Hello all! I loved the TV show Miracles, and I was so saddened to see it cancelled. Therefore, I decided to try my hand at writing fan fiction. Please let me know what you think. Of course, I don't own the characters – I'm just having fun on someone else's dime. If I did own the characters, I would put them back on television. :)
Daylight filtered in through the musty screens shielding the windows of Office No. 29 housed on the second floor of 365 Midlothian Lane. Dust and particles kicked up by morning activity could be seen dancing in the shards of light. Papers parchments, folders, files, books, and the occasional artifacts were stacked high on the floor. They had been cleared off the worktable in the center of the room. Paul Callen and Alva Keel squared off, staring each other down from opposite ends of the table.
Paul squinted his eyes and lowered his brow. Across from him, Evelyn watched him intently. "Be careful, Paul," she said.
Without another word, Paul made his move. He picked up six square blocks from his wooden tray and set them down on the scrabble board with a flourish.
Alva arched his neck around the table to read, "Voodoo."
Evelyn let loose a high-pitched laugh and clapped her hands. "That's a good one," she said.
Paul kicked back in his chair and grinned impishly at Alva. "I thought you might like that."
Alva studied the board, stroking his chin with his hand. In no time at all, he used the second "O" in Voodoo and placed down a word. Paul and Evelyn shared a surprised glance at his unnatural speed, and they both leaned in to read the word.
Evelyn screwed up her face and sounded out, "Ooo..Ougui…"
"Ouguiya," Alva announced.
Paul stared up at Alva asking, "What's an ouguiya?"
"An ouguiya," Alva said, "is the basic unit of currency in Mauritania."
Paul arched an eyebrow. "Mauritania?"
"A small country in the west of Africa," Alva explained. The way Alva spoke always left Paul feeling like a learning-disabled student who Alva deeply believed one day might have great potential. "Mauritania is famous to paranormal enthusiasts for its large, prominent circular feature in the Sahara Desert that has attracted attention since the earliest space missions. The circle forms a conspicuous bulls-eye in the otherwise rather featureless desert. It is thirty-feet in diameter and has been ruled out to be caused in the aftermath of a comet or meteorite." Alva let a small smile crack upon his serious face. "This natural phenomena is known to the Mauritanian natives as 'Narabui Tau Agcru'. Which in English means – the face of God."
Paul smirked. "Yeah, I'm not buying it. Challenge."
Alva waved forth his hand as if to say 'by all means'.
Evelyn reached behind herself for the Scrabble Dictionary and handed it to Paul. Paul took it and flipped through the pages. He stopped once he found the page he wanted and ran his finger down, murmuring the words. That is until he paused and expelled a heavy sigh. He looked to Alva, licked his lips, and read, "Ouguiya, the basic unit of currency in Mauritania. Also, the monetary equivalent of 5 Khoums." Paul tossed the book back onto the table with a slam.
Evelyn smiled and shook her head. "The dictionary doesn't lie." She picked up her tablet of paper and pen and marked down the points. "With the triple word score on the double letter score on the 'y', that gives Alva …" She did some adding and said, "Forty-five points."
Paul sighed again and ran his fingers through his head of dark hair. "Unbelievable."
Alva leaned in as if to share a secret. "Never challenge a man who has studied Latin for the past thirteen years to a game of Scrabble."
Paul smirked. "Yeah, I'll have to remember that."
Alva and Evelyn shared good-natured laughter at that, but stopped as the telephone shrilled loudly next to Alva. He rose from his chair and reached across the table to answer it. "Soladitas Querito, this is Alva Keel." He pursed his lips and glanced to Evelyn and then to Paul. "Mm-hmm…" He drew in a breath. "Mmmm… Yes. Yes, I see… And when did this occur?" He motioned for Evelyn to hand him the tablet of paper and pen, which she hurriedly provided.
Once he had the tablet in hand, Alva scribbled furiously onto the pad of paper. "Were there any witnesses? … Okay. And you have no idea how this transpired… No. No, I can understand that." He paused again, before saying, "Yes. We hold all our cases with the utmost sensitivity and discretion, especially where the press is involved. … Of course. Well, we certainly appreciate your generosity, given that we find some explanation for what might have occurred. … As soon as possible. Right… We'll call when we have the details of our arrival. Yes. Thank you."
Alva placed the phone back on its receiver, and Paul's smile disappeared from his face. "Who was that?" Paul asked.
"That," Alva said, "was the State of Georgia's Board of Mental Health. They are requesting our presence at one of their facilities in Ochlocknee."
The town sounded like another million-dollar-scrabble-word to Paul. "Where's that?"
"A small town outside of Atlanta," Alva said. "Known perhaps only for its mental health facilities."
Evelyn pursed her lips, crossed her arms and leaned against back against a file cabinet. "What happened to make them call us?"
"Patrick Lambert, one of their inmates, was convicted of killing his wife. He pleaded the insanity defense and was diagnosed as paranoid schizophrenic. He was being housed in their most secluded and safeguarded mental institutions before his very public trial."
"He was?" Paul echoed.
"He was," Alva answered. "Until his cell burst into flames this morning, leaving no trace of either him or his bed frame."
Evelyn frowned as she studied Alva's face. "Spontaneous combustion."
Alva nodded. "That would seem to be the most likely explanation for what has occurred. The problem with that is that it only gives us a name for what happened. It doesn't actually explain what caused Patrick Lambert and his cell to burst into flames."
Paul rested his chin in his hand. "Where there any witnesses?"
As he talked, Alva prepared his things, packing files and finding documentation to place in his briefcase. "Lambert had a cellmate named Linus Sykes. He apparently witnessed the entire thing."
"Is he all right?" Paul asked.
"That depends on how you define 'all right,'" Alva said. "He is after all in a mental institution."
Evelyn helped Alva pack as well and grabbed her purse. "What's his diagnosis?"
"They didn't say," Alva said. "Which is interesting enough, if you ask me. However, I'm sure we'll find out when we get there."
"When are we leaving?" Paul asked.
"As soon as we can," Alva repeated. "The sooner we can get to Georgia the better. This type of occurrence will certainly be well-documented by the national media as well as local and federal police."
Paul Callen frowned as he watched Alva's haste. Alva normally became enthused, even obsessed, when it came to experiencing and documenting the paranormal. It was what the man lived for, and as far as Paul could tell, it was what he did best. However, as Alva hurried about the office of Soladitas Querito, locating documents and feverishly searching through books and files, Paul couldn't help but notice how quickly the man was preparing to leave. More quickly than Paul could remember, at least since Matt had gone missing. Given their history, Paul had become adept at paying very close attention to any change in Alva's behavior. Alva wasn't one to explain his actions when they concerned Paul's safety, so it was up to Paul to make his own assessments. And currently, those assessments told Paul that there was something even more out of the ordinary than usual. In his experience, that was never a good thing for himself, Evelyn, or Alva, either.
Evelyn tossed her purse over her shoulder and said, "Well, I'll need to find a babysitter for Matt before I can even think about going."
Alva nodded. "That's fine," he said. "Just let us know if you'll be able to make the trip with us."
Evelyn returned the nod. "Okay, guys," she said. "I'm going to go pick the little guy up from school and see what I can do."
Paul squeezed Evelyn's shoulder as she walked by and Evelyn shared her smile with him. "See you later," Paul said. "Drive safe."
"Thanks," she said. "I'll see you soon." Before Evelyn left, she stared over her shoulder at Alva. Paul noticed the glance, and couldn't help but think that she also had noticed something strange in his behavior.
As Evelyn left the office, Paul blinked away and looked back to Alva. "What can I do to help?" he asked.
Alva remained focused on the task at hand. "I need you to get us three plane tickets to Atlanta. If at all possible, we should leave this evening."
Paul frowned. "You're certainly in a rush to leave."
Alva paused momentarily to share a glance with Paul. He blinked and stated, "Sometimes a single event can be more significant than it seems." With that short phrase, Alva went back to searching the office for any documentation that may help them with the case.
Paul raised his eyebrows, but decided to ask no further questions. Once Alva had everything he needed, Paul left the office and drove home to pack for the trip. Within the next few hours, Evelyn arranged for a relative to watch Matt over the next twenty-four hours, and Paul booked their flight for 7:45 p.m. out of Boston International Airport.