Phase I

He looked like a ghost being formed by the swirling fog that encompassed them. She almost expected her hand to pass right through him but instead, it stopped on his warm skin. A smile spread across his face for he had obviously been questioning her existence.

She returned his smile as she looked up into his dark-blue eyes. She tried to speak, to ask him his name, but the words came out slow and distorted, as if they were caught in a time-warp, though their physical movements seemed normal.

Moving a hand up his chest, she touched his lips with a finger surprised at her familiarity with a man whose name was a mystery. Of course, this wasn't the first time they had met. They had met many years ago and had been in many places, but had never gotten around to names. Strange, it had always seemed irrelevant, until today. Today, it was different because she knew he wanted to kiss her, and it just seemed that names were, well, relevant somehow...

Questions faded from her mind as his lips met her own. All she could do was feel and experience the explosions and sirens that shook her from her sleep.

"Damn!" she said looking down at the alarm clock she had just knocked off of her nightstand. "Damn!" she repeated as she fell back onto her pillows. Picking up the Winnie the Pooh bear that shared her bed, she growled at him before she gave it a big hug.

"This man must truly exist somewhere, Pooh. He's haunted my dreams too many years to be a ghost."

Shaking her head, she pushed the covers away, stood and stretched. Making her way around a plethora of plants that crowded her one-bedroom apartment, she groped her way to the kitchen, collected a Classic Coke and lit a cigarette. Inhaling deeply, she looked at the time on her VCR while making her way to the bathroom. Sticking out her tongue at herself in the mirror, she smiled tiredly as she started her morning rituals to prepare herself for work.

Thirty minutes later, she came out of the bathroom wearing khaki pants, an army-green short-sleeved shirt with a khaki tie and belt to match. Running her fingers through short, honey-colored hair to be sure that it was drying in place, she turned back into the bathroom to see if she passed her own inspection. Smiling brightly into the mirror, she nodded approval.

Turning out the light, she entered her living room and began opening the blinds. This was another part of her morning ritual, for not only did she dislike closed-up rooms, her 'jungle', as a few friends referred to her home, demanded a lot of sunlight.

She was going toward the last of the four windows when she stopped beside a small keyboard, turned it on and played out a simple tune. It was a tune that had been running through her mind, a song she had heard in a dream a few weeks back, one she had never heard before.

"Jiminy!" she said in disgust as she shut the keyboard off. "From songs that I've never heard to a man I've never seen..." Reaching down, she picked up her briefcase and keys, opened the last blind and then, left. The dreams were one of the major reasons she enjoyed her job – working with computers and logic all day balanced out the insanity she sometimes encountered at home.

Tom, who was over Maintenance, watched as Brittany walked into the building. "That" he told the man next to him, who was pouring himself a cup of coffee, "is a strange woman."

George, who worked with Brittany in internal control on tech, looked in the direction that Tom was staring and shrugged. "Why do you say that? She seems pleasant enough."

Tom grunted. "Yeah, she seems that way but have you ever tried to talk to her about anything but work?"

George laughed. "What did she do? Turn you down for a date?"

"well, I thought she probably didn't get that many offers – I mean she is a bit overweight so..."

"So, you thought you'd be a hero?"

"Something like that."

George walked away shaking his head, stopping at Brittany's office. "Good morning, Brit," he called out to her.

"Good morning, George. How are you today?"

"Fine," he answered before a frown settled upon his face. "How can you work in there?"

Brittany looked up at George in surprise before glancing around her office. She had a bookcase on one wall, a large desk, a small file cabinet and behind her, a computer terminal that faced the single window. "I don't understand...," she began, only to realize he was talking about all of her plants. "Oh, I see. Well, this isn't all my fault. Everyone with an ailing plant brings it to me. Here," she said as she pointed to small ivy, "is one of yours."

"I know, but you only had two plants when I brought it down here two months ago."

"You started it – yours was the first," she said as she picked his plant up and made as if to hand it to him.

"You best keep it. I'll just have to bring it back in a couple of weeks, all withered up again."

"Right," she answered as she put it back into its place. Hearing the phone ring, she waved to George as she answered it.

Engineering Concepts, this is Brittany."

"Brittany, it's Liz."

Brittany sat down and smiled. "Hey girl, what's going on?"

"Am I disturbing you?"

"It's only five minutes after eight. It usually takes me ten minutes to get started."

"Cute!"

"What ya need?"

"You gonna be home tonight?"

"Yeah."

"Good, I have a surprise for you."

Brittany sighed in surrender. She hated mysteries that took more than eight hours to solve but decided that maybe if she didn't act exasperated, her best friend would go ahead and tell her the surprise. "Great! What time?" She could sense Liz's hesitation and confusion and, smiled.

"Uh, about...7:30."

"Sounds good."

"Well," still a bit hesitant, "I guess I'll see you then. Bye."

"Bye," she said as she hung up the phone, followed by a "Damn! She did it to me anyway." Then she laughed out loud and reached for the manual and a pack of cigarettes that were in front of her.

At home later, looking up from her keyboard, she yelled for Liz to enter.

"At it again, I see," Liz commented as she placed the large bag she was carrying by the door and went to look at the pieces of paper Brit had been using to scribble down the tune that had been haunting her. She shook her head as Brit turned to her, smiling as brightly as ever.

"Hey," Brit said, "you got your hair cut."

"Yeah, from shaggy lion's mane to a more manageable one," she answered as she shook her now layered, thick blond hair.

"Looks good."

"Thanks."

"Now, what's the surprise?" she asked as she stood up.

Liz walked over to her bag and pulled out of a box. "Remember how we were curious about the Ouija board?"

"You got one? At Liz's nod, she continued, "All right!" She started toward the board when a certain thought crossed her mind.

Liz noticed Brit's normally sparkling green eyes fade to a dull green. "Brit, what is it?"

"Remember the dreams I told you about? You know, the one with Mikel?" Mikel had been the name she had come up with after she had first encountered him at the age of four. Mikel, after the highest angel of them all, of course.

"Yes," she answered slowly, "Why?"

"I had a dream last night – he was in it."

"You haven't had a dream like that in over three years," she paused, thinking back to the time when Brittany 's dreams had occurred and of the 'Voice' – an antagonistic, mental companion that Liz had always associated with the man in Brittany's dreams though Brit had always denied the connection. "Has the 'Voice' returned also?"

Brittany shot her a deadly look but did not answer.

"Well," she persisted.

Brit nodded her head, though it was just barely perceptible. "I wonder if this board could give me some answers?"

Liz shrugged. "It worked in the book. I don't see why it wouldn't work for us, too. We might as well give it a try."

"Ok. I'll fix us a drink. Why don't you put some music on?"

"How about the radio, since we'll be too busy to be changing albums?"

"Put it on 108. The Black Knights should be releasing their new single soon. Maybe we will hear it tonight."

Five minutes later, they were sitting in the middle of the floor, the board balanced between their knees, each with one hand on the planchette.

"How do you get this started?" Brit asked.

"I don't know. I guess we just ask if anyone is out there?"

"Go ahead."

Liz grunted out "Chicken!" but then looked down at the board, cleared her throat and asked the first question. " Is there anyone out there who would like to talk to us?"

The pointer moved sluggishly at first, but it finally went to the top left hand corner.

YES

"Weird," Brit whispered and watched in fascination as the pointer moved again.

NO

Liz smiled. "Could you identify yourself for us?"

YES

Liz rolled her blue eyes Heavenward. "Please do so."

It went to the letters 'JH'.

"Hello," Liz said. "My name is...," her voice faded as the board spelled out her name.

Brittany couldn't suppress a smile as Liz pulled her hand off the pointer in surprise.

"Weird is right," she said as she put her hand back down.

"Hi, " Brit said.

HELLO BRIT.

"Do you have anything you would like to tell us about yourself?"

YES. I AM MIKEL.

Now it was Brittany's turn to pull her hand from the board. "Oh, this is too much BS. Are you making it move?"

Liz looked shocked. "Are you kidding? Besides, I wouldn't have shot that out right-off if it was me. Let's see what he has to say, want to?"

They placed their hands back, hesitantly.

"Are you as spirit?" Liz asked, whispering.

WE ARE ALL SPIRITS.

"Smart-ass!"

HA-HA

"Cute. Are you a ghost?" Liz tried again.

NO

"What are you?" Liz asked, finally frustrated.

AMAN

"Aman!?"

"Damn!" Brittany exclaimed as she took a sip of her spiced rum and Coke. " A man, Liz."

"Damn!"

In silent agreement, they put the board down and moved to the chairs. Both looked at the board before looking at each other.

"Damn!" Brittany repeated.

Liz was about to comment when the deejay on the radio announced a new song by the Black Knights, the song they had been hoping to hear.

They were both listening intently when the tune started, but it didn't take Brittany long to recognize it. Dropping her drink to the floor in shock, she turned to look at Liz, tears in her eyes. It was the song she had been trying to recreate on the keyboards. It was the song from her dream.

Perhaps I am not real.

Perhaps, I am just a dreamer,

dreaming of reality.

Of course, that is where

it all began.