Act 2



Cut To:


Watchers Council – Conference Room – Continuous

Kennedy, Willow, Faith, Robin and Rowena sat around the table.

“I still think we should be able to question her,” Kennedy said, looking around the room.

“You will all have that chance,” Rowena answered. “The reason I’m closing the meeting is because I would personally like to speak with Miss Lehane before the official meeting commences. This is the first time I’ve seen her since her arrival here. Once I’m finished, the Council Divisions will be free to question her. So, since we already know how you feel, Kennedy, Willow?” Rowena asked. “Do you agree to allow me to question Miss Lehane privately first, as I’m requesting?”

Kennedy and Rowena both looked over to the witch.

“Agreed,” she finally answered. “Come on. She just wants to touch base first,” Willow said, taking Kennedy by the arm. “We’ll be outside when it’s time to continue,” she added to Rowena.

Willow led Kennedy from the room, followed by Robin. Once the door was closed, Faith looked up to see Rowena watching her as the watcher turned off the tape recorder. The blonde said nothing – she just stared at the slayer. Faith, once more, began to fidget in her seat.

Unable to handle the heavy eyes on her, Faith asked, “Are ya gonna say something?”

Rowena began to rise and told Faith, “Stand up.”

As the watcher walked around the desk, Faith eyed her warily, but she did as she was instructed. Rowena came within an arm’s length of Faith and then pulled her into a hug, catching the slayer totally off guard.

“Please don’t ever do this again,” Rowena whispered in her ear. “I’m glad you’re back, but slayer or no slayer, I’ll kill you with my bare hands if you scare us like this again.”

Slowly, Faith began to relax, eventually grinning.

“Now, have a seat,” Rowena told her.

The watcher sat down next to her, but said nothing at first.

“You realize that leaving a post without authorization or notice is grounds for dismissal, no questions asked, right?” Rowena asked.

Faith looked away and nodded. Rowena pulled her folder towards herself from across the table and opened it. She pulled out a piece of paper and showed it to Faith.

“And this is your signature, is it not Miss Lehane?” she asked.

“Yeah, this is my signature, but –?”

Rowena placed a finger over her lips. “And this is my signature, is it not?”

“Looks that way,” Faith answered.

“So, what we have here is a breakdown in the paperwork chain. Obviously you requested the recent time off, but somehow it got lost. On behalf of the Council, I apologize.” Rowena leaned closer to Faith and spoke just above a whisper. “But know this…next time, there will not be a paperwork error. Do we understand each other?”

“Yeah,” Faith answered. “But how did –?”

“One of my hobbies when I was a teenager at the Council,” Rowena said, still keeping her voice hushed, “was… recreating… signatures – giving friends hall passes, phys ed excuse notes, you name it.”

“You’re a forger?” Faith asked with a slight smile. “Naughty girl.”

“Never thought I’d use it again, but I’m giving you an excuse note,” Rowena answered. “Don’t expect another one, Faith. I’m well aware of what I’ve done. I could lose my position within the Council, so I trust you to back me up. You filled it out, submitted it and I signed off on it, understood? If I don’t do this, the other branches can vote to have Kennedy replace you as Head Slayer permanently. And while I do trust Kennedy to handle the job, I think you’re more deserving of this position. You are one of the original slayers. You knew something was up with Skye long before anyone else and you’ve done an excellent job organizing these girls. We need you as the department head because of your skill and experience. So I’ll ask again, do we understand each other?”

Faith grinned and gave a firm nod. “I got your back,” she replied.

“Good,” Rowena sighed. “Now, let’s bring everyone else back in and deal with the other issue at hand…read this,” she said, giving Faith another piece of paper. “This one, I promise, won’t be pretty or an easy fix.”

Rowena hit “record” again and rose. Faith watched her go to the door with a look of concern. Then she looked back down at the paper.

Rowena stepped out and motioned everyone from the hall inside.

“Please have a seat,” she told them as they filtered into the room. “Now,” Rowena began as she sat down, “as I explained to Miss Lehane, I have the paperwork requesting her vacation time.”

“Vacation time?” One of Kennedy’s eyebrows went sky high.

“I have it here,” Rowena said, holding up the sheet.

“Okay,” Kennedy said, putting her hands in the air, “call me an idiot, but I need to ask an honest question and get an honest answer…Did she just sign that?” She motioned to the paper.

“No,” Rowena answered. “Look in your folder, page three. I realize you haven’t had time to go over your meeting notes. since you just got off patrol, but you’ll find a photocopied version there. As I said, this is the first time I’ve seen Miss Lehane since her return, which is why I requested the closed doors to check on her well being. I believe she’s in fair enough condition to continue this meeting, as does she.” Rowena then turned to everyone else at the table. “However, my main concern is not misplaced paperwork, but rather Faith’s actions on the eve of her vacation. I’ve given Miss Lehane a copy of the report filed by you, as well as the report filed by Heli,” Rowena said directly to Kennedy. The watcher then turned to Faith and asked, “Do you dispute anything that appears in this report?”

“No,” Faith replied.

“So you agree that the information inside is true to the best of your knowledge? In particular, that you struck Kennedy twice before she retaliated in self-defense, as the report states?”

“Yes,” Faith answered sadly.

“In light of Kennedy’s report and Faith’s testimony, I suggest that Kennedy remain in charge of the Slayer Division until such time as the Council deems Faith fit for return to service. All in favor, say aye,” Rowena continued, her tone at its maximum of professionalism.

“Aye,” Willow answered.

Everyone then looked at Kennedy.

“I can make a formal request that she be dismissed from service, can’t I?” the younger slayer asked.

“Yes,” Rowena answered, as she and Willow shared a concerned look. “Faith’s fate would then be handed over to the other branches for voting…if that’s what you really want. But it could lead to Faith’s dismissal.”

“I don’t want to see Faith go,” Willow said to Kennedy, without fully looking at her.

Kennedy locked eyes with Faith for a long moment as the room fell silent.

“I don’t want that either, but I’m not sure I’m qualified to make that kind of call, since I’m one of the people involved,” Kennedy answered.

Finally, Rowena cleared her throat and said, “I realize that this might be in direct conflict with your personal and professional life with Miss Lehane, but we need an answer. How do you vote, Kennedy? Aye for probation or Nay for a tribunal and possible dismissal.”

Kennedy looked around at the worried faces in the room, then looked directly at Faith.

“Nay,” she answered. Rowena and Willow looked at each other with uncertainty. “But I’d like it on record why I’m voting this way,” Kennedy added.

Rowena nodded for her to continue. “Go on,” the watcher said.

“First, yeah, I’m still upset, which is why I don’t think this is a matter that we can resolve here. Let’s face it, how I vote today determines a lot of what will happen for my future and Faith’s…so I’m requesting that the matter be handled outside the Cleveland office. The other branches should examine the incident, examine Faith’s record since she’s been here at the council and make an informed decision. I think everyone in this room is biased in one way or another and we’ll never reach a fair ruling. Making a call here puts me between a rock and a hard place.”

“I understand that,” Rowena said sympathetically.

We,” Willow emphasized. “We understand that…totally.”

“Well, no matter how I vote here I can’t win,” Kennedy said. “Do I let it go so a woman who used to be my best friend gets a break? And by doing that, am I setting it up so that any leader can physically harm another slayer or Council member under them? Or do I turn it over to someone else and run the risk that they might not consider everything she’s done except for this one thing? …It’s a lose/lose situation. At least, that’s the way I see it. I could be wrong.”

“I don’t think you’re wrong,” Rowena told her sincerely. “And in light of your comments, I vote Nay as well.”

“What?” Willow and Faith both asked. Robin remained silent, leaning back in his chair.

“Kennedy makes a valid point,” Rowena began as she looked at all the members in the room. “This should be decided outside of our office, because too much is at stake for other Council generations. This ruling will go far beyond the lives of the people sitting in this room. I’ll make the formal request to the Branch Directors to examine the case and the majority decision will rule.”

“And who’s going to put all this together?” Willow asked skeptically. “Like Kennedy said, everyone has their own agenda.”

“I ask that you and Kennedy help me compile the information that we send to the Council heads regarding Miss Lehane. In each others’ presence, we’ll seal the materials and send them to the prospective judges so the information they receive is factual. Agreed?”

“Agreed,” Kennedy answered.

“Uh, yeah,” Willow replied. “I guess.”

Rowena held up a finger. “Now, Vi is still on limited duty because of the arm injury. And since Faith is back, and Kennedy could use the help, is anyone opposed to Faith working under probation until the Council’s decision?”

“That depends,” Kennedy replied. “What did you have in mind?”

“Helping you with paperwork, taking Vi’s shift for the next day or two until Vi is at a hundred percent, other odds and ends. I don’t want those recruits going out without some type of senior back up. My concern is for them and I honestly don’t feel Faith’s indiscretion with you will put them at risk. If anything, her experience would do more good than harm. Would you agree?” Rowena concluded.

Kennedy nodded.

“Plus,” Rowena went on, “if an emergency arrives, and we need slayers, I don’t want the question of Faith’s availability being tied up in bureaucracy to render her unable to help.”

Kennedy considered it a moment. “That’s fine, but I’d like to be certain that she sees Dr. Millenti first. If he approves of her return to limited service, I’m not opposed to that.”

“Agreed. Is there any other business to address at this time?” When no one said anything more, Rowena added, “Very well then.” She banged the gavel as she said, “Meeting adjourned.”

Faith stood up as Kennedy did.

“Hey Ken?” Faith began with an apologetic look on her face. “For what it’s worth, I am sorry. I had no right to –”

“No, you didn’t,” Kennedy told her. Her tone was as professional as she could manage. “But like I told Rowena, I can’t be the one to decide what happens. Not right now, anyway. And I’m not gonna let my anger get in the way of making the right decision. So, if you’ll excuse me, I have rotations to work on.”

Kennedy left the room without looking back and Willow gave Faith a sympathetic look.

“Give her some time,” Willow told her. “She can’t stay mad forever, a-and I’m almost certain this tribunal stuff is just a formality, Faith.”

“Almost certain?” Faith asked.

Willow looked uncomfortable and gave a shrug. Rowena ran her hand over Willow’s shoulder on her way out of the room, causing Willow to follow. Soon only Robin and Faith stood in the vacant conference room.

“So…” Faith said, letting out a deep sigh. “Guess it’s your turn, Ace. Give me your best shot.”

Robin released a small grin and put his arms around Faith. “I’m still mad, yeah. But I still love you. It is possible to feel both things at the same time.”

“Then someone better tell Slick that,” she replied.

“She’s hurt, Faith, far worse than anyone here. And you realize I’m not talking physically hurt, don’t you?”

“Yeah…I do. I just wish she didn’t have it in for me,” Faith replied.

“Like Ro said, everyone has a stake in what happens to you. There are a lot of lives you touch. If anything, you should be proud of Kennedy for trying to do the right thing and not going with her knee jerk reaction, which in all likelihood might involve her knee jerking into your groin.” Faith gave him a nervous grin. “But seriously, don’t look at it like Ken’s out to get you, because I don’t think that’s true. If anything, she’s being the type of leader that you’ve always been. You’ve done a good job training her, whether you both realized it or not.”

“And you? What do you think of me right now?”

“Aw, Faith, you get spooked and you bolt,” Robin answered. “That’s your style – I’ve always known that, but I don’t think Ken has and there lies the difference. So, for her, this is a news flash. And although I understand it, I must admit I’m not sure why you do it.”

“I do. When I was away…I figured quite a few things out about me, if you’d be willing to listen.”

Robin grinned. “Well, why don’t we go upstairs and you can tell me about it.”

Faith nodded and the two began to walk from the room. Faith slipped her arm around Robin’s waist. Although he didn’t return the gesture immediately, by the time they made it to the door he had his arm around Faith too.

Cut To:


Watchers Council – Hallway – Same Time

“You know there’s a chance that Faith will be fired,” Willow told Rowena as they walked together down the hallway.

“I realize that,” she answered soberly. “All we can do is plead her case, let them know how much she’s needed and, if we’re lucky, find a way for her and Ken to make peace with each other. Okay, for Ken to make peace with her,” Rowena corrected herself.

For a moment, they didn’t say anything.

“I didn’t think you’d go against me on this one,” Willow said, as they continued to walk along.

“I’m not picking sides here,” Rowena said, facing Willow. “Yeah, I did to an extent with the paperwork thing,” she said in a hushed tone. “But there was no wiggle room on that issue. Faith would be gone for sure if I hadn’t turned it in the night she left. And now I’m certain Kennedy will check the request in the Council files, so I need to find a way in to change the entry date to something prior to January 17th.”

“Good thing you’re sleepin’ with someone in the IT department who also has witchy fingers,” Willow replied, wiggling her eyebrows.

“No,” Rowena told her, shaking her head. “The council can’t afford to lose both of us. If anyone ever found out…” Rowena trailed off, as two slayers and a watcher-in-training walked by. “…what happened with that Brell demon we were talking to last week…” Once they were gone Rowena said, “Anyway…no.”

“Come on,” Willow prodded. “What’s a few numbers switched? Besides, how do you think I got all our money?” she asked.

Rowena smiled and began to walk along as Willow moved beside her.

“Tyrell was sooo pissed,” she said, and then began to chuckle. “There’s a rumor that there’s even more money someplace in the world.”

“Is it a pot of gold guarded by a little leprechaun? They’re always after me Lucky Charms,” Willow said in a bad, high-pitched Irish accent.

Rowena laughed. “It’s official. My girlfriend is crazy.”

“So it’s settled then,” Willow said happily. “I’m too crazy to have the skills to change the entry dates and do a little witchy magic on the back up tapes.” She smiled so broadly that Rowena knew the witch was planning the exact opposite.

“Just be careful,” Rowena sighed, giving up the argument.

“Always,” Willow said. She gave her a kiss on the cheek, then split off down another hallway as Rowena continued to her office.

Fade In:


Orlando International Airport – Afternoon

Andrew hiked his heavy backpack over his shoulder and took Tracey’s hand, as if in fear she would be lost in the crowd. Behind him, he pulled Tracey’s carry-on bag.

“Wow,” Tracey exclaimed, looking around. “Lotta people.”

“Yeah,” Andrew said. “Tourist season down here. It’s why I got us VIP passes at Universal. So we can skip to the head of the lines.”

Tracey’s face lit up. “You did? Andy, that’s great!”

The couple started walking toward the baggage claim area, a bright blush on Andrew’s face. “What else did you do?” she asked.

“Uh, well, I got us a suite at the Portofino and dinner reservations on Tuesday,” he answered.

“The Portofino?” she exclaimed. “Andy, that’s like the most exclusive hotel at the resort!”

“Yeah,” he admitted. “I wanted us to have a nice place to stay.”

“I would have been happy with a room at the Days Inn, as long as it was private and with you.” She pulled him in for a quick kiss, then asked, “Dinner where?”

Andrew’s blush deepened. “Um, Emeril’s.”

“Emeril’s!” she said, stopping in the middle of the busy concourse. “You got reservations at Emeril’s on Valentine’s Day? How?”

“I sent an email off to Mr. Hellmer at the local branch telling him we were coming down and asking if he had any contacts at Universal,” he explained. “He said one of the slayers had saved the sommelier from a vamp a couple of weeks ago. All it took was another email and we were in.”

“You know Andrew, you don’t have to pay for everything on this trip,” she said. “I’d like to help out, too.”

“No,” he said. “It’s okay, I really, really want to.”


“No, really,” he insisted. “For the first time, I’ve got money that I earned, instead of stealing or having it given to me. I want us to have a good time and I want to make you happy.”

Tracey smiled and ran a hand down his cheek. “Just being with you makes me happy.”

He grinned. “Come on, let’s get my bag.”

Cut To:


Orlando International Airport – Baggage Claim – Short time later

Andrew watched the revolving carousel, growing more and more impatient as other passengers from their flight retrieved their luggage and disappeared to the waiting cars, buses and taxis. Finally, only a few stragglers remained.

“Anything?” Tracey asked Andrew as he passed her again, double-checking the remaining bags.

“No,” he said in frustration. “It’s not here.”

Tracey sighed. “We better go check at customer service.”

Cut To:


Orlando International Airport – Lost Baggage – Short time later

“I’m sorry Mr. Wells, but it appears that your bag never got on the plane in Cleveland,” a dark-skinned woman wearing an anonymous airline uniform informed the unhappy couple standing on the other side of her station.

“What!” Andrew asked. “But why?”

“It appears that TSA pulled your bag after x-ray for a manual search, and it missed the deadline for getting it on board,” the woman explained.

“Why did they need to search it?” Tracey asked.

The woman clicked a few keys on her keyboard and then her eyebrows rose up fractionally. “The TSA operative’s notes say that they detected a ‘suspicious’ item during x-ray.”

“Suspicious item?” Tracey asked, confused.

Andrew groaned. “My athame!” he told her. “That’s why I checked the bag in the first place! So I wouldn’t have any problem carrying it on board.” He thought for a moment, “Oh, and there’s a box of ointment.”

“You packed your athame?” Tracey asked.

“Yeah,” Andrew said. “It’s the full moon…I thought even if we were, well, busy…I could still do a ritual.”

Tracey smiled and then turned an angry eye at the woman who had made a disapproving noise in her throat.

“I don’t know what you’re thinking, but Andrew is a priest in a very important religious organization and that ‘suspicious’ item was a vital tool used to bring comfort and aid to many people.”

The woman’s eyes rolled slightly and she turned back to Andrew.

“I can have the bag shipped on the next flight from Cleveland, but that won’t be until tomorrow, Mr. Wells.”

“It’ll be too late by then,” he said. “And I don’t want to risk it getting lost again. Have them hold it there and I’ll get someone to pick it up.”

The woman nodded and handed him an authorization form to fill out. She turned away from the couple and busied herself at her computer.

“Is there anything else you needed that was in the bag, Andy?” Tracey asked.

“Just clothes,” he said. “Toiletries and stuff. Oh! My suit for dinner.”

She smiled in delight. “You were gonna get dressed up for me?”

“Of course,” he nodded, filling in the form.

Tracey moved closer to him, and whispered in his ear, “Just as long as I can get undressed for you after dinner.”

Andrew blushed and tried to concentrate on the form. The woman behind the station muttered, “Some priest.”

Tracey’s face snarled in anger and her hand came up. Andrew grabbed her finger before she could point it in the woman’s face and deftly slid the form across the top of the station.

“Thank you, ma’am,” he said. “I’ll have someone fetch it no later than tomorrow.”

Before Tracey could say anything, he turned and led them both from the lost baggage area.

“Andrew!” Tracey protested. “That woman was…”

“I know,” he said calmly.

“And they had no right to search your bag,” she fumed. “They were just trying to cause trouble because it was a Wiccan athame and not some ordinary box cutter!”

“Perhaps,” he replied, looking around and then heading toward the taxi stand.

“What do you mean, ‘perhaps’?” she said. “It’s nothing but religious discrimination! Why I ought to…”

Cut To:


Orlando International Airport – Same Time

“Tracey,” he began, stopping her as they finally stepped out of the air-conditioned building into the humid, bright Orlando afternoon, “It doesn’t matter. Things like that happen all the time… you can’t let every little thing bother you.”

“But…” she protested.

“But nothing,” he shrugged. “You have to choose your battles carefully, and a little lost luggage isn’t enough to get worked up about. Okay?”

She took a deep breath and finally nodded. “Okay.”

“Good,” he answered as he took out his cell phone, “Now, just let me call Ro about having someone get the bag.” He dialed with one hand and reached into his pocket with the other. He then handed her two dollar bills. “Can you get me a water, Sweetie? It’s hotter than heck out here.”

“Sure,” she answered, walking over to the machine.

He put the phone to his ear and listened for a moment. Then he began to speak in a rush.

“Ro, thank god! You gotta help me! My luggage is at the Cleveland airport! I have no clothes for dinner, no toothpaste or deodorant, which I need tremendously in this heat! I don’t know what I’m gonna do! …No! My charge card is already maxed out from the trip, so I can’t buy new clothes! …No! The cash I have is for food, taxi’s, stuff like that! You gotta help me!”

Cut To:


Watchers Council – Rowena’s Office – Same Time

Rowena smiled as she listened to Andrew on the speakerphone.

“Just breathe, Andrew,” she instructed. “I’ll have Jeff get your bag and in the meantime you can use your Council credit card to get what you need. Again…what you need, and you don’t need everything from the Universal Studios gift shop. All I ask is that you pay us back when we get the statement next month.”

Cut To:


Orlando International Airport – Same Time

“Oh, thankyouthankyouthankyou,” he said, as he watched Tracey turn toward him and start to walk back over, water in hand. “Tracey’s coming back so…thanks Ro,” he said, using a calm tone again. “Jeff’s got a key to my place so he can just take the bag up there once he’s got it. Thanks again, Doll,” he said as he hung up.

Tracey extended the water bottle to him. “All set?” she asked.

“Absolutely,” he told her. “On to the hotel?”

She smiled and then as he turned to open the back door of the first taxi in line, she said, “Does that mean we can finally be alone for awhile?”

Andrew’s mouth dropped open and all that came out was a choked, “Ug,” as the driver smirked at him. Andrew quickly climbed in the back of the cab and shut the door. “Sure, but not too long. I still do need to buy clothes for dinner,” he managed to add.

Cut To:


Watchers Council – Rowena’s Office – Same Time

Rowena was still staring in disbelief at the phone headset in her head, which she had yet to place back in its cradle.

“Doll?” She shook her head. “He’s lucky everyone else is so terrible at making coffee.”

Cut To:


Portofino Bay Hotel – Later

Andrew led Tracey through the elegant lobby to the front desk and said to the clerk, “Reservation for Wells,” his voice only cracking a bit.

“Yes, Mr. Wells,” the slender man said efficiently. He checked his computer and then retrieved a folded note from a small inbox. “A message for you, sir. If I could have your identification and credit card, I’ll get you immediately checked in.”

Andrew swapped the note for his cards and read it. He looked around the lobby.

“What is it?” Tracey asked.

A young man approached and said with a slight German accent, “Nice to see you again, Andrew.”

“Mr. Hellmer!” Andrew replied. “Do you remember Tracey?”

“Of course. Tracey, mein schönes Fräulein,” he replied. “Wie geht es Ihnen?

Mir geht es gut, Herr Hellmer. Danke. Und Ihnen?” Tracey replied in flawless German, causing Andrew’s eyes to pop out.

Mir geht es auch gut, meine Liebe,” he smiled brightly. “So, Andrew! Welcome to Florida.”

“Thanks, Mr. Hellmer,” Andrew said. “But you didn’t have to come all the way here just to visit.”

“No, I’m afraid that’s not it,” Hellmer said. “I need a huge favor, Andrew.”

Andrew looked at him and sighed.

Cut To:


The Thirsty Fish Bar – Portofino Bay Hotel – Minutes Later

Andrew gazed warily at Hellmer as the watcher ordered drinks for them at a quiet table in the busy bar. He was silent, while Tracey and Hellmer chatted pleasantly, until after the waitress had delivered their drinks.

“What can we do for you, Mr. Hellmer?” he finally asked.

“I’ve had some disturbing reports about some happenings at the reservation south of here,” the watcher said.

“What kind of reports?” Tracey asked.

“Stories of partial remains being found at remote locations around the reservation,” he said, sipping his drink.

“I’m sure the local authorities can handle it,” Andrew said.

“The tribal force certainly is capable,” Hellmer said. “But I’m afraid that my contact there feels the crimes indicate a supernatural aspect. He wasn’t too clear on the details, but if he feels something is amiss, I’m inclined to believe him.”

“What about your slayers?” Tracey asked.

Hellmer sighed. “Right now, we’re busy with a nest of Grathor demons that have taken up residence near the Hellmouth. And, to be frank… I only have one slayer who is old enough to drive. I simply don’t have enough here to split them up.”

Andrew nodded. “Rowena said she’s hoping that we can get a second watcher posted here soon, Mr. Hellmer.”

“I know, Andrew,” he replied. “The Council is doing its best. When you wrote saying you would be visiting, I thought maybe you wouldn’t mind taking a day to drive to the reservation and check out the situation.”

Andrew looked at Tracey apologetically.

“I don’t mind, Andrew,” she said. “We’ve got a whole week here, a day won’t make a difference.”

“You sure?” he asked.

She nodded. “Hey, it’s what we do, right?”

Andrew turned back to Hellmer. “Okay,” he said.

“Splendid!” Hellmer said, taking a folder from his briefcase and handing it to Andrew. “Here is all the pertinent information, details, contacts and maps, what have you. I’ll have a rental car waiting for you in the morning. Just get the key from the concierge. It’s about a three hour drive to the reservation, so I suggest you get an early start.”

Andrew glanced through the thick folder, nodding at the information within. Hellmer sat for a moment and then stood up.

“I can’t tell you how much this means to me, Andrew…Tracey,” he said. “I must go now…the girls are mustering for the assault tonight as soon as the park closes.”

“Do you need help?” Andrew offered, looking up at the man.

“Och, no!” Hellmer said, waving a hand. “The girls want to get there early to watch the light show.”

“Oh!” Andrew said excitedly. “I heard they’re gonna have heart-shaped fireworks and stuff that’ll be right behind the castle!”

“Yes,” Hellmer said, with a marked lack of enthusiasm. “However, it’s good for the girls’ morale. Take care, and be sure to check in, else I will worry.”

“We will,” Tracey said.

“Bye Mr. Hellmer,” Andrew waved. After the Watcher had left, he sighed and looked at Tracey. “So, room service and then hit the sack?”

Tracey’s sigh matched his. “Yeah.”

Fade To:


Indian Police Department – Hendry County, Florida – Late Morning

Andrew and Tracey stepped out of the Ford Taurus into the bright South Florida sun. Tracey held her face up to the clear sky.

“God, can you believe this weather, Andy?” she said, skipping happily around to the driver’s side of the car. “Seventy degrees and not a cloud in the sky! Tell me it’s still February!”

“It’s February,” Andrew said with an indulgent smile. “I hate to tell you this honey, but it’s like this all the time where I’m from…only without the alligators…and we had more smog.”

She laughed and jumped happily into his arms.

“Lucky you,” she said. “Well, except for the smog part.”

At a sound on the gravel driveway, they both turned and saw a tall, black-haired, stocky man wearing a denim shirt and jeans approach.

“Andrew Wells?” the man asked, putting out a hand.

“Yes,” Andrew said, shaking the man’s hand. “From the Council of Watchers. This is my companion Tracey. You’re Inspector Jimmy Osceola?”

“Yes,” the officer answered. “Thanks for coming.”

Andrew looked down at the now thumb-worn folder. “Mr. Hellmer said you had a slight problem here.”

“I’ll say,” Osceola said. “Why don’t I show you what we found this morning, and then I’ll fill you in on the background?”

Andrew and Tracey both nodded and Osceola led the way to the dock behind the station.

Oh, cool,” Andrew said as the Inspector untied the line holding the airboat to the dock. “Are we going for a ride?”

Osceola looked at Tracey, who just shrugged and smiled. “Yeah, it’s a couple of miles through the marsh. Use these.”

Andrew and Tracey carefully climbed into the high seats in front of the driver’s seat and inserted the earplugs the man had given them. Osceola pushed off and climbed behind them.

“Buckle up!” he shouted, a moment before starting the loud prop engine.

Andrew’s eyes popped out as the craft slid through the shallow water and quickly gained speed.

“Cool!” he yelled.

Cut To:


Hardwood Hammock – Minutes Later

The Inspector steered the airboat over a sandbar and up the slight slope of the hammock for a few yards and finally killed the noisy engine.

“Wow,” Andrew said excitedly. “That was fun!”

“Thanks,” Osceola said, a slight smile gracing his stern face. “It’s up here.” He pointed and the trio walked up the slope into the thickening copse of cypress trees. The Inspector carefully led them past the small shrubs and jutting cypress knees.

After a few minutes, they came to a small clearing. A forest of Spanish moss draped from the trees in the center of the hammock, the tall cypress limbs shading them from the bright sun. Tracey gasped as they came in view of what was lying on the ground. “Oh my God,” she muttered.

“Yeah,” Osceola said.

Andrew remained silent and cautiously moved forward.

Lying on the ground was a dismembered torso, the skin peeled away to show the layers of fat and muscle underneath.

Black Out



End of Act Two

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