Dating An Urban Legend
(The Tale of Jonathon and Danielle)
By Thomas Mc

Authors Note : This is a 'New Millennium' story and is a sequel to Alexander. It centers around the relationship between Danielle and Jonathon.

Chapter1 : Urban Legend

January 2067

Shania Clemmons shook her head in exasperation. "Dee Dee, you are so . . . so . . ."

"Rational?" Danielle Duke threw out helpfully.

". . . closed minded." Shania huffed in exasperation over this latest round of their continuing debate. "How can you be so totally positive that it isn't real?" She questioned her stubborn friend

"Oh, Nia, be reasonable. The whole idea is so preposterous. A creature that is half lion and half man? That kind of thing went out with the ancient Greeks and Romans. Next thing you'll be trying to convince me that centaurs are real, too." Danielle gazed back at her friend shaking her head.

"Wait a minute. What do you mean?" Pamela Ramsey looked over at Danielle feigning extreme surprise. "Everyone knows that centaurs are real." She stated with mock severity. "Why my second cousin's mother's brother's best friend actually talked to a few of them in the forests of Connecticut last summer."

Danielle reacted by throwing the pillow she had been laying on at Pamela. "Pam, you're hopeless." All three girls broke out in giggles. Pamela threw the pillow back at Danielle, who caught it and placed it back under herself. Danielle sometimes worried about this Central Park Creature fixation of Shania's. It had all started right after her parent's divorce three years ago. Danielle suspected that maybe it was her need to believe in the impossible.

"I don't care what you say; lots of people have seen it. What about all those college kids that saw it near Belvedere Castle back in the early 40's? And Tracy Porter swears she saw it last spring over by the Central Park Carousel, close to the same place it was supposed to have been seen by a park cop in 1965." Shania waved haphazardly towards her bulletin board where she had collected copies of old newspaper articles.

"Come on Nia, think about it." Danielle responded, trying to sound reasonable. "Those stories have been around for decades. That 1965 report of the creature would make it over a hundred years old by now."

Shania continued stubbornly. "Well, Tracy says that it chased Ricky off and then it even spoke to her, telling her that she could do better than that creep."

"Oh good grief, it was late at night and Tracy was probably just seeing a trick of the shadows. Ricky claims it never happened." Danielle paused.

Pamela jumped in. "Tracy says it was a full moon that night. And Ricky is just trying to cover his butt. He doesn't want to admit what a coward he was, running off and leaving Tracy alone like that. Besides how can you believe a sleaze-ball loser like Ricky, especially after what he did just a week later to Judy. I mean he raped her." Pamela gave a curt nod of her head to emphasize her point. "Personally, I wouldn't believe Ricky if he told me the sky was blue."

Danielle shook her head. "Forget Ricky. Why would the Creature of Central Park be giving dating advice to Tracy?"

"Somebody needed to." Pamela threw in.

Danielle glared at Pamela and continued. "And it's a good bet that those college kids had probably been partying and were all half drunk by the time they claimed to have seen it." She waved towards the same board of clippings. "Most of those stories you have saved came from the same tabloids that claim that Elvis is still alive and living with aliens."

"Not all of them are tabloids." Shania objected.

Danielle was again shaking her head. "Come on, Nia, think about it. Central Park may be big but it's not that big. Where did it come from? Where does it disappear to? How come no one's ever been able to find it, capture it . . . photograph it?" She smiled. "In fact, the only Creature they've ever found, was that poor kid in the Halloween costume that got himself shot by some idiot with a trank gun." She eyed her friend. "Face it, something like a lion-man just couldn't possibly exist. It's biologically impossible. The Central Park Creature is just another silly urban myth." She finished authoritatively.

"I still say that it's real." Shania finished stubbornly. "Pam, back me up. You believe don't you?"

Pamela held up her hands. "Hey, leave me out of this. I can't say one way or the other." She shrugged. "I have to wonder why no one has ever been able to at least get a picture of it by now. Even Bigfoot has appeared in pictures." She paused. "But I will also admit that I think Tracy did see something strange. She's just not the type to lie or make up stuff like that. And it's hard to totally discount that 1965 cop's report. And as for that incident near the castle twenty years ago . . . Drunk or not, a dozen people all saw the same thing. There is really no definitive proof either way." She looked at Danielle and a bit of mischief crept into her face. "Maybe it hides in Belvedere Castle and likes to ride the carousel at night."

"You're both hopeless." Danielle declared with a laugh.

Shania's mother poked her head into the room. "The big U.N. conference is about to start, girls. Don't you want to watch the President's opening address?"

"Aw mom, that's so boring." Shania whined, "It's just a lot of boring big shots making boring speeches."

"Well I want to see it." Danielle chided her friend. "This is a major historic moment. The whole world is coming together to finally get rid of those horrible terrorists." She smiled as she took on a wheedling tone. "Come on, Nia. It will put you in good with your political science teacher, maybe even help bring your grade up."

"I'll come watch it with you." Pamela remarked. "I think Jerry Carlton is cute and I know you think so too, Nia."

"He is the youngest man ever to be elected President." Danielle added.

"Oh, alright. Whatever." Shania capitulated.

Shania's mother gave Danielle a slight nod of gratitude. Her daughter had been having trouble with some of her classes and could use all the help she could get. The divorce had hit her daughter pretty hard and it had affected her grades. Even three years later, she still wasn't over it. The woman stepped back as the three girls came out of her daughter's room.

The video showed a Middle Eastern looking man droning on in a foreign language. Shania rolled her eyes as she, Pamela and Danielle settled on the floor in front of the sofa. Her mother brought in a large platter of chips and dip as the middle eastern man stepped down. The commentator announced that the President of the United States was stepping up to the podium. The President hadn't gotten more than five words out when there was the sound of someone yelling in the background. The video announcer exclaimed, "OH MY GOD!" They all watched the video in stunned silence as the view swung down towards the center of the room and zoomed in on a figure standing up in the middle of the audience holding up some kind of device. All four stared wide eyed as a figure suddenly appeared, swinging in from the right side of the screen, collided with the screaming man and together they tumbled across the floor. They all clearly heard the words. "BOMB . . . EMPIRE STATE . . . RADIO TRIGGER!" They stared mesmerized as the two figures continued to struggle on the floor of the United Nations General Assembly. A third man ran up from the left and started shooting at the two struggling on the floor. Shania's mother put her hand to her mouth and shook her head in denial at what she was seeing. Then some security guards closed in and shot the man with the gun. There were more shots and the image jumped to a view of the podium where the President was being hustled out the far right exit. A man could be seen lying on the podium floor in a pool of blood and there were several people struggling on the floor just in front of the podium. The announcer cried out, "They've shot the President." The image on the video screen jumped again to a view of the center of the room as the camera zoomed in to a close-up of the figure they were currently loading onto a stretcher. They all gasped in surprise and amazement as the figure's unique leonine features became clearly visible along with the spreading blood stains across his chest.

"Oh my God, what is that?" Shania's mother asked in a half whisper.

"I don't believe it." Danielle exclaimed quietly to herself.

"It really is the Central Park Lion-Man." Pamela exclaimed in amazement.

Shania just stared at the screen incredulous, unable to speak. For all her protestations of belief, her fixation with the Creature of Central Park seemed to have done nothing to prepare her to accept the reality of it when she was finally confronted with undeniable proof. In short – she was stunned speechless.

They all watched as the camera followed the stretcher to the exit, keeping the creature in clear focus the whole time. The slowly spreading red stain on its chest above it's clawed furry hands and that lion like face made such a powerful yet pitiful image that it was hard to look away. Finally the small group with the stretcher disappeared through the doorway and the camera shifted back to the milling, half panicked crowd on the U.N. General Assembly floor.

Shania finally pulled herself out of her shocked state and looked at her friends, her eyes wide with the enormity of what they had just seen. She shook herself then a huge grin spread across her face. "I told you the Central Park Creature was real." Shania crowed in triumph.

Danielle shook her head, still trying to reconcile her upended world view. "But that can't be real. It's impossible."

"You saw it with your own eyes, DeeDee." Shania declared. She suddenly went from triumphant to sad. "Oh, DeeDee, they've killed the Central Park Creature and the President. This is terrible."

"No, the President was still alive and on his feet." Pamela contradicted her. "They showed him leaving the stage."

"But they killed the creature." Shania insisted.

"It doesn't make sense." Danielle was mumbling under her breath. "It's scientifically impossible to cross a lion with a human." Danielle looked at her friends. "There has to be some other explanation."

They all spent the rest of the evening watching the video for any scrap of information about what had happened. They were all relieved at the news that the President's injuries were minor. President Jerry Carlton was one of the most popular leaders in recent times. Soon they were hanging on every word that came out about the creature. Very late that evening it was announced that the creature was still alive. Shania was ecstatic. Danielle was happy but still having difficulty accepting that it was real. Pamela was worrying about what the government was going to do with it, if it lived. Danielle and Pamela spent the night over at their friend's house and they stayed up late talking about what had happened.

As soon they got up the next morning they immediately turned on the video. They were all very surprised when it was announced that there was a nuclear bomb planted at the top of the Empire State Building. Shania's mother turned pale and got a bad case of the shakes when the map displayed on the screen showed that their home was well within the projected blast zone. All of the news was about how the Creature of Central Park had appeared out of nowhere and saved the City of New York from the terrorist's nuclear bomb.

A short time later the media started reporting on an anonymous tip that the Department of Scientific Research was planning to take the creature to a secret government laboratory to dissect it. This really got Danielle agitated. Regardless of what that creature was, that was just plain wrong. Shania was nearly in tears over it. Pamela thought it was a terrible thing to do but she wasn't really surprised that the government would try it.

An hour later, Danielle was still fuming, a bit loudly, over the news of the government wanting to spirit the creature away, when the news cameras zoomed in on a small group that was moving through the crowd outside the hospital. There were two more of them!? Danielle was flabbergasted. Shania was stunned. Pamela thought it made sense. Then one woman in the group identified herself as the mother of the creature in the hospital and wife to one of the creatures in the small group. Impossible! Another very pretty, dark haired, girl, that couldn't be much older than Danielle or her friends, identified herself as the fiancé of the creature in the hospital. This was so unreal! The other creature in that group had snow white hair / mane? - and had its arm around the waist of a white headed woman. There were two other young women that were not identified.

The media cameras followed the small group all the way through the crowd and into the hospital. Just inside the hospital doors they could be seen being met by some unidentified woman and two police officers. After about a minute the entire group entered an elevator and were lost to view. The news commentators were soon full of wild speculation and debate about what it all meant. A couple of reporters were seen trying to get into the hospital and were turned away by the police.

"If there are three generations, as there appears to be, then there may be even more of them out there somewhere." Pamela remarked. "That explains how the reports could go back so many years. Did you hear that girls response about kids?"

Danielle looked up at her friends still puzzled. "That still doesn't explain where they have been hiding all this time." She shook her head. "There are at least three of them, possibly more, and yet no one has been able to produce any kind of proof of their existence until yesterday. How is that possible?"

Shania merely shrugged. She was still having some difficulty trying to deal with the reality of the creatures' existence. Danielle and Pamela who had never believed in the Central Park Creature were having far less difficulty accepting the reality that was being displayed there in front of them, even though it did leave them with several perplexing questions.

They were still discussing the matter twenty minutes later when the President's News conference started. They were all stunned when the scene switched to the hospital room and there next to the President and his family were all three of the creatures, big as life and so scary magnificent in close-up on the big video screen. All three girls nearly swooned when they clearly heard the creatures' voices for the first time. Then the camera shifted angles to get a better view of the entire group around the creature now identified as Alexander. Danielle gasped startled as she recognized the young girl that was hanging to the back of the room. "Nia, Pam! Look, over on the far right side of the screen. Isn't that Tracy Porter?"

~ ( BatB ) ~

It was just over two weeks after the U.N. incident and all everyone talked about was Alex-n-Alex (the media designation for Alexander and his fiancée Alexandra Holt). At Danielle's school Tracy Porter had become a minor celebrity because of her personal brushes with both, the creature Alexander, and the U.S. President. There was a lot of speculation about how many more of, what the media had dubbed, the leonine Wells-Chandlers there might be out there but it was still only speculation. Some other members of the family had been identified though and they all tended to be normal looking and well respected people. So far only four of the leonine males were positively known to exist, the three that had already been seen and there was supposed to be a younger brother to Alexander, named Jonathon, that no one had yet seen.

Then the new Brigit O'Donnell book about Catherine Chandler and Vincent hit the stands and was an instant best seller. Danielle read the entire, fairly long, book in about two and a half days. Shania read her copy in five days. Two more of the leonine males, Devin and Joseph, were identified and appeared publicly but, except for Alexander and his, as yet unseen, younger brother, they were all apparently married, much to the despair of teenage girls everywhere.

Everyone was trying to trace the family tree based on the information in the book, looking for more unknown leonine decedents of Vincent and Catherine. Semi-retired fashion supermodel Emily Hansen, revealed that she was married to Devin Chandler-Wells back in '37 and they both began appearing in public together. Emily refused to comment on her three mysterious sabbaticals but there was a lot of speculation in the media about the possibility of more unknown leonine children from her and Devin. Paulette Gibson and her husband Joseph Chandler-Wells came out into the open which made it obvious how her publishing house had gotten the book. Patricia Chandler-Wells published her paper on the Wells-Chandler genetic anomaly proving that beneath all the leonine trappings they were essentially still genetically human.

Rumors began to circulate about Alexander's younger brother and soon everyone wanted to know more about him but so far he had still not appeared in public. There was a resurgence of interest in every Beauty and the Beast story and movie ever done. Young girls began to dream of the possibilities of finding a 'Wells-Chandler' of their very own. Shania, Danielle and Pamela were no exception.

A month and a half later it was time for mid-terms and talk of the Wells-Chandlers gave way to panic and late night cram sessions. Danielle spent more time helping Shania cram for her tests than studying for her own. Pamela even stepped in a couple of times to help. Somehow, through Herculean effort, they managed to get Shania reasonably well prepared. Then the testing began and for a short time nothing else mattered.

Continued in Part 2

'Beauty and the Beast' and its characters are owned by Witt-Thomas Productions and Republic Pictures. No infringement on copyrights is intended. This story is presented merely for the enjoyment of fans. Original concepts and story elements may be used by other authors as long as appropriate credit is given.