This story is based almost entirely on the dreams I have at night, therefore, the character of Mary is almost an exact replica of me.

So… if you are curious about me, this is the story for you. And… if you are looking for a tale full of miracles of supernatural proportions, heart-pounding romance, eerie thrills, and edge-of-your-seat adventure-- this is it. Hehe.

And the titles of books, music, and movies that Mary enjoys… yeah, I don't own those. (DUH)

And yes… I love the word "therefore." it has a nice ring, doesn't it?

Chapter One

It all started that night at the hospital. I was reading in one of those denim-colored waiting room chairs. Of course, I was always reading. This time, it was a Terry Brooks fantasy novel, and I was engrossed. I had almost forgotten that I was in a hospital room waiting for my dad, who was visiting a man who was going to have surgery.

There was a sudden rumble of thunder. I looked up, just in time to catch a glimpse of lightning flashing outside. I shivered. Something about this storm was… sinister. I quickly turned my eyes back to the pages of my novel.

"Ready to go, Mary?"

I looked up. It was my dad. No one could mistake him for anyone else-- not with the black hair, red beard, and sharp blue eyes. Anyone could tell that he had Irish blood.

"Ready, Dad." I stood up and we began to walk out of the hospital. "So, how was Mr. Carter?"

"Great, considering." My dad is a minister. Therefore one of his tasks is visiting church members in the hospital. Sometimes I went with him. He eyed the book in my hand. "What are you reading?" He always asked me that. Every day.

"The Scions of Shannara."

"Read it before?"

"Yes."

"Is it good?"

"Yes."

We climbed into the white family truck. As I was buckling my seat belt, I caught a glimpse of a short bald man with a beard sitting in the old red car parked next to us. He was staring at me. Before I could react to this, Dad had cranked up the truck and we were rolling out of the hospital parking lot. I tried to shrug off what I had seen, but… that man's stare… it had me creeped out.

Soon, we were home. And soon, I was in my room, reading and listening to Enya. I felt strange and not myself. It worried me a bit. The next day, my parents and siblings were going to stay with my cousins in Mississippi. I would stay behind because I had work to do at the shoe store of my employment. Usually, being home alone suited me just fine. But now… for some reason, the prospect frightened me.

That night, I dreamed fitful dreams, dreams of being chased by short, bald men, dreams of lightning and rain. I awoke suddenly, my eyes for some reason drawn to the ceiling fan which I always kept on.

Then, there was a bright light at the foot of my bed. And out of the light stepped… Jimmy Stewart, the actor! Well, at least, he looked like Jimmy Stewart. But this man was much taller and he was shining. At the same time, I was afraid of him and felt safe because of him. He turned kind but powerful eyes on me. And suddenly, I knew his name was Ralph. "Mary," he said in a deep voice that I didn't hear with my ears, but with my mind. "Go get in bed with your mother." As I stared at him, I noticed that with one hand, he was holding back some sort of shadow. "Go," he said.

So I did. I ran to my parent's room. Their clock read 3:30. My mom was alone in the bed, my dad having gotten up this early to prepare for the journey ahead. I quickly climbed in bed with Mom, shaking. She just rolled over and muttered something in her sleep. Though I thought I would never sleep again, I quickly drifted off into dream land.

When I awoke, it was 7:30 in the morning. My parents were trying to arouse my younger siblings, Aden and Kristen. I got up, went to my room, and quickly dressed in jeans and a green tank top. Then, I brushed my long golden hair and put on a tad of makeup. Then… I saw it. My ceiling fan. It had fallen onto my bed during the night, probably struck by lightning during the storm. My green eyes went wide. Ralph had saved my life.

I quickly decided not to tell my family until they got back from Mississippi. Their minds were busy enough planning and worrying about the week ahead of them.

I soon joined my family in the living room. "Bye guys," I said, stuffing my hands into my pockets. "Have fun with Jonathan and Ricky."

"Have fun at Shoe Mart," Dad said with a wink.

"Oh, I will," I replied. I reached down to jerk Kristen's ponytail. "Be good, Kris. And you too, Aden."

"Be careful, Angel," Mom said, giving me a hug. She commenced to telling me where the money was, to brush my teeth, and to be careful driving.

"Nineteen, Mom," I said. It was a joke between me and my mother that she constantly forgot my age.

I hugged each of my family members and they were gone. I couldn't help but feel scared once I was alone. After last night…

Last night! Ralph!

Suddenly, I felt safer. Surely Ralph was my guardian angel or something. I saluted towards the ceiling. "Thanks, God," I whispered. "And tell Ralph he did a good job."

I sighed. I hadn't thought I had seen an angel since kindergarten when I thought I had seen an angel named Rachel sitting beside me on my bed. I remembered dismissing the encounter as real, thinking that the few times I had seen her, I had been imagining her because I was lonely and wanted a friend.

Now… now… I was not so sure.