The first draft of this story was written shortly after the Ricardo Montalban Fantasy Island series ended. At that time there was no thought about a Malcolm McDowell Fantasy Island series. This is how we envisioned the end of the series.
Lawrence and Roarke stood at the dock as the seaplane taxied up.
"Excuse me, Sir." Lawrence said. "This is most extraordinary. And most confusing. This is not a regularly scheduled passenger flight, and there does not seem to be any mention of visiting dignitaries or special guests in any of the paperwork that I know of. Why did we have to come all the way here just to oversee the delivery of supplies? Couldn't the warehouse people handle that?"
"There are more than supplies on this plane, Lawrence. This is a very special flight. My apprentice is on board." Roarke said with more than a bit of pride.
"Yes. My apprentice. Nimuae Wilde has tremendous potential powers. It will be my responsibility to see to it that they are properly developed, and that they are used only for good."
The door of the plane opened and one of the attendants helped a young girl out. She looked to be about 16 or so, all arms and legs, but with definite evidence that in a few years, she would be an extraordinarily beautiful woman. Her long wavy red hair was fastened with a large golden clip at the nape of her neck, and she was wearing a boarding school uniform, complete with white anklets and oxford type shoes. Her hazel green eyes were wide with wonder, and her mouth stood gap jawed as she took in the sights of Fantasy Island.
"Sir ... " Lawrence gasped. "He's a ... I mean she's a ...a girl!"
"Of course she's a girl. Nimuae is the great grand niece of a very dear friend of mine. As I said earlier, she has great powers, and extreme potential. However, she is very inexperienced, and she does not even realize the full extent of her abilities. I have been asked by her father to teach her what she needs to know in order to use her powers wisely."
Roarke took a glass of wine from the hostess and raised it. "My dear Miss Wilde. Welcome to Fantasy Island. I am Mr. Roarke. Your host ... and your teacher."
Nimuae raised the glass of cola that the hostess had given her and nodded in acknowledgement of the greeting. Then she took several long pulls on the straw. There was a loud slurping sound as the cola drained from the glass.
Lawrence rolled his eyes at the sound. "This is definitely not going to be an easy one." He sighed.
Nim Wilde bounded into Roarke's office. She was now dressed in a yellow t-shirt with the name and logo of a popular rock band on it, and a pair of faded jeans. She had one blue and one red sneaker on her sockless feet. Her hair was pulled back into a ponytail.
"Well, Mr. Roarke. I've had me breakfast and I've had me a tour of the Island. Courtesy of one of drivers of those cute little striped cars. Pretty impressive, if I do say so meself. The Island, that is. Although that driver is a bit of a hunk too." She sighed dreamily as only a sixteen year old girl can. "Me bags are unpacked and me clothes are all stored away right proper, too. I'm ready to begin."
"Ready?" Roarke asked. "Begin?"
"Learning to be a sorceress, of course. That IS why me father packed me off to Fantasy Island in the first place, isn't it? When do we start?"
"We shall start very soon. But not today. I am extremely busy. There is a fantasy that is in serious trouble, and I have to act quickly to get it back on the right track. I was about to leave when you came in. Lawrence is on the patio." He pointed to a set of French doors on the rear wall of the office. "Why don't you go out and help him until I return? We shall discuss your tutoring then."
"I guess if I've waited this long to be a proper witch, I suppose I can wait a wee bit longer."
"Nimuae. You are not a witch."
"Then just what am I?"
"We shall discuss that when I return." Roarke called from the door.
As Nim stepped onto the patio, Lawrence was busy trimming one of the many hedges that bordered the garden.
"Mr. Roarke has left on some very important business. Something about a fantasy runnin' amok." Nim told him. "He asked me to help you until he returned."
"Have you had any experience weeding a garden?" Lawrence asked without looking up from his chore.
"Aye. I used to help me mum all the time when she was alive." She said.
"Good. You can start over there."
The flower bed that Lawrence pointed to was thick with dandelions, chickweed, and crabgrass. A pitchfork, a rake and a trowel lay among the ivy that grew along the picket fence at the back of the garden.
Nim picked up the trowel and began digging at the nearest weed. Its roots were deep and after a great deal of effort, she finally got it all out. "If I'd have known I'd be doin' nothin' more than bein' a common laborer, I'd have ne'er left Edinborogh."
"You're from Edinborogh?" The accent was on the 'berg'.
"That's Edin-BORO." Nim corrected. "Actually, I'm from a small town a short way to the north and west. When I reached secondary school age, me mum died sudden, and me da' decided it was time that I got a proper Christian education, so he shipped me off to the convent school. Twas about this same time that me powers started to come to full bloom. Some of me antics nearly drove the nuns clean out of their wimples. That's when me da' decided it was time to send me here. So's I could learn to be a proper sorceress. Me Great Uncle Seamus was a true magician, you know. Claimed he learned his trade from Merlin."
She pulled another weed out of the ground and unceremoniously deposited it on the small pile that she had already dug out.
Lawrence had finished his trimming and went into a small shed at the back of the lot. He emerged a few minutes later pushing an ancient, very decrepit looking lawn mower.
"Tell me something, Mr. Lawrence. Mr. Roarke is a wealthy man, is he not?"
"Very wealthy." Lawrence gave a mighty tug on the starter cord. Nothing.
"And he has a large staff to care for the Island, does he not?"
"Yes, he does." Another pull. The same result.
"Then why are YOU cutting the grass?"
"Because it needs to be cut." He stated the obvious. He gave another mighty tug. The mower's engine coughed a few times and reluctantly sputtered to life.
If there was any further conversation, it was lost over the din coming from the antiquated lawn mower.
Lawrence was about half way across the yard when the mower began sputtering and wheezing and then stopped completely. He muttered something under his breath and once more pulled on the cord. The engine gasped a few times, but did not turn over. After four more futile tries, Lawrence went to the shed and returned with several tools. He removed the battered cover and stared at the engine. He tightened a few things and loosened some others.
"I fear that this mower is on its last days. I shall have to go to the hardware store in town to get some parts if I am to fix it." He replaced the cover and pulled on his jacket. "Even then, it might not last until I finish mowing this part of the lawn. Perhaps it would be better if I just went ahead and purchased a new one."
Nim stood up. By her reckoning, she had been working on the flower bed for well over an hour, yet she had hardly made a dent in the overgrown weeds.
On the patio table was a pitcher of ice cold lemonade and several glasses. She poured herself a glass and plopped into one of the lounge chairs that lined the patio area. The day was hot, and beads of sweat glistened on her face and mingled with her freckles. "There's got to be an easier way to do this." She said as she pulled at a clump of hair that was dangling in her eyes and tucked it behind her ear. Now there was a swath of grime on her face as well.
"Well now, Miss Nimuae Wilde." She said to no one. "They're sayin' you got the powers. You might as well be startin' to using them." She pointed to the garden. "Weeds! Begone!" She intoned solemnly and concentrated as hard as she could. There was a brilliant flash of light, and the garden was covered with a heavy silver blue smoke-like mist. Slowly, it thinned and finally dissipated. When it cleared, the weeds had vanished. There was nothing left but a beautifully cultivated flower bed. She smiled smugly. "That was no trouble at all." She mused.
"Poor Lawrence. He works so hard. The least I can do is give him a wee hand." She gestured forcefully at the mower. "Start!" She commanded. It sprang to life. She pointed to the end of the yard and the mower moved to where her finger pointed. She traced an imaginary line along the side of the yard and the mower obediently followed. She traced along the far wall. The mower turned the corner and began cutting where she led it.
"This is almost child's play!" She said as she idly motioned for the mower to cut along another edge. "I dinna see what everyone is makin' such a bloody fuss about."
She gasped as she stared in shock at the mower. About halfway along the side of the lawn, it no longer followed her directions. It had turned and was now cutting a swath across the middle of the lawn directly toward her. She pointed sternly at it. "STOP!" She yelled. The mower continued along its path. "Stop! I say!" The mower kept coming. "Mr. Lawrence! Mr. Roarke! Somebody! Anybody! H-E-L-P!"
As Lawrence entered the patio, he could not believe what he was seeing. Nim was standing virtually petrified on a chair and the mower was tracing a bizarre route around the yard. "My Word!" He exclaimed. As if on cue, the mower turned and headed for him. He dropped his packages and dashed for the safety of a nearby tree. The mower stopped a few feet away from him and revved its engine menacingly. "Shoo! Go away!" Lawrence begged from behind the safety of the tree.
At about this time, Roarke returned to the Main House. From the street, he could hear the uproar from the back yard and went to investigate.
"NO! Mr. Roarke! Dinna' come back here!" Nim called as he started into the yard. She was too late. The mower turned and began sizing up its next victim. It gunned its motor several times and boldly charged at Roarke. Like a seasoned bullfighter, Roarke skillfully sidestepped the berserk machine. It turned and prepared to make a second pass at the latest interloper. Roarke's face grew stern and he forcefully gestured at the errant piece of equipment. "STOP! NOW!" He commanded. The engine sputtered a few times and quit and the wayward instrument stopped in its tracks.
Roarke surveyed the patio. It was a total disaster. The lawn was criss crossed with jagged paths. The garden was leveled and was covered with fragments of what had been flowers less than an hour before. The ivy that grew along the back fence had been dismembered and hung limply from the boards. There was only one rather bedraggled looking hedge left standing. The birdbath in the middle of the yard had been toppled, and now lay in numerous pieces. Even his prized roses had not escaped damage. They were little more than leafless stumps.
"Would someone care to tell me what has happened here?" Roarke looked at Nim, who was now perched atop the patio table, clutching desperately to the umbrella stand.
Slowly Nim got down from the table. Her face was a mix of innocence, guilt, and stark terror. "Well, Sir. You did ask me to help Mr. Lawrence. And that's what I'd be doing. You see, the mower broke, and he had to go into town to get some parts for it. So, I used a wee bit o' me magic to fix it. I thought I'd surprise him and finish cuttin' the grass. I guess things sorta got a bit out o' hand there."
"And where is Mr. Lawrence now?"
"Up here, sir." Lawrence was sitting on a branch of a large tree, clinging for dear life to the trunk.
"And what are you doing up there?"
"Quaking with fear, Sir."
"I thought you were afraid of heights."
"I am deathly afraid of heights, Sir. That's why I'm quaking with fear. But when one is faced with the choice of climbing a tree or being attacked by ... " He pointed to the now silent mower. " ... that thing ... one climbs the tree in spite of one's fears."
"You can come down now. The danger is over."
"I'm not exactly sure how I got up here in the first place, but I am quite certain I do not know how to get down from here."
"Why don't you use the ladder?"
"Sir. There is no ladder."
Roarke walked behind the tree and brought a ladder to the front. He placed it against the trunk just beneath Lawrence.
Cautiously, Lawrence climbed down. "I would have sworn there wasn't a ladder there when I went up the tree."
"Why don't you see what you can do out here?" Roarke asked him. "Miss Wilde and I are going into my office. We are going to have a very long talk."
Nim looked at Roarke. "I dinna be thinking you'll be wantin' to go to your office right now, Mr. Roarke."
"And why is that?"
Nim bit her lip guiltily. "Well, Sir. When the beastie machine was chasin' me, I ran indoors to get away from it. Only it followed me."
"And ... ?"
"Your shag rug?" She chewed on her thumbnail. "Tis no shag anymore."
Roarke closed his eyes. At the corner of his field of vision, he could make out the wiggling golden streaks that usually signaled the beginning of a migraine headache. This one gave every indication that it would be a massive one. "I see we are going to have a very, very, long talk."
It took the better part of a week for things to return to some semblance of order. The workmen had replaced the shag rug with a beautiful, and very expensive oriental one. He had been planning to do that for some time, but this gave him the perfect excuse. A new birdbath had been installed, and the lawn had been reseeded. The landscapers, under Lawrence's watchful eye, had put in new hedges, and were about finished replanting the flowers and the ivy. Even his rose bushes were beginning to show signs of new growth
Roarke sat at his desk going over the latest batch of the never ending paperwork, and a very subdued and chastised Nimuae Wilde sat at a student desk in the corner of the room. She was zealously studying a book titled 'The Techniques For Animating Inanimate Objects'.
Lawrence came in from the patio. "The gardeners are finished. And I must say, they did an outstanding job." He reported. "But I fear that if we do not get rain soon, it will all have been in vain."
"I know. The lack of rain had been a real hardship." Roarke said. He held up a thick folder. "Several of the Island farmers have already filed for bankruptcy because of the drought, and many more are concerned that their crops will not survive until harvest."
"If it's rain you'd be wantin', I can do that." Nim said. "When I was but a tiny wee lass, I watched as my Great Uncle Seamus made rain. I remember how he did it."
"I do not think that would be a wise idea. I am certain you have not forgotten the incident with lawn mower this quickly." Roarke admonished.
"Please, Mr. Roarke." Nim pleaded. "This time I know I can be doin' it. Besides, it would be my way of sayin' I'm sorry for all the trouble I've caused."
"I don't know... "
"Please, Sir ... Just a wee shower. That's all I'll do. I promise. Please, Mr. Roarke. Ple-e-e-ease!" She begged.
"Well ... "
"Oh thank you! Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! You won't be regrettin' it."
"Famous Last Words." Lawrence muttered.
Nim went out on the patio. She raised her hands. "Shambiloka! Nigipurtoni! Ingledonep! Dumemenquoke!" She intoned.
Within minutes, fleecy clouds drifted over Fantasy Island. The clouds became thicker, and a short time later, a gentle rain began to fall.
"I did it!" Nim beamed. "I really did it! I made rain!"
"Oh ye of little faith." Roarke whispered to an astounded Lawrence.
It rained all that day. And into the night. And the next day. And the next night. And the next. For a week. Two weeks. Nothing but rain. Gentle rain, it was true, but rain nonetheless.
It was mid afternoon when Lawrence went out on the patio and quickly returned to the office. The pond that was at the rear of the Main House grounds had overflowed its banks and the yard, as well as all the surrounding areas, was under several inches of water. It was only centimeters from the patio door sill. As Lawrence walked across the office, his shoes made a squishing sound. They continued squishing as he made his way down the hall to the library, where Nim, under Roarke's watchful tutoring, was making a tennis ball float in mid air.
"Excuse me." He cleared his throat.
At that, Nim's concentration was broken and the ball bounced to the floor.
"Miss Nim." Lawrence said as he scooped up the ball. "The rain that you conjured was most needed, and I am certain that everyone on the Island is most grateful to you for doing it. But I do believe that we have had quite enough. Could you please stop it?"
"The rain?" Nim said, slightly puzzled. "Of course. The rain! I forgot all about it! Piece of cake." She went out to the patio. "LANGITUMIUM! FIGUGOGIVAL! URIOTIAMET! PANCHERETE!" She shouted into the storm.
Almost immediately, the sky became even blacker. The wind picked up until it was so fast and so strong that they could barely stand upright. A wide bolt of lightning struck the ground mere feet from where the group was standing, and the resulting thunderclap shook the Main House to its foundation. The stinging rain was now coming down in almost horizontal sheets.
Nim looked at Roarke and smiled weakly. "I think I've managed to royally botch things now."
"That you have, Nim." Roarke said. "As you are finding out, a little knowledge can be a very dangerous thing."
"Is there anything you can do, Sir?" Lawrence asked.
"I can try." Roarke thrust his arms skyward, palms extended. He closed his eyes and concentrated. He quickly twisted his hands into fists, and pulled them into his chest. The rain slackened to a soft drizzle, but did not stop.
"It seems you have cast a very powerful spell." Roarke said to Nim. "I have temporarily lessened its effects, but I don't know how long that will last. Since you cast it, you are the only one who can undo it. And you had better be quick about it. I have been receiving reports that many of the farmers who were in danger from the drought are now in even worse danger from the floods."
"I canna' stop it." Nim panicked. "I tried. You saw me. I can no do anythin' more about it. I dinna know how."
Roarke took Nim back into the library and into a small alcove. The shelves were lined with ancient books and scrolls. "On these shelves is all the information you will need to reverse the spell."
"Which one, Mr. Roarke? Which book will tell me how to stop the rain?"
"That ... " He said as he turned to leave the library. " ... Is for you to find."
Lawrence was waiting for him in the office. "What do you suggest we do while Miss Nim is searching for the right book, Sir."
"Well, Lawrence, we could consider building an ark." There was a definite twinkle in Roarke's eyes.
A little over three hours later, the storm was as bad as it had been before Roarke interceded, if not worse.
Over the next few days, Nim made many futile attempts to stop the drenching downpour Each time she tried, the storms became even worse, if that were at all possible. Finally, when it seemed that all hope was lost, she came upon the correct incantation. Within minutes, the rain lessened and stopped. The clouds diminished and then, except for a few puffy ones, disappeared completely. The sun finally came out and the sky turned a brilliant blue. Still, it took almost another week for the water to recede and the Island to completely dry out.
Nim came into Roarke's office. She was carrying her suitcases and was wearing her convent school uniform. "I've come to say me goodbyes, Mr. Roarke. I'm going back to Edinborogh. I'll be leaving on the afternoon plane for the mainland."
"Why are you going?" Roarke asked. "You have barely begun your studies."
"I've been givin' that a great deal of thought lately. I dinna think I'm cut out to be a sorceress. I canna' do anything right and I'm always making a bloody mess of things. I'm thinking I'd be better off forgettin' all about it and resign meself to just bein' a housewife, or a secretary, or somethin' like that instead."
"You must have patience, Nim. You have learned so much already. It will get easier. I can promise you that. Everything will come to you in due time."
"But it's so easy when you do it."
"It took me many, many years and many mistakes to perfect my skills. I can remember one time. I was not much older than you are now. I cast a spell that went horribly awry. I unintentionally created many creatures that could only be described as gargantuan and monstrous. It took a very long time before I was able to correct my errors and dispose of these ... creatures. In the meantime, they had ravaged the land, and had taken a high toll in property damage and in human life. Perhaps you have heard the legends of fire breathing dragons?"
Roarke grinned sheepishly. "Dragons. Me."
Nim burst into peals of laughter. "I'll bet your teacher was in a royal purple snit with you for that one."
"You're right about that. My father was not too pleased with me for quite some time after that episode." Roarke said, wiping tears of laughter from his eyes. "And this is one of the best lessons you can learn. A sense of humor is absolutely indispensable. Now. May I make a suggestion? Take your suitcases back to your room and change your clothes. Your next lesson begins in fifteen minutes."
She picked up her bags and headed to her room. "Dragons?" She tittered.
"I know! I know! Hit the books!"
Nim Wilde spent the remainder of the day in the library. Every so often, the mumbled word ... 'dragons' ... and laughter ... giggling to be exact ... could be heard coming from the room.
During the next few weeks, Roarke spent a great deal of time with Nim, teaching, researching, and supervising her as she practiced what she had learned. True to what Roarke had said, it was becoming easier. Little by little, she was becoming more adept, and the skills that she needed to perfect were becoming easier to master.
There were still mistakes, like the nine foot Chihuahua, but those were minor, and easily dealt with. So far, there were no dragons, much to Roarke's relief. She brought the incident up every time she tried something that did not turn out completely correct. Roarke was beginning to seriously question the wisdom of telling her about them.
Lawrence came into Roarke's office. Roarke had an ancient looking scroll unrolled in front of him, but he was not reading it. Instead, his head was leaning against the back of the winged leather chair and his eyes were closed. A soft, almost buzzing sound came from his open mouth. Lawrence slowly began to tiptoe back toward the door.
"You wanted to see me?" Roarke said, sitting up and rubbing his eyes.
"Yes, Sir. But it can wait."
"I was just researching the next lesson for Nim. I guess I must have dozed off." He straightened himself in the chair and brushed an imaginary speck of dust or lint from his white coat.
"You have been spending a lot of time with Miss Nim, Sir. While I realize it is not my place to presume to tell you how to run your affairs, but ... now how can I put this diplomatically ... "
"Lawrence. You know you can always speak freely to me. What is on your mind?"
"Well, Sir. It's like this. You have been with her so much that you have gravely neglected your duties as Administrator of Fantasy Island. The business at the resort has fallen off measurably. You have not even attended, let alone officiated at, quite a few of the most important events on the Island. You've missed the last three weekly Town Council meetings, and there is a veritable mountain of paperwork that needs your signature."
"I realize that, Lawrence. But right now, Nimuae Wilde has the highest possible priority for my time." Roarke got up and began nervously pacing the floor. "Sit down, Lawrence."
Lawrence took a seat.
"You know that Fantasy Island is a very special place, do you not?"
"And you are aware that there are forces at work here that exist nowhere else on the planet."
"And you realize that these forces are intrinsically linked to me."
"No, Sir. I did not know that, but I have suspected as much for a long time."
"Your suspicions are correct. These forces and I are closely interconnected.
"You mean something like ... 'The Force' ... from Star Wars?"
Roarke thought for a moment. "Very much so. Lately, I have been noticing that my control of these forces has been gradually getting weaker. I fear that my time is becoming short."
"What are you trying to say, Sir?" Doubt, fear and panic fought for control of the butler's emotions.
"What I am trying to say, Lawrence, is that I am dying."
"NO!" Lawrence bolted up. "That can not be true! There must be some mistake. You cannot be dying. Have you seen a doctor? Perhaps all you need is a rest. A holiday. That's it! You need a holiday! Take a few weeks off. The staff and I can handle things on the Island while you're gone. Go up on a mountain and meditate for a week or two. Visit your friend in France. What is his name? Tatoo? You'll feel ever so much better when you return!"
Roarke put his hands on his assistant's shoulder. Lawrence knew without being told that it was true. Roarke was dying.
"I have lived a very long time." Roarke explained. "Almost a millennium in fact. But I am not immortal. Time, and the enormous energies necessary to control my powers have taken their toll on me. I am worn out. Used up."
"And that is why Miss Nim is here. To take your place when you ... when you ... "
"You can say the word, Lawrence ... Die. It is not a dirty word. It is an inevitable progression of life. But that is not why Nimuae Wilde is here.
As I said before, I am an integral part of Fantasy Island, and it is an essential part of me. In a very real sense, I AM Fantasy Island. I inherited the powers needed to control it from my father, who received them from his father and so on back to the dawn of time. I have no direct heirs to pass control of the Island to. Therefore, when I die, I fear Fantasy Island will die with me."
"What about Jamie Marsh, Sir? You adopted him when you married his mother, as I recall. Wouldn't he be considered your heir?"
Roarke sighed heavily. "Yes. Jamie Marsh is my legal heir. And I could not love him more if he was my biological son, but he is a child of my heart, not a child of my blood. Unfortunately, only blood heirs can carry on the tradition of Fantasy Island."
Roarke paused. "Once there were many places such as this on this earth. Unfortunately, as their caretakers died without direct heirs, one by one they ceased to exist. Now, they are remembered only in legends and stories. Valhalla. Atlantis. Olympus. Camelot. Oz. Shangri-La. To name a few. And Brigadoon, which incidentally was overseen by Nim's Great Uncle, Seamus McClearey. That is how she came to have her powers. Unfortunately, she was not his direct descendent. Seamus was actually her cousin many generations removed, on her mother's side. He, like I, died childless. Because of this, Brigadoon could not be saved. Soon, Fantasy Island shall join them and shall become only a fond memory. A place to write stories and make movies about."
"And what of the people who are living on the Island? What will happen to them? Will they die also?"
"I have taken that into consideration. I have not been accepting any new fantasies for some months now. That is why business at the resort has fallen off. I shall fulfill the few remaining ones, and then I shall close that area of the Island. Permanently.
I have also let it be known in scientific circles that the ocean floor around Fantasy Island is unstable. Because of this, the Island is experiencing cataclysmic natural disasters, and is in dire danger of sinking. I have already informed the Islanders that they must find new homes away from here and I have been in negotiations with the governments of nearby islands to take in the refugees. They have agreed to take everyone who wishes to relocate.
As I grow weaker, these disasters will only intensify, so when the Island disappears, it will appear to be what the scientists perceive as a logical result of the instability of the ocean floor.
A few weeks after that happens, Fantasy Island will begin to fade from people's memories. In a way, it never truly existed in the first place. It is actually in an alternate universe, and it is present on this planet only through the sheer force of my powers and my will. And that of my ancestors. When I die, it will return to that other dimension. In few years, no one will even remember that it was an actual place. It will become a legend. A story."
"What about me, Sir? And Miss Nim? I don't want to ever forget that Fantasy Island actually existed. And neither would she. I'm certain of that."
"Then I shall make an exception in your case. You and Nimuae will always remember Fantasy Island." He smiled broadly
"Thank you, Sir. I appreciate that. Does Miss Nim know about your condition?"
"No. And she must not know. At least not yet. I will tell her when the time is right." He smiled softly. "In light of what has happened recently, it is entirely possible that Nim was not completely responsible for the so called catastrophes that she believes she created. My weakened powers may have had quite a bit to do with them as well."
"She will be relieved to hear that. She thinks she cannot do anything right."
"But as I said, I will tell her at the appropriate time."
"I realize that, Sir. I do have a request, though."
"If I can grant it, I will."
"I want to stay here as long as possible. I want to be the last person to leave the Island."
"I was hoping you would say that. As the time draws nearer, I will need someone I can depend on and trust implicitly. You are the one I want with me. I must warn you, though. It will not be easy. Or pleasant."
"I still want to stay."
"Thank you, Lawrence. In that case, we might as well get started right away. There is much to do and not much time to do it."
"How much time, Sir?"
"Eight months. Perhaps a year. Give or take."
The next few months were extremely busy ones. Without being told or asked, Lawrence quietly assumed the duties of Island Administrator. That left Roarke free to spend all his time with Nim. He did so with a passion that bordered on obsession.
Nim came storming into the living room of the Main House. She nearly knocked Lawrence down. Her green eyes were blazing, and the valet could almost smell the fire and brimstone coming from her.
"That's it!" She fumed. "I've had it with Mister Do-It-Again-And-This-Time-Do-It-Right-High-And-Mighty-Flippin'-Roarke!" I came here to learn, but this is bloody ridiculous! He has pushed me ten paces too far this time! Night and day, that's all he thinks about. Study ... Study ... Study. Work ... Work ... Work. I've no even had a bloomin' day off since I came to this Island. All I wanted to do was to take the mornin' off and go for a wee swim in the lagoon. One freakin' morning! That's all I asked for! But NO! HIMSELF forbids it! 'No flamin' time for such blinkin' foolishness.' He tells me. 'Get back to your studies' He orders. He's a slave driver, he is, but I've got a news flash for his royal haughtiness. I'm his apprentice, no his slave. And I'm gonna tell him so. Right now!"
She stomped into Roarke's office, slamming the door after her hard enough to rattle the frame.
Lawrence listened at the door, but he really did not have to. Nim's voice could probably be heard across the street.
"MR. ROARKE! I've got a few things to say to you! You're nothing more than a petty, tin plated, swell headed despot, with a heart made of unpolished granite and surrounded by week old mule dung! And that's just for openers!"
Roarke said something to her, but Lawrence could not make out what it was. Suddenly the office became very quiet.
A while later, Nim came out. Her face was ashen and she was shaking visibly. Lines of tears streaked her face and her eyes were puffy and red. She threw her arms around Lawrence and hugged him tightly. "He's dying." She sobbed, tears again freely flowing down her cheeks. "He told me he has only a few months to live." There was another round of deep sobs. "And here I've been acting like some empty headed silly little twit. I feel so foolish. If I could do it, I'd shrink meself down to nothin' and just blow away." She began to sob again.
"Go ahead, Miss Nim. Let it all out. You'll feel much better after a good cry." Lawrence held her tightly and gently stroked her auburn hair.
"Cryin' will no change anything, Mr. Lawrence. I've got so much to learn and so very little time to learn it in. And I canna' do it without him to help me."
Lawrence gently led her to the library. "Do you remember when you made it rain, and then you could not get it to stop?"
"You asked Mr. Roarke for help and he refused you. You were angry and frustrated that he seemed to abandon you when you needed his help the most."
"But that was different."
"Not really. You found the answers you needed on your own. Do you still remember the incantation to stop the rain?"
"Of course I do. I'll ne'er forget it."
"That's what I'm talking about. You will never forget it because Mr. Roarke did not give it to you. You found it by yourself. That is what you must continue to do. You must continue to find your own answers. If you can do that, then Mr. Roarke will have taught you well."
"And that is the greatest lesson you must learn." Roarke was standing in the doorway. "If I could live for a million years, I could not teach you everything there is to know. And even if I could, you could not possibly learn it all. Not if you lived for a million years. But if I can teach you to find your own answers, and to act wisely on that knowledge, then I shall have been successful beyond my highest expectations. And you will have truly learned all there is to learn. And now, if you will excuse us." Roarke said, motioning Nim to follow him to the library. "We have some studying to do."
The next few months both dragged and flew by. The resort had been closed for some time, and its buildings, as well as most of the other structures on the Island were already showing signs of falling into disrepair. There was no use repairing them. Not for the short time left. Even if they could be repaired, there was no one left to do the work. The exodus of the inhabitants grew almost geometrically each day until now the Island was nearly deserted.
During this time, Roarke and Lawrence were nearly inseparable. Where Roarke was, Lawrence was not far behind. It upset and frustrated the assistant to see his employer and friend's condition deteriorate until even the simplest of tasks were difficult and painful.
True to Roarke's predictions, as he grew weaker, the disasters became more frequent and more severe. Landslides, earthquakes, fires, floods, and tidal waves battered the Island until it bore little resemblance to the lush and verdant tropical paradise it had been only a year earlier.
Nim too, remained on the Island. Although Roarke and Lawrence had talked and argued with her persistently, she stubbornly refused to leave. "If I leave, who'll make your high tea?" Was her primary line of reasoning. Finally, they gave up and accepted her decision.
Shortly after she found out about Roarke's condition, she started the custom of bringing Lawrence and Roarke a pot of tea and a plate of pastries promptly at 4 every afternoon. After the cook had left, she would make them herself. "It's no right that proper gentlemen like yourselves should be without their spot of afternoon tea." She rationalized. 'Afternoon Tea' soon became the highlight of their days.
It was morning. Lawrence awoke with a start. He had overslept! That never happened! He quickly completed his morning duties and hurried downstairs to Roarke's room. Several months ago, he and Nim had converted the study into a bedroom when the stairs had become a major obstacle for Roarke. Since he was barely able to do it himself, Lawrence had taken on the chore of bathing and dressing him. Then he would gently lift his employer's frail, nearly emaciated body into the wheelchair. He would push him to the dining room and begin to prepare breakfast.
As he came into the hallway, he stopped. He stared out of the window beside the front door. Something was not right! This day was not like the days had been lately. There had been nothing but dark and overcast weather for nearly a solid month. As though they knew what was coming, almost all of the wild creatures had deserted the Island months before. Today the sun was shining! The birds were singing! The Island was once more luxurious and green. The scent of flowers was in the air and in the distance, a dog was barking. As near as Lawrence could remember, the last dog had left the Island with its owners over two weeks ago.
He went to the bedroom. Roarke was not there! That was impossible! Roarke could barely lift his head, let alone get out of bed and leave the room! Puzzled, he began frantically searching the adjoining rooms. He found Roarke sitting behind the desk in his office. This was not the same Roarke he had helped to bed the night before! This man was young and vibrant and completely healthy!
"My Stars, Sir!" He gasped. "What is happening!"
"I am as mystified as you are." Roarke said. His voice was authoritative and clear. "Yesterday, I was old and infirm. On the brink of death. This morning when I awoke, I was as you see me now."
"Perhaps it is a remission of some sort. Or perhaps some kind of a miracle. All I can say is that I am delighted to see that you are well again. Perhaps now you will live for another thousand years."
He shook his head slowly. "While I have no explanation for what has happened, I do know that there has been no remission ... or miracle involved. As much as I would like to believe that you are correct, my head and my heart are telling me an entirely different story. As best as I can determine, my life is now measured not in years, or even days, but in mere hours."
"I know what happened ... " Nim said from the doorway. " ... Because I made it happen. Tis no fair what is happenin' to you. You are a good and generous person and you have brought so much happiness in the grantin' of other peoples fantasies. It's no right that you should die old and sick and amid destruction and chaos. So, I decided to give you a bit of a fantasy of your own. I took a wee bit o' me own life force and borrowed a teeny bit from Mr. Lawrence while he was sleepin' ... That is, if he dinna object to that ... "
Lawrence grinned broadly. "Not a bit. Is that why I overslept?"
Nim nodded. " ... And I created this. Tis mostly illusion and only a temporary one at that, but it will seem real enough. This IS Fantasy Island, after all. I hope you like it. Tis me farewell present to you." She went to Roarke and kissed him gently on the forehead.
Roarke returned the kiss. "I like it very much, Nimuae. It's a most beautiful present." He took a chain from around his neck and placed it around hers. "It is an Ankh. The ancient symbol of eternal life. One of my ancestors received it from the Pharaoh Snefru of the third dynasty. He was the father of Cheops, who built the Great Pyramids. It has been passed from generation to generation ever since. My father gave it to me just before he died. His father gave it to him. And so on. Now, I am giving it to you. May you wear it as long as I have, and pass it to your descendants."
"I will." The tears were building behind her eyes. "And I'll no be forgettin' you. Ever."
"Nor I, you. It is time for you to find your own place in this world. It is extremely rare that a new site comes into existence, but you have the opportunity to make that happen. Make it a very special location. Carry on the work that your Great Uncle Seamus and I, and all those who came before us, have started. It is a great and noble responsibility, but I know that you can do it."
"I will, Sir." She wiped away the tears that were now running unabashedly down her cheeks.
"Lawrence. I want you to stay with her."
"Me? I beg your pardon, Sir, but a girl ... that is, a woman ... in today's culture would have little need for a gentleman's gentleman."
"Nim has learned much since she has been on Fantasy Island, but there is still much that she has to learn. She has the light of greatness burning within her. She still has many rough edges, though. She needs someone to help her polish those edges so that the light which is in her soul can shine forth. I can think of no person who would be better qualified help her accomplish that task than you are."
"Thank you, sir. I shall strive to do my very best."
"All you have to do is exactly what you have been doing here on Fantasy Island. You have helped her tremendously while she has been here. And you have helped me as well. I don't know what I would have done if you had not been here. Especially during these past months."
"Thank you, Sir. I have tried."
"And you have succeeded."
Roarke's face turned solemn. "Now you must go quickly. Time is very short. There is a plane at the dock. The pilot has orders to wait one hour. No more. No less. Then he is to leave here and never return."
Nim threw her arms around Roarke. "I'll make you proud of me! I promise!" She sobbed.
"You already have." He kissed her once more. A soft, lingering kiss on the cheek.
He held his hand to his assistant. "Good bye, Lawrence. Take good care of Nimuae."
Lawrence started to take Roarke's hand, and then, totally out of character, pulled him to his chest and embraced him. As they parted, tears were streaming unchecked down the valet's face. "Good bye, Sir." He said, his voice cracking.
Lawrence and Nim gave their luggage to the stewardess and took their seats. There were only a few passengers on this flight. Only those who were absolutely needed, such as security and emergency personnel, had stayed on the Island until the last minute.
They had only a few bags apiece. Most of their belongings, as well as almost everything of any value from the Island had been catalogued, packed and shipped to a warehouse on the mainland weeks ago.
The seaplane taxied from the dock and into open water. The pilot revved the engines and began the run to become airborne. As soon as they were aloft, Lawrence went to the pilot's cabin. "Could you circle the Island one last time?" He asked.
"I'm sorry, sir." The pilot replied. "I can not do as you ask. My orders are very explicit. I am to fly directly to the mainland. No stops. No detours."
"CIRCLE ... THE ... ISLAND!" Nim commanded from behind her companion.
But ... I ... "
"Circle." She repeated, softly this time.
The pilot stared at Lawrence and Nim for a few seconds, and then gently banked the plane in a wide arc. Below them, Fantasy Island seemed to be bathed in a surreal and beautiful light.
Lawrence looked questioningly at Nim.
She shook her head. "Tis no me doin' that."
As they circled, the Island appeared to shimmer and dance on the water. It seemed to glow and become translucent, almost transparent, and then it slowly faded from sight. Soon there was nothing but open water as far as the eye could see. Lawrence looked at the other passengers. If they noticed anything unusual, they weren't showing it. Apparently, only he and Nim were privileged to observe whatever was happening below them.
The plane completed its circle and headed for the mainland. A voice, Roarke's, came from nowhere and everywhere at the same time.
"My friends. Greetings from Fantasy Island. I am Mr. Roarke. Your host."
Nim stood next to Lawrence at the entrance gate as the limousine pulled up. They watched as a man got out. He was in his early fifties, tall and handsome, with curly black hair streaked with gray at the temples.
"His name is Ricardo Montalban." Nim explained. "He is a movie and TV star. He thinks he is here to shoot a series of promotional ads for the theme park. He, like most of the customers here, does not know about the exclusive area of the park. The place that is reserved for only a certain few of our very special guests."
There was another segment of the amusement park beside the ones that were available to the general public. It lay behind the seemingly solid hillside at the edge of the property. It wasn't on any map of the area, and it was not visible from the air. It was almost as if it didn't exist.
"I have discovered that he has long been fascinated by what he believes are the stories and legends of Fantasy Island. One of his fondest dreams is to portray Roarke on the big screen or in a TV series.
I hope I can pull this off. Twill no be an easy one. There are a lot of things that must come together at just the right time to make it work, but I think I can do it. I owe it to him to at least try, Lawrence. Twould be a fittin' memorial."
She studied the actor closely for a few minutes. "You know, he even looks a wee bit like him."
She walked over to him. "Welcome to the Land Of Make Believe, Mr. Montalban." She said, extending her hand in greeting. "Where all of your wishes come true. I am Nimuae Wilde, your hostess."
Or the beginning?