by Spike_1790



Mary had earned her retirement. She was nearing ninety years old, although she looked much younger. For nearly 40 years she had worked at the Whitehouse, not in any important role that made a difference to world peace, or national security or anything, but she worked as a cleaner. She had been born while President Obama was in power and had worked for a dozen other presidents that followed in their footsteps. But now, she was free. She had moved away from the noise and the bustle of city life and into a modest sized house bequeathed to her by some distant relative or another.

The house was old, that much she knew, but not nearly as old as she felt climbing the few steps up to the front door for the very first time. It was a bone-deep weariness, born of the knowledge that this was the end for her. Her knees felt weak and rubbery, and for a moment she wanted nothing more than to go back to her old life in D.C.. In all her long life, she had served, and now all she had to do was look after herself. She was the last of a long line; at one point, she had been surrounded by people, but as time marched on, one by one they began to die, like flowers towards the end of summer.

That first day, she had taken one look around and begun to tear the white dust sheets off the furniture, sending thick clouds of dust into the room, making her sneeze. The furniture looked dated- maybe as far back as 2005- and smelt musty. Still, it would suffice until her own furniture could be transported over from her old place, a tiny apartment in Washington D.C., not too far from where she had worked.

There was precious little to do on her own, in a quiet little town where the highlight of the week was a coffee morning at the church hall. Mary didn't go to church. Her family, as far back as she could tell, had been wiccans, pagans and atheists. She saw no point in praising a god that caused so much devastation.

So in the quiet hours between waking up at 5am and going to bed again at 10pm, Mary explored. The house was less like a home and more like a time capsule. Nothing had been moved since the last occupants had left, it seemed. There were photographs on the wall of two men, one blonde, one darker, holding each other and gazing into each other's eyes.

But it was what she found in the bedside cabinet draw that all but broke her heart. Stark letters on crisp white paper, untouched by the slow creeping step of time.

My Darling Xander,

I'm sorry to have to tell you this way, but it needs to be said. I think it's time we broke up. I can never compare to her and we both know its not me you're thinking about when we make love.

When you read this, if you realise you love me as much as I love you, you know how to find me. If not, I'll still love you. Can't stop, can I? You're a lovable sod, even when you're driving me crazy.

Anyway... I used to be good at this, the getting words down on paper thing...

I guess what I'm trying to say is, let me know you love me. Please let me know.

All my love,


She reread the letter a dozen times. Every time a lump caught in her throat and she found herself fighting back tears for the two men she had never known.

It was on one of these times, where the words were blurring thanks to the slow trickle of silent tears that the door bell rang. Mary jumped, the letter crumpling slightly as her grip tightened reflexively. No one visited her. No one knew her. No one sent her mail. Even if they did, it was dark outside, and the postman was probably drinking a beer in front of his television, watching re-runs of Jeopardy!. She had one of those stickers on the door saying that she wasn't interested in door-to-door sales...

When her heart-rate had slowed, and the strangely irrational fear had abated, Mary answered the door.

“'ello, luv. Would you be Mary Harris?”

Mary was speechless. The man was a ghost. Or he should have been. The same white-blonde hair and sharp blue eyes that she had seen in the photographs, the same face, the same man. She nodded.

“Good. I've had a hell of a time finding you, pet. I knew your grandfather.” A shadow crossed the beautiful face, but passed as quick as it arrived. “Now listen to me, Mary. There's bad things coming. End of the world bad. But I made a promise to a man the day you were born, to protect you. Until the end of the world.”

Mary processed the information as quickly as she could. For a ninety year old, she had an incredibly sharp mind, but even the sharpest mind would struggle to comprehend what she was being told. Her body on the other hand, simply nodded again.

The white haired stranger held out his hand. She took a tentative hold of it and looked up from their joined hands to his face again. He grinned at her and the fear melted away with that look. “Xander would never forgive me if I didn't say this, so 'come with me if you want to live'.”

Mary couldn't help herself. She laughed.

The End