Past and Present is on hiatus. Enjoy this tale.
"Are you going to spend the whole night being pissed at me?" Kenny asked, as he shifted the cruiser into park, "It's going to be a long few hours then, Max."
"I'm not mad at you," she relented, as caved, "I just wish . . . I really wish the two of you could get along."
"You deserve better," Kenny blurted out before he could stop himself.
"You only think that because you don't know him," Max insisted, "He's a great guy, Kenny. You're my best friend, I'd really like you to be happy for me."
Kenny shook his head, as he turned to look at her, "I guess I don't like the idea of not having you to drink beer with and watch bad movies with on Friday nights. You sure that you want to marry him?"
"Hey, we'll always have that," Max replied softly, "You're the only person I know that appreciates movies like Alligator and Shark Attack III. Danny . . . he really hates them, thinks that there a waste of time."
"Who could possibly think that Alligator is a waste a time? It teaches us to stay out of the sewer."
Max smiled, "An important lesson to know."
"What's that?" Kenny asked, as head lights came barreling down the road toward them.
Danny Shreve paced across the floor of the apartment, as he kept a watchful eye on the clock. This is going to change he thought, once we get married Maxine won't be working all of these late nights. In fact, I don't think I want her working at all. She should be home, with me.
"My wife," he said aloud, "My perfect wife to be."
"He's swerving all over the place," Max said calmly, as the car sped by them.
"Hold on. It's going to be a wild ride," Kenny said, as he hit the accelerator, "Got the plates?"
"Uh, huh," she said, as the car in front of them slowed down, "Well, at least they're stopping."
"Your turn," Kenny said, as he gestured to the vehicle.
"Danny, this is a surprise," Jimmy said, as he watched the man come into the station, "How can I help you?"
"I'm looking for Maxine," he replied, "Her shift was supposed to end 10 minutes ago."
"Kenny radioed in, they're in the middle of a stop."
"Can't someone else handle it?"
Jimmy eyed him warily, "They'll be back soon enough. Why don't you have a seat?"
"It's empty," Max said dumbly, as she examined the car they pulled over. Opening the door, she peered in and didn't quite believe what she was seeing. Leaving the door open, she backed away slowly.
"Max?" Kenny called, as he emerged from their patrol car.
"This is really odd," she said, as he joined her, "It's empty."
"It's not the only thing that is," Max said numbly, "Um, Kenny? Look?"
"What the hell is that?"
"This is getting ridiculous," Danny scoffed, "I've been waiting for over an hour. Where are they? I'll go find my fiancé myself."
I'm sure that Max would love that, Jimmy thought, as he wondered what exactly she saw in this man, "I'm sending Skeeter and Thompson by, just to check on things. I'm sure they'll be here any minute."
"Get back," Kenny yelled, as he pushed Max behind him.
"Somehow I don't think that is going to help," she yelled back, as he held her tight to him, "Kenny! What's happening?"
"I don't know! Don't let go, Max!"
She clung tighter to him, as the portal widened and engulfed them.
"This is too weird," Skeeter said, as he examined the abandon cruiser and sedan on the side of the road, "Where is everybody?"
"I think we need to get some more people out here," Thompson said, "This is serious."
"I'm thinking kidnaping. Who knows who was in the car they pulled over. People just don't vanish."
"What do you mean you don't know where she is?" Danny demanded, "I'm coming with you!"
"No you're not. This is police business, Danny. The best thing you can do is wait here," Jimmy said.
"I bet that asshole that she works with has something to do with this. I keep telling her all he wants is to get in her pants."
Jimmy stared at him with contempt, "I have two missing deputies to go find. Go home."
"I'm not going anywhere without my fiancé," Danny spat, "She is finished working here as of tonight. I'm not putting up with the ineptitude of this department again."
"Go to hell."
"What the hell?"
"Where are we?" Kenny asked, "Max? What are you wearing?"
"I could ask you the same thing," she countered, as they stood up slowly, "Kenny? This is a dream, or some sort of hallucination?"
He looked around the courtyard, before turning back to her, "Pinch me."
"What?" she asked, as he held out his arm, "Okay."
"Ow . . . Nothing," he said, "What happened?"
"The cars, road . . . a bright light," Max trailed off, "Where are we?"
"Nothing," Jimmy said, as they returned to the station.
"They didn't just vanish," Skeeter said, "Come on."
"I ran the plates. The car belongs to a Mark Hudson, who coincidentally disappeared last month," Thompson said.
Jimmy shook his head, "I put an APB out on them."
Kenny held her hand as they walked out of the courtyard, and into a small village. Holding tight to her, he swallowed.
"This is something out of a movie," Max said softly, as she watched the horse drawn carriages go down the dirt roads, "Or maybe we're just in Amish country?"
"Last I remember the Amish didn't have a castle on a hill," Kenny said, pointing off into the distance.
"Your highness. We've been looking for you. Your parents were getting worried."
"Uh, are you talking to me?" Max asked numbly.
"Yes, Princess. You and your intended were do back at the castle to get ready for the ball," the man said with a small bow, "The carriage is waiting."
"There has got to be some mistake," Kenny interjected, as Max fell speechless, "We aren't who you think we are."
"Have you taken ill?" he asked.
"Maybe we should go with them?" Max said quietly, "Find some answers?"
"Could you give us a minute?" Kenny asked, "Me and the, uh, Princess have to . . . yeah give us a minute."
"As you wish."
"Princess?" Max asked, "I really want to wake up now. Where the hell are we?"
"It explains that dress at least," he said, as he studied the cream colored silk she was wearing, "Did we go back in time? Sucked into an alternate dimension?"
"That can't happen."
She shot him a dark look, "Lets say that is what happened. How do we go home again?"
Kenny nodded toward the two other men, "What about following them? See where they take us? Maybe there is a royal magician or something?"
"I demand answers!" Danny spat, "That oaf ran off with my fiancé! I want to press charges."
"That isn't what happened. We don't know what happened," Jimmy said evenly, resisting the urge to slug the other man, "We're checking the surrounding area, there wasn't sign of a struggle, and we're operating under the assumption that everyone is alive."
"Then where is Maxine? She wouldn't have left me, not for him or anyone!"
"You seem pretty sure of that, Danny," Skeeter said dryly, "Why do you assume that Max left you?"
"She did no such thing! That bastard kidnaped her, and I want answers now. I want him in prison."
"William, Annabelle. We were getting worried about you," a man dressed in red, velvet robes said, as they were lead into a huge room, "You were supposed to take a ride through the village, not spend all day there."
"Uh, sorry," Max said lamely, "We lost track of time."
"Annabelle, your mother is waiting for you upstairs. The two of you must start getting yourself ready for the ball. William and I have to talk about our hunt tomorrow."
"If you would follow me, your highness," a young girl said.
"Uh, sure," Max said, not wanting to separate herself from Kenny, "I'll see you later?"
"Wait," Kenny said, "Listen, we need some answers here."
"I didn't know there were questions," he replied.
"We aren't who you think we are," Max blurted out, "I'm not sure how we got here or why we are."
"My, sweet daughter. Those are just wedding jitters."
"Wedding?" Kenny asked, as he and Max exchanged a look.
"The wedding of Princess Annabelle Grace Rambaldi and Prince William George Courtland. Young people, you like to tease an old man? Annabelle, your mother is waiting. I'm sure William can wait on seeing you until the ball."
Max nodded numbly, as she reluctantly followed the girl out of the room, "Uh, bye."
"Women," he said, "Now, William. The hunt tomorrow. The last one before you marry my daughter. You have to make her proud, and bring back a big trophy."
"I'm sure she'll like that."
"You look lovely, Annabelle."
Max looked at the woman who was apparently her mother in this strange world, before turning back to her reflection. Ignoring the searing pain that the corset was causing, she had to admit that she looked pretty good. Fingering the blue velvet gown thoughtfully, "I guess I do."
"It's time to go downstairs."
"I've been doing a lot of research on this," Carter said, "People just vanishing lately."
"If you mention aliens," Jimmy warned him.
Carter shook his head, "These people that disappeared lately, there have been 12 total that vanished out of the blue in this area, over the past month."
"And?" Jimmy asked.
"What if they didn't vanish? What if they're someplace else?"
"My god," Kenny said under his breath, as he watched Max make her entrance with her parents, "Max."
Sucking in a breath, he took in the sight of her clad in blue velvet and silk, with her hair all done up in ringlets. She does look like a princess, he thought, as he studied the jewels dripping from her. She caught his gaze, and smiled slightly. And she knows she looks good, he thought, as her father led her over to him.
"If you two would lead us in the first dance," the King said, as the music started up.
Kenny merely nodded, as he took Max into his arms, "You look amazing, Annabelle."
"You look pretty good yourself, William" she said quietly.
"So," he said, "We're supposed to get married in two days? You know what I'm supposed to do tomorrow? Slay a dragon. For you."
"Dragons aren't real," Max replied, "Well at least they aren't in our world. Do you know how to do that?"
"What are you going to do with a dragon head?"
Max let out a giggle, "This is ridiculous!"
"Oh it isn't," a voice said from behind them, "If the royal highnesses would come with me. I'll explain it to you."