I'm sorry for all TWOL-fans, whom I promised a sequel. It's not going to be there; I tried rewriting it but it just didn't work out the way I wanted it to. I'm really sorry. Instead, though, I offer you a new, stand-alone one-shot, unrelated to any of my other HDM-stories or –one-shots. I hope you will like it!
DISCLAIMER: I don't own His Dark Materials. Nor do I own any of the characters Philip Pullman made. I made Sally myself, though.
Sally was steering the wheelchair to the place where she knew she had to be. There was something in her that made her know how to get there.
"I don't like this place… it's giving me the creeps." An old man who had little hair left was sitting in the wheelchair.
"Where am I? How did I get here?" Sally sighed. She put her calming voice on.
"I brought you here, sir." She said while still driving the wheelchair.
"Why?" He asked while his voice sounded all the more confused. She sighed. She had explained it a billion times to him on the way, but… it was the Alzheimer that affected his memory. She stopped the wheelchair and kneeled in front of him, touching his hands, trying to calm him. Then, she spoke.
"Because I had a dream, Mr. Parry."
Sally was a woman in her mid-twenties who had taken a job in the health business. She had loose, brown, curled hair and hazel eyes that were always a little sad – she had been through a lot in her life.
She had never known her father; her mother had a one night-stand with him with all the known consequences. She had never met him again.
Her mother had died, too, when Sally was only three years old, of an unknown disease – so she was raised by her grandparents. But, of course, grandparents die too and her grandmother had died in her twenties.
Only her grandfather was left, but his body was slowly succumbing to a different disease – not lethal, but all the more feared. Alzheimer.
Alzheimer is a disease some people – due to smoking or bad genes – can get. It involves forgetting more and more slowly and having no short-term memory; your long-term memory is going back slowly. For example, when you are demented for one year, you can remember everything up to your thirties, and when you are demented for two years, everything up to your twenties…
Sally's grandfather's memory got worse and worse and although Sally did everything in her power to stop it from spreading – she was eighteen then – there was nothing to do. But she got fascinated by the disease in a way and she tried everything she could to help him – but it didn't work. She kept on thinking of it as a failure.
Her grandfather was about to die now and Sally visited him very often, every single time it became more painful, more visible that her grandfather needed more efforts in remembering her, in remembering the things they had done together.
But Sally worked for everyone with Alzheimer; she had dedicated herself to helping everyone with the disease, to try to make up for her failure. She was a nurse in a hospital, different from her grandfather's, where she took care of the people there. Mr. Parry was one of them.
"You… had a dream?" His voice was slow, as if he was thinking about every word that was said.
"Yes. Isn't the weather lovely?" A common reaction Sally used was distracting the attention of the elderly. Their normal reaction was going on about that thing and forgetting the initial subject of the conversation.
"Yes, but… who are you?" Sally knew better than to sigh. Mr. Parry had had a troubled past and got Alzheimer because of bad genes.
"I'm… a good friend who's taking you out on a walk." She shouldn't have told him about the dream anyway.
Mr. Parry was someone, with his ninety-three years old one of the oldest ones in her department, with a major fantasy and he seemed to live in it. Most patients of Alzheimer do so, but he was even worse.
He was constantly talking about angels to the other elderly people, who all ignored him. Angels and where dead people go too – and how he was looking forward to it. He sometimes seemed to stroke an animal, and when people asked about it, he said it was a cat – the nurses said that it was a memory of the past, of a previous cat he had had.
There was even, in moments of weakness, a slip-up in which he mentioned the girl Lyra.
He never had had any visits from people he knew, apart from a visit from a young woman, Sarah Mallone, every Midsummer's Day. Sally had heard that he had had a wife, but she left him because of his eccentricity.
"If you're a good friend, why don't I remember you? Put me out of this wheelchair! You're trying to kidnap me!" Mr. Parry heavily rocked in his wheelchair and Sally stopped it immediately, to go down on her knees in front of him.
"Nice to meet you, sir. My name is Sally, what's your name?" Dumbfounded, the elderly man opened his mouth in confusion, unable to say anything for a while. Then, he replied with a smile.
"You're polite. I like that. Politeness has lost its place in this world. My name is William Parry, but you can call me Will." The policy of the hospital, though, demanded that Sally kept on saying Mr. Parry to Will. "Now, where are we going?" Sally stood up again and drove the wheelchair.
"To the place of my dream, Mr. Parry."
Oh, how true that was.
Lately, there had been odd dreams she had whenever she fell asleep. They always involved a place of which Sally just knew how to get there, without ever having seen it. The dreams came back so often that Sally could find the route to that place blindfolded, even though she had never walked it.
But the last dream was even more odd. It was the same place, but Mr. Parry was sitting on a rock in there. He looked at her in such a guilty fashion that she was shocked when she woke up.
Then, she knew what to do.
She wanted to get rid of the dreams, so she decided to go there with Mr. Parry. It was half an hour walking from her hospital, and back again; but she just took Mr. Parry away and said she was going to walk with him for a while. Before anyone could reply, they were already gone.
She didn't know what drove her to do this. She didn't know anything except for that she hoped the dreams would finally stop.
Mr. Parry gestured to a ghost and Sally knew that it was the memory of his deceased cat. Apparently he had had a very tight bond with her and couldn't forget her – so she was still in his memory. He was hallucinating the cat, but medicine against the hallucination didn't work, so the nurses just let him be. It seemed to be the only hallucination anyway.
The two of them walked on and Sally knew that they had to go to the right, so she drove the wheelchair that way. Mr. Parry started screaming again, afraid as he was that Sally was taking him away somewhere. She stopped the wheelchair again and sat down in front of him.
"Mr Parry… what's wrong?" His eyes were wide open, showing that he was afraid.
"You're kidnapping me, right? Let me go, let me go! Or I'll call the police!" Calmly, Sally looked at him. She had gone through this before.
"No, Mr. Parry, I'm not. I'm just taking you out on a walk. You need some fresh air. Mrs. Mallone knows you're here. Lyra knows it too." He had mentioned Mrs. Mallone multiple times, thinking she was alive. Unfortunately, she had passed away about thirty to forty years ago – she died of old age, but she had had a good life. Her granddaughter visited Mr. Parry every Midsummer's Day, taking him to the Botanic Garden – she was very closed to people and when Sally tried asking her why, she became furious and said it was none of her business. Since then, Sally had been staying far away from her.
Mentioning Mrs. Mallone was a good move, it seemed to calm him. But when she mentioned Lyra – someone Mr. Parry had mentioned in weak moments – he started screaming.
"How do you know about her?! Who told you that?! HOW CAN SHE KNOW I'M HERE?!" Sally tried to calm him by putting her hands on his arms and that worked – because of his very old age, he didn't have much power in his arms and she got the better of him quickly. After fifteen seconds, she introduced herself.
"Nice to meet you, sir. I'm Sally Longhorst." She offered him her hand as introduction. He immediately stopped screaming and started to smile.
"I like your politeness, Sally Longhorst. It's been a long time since anyone was so polite to me. I'm William Parry, but you can call me Will." He shook her hand enthusiastically.
Sally and Mr. Parry – and the cat he was hallucinating – walked on. Sally felt she was getting closer; she had been gone for over twenty minutes. She was afraid people were worrying about her and Mr. Parry.
Finally, they arrived. It was exactly as she had dreamed it was. It was in the middle of the woods. Two natural made roads crossed each other here; it was pure, there were almost no signs of civilisation. The hospital was so close to the park for a reason – health had become more nature-centred in her age and all the hospitals were obliged to be close to parks. It was an advantage for Sally.
She sat down and hoped something would happen; something told her it would. But it was silent for a long, long while between the two of them.
Then, Mr. Parry started talking. "Sally?"
"Yes?" She reacted automatically.
"Why am I here?" And she gave a short answer, not really paying attention to him; she was looking around for any signs. She refused to leave because she was counting on something to happen.
"Because I'm taking you out on a walk…" She was still paying attention to her environment.
"Good." And he didn't say anything anymore. Sally felt something had happened, she felt it deep within her. Something was wrong, something had changed. But why didn't she see it in her environment?
Then, the truth hit her hard.
"Why am I here?"
Mr. Parry had called her Sally. He remembered her first name. He had remembered something that happened just shortly ago, going straight against his illness.
Mr. Parry had changed.
"Mr. Parry…" she slowly moved her head and looked at him now, not looking away anymore.
"Yes?" He replied politely.
"Why did you call me Sally?" She was worried about him, why did he go straight against his illness? What was going wrong? Had it something to do with this strange place?
"You told me you were called that, didn't you?" She nodded slowly, not looking away even once.
"That's right." Mr. Parry looked away now and she saw a tear popping up in his left eye.
"Mary is dead… Mary Mallone… why did you die? Why do people die? And why am I still here, alive, wanting to die, but seemingly unable to? Why can I never meet Lyra?" This place was creeping Sally out. She moved away from him slowly and tripped over a rock. She fell down and landed on the floor, breathing heavily out of fear.
He was remembering. Nature had been known to cure diseases more easily, but no-one had ever overcome Alzheimer.
What was going on here?
"Tanja! Don't leave me! I know I'm eccentric, I know I seem sad… but I'm happy! I'm happy with you! I love you! Don't take away the kids, no… please…" He was hallucinating, ignoring the medicine he was given daily. He was hallucinating about events he had forgotten and while that happened sometimes, in bright moments, it never happened so vividly and hallucinations after each other were rare. Sally was convinced there was something with this place.
"No… no… I have Alzheimer… please, Sarah Mallone, don't bring me into this hospital… I'm not ill, I remember your name, right? No, please stop it… I know you care about me, but…" Another tear streamed down his face. "I know you're right… but I just don't want to accept that I'm forgetting…" And then, his face became red in anger.
"No! I don't want a wheelchair! I can walk just fine, really! I'm healthy! I can guarantee you that! Just look!" And in the middle of the hallucination, Mr. Parry seemed to have gotten the power in his hands back. He stood up, unravelling himself from the belt that was preventing him to.
Sally was too late to stop him. He was standing now, even walking a little bit. Sally ran, about to catch him… when she saw it wasn't necessary. He was able to walk.
He didn't need his wheelchair anymore; but she was certain he had needed it. After all, she remembered that one time he tried to stand up and then she was too late too – he just fell on the floor.
Because of all this, she hadn't noticed the golden light behind her. She hadn't noticed the third being in there. Someone whose face looked old and young, both at the same time. Someone with wings that made her able to fly.
It spoke up, startling Sally to no end.
I never should've gone here, she thought to herself.
"William Parry." Sally was too shocked to move and Mr. Parry walked on, still hallucinating. She sounded tender, sweet, calming. Immediately, he reacted, but he still walked on.
"Yes?" He slowly turned around, not stopping with walking, still partly living in his hallucination.
The being flew and caught up with Mr. Parry. She landed right in front of him and put her hands on his shoulders. This seemed to calm him.
"Yes?" And the being spoke up.
"I am Xaphania, leader of angels, the one who followed up Metatron. Do you remember me?" Slowly, he nodded.
"Yes…" He now sounded more sincere. Sally knew that he had left the hallucination and was in the real world.
If it was the real world and not some stupid dream or hallucination created by her.
"You have been clinging to life, Will." She sounded tender again. From the corner of her eye, Sally saw something moving, but she was unable to place it.
"You have been working all your life to make the Kingdom of Heaven bigger. You have been trying your hardest to fight for the ones you love. You made people love each other the best you could.
It was you who killed the Authority. Without you, we never could've won the war. Do you think I would've let that go unrewarded?" Astounded, Mr. Parry slowly moved his lips to speak up.
"No…" It was almost a breath, unable to be heard unless it was very silent. The birds, the trees, the wind, they had all been silent. As if they were holding their breaths.
The movement in the corner of her eye was getting stronger and stronger and finally, she was able to see it even when she looked straight at it.
It was a cat.
A black cat, but with shades of grey in it. A cat that was so beautifully black, with so many shades of grey, that it made Sally wonder why there were so little words for the colour of 'grey'. She tried stepping forward to touch it, but it jumped away.
Still, it wasn't that much of a reward. Reviving his dead cat? Was that all?
No, it wasn't.
She looked at Mr. Parry again and saw something that was even harder to explain. The wind had stopped being silent and now loudly roared through the trees. It seemed to make him younger.
The wrinkles from his face had inexplicably begun to disappear. He seemed to stand straighter.
Still, it stopped when he seemed about ten years younger. But then, something else happened. Reality seemed to warp itself this time.
You know how it looks like when you look at a magnifying glass? Everything seems bigger. It seemed as if a big magnifying glass was standing between the tree next to Sally and Sally herself. It seemed bigger and bigger until finally, it broke.
She looked through a hole in reality that looked exactly the same. There was a tree there too, but there was an old woman standing in between her and the other tree. She had dark-grey hair that showed she had been dark-blonde in the past. Wrinkles were all over her face, making her look sad and stubborn. But Sally saw that she was happy now.
It was hard to explain, but somehow Sally knew that it was from another world.
Mr. Parry had seen the woman too and avoided the angel to run in her arms, straight through the hole in reality – the woman started running as well and they ended up in each others arms. A pine marten was accompanying her and it ran to the beautiful black cat.
Sally almost fainted because of all this new information. Mr. Parry had been right all along. But she knew she couldn't faint.
The woman – Sally was almost sure this was the not-so-fictitious Lyra – and Mr. Parry both kept on getting younger as they were in a hug, standing straight in the hole of reality between the two worlds. She thought she was hallucinating and bit her arm to try to get back into the real world and out of this dream – but it was no dream.
The wrinkles from both their faces disappeared rapidly. Lyra had seen Sally and winked; it put her at ease somewhat. Whatever this was, it was real. It was communicating with her.
The grey hair disappeared and became more coloured. Hair seemed to jump out of Mr. Parry's head; it was black. It reached the point where they both seemed just as young as Sally and that was where she thought it would stop – but no, it continued. They both became even younger and Sally feared she would be looking after two infants soon – but it stopped when both reached the age of thirteen.
They finally stopped hugging, now both looking younger than Sally looked like. The angel, Xaphania, started talking.
"William Parry, Lyra Belacqua… you had both been clinging to life, despite knowing that it wouldn't help. You both grew this old because you didn't want to die, because despite better knowledge, you wanted to love each other alive.
Your wish has now been granted.
Will, you would die in a week if Sally hadn't brought you here." Sally winced at the sudden reference to her; she had gotten afraid of the angel. If someone had this much power in healing… that person could be just as powerful in killing, right?
"The Alzheimer got the better of you, but we are angels and we can cure a lot of things, although it requires a lot of energy.
Lyra, you would die somewhere around next month, probably; your mind healthy but your body weak. Now, you will live a second life that will last as long as your first one and we will take care of you when you died.
There is just one last thing… in what world do you want to live?" Mr. Parry – Sally corrected herself into calling him Will in his mind, since he was younger than she was now – and Lyra looked at each other for a short while. Will started talking.
"I've got nothing to live for here. My wife left me, she never let me see the kids and if I introduce myself to them, they'd be scared to death. Mary Mallone is dead." After a short while, Lyra replied.
"And I've got something to live for in my world? I built the Republic of Heaven, and I didn't get anything in return. I never had real friends, any boyfriends I had had just used me and I never made kids. No, I've got nothing to lose too, apart from you." It was silent for a short while before Mr. P-Will broke it.
"We go to the mulefa. We know they will take care of us, we will learn their language and they will learn ours. We could learn a lot from each other." Lyra nodded.
"A life with you and the mulefa would be paradise for me. We'd help them defend against their enemies and in turn, they would help us. Yes, Xaphania, bring us to the mulefa!" A smile beamed from the child-like face of Lyra. Xaphania smiled back.
"Your wish has been fulfilled." Sally had expected both of them to disappear with a poof, but instead, another hole in reality was created at another tree; and again, on the other side of the hole, it looked exactly the same and yet different. Will and Lyra looked at each other and then walked through the hole without hesitation.
Sally was still shaking with fear for the angel; she still lied down, too afraid to stand up after her fall over a rock. She had expected the angel to leave, but instead, she turned to her.
"Sally Longhorst. Stand up." Shaking with fear, she slowly stood up.
"W-w-what have I done? D-d-do I n-need to b-be killed f-f-for m-my sins?" Another smile appeared on the face of the angel, which looked a thousand years old and very young at the same time.
"No. In fact, I am grateful to you. If you hadn't come here, Will would've died. Lyra and Will would never have met again and I wouldn't be able to grant their wishes. I am grateful to you. Therefore, I grant you a wish." Sally's lower lip was shaking and she tried to smile – but she was too afraid to move even her mouth. But she knew she wasn't going to get killed; she slowly got over her fear.
"I guess peace on earth won't work?" She asked, slowly, not sure what to expect. The angel shook her head.
"War isn't something we are responsible of. If humanity wants peace, it is their responsibility. It are humans who created the concept of 'war'. We can't do anything about it. I'm sorry." She swallowed and knew what to ask.
"I have a grandfather…" the angel interrupted her.
"We can't give him the same treatment." Sally nodded quickly.
"I kind of figured that out, yeah. It's just that… the doctor predicted him to die in between a week or a month. He has Alzheimer, and…" The angel named Xaphania shook her head.
"We can't make him live any longer than his time. This was just a major exception." Sally got angry at the angel for interrupting her again and started shouting.
"NO! I know! I'm sorry for shouting, it's just… could you let the man keep some dignity and die with his memories? Let him shake off his Alzheimer, that's all I want you to do. Let him remember everything he has forgotten." The angel nodded with a smile.
"Visit him this evening. He will remember you, he will remember everything. No-one but you and he will remember his Alzheimer to prevent too much attention." Sally sighed, relieved.
"Thanks. Thanks a lot. Now, I'm going back, but… what do I tell people when Mr. P- Will will be gone?" Xaphania smiled again. It was a smile that revealed her wisdom.
"They'll think you were late because of a traffic jam. No-one will remember anything about Will." Sally was about to leave, but Xaphania stopped her one last time.
"One last thing… don't tell anyone about this. Anyone except for Sarah Mallone. I think you will be interested in the story behind all this. Ask her, ask her about the 'cat' you saw, and the 'pine marten'. Everything will become much clearer after that. You know her address, visit her this evening. She will know you'll be coming.
One last thank you, Sally. Thanks for being here. Without you, I wouldn't have been able to do this." She was shaking; still, she feared the angel.
"No problem…" she said silently before she started to walk away – it quickly became running; she ran all the way and she panted when she finally arrived at the hospital.
"Wow, you tried your hardest to be on time," one of her colleagues said.
"Yeah… sorry… I was in a…"
"Traffic jam, I know. You e-mailed us. Good luck with your work today." The colleague said with a smile and Sally just couldn't get used to the fact that no-one remembered about Mr. Parry.
She went to her grandfather and she found out he had regained all of his memories. She made sure that it was a private conversation because she knew she would burst into tears when she heard the news – and she did. Her grandfather, who was in a wheelchair as well, hugged her shakily and that was when she knew she could tell him about what had all happened.
Surprisingly, he believed her. She started visiting him more and more often because it was suddenly much better to visit him, and she talked to him about everything.
She visited Sarah Mallone as well. She welcomed her with a smile and explained the whole concept about parallel worlds, dæmons and Will and Lyra. Sally took it all in, prepared to believe everything. Sarah told her that it was a secret her mother told her – it was passed on in the family, starting with Mary Mallone. She also taught her how to see dæmons.
Her own dæmon was a beaver, whom she had given the name William, to William Parry himself.
She told her grandfather too. His last days were spent with Sally, talking about dæmons and how no-one would ever know that he was cured of Alzheimer.
He passed away one month after William Parry had left our world. Sally cried, but those tears weren't only out of grief. A big part of those tears were out of happiness. That she got everything she wanted.
At the funeral, she gave a speech about his positive character traits to his friends; she was too afraid to look at the body before that. After she had done the speech, though, and had cried a lot, she looked in the coffin.
She saw he had died with a smile on his lips.
Author's Note: It's long, but I think it's just fine. I'm not going to make it shorter. I hope you liked the story; I've worked with Alzheimer people in a job for the holidays and that was where I got the inspiration. I hope I got the portrayal of Alzheimer right, and if I haven't, I'll be happy to hear it from you.
I'm sorry, I've been silent for a long while, but I'm still in highschool and I'm in one of the heaviest grades of Dutch highschool right now. I won't be able to post much this year, so I hope you'll forgive me.
That being said, please leave a review! Your reviews are what give me inspiration and courage to keep on writing! If you have criticism, don't hesitate to tell me. Don't flame, though; I'm happy to hear my story is rubbish, but please tell me why. Otherwise I can't improve.
And if you don't want to leave a review, that's fine too, though ;) Although I prefer a review, of course.
Until next time!