock myself in. And, you won't even give me a reasonable explanation."
"I can't. You'll just have to trust me."
"I have a job to go to. And appointments to keep. It seems I'm not the only one with amnesia on this island. You forgot to call the Immigration and Naturalization people. So, I called them for you. I'm getting ready to go there now."
"NO!" He grabbed her arm. Hard. "You can NOT leave here!"
"LET ME GO!" You're hurting me!" She pulled herself from his grip and ran out the door.
Roarke ran to the door just in time to hear the heart wrenching sound of squealing tires. He turned away, a look of pure agony on his face.
"Did you think you could prevent the inevitable?" It was John D'Angelo. "The extension is up. The Tribunal is waiting."
Roarke was standing in a great hall. The floor was tiled in the finest pale gray Italian marble. However, that appeared to be all he could see that was tangible. The walls of the room seemed to be made out of a cloud like substance and there was no ceiling. A myriad of stars shone brightly far above him. Huge galleries lined both walls(?), and they were packed with heavenly spectators. In front of him was a gold carpeted dais that seemed to float on another cloud mere inches from the floor. On it was a huge white and gold trimmed judge's bench. Six men sat behind it. The Judges. Roarke recognized them. How, he did not know. Aristotle. William Shakespeare. Benjamin Franklin. Henry David Thoreau. Albert Einstein. John XXIII. A hush fell over the gallery as the Presiding Judge entered and took his seat in the middle of the dais. Solomon.
Solomon picked up a golden gavel and rapped it three times. "This Tribunal is now in session." He intoned.
"Learned Sirs." The Counsel for the Prosecution stepped forward. It was Clarence Darrow. "I must strongly protest Mr. Roarke's presence before this August Body. It is highly irregular for mortals to even be in this courtroom, let alone argue a case."
"I realize that it is most extraordinary." Solomon said. "But then, you must agree that Mr. Roarke is a most extraordinary mortal. A waiver has been granted by the Most High Himself in order for him to be here. Your objection is noted … and overruled. The hearing will proceed. Mr. Darrow, you may present your case." Solomon pointed to an elegant beige colored leather wing backed chair that appeared behind Roarke. "Please have a seat, Mr. Roarke."
Darrow motioned and a burly angel brought a huge book into the courtroom and placed it on a stand that suddenly appeared in front of the dais. "This, your honor, is the Book of Days." Darrow pointed to the book. "In it is recorded the allotted lifespan of every mortal, past, present, and future." Darrow opened it and turned the pages until he found the one he was searching for. "This is the allotted time for Amy Berkomeir. As you can plainly see, she had fulfilled her span. She must be brought before the Most High for Judgment."
Roarke was on his feet immediately. "Objection, you honor! Who is this Amy Berkomeir, and what does she have to do with this case."
"Amy Berkomeir is the defendant in this hearing's true and given name." Darrow explained. "She changed it to Amanda Burroughs when she went to Hollywood at age 17, and she is now known as Abby Baker. However, the soul in question is one and the same."
Roarke examined the Book of Days. "According to this, Amy … Amanda … Abby … or whatever you want to call her, was due for Judgment over a year ago. Why wasn't she judged then?"
Darrow went to a table that also mysteriously appeared and took a paper from his briefcase, which also wasn't there a second ago. It was a copy of Amanda Burroughs contract with the Devil. "That was my next piece of evidence. At the time that her days were fulfilled, the defendant was under contract to Lucifer. We could do nothing at that time. Now that she has been freed from that contract … by Mr. Roarke, incidentally … she has become eligible for Judgment."
"No objection, Your Honor."
"For my first witness, I would like to call Marvin Haskett to the stand."
Marvin Haskett was a man in his late 60's to early 70's. He went to the witness stand that inexplicably revealed itself at the right of the judge's bench.
"You are deceased, is that correct?" Darrow asked.
"Yes it is." Haskett answered.
"And while you were alive, what was your profession?"
"I was a doctor."
"More specifically, you were Amanda Burroughs physician, were you not?"
"Yes, I was. Although not by choice. The life insurance company that held the policy on her assigned me to her. I was supposed to keep her in the best of health. That was not the easiest thing in the world. She never listened to anything I told her to do. Amanda Burroughs never listened to anyone. She was a stubborn self centered witch, she was,"
"Objection!" Roarke said loudly. "The witness is injecting his personal opinion."
"Sustained. The witness's last few remarks will be stricken from the record." Solomon replied almost absently.
"Would you tell the court, in your expert … professional … " Darrow glared at Roarke. " … opinion, what was Amanda Burroughs physical condition?" .
"She was dying. She had abused herself with drugs, alcohol, sex, and reckless living to the point that her body was giving out. According to my last examination of her, she had less than a year to live."
"And when was your last examination of her?"
"Just before I died. One earth year ago to this day."
"No more questions … Your witness, Mr. Roarke."
Roarke studied the doctor carefully. "You're positive about that, Doctor Haskett. One year. No more. That is absolute. Final."
"No Mr. Roarke, I can't be absolutely positive about that. As everyone knows, medicine is not an exact science. Anything can happen and occasionally it does. I can be positive about this, though. Unless Miss Burroughs changed her lifestyle radically, and she showed no signs of doing so when I knew her, a year was not an unreasonable prognosis. Personally, I think that was even stretching it."
"And if she did radically change her life. Cut out the booze, the drugs, and the fast life, would she ...could she live longer than one year?"
"How much longer, Doctor? One more year? Two years? Ten? Twenty?"
"Objection! Mr. Roarke is badgering the witness."
"No more questions."
"For my next witness, I call St. Peter." Darrow said.
A reverent hush fell over the court as St. Peter made his way to the witness stand. Even the judges were in awe before this venerable saint.
"St. Peter. Sir." Clarence Darrow began. "You are the keeper of the gates, are you not?"
"I am." St. Peter's voice boomed.
"It is also your responsibility to record the deeds, both good and bad, for every person from the beginning of time to the end, is it not?"
"Yes, it is."
"I requested that you check the Book of Deeds for Amy Berkomeir to determine, in your wise and learned opinion, if there were any circumstances that could possibly justify an extension of her allotted life span. Did I not?"
"I made such a search. I found nothing."
"I also asked you to do a projection of her life … in the unlikely event that this Tribunal should grant such an extension. What did you find?"
"Objection. No one has the power to see into the future."
"Perhaps not on your plane of existence, Mr. Roarke." Solomon corrected. "Here however, all things are possible. Objection overruled."
"I projected Miss Berkomeir's life, as well as anyone else who could be affected by it. When I compared the futures, both with and without Miss Berkomeir, I found only minor insignificant variations in the timeline."
"Thank you, Sir. No further questions."
"St. Peter." Roarke began cautiously. He felt a little guilty and awkward cross examining a person such as St. Peter. "You said that you had examined the life of Amy Berkomeir. Did you also trace the life of Amanda Burroughs?"
"My office has no record of anyone by the name of Amanda Burroughs in this time."
"What about Abby Baker?"
St. Peter shook his head. "We have no record of her, either."
"Thank you, Sir. No further questions."
"No more witnesses. The Prosecution rests."
"There will be a short recess. Then this Tribunal will hear the evidence for the defense." Solomon banged his gavel on the bench three times.
Roarke was at the door to Abby's hospital room. A worried Lawrence was sitting beside her bed.
"Thank goodness you are here, Sir. After the accident, we searched every inch of the island, but we couldn't find you anywhere." Lawrence offered his chair to Roarke. "It does not look good, Sir. Her condition is most grave. The doctor says she is dying. Without some kind of a miracle, he doubts she will live through the night."
"I can only stay a few minutes, Lawrence. And I cannot tell you where I have been. Only that the mission I am on is a matter of life and death. Literally. If you don't mind, I would like to be alone with Abby for a few moments."
"Of course, Sir. I'll be in the waiting room if you need me." He left and Roarke sat beside Abby.
He took her hand in his. It was flaccid and cool. Almost lifeless. "Abby." He whispered. " Darling. Please. Stay with me. I need you in more ways than you know." He brought her hand to his lips.
Roarke was back in the courtroom. This time, Abby was beside him. Clarence Darrow looked surprised at this, but said nothing.
"Mr. Roarke. Are you ready to present your defense?" Solomon asked.
"I am ready, you honor." Roarke said. "As my first witness, I would like to call John D'Angelo."
"You are the angel of death. Is that correct?" Roarke asked after John D'Angelo had taken the stand.
"Among other things."
"And among those other things, are you not the guardian angel for the defendant?"
"You were. Would you please tell the court why you are no longer the defendant's guardian angel?"
"To do that, I would have to tell the story of her life."
"I object, your honor!" Darrow shouted. "The circumstances of Miss Berkomeir's life are irrelevant in this Tribunal. They are only necessary in the Judgment. The purpose of this Tribunal is to determine if the defendant should be bound over for Judgment, not to determine what that Judgment should be."
"Your Honor." Roarke countered. "This testimony is vital to my case."
"In that case, I shall defer ruling on this matter until later. I warn you, Mr. Roarke. Do not go too far astray." Solomon glared at the prosecutor. "And Mr. Darrow. It is not your responsibility to tell this Tribunal what its duty is."
Darrow hung his head. "Yes, Your Honor. My apologies, Your Honor."
"Mr. D'Angelo. You will answer the question."
"Amy Berkomeir was a difficult assignment at best. She was born out of wedlock, and her parents were both alcoholics. They frequently abused and neglected her. She went to school only sporadically, and was frequently in trouble with both school authorities and the law. She was expelled from the ninth grade because of numerous disruptive and sometimes violent incidents. She had no religious education to speak of, and because of her parentage and the extreme poverty she lived in, there was little chance for positive social interaction. In her formative years, she developed no clear sense of right and wrong. Her primary motivation was survival.
At 17, she ran away from home and changed her name to Amanda Burroughs. In exchange for certain … favors to agents and directors, she obtained bit parts and walk ons in low budget and X rated films.
On her 25th birthday, she signed a contract with the Devil. At that time, she was adjudged by this very Tribunal to be beyond salvation. Her records were sealed pending the Final Judgment, and I was assigned other duties."
"And who was assigned to Amanda Burroughs?"
"No one. Her destiny was controlled by the powers of Hell. We have no jurisdiction there."
"And Miss Baker? Who is her guardian angel?"
"She has not been assigned to anyone. Since her soul was returned to her after her allotted lifespan had been completed, anything that happens after that cannot be used in this Judgment."
"No more questions." Roarke turned to Clarence Darrow. "Your witness."
"Mr. D'Angelo. In other words, you are saying that the records of the defendant are complete and ready for Judgment."
"I didn't say that."
"But you said that Amy Berkomeir's records had been sealed. That that they are ready for judgment.
"No, that's not what I said either."
"Then what DID you just say?"
"Objection! Mr. Darrow is badgering the witness."
"No more questions."
"Call your next witness, Mr. Roarke."
"I call Abby Baker to the stand."
There was a murmur in the gallery as Abby Baker took the witness seat.
"Miss Baker. What is your earliest memory?"
Before Abby could answer, Clarence Darrow was on his feet. "Prosecution is willing to stipulate that the defendant is suffering from total amnesia." To Roarke, he sounded almost condescending.
"Even though you cannot remember it." Roarke continued. "Do you know anything about your life as Amanda Burroughs?"
"Only what I've been told."
"Objection sustained." Solomon sighed.
"I have only one more question. Does the name Amy Berkomeir have any meaning for you?"
"No. It means nothing to me. The first time I even heard it was a few minutes ago in this courtroom."
"Mr. Darrow?" Roarke gave a sweeping bow to the prosecutor.
Darrow studied Abby for a long moment. "Miss … ah … Baker. Do you believe in God?"
Roarke was on his feet.
"Save your objection, Roarke." Darrow said. "I withdraw the question."
"You say you do not remember being Amy Berkomeir."
"Do you remember being Amanda Burroughs?"
"Then who DO you remember being?"
"Objection!" Roarke shouted. "Counsel is badgering the witness!"
"Gentlemen." Solomon said wearily. "Do you think that the two of you could refrain from objecting to each other long enough to get on with the object of this case?"
"Yes, Your Honor." Roarke and Darrow said meekly.
"Thank you, gentlemen. You are too kind." He said sarcastically. "Mr. Darrow, you may continue. By the way … Objection sustained."
"No further questions."
"Defense rests, Your Honor."
"The court will take a short recess before hearing concluding arguments." Solomon rapped his golden gavel three times.
Roarke was once more in Abby's room. Her condition had obviously deteriorated. The EKG and EEG machines that monitored her heart and brain activity were barely registering. A respirator hissed loudly as it pumped oxygen to her lungs.
"Do not give up." Roarke whispered softly. "I will do everything I can to keep you here with me." He kissed her gently on the cheek. "I love you. Always remember that."
In the courtroom once more, Roarke felt helpless. On Fantasy Island, he was in charge. He made the rules. Here, he was only a mere mortal among some of the most influential people of all of eternity. Clarence Darrow, on the other hand, appeared very confident. Almost cocky.
"Mr. Darrow." Solomon intoned. "Are you ready to present your concluding argument?"
"Yes, Your Honor." He paced self-assuredly before the dais. "Gentlemen. My case is based on logic. Simple ... Plain ... Irrefutable ... Logic." He emphasized his words by pounding his fist into his other hand. "You have in evidence the Book of Days. According to it, the defendant has outlived her allotted lifespan. Because of a technicality, namely the contract with the Devil, she could not be brought to Judgment at that time. That obstacle has now been cleared, as witness theProsecution's exhibit 2, the contract.
Honored Sirs. The Book of Days is not just a document. It is the law. It is a law that is unbendable. It is undeniable. It is inescapable. It has been so since the beginning, and it will be so until the end. Everyone must submit to it. Even His Only Begotten Son bowed to the law of the Book of Days.
Next, we have the witness of her own physician, a former mortal, who confirmed that Amanda Burroughs days were numbered. And those days, give or take, have passed.
Lastly, we have the testimony of Saint Peter. According to him, there are no mitigating circumstances, past, present, or future, to justify extending her life.
I could cite numerous others who were much more deserving of extension. David. Socrates. Galileo. Mohammad. The Curies. The Kennedys. The list goes on. They all submitted to the law. As did everyone in this courtroom. With the exception of Mr. Roarke, of course. But his time will come. Sooner or later.
Gentlemen. Your decision is clear. There is only one verdict you can possibly render. To deliver this soul before the Throne of the Most High for immediate Judgment. And I do so petition this Tribunal."
Cockily, Clarence Darrow strode to his chair and made a production of sitting down. Roarke stood and approached the dais.
"Honored Sirs." He began. "I could not agree with my worthy adversary more. Everyone must be brought before the Throne of the Most High for Judgment. No one can escape." Darrow looked like the cat that had just eaten the canary. "My only concern is how this soul is to be judged when she is brought there.
Will she be judged on the deeds of Amy Burkomeir? The defendant has absolutely no memory of that person at all. According to John D'Angelo, Amy Berkomeir has already been judged … and pronounced beyond salvation. Her soul has already been consigned to Hell. Her records have been sealed awaiting the Final Judgment. In effect, Amy Berkomeir is already dead. And she has been for many years.
Will she be judged as Amanda Burroughs? Her records were kept in Hell. Even those were expunged when Satan released her from her contract with him. According to the Most Venerable St. Peter, there is no record here of anyone by that name at this time. Therefore, for all intents and purposes Amanda Burroughs does not exist. How can you judge someone who does not exist?
The only person she can be judged as, is Abby Baker. But, until a few short weeks ago, Abby Baker did not exist either. You cannot judge a person who has not had the time to accomplish anything.
Before a person can be judged, there must be a record of that person's life. That, your Honors, takes time to accumulate. Time to see. Time to do. Time to experience. Time to make decisions, right, wrong, or indifferent. Time to enjoy your actions, or time to suffer the consequences of those actions.
Time. A lifetime. That is why I am here. To humbly plead with you. To humbly beg you. Let Abby Baker have the time she needs to build her record. So that when she does appear before the Throne of the Most High, it will be a fair, just, and merciful judgment. Please, Allow Abby Baker to have her own life. To be judged on her own life. On her own deeds. On her own actions. Not on someone else's. Let her live. That is the only verdict you can render."
"This Tribunal will recess to consider this case and render its decision." Solomon said. "Mr. Roarke, you will be returned to Fantasy Island. Our decision will be made known to you within one earth hour. Regardless of the outcome, neither you, nor any other mortal involved will have any memory of this … incident." Solomon rapped his gavel three times.
Roarke looked longingly at the frail woman lying in the hospital bed. Her face had the pasty gray look of impending death. Her hand was cold and limp in his. The EEG registered almost no movement, only an occasional minute interruption in the otherwise flat line. The sound from the heart monitor was barely above a whisper. Changes in its line, too was barely perceptible. The respirator hissed loudly as it ineffectively tried to inflate her lungs. According to the numbers on the monitor, Abby was not breathing. The machine was doing it all for her.
"Please." He prayed. "Please."
Seconds seemed like hours. Minutes were eternities. 10 … 15 … 30.
Lawrence came in with a cup of coffee and a sandwich. Roarke motioned for him to put them on the nightstand. "What is taking them so long?" He mumbled.
"What is taking who so long?" Lawrence asked.
Roarke did not answer but continued to stare at Abby.
"Please, Sir. Try to eat something. The doctor said it could be a very long wait." Lawrence held the coffee to his employer again. Roarke absently took a sip of it and a small bite of the sandwich before putting them back on the stand. Realizing that Roarke was not about to finish them, Lawrence picked them up and quietly left the room.
35 … 40 … 45 … no change.
Solomon entered the Tribunal Chamber. There had been a lively debate going on, but at his entrance, there was absolute silence.
"Gentlemen." He said. "I know you have given this matter your careful and wise consideration. Now, I must call for your decision. A vote of 'Aye' means that the defendant will be allowed to live. A vote of 'Nay' means that she will be brought before the Throne of the Most High for immediate Judgment. How do you vote?"
Aristotle stood up. "The facts in this case are crystal clear, and at the same time, most obscure. Life is a precious commodity and well worth fighting for. And yet, death is also a part of the life cycle. It cannot be denied. Therefore, I vote 'Nay'."
Benjamin Franklin got up, adjusted his brocade coat, and cleaned his glasses. "Being something of a diplomat … and being something of a rascal and a gambler as well … I do so enjoy beating the odds. In my opinion, this woman deserves a second chance. I vote 'Aye'."
"As Aristotle pointed out, this case is most difficult." Angelo Roncalli, better known on earth as Pope John XXIII, said. "Each side has made a number of valid and reasonable points. The issue of life and death is not a speculative one. It is doctrine. It cannot be denied. And yet, Christ Himself restored many who were near death, and even a few who were already dead, as witness Lazarus and the Centurion's servant. Can we do any less than He did? My vote is 'Aye'."
"Love. Life. Beauty. Nature. All things to be cherished and nurtured. All things to be held for as long as possible. But for everything under the heavens, there is a time. And sad to say, her time has come. Reluctantly, I must vote 'Nay'."
"As I wrote in one of my better known plays. 'The quality of mercy is not strained. It droppeth as the gentle rain upon the place below. It is twice blessed. It blesseth him that gives and him that receives. It … '. "
"MISTER SHAKESPEARE!" Solomon said sharply. "We are all familiar with The Merchant Of Venice! What is your vote?"
"I thought that was what I was giving you." Shakespeare sighed heavily. "But for those among you with no poetry in your hearts, my vote is 'Aye'."
"Mr. Einstein. How do you vote?"
"The universe, and everything in it, from the smallest atom to the largest galaxies are bound by an order and discipline that has existed from the beginning and will continue to exist until the end. To attempt to alter or abrogate that order is to invite disaster on a cataclysmic scale. My vote is 'Nay'."
"Three votes for extension of her life. Three against. It's obvious that the Tribunal is deadlocked." Solomon said gravely. "Therefore, it falls upon me, as the Presiding Judge to cast the deciding vote."
55 … 56 … 57 …
The doctor came into the room. He put his stethoscope to Abby's chest and then took her hand and put his fingers on her pulse point. He looked at his watch for a few seconds. He repeated this using the carotid artery in her neck. Then he started to remove one of the EEG wires attached to her forehead. Roarke grabbed him roughly and pulled him away from her.
"What do you think you're doing?" The doctor shouted angrily. "She's dead. I'm preparing the body to be moved to the morgue."
Roarke continued to hold him back. "You can't do that! She's still alive!"
"Mr. Roarke." He shook his head slowly. "We have duplicate monitors in the nurse's station. We've been watching them very closely for the past hour. They show the same thing as these do. Look at them. The lines are flat. That means there is no heart or brain activity. My examination just now confirms it. She's dead. Let her go."
"NO! You can't give up on her. Not yet! There's still three minutes left!" Roarke shouted.
"Three minutes? Mr. Roarke! What are you talking about? She's …"
Just then, the heart monitor gave a loud 'Beep', followed by the rhythmic beeping of a steady heartbeat. At almost the same time, the lines and numbers on the other monitors all sprang to life. The respirator, programmed to shut off when the patient was breathing on her own, fell silent. The doctor again listened to her chest. Her heart was beating strong and regular. Her pulse, too was strong and regular.
Both the doctor and Roarke stared in amazement at what was happening. There was a slight tinge of pink in Abby's cheeks and beneath her eyelids, they both could make out the movement of her eyeballs. Slowly, her eyes fluttered open.
Roarke took her hand in his. It was warm. When he squeezed it gently, Abby squeezed back. Tears flowed down his cheeks. "You're alive." He sobbed.
"Of course I'm alive." She said. Her voice was strong and firm. "Was there ever any doubt that I would live? I have been given a second chance and … " She frowned, puzzled. "That's funny, I forgot what I was going to say. You know, I had the weirdest dream just now. I was in a … Strange, I don't remember that either. Oh, well, I guess it wasn't that important."
"I, too had a most extraordinary experience. I was in … " He rubbed his forehead. "Where was I? It must be the lack of sleep and the worry. I can't remember either."
Lawrence came in and stopped at the door. His eyes went wide and smile lit up his normally undemonstrative face. "Miss Abby!" He almost shouted. You're awake!" It's a miracle!"
"Yes, Lawrence. Miracles do still happen." She said softly.
Lawrence shook his head slightly. That phrase was familiar. He had heard it somewhere before, but he couldn't remember where. "Oh. Mr. Roarke. There was a gentleman in the waiting area a few minutes ago. He asked me to give you this." Lawrence held out a business card to his employer. "Odd, I feel as though I recognized the man earlier, but now I just can't place him."
Roarke took the card and studied it carefully. It was bordered in gold and had a pair of gold wings in the upper right hand corner. The name 'John D'Angelo' was written in an elegant cursive script. There was nothing else on the face. The name was vaguely familiar, but Roarke couldn't remember where … or when he had known anyone by that name.
He turned it over. On the back, written in the same elegant script, also in gold, was one word.
Not on Fantasy Island it isn't