The letter arrived on a rainy July day. Micky opened it and frowned as he crossed the living room, wiping powder from it onto his shirt.
“What is it, Micky?” Mike asked form where he sat playing his guitar on the bandstand. “Letter from your mom?”
“It’s probably a notice from Babbitt,” Davy put in from where he was washing dishes, “telling us he’s raising our rent again.”
“Maybe it’s from a club,” Peter guessed as he came out of the bathroom, “offering us a gig!”
Micky shook his head. “It’s not any of those. It’s from the women’s prison.”
Silence greeted that, and then Mike stood up. Laying the guitar aside, he walked over to Micky. “From prison? Man, who would be sendin’ us letters from there?”
“Maria,” Micky said as he sat down. “You remember, the gypsy mother?”
Mike nodded as he sat down beside Micky. “I remember – but why is she writing you?”
“Is she just writing him, or all of us?” Davy asked.
“Just me,” Micky answered, rather distractedly.
“Oh, well, if it’s just you, we don’t have anything to worry about!” Peter smiled, going over and helping Davy with the dishes.
Micky sighed. “Gee, fellas, thanks,” he groused sarcastically. “Nice to know I can count on your support!” He looked at Mike. “You gonna laugh at me, too?”
“No, I’m gonna see what she said.” Mike took the letter out of Micky’s hands and read it to himself. “Uh-huh….hm,” he scowled as he wiped the powder from the letter onto his shirt.
“Cryptic, isn’t it?” Micky quipped.
“Not the word I would have chosen….” Mike mused. “More like eerie.”
“What does it say?” Davy asked.
“Yeah, read it, Michael!” Peter called.
“Okay,” Mike sighed and cleared his throat. He then began to read out loud.
Hello, my little grub-chick.
After such a long silence, I have discovered a gift for my funny one. I have had nothing but time to think on what I could give each of my four on the pure side.
The others—ah, I must think more on them. But for you, my funny one, I have the perfect gift.
You have the gift of laughter, but it is being stilled by life. Your voice is being silenced by the demands put upon you by what you are.
So, my funny one, my gift to you is escape. The morning after you read this letter, your escape will begin.
Enjoy your gift, my funny little grub-chick.
Mike frowned at Micky. “What in the world do you suppose she means?”
“I have no idea,” Micky sighed. “I just know I don’t like it one bit.”
In her small cell, Maria smiled as she crossed another day off her calendar. The letter should be in his hands by now.
She requested incense from her guard, claiming the prostitutes’ perfumes were making her ill. The guard brought her incense, and Maria sat and breathed in the smoke.
She felt herself sink into a deep trance and she heard herself mutter the incantation that went with the powder she’d dosed the letter with.
By all the beings that fly by night
By the new moon’s glimmering light
I charge you that when night becomes morning
You are to wake – to a new life a-borning!
Maria’s eyes snapped open as the spell finished weaving. “Oh,” she whispered in delight, “my funny grub-chick will love this!”
And she threw back her head and laughed.
Mike woke the next morning feeling slightly – heavier. It was harder than normal to move.
At he was hot! A look down showed him why – he was wearing full pajamas! Snorting, Mike pulled the shirt off. “Micky’s. Figures – him an’ his pranks….”
He raised a hand to his throat. “Huh… must be takin’ a cold.” As he lowered the hand, a flash of gold caught his eye. He looked down again to see golden rings on the middle and ring fingers of his left hand, and one of the right finger of his right hand -- not the single silver ring he wore on his left pinky! “…Okay, why in the hell am I wearin’ Micky’s rings?”
Pieces started falling into place – and Mike didn’t like the way they were fitting. Slowly, he raised his hand to where his bangs rested—and felt only bare skin. Licking dry lips, he grazed the fingertips further up.
Mike’s eyes closed convulsively when those questing fingers met a nest of tangled curls.
“Shit!” he breathed, racing for the bathroom. The mirror confirmed it – Mike’s reflection was now Micky’s.
Breathing a litany of curses, he stormed back out of the bathroom and paused, arrested by the sight of his own body lying carelessly along the bed on its stomach, one long arm completely off the bed, reaching for the floor.
THAT is an unreal sight, went through Mike’s mind as he stared at himself. The shock lasted only a moment, however.
Mike marched over to the bed and jerked the covers off the body. “….mrf?” was the mumbled response. Mike pulled the pillow away.
“….five more minutes…..”
With a growl of disgust, Mike grabbed the body’s wrist and the waistband of the black silk pajamas. A wrench and a twist – and a sidestep – and the body was unceremoniously dumped into the floor.
“HEY! What’s the big deal? I was sleepi--“ Dark eyes went huge as they stared at the curly-haired man standing at the head of the bed.
Mike crossed his arms and managed to glare at his own form. “Mornin’, Mick. Care to explain how come we’re wearin’ each other’s shells?”
“This is not going to work,” Micky growled for about the fifth time as he buckled the belt and swiped annoyedly at the hair that kept tickling his left eyebrow.
“Will you quit saying that?” his own voice growled from the bathroom. Mike walked out a second later, fastening the cuffs on the shirt. For pure deviltry, they’d both chosen to wear black shirts and jeans.
“Why?” Micky challenged. “It’s not!”
Mike sighed and spread his hands. “All right!” he growled as he sat down on the nearest bed. “Why won’t it work?”
Micky sat on the other bed. “Well, for one thing, you can’t drum worth shit!”
“Oh, come on! How hard can that be? Hitting them with a pair of sticks-- big deal! Even Davy can play the drums!”
“Yeah, because Davy’s practiced for two years! It’s a lot harder than it looks!”
Mike waved a hand indolently. “I’ll get it. Anything else?”
“I don’t have a clue how to lead us! And I don’t think I can be as serious as you and I know you can’t be wild, spontaneous and funny!”
“I’m funny!” Mike protested, then he blinked slowly. “Well…not the same kind of funny you are, but…”
“And that’s why I don’t think it’ll work,” Micky nodded, his point made. “We’re too different!”
Mike took a deep breath. “Let’s at least try.”
Micky threw up his hands. “All right! Fine! We’ll try!” He swiped at those irritating bangs again as he finished, “I’ll give it a shot!”
“All I ask,” Mike said as he smiled and stood up.
“But I still don’t think it’ll work!”
Micky’s fingers twitched as he walked to the stairs a few moments later. It was all he could do to keep from sliding down the banister! He forced himself to walk down the stairs – and couldn’t stop the smile or the sigh of relief that escaped him.
Davy and Peter were standing shoulder to shoulder in the kitchen – Davy tending the sausages on the stove while Peter peeled the potatoes for hash browns. Micky could smell biscuits already baking.
Wonderful! he thought. Now Mike won’t have to choke down cereal the way I like it – he HATES it with orange juice!
“Good morning, Micky,” Peter said without turning around. “Is Michael up yet?”
Micky let the grin show. “Pete, your radar’s messed up today.”
Peter turned around, his eyes wide. “Michael? I’m sorry – you ‘felt’ like Micky!”
Davy turned, puzzled. Peter had always been able to tell who was around him without looking. He was never wrong!
Micky shook his head in that amused way Mike often would. “No harm done, old buddy.” He sat down in Mike’s chair and picked up the paper.
Peter frowned deeply as he took out his confusion on the potatoes. “It’s never failed me before….”
“I’m not so sure it’s failed you now,” Davy muttered as he turned on a skillet and dropped two pats of butter into it.
“What do you mean?” Peter asked as he put the potatoes in. The sound of their frying would mask the conversation.
Davy jerked his head toward the table. “Since when does Mike read the comics first?”
Peter bit his lip and – barely – forced himself not to turn around. “He still ‘feels’ like Micky.”
At that instant, ‘Micky’ appeared at the top of the stairs. Mike took one step down, and then paused. A moment later, he was on the railing, sliding down.
Instead of braking and hopping down, Mike lost his balance and toppled off!
Peter stayed by the stove and finished up, though he watched Davy and Micky race over to him.
“Are you hurt?” Micky asked as he helped his own body stand up and tried not to think of how strange it was.
“Just my pride,” Mike groused. “I can’t believe I did that…”
Peter snapped everything off and took the biscuits out of the oven. “Michael,” he called, “could you please come over and make your special Tex-Mex eggs?”
Mike took one step forward, and caught himself. Micky walked on over. “Sure thing.” He reached for the skillet.
Peter’s hand closed over his wrist. “No, Micky. I asked Michael.”
Micky blinked at him. Then he chuckled tightly. “Come on, Peter….”
“No,” Peter said, his eyes boring into Micky’s. “You’re Micky. I don’t know how, but you’re Micky.”
Mike sighed. He walked over and lifted down the skillet. “I wanna know how you busted us.”
Peter and Davy smiled at each other. “After we eat,” Peter said. “We’ll talk then.”
Once the dishes were done, the Monkees congregated in the living room and the entire fantastic story came out.
“Wow,” Davy whistled. “That’s a bit much to swallow! If I’d not seen the results….”
Peter shook his head. “Incredible….strange. No idea what cause it?”
Mike and Micky each shook their heads, then Micky stopped. “Wait…”
Mike frowned at him. “You got somethin’?”
“I might….” Micky stood and walked to the roll-top desk beside the jukebox where they paid bills and did paperwork. Swiping at the irritating bangs over his left eye, Micky pawed through their mail for a moment and then held up a letter. “Found it!”
“Maria’s letter,” Davy breathed.
“I think this may have had something to do with it,” Micky said as he walked over and sat back down. “There was powder on it – and Mike and I both touched it.”
“Put it back,” Mike ordered, “and go wash your hands.” As Micky moved to obey, Mike’s new almond-shaped eyes narrowed. “Nobody touch that till we get some information.”
Peter nodded. “I’ll go talk to her.”
Mike frowned at him. “You?”
Peter’s head tilted. “Yes, me. I’ve changed, remember?”
Mike took a deep breath and visibly calmed. “Sorry, man – I keep forgetting your shot of confidence.”
Peter’s sunny grin shone out. “Having you finally listen to me helped a lot.”
Mike smiled tightly. Then he sighed. “Okay – see if you can make her undo this.”
“I’ll do my best.” Peter grabbed the Monkeemobile keys and his jacket, and walked out the door.
Micky sniffled. “Our little boy’s growing up,” he mock-sobbed, raising a hand to wipe an imaginary tear and ending up swiping at those bangs again.
Maria was using a deck of playing cards for an impromptu Tarot reading when she heard the guard outside her door. She frowned at the form she’d laid out.
Why did it keep telling her a gift would be rejected? All she’d given was one to her funny one – and he would enjoy it too much to reject it!
The guard pounded on her door. “Maria – you have a visitor.”
Puzzled, she stood. “I do?”
“Follow me.” Her door was unlocked and opened.
Maria followed her into a room surrounded with windows. In the middle was a long table and chairs. The guard pointed to a chair. “Sit.”
Maria sat and waited. A moment later, the door opened and a man walked in. “Hello, Maria.”
“Peter!” she cried, springing from her chair and embracing him. “My sunny grub-chick! Sit, sit!”
Peter laughed and sat down. When Maria did as well, he said, “You look well.”
“I am well, Peter…what brings you here after all this time?”
His smile faded. “We need to talk – about Micky and Michael.”
To her credit, Maria didn’t even try to pretend she didn’t know what he was talking about. Her smile only grew. “And how is my funny one enjoying his gift?”
Those two words, spoken in such a kindly tone, seemed to take all the fire out of her. She blinked, visibly startled. “He’s….not?”
Peter shook his head. “He woke in Michael’s body and Michael woke in his. They’re both clumsy, awkward – struggling to adjust.”
Maria blinked again, frowning deeply. “That was not supposed to happen. He was supposed to have a temporary new life – free from the demands that make his humour fade! He was supposed to sleep on, while dreaming he awoke on an island paradise – not to literally wake up in a body not his own!”
“Maria.” Peter leaned forward. “Can you reverse it?”
She was silent for a long moment, and then brown eyes locked onto brown. Hers shone with the light of absolute sincerity. “I am not certain, my sunny one. But I shall try.”
Mike’s expressions didn’t quite work on Micky’s face. His incredulous stare/glare didn’t have the ‘punch’ it did in his own form, turning instead into something almost laughable.
The others, however, would have cut off their right arms before they’d laugh at him.
Right now, that neutered glare was focused on Peter. “You are not tellin’ me this was an accident!”
“That’s exactly what I’m telling you,” Peter calmly replied. “That’s what Maria says, and I believe her.”
Mike snorted. “You believe everybody, Peter!”
“No, he doesn’t,” Micky shot back, standing up. “And you lay off of him! He busted us, remember?”
Mike whirled to him, his mouth already opening. He took in his own body’s tilting slightly to one side, the seemingly casual lean against the jukebox…. “Your back hurts.”
Weary chocolate-coloured eyes closed and Micky gave a single nod.
When those eyes opened again, Mike jerked his head toward the tornado staircase. “Go on. Just don’t overfill the tub.”
Micky smiled gratefully and headed up the stairs to the Pad’s only full bath.
Mike sighed once the door closed and ran a hand over his now-square jaw. “Bad ‘nough he’s gotta wear my ugly mug,” he groused. “I wouldn’t wish that curve in m’back on anyone.”
Peter squeezed his shoulder sympathetically. Mike sighed again and looked at him. “It really was an accident?”
Peter nodded. “She seemed as stunned as we were.”
Mike sighed and ran a hand over his head, grousing good-naturedly as the curls pulled on his fingers.
A drop of water plopped onto Davy’s head and he jerked. “What the--?”
Mike growled and raced up the stairs. “MICKY!” I told you not to overfill the tub!”
Davy and Peter chuckled as the door slammed closed behind Mike. The phone rang at that moment, and Peter answered it. “Hello?”
“Peter? It is Maria.”
He felt the smile grow. “Hello, Maria! Any progress?”
“No. I am completely – how you say – stumped! I am stumped. He alone should have been affected by the powder on the letter….”
Peter’s hand tightened on the receiver. “Maria – Michael touched that powder too.”
He heard her sharp intake of breath. “Oh…. This does complicate things….”
Peter bolted into the upstairs bedroom. “Micky!” he yelled, “Where is Maria’s letter?”
Micky blinked, pausing in buttoning the black shirt to swipe damp bangs from over his left eye. “Downstairs still…why?”
“We need to take it to the beach –“ he whirled. “Michael, you have to take it!”
“What?” Mike stood up. “Me?”
Peter nodded. “You were the one who originally touched it with Micky. Micky touched it again, so you have to touch it again, too!” He pointed at Micky. “And you can’t touch it again! Davy and I can’t touch it!”
“Peter,” Mike gripped the blond’s shoulders. “You ain’t makin’ sense!”
He smiled. “Marie said that was the wild card – you and Micky both touched the letter and got the powder on you. That powder is what she calls ‘dreaming powder’. It was supposed to give Micky a twenty-four hour hallucination he was somewhere pleasant.”
Mike nodded slowly, releasing him. “Go on….”
Pete’s smile grew. “You touched it too. The magic, according to Maria, used that connection and instead of hallucinating you were someone else –“
“I became someone else,” Micky said slowly. “I became Mike. And he became me.”
Mike opened his mouth, and Peter held up a hand. “Believe it or not, believe it all you want,” Peter said calmly. “The fact remains, here you are.”
Mike closed his mouth, then sighed. “Here I am,” he conceded. “All right. I’ll play her game.” He ran a hand down the strong jaw and sighed again. “It’s not as though I have a choice….”
Peter nodded. “Go get the letter and go to the beach. The three of us will meet you there.” He checked his watch. “Maria is going to cast the spell in twenty minutes.”
Micky froze. “She’s going to what?”
Peter sighed. “We have to burn the letter while Maria casts the spell she was going to cast tomorrow – the one that would have woken you, Micky. She’s hoping that if we burn the letter -- after Michael touches it – it’ll reverse the original charm and you two will get back to where you belong.”
“And if it doesn’t work,” Mike ground out, “we’re stuck?”
Peter’s tight smile was almost a smirk. “Basically – until she finds something else.”
“Joy,” Mike and Micky sighed in unison.
Thirty minutes later, the Monkees sat on the beach, around a small campfire. Not a word was spoken as Mike periodically prodded the flames with a stick, making certain the letter was completely consumed.
Four heads snapped up at the ringing of the phone. Peter scrambled to his feet and took off at a run toward the house.
“Think that’s Maria?” Micky asked.
“Hope so,” Mike said as he watched Peter’s form thunder up the steps and into the back door. The phone ended its jangling mid-ring. “Whoever it is, he’s got it.”
Davy studied them. “You two feel any different?” He sighed as both shook their heads.
Silence reigned as they waited for Peter to reappear. When he did, they saw the giant grin on his face as he jogged back. “Good news, then?” Davy asked.
Peter nodded as he knelt down. “That was Maria. She said to bury the ashes and go to bed as normal tonight. She cast the charm and said if it works, you should wake up back in your own bodies.”
“Let’s hope it works,” Mike snarled as he kicked sand onto the fire, smothering it and burying the ashes. “We’ve got a gig tomorrow night!” He abruptly whirled and took off down the beach at a run.
Micky smiled after him. “It’s either get that energy out or explode,” he said sagely, nodding. “He’ll be back in a bit.”
Davy sighed. “It’s going to be a long evening.”
Bedtime seemed to take forever to arrive. Once it did, Mike and Micky raced to bed in record time.
Sleep, however, was slow in coming. Both were too keyed up – wondering if this would really work.
The sun shining through their window woke Mike and Micky. Both sat up, knuckling their eyes. Both turned, looked at each other….
A double whoop drew Peter and Davy’s attention from breakfast. Mike and Micky thundered down the stairs, the joy on their faces expressing it before they said a word.
The four celebrated until breakfast burning called them back to reality.
Maria sighed as she studied the cards. Peter had called her and thanked her for helping them.
She could not explain why they didn’t like her funny grub-chick’s gift. It had meant to give him an escape, not make them mad. It had given them an escape – it just had a rather unexpected effect. That was no reason for them to be angry with her… it could have happened to anyone!
She smiled as she lifted a card. Perhaps they would like the gift she would give her sunny grub-chick better.
She decided to find out.
Return to The Realm