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Official website of Science Fiction and Fantasy Author Carol Hightshoe
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EternalEscapes

Eternal Escapes

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Looking to escape your old life and start a new one? Then you need to visit me. Who am I? I’m Richard LaFayette and I’m the director of Eternal Escapes Funeral Home. Wait, don’t panic. Yes, we offer the traditional services for those who have passed, but we also offer additional services for those who need to escape this life. After all once you’re dead, who can come after you?

~ * ~

“I’ve managed Eternal Escapes for several years now. To the outside world, it appears to be a normal funeral home, one which has been in the LaFayette family for generations.” I was proud of the fact and smoothed my dark tie. “The original building was part of a church and the long ago member of the LaFayette family, who established Eternal Escapes, had the grounds blessed not only by the local Catholic priest before he left New Orleans,” I chuckled knowing his true fate, “but also by several other priests and priestesses of different religions. There are stories,” I sat back slightly in my chair. Not too relaxed, one must keep up appearances. “Handed down in the oldest journals that say the great Voodoo Priestess Marie Laveau herself had a hand in casting the magic this place uses.”

A slight smile tugged at my lips.

“Funeral homes here in New Orleans have long faced a challenged—the water. There are places in this city where you can’t bury a body in the ground because of it. Well, Eternal Escapes offers a unique solution. I paused dramatically, “Internment in a different time and place.”

I stopped and looked at the young woman sitting across from me. She was dressed in a tattered dress, wooden shoes and her blue eyes were wide, both with fear and excitement. She had appeared in the coffin room after I returned the sarcophagus that had been used for the Egyptian style funeral of an elderly woman who believed she was the reincarnation of some forgotten temple priestess of Bast.

The decease’s linen wrapped body safely rested with thousands of cat bodies in the Great Tomb near the goddess’ temple in Bubatis. A minor mystery if anyone ever realizes there is a human body with all the cats interred there.

The girl continued to watch me with those luminous blue eyes. The universe had been telling me for a couple of years I would soon have to retire by bringing ‘replacements’ here to train, just as I had been brought here from my place in time to become part of the LaFayette family and eventually director of this unique funeral home.

There was none of the terror I had seen in the eyes of the boy who had been the last brought here. He’d been sent back to his own time and place.

She leaned forward, her gaze curious, her eyes sparkling. Good signs. Maybe my time had indeed finally come.

“What is your name?” I asked.

“Lieke.”

I nodded. “Messenger.”

She nodded.

“To fit into this place and time, we should change it.” I held up my hand before she could protest. “I had to do the same when I was brought here, Lieke.” I think it had been summer as well. “Before I became Richard, I was Sorley, which is a summer traveler in my native tongue.”

I waited for her reaction and saw the tiny nod she gave me. I wanted to keep her name tied to her home, but wasn’t sure how to translate Lieke. Then it hit me—flowers. The Nederlands was renowned for their flowers, tulips in particular, but also: “Lily,” I said.

Lieke, now Lily smiled at me. “Lily LaFayette,” she confirmed. Even as she said, her speech changed slightly, adopting a delicate southern accent. Not heavy like Hollywood made them, but soft, gentle. Just like a flower. Like a Lily.

I had one more thing to tell her. “Right now, you still have the option to go home. Until you actually agree to stay and become the next Director of Eternal Escapes, you are not required to stay. However,” I waited as what I had told her sunk in. “If you agree to stay you will not be able to leave until you have trained someone to take over after you. This place is a blessing for many, but it is also a trap.”