This story is based on the original movie 'Escape to Witch Mountian' not the new version. I am posting it under 'Race to Witch Mountain' because it comes the closest to a classification I can find.

Home Coming

Dragonlots aka Dana Bell

The cream-colored Winnebago trundled back down the road at a much slower pace than Jason O'Day had originally ascended the twisting mountain byway. He reached over with one hand to pet Winky, who had taken up residence in the passenger seat. The cat purred contentedly before she used her pink tongue to wash herself. Jason returned his full attention to his driving.

Occasionally he got glances of the black Cadillac ahead and had to resist the temptation to pull off and hide from those inside. The chase was long over and his two temporary charges, Tony and his sister Tia, were now safe with their Uncle Bene on Witch Mountain. Jason knew he was going to miss the pair. They had helped him as much as he'd helped them.

"So where to now, Winky?" he asked the cat. His new traveling companion had been a gift from Tia. The young girl had given up her pet so he, Jason, wouldn't be lonely anymore.

Two green eyes gazed calmly at him before they closed. Winky's tail tip flipped slightly as the sleek black cat dosed.

Green-covered mountains gave way to the rocky coastline later in the day. White crested waves battered against the steep shore, and Jason rolled down the window to take a breath of brine scented air. At some point, the Caddie had turned off and he was glad the greedy Mr. Bolt wasn't after him anymore. What the man had planned for those children had been a form of imprisonment. Unfortunately, with the millions Bolt had amassed, he'd almost gotten away with it.

"I hope he doesn't start looking for more of those lost children," Jason muttered under his breath.

Tony and Tia's uncle had explained that the two were the first of the ship wrecked children to find their way home. And, that there were more of them somewhere out in the world. Jason had promised to keep an eye out for any he might find and bring them to the mountain.

Winky jumped down and made her way back into the camper. Jason glanced at the sky noting the bright yellow and orange streaks in the sky. The sun was beginning to set.

"Hmmm, maybe we should find a camp site." He started watching for a spot to pull over for the night. They'd already passed a number of possible ones and if he remembered correctly, there would be a perfect place just a few more miles down the road.

When he found it, the sun was just beginning to fall below the horizon, sprinkling blues and purples across the seemingly endless ocean. He pulled the camper into the level spot and got out, stretching his arms over his head. It had been a long eventful day. Winky rerowed at him before she launched out the open cab window and strolled along the quiet stretch of beach, stopping to sniff or paw at anything interesting.

Jason smiled at her. The wind tousled his graying hair and his wrinkled face relaxed. He'd been alone for far too long. Tony and Tia had opened the spot in his heart he'd kept shut for the many years after his wife's death. Her painful loss had shattered him, and he'd vowed never to love another soul again.

Winky brushed against his leg leaving her ebony hairs on his tan pants. He glanced down at her. "Bet you're hungry, huh?"

Jason went back into the camper and dug through the drawer containing his silverware and utensils. His fingers finally located the can opener, and he grabbed the cat's food. After opening it, he put the can on the dark carpet and rummaged around to make himself some dinner.

The cat dashed in and promptly began devouring her food. When she'd finished, she jumped up on the dinette seat and began to clean herself.

He sat down on the other, placing his bowl of tomato soup and a plate containing a grilled cheese sandwich on the table. Eating in silence, he wished the two children were still with him. He missed their cheerful banter and the planning they'd done to reach the mountain.

"Where should we go, Winky?" he asked the cat. She blinked as if she understood what he was saying. "Originally I was going to travel all over the United States." Jason had to be honest with himself. He'd been running from his loss. "We still could." Somehow the idea wasn't as appealing as it had first been.

"Rerow." If she was voicing an opinion, he had no idea what it was.

"Maybe we'll just see what the morning brings."

Three weeks later found Jason snaking down the sun-browned hill into Lewiston, Idaho. His feline companion slept on the passenger seat as smothering heat invaded the cab from the open windows. The breeze created helped some, but sweat poured off his brow and soaked the back of his shirt.

Below, he could see the two rivers, the Clearwater and the Snake as they converged. A horrid rotting cabbage stench drifted up from the valley, and he assumed it was from the paper plant. It sat on the extreme east side of town. On the west side and across the Clearwater was Clarkston, Washington.

When he got to the edge of town, he noticed a thrift store and pulled into the parking lot. Jason rolled up the windows leaving a space to let air in. Then he opened the screened window in the back of the motor home. He told the cat, who lazily lifted her head when he got out, "I'll be right back."

He entered the stale smelling store. Battered furniture sat on one side of the large room and shaky looking shelves filled with all sorts of unwanted stuff the rest. Inside wasn't much cooler than out and quite honestly he wasn't sure, other to stretch his legs, why he'd stopped.

A bored looking clerk glanced at him as he wandered the aisles. Sometimes he'd pick up an object, only to put it back down. He wasn't really interested in buying anything so he headed for the door. A glint of silver caught his eye and he pushed aside the various toys sitting in front of it.

"A Star case!" Gently he took it off the shelf. It was much like Tia's had been, a silver square with a blue face plate depicting gold double stars. He carried it to the cash register. "Any idea where this came from?" he asked the clerk.

The woman shook her head as she took his money. "Town isn't that small. I don't know everyone."

"Just curious." Jason wanted to add he knew someone else with one, but decided to keep silent.

Back in his camper, he put the case on the seat and rolled down the windows. Winky poked her head out of the back section. He'd noticed she hadn't been up front when he'd returned. Fondly, he scratched her head before starting the engine.

"Let's go find a store and stock up."

He headed through town and discovered the streets eventually slanted upward. Part of Lewiston lay in a valley while the rest must be above on the plateau. Jason didn't need to go that far to find a grocery store. There was one in a long mall along with a Montgomery Wards, a drugstore, and several others.

He glanced back. Winky had ensconced herself under the table and he decided she'd be okay for a few minutes. He took off across the baked asphalt and into the store, emerging a short time later with several bags of groceries. First he put them away and then refilled his cat's water bowl.

Jason sat down and pondered what to do next. He'd promised to bring any children he found back to Witch Mountain, and his finding the Star Case seemed to indicate there might be one or more here. Yet, the size of the Lewiston was daunting with slightly over 30,000 people. Not to mention Clarkston across the river.

Drumming his fingers on the table Jason debated on what to do. It was summer so the schools were out. Not that he actually knew where they would be located. He also wasn't sure he wanted to stay in town more than a few days. Still, the image of Tony and Tia's faces when they'd found their home surfaced in his mind. They had been so happy.

"Maybe there's a house I can rent," he mumbled. He glanced under the table at Winky. "What do you say? Would you like a yard to play in?"

Orange and yellow leaves decorated the trees and a frosty nip accompanied him as he strolled around the school yard. Jason had found a small house to rent in the Orchards, the part of Lewiston above the valley, and secured a job as a janitor at one of elementary schools.

It was recess time and he grinned at the children racing across the black top to reach the swings. Others tumbled monkey like on the bars and several squealed as they slid down the slide. A group of the teachers gathered in one corner, tugging tightly at their sweaters as they watched.

None of he youngsters he'd seen exhibited the powers he'd seen Tony and Tia use. Either those he searched for had learned to hide their gifts, or else they'd moved out of area. Or, in all honesty he thought, they attended one of the other grade schools.

"Good afternoon, Mr. O'Day," Mrs. Hersch, the principal greeted him.

"Mrs. Hersch," he returned cordially.

"You've done a wonderful job." She smiled warmly, tucking a bit of dark hair behind her ear.

"Thank you."

One of the teachers waved, and the principal hurried off. Jason sighed in relief. He still hadn't gotten over his reclusive ways and talking to people tended to tire him out. And, there was a toilet to plunge in the boy's bath room. Best he do that now before recess was over.

Back in the school he unlocked the janitor's closet and got what he needed. The halls were dark and silent, the happy cries of the children outside sometimes echoing behind him. He headed for the bathroom, but stopped when he thought he'd heard low voices.

"Dad got rid of it."

Inching forward, he paused just out of range. Two young girls sat hunched together on the floor. One of them looked up panicked at him and he walked by pretending he hadn't noticed.

"What did he do with it?"

"I don't know. He wouldn't tell me."

Jason stepped forward. "Lose something?" He couldn't help himself.

Two pairs of those strange brownish-green eyes stared up at him. Both of the girls had blonde hair and were dressed in short blue skirts with a matching top.

"We're not supposed to talk to strangers." The two got to their feet.

"Well, in that case, I'm Jason O'Day." He put down the plunger and the steel bucket. Slowly he extended his hand.

They looked at each other. "I'm Maggie," the taller of the two answered. "This is my sister, Megan."

"Nice to meet you." He shook hands with one girl and then the other. "I'm sorry I eases dropped." He smiled warmly at the pair.

Megan shrugged. "It's okay. Our big brother does it all the time."

"Well, not all the time," her sister confided with a significant glance at her sister.

"No, he can't…" Megan stopped herself. "It was nice to meet you, Mr. O'Day."

He nodded, once again grabbing his plunger and bucket. "You two run along and enjoy recess."

They both looked at him oddly, before dashing down the hall and out the doors. He wondered briefly if they were two more of the lost Witch Mountain children. With a shrug, Jason headed for the boys' bathroom. There was still a toilet to unplug.

Winky sat on the front step waiting for him. At her feet sat a gray field mouse which she promptly picked up in her mouth when he opened the door.

"Oh, no, you don't." Jason put a foot out to stop her. "You leave that outside."

The cat opened her mouth to protest, dropping the mouse to the ground, and he saw the rodent take the opportunity to scuttle off. He scooped up the cat and took her into the house. Going through the small living room, he entered the yellow kitchen.

Whistling, he opened Winky's can of food and put it in her dish. She ran over and began nibbling at the fish smelling lump. He dumped out her old water and poured fresh into the bowl.

After his task was completed, he made soup and a sandwich and sat at the small table he'd bought at the thrift store. Jason had furnished most of the house that way. There was a lumpy brown couch in the living room and a twin bed in one of the two back bedrooms. The other was empty except for a litter box for Winky and a blanket she sometimes slept on.

Branches tapped against the dining room window. The widow he was renting the house from had suggested he trim them. Jason hadn't. He rather liked the sound: it made him feel less lonely.

"Lucky for us I can walk to work," he told Winky, who was having a wash after her dinner. He could walk to the store as well since it was only a couple of blocks away. No need to use his camper, which sat in the front driveway.

"I may have found two more children," he went on. Winky raised her head as if she were actually listening. "Guess time will tell." The cat jumped in his lap and bumped his hand. Gently he stroked her soft black head. "Maybe in the spring we'll travel back to the coast. How does that sound?" A soft purr answered. "Knew you'd like the idea."

Jason continued to shovel the main walkway of the school as children, bundled up in their coats and colorful scarves, hurried past him and bolted through the double doors. Snow piled everywhere, making the building, the houses across the street, and the few cars he'd seen pass, look like a scene on a Christmas card.

When he finished, he put his shovel away and sat in his small back office. Luckily, he had a small window so he could see outside. Pushing back in his chair, he watched the flakes and found himself wondering what Tony and Tia were doing today. Did they have schools on Witch Mountain? Was the weather sunny and nice, or dreary with snow falling? Did they celebrate Christmas?

Christmas. That was what was causing his maudlin mood. The holiday break was only a week away. He'd overheard the children talking about decorating their trees, all the presents underneath, and the upcoming visit from Santa.

When his wife had been alive she'd decorated their little house with a small tree and a scented pine branch over the fireplace. For the entire month of December the rooms had been filled with the scent of fresh baked sugar cookies. Every day she'd sat and put frosting on them. There had been bells and trees and other shapes he could no longer recall.

"I miss you, sweetheart," he murmured into the slowly chilling room.

Later, after dinner Jason took out the star case he'd found so many months ago. Slowly he turned it over and over. Not that he'd find any clues about who had once owned it. Truthfully, and he had to be that with himself, he missed Tony and Tia.

"Rerowww," Winky jumped up on the table. She rubbed against the silver case.

"Felling ignored?" He put it down and scratched under her chin. Her eyes closed and her purr sputtered up.

Even though he hated the fact that Tia had given up her cat, he had to admit Winky was good company for him. At least he wasn't alone anymore.

"What do you say to stoking up the fireplace and roasting marshmallows?"

With an odd chirping noise Winky jumped down and headed for the living room. Jason followed, starting a fire and digging through his cupboard for the sweet puff balls. As he put them on a thin stick, one he'd kept from his adventures with the children, memories of the last time he'd done that surfaced.

They'd been sitting at a roadside picnic table after dinner. The children seated on the one side, he on the other. All of them had had jackets on to protect them from the evening chill.

He'd just served them hot chocolate. The river had been burbling in the background and the lamp light flickered, illuminating the children's faces.

"I wonder… I wonder how I'd handle you kids if you were mine," he'd said. "Well, maybe that's why I never married, huh."

"But Mr. O'Day," Tia piped up. "You were married.

"What?"

"A long, long time ago. And she was so pretty and you had a little house."

"Yeah, I can see it." Tony had added. "It was white with yellow shudders. And there was a big elm branch over the whole roof."

"If Tony knows about people, he can see places they've been."

"What else?" He'd been unable to believe the two would know something so personal about him.

"Well, your wife died, only a few months after you were married. And you were so sad. You took an oath that you'd never give your love to another woman. Or to anyone. And you never have."

He'd taken a few steps away from them, deeply hurt. The two turned to face the direction he'd gone.

"I'm sorry, Mr. O'day." Tia had sounded truly concerned about him.

"The name's Jason," he'd barked back. "If you know so danged much about me you might as well use it. Jason you understand."

"I like the name Jason," Tony had said brightly.

"We didn't mean to make you sad, Jason." Her round face had reflected her sadness at hurting him.

It was that moment that had pierced the armor he'd put around his heart and he'd began to love the children. He didn't admit it to them, and as they cleaned up their empty cups, he'd taken a few minutes to roast marshmallows as a way to apologize for his gruffness before they'd gone to bed for the night.*

With a sigh he went into the living room and stuck the stick into the fire. The marshmallow puffed to a golden brown and he pulled it out. He waited a moment or two for it to cool before eating it.

"Time for bed, Winky." He stretched and retired for the evening, though sleep evaded him and he stared at the dark ceiling for many hours before deciding what he needed to do - and had always known he would do eventually.

"I hate to see you go," the principal, Mrs. Hersch lamented when Jason handed her his resignation across her cluttered desk.

"I hate to go, but, well, there are two children…"

"Your grandchildren."

"No, but they're like family to me." He turned to leave, glancing at the pictures various children had drawn decorating the office walls. One caught his eye, and he pointed at it. "Who drew that?"

"Which one?" She came up to him to examine it.

Displayed was a green covered mountain shrouded in clouds. Above it hovered a round spaceship, and he recognized the design since he'd seen it before.

"Megan and Maggie Howard." She sniffed. "Those two are allowed to watch too many SciFi movies."

"I don't recall a movie with a ship like that."

"Nonsense." She made a dismissive gesture with her hand. "They're all alike."

"Of course," he muttered in response as he opened the door and left. He paused outside, knowing he had to speak to the two girls before he left. Jason just hoped he could find them alone.

He checked the hallway but hesitated about peeking into any of the classrooms. He was sure the teachers wouldn't like it, and they might tell Mrs. Hersch. If he ever wanted to come this way again and have a job, he didn't want to leave on bad terms.

"Mr. O'Day!"

Jason jumped and turned to face the tiny voice. Maggie's face looked up at him. "Where is Witch Mountain?"

"It's a long way from here."

"I want to go with you. So does Megan."

"I don't know." He couldn't be sure the children were the ones the starcase belonged to.

The little girl stamped her foot. "You found my starcase."

"Oh?"

"I can see it in your mind."

Another small figure opened and shut a classroom door. She hurried toward him. "We have to go now," she announced. "And we have to stop by our house. Our little brother must come, too."

"There are three of you?"

"Yes. Come on."

Both girls grabbed his hand and dragged him out the back door and out the side gate. Against his better judgment, he unlocked the camper door and ushered them inside.

"Where's your house?" he asked as he slid into the driver's seat. Winky voiced a protesting rerow before hiding under the table.

"It's that way." Megan pointed.

I hope I don't land in jail for this, he thought as he pulled away from the school.

As it turned out, the getaway from Lewiston proved easier than he thought. Megan had snuck into the house and snatched her brother, Max. Maggie had managed to retrieve their suitcases that they'd hidden outside in the playhouse.

Jason got through town, up the hill and into Washington state before the possible ramifications of what he'd done really hit.

"But we're going to our real home," Megan objected.

"You read minds?"

"Sort of."

"I'd like to see you convince the authorities of that."

"You didn't when you helped Tony and Tia."

"You stay out of my head!"

Megan retreated to the back and sat across from her sister. Their brother, who was much younger than them, was asleep on a blanket underneath the table. Winky's tail twitched back and forth in irritation. He guessed she didn't like having to share her space.

"I did promise," he reminded himself as the desert-like sage brush country rolled past.

Several hours later they rolled into Wenatchee. He pulled into a gas station and filled up, grumping at the attendant about the cost. "There a good camp ground around here?"

"Best is up by Lake Chelan. You just follow the highway there." The blue jump-suited figure pointed.

"Thanks."

He paid the man and headed in the direction indicated. The road narrowed and at some points followed the river - or was it the lake? He couldn't really tell. Once in Chelan, he found the park and set up in a secluded spot. Tall trees shaded them and partially hid the Winnebago.

"Nice lake," Megan said as the three crawled out and looked around.

"Don't wander off just in case we have to leave in a hurry."

"We're going to the bathroom."

"Oh." He'd forgotten about that. "I think it's over there."

The trio headed for the facilities while he opened a can of cat food and rustled up dinner. When they returned they had tomato soup and cheese sandwiches – his specialty. Afterward he tucked the three into the upper bed. He tossed a few cushions on the floor and slept in his sleeping bag.

When he woke in the morning, he found Winky curled up against his back. Fondly he rubbed the black head and then he checked on the children. They were still sleeping. Rather than wake them, he figured they might get a few more hours on the road before breakfast. Besides, it was still dark out. It would cover their departure in the event anyone was looking for them.

Hours later he found a pull off and got out to stretch. Tall mountains surrounded them and he took a deep breath of clean air. A couple of cars passed by but didn't slow.

"Where are we?" Maggie asked, rubbing her eyes and looking adorable in flannel night clothes.

"Cascade mountains. Why don't you children get dressed and then I'll fix us some breakfast."

"Okay." She hurried back in closing the door behind her.

Jason took another long look around. Huge fluffy pines majestically lined the road and retreated back onto the slopes like a wave of green water. Clouds hung over the highest peaks and all around him were patches of snow. He just hoped there wasn't any black ice. A bad patch could plunge them down into a deep valley.

He tapped on the door and was greeted by a cheery, "Come in." Once inside and away from the nippy chill, he noticed the children were all in jeans and sweaters.

"How about some oatmeal and hot chocolate?"

Three heads bobbed and Jason got busy lighting the stove and heating water. Luckily he had instant hot cocoa. The old fashioned way with milk took too long. Pulling out the cups he got it ready while keeping a careful eye on the oatmeal he'd just put in the pan.

"Here ya go." He placed the cups on the table. "Oatmeal will be ready in a minute."

In silence they ate breakfast. These three where more quiet than Tony and Tia had been.

"How far to Witch Mountain?" Maggie finally asked as she pushed the now empty dish away. She reached into her pocket and pulled out the Star Case he'd returned to them. Opening the front plaque, she shoved case toward Jason.

"A couple of days." He didn't really need to see the map the case contained; he'd already been there. "We'll get onto the coastal highway. It'll take us straight there." He grinned. "Not to mention you'll get to see the ocean."

Megan made a face. "The water was cold."

"I know your ship crashed in it."

Her sister nodded. "We got rescued and were sent to live with the Howards." Maggie glanced down at her plate. "Maybe we should have left them a note."

"We'll send them a letter from Witch Mountain," Megan said. She picked up her cup and bowl dumping them in the sink.

"Okay." Maggie did the same with hers and her brother's.

"Maybe you could send them a postcard," Jason suggested as he began to put everything back in order. They needed to get moving. He could see flakes falling outside. "You children get comfortable. It's time to leave."

They again sat at the table and Jason went back up front. Winky jumped into the passenger seat with a disdainful glace backward before lying down and washing herself. He started up the motor and drove further up into the mountains. Snow began to fall harder and the windshield wipers had a hard time keeping up. He had a sense of relief when they passed the summit and started back down. With any luck, they'd be in Seattle by evening.

Twinkling lights greeted Jason's tired eyes as he pulled into a rest area just outside Seattle. Megan, Maggie and Max hurried out to use the bathrooms rather than use the cramped ones in the camper. He stretched and blew on his hands as he awaited their return. The snow they'd left behind, but a cold damp wind whirled past reminding him it was winter. He could barely make out the Space Needle as the sun fell, draping everything in darkness.

Winky made a chirping noise from the partially open window. Jason reached up and scratched behind the cat's ear. Her rumbling purr answered his affection and he smiled.

"How soon before we get there?" Maggie asked when they trio returned .

"Two days." He ushered the children back inside and went about preparing dinner.

After they ate, the youngsters climbed back overhead and Jason assumed they went to sleep. A steady patter sounded against the roof, and he pulled back the brown drape to look outside. Reflected in the faint light were heavy droplets of water. He could also see a couple of trucks not far away. They had their engines running and he could hear them. The sound wasn't distracting, instead oddly comforting and he fell asleep.

"Mr. O'Day." Someone shook him and he roused quickly wondering what was wrong.

"What is it?"

"There's a policeman outside."

Jason wasn't sure which of the girls had woke him. "Go back to bed," he gently ordered. He opened the door and stepped out into drizzle. The main storm must have stopped. "Something wrong, officer?"

The man cocked his head. "Didn't mean to wake you."

"I'm a light sleeper."

"Where you headed?"

Not sure if the cop was making polite conversation or something else, Jason answered, "Down the coast."

"No destination?"

"Just wherever I wander."

"Must be nice."

"It is."

"Traveling alone?"

"No. I have a cat."

"They can be good company."

He waited. "Is there anything else?"

"No, sir." The policeman touched the edge of his helmet. "Have a good trip.'"

Jason watched as the cop got back on his motorcycle and roared out of the rest area. "Now that was very peculiar." He went back inside and decided they should head out even if it was still dark. Winky urped her agreement and settled into the front seat.

He checked on the children. They all seemed to be asleep. Crawling into the driver's seat he drove out of the rest area and back onto the main highway. Mile after silent mile rolled by and although once he'd enjoyed the silence, now he found he didn't anymore. Jason no longer wanted to be alone.

"You'll see them soon," he muttered. He missed Tony and Tia and hoped their uncle had been taking good care of them. At least he was keeping his promise to bring more of the missing children to Witch Mountain. That should make everyone happy.

Two days later, he made the final turn into Stony Creek and navigated the narrow dirt road up to the office in the small town. It was just dawn, the children were still asleep, and Jason got out and stretched. He took a deep breath of clean mountain air and trotted into the simple wood-walled office.

Finding the phone book, he looked up the name Castaway and dialed the number.

"Misty Valley Cooperative," a voice on the phone said.

"This is Jason O'Day. I'm bringing more children home."

"Mr. O'Day! How wonderful! You do remember how to get here."

"Yes."

"We'll see you soon. Who did you bring?"

"Megan, Maggie and Max."

There was a brief silence. "Their aunt will be glad to see them."

"I'm on my way."

Something in the man's voice didn't sound right, and Jason wondered if perhaps he'd made a mistake. He shrugged and left the room, going back out to the camper.

"Bet you'll be glad to see Tia again," Jason said to Winky as he got in. He rubbed her head. "I'm sure she'll be glad to see you."

He drove the windy dirt road to a spot near Witch Mountain. At some point the three children had gotten up and were dressed. They all got out after he parked and Jason nervously waited. He'd expected someone to meet them.

Not far in the distance among the trees, a slender figure parted the branches. She was dressed in a pale blue dress with long silver hair draping down her back.

"Aunt Ruth!" Megan and Maggie called together. They ran down the grassy incline and the woman embraced the two.

Jason wondered why Max stood next to him not moving. The woman joined him and the boy.

"Who's this?" Their aunt kneeled down to meet the child's gaze.

"Our brother," Megan quietly answered. "Momma lived until he was born and then went away."

"We didn't know." Slowly the older woman extended her hand. "I'm your Aunt Ruth."

Max glanced at his two sisters. They both nodded.

"It's okay, Max," Maggie reassured her brother. "You can talk to her. She'd going to take us to our new home."

Tentatively, he reached out his hand and his aunt took it. She straightened and smiled at Jason. "We have you again to thank for bringing more of our missing children home."

"I said I would." Jason always kept his word.

"And you're a man of your word." She cocked her head to the side. "Is there something I can for you?"

"I'd like to see Tony and Tia again."

Ruth nodded. "That can be arranged. If you don't mind leaving your camper here, I can take you to the mountain."

"Give me a moment to lock it up." Quickly he locked all the doors and grabbed Winky who mildly protested being picked up. Jason went with the four aliens to the silver round spaceship reminding him briefly of the saucer used in the movie 'The Day the Earth Stood Still.'

"It brought us here," Ruth said with a gleam in her greenish-brown eyes.

"Not all of you safely," he replied.

Her lightly wrinkled face shadowed. "You are correct."

A sliver opened,allowing them access, and they walked up the metal like ramp. Once inside, the opening closed and Jason looked around. The walls were smooth and gray, though the floor seemed to be marble. In the control room, he took note of the colorful buttons on the panels. Ruth pushed one and the ship rose smoothly.

"Not like an airplane," he said surprised.

A smile touched her thin lips. "No, it isn't." She waved her hand over a dome control with blue flashes inside. The wall above it shimmered and he had a clear view of below.

"Wow." Below the shrub-covered ground seemed to glide. As they rose, the greenry vanished to be replaced by clear blue sky and scattered fluffy clouds.

"We'll be landing in a few moments," his hostess informed him.

There was no sense of change, but the view altered to allow him to see the thick clouds shrouding Witch Mountain. For a few minutes there was nothing to see but wispy vapor,and when it finally cleared, Jason got his first look at the settlement from the double stars.

"I never dreamed…" he put Winky down who jumped up for a better look.

On the valley floor, intertwined with the river, were glittering spires. Crystal bridges crossed the water several times, and he could see the people below sedately moving about on various tasks. The ship lowered onto one open-roofed building and floated down the circular tunnel.

He turned to Ruth. "No wonder you keep this place secret."

"We wanted to recreate home as much as possible. Your people are still too immature to share our technology, but want to preserve it for our children." Fondly she smiled at the three youngsters, all of which had been strangely quiet on the short trip.

"And you should," he agreed, again wishing his wife had lived long enough for them to have their own.

"By our standards, you aren't too old."

His face burned. "Do I need to watch what I think?"

Her laugh tinkled reminding him of sun chimes. "Only if you don't want us to know what you're thinking."

"I'm sunk."

Ruth's hand lightly rested on his arm. "I know what you want. It may be allowed."

"Who do I ask?" He was glad he hadn't originally voiced his desire because he'd been afraid he wouldn't have been allowed to come.

"I would have brought you anyway and your request I've already made known."

"Thank you."

"I hope you stay." She moved away and ushered the children back through the corridor to the door. He followed scooping up Winky.

In the landing area, Ruth left him by exiting through a side door. Before it slid closed, he thought he saw a figure briefly dressed like a policeman. The man's hand moved to the helmet and saluted.

So ,he thought. They sent someone to check on us.

Another opening appeared and two children flew across the brightly lit expanse and threw their arms around him.

"We're glad you came, Jason," Tia breathed.

"We missed you," Tony admitted.

"You're an exceptional Earthman, Jason O'Day." Their uncle stood a few feet behind them. "And yes, you can stay."

"Thank you." Jason hugged the children again and released them. Winky wiggled lose and went to Tia who picked her up. "It's been a long time since I've had anywhere to call home."

"I'm glad you found one here." Tia grabbed his hand and pulled him toward the city.

All Jason could do was smile.

*Taken directly from Walt Disney's movie "Escape to Witch Mountain".

Originally published in Of Dreams and Schemes 24, May 2009, edited by Catherine Schlein.

A quick note on this one: I always wondered what happened to Jason O'Day. Using the background from the movie, I tried to construct a realistic story of the change he went through and the path it would have set him on. Also, the backdrop, Lewiston, ID, was where I lived during the time period that this story would have taken place during the late 1970s / early 1980s. That's why I used it. Period pieces are difficult to do and I wanted to make this one as realistic as possible. For instance, cans of cat food had to be opened with an opener rather than the pop lids of today . I also have to thank Cathy for her knowledge of campers during those years because the details she suggested I add made the story more believable.