"Oh, my God," said Red. "Alison!"
He ran to her, throwing his arms around her and holding her head close to
his chest. "Oh, Red," said Alison, "It's been so hard… I…" She
cried into his shoulder, he could feel the tears dampening his shirt.
"It's ok," said Red, "I'm so sorry! You must hate me, I'm
so so sorry."
"No," said Alison, "Of course not, you thought I was Kimmy,
I just… it's been… such a long week..."
"When did you… was it back at Rechristening?" Red asked,
guiding Alison over to the bed to sit down.
"Yes," she said, wiping her face on her hands. "Oh, Red, all
those things Patrick told you, they're true. DI&R really was after us."
"I know," said Red.
"I took the walkie-talkie and went back for Argento, like you asked,
but before I could call for help, all the guards started calling in, tracking
you down, trying to get you. Argento knew about it, I could tell. I took Scott's
mask and that cryo-thing and ran off. Simon and Patrick found me before they
found the real Kimmy. I thought I could just… I don't know, slip away
after we escaped sometime, but then they got you… I had to stay with
them to make sure you were ok…"
"I thought I'd never see you again, I mean, the real you… Wait,
does that mean Kimmy…?"
"That's her back at my house with my parents," said Alison. "I
don't care. I love my parents, but… I'm not going to go back to that.
Better her than me."
"I'm just so happy you're alive!" Red said. He embraced her again.
She began to cry again. "We're going to be ok. Once all this is over,
we'll go off on our own and we'll be ok, all by ourselves. Shhhh… it's
"I had to… I had to sleep with Joshua…" said Alison. "Red,
I… I had to do these terrible things."
"No, Red, it's sick… Father Patrick… he's been warping them
for so long…"
"I'm so sorry," said Red, "I must not have made things any
easier, I was so cold to you. Oh, God, I slapped you!"
"No," said Alison, "You were slapping Kimmy, I know that… But
it was hard, Red. I'm glad you finally know… I'm glad someone finally-
"What?" asked Red.
"Argento!" said Alison. "When we saw him, he said he knew!
He knows who I am!"
"But that doesn't make any sense…" said Red, "Why wouldn't
he tell them?"
"I don't know," said Alison. "He was definitely in on them
trying to capture us, though."
Red looked at Alison for a moment. She sniffled and wiped her eyes again.
Red considered all he had learned. "Alison, there's something you need
to know," he said. "I learned some things. About us. They've been
lying to us for some time- I thought I had been just recruited, but I've been
working for them for years… and so have you."
"The dreams you have. You were one of their Prophets. That's how we
actually met. Before they reprogrammed us two weeks ago… we were engaged.
We were dating for a few years."
"Oh my… Oh, jeeze…" Alison laughed lightly. "Heh… That
explains a few of the… improper dreams I've had about you."
"What?" said Red. "You're terrible!"
"I didn't do it!" said Alison, "You can't control what's in
"They didn't want it to be in your head at all, but Prophets apparently
can get visions from their previous memories."
"In that case, I'm not the only one who should be blushing," she
said. "So, wait, you mean we didn't know each other when we were young?"
Red proceeded to tell Alison what he had learned from Hayden about the events
(and non-events) of the last few years, not only about the relationship that
Alison and he shared, but about the unknown life that had been stolen from
him without his knowledge or consent.
"I would have liked to get more information, to be honest with you," said
Red, "But that's when he used his watch to signal for guards to take
"A signal-watch? Like in Superman?" Alison asked.
"Wow," said Alison, "That's… wow…" She sat
there looking down for a minute or so, considering. She looked up. "Do
you believe him?"
"Well… yeah," said Red. "I mean, he was only telling
me because he didn't think I'd remember for very long."
"So then why tell you at all?"
"I don't know… you don't believe it?"
"I do," she said. "I mean, it all makes sense… all except
him telling you about it."
"I don't know… he must have had his reasons. Maybe he just was
buying time so the guards could gather outside. Who knows."
"I guess I'm the lucky one. They think I'm back to my morbid self now,
they'll leave me alone."
"Maybe without the visions Kimmy will be able to cheer up."
"I don't even know what I was so depressed about in the first place," Alison
"Apparently I was that important to you that without me in your life
it was a terrible place," Red said, only half-serious. "I can't
believe we were engaged."
"Why not? I've always had feelings for you, Red," Alison said. "Or… no,
I didn't… wait. I guess I did, since we were really engaged. But I meant
even in the fake world I had feelings for you… if that means anything?"
"It's the life we remember, so of course it does," said Red. "I
remember always having a crush on you, even before I knew what it was. You
really felt the same way?"
"Of course," said Alison, "How else do you think I could stay
best friends with someone who kept everyone else away?"
"I guess our minds or whatever just made our past this way… because
we were already in love? I mean, uh, or something. I guess he said we had
a connection, and all, so you never know really, but… yeah."
"It doesn't sound so far fetched to me."
"I guess not many people would go through what you did for anything
but love," Red said. "I owe you, I was going to say one, but more
like a million and seven."
"You've done a bit for me, you know. You brought me back from the dead.
I know very few girls who can say that about their boyfriends."
"Don't act so shocked," Alison said. "We just confessed our
ongoing feelings for each other… even if they are from an imaginary
life. And anyway, you're the only guy who remembers me. The me I am, anyway.
Like you said, the two of us are going to get through this together. The thought
of being back with you again was all that got me through this week. So, yeah,
boyfriend. Unless you have some sort of problem with that idea."
"No, not at all," said Red.
"Good," she said. "Now just keep holding on to me before I
have to go back to being… her."
"That I can do," Red said. Red leaned back against his pillows.
Alison rested her head on his chest and closed her eyes.
"It feels nice being myself again."
Red stroked her hair as she rested. In a moment, her breathing slowed and
evened, and became a little more audible. He watched her sleep. He imagined
it was one of the first times she'd slept easily since they'd escaped DI&R.
He couldn't imagine all she had to go through, just to save him. He chastised
himself for not realizing it was her before she'd revealed herself. He put
his face near her head and inhaled. It was the same Alison smell he'd known
almost his whole life.
A knock came at the door, startling Red and waking Alison. "Red?" called
Father Patrick from outside.
"One moment," said Red. Alison sat up and grabbed the mask just
as Father Patrick opened the door to enter.
"We're all friends here, Red," he said, "You don't have anything
I've never… Oh… oh my!" He smiled from ear to ear.
Alison, now appearing once again as Kimmy, was on all fours between Red's
legs, caught in the process of getting up off the bed.
"I've been waiting for this to happen!" Patrick cooed. "Mr.
Holier-than-Thou Saint finally gives into his baser urges! Maybe now you'll
stop being so mopey in bed, eh, Kimmy?"
"No!" said Red. "Kimmy is mine. From now on, no one touches
her but me."
"Your Holiness," Father Patrick said, "That's hardly fair.
She is my angel after all…"
"And I'm a Saint. Are you going to argue with me?"
"Of course not, your Holiness."
" I guess you know your place then, Father P," said Kimmy.
Father Patrick shot her a look. "The food is here," he said.
They want out and joined the others, already sorting through the bags of
food at the table. Once they were seated, Father Patrick cleared his throat.
Everyone quieted down.
"Thank you," he said. "Barring anymore surprise disappearances,
we have a few days of downtime ahead of us. As long as no one draws undue
attention to themselves… you all have free time to do with as you please.
Oh, Red, I'll have the boys pick up you clothes after we eat."
"Don't worry about it," Red said. "Kimmy and I will go pick
up a few things. We can get her some new clothes, too. Now that she's mine
I can't have her dressing in things another man chose for her."
"Humph, well," said Patrick.
"I figure we can hit the downtown, she can show me around the nice stores
"What?" said Patrick, "How would Kimmy know them any better
than you would?"
"Oh… yes. I forgot," said Red.
"We can explore them together," offered Kimmy.
"Maybe tomorrow we can see a movie, or go ice skating, or go to a café."
"Aww, how cute," Patrick said. "Maybe we can double date." He
pinched Joshua on the cheek.
"Or… or maybe not. Maybe we'll got to a show."
"You'll never get good tickets this fast," said Patrick.
"We'll do our best," said Red. "We'll have some fun."
"Sounds good to me!" said Patrick. "Who want's to say grace?"
Two days later Red was skating around Rockefeller Center as Prometheus looked
down at him and his new-girlfriend/former-fiancée. Actually, the gold
statue was not the only one gawking- Kimmy really did look incredibly young,
far too young for Red. If he had been thinking about it, he might not have
been kissing her in public. He was distracted, however, by the fact that he
was having the best time he'd ever had in his life- or at least, the life
"Gah!" cried Alison as she fell on her butt on the ice.
Red skated up to her side and put out his hand. She grabbed him and pulled
him down as well. "Hey!" he shouted. She laughed. "Oh, that's
it!" he said, jumping to his feet and skating off away from her, dodging
couples, children, and parents as he went.
"Hey, wait!" she called out.
Red circled around and caught site of her looking around for him. He picked
up speed and came up behind her, grabbing her sides.
"Aiiieeee!" she shouted, drawing more odd looks from the disapproving
parents idling around them.
They skated to the edge of the rink, holding hands. Red leaned over and kissed
"Hey guys!" called Father Patrick, skating up to them, Joshua close
behind. "You know, you might not want to be doing that- you're drawing
a lot of attention."
"What about you and Joshua?" asked Red.
Father Patrick gave Red a look. "There is nothing wrong with a man,
taking his son skating, thank you ver much, right son?"
"Yes, Father," said Joshua, winking.
Alison looked at Red. "I think we're going to get going," said
"What?" said Father Patrick, "But we just got here!"
"We're going to get some coffee," said Kimmy.
"We'll come along," said Patrick.
"I want to keep ice skating!" Joshua whined.
"Oh, whatever my little man wants," Patrick said. "I guess
we'll have to catch up with you. We'll meet you…"
"Back home," said Red, "We're just going to wander, you know."
"Probably walk over to Times Square," said Kimmy.
"Is that nearby?" Patrick said.
"I guess so…" said Kimmy.
"We'll see you!" said Red.
"Bye!" said Joshua.
Red and Kimmy headed off the rink and went to return their skates from the
rental. Once finished, they headed down West 50th towards 7th Ave.
"What did you guys see tonight?" Charles asked as Red and 'Kimmy'
entered from the garage a few days later.
"'The Lord of the Rings,'" Red said.
"How was it?" asked William. Charles, William, and Simon were playing
cards around the table. The box full of loose twenties sat next to them. Each
of them had a stack in front of them that they seemed to be betting from.
Red pointed at the money questioningly. "Oh this. It's just more fun
this way, even if we can't keep it."
"The movie was great," said Alison/Kimmy.
"It was amazing," said Red, "They did a great job of recreating
"You a fan of those books?" asked Charles.
"Name a chapter," Red said.
"Elijah Wood was so great," said Kimmy. "So was that other
guy. What was his name? Sam?"
"Yeah, Samwise," said Red, "Sean Astin."
"That scene where Frodo is leaving and Sam is so upset…"
"She cried," said Red, poking her sides.
"Wow," said Father Patrick, entering the room, "I haven't
seen Kimmy cry since that time with the Coke bottle! Those were good times…" He
was wearing a bathrobe and had lipstick smudged around his lips. "Just
passing through. We needed some chocolate and a bottle of water." He
walked to the refrigerator and took out an Aquafina and the Hershey's squeeze
bottle. "Care to join us, Kimmy? Your favorite?" He shook the chocolate
"Father," said Red.
"Yes, yes," he said. "Enjoy your games and whatnot. Make sure
to get plenty of rest, though, tomorrow is the big day- New Years Eve. Get
to bed early. Speaking of which, I'm off!"
Red watched him leave the room and waited for the door to shut behind him. "How
can you stand the fact that he is in the other room taking advantage of that
"He is the Son of God," said Simon. "Who are we to question?
Give me three."
"Two for me. Look whose talking, anyway," said Charles.
"I'm not a pedophile!" said Red. He felt a tap on the shoulder
and turned to see Kimmy smiling up at him. "Well, I mean… she's
eighteen, right? So… I'm not."
"Barely," said William, laughing. "Dealer takes two."
"I don't care who he is," said Red, "It's a… it's a
"You know what?" said Charles, "I think you should shut up.
Maybe for the last few days you and your new girlie have been prancing around
town having fun and giggling, that doesn't mean we've forgotten what a prissy
bastard you are. You think you're better than us just because you've got some
stupid blessing. Screw that. The only reason Will and me haven't beat the
crap out of you is because Father Pat told us to respect you. You want to
sit here a judge people? What about us? You don't know us; you don't know
our past. You also don't know what the Father promised us for our help, and,
you know what? You don't want to. So Judge not, or you're gonna get your face
beat in." He looked down at his cards. "I fold," he said, tossing
down his hand.
"Come on," said Red, turning back, "We can probably catch
the late show of 'A Simple Mind.'"
"'A Beautiful Mind,'" said Kimmy.
Red awoke to Alison gasping and digging her fingernails into his leg. She
looked as frightened as Red had ever seen her… or at least as frightened
as he had ever seen Kimmy.
"What happened, Al?" he asked her softly. "Nightmare?"
"No," she said, "No, it was worse… more real. I think… I
think it was another vision."
"What was it about?"
"Everyone… everyone dying."
"The end of the world," said Red, "Right on schedule."
"It's horrible," she said, "It's a disease. A terribly infectious
disease, causing horrible… bleeding… I don't even know what to
call them. It spreads all over the world, starting right here in New York."
"Great," said Red. "This doesn't make any sense… I would
have bet anything Father Patrick was going to be involved in this end of the
world stuff, but why would he want to kill everyone?"
"I know, so what-"
A knock sounded on the door. "Rise and shine, sleepyheads!" called
Father Patrick from outside, "It isn't every day you get to help usher
in a new era of Paradise! Wakey-wakey!"
"We're up!" Red called out. "We'll be out in a second."
"How are we going to stop it if we don't even know what it is?" Alison
"I don't know," said Red. "We'll play it by ear. Oh, sorry."
He turned around so she could change out of her pajamas. After she was through,
she returned the favor. Soon they were stepping out of the bedroom to be greeted
by the smell of eggs and bacon.
"Ta-da!" said Father Patrick as they came into sight. "Surprise!" The
table was decked out with a full breakfast spread- scrambled eggs, bacon strips,
sausage links, ham, tons of hash browns, and stacks of buttered toast.
"I made those," said Joshua, pointing to the toast.
"Yes, of course you did, my bestest little angel!" Father Patrick
picked him up and spun him around, depositing him in his chair. "Come
on everyone, help yourselves!"
The others soon joined them around the table, each one hearing about Joshua's
incredible feats of toasting. They passed the food around counterclockwise,
serving themselves. After they had doled out the food, Father Patrick took
the hands of Joshua and Simon.
"Please," he said. Everyone joined hands. "Dear God…" his
chin quivered a bit, "Dear God, I just wanted to thank you for bringing
this little group together. I know we don't always get along, but… well,
I feel really close to them. They're the family I never had, and I just want
you to watch out for us on this very special day. Amen."
"Amen," everyone echoed.
"Thank you, all," Father Patrick said. "I just want you all
to know, none of this would be possible without all of you. By the end of
the day, our paradise will be assured as we unleash God's wrath upon the non-believers.
A plague to some, a cleansing for others, we shall guide the way back to Eden!
Alright, dig in!"
"Whoa, whoa, whoa!" said Red. "Did you say plague? We're going
to kill people?"
Father Patrick looked at Red quizzically. "Red, don't you remember when
I had you captive at my Church? We're going to start a Holy War that will
reveal once and for all that our way is the way of the light. Instead of starting
it with you, now we'll start it with a plague, Old Testament style. Actually,
that meeting with Argento was supposed to be my big 'Let My People Go' scene,
but you sort of put the kibosh on that, didn't you?"
"Ok," said Red, "So we're going with another rain of Frogs
and stuff, ok."
"No," said Patrick, "I'm through messing around. We're skipping
straight to the serious one."
"The serious one?" asked Kimmy.
"Yep," said Joshua, excited. "We're gonna kill all the first
born of the nonbelievers!"
"Oh, Josh, you spoiled it!" Father Patrick ruffled his hair. "I
couldn't keep it from my little guy, could I?"
Suddenly a canister smashed through the dirty opaque window, splatting right
into the scrambled eggs. It began spewing gas.
A voice came booming from a loudspeaker outside. "Stay where you are!
Get down on the ground and none of you will be hurt! We're coming in to take
you all into custody!"