It was a pleasant time of the year to be out and about. Farmers were hurriedly trying to get their harvests in before the first frost could come and kill everything. Good smells perfumed the air near and far. Dawn assisted the others when she had a spare moment. The children were reluctant to go to school and miss everything, but she assured them it wouldn't be long before they could have a break. The harvest festival was going to be soon, followed by Thanksgiving.
"I picked one too many apples this year," she admitted to Klaus, "you're going to be sick of them."
"Never," he said affectionately, "but I will need another notch on my belt if you do not stop feeding me."
He pinched the little roll hanging over his waistband. Though in good condition physically, he was definitely filling out. Never in his lifetime (or afterlife) had he eaten this good. Dawn's apple pies were a serious temptation. She'd been making them since she was a teenager and they had only gotten better with practice.
"I think I'll make some more—do you think they'll sell good at the festival?" she asked.
"You won't have extras for long," he confirmed.
They were riding past the town square where the tables were being set up. There would be music (some provided by her and a few others, of course), games, plenty of food for very cheap prices, and a lot of merriment. So far, there had been no more incidents and both Klaus and Dawn were beginning to relax the tiniest bit. She still made sure the children were inside before dark and she still checked on them multiple times a night.
"Do you ever miss it?" Klaus asked suddenly.
"Miss what?" Dawn asked, turning her horse to face him.
"Where you came from."
"No," she confessed, "not really. There are some things I miss, but the tradeoff was more than worth it. Convenience doesn't always make a happy person. In fact, life seemed like it was moving right on past without me. Why do you ask?"
"Curiosity," he admitted.
"Well, right now, all the college students would be getting ready to go on Thanksgiving Break," Dawn said, "I'd be packing my car up and wondering whether I was going to fight with Mom about something stupid. My relatives would come over and my aunt would be scolding me for hanging around in my pajamas instead of dressed and made up and so forth. I loved them, but they sure did get on my nerves."
She felt an odd pang. It was strange to think she'd never see her parents again. It was like they were dead…no, that wasn't right. She knew they hadn't even been born yet. She wondered vaguely if any of her ancestors lived here in Sleepy Hollow.
"Do you ever miss your family?" she asked.
"Sometimes. A little."
They continued down the road.
"We weren't very close," Klaus admitted, "my parents did not have a relationship like ours. They slept in separate rooms. They only tolerated each other for public appearances. Once I was old enough to be on my own, they openly hated each other and my father had several affairs. I did not live long enough to know whether he was proud of me or ashamed."
She squeezed his hand. They didn't talk about their pasts often, but the past spilled into the present occasionally. It was sometimes hard for Dawn on the holidays, but she reminded herself that she still had family here, a family she and Klaus had created with God's love.
An ear-splitting scream broke the silence. Without thinking, Dawn and Klaus both dug their heels in and the horses jumped into a gallop. They chased down the source as fast as they could.
A girl, probably around sixteen, was trapped against the side of a house. A white-skinned woman held her by the throat. The next scream was choked into a gurgle. Klaus unsheathed his sword and Dawn pulled the dagger out of her dress pocket.
"Let her go!" Klaus demanded. The woman released her grip on the frightened girl.
"Come here," Dawn told her. She struggled to the side of the horse and Dawn pulled her into the saddle with a little difficulty. The poor girl was gray in the face and sweating coldly.
"Who and what are you?" Dawn demanded as Klaus's blade lay against the creature's throat. She snarled.
"Your worst nightmare!"
She seized the end of Klaus's sword and ripped it out of his grasp. The scent of burnt flesh and smoke rose from her palm, but it had been a worthy sacrifice. Klaus leapt from his horse and seized the hilt just as the creature seized him. Dawn dropped to the ground.
"Get Ichabod and the others!" she yelled to the girl. Dawn saw her gallop away just as the creature bit deep into her shoulder. Klaus slashed at her with the sword, but it barely seemed to affect her. She tore a long gash in Dawn's flesh with her teeth. Dawn sank the dagger into her right breast, but it still hardly had any effect. The creature seized hold of her with one hand and grabbed Klaus with the other. There was a flash of light followed by a swirling darkness.
"Over here!" said the girl they'd saved. Several men on horseback and many more on foot rode behind the house, but there was nothing there save for a scrap of bloody material from Dawn's dress.
"Do you suppose they're still alive?"
"No…but we have to search for them anyway. Someone go to the Reverend and tell him we need prayers. Also, get the children from school and take them to the church. Perhaps whatever evil thing this is won't get them there."
Dawn landed roughly. The ground was hard enough as it was, but it felt a whole lot harder when Klaus's brawny frame slammed into her back.
"Sorry," he apologized. Then, they both slowly sat up.
"Where are we?" he asked, alarmed.
Dawn blinked once, twice, three times.
Klaus gently pressed her shoulder.
"Remember me telling you about that night? About the apartment? It's over there."
He looked up. A series of dilapidated buildings, tan-painted on top with red bricks on the bottom, lay just to their right. To their left was a large parking lot. Dawn stood and extended a hand to him.
"We're right in the middle of the road," she told him, "we need to move."
He was about to ask what the rush was, but she pulled him into the grass just in time. A small blue car whizzed by, churning up a lot of wind in its wake. The driver honked his horn noisily and Dawn resisted the urge to give him the finger.
"That's why," she said breathlessly.
"What year is this?" he asked.
"It was two-thousand ten when I left," she said, "I don't know how much time has passed since then. I left my keys in Sl-"
She trailed off. Her yellow car was parked in the parking space. She tested the door, concerned that it opened so easily. Her car was clean except for the keys still in the ignition. The dorm key was still there, so she must not have finished moving in yet. Cautiously, she took the keys up the stairs and unlocked the door. She expected to smell rotten food and garbage, but the place only had the smell of musty old building. She ran to the refrigerator and found all the food still fresh. She clicked the lights on. She saw her cell-phone laying on the coffee table and seized it.
May 12, 2010.
Klaus came in the door behind her and closed it.
"What is it?" he asked.
"It's like I've never left," she said, chilled to the bone, "everything's exactly the same."
She went to the bathroom and flipped the light on. The front of her dress was tight again, the unfortunate side effect of living on Ramen, pizza, and University food. This dress had fit perfectly when she'd been in Sleepy Hollow.
"What about our children?" Klaus asked darkly.
"I don't know. I don't know how any of this works," she said uneasily.