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The Portal of Time, Part V

by Jennifer Loyd

How can this be?" the chemist asks, astounded.

"I know it sounds impossible. But it's true," André says. "We come from the twentieth century, and we need your help to go back to our time."

"It must be true, or else how could you know such things? I do not understand, but I know science can make all things possible."

"In our time, you are revered as the father of modern chemistry," André tells him. "Your formulas are studied by students everywhere."

"What you tell me is very flattering," Lavoisier replies. "But we must find a way to send you back to your own time." The former tax collector's eyes light up with the glow of a new challenge.

"This is what we need," André begins....

Kristen, meanwhile, is waiting outside the laboratory. If only André and Lavoisier can recreate the formula to reopen the portal, she thinks. She is sure they can. She has seen André take charge of each situation they have encountered in this strange place and time, and she understands why Stefano has come to trust and rely on him as much as he has. And with these thoughts in her mind, she drifts off to sleep....

Elsewhere, Mimi and Stefano have escaped, far from the Place de la Révolution, far from suspicion. Stefano is still in his soldier's uniform, the signs of his struggle with the prison guards could easily be atttributed to a recent battle. Mimi, with her tricolor sash and cockade, looks every inch the femme révolutionnaire. The two of them stop at a café in the former Palais-Royal to rest and plot their next strategy.

"Salut et fraternité!" Mimi calls to the owner, using the Revolutionary greeting to allay any possible suspicion. Once they are seated and have placed their orders, Stefano turns to Mimi.

"Why did you and John come back?" he asks.

"He saw Kristen in the hospital and got suspicious," she starts to explain.

"Kristen? What was she doing there?"

"She followed him, I suppose. She's here too, by the way. And André."

"They're here too?"

Mimi tells him the story of how they all came back. "I tried to stop him," she explains, "but instead I was pulled back with him."

"Never mind that. What's important now is to find Marlena."

"And then?"

"I'll take her away with me, of course, and the four of you will go back to the twentieth century."

Mimi sighs. "John will never go back until he finds her."

Stefano smiles diabolically. "He will if he believes her to be dead."

"Yes," Mimi says after a moment, planning. "He doesn't know that she escaped. We're supposed to meet back at 18 rue de la Victoire. André and Kristen should be with Lavoisier now, preparing for us all to go back. All I have to do is tell him that I wasn't able to save her...."

John stands silent against the slimy wall of the sewer, listening to the steady, insistent plop of water dripping into a pool. A rat scurries by, squealing in protest at the unwelcome intrusion. Other than that, not a sound, his pursuers have given up the search. It has surely been several hours now; he must try to surface.

Tentatively he peers out. A damp chill penetrates the air; night is falling. He climbs up into the darkness and presses himself flat against the wall, looking to see if anyone is around. His only thought is of Marlena. If she is alive, he will find her. He takes the first step forward and sees a solitary figure, a woman. Instinctively he retreats into the shadows, then realizes who it is. "Mimi!" he calls. "Marlena, where is she?"

Mimi shivers and looks away. "John," she begins. "I'm so sorry...."

Marguérite and Abi have been searching for hours. They are cold, tired and hungry, and still they will not give up. But it is getting late now, perhaps they should resume the search tomorrow.

"Look, Maman!" Abi whispers. "There's a man coming out of the sewer!"

"Could it be...?" Marguérite and Abi move discreetly closer to get a better look. He certainly seems to be hiding. Then they see him speaking with a woman.

"If it is him, he is in danger... Monsieur Jean!" Abi whispers loudly....

"What are you trying to say, Mimi, where is she?" John asks, and then he hears the voice, someone calling his name. He turns and sees two women; they seem to recognize him!

"Do not be afraid, we are friends of Mme d'Évannes," Marguérite assures him.

"Madame..." John begins, confused.

"She is staying with friends of ours, we shall bring you to her!" Abi exclaims.

"We were able to rescue her when the guards went after you," Marguérite explains. "Come with us!"

Is it possible, are they talking about Doc? Do they have her? John wonders. He turns to Mimi, but she is gone.... He must trust these women, he decides. Marlena may have escaped the guillotine, but she is not safe from Stefano....

Mimi races back to the café; Stefano is on his way out when he sees her. "Mimi, what are you doing back here?" he demands to know.

"It's too late, he knows she's alive," she says, breathless from running, and tells him everything that happened. "He'll bring her back to 18 rue de la Victoire."

"Excellent. I shall be waiting for her."

"But John will be with her, how will you get her away from him?"

"I won't have to. After what he did this afternoon, he'll be arrested, as a counter-revolutionary. And you, Mimi, will be the one to denounce him."

Part VI (Conclusion)

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