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The Portal of Time, Part IV

by Jennifer Loyd

"I've got to get her out of there!" John says frantically.

"You can't get anywhere near her, there are guards all around!" Mimi objects.

"Then we've got to get the guards away from her," John says, thinking quickly. He has to provide a diversion.... Taking a deep breath, he yells, at the top of his lungs and over the roar of the mob, "Long live the King! Long live Louis XVI! DOWN WITH THE REVOLUTION!!!"

There is a moment of stunned silence, and then all the fury of the crowd is turned on the man who had dared make such blasphemous declarations. "Go, NOW! Get her out!" John yells to Mimi before running, as fast and as hard as he can, to escape the hostile and bloodthirsty mob.

In the ensuing chaos Mimi races to the scaffold. "Mimi!" a voice calls out, a voice no force on earth could keep her from responding to...

"Stefano!" she screams as she sees him in the tumbril, hands bound, and runs to his side.

"Untie me, we have to take Marlena away from here!" he commands. Her hands are feverishly working to undo the knots, and as soon as he is free he turns to where Marlena was standing only seconds before. But she is gone....

John is barely able to outrun his pursuers, and yet he continues, drawing on a strength born of his pure and undying love for Marlena. But these men are armed, and when the first bullet whizzes by his head, he knows that outrunning them is not enough. He must seek refuge, and when he spies a manhole in his path ahead he knows what he must do. The sewers of Paris are a maze, a labyrinthine shelter for criminals and innocent refugees alike. And so John scrambles underground, praying that Marlena has been able to escape, that she will be safe, that they will be reunited and return to their own time. Hang on, Doc, I'm coming back for you, he thinks. Does she even know he's there, in the past? Maybe it's just his imagination, but he's sure she saw him, looked up at the last minute before he fled, and called his name. He had hated to have to leave her there, but at least this way there's a chance she can escape....

Is it possible? Is John really here, has he come to rescue me? Marlena wonders as she is being led on a dizzying race through the narrow streets and alleys of Paris. She is sure she heard his voice, saw him, right before the man and women came and untied her wrists and got her away from the grisly scene. But after everything she has been through, she is not even sure she can trust the evidence of her own eyes and ears. Perhaps it was just a hallucination.

"This way," whispers Josué as he, Mme Méchante, Marguérite and Abi lead "Marie-Hélène" through a doorway and up a narrow flight of stairs. A young woman is waiting for them upstairs and as she sees them approach she beckons them in. "Quickly--in here!" They furtively slip into the small room and close the door behind them.

"You will be safe here with Aimée until they have stopped looking for you," explains Abi.

Marlena collapses onto the nearest chair, exhausted and trying to understand what is happening. All she knows is that if it weren't for these people, she would be dead right now. "You saved my life," she says incredulously. "How can I ever thank you?"

"We could not let you die," Josué replies. "After all you've done for us, we could never forget your kindness."

But I don't know these people, Marlena thinks, and yet they seem familiar to her, she knows they are her friends. And then she remembers the guards in the prison. Madame la Duchesse, they had called her, Marie-Hélène d'Évannes....

"This is a time of madness," Marguérite says, "and I fear that much more blood will be spilled before it is over. But when we heard you had been arrested, we knew we must find a way to save you."

"My sister and her husband have a place in the country," Josué explains. "As soon as it is safe for you to leave, you will go with them, to stay there until this insanity is over."

"No, I can't leave!" Marlena cries. "There is someone here, someone I must find. A very dear friend of mine."

"The man at the Place de la Révolution today. Jean," Mme Méchante says knowingly.

Marlena looks up, surprised. "How did you know?" she asks.

"You called out his name as we were taking you away," Abi explains. "It was really he who saved your life, you know. He was very brave to act as he did."

Marlena smiles, tears welling up in her eyes. "Yes," she says, "he is very brave."

"And he must love you very much," Josué says softly, "to risk his life for you as he did."

She smiles through her tears. "Yes, he does."

"If he is alive, we shall find him!" declares Abi.

"It is not safe for you to leave here," Marguérite tells "Marie-Hélène". "But we shall find out what has happened to him, and if he has survived, we shall bring him back to you." And bidding their friends farewell, Marguérite and Abi leave.

Dear God, please let John live, Marlena prays. Please let them find him....

"Do not worry," Josué tries to comfort her. "I believe your friend is still alive." And he prays too, seeing the deep and abiding love in her eyes. No other woman could maintain such grace and dignity after the ordeal she has been through, he thinks,but she is still radiant with an inner beauty that nothing can diminish....

Kristen and André are waiting outside the chemist's door, waiting to meet with Lavoisier. For the first time she wonders, why did André come back? She knows he was working for Stefano, but surely that could not have been part of his plan. Stefano hadn't known I would go back, he didn't even tell me about the time machine, she thinks. Unlike Kristen, André knew what he was walking into when he went back. So why would he choose to go? Whatever the reason, she feels comforted by his presence. She looks at him, really seeing him for the first time, studies the chiseled features of his face in profile. She is glad he is there with her.

The door opens and a tall man appears.

"We need to speak with Monsieur Lavoisier," André says. "Is he in?"

"Citizen Lavoisier is a very busy man. He must not be disturbed," the man replies and begins to shut the door.

"Please," Kristen interjects, stepping in the doorway. "It's urgent that we see him."

"I am a doctor," André adds. "I know about... Citizen Lavoisier's experiments." And he gives details which no one but Lavoisier knows yet.

The man hesitates, then steps back to let them in. "This way," he says, leading them to the laboratory....

Part V

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