The woman marine arrived in the lunchroom first. She saluted Colonel Weber and the Captain who stood up to greet her. The Colonel went straight to the introductions. “Lieutenant Harper. Captain Decker.”
The Captain stuck out his hand. “Welcome to the monkey house.”
“Katie.” She shook the hand and responded with her name.
“Sit,” the Colonel said, and it sounded like an order so both complied while one of the three men across the table spoke.
“Decker and Harper. Sounds like a couple of cops from a cheap television show.”
Colonel Weber pointed at the speaker and continued with the introductions. “Robert Lockhart is the Assistant Director of the so-called Men in Black organization. Ben Lincoln is the one with the missing wife. Of course, you know Doctor Roberts.”
“Sir.” The Lieutenant acknowledged each man and kept it business-like. “Mind if I ask a few questions?” The Colonel waved as if to say be my guest, but good luck getting any straight answers.
“I read the briefing but I don’t exactly understand it. I have heard of people who claimed to be reincarnated, but this sounds a bit more extensive than that.”
“And I hardly expected it to be in a briefing paper.” Captain Decker agreed.
“Not reincarnated,” Lockhart rubbed his unshaven chin as he spoke. “He sometimes refers to himself as an experiment in time and genetics going back to the beginning of history. And if the paper was accurate, you will find it says he also remembers the future.”
Lincoln touched Lockhart on the arm to quiet him and spoke to the marines. “May I ask your security clearance?”
The Colonel answered. “Both Captain Decker and Lieutenant Harper are cleared all the way to the top.”
Lincoln rubbed his chin. “That might not be high enough.”
“That’s right.” Lockhart grinned. “There are some things it would be best if even we did not know about. Isn’t that right, Emile?”
Doctor Roberts looked up. He was trying to keep a low profile in front of the Colonel who kept threatening to arrest him, but he could not resist. “Like Santa, spry little elf that he is,” he joked.
“Yes,” Lieutenant Harper thought they were kidding and tried to get back on topic. “What does it mean when it refers to elves and dwarves? I assume that is code for something.”
Doctor Roberts went back to hiding and Lincoln said nothing, but Lockhart grinned more broadly and shook his head slowly. The Lieutenant reacted.
“You must be joking. I stopped playing Fairy Princess when I was five and found out there are no such things.”
Before a more reasonable response could be made, they were interrupted by the entrance of the women who were laughing and having a wonderful time. Colonel Weber and Captain Decker stood. Lieutenant Harper also stood, though after what she just heard, she felt like it might be safer to stay seated. The Colonel at least got to introduce the Director, Roberta Brooks.
“Bobbi,” she said as she shook their hands and took her seat.
Boston butted in front and took each hand in turn. “Mary Riley, but everyone calls me Boston.” She said it twice and went to sit next to Lockhart.
Mirowen nodded shyly at the marines. “Mirowen.” She went to sit beside Doctor Roberts.
“Mirowen?” The Captain asked like he was searching for a last name.
“Soon to be Roberts, I think.” Lincoln sounded morose. Mirowen’s presence underlined for him like nothing else that Alexis was missing.
“For now just Mirowen.” Lockhart was still grinning and raised his hand to point his thumb at the couple. “She is an elf.”
Mirowen blushed, but she brushed back her hair to reveal her pointed ears. She turned quickly to Doctor Roberts and he gave her a peck on the lips to reassure her.
At the sight of those ears, Lieutenant Harper sat, and when she sat, the Captain sat with her. It was barely in time to deal with what happened next.
“Hi, I’m the Princess, but people call me –“ The Princess paused and pretended to think about it before she concluded. “Princess.” She smiled her dazzling smile. “Right now I have to go home. My husband owes me a foot massage or something.” She reached to take both the Captain’s and the Lieutenant’s hands.
“And where is home?” The Captain asked while he unsuccessfully tried to keep his eyes from wandering up and down her curves.
“204 BC,” the Princess answered with a straight face. “Now don’t let go,” she added and vanished from that time and place so Glen could return to his own time and face his own dilemma. The Captain let go, but it was only for a second.
“Now,” Glen smiled at the military people. “Lovely to have you here. Lovely to meet you both. You can’t come.”
“Now, wait a minute,” Colonel Weber wanted to protest but Glen cut him off.
“Despite your soldiers, you have no authority and no real power here.” Glen walked around the table to the far wall which was the only big, blank wall in the room. “Begone,” he mumbled. “Before somebody drops a house on you.”
Once at the wall, Glen turned and looked around the room. He had instructions. “Bobbi, I guess you will have to play hostess to Mister Smith when he gets back here on the Kargill ship, at least until I get back. Emile and Mirowen, make a decision already.” He took a deep breath and then paused to consider what he was about to do before he spoke. “Letting ordinary mortals other than me and my immediate family into Avalon is not a common occurrence. But Lincoln, you can come and fetch your wife. Lockhart, you need to come to be the boss and keep a tight rein on Lincoln. Boston, you need to come to keep Lockhart from freaking out, and you need to behave yourself.” Lincoln, Lockhart and an excited Boston got up to stand beside Glen. “That’s it. Colonel Weber, Mirowen and Roberts better be here and untouched when I get back.” And with that said, he turned again to the wall and spoke softly
Emile Roberts took Mirowen’s hand and she looked at him, smiled broadly and repeated a rhyme. “How many miles to Avalon? Three score miles and ten. Can I get there by candlelight? Yes and back again.” There was a momentary darkening in a part of the wall seven feet tall and seven feet wide before it suddenly became as bright as a window facing into a sunny day. An archaic archway formed around the space and it became an opening to another place, altogether. There was grass there, and a castle in the background, high on a hill. The aroma of life filled the stuffy conference room.
In the foreground, there was a little creature who bowed most regally in Glen’s direction. Several eyes shot toward Mirowen. Mirowen kept up a glamour that made her look nearly human with only the pointed ears to give her away. This creature in the archway was clearly not human. And Glen did not help when he named the thing.
“Kalderoshineamotadecobean. Lovely to see you.”
“My Lord is always gracious.”
“Speaks sort of human,” Decker whispered to Harper who did not hear him because for some reason she was crying. “Bit of a shock though. I can’t imagine an ogre.”
Glen invited his fellow travelers to cross the threshold and watched them closely as they crossed over. Then he turned once more to the room and spoke. “Oh, and Mirowen, don’t worry. I should be back long before the baby is born.”
Mirowen turned as red as Boston’s red hair before Glen stepped through the wall and the entrance to Avalon snapped shut with a bright flash of light.