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Heroine

Epilogue #2

 
Marguerite began to breath rapidly as the world, broken into a trillion pieces, swirled around her. She saw color then a highly concentrated yet nonspecific source of light. Forms were moving in around her and she recognized voices that should have been muted for all time.

"She's coming out of it." one of them said.

Then she was assailed by stark white and knew it for what it was.

'No more scratching!' Marguerite insisted. The doctors, in their white lab coats, were coming for her again. She fought with the hands that were abusing her , "No more scraping. No more samples. No blood! NO MORE!"

"It's all right, Marguerite."

It was a woman's voice echoing into her ears.

Marguerite opened her eyes, recognizing the voice yet knowing, in some strange way, that it did not belong.

"You did good." she spoke again, "Roxanne would have approved."

Catherine? Marguerite asked, not speaking with her voice but with her mind. Her great grand daughter floated before her - wearing a white diaphanous material - and she was at peace, smiling mildly.

"Yes, it's me."

Where are we?

"On the plateau. Don't you remember?'

Marguerite shook her head, No.

"You and your friends went to the Zanga. Professor Challenger was asked to explain his experiments with electricity to the wise men of the village. The Zanga are attempting modernization. They want to put an electrified perimeter fence around their lands to keep away enemy tribes and dinosaurs. That is, if Challenger can explain and demonstrate it clearly for them."

The Shaman. Marguerite sat upright, her eyes wide, remembering.

"He studied you for awhile when you first entered the village with the others, didn't he? He told you, Marguerite, that you had deep fears from your past. There was an incident here on the plateau that haunts you constantly although you will not disclose your fear, curiosity and confusion with friends. He said he could help you."

I wasn't sure what he was talking about. I have many regrets from off the plateau but here …?

"Then he asked you if you wanted to know what might have been."

Marguerite reached out, trying to touch Catherine, but her hand passed right through her.
Yes, but I did not know …

"I think you did." Catherine, with ease, reached forward and placed her white, shimmering hands over Marguerite's. "For quite sometime, over these past four years, you wondered what might have happened if you did pass through that tunnel. And now you know."

I didn't need to know.

"There are times, Marguerite, when you can't just forget the past and be grateful something did not happen. Some people - particularly a woman who has the history you have - needs to know if their actions will have or truly could have had consequences."

It was terrible. Marguerite could not hide her anguish, not even to the specter of her long lost descendent.

"ALL of it?" Catherine asked with a familiar - knowing - arch to her eyebrow.

No, Marguerite confessed, Not all of it.

'Perhaps you have gained a new appreciation for the things you currently have because you did make the correct decision."

Marguerite looked the apparition in the eye,
But you know I never would have gone through the cave, under any circumstances, even if Roxton hadn't shown and killed Kemper.

"Given what you knew I believe you, Marguerite. I wasn't sure before I met you. The stories the papers told of you after it was found that you instigated Krux's Syndrome -- It was appalling. In 1922 you were verbally crucified."

No wonder Kemper thought he knew me so well, Marguerite thought.
If Roxton had lived those people would be eating their words …

"He's an extraordinary man and very protective of you."

Yes. A thought came to Marguerite, He doesn't know you were his …

"No he doesn't."

Should I tell him?

"That is up to you." Catherine released her hands, "But think of this, Marguerite. What value would there be in Lord Roxton knowing? After all, I never existed and, I'm sorry, but neither did Roxanne."

The two women stared at one another - wise, aware and sullen - until Catherine slowly lost all cohesion.

"Goodbye, Marguerite."

Goodbye, Catherine.

>>>

"Come on, Marguerite. Snap out of it now."

She could feel firm yet gentle fingers patting her cheek, attempting to wake her. Slowly, Marguerite's eyes flickered open and she focused on her companions. They were all there. Challenger, Malone, Veronica and Roxton, looking down at her, concerned but thankful gazes of support in their expressions. Marguerite could see the Shaman behind them, staring at her. Had he seen it? Did he know what she had lived through?

"How long did I sleep?" she asked, confused, shifting into a sitting position.

"You were in a trance. A form of hypnosis, I think." Challenger corrected, "No more than an hour."

"An hour?" Marguerite uttered, incredulously.

At her side, Roxton asked: "Are you all right?" He sat at the edge of the cot she was laying in and his nervous, uneasy smile warmed Marguerite despite what she had witnessed in her …dream? No. It was real. It could have happened … Greatly reassured, feeling she had been given a second chance all over again, Marguerite embraced Roxton, "I am now. Take me home, John." she whispered in his ear.

"Marguerite?"

She pulled back and spoke to the others as well at Roxton, "Take me home to the treehouse. I need to be some place safe and familiar."

A little perplexed, Veronica looked over at the Shaman. "What did she see?"

"Her fears realized." he said, blandly.

Challenger moved forward a bit, "The Zanga have prepared a feast in our honor tonight, Marguerite. To refuse them and leave would be an insult."

"No." Marguerite spoke low, "We can't do that, can we?" Her eyes searched Roxton's, taking consolation in his presence and from his hands as they gently massaged her shoulders, "Of course, we'll stay. There's no reason for us not to." she murmured, looking away and trying to get her bearings.

Malone and Veronica exchanged a glance. Ned took Veronica's hand in his and pulled gently, feeling Marguerite needed a moment of privacy to get herself under control. "Everything seems fine here. Why don't we go check out preparations?" he asked.

"Alright." Veronica assented but still appeared a little confused.

"Ned!" Marguerite spoke his name urgently, as if she needed to tell him something very important.

He stopped and looked at her, as did the others, waiting for what she had to impart.

Marguerite blinked, looking from Malone to Veronica. She had nothing to say to him. Not really. "I a … Nothing. Never mind." she looked down at her hands, "It doesn't matter now."

Hesitant, Malone indicate agreement but decided he would have a talk with Marguerite later. Whatever she wanted to tell him, whatever it was that was troubling her, could wait until they returned to the treehouse. But it might eventually make for an interesting journal entry, he considered. The workings of a female mind, particularly the enigma that was Marguerite Krux, never ceased to fascinate him. He walked with Veronica from the hut.

Challenger, seeing Marguerite and Roxton gazing at one another, took the Shaman priest by the arm and spoke casually about his hypnotic methods as they too walked from the hut.

"Are you all right?" Roxton asked her once again, now that they were alone.

"I'm not sure." Marguerite spoke honestly, "I feel like I lived through an entire lifetime -- and a terrifying one at that."

"What was it?"

"What life would have been like if we had returned home through the temple cave Catherine Reilly stopped me from entering. I saw so much death, John. All my friends. Everyone I had …" She paused and looked directly at him now, "I love you." she said and lifted a hand to his cheek.

Roxton was caught off guard. This wasn't the first time she had told him of her love but it usually happened when he cornered her or he asked her directly. Marguerite, when it came to revealing herself, was not one to speak an endearment just for the sake of hearing it. "I love you too." he replied, "I always will."

The way he said it, reminding Marguerite of the way he intoned the same sentiment in her hypnotic revelation, went directly to her heart. She put her arms around Roxton and pulled him close for a hug and an intimate kiss that he accepted with relish.

Their foreheads touched afterwards.

Roxton said, "I think I really do need to get you back to the treehouse before this spell ends." There was wit in his tone but also longing.

Marguerite knew she was where she belonged. Her respect for the plateau and all she had gained by coming here had been pulled up a few notches. She smiled, chuckling in his presence and feeling a hundred times better when she pulled back. She looked into Roxton's eyes and saw that sparkled which boasted of health, happiness and good humor. When they got home, Marguerite silently vowed, she would show him just how much she appreciated what he did for her, how he made it possible for her to continue on in this strange, beautiful, and brutal world.

"After the feast, milord." she reminded.

And if by the slimmest of margins, Marguerite further thought, if she should ever find herself with child, they would name her Roxanne … and the girl would never know a moment of sadness or grief -- nor would any of their descendents.

This Marguerite promised with all her heart.

"John," she whispered, "Let's go find the others and have a wonderful time tonight."

"I think that's a brilliant idea." He stood and gave her his hands, helping Marguerite up.

"Roxton," she asked as they walked to the exit, "have you ever seen the Eiffel Tower?"

"From a distance." he said.

"One day, when we leave the plateau and go back home to Europe, we really must go to Paris together."

"Why, what's in Paris?" he asked.

Marguerite did not reply. She merely smiled and pulled the confused Lord along with her.

>>>

THE END
May-July 2004.

>>>

Thank you everyone for your encouraging comments. They mean so much!

I had honestly started out to make this a six chapter story but it snowballed into what we have here. There was just so much I wanted to include! Thank you for your patience and indulgence.

Forever grateful,

Beckers