Just a little vignette on how Mary and Judas might have interacted upon FIRST meeting one another. An explanation of sorts for how they knew each other from dreams.

He drifted, somewhere between conciousness and unconciousness, a vague shadow within his own mind. It was the only way he could bear the pain, the only way he could withstand the isolation of his reality. He wanted to scream his rage and pain to the heavens, find some way to assuage the unceasing, agonizing flame of hunger that beat within his body like a hammer. Oh God, GOD, WHYcouldn't he die?

Rage flared within what was left of his soul. NO! He would not call to HIM! It was His fault that he suffered like this in the first place! His fault he was cursed for all eternity… Bitterness ate at him. No, He would not care what happened to him, he had never cared…


He drifted back to awareness again, against his will. He did not want to face the reality of his situation again. He tried forcing himself back into the dark void of oblivion, but something was calling to him.

There. He heard-no-felt it again. A strange tug inside his spirit. He focused his mind and will, trying to identify the feeling, but he could not. The effort left him exhausted and, unwillingly this time, he felt himself slipping into the darkness.

Mary looked around herself. Everything was all foggy, like the day when Mommy and Daddy had taken her out early to the country and the fog had covered everything up. It had scared her with the way it had made everything look spooky and ghost-like. However, strangely enough, she was not scared now. Mary was concerned. She could hear someone crying. It was what brought her here (wherever here was) in the first place. They sounded scared…alone too. Mary felt sorry for whoever it was. She knew everything would be OK, although she wasn't sure how, but maybe they didn't. Maybe they felt lost and scared, like she had that day in the country.

She padded forward on silent feet, looking around her, trying to find the person who sounded so sad. It was starting to make Mary want to cry as well. Suddenly, the mists seemed to thin out a little ahead of her and Mary hurried forward. The sound of crying was louder there.

Up ahead, Mary saw a grown-up, a man, hunched over with his hands over his eyes, crying so sadly that Mary's eyes filled up with tears as well. She came up slowly behind him. Mary remembered when her puppy Bran had died, she had cried just like that. Had this man's puppy died? Was that what he was kneeling over? Was that why he was so sad? Mary reached his side and hesitated a moment

Mommy had always warned her about talking to strangers and Mary had always done what her mother said. Strangers had always scared her a little anyways. But this one didn't seem like a stranger. He felt familiar to her. Maybe, if she saw his face, she would remember who he was.

The pain, the loneliness and the sorrow were overwhelming him. He could only cry out his despair. He was a shadow, dead to all, unseen and unheard by everyone, even God. He knew not where he was, it didn't matter anymore. He could never escape, never find peace. He covered his eyes as he rocked back and forth, moaning in despair. He suddenly stiffened in shock as he felt a small hand lay itself on his shoulder. He dropped his hands and turned to stare wide-eyed at the small, ghost-like apparition before him. The girl child was tiny, no more than five or six, with large, dark eyes set in a small, heart-shaped face. Her long, dark hair was pulled back into a neat braid.

Adding to her otherworldly (angelic?) appearance was the long, white nightrail she wore. He was stunned speechless. What was she? He had not seen another creature in so long. He was unsure why his mind would have conjured a child, but she did remind him of someone…

Mary stared back into the eyes of the man, unsure what to do now. He was staring at her with his mouth hanging open and Mary had the sudden urge to laugh at his funny expression. Completely unafraid, she cocked her head to the side and asked softly, "Are you OK?"

The soft voice and obviously sincere question threw him even further off guard. Where had she come from? He closed his eyes briefly, wondering if she would disappear. He opened them. She was still there, her little head tilted and her wide, expressive eyes staring at him without even the slightest hint of fear. It was that which struck him most. He had grown used to eyes that viewed him with fear, lust, contempt…all the baser emotions a human could feel. But she only looked sad…and curious. It gave him the strangest sensation. If only he could remember who she reminded him of…

Suddenly he felt a small finger poke at his shoulder and he focused his attention back on the child to notice she was looking him over quite intently.

"You feel real and you look pretty real. Are you a real person?" she looked up at him quite ingeniously as she asked.

Taken aback by her question, he could think of no answer. Was he real? Sometimes he wasn't even sure anymore. I really don't know if I'm real anymore or not.

"Oh, so was that why you were crying, because you didn't know if you were real?" she asked quietly, eyes dark and somber.

He looked at the small creature before him, only then realizing that he had spoken aloud. With a small, self-deprecating smile, he answered, "I suppose that's as good a reason as any I have."

She frowned, seeming to mull his answer over. She finally seemed to accept his answer by whatever reasoning such fey creatures used and then abruptly changed the subject.

"So, do you know where we are?"

Hell was his first thought but he decided that might not be appropriate to throw at one so young. After all, what could such an innocent know about such things? Oddly enough, he had a strange desire to keep this small one from knowing of such evil. Of things like himself. He couldn't explain it. After an endless eternity steeped in the black pit of depravity, it should have mattered not at all…except it did. He did not want her beautiful, innocent eyes to change, to see him as all others, including himself, did. He had a sudden and deeply felt yearning for her to continue to look at him through fearless eyes.

Sinking back on his haunches, he tried to appear as non-threatening as possible.

"Where do you think we are?"

He watched as she gave the question her full attention, scrunching up her little brow and chewing her bottom lip with fierce concentration as she pondered. She stepped back a bit and circled slowly around, looking at everything about her until she was finally facing him once more.

Her face abruptly lost it's look of concentration as she suddenly smiled, the light of understanding shining in her dark eyes.

Observing her look, he was hit with a sudden flashback. A small girl, in a rough shift and sandals, running down a dirt path, eyes alight and dark hair flying out behind her as he bent down to catch her as she jumped…

As quickly as it came, the vision left and he was again back with the white gowned cherub.

"I know where we are. We're in limbo." She stated, as if it was the most logical thing in the world.

"Limbo." He repeated stupidly.

"You know…limbo. The place where souls who aren't ready to be anywhere go. My mother told me all about it the other day when Nana Jean died. Only…," she cast a frowning look around once more, "only I thought limbo would have a lot more people in it than this."

He smiled faintly at that, "Perhaps everyone gets their own private part of Limbo."

She appeared to mull that over a moment then, with a short, sharp nod of her head, to agree with the idea. Then, with utter ingeniousness, she came over to his side, plopped down beside him on whatever it was that passed for ground, and clasped her tiny arms around her updrawn knees.

Tipping her head back, she addressed him, "So, what are we going to do?"

The complete oddness of the conversation was becoming somewhat surreal to him, "What do you mean, 'what are we going to do?'"

She gave an exasperated sigh, "I mean, what are we going to do while we're here? Do we just sit here? Can we play a game? Or try to find the door out?" She turned her little face up to him, a look of eager expectation lighting her features like a candle…and then it hit him. Quite like the proverbial lightening bolt, actually. He remembered who she was.

His beloved niece, Adah, daughter of his only sister, Hadassah. Just so had Adah always looked to him when he had come to visit, expecting a game or story or surprise of some sort. And he had always had one for her, his favorite, his pet among all his other many nieces and nephews.

He remembered also the pain he had felt upon learning of her death, when she had been not much older than this replica before him, of a fever that had swept with vengeance through the village where they had lived.

He clenched his eyes shut at the thought, willing the painful memory to subside. He had not thought of Adah, of his family or that time for many long years.

He opened his eyes to find the small Adah lookalike peering up at him with a slightly irritated expression on her mobile little face. Could it be that his mind had, in the depths of his extremity, called forth a familiar image of warmth and comfort as a last ditch effort at maintaining his sanity?

If so, then he would not argue the logic (however skewed) for the moment. It was diverting his mind from its more stressful problems.

"I know what!"

He was shocked out of his contemplation by the small, exited voice and even more so as the child surged to her feet and started tugging at one of his hands, pulling with all her small might to get him onto his feet.

He acquiesced to her determined effort to get him up. When he had gained his footing he looked down at the small sprite all but dancing in anticipation around him. He could not help but smile at the exited look on her face.

"Alright, small one, what is your will for us?"

"I want to see how big this place is," she stated unceremoniously, "so-oo, that means we need to walk around and see if we can find any walls or anything." She looked around a moment, quite unconsciously taking his hand and swinging it slightly back and forth. He couldn't quite describe the sensation that this gave him. Rather like pouring warm oil on tense and overworked muscles. It was very soothing.

Looking around once more, she seemed to come to some internal decision and began to walk to her left, tugging a little upon him to make sure he followed. She needn't have bothered. He realized quite suddenly that he very much wanted to keep her within his sight. She had somehow managed to stem the tide of his despair, pushing the demons of his mind to the side for a few precious moments while he basked in her childlike simplicity and trust. It was a wondrous and precious gift and he couldn't bear the thought of letting it go.

Smiling down at the child, he said simply, "Wherever you want to go, I will be happy to follow."

She beamed back at him and the man and child walked together into the misty distance.

They had ambled along, who knows how long. They had talked about things, the child delighting in the serious consideration an adult was giving her conversation and the adult only too happy to have another, child or not, with which to converse. Whether she was a figment of his imagination or not (and he was beginning to wonder) he was still only to grateful for the companionship and was quite satisfied to converse on whatever level she wanted.

Suddenly, the child stopped walking and cocked her head, as if listening.

"Did you hear that?" she asked, looking up at him curiously.

"Hear what," he inquired, a faint sense of uneasiness beginning to seep into his calm.

Even as he asked the question, he heard, as if it were the gentle soughing of the wind, a voice whispering one word.

"Mary," the voice wind sighed.

The child looked up, her dark eyes alight, "Mommy?" she breathed.

The man felt his heart clench painfully at the hopeful little look on her face as she whispered that one word.

No! She was his! He would not give her up!

But the voice was growing louder, more insistent and the child looked up at him sorrowfully.

"My mommy's calling me. I think I have to go."

He clutched convulsively at the small hand still in his. He couldn't let her go. He would lose himself again, drown in despair and helplessness. No. He couldn't, wouldn't go back to that.

She looked at the man holding so tight to her hand. She had to go back to her mommy; she could hear her calling. But at the same time, she felt horribly bad at the thought of leaving the sad man here all alone before they found a way out. He was staring over her and he looked very scared. She tugged on his hand, trying to get his attention. It took a couple of tries and a really hard tug before he seemed to come back to life and then he looked down at her. Mary wanted to cry at the expression on his face.

"Maybe I can come back later and we can look again," she offered soberly.

He tried to smile but couldn't as he sank onto his knees in front of her. She was regarding him seriously, her large, dark eyes looking as if any minute she might burst out crying. Although he felt rather like it himself, he found he couldn't bear the thought of causing her to cry.

He found the strength to smile, "Perhaps you can, but, in the meantime, I'll keep looking myself. Who knows? I may actually find it. And if I do, I'll be sure to leave you a sign so you can find it too and won't get stuck here if you come back. Then, maybe, we'll meet again."

She looked at him steadily for a moment and then smiled, tremulously, "I'd like that." She then did something quite unexpected. She flung her small arms around his neck, squeezing him fiercely. He stiffened momentarily in shock and then slowly, hesitantly, returned the embrace, closing his eyes against the sudden wash of tears that threatened to break free. He felt her let go and forced himself, slowly, to release her. She stepped back and turned to the sound of the voice and, as quickly as that, vanished from sight.

Mary woke slowly, the sun shining bright in her face, to see her mother's smiling face bent over her.

"Good morning, sleepyhead. Has my little dreamer been having pleasant dreams?"

Mary felt as if there was something very important in her dreams she wanted to tell her mother about, but, as her mother helped her up and they walked to the kitchen and her mother began to fix breakfast, she forgot what it was.

But she couldn't seem to shake the feeling of sadness that stayed with her for quite some time.