small box slipped from the young woman's grip, bounced off of the
two-foot high, smooth beige wall that separated the street from the
boutique Beverly Hills hotel's
small parking lot, and fell to the sidewalk, getting Stuart's attention as it landed.
It was a typically pleasant early May afternoon in Los Angeles in the spring
of 2000. With the temperature in the low 70s, comfortable humidity and a cloudless sky above,
the city was the picture-postcard image of the Golden State.
Stuart had decided to enjoy the fifteen minute walk to the tony Rodeo Drive shop
rather than drive his rented car from the hotel where he was staying.
He was, after all, on his yearly Southern California vacation, having flown in from New York the previous morning.
Enjoying his leisurely walk past the occasional hundred-foot high palm tree on the uncrowded street,
he found himself only a few paces behind the young woman.
He quickly caught up to her and, kneeling down, retrieved the box.
"Thank you," she smiled as she turned to him.
"You're welcome," he smiled back, returning the box to her.
As he did, he stared at the young woman.
"You...you're Phoebe - aren't you?" he asked in surprise.
"Yes," she chuckled. "Actually, I'm Alyssa Milano."
"Of course," he said, a bit embarrassed. "I just think of you
as Phoebe. I watch Charmed every week. I must tell you that it's the best
program on television. Well, that isn't saying much as most of what's on isn't
all that good. But Charmed is wonderful in absolute, not relative, terms."
"Thank you," she said. "That's nice of you to say that."
"Oh, uh...my name is Stuart...uh...Stuart Weston," he said, a
bit nervously as the realization that he was speaking to a Hollywood star hit him. He paused
for a second and took a deep breath.
"Charmed is well acted and well written," he said, more
calmly. "It portrays real emotions with realistic affects and consequences. And
it brings out real emotions in me as I watch it."
"We try to keep it realistic. As much as a show about witches
can be," she replied with a slight smile.
"The first two seasons were terrific," Stuart said. "I'm
really happy to see that you've been renewed for a third season."
"So am I," Alyssa said, her smile broadening.
"All three of you are great," he added. "But I do have a
special leaning towards Phoebe.
There's just something about her character - I'm not sure I can put into words just
what it is."
"Thank you," she said. "I'm glad you like my role."
"Well, I'm sure you have more important things to do than
talk to a fan," Stuart said, "so I won't keep you. It was a real privilege to
"It's always nice to talk to someone who likes the show,"
Alyssa said. "And thanks again for picking up the box".
"My pleasure," he said. "Have a good day and best of luck
"Thanks. And keep watching it," she added, smiling again.
Alyssa turned and began to walk away but Stuart just stood
there watching her. Wow, he thought, I actually met Alyssa Milano.
She seems to be as nice in real life as her character is on Charmed.
Hmm...I should have asked her for her autograph.
The screeching tires interrupted Stuart's thoughts. He turned
to his left and saw a black car tearing up the cross street
that ended at the hotel parking lot. The car was heading straight for
Alyssa. She was less than a dozen feet in front of him and he started to run
Now Alyssa turned and saw the black car headed right at her.
Before she could react, Stuart threw his arms around her and pushed her forward,
falling to the ground and rolling over her. He thought they should have been to
the left of the car and clear of it but he sensed the car pull leftwards after
them. He pulled Alyssa over him and rolled her again further left. As he did,
Alyssa instinctively reacted by throwing her arms around him to hold on.
The car hit the hotel parking lotís small beige wall, shattering part of it,
and came to a halt.
"Ahhh," Stuart moaned from the contact of the sidewalk with
his forehead. The left corner of it was scraped, a little blood flowing from it.
Alyssa slowly lifted her head and looked at the front wheel
of the car which was no more than a foot to their right.
"You...you saved my life," she said. "That car was coming
right at me...you jumped in front of it and saved my life."
"I wouldn't let you get hurt," he said, grimacing slightly.
"But who's in the car? Do you see the driver?"
It caught Alyssa's eye before she could reply. Bright yellow,
it was the shape of a medicine caplet only much larger - about one foot long and
half as much in its width. It's edges weren't sharp but rather fuzzy. And it was
heading straight for them.
"What the-" she started to say as it made contact and
engulfed her body in a yellow light. Her arms were still around Stuart and the
light spread to cloak him in it, too. For the next ten seconds, all either of
them could see was the yellow light all around them. And then abruptly the yellow light was gone.
"What was that?" Alyssa asked and turned to look around her.
"The car! Where's the car?" She pulled herself half off of Stuart allowing him
to prop himself up. As he did, he saw that the car was gone.
"The wall," he said. "This is not the wall from the parking
lot. That one was smooth. This is...this wall is made of stone!" Alyssa stood up
and Stuart quickly did, too.
"Where are we?" she asked, confusion in her voice as they
both looked all around. There was no hotel, no parking lot. Behind the low stone
wall was a stately looking older house, set back from and a bit above the
"We're not...in Beverly Hills...anymore," Stuart said
as he looked off to the distance and saw landscape and buildings that he recognized.
"We're not even...in Los Angeles."
Shaking his head in disbelief, he took a deep breath and slowly exhaled.
"We're in...San Francisco."
That's impossible!" Alyssa said.
"We can't suddenly go from Beverly Hills to...to someplace else."
"Somehow Alyssa...we did. You can see the top of Coit
Tower over there," Stuart said, raising his arm and pointing at the city's landmark cylindrical
structure. "Up...up on Telegraph Hill." He slowly exhaled again. "I don't know how...but we are...in San Francisco."
"Alyssa!" a voice shouted.
Stuart and Alyssa turned around and saw Charmed's other two
stars hurrying down the block towards them.
"What is going on here!?" Shannen asked.
"I was at my ranch when suddenly this yellow light
surrounded me," said Holly.
"And the next thing I knew I was standing here."
"And I was walking out of the Polo Lounge in Beverly
Hills...and the same thing happened to me," added Shannen.
"I was almost run over by a car," Alyssa said,
"What?" interjected Shannen.
"And Stuart saved me," Alyssa continued. "And
then a yellow light surrounded us...and suddenly we're here.
Oh," Alyssa said, turning to
Stuart. "uh...Stuart Weston, this is
Holly Combs and Shannen Doherty."
"Yes, I recognize you," Stuart said. "Piper
and Prue.† I always watch Charmed."
"Uh - hello," Shannen and Holly said together.
"What do you mean you were almost run over and what is
going on here?" Shannen asked in one breath.
"And where are we?" Holly demanded, looking
"We're in San Francisco, despite how impossible...that
would seem to be," Stuart answered and turned back to the house.
"This house.† It's familiar...I've
seen it somewhere."† He stopped for
a second and exhaled.† "Phew! It's
from Charmed.† It's...your manor.† The Halliwell Manor."
"What?" exclaimed Shannen.
"He's right," Alyssa said. "This is the
"We only use it for exterior shots," said
Holly.† "We've never been inside
it.† In fact, that house isn't even in
"Well, it is now," said Stuart, "along
with us. And along with the rest of the block, from the looks of it."
The SUV pulled out of the next driveway and slowed down as it
"Hi Piper," the driver said as he waved.
"Greg?" asked Holly.
On Charmed, Greg Vaughn played the role of her next door neighbor Dan.
And it was Greg that Holly was now staring at.
"Greg? Who?" he replied. "It's me, Dan." He
brought the SUV to a stop in front of them and saw the bewildered look on her face.
"Dan...your neighbor," he said slowly, not understanding why Piper was staring
at him, speechless.
"Piper, are you OK?"
"Huh?" is all Holly could manage to say.
"Look, I'm late for an appointment," he said. "I'll
stop in later when I get back." He gave it gas and drove off.
"Uh...what just happened?" Holly asked, to no one
"Hi, Ms. Halliwell," the mailman said as he walked
past them. He had grey-white hair that extended below his uniform cap to his
neck and a matching thick, grey-white mustache.
They hadn't noticed him coming and he startled Holly.
"Just left you a package by your door," he said.
"You said it was OK to do that when no one's home."
The three women stared at him as he continued down the
"I'm dreaming," said Holly, "tell me I'm
"Dreams are not this precise with so much detail,"
Stuart answered. "And time skips around in dreams. Everything here is
happening in real time. And if it was a dream, we'd all have to be
having the same exact one simultaneously."
"Now what?" Alyssa asked.
"The house," Stuart answered. "We have to go
up to the house. We were put here in front of it. And it is The Charmed
"We don't even know the people who live there,"
"Well, as you said in Apocalypse Not, 'let's
introduce ourselves'. Come on Alyssa." Stuart started up the steps. Alyssa
tilted her head, made an expression with her eyes and went up right behind him.
Shannen and Holly looked at each other, shrugged, and for lack of a better
"Let's see the name of the family," said Alyssa as
she looked at the doorbell. "No - this can't be. It says 'The
Halliwells'." She took a deep breath and pressed the bell. They could hear
it faintly ring inside but no one answered. She rang it again.
"No one will answer," Stuart finally said,
"because you're all out here."
"No," said Shannen, "this is not our
house, we don't live here. The Manor on Charmed is not real."
"The mailman said there was no one home when he left
this package," Stuart calmly replied as he picked it up from beside the
door. "And if you stay out here, no one will be."
"What!?" said Holly. "You want us to
go in? To break in-"
"No," Stuart said. "With a key." He
thought for a second. "Look in your pocketbook," he said.
"For what?" Holly replied.
"For the key," Stuart said
"What are you talking about-" Holly started to
"Just look," Stuart said firmly. Holly opened her
pocketbook and stuck her hand inside.
"There's not going to be-" She stopped in
mid-sentence as her hand brought forth a key ring. "That's not mine," she
said. "I've never seen it before. Where did this come from?"
"Try it," Stuart said.
Holly looked at the others and slowly approached the door. She
put one of the keys in the lock and turned it. The door opened.
"I don't believe this," she said. Slowly they
walked into the foyer.
"Hello. Is anyone here? Hello?" Alyssa called out.
"This is too much," Shannen said as she walked
into the living room. "This is a duplicate of our set. Only...it's real."
She turned to look at the back side of the wall. "The walls are all real...on both
sides. And thereís a real ceiling, too."
"Sets don't have ceilings...and two-sided walls like in
real-" Alyssa slowly started to explain to Stuart. But something grabbed
her attention before she could finish.
"On the wall by the staircase," Alyssa said,
pointing, as she walked past Shannen.
"The picture of 'Grams'," Stuart said.† "I...think we'd better check upstairs
in the attic and see what's there."
"Why?" asked Holly. "Whatís in someone we donít knowís
attic that would explain any of this?"
"I have my suspicion," Stuart said, putting down the
package on a chair. "Would you please?"
Holly walked over to the staircase and looked up.
"The staircase...is real, too," she said uneasily
and gave Shannen a look.† She slowly
started up the stairs as the others looked around in amazement.
"Staircases on sets also aren't real," Alyssa added, shaking her head, confusion evident
in her voice.
"I'm going to call my home," said Shannen.
"I know someone should be dropping by
Shannen pulled out a cell phone
from her pocketbook. "What's this?
This is not my cell phone. This is..."
"Like the one you use on Charmed," Stuart said.
"Yes...it is," Shannen said with a confused look and
dialed her number. "What!?
Let me dial it again."
She did and they could see she got the same
response.† "I got a recording that
this is not a working number," she said.
"Phew!" said Alyssa.
"I'm going to call my agent," Shannen said.
"He'll get to the bottom of this."
She dialed the number.
"This is Shannen Doherty.
Let me speak to David Adamson.
"Shannen Doherty!" she repeated firmly, annoyance
in her voice.
"SHANNEN DOHERTY!!!"† she shouted.
"No, I am not a new actress.†I've been represented by ICM
for-" Shannen stopped in mid-sentence.
She was visibly shaken as she took the cell phone from her ear, gave it a funny look and closed
"She...hung up on me," Shannen said.† "She said she never heard of me and that
they were not interested in un-established aspiring actresses.† I don't believe this!"
"Do you want to try believing this?" Holly asked.
She had come down from the attic and
was standing at the bottom of the staircase, a look of bewilderment on her
face, a big, thick, oversized book in her hands.† She held the book up for everyone to see the cover.
"The Book of Shadows!" Alyssa said.
"And it's not empty," Holly said. "I opened
it.† It's completely filled in.† With...exactly what The Book of Shadows
would have...if it existed."
"This is a joke.†
It's an elaborate joke that someone is pulling on us," Shannen
"I don't think so," Stuart replied. "This would have to be some joke with
half the world in on it. Greg, the mailman, your agent, the telephone company,
this whole house set up this way. A
real Book of Shadows. No, I don't think
so. And jokes can't transport people
suddenly from LA to San Francisco."
"Then how do you explain it?" Shannen
"I can't explain how or why," he said. "But I
can tell you what I think happened.
"Some demon or some other evil sent those yellow lights
to bring you here.† Somehow, in doing
that, you became real.† That is, the
Charmed Ones became real. But whoever did it is afraid of the Power of Three so
they tried to kill you Alyssa, so that when you'd arrive here you'd be
"You're saying that car purposely tried to run me
over?" Alyssa asked.
"It swerved towards you even after I pushed you away
from it," Stuart said. "Maybe whatever they did to get you here had
to be done for all three of you.† Maybe
they couldn't change that so they had to try to kill you before that yellow
light reached you."
"Demons?" Shannen asked.† "This is the real world.†
This is not a Charmed episode.†
Demons...they don't try to kill us.†
We're not witches. That's only on the show."
"Do you have a better explanation for what's
happened?" Stuart asked. "Not the 'why', just the 'what'?"†
"Whoever is doing the 'what' forgot that we're
Hollywood actors," Holly said, putting down the Book of Shadows on the
coffee table. "We know all about making illusions seem real. Especially Charmed
"There has to be...some normal explanation," she
continued.† "We just have to think
calmly and we'll figure it out. And we'll also figure out who's behind
"Normal explanation?" Stuart asked, and
shook his head. "We have to accept the facts whether we like them or
"Facts?" Shannen asked. "What facts?"
"Fact," Stuart said, emphatically.
"We're here, in San Francisco, when just a few minutes ago we were in
LA.† Fact - we're in the
Halliwell Manor for which Holly had the key."
"Someone could have slipped it into my purse,"
"Think so?" Stuart asked.† "Let's see. Shannen, wave your hand
towards the vase on the table."
"What?" Shannen asked.
"Go ahead," he said, "try to move it."
Shannen looked at the others.† "OK.† There,"
she said, casually waving her hand.†
"No," Stuart said.† "Concentrate on moving it, and control your hand more.† Just as Prue would do on Charmed."
Shannen gave Stuart a look, then turned back to the
vase.† "Concentrate, huh?" she
said. Staring at it, she waved her hand, this time more slowly.† The vase started to move along the table.
"I don't believe this!" she said, staring at it.
"Don't stop," Stuart said.† "Keep moving it."† Shannen waved her hand again and the vase
resumed its travel.† "Try bringing
it back.† Hold your hand the way Prue
would."† Shannen pointed her hand
past the vase then moved her hand towards herself.† The vase moved back as well.
"This is rigged," Shannen said.† "It's hooked up somehow and someone is
"Really?" he said. "Then let's try something
else.† Holly, come here and check me out
for any wires or anything else attached to me." †††††††††††††††††††††††††††
Holly glanced at Shannen then walked over to him.† She felt around his chest and arms.† "Nothing there," she said.
"OK Shannen," he said, "concentrate and wave
your hand at me."† Shannen
hesitated.† "Go ahead," he
insisted, "try it."
Shannen looked straight at him and briskly waved her
hand.† Stuart went flying across the
room, hit the wall hard and fell to the floor.
"Arghhh!!" he moaned, grimacing.† Shannen and Holly stood there, staring in
disbelief but Alyssa ran to him.
"Are you OK?" she asked, kneeling beside him.
guess so," he said as she took his hand.
Alyssa suddenly stopped, her eyes staring ahead, her mouth open.
"Alyssa, what is it?"† Shannen worriedly asked.
"I...I saw something.†
I saw...me," Alyssa said.
"A premonition," Stuart said.
"A what?" said Holly.
"Tell us what you saw," Stuart said
"I saw...I was standing by a wall," Alyssa said,
"and as I turned, someone...came charging at me with a dagger.† And then you jumped in front of me..."
she turned to Stuart, "and...he stabbed you with it."
"Were you hurt?"†
Stuart asked after a few seconds of silence.
"No...I don't think so," Alyssa said. "But
"As long as you weren't hurt," he said. "I
won't let anyone hurt you, no matter what."
"This is all too much," Holly said as Alyssa
helped Stuart to his feet.† "We're
mature people. We know this just...can't really be happening."
"But it is," Stuart replied.
"You know, you don't seem to have any problem accepting
any of this," Shannen said to him.†
"Moving objects, premonitions, this house.† You seem to know just what to expect next.
"Just who are you?† What's your connection to all of this?† Maybe you're a demon or a warlock yourself," she added
"You can always prick my finger and see if I
bleed," he replied. The absence of blood after pricking someone's finger proved that the person was really a warlock.
"That's the best suggestion I've heard since we came
here," Shannen said.† Her glaring
look told Stuart that Shannen would have liked to do a lot more to him than
just prick his finger.
"Look - I'm just a plain person," Stuart said.
"Nothing more.† I don't know how or
why this is all happening.† I'm here by
accident.† Alyssa was holding on to me
when the yellow light hit her so I got brought along, too.† I didn't make it happen."
Stuart saw from the look on Shannenís face that she didnít
believe a word he was saying.
"Yes, I can accept it, more easily than
you," he admitted. "Because I've seen you - Iíve seen Charmed
- from a different perspective.† You've
seen it as snippets of dialogue and action in one or two minute scenes, acted
on a set and shot out of sequence.†
"But I've seen it as a single, connected entity," he
continued.† "You, your powers, the house
and the demons in realistic, complete storylines.† So, except for my being a part of all of this, I'm not surprised
by your powers, nor what's in the house.†
Because what I'm seeing here isn't any different from what I've seen
before - each week, for two years, on Charmed. Within this context, its all
perfectly logical and plausible.†
Even...if it should be quite impossible.
"And I've been in a situation before that I couldn't
explain.† Not on this scale, but
something that was also quite impossible, could not happen - but did.† I couldn't understand at the time how or why
- I still don't.† But I nonetheless
accepted it.† Because it did
happen - and denying it wouldn't change that."
"Well, I don't accept it," Holly said
defiantly.† "I suppose you'll tell
me that now I can freeze people."
"Why don't you try it?" he said to her. "Go
ahead, raise your hand, the way Piper does."† Stuart saw the angry expression on Holly's face.† Suddenly, it changed to one of shock.† And now she was standing by the chair
instead of by the sofa.
"You tried it, didn't you," he said.† "And it worked.† You froze me."
Holly closed her eyes.†
"This can't be," she said. "This just...can't be."
"You think I made believe?"† Stuart asked.† "I couldn't -"
Holly looked down.†
"Kit?" she asked with disbelief as the small, light beige
colored cat came into the room.† Alyssa
bent down and picked her up.† She
fingered the medallion on her collar, then turned it over for everyone to see.
"The Triquetra," Shannen said.
"She's real, right Alyssa?" Stuart asked.
"Real Kit?" Alyssa asked. "I donít -"
"Real cat," he said, smiling.† "Go ahead Holly.† Freeze the cat."
Alyssa put her down on the table and the cat started walking
towards the edge.† Holly looked at
Shannen and raised her hand.
"I...I have to sit down," Holly said, looking ill.
"Uh...uh...do...something," Shannen said, looking
at Stuart and the cat, both frozen.
Holly looked at them and with a pained expression, raised
her hand again.
Stuart saw that suddenly Holly was sitting.
"Convinced?" he asked her, realizing that it had worked.
"So what are you saying...that we've been transformed
asked. "That I'm not myself
anymore? That I'm a role that's come to
"Everything that is here, everything that we've seen,
is exactly as it would be if Charmed was real," Stuart answered. "Which...is
what it now obviously is."
"You can't tell me that I'm...I'm...Piper
Halliwell. That I'm locked into
some...some...make-believe world," Holly said.
"This doesn't look make-believe," Alyssa said.
"No, I don't think it is.
It's the real world, just...somehow changed," Stuart said.
"No," Shannen said. "This...can't really be happening.
It's impossible and I won't accept it."
"The longer you refuse to accept it," Stuart said,
"the longer it will take to figure out what to do.† Don't waste your efforts, your ideas, your
time on fighting what are facts.† You
are here, you have powers.† You are
The Halliwell sisters."
Holly closed her eyes and shook her head.
"Didn't you ever see one of those TV shows,"
Stuart continued, "where someone is left in the middle of nowhere and has
to figure out how to survive?† But he
doesn't know anything about the surroundings, doesn't even know where he
is.† And he has no one to help him.† He has to start from scratch on his own.
"You have to survive here but you don't have to start
from scratch.† You know where you
are.† You have lives that exist here,
you have friends and people that know you here.† And you have each other.†
You have to accept the fact that you are here, even if it seems
impossible, even if we don't understand how.
"You can't afford to keep fighting the reality.† You - we - have to use everything
that's here to survive - and to help us find a way back."
For a moment everyone was quiet.
"You're right," Alyssa said breaking the
silence.† "Denying what has
happened won't help us figure out what to do.†
We have to accept the reality even though we can't understand it."
"And just what are we supposed to do?"† Holly asked.
"Get as much information as you can from people you see
in your normal routine," Stuart answered, "so maybe we can figure out
"What routine?" Holly asked. "We don't have a
"Yes, you do," he said. "You have a club,
P3.† Go over to it and see what's going
on.† You probably should be there now,
"Club?" Holly asked. "Ah...club...where is
this club supposed to be?† The one on
Charmed is a set on a sound stage."
"It'll be real here," Stuart said. "Look in
your pocketbook.† You probably have
something with the club's address on it."
Holly gave him a disdainful look but opened her pocketbook
and looked through its contents. "I've never seen this before," she
said, as she pulled out a card.
"P3," Alyssa read as she took the card from
Holly. "Fillmore at Greenwich. Classy card."
"Fillmore...that's in Pacific Heights, near the Marina
District," Stuart said.† "Nice
neighborhood. Good location."
"And how do I get there?" Holly asked.
"Your car," Stuart answered.† "You have a car, remember?"
"I have a car but it's back at my ranch," Holly
"You have a car here, too," he said. "Your
key ring?† The one with The Manor's key
Holly pulled out the key ring and selected a car key from
"I'll show you on a map how to get there," Stuart
"And who will I talk to there?" she asked.
"Everyone you know on Charmed will eventually show
up," he replied. "Just as Dan did."
Ding-dong, the doorbell chimed.
"Right on cue," Stuart noted curiously.
"Hmm...even Charmedís scene cues have become real."
The girls looked at each other. Shannen nodded her head at
Holly, who after looking over at Alyssa, went slowly to the door.
Holly said in surprise, as she cautiously opened it.
"Itís Darryl," he said, giving her a funny
look.† "Piper, are you OK?"
"Everyone seems to be asking me that today," she
said. "Uh, come in Dor...Darryl."
"Stuart Weston, this is Inspector Darryl Morris of the San
Francisco Police," Alyssa said, accepting, for the moment, what was
"Pleased to meet you," Stuart said, extending his
"Likewise," Morris said.† "I have to talk to the three of you."
"It's OK, Darryl," Alyssa said.† "You can talk in front of Stuart.† He's a close friend."
Morris gave him a once over look then turned to the
"There's been a murder," Morris said.† "A young girl near the Ferry Building.† There were strange symbols on her body and
on the ground around her."† He
pulled a photograph from his pocket.
"A pentagram," Shannen said, recognizing it from
"One of the people we interviewed at the scene thought
it was some supernatural sign," Morris said. "And I know that if
there's something strange going on I'd better see you about it."
"And what do you want us to do?" Shannen asked.
"Come down with me to the scene.† Look at these symbols and their position
relative to the body. See if there's anything you can tell me that would
"I think that's a good idea," Stuart said.† "Maybe you can help Inspector Morris
and we can discuss it afterwards, when Piper gets back from the Club."
Shannen gave Stuart a look and was about to say something
but Alyssa cut her off.
"Go ahead...Prue," Alyssa said, "and
see what's there.† Stuart and I will
check on some things here."
Shannen looked at Alyssa and Holly.† "OK," she said reluctantly,
thinking that it might be best to see how it would play out.† "We'll meet back here in three
"Even though I think I accept it, itís still a
lot to accept," Alyssa said, after the others left.
"If I've really become Phoebe, and really have powers, and
there really is a demon trying to kill me..." She shivered.
"That must have been a demon that you saw in your
premonition," Stuart said.
"I think I'd better have a look at The Book of
Shadows," she said opening it. "It's...blurry."
"You need your reading glasses," he said to her.
"I don't wear glasses," Alyssa protested.
"But Phoebe does," he replied.
"Those aren't real," Alyssa said. "They're
just plain glass props."
"If youíve really become Phoebe, then you have her
eyesight, too," he said. "And the glasses will be real.† See if they're in your pocketbook."
Alyssa picked it up from the table and looked through
it.† She pulled out a pair of glasses
and put them on, then looked at the open page.
I can read it now."† She
walked over and looked at herself in the mirror.
This is what people see every week.†
And now, I'm really her."†
She stood there silently for a moment.†
"It's frightening," she said, "to suddenly become someone
"At least you know who that someone else is," he
said. "And you have an existence here that you're familiar with. I
don't.† I called my number at work.† Or where I did work, because no one
by that name works there.† And my home
telephone number belongs to an aerobics center.† And my bank has no record of my account nor of my credit card.
"I may have been confident about you being The Charmed
Ones.† I could place you, see you fit in
as real here.† But I...I'm here by
accident.† I don't seem to exist.† I have no money, no home.† I don't even have any other clothes to
wear.† I don't know what's going to
happen to me here."
"You saved my life," Alyssa said. "You're
staying with us.† Whatever happens will
happen to all of us."
She took his hand and flashed a smile.† "The four of us are in this
"At least we have some leftovers in the fridge,"
Alyssa said as they sat down at the table in the kitchen that evening.
starved," Shannen said.
"I called my mother," Alyssa said.
"And?" Piper asked, anxiously.
"I called her cell phone, I called her other
numbers,"† Alyssa said and shook
her head. "Other people answered. They never heard of my mother. Then I
called my father, my brother...
"They're not gone," Stuart said, trying to
re-assure her. "They're OK. They're just not in LA. They're wherever they
would have been had they not had a daughter who was an actress.
"Just like, uh, whatís his name...Siegel, right?† Your agent at Endeavor," Stuart continued.
"He didnít know who you were when you called and spoke to him. But nothing
had happened to him.† He was fine.
"The same is true with your family. Nothingís happened to
them. Whatever has happened...has happened to you."
Alyssa was silent for a moment, lost in thought. Then she
took a deep breath and sighed.
"What happened at the Club?" she asked Holly.
"The bartender and some of the waitresses were there but not
many customers," Holly replied. "They told me thatís usually how it
is that early on a Wednesday evening.
"And they all knew that I was...that is, they all thought
that I was Piper.
"I didn't find out much other than that the Club is
doing well," Holly continued. "I found the Clubís books on my...uh, the owner's
"Oh, and that The Cranberries are playing there
"That makes sense," Alyssa said.
"They did a Charmed episode."
"And I made five phone calls to LA," Holly
continued. "No one, not even the
telephone company, ever heard of me. Not Holly Combs...and...not..."
"Not...as Piper Halliwell."
She exhaled. "I
asked," she reluctantly admitted.
"Then I called anyone I could think of at
Spelling," she continued, "at Paramount, at the network....including
Brad and JP."
Stuart gave Piper a quizzical look.
"Brad Kern is Charmed's Executive Producer," Alyssa
explained. "Jon Parť is the Unit Production Manager, but everyone at the studio
calls him JP."
"I even called Shawn Papazian at the studio,"
"Whoís that?" Stuart asked, starting to
feel like a real Hollywood outsider.
"Heís the Vice-President and Studio Manager of Ray-Art Studios where
Charmed is filmed," Holly said.
"I tried reminding him about what happened that time his dog
started licking me. But it was the same story.
Holly Combs just...doesn't exist." She sighed.
"I don't exist."
"Yes, you do exist," Alyssa said, taking Holly's
hand.†"You're right here with
"That's not much comfort," Holly said,
glumly. "You don't exist,
"How about you Shannen?" Alyssa asked.
"She was twenty-three years old," Shannen said.
"I didn't see her...her body, but I saw the scene marked up. This is a lot harder in real life than it is
on Charmed, I can tell you that.
"There were four pentagrams on the sidewalk all around
where her body had been.† But they were
"Didn't you once say on an episode that the inverted
pentagram was taken by evil demons as their own?"† Stuart asked Alyssa.
She thought for a moment.†
"Yes, that's right," she said. "At least that's what the script
said.† They try to be accurate about
things like that so it must be right."
"Which means that this is the work of some demon,"
"Or just some deranged person who maybe saw that
episode and wants everyone to think he's a demon," Shannen said.
"You still won't accept what's happened, that Prue's
become real - and that you're her?" Stuart asked.
"No," Shannen said, "I don't believe any of
this.† Do you hear that, whoever's
behind all of this? You will not convince me that I've - that the three of
us have been...pulled into a Charmed episode."
"No," Stuart said, shaking his head, "you
He paused for a
"The Charmed episode has
been pulled into you." he said. "More precisely, the Charmed
episode - all of Charmed - has become part of the real world."
"Charmed has directors and cameramen," Shannen
said. "They make it look as if we have powers but we don't.† What we do have are special effects
people.† And no matter how it looks when
you see it on television, its all made up. It's just scenes, shot separately,
and edited to look realistic. But there is no Manor, no Halliwells, no Charmed
witches with a Power of Three. None of it is real.† And neither is any of this."
"Hmm...that makes a lot of sense," Stuart
said.† "But...there's just one
problem."† He paused for dramatic
"The writers aren't here," he said, "the directors
aren't here and the cameramen aren't here. But you are here. And so are
"Oh, and the special effects people aren't here either.
"Unless...that's it!" Stuart exclaimed, snapping
his fingers. "They're invisible. The special effects people are invisible.
It's inconceivable that reality can be changed and that you can be transformed
into a witch. But it's perfectly logical that the special effects people can be
"Hmm...invisible special effects for the special
effects people. How fitting," he added.
"Perhaps it's the writers who are invisible,"
Shannen said sarcastically, "and they're feeding you what you think is
She shook her head slowly.
"This is all preposterous," Shannen said.
"You're right," Alyssa said. "It's preposterous
that you can move things by waving your hand. And it's preposterous that
Holly can freeze people, and that I can have premonitions.
"But what's impossible is denying that this has
happened to us" she added. "And that we're really here."
"Why are you so eager to accept all of this?"
Shannen asked, a fierce resistance showing in her eyes. "Why are you so
willing to believe this absurdity that you really are your Phoebe Halliwell
character? That you're no longer yourself."
"I don't want to be anyone except Alyssa Milano,"
she answered. "I want to go home, I want to be with my family...I want to
be myself. But I won't put on blinders and deny that what's happened to
me - what's happened to all of us - hasn't happened," Alyssa continued. "No
matter how much I don't want this, nothing about me is the same as it
was this morning. What I accept...is that I can't undo it."
"How can the San Francisco Police Department suddenly
think that it has an inspector named Daryl Morris?" Holly asked.
"How can Brad Kern suddenly forget that he has a
star named Holly Combs?" Stuart asked rhetorically. "It's the same
thing, just like the people on the block think that The Manor, and you, belong
here. I don't understand the power that brought us here. But I do
understand that it is very strong. Strong enough to change the world and alter
how people think.
"Make no mistake about it. This is not some fantasy 'Charmed
World' you've been put into. This is the real world. The same
real world that we've always been in. But you've had a role reversal of your characters.
You're not acting your roles anymore. You are your roles.
- and the roles you play - are now real. In the real
"Look around you," Stuart continued. "This
isn't something make-believe re-created on a set.† The city, the country...the whole world.† This is all real, itís the same
world that existed before. Nothing has changed.† Except for what affects Shannen
Doherty.† Except for what's related to
all of you being the Halliwell sisters. To that extent, the real world has
changed. And you are at the heart of that change."
"No," Shannen said, shaking her head, "I won't accept
that.† I can't.† Actressesí roles donít suddenly come to
life. And fictional characters in a TV series canít become real.
"And tomorrow, I'm going to take a plane back to LA.† And I'll find a way somehow to straighten
this out back there."
"Maybe not," Alyssa said.† "You had a call while you were out with
Morris.† Or rather, Prue had a
"A call?" Shannen asked. "From whom??"
"Four One Five Magazine," Alyssa replied.
"What?" Shannen said. "That..that
isn't a real magazine."
"It is now," Alyssa continued.† "I checked their number and called them
back.† They really exist. And...last
month's issue was in the parlor."†
She picked it up from the table and handed it to Shannen.† "There are a couple of pictures in
there credited to Prue Halliwell.
"The girl who called," Alyssa continued, "said that the
time and place of tomorrow's shoot have changed.† It's at one-thirty at The Stanford Court."
"Who am I...who is Prue supposed to be
shooting?" Shannen asked.
"Tori Spelling," Alyssa answered.† "And I checked with the hotel.† I said I was from the magazine and had to
verify something about the shoot.† She is
"Good," Shannen said. "Tori will help me
straighten this out."
"Check over your cameras tonight," Stuart
said.† "Make sure they're in order."
not going to take any pictures," Shannen said. "I'm just going to see
Tori and then together we'll get to the bottom of this."
"I don't think they'll let you in without your
equipment," Stuart said. "And if you turn out to be Prue, you'll look
a bit foolish coming to a shoot without a camera."
"Stuart's right," Alyssa said.† "With everything that's happened, you
should be prepared...in case you have to be Prue."
"I don't have to be Prue," she replied, unfazed.
"I'm me, Shannen Doherty, and Tori will make that clear to everyone."
"OK," Stuart said.† "Just be careful while you're there that you don't wave your
hand at anything - or at Tori."
That made Shannen pause. After a moment she looked at
"Your equipment...Prue's equipment, is up in her
bedroom," Alyssa said, gently. "I found it before while Stuart and I
were going through the house."† She
nodded slightly to Shannen, indicating she should take it.
Shannen hesitated. "I'll...take a look at it," she
finally said, reluctantly.
Alyssa got up and went over to the sink and Stuart joined
"I'll be sleeping right outside your room
tonight," he told her.† "Just
"In case of what?"
"Demons tried to kill you today," he said.
"And you had a premonition that they would try again.† I'm not letting you out of my sight."
"And...if a demon comes, what are you going to
do?" she asked.
"Stop him," he said. "Or at least make enough
noise trying to that you'll have a warning.†
I'm a light sleeper so if anyone even approaches your room I'll wake
"You don't have to do that," she said.
"We don't really know yet if...I really do have premonitions.† Don't worry, I'll be fine."
won't worry, or at least I'll worry less - because I'll be blocking your
door," he said.
Alyssa saw that he was serious.† "I'll try not to step on you if I have to, uh, go to the
bathroom during the night," she said, smiling.
The Stanford Court Hotel is atop Nob Hill, overlooking
the junction where the Powel and California Cable Car
Lines cross each other.
Shannen strode through the hotel's elegant lobby to the Front
Desk, her camera bag slung over her shoulder. Despite her determination to be
herself, she listened to Alyssa and brought along the equipment.
"I'm here to see Tori Spelling.† She's expecting me," she said to the
young girl behind the desk.
"Just a moment," the girl said as she picked up
the telephone to dial the room.†
"Your name please?"
"Hello, this is Michelle at the Front Desk.† Shannen Doherty is here to see Ms.
Spelling...she said she's expected..." Michelle listened silently for a few
"I'm sorry," she said to Shannen, "they don't
seem to know who you are."
Shannen took a deep breath.†
"Tell them...Prue Halliwell."
"Prue Halliwell?" the young girl said into the
phone.† "OK, thank you."
Michelle discreetly wrote something on a slip of paper.
"This is her room number," she said, eyeing
Shannen suspiciously as she handed the paper to her. "Elevators are over
there," she added, pointing to them.
Shannen took the paper and went to the elevators.† She got off on the eighth floor and walked
down the hallway to the room, and knocked on the door.
"Yes?" a woman said opening the door?
"Uh...Halliwell," Shannen said.
"Come in.† Have
a seat," she said ushering her into the next room.† After a moment, the door opened.
Shannen said, jumping up and hugging her.† "It's so good to see you."
"Hi," Tori said, caught off guard by the
"Tori, don't you know who I am?" Shannen asked.
"Yes...you're Prue Halliwell from Four One Five
Magazine," Tori replied.
"Tori...it's me, Shannen Doherty...We used to hang out
"Shannen who?" Tori asked. " I'm
sorry, I don't understand.† Have you
shot pictures of me before?"
Shannen stood there bewildered, not knowing what to
say.† "Pictures...uh, yes... when
you were on 90210. You...and Brenda."
"That was a long time ago," Tori said. " If
you took pictures of Neve Campbell and me back then, I don't remember it.† It's been about six years since Neve stopped
playing Brenda and left the show."
Shannen shook her head in disbelief.†
In a daze, she turned and slowly started walking to the door.
"Uh, the pictures," Tori said. "Aren't you
going to take my picture?"
Shannen turned back, looked at her camera bag sitting on the
floor, and slowly picked it up.
"Where do you want me to sit?"† Tori asked.
there?" Holly asked answering the
"Exterminator," the voice answered.
She opened the door half-way and saw a big man.
"Back?" Holly asked.
"Yes," he said, "I was here yesterday but no
one was home. You called about the mice."
"Mice?" Holly made a face.
"Mice," he said. "You said you saw a few mice
and you wanted me to come right away."
"Oooo. Uh, come
in," she said, opening the door all the way.
"I'll start in the basement," he said. "Which
way is it?"
Holly showed him and went back into the kitchen.
A confused and dejected Shannen thrust open the front door,
dropping her camera bag on the floor.
"Holly?" she called.
"In the kitchen," came the reply.
As Shannen passed the basement door the big man was coming
through it and heading for the living room.
"Who was that coming from the basement?" she asked
"The exterminator," Holly said. "The
Halliwells called him about mice in the house.† He's weird looking for an exterminator.† Not that I've really known any personally.
"How was your meeting with Tori?" Holly asked.
"Were you able to make some sense out of all
of this with her?"
"Uh, no...she didn't even know me...and...I was never
Brenda on 90210," Shannen said. "My whole past...is gone.
"Uh...but wait, something here doesn't make
sense," Shannen continued.†
"If this is supposed to be The Manor from Charmed...do you recall
any episodes that had mice in The Manor?"
don't," Holly said.
"So if everything here is supposed to be just like
what's on Charmed," Shannen continued, "and we never had mice in the
scripts, how could this house have any?
"And if it did, wouldn't...Kit have gotten rid of
Shannen looked at Holly with a sudden sense of fear.
"He was going into the living room." Shannen said.
"Alyssa's in there," Holly said.
Shannen turned and started running to the
living room with Holly right behind her.
"I never really paid attention on the show to what was
on the mantel," Alyssa said as she and Stuart stood by the wall looking at
"Don't mind me - just the exterminator," the big man said
as he came into the living room.† He
went to the side of the coffee table, put down his box and removed his white
coat.† Opening the box, he removed
something large from it, accidently banging it loudly against the coffee table.
Alyssa turned her head at the sudden sound and looked over
her shoulder.† The exterminator, now
wearing a dark cape and with a dagger in his hand, was running straight at her
and was but a few feet away.† She
started to turn to defend herself but there wasn't enough time to do anything.
Stuart shouted as he rushed to jump in front of her.† The man could not stop and plunged the
dagger straight into Stuart's chest.
Shannen ran into the room with Holly right behind her.
She saw the man withdraw the dagger from
Stuart. Instinctively, Shannen flicked her
hand and the man went flying across the room.†
He smashed into the far wall, knocked off a framed picture and fell to
the floor, the dagger falling from his grip and landing in between pieces of
the broken frame.
Shannen stared at her hand, realizing what she had done
without even thinking.† But the man's
move to recover the dagger re-focused her attention and she waved her hand
again, the dagger sliding across the floor out of his reach.† Frightened, the man scrambled to his feet
and crashed through the window to escape.
Alyssa had thrown her arms under Stuart as he collapsed
against her.† She had eased him down and
now she sat on the floor holding him, his head cradled in her arm.
"Arrgghh...are...you...arrgghh...hurt?" he weakly
"No...Iím not hurt," she answered. This is eactly what
I saw in my premonition, she thought.
"Good," he said.†
But Alyssa saw the fear on his face.†
The fear that came from the realization that he was dying.
you," he whispered with difficulty.
Alyssa didn't need
any special effects to produce the tears that began filling her eyes.
"I...f..feel.....numb...all....."† His eyes closed and his head slowly fell
towards Alyssa's chest.
I'll call an ambulance," Shannen said, snapping out of her
shock.† "Where's...where's the
"An ambulance won't come in time," Alyssa said
firmly.† "Leo.† We need Leo.† Leo can heal.† Holly, call
"Huh...Leo...Leo isn't real," Holly replied.† "Leo...doesn't exist."
"He'll exist here.†
Call him Holly.† NOW!"
"Uh...Leo...uh," Holly was sputtering.† "Leo...we need you.† Leo...hurry."
"Tell him it's an emergency!" Alyssa's voice
rising in desperation.
"Leo, it's an emergency," Holly continued.† "Leo hurry.† Leo we-"
Holly stopped in mid-word as the white light began to
form.† She and Shannen looked on in
astonishment as Leo materialized.
"Heal him Leo," Alyssa, unfazed by his appearance,
commanded.† "He's dying. HURRY!"
Leo shot a quick glance at Holly then rushed to Stuart.† As he placed his hands on Stuartís chest an
aura of light surrounded them.
Holly, in a state of shock, asked softly.
Leo kept his hands on Stuart's chest and after about ten
seconds the aura disappeared.† Alyssa,
tears on her cheeks, called his name.
Stuart?† Are you...are
you...?" Alyssa called to him.
"I'm...OK...I think...I'm OK," he said, breathing
a bit heavy but with strength returning to his voice. "Nothing
hurts."† Then, remembering that
Phoebe could converse with ghosts on Charmed , he asked "Am I really alive?"†
"He's OK," Leo said.† "He'll be all right."
"Lee-o," Holly, still in a daze, answered herself
softly, as if confirming that what she thought she was seeing was really
"What's the matter," Leo asked seeing the look on
Shannen's and Holly's faces.†
"You've seen me heal before."
"Uh...sure they have," Alyssa said thinking
quickly.† "It's just that...they
haven't seen you do it to someone so close to us."
"What happened here?"† Leo asked
"A demon tried to kill me with a dagger," Alyssa
said. "Stuart jumped in front of me and saved me."
"He saw what I just did for him," Leo said.
"It's OK," Alyssa assured him.† "He knows all about us.† And about you."
"He does!?" Leo asked. "How?† Who is he?"
"Uh...a close friend," Alyssa said. "From New
York.† And how is not important
Stuart tried to sit up.
"Oooh," he said as he fell back on to Alyssa.† "I guess I'm just a little
weak."† He lifted his blood-filled
shirt and ran his hand over his chest.†
It was covered with blood but there wasn't any wound.† He was completely healed.
"Thank you Leo...for saving my life," Stuart
said.† He turned his head towards
Alyssa.† "And thank you...if not
for you, then-"
"You're thanking me?" she said. "You just
saved my life for the second time in two days."
"What?! What happened?" Leo asked.
"A car tried to run me down yesterday," Alyssa
said. "Stuart jumped in front of it and pushed me out of its way."
"Was it a demon?" Leo asked.
"We didn't see who, if anyone, was in the car,"
"Was it here near The Manor?" Leo asked.
"No, it...uh...wasn't around here," she replied ambiguously.
Shannen, digesting what she had seen, decided that there
wasn't anything else to do but to accept that it did happen.
"Hello, Leo," she said.
"Prue," he acknowledged her.
"Hi...Leo," Holly said, having trouble comprehending what
was happening as she came out of her daze.
"Piper," Leo said as he went to her, "are you
"No, actually I'm not," she said as she sank into
a chair.† "I...I think I need some
"Me, too," said Shannen, reflecting on what she
saw, "and also something to eat.†
I'm feeling...a little weak."
"Maybe you all should go to the Club," Alyssa
suggested.† "You'll get outside
into the fresh air and have some food.†
And you can fill Leo in."
Shannen gave her a what did you say? look.
"I mean on what Darryl told us and showed you,"
Alyssa said. "And maybe Leo can come up with some ideas that would be
helpful...for all of us."
"What will you do?" Shannen asked
"I'll stay here with Stuart," Alyssa said.
"He needs to rest. And,"
looking at her own clothes which were stained with his blood, "we both
need to get cleaned up."
"It's a good
thing we went shopping for clothes for you this morning," Alyssa said as
Stuart came out after showering and changing.†
"It would have been a little awkward walking around with that blood
stain on your shirt."
"It's a good thing Phoebe Halliwell has a credit
card," he said.† "Of course,
the clothes in your room fit you so you had what to change into.† But that shouldn't surprise you."
"It doesn't," she said. "I even recognize
some of the outfits that I wore on Charmed.
"It's weird.† In
a way it feels strange wearing these clothes here.† But in another way, I feel very comfortable.† I feel like Phoebe. My power, the demon, the
Manor - everyone and everything just as it should be if Charmed was real."
She looked around her then back at Stuart.
"The reality is that I am Phoebe, whether or not
I want it or understand it.† Trying to
fool myself that it isn't so won't make it go away.† I have to act within this reality, as Phoebe Halliwell, and try
to figure out what to do."
"The sooner Shannen and Holly stop fighting it,"
Stuart said, "the sooner you'll be able to work together and find the
"Maybe after what happened this afternoon they
will," she said. "In the meantime, let's go up to the attic.† I want to see if I can find that dagger in
The Book of Shadows." They walked out of her room and started up the
"Uh, just a second," Alyssa said.† She went back into her room and came back
with her reading glasses.†
"OK.† Phoebe is ready,"
"You know what else feels weird?" she said, as
they walked up the staircase.†
"Wearing these clothes without first sitting for makeup."
"You don't need the makeup," Stuart said.
"Your natural beauty is all you need."
Imagine how much time I could save in the studio's makeup wagon every day if
everyone felt like you," she quipped.
The dagger lay on the stand next to the Book of
Shadows. Stuart picked it up as Alyssa
opened the Book. She began turning the
pages, looking for a reference to the dagger.
"An index to the Book of Shadows in real life would
have been helpful," she said after ten minutes.
"On Charmed, I didn't have to actually go through every page
to find something. I just read it from the script."
"Oh," she said, looking at the page she had just
turned to. "This drawing of a
dagger. I think that's it."
Stuart placed the dagger next to it.
"It is," he said.
"There are three matching daggers," she read.
"They belong to the Frubos, who use
them for killing people who do good for others.
"Oh! But if the
Frubos place all three daggers together in their triple scabbard on the eve of
the long sun, they become invincible."
"The long sun?" Stuart asked.
"I don't know," she said.
"It says this can only happen in the year of the millenium.
There's a spell
here to vanquish them, but it needs the Power of Three for it to work."
"That's why they've been trying to kill you,"
Stuart said. "To make sure that the spell could not be cast."
"Well, as long as we have one of the daggers, they
can't put them together," Alyssa said.
"No," Stuart said.
"But I doubt they'll give up that easily."
"I don't think they'll be coming back so fast after
they saw...Prue's power," she said as she closed the Book of Shadows.
"But we'll have to be careful."
Alyssa took off her glasses.† "I have to remember to keep these around, even if they don't
do anything for my appearance."
"On the contrary," Stuart said. "Glasses
enhance a girl's appearance, give it more depth.† And they add to her attractiveness as she takes them off."
"Umm, I'll have to remember that," she
"I'm hungry.† Let's go downstairs and get something to
"You really do know how to cook," Stuart
"Both of me's do," she said smiling,
"but there wasn't much cooking here."
"You can try to be modest but I taste otherwise,"
"Let's see what you say after dessert," Alyssa
said. "It's my super concoction - coming straight from a package in the
me," she said sitting down across the table from him. "Why did you do
it? I mean really why? Twice. You could have died trying to save me."
"It's just what I do when I care about someone...and I
care about you," he said. "You know me for only two days. But I've
known you for two years because I've watched Charmed every week. So I know who
you are - very well."
"That's Phoebe you're seeing on Charmed, " Alyssa
"Yes, it is Phoebe I'm seeing," Stuart
said, "and it is Phoebe that I'm attracted to. But it's also Alyssa
that I'm attracted to."
"You haven't seen me," she said. "Many people
come to believe that the actress is the character."
"I'm not some wild fan who can't distinguish reality
from role-playing," he said. "Most actresses get into their roles and
take on their characters' personalities. That's when people confuse them and
think that the actress is the character. But there's the rare actress who
brings her own character to the role -
her own personality, her own inner qualities -
and imbues her role's character with them.
"You're that rare actress, Alyssa.
You bring your own qualities to Phoebe. I can
sense that's not so much you acting - as it is just you being
"It's not the actress becoming the character. It's the
character becoming the actress."
"What you're telling me is that I'm an especially good
actress," she said with a slight smile.
"What I'm telling you," he said. "is that
you're an especially good person."
Alyssa's smile widened and she looked down modestly
for a second.
"I've had other kinds of roles where I was playing
someone not so nice," she said, and raised her eyes to look at him again.
"Yes - exactly," Stuart replied. "You were playing
those roles. But with Phoebe, you aren't playing. You're just being natural. I
don't mean her...quirkiness. But the honest caring, the basically good person that
Phoebe is on Charmed - that's just your natural self. You don't have to
act the part and therefore you aren't." He paused and thought for a
"And there's another thing," he added.
"It's...hmm, there's a word for it in other languages - in Hebrew, for
example, it's called khain - but there's no real word for it in English.
It's...an intangible inner beauty, a radiance reflected from inside of you,
that's visible on your face. It's more than just your smile -
it's the essence of who you are. You can
portray how a character is supposed to be. But if the essence isn't real, if it
isn't intrinsically part of the actress, it won't be there." He paused
"So, a long answer to a short question," he said.
"That's why I care about you, Alyssa. Because the good person I've seen
for the past two years in Phoebe is just the same person that I've seen for the
past two days in real-life. And when I care about someone, I do whatever I have
to, whatever I can do, for her. It's just that simple.
"Yesterday, I said that I didn't know just what
attracted me to Phoebe but now I'm starting to understand.Ē
"Once you get to know me, you'll see the real
me," she said, "not who you imagine me to be."
"Well...I've gotten to know you these past two
days," he said. "I've seen your intelligence and confidence that
complement your other qualities. What I've seen is just what I expected the
real you - Alyssa - would be like." He took a deep breath.
"I hope that you can look inside me and
see who and what I am," he added.
"What I've seen so far is pretty good," she said.
"You've saved my life twice."
"And you saved mine today. I guess that makes you
pretty good too," he said with a smile.
Alyssa looked into Stuart's eyes and leaned over towards
him. He slowly leaned towards her and their lips met.
Gently, for just a few seconds and then separated.
They both felt something good, something warm. Something
Alyssa leaned forward again and their lips touched. They
held the kiss longer, not afraid this time to let whatever they felt come
There's definitely something here, she thought. She couldn't
articulate her feelings and gave up, letting herself just feel them without
"I'd better get that dessert I promised," she said
Stuart sat watching her by the counter, feeling something
"Today," he said, after a minute. "Today is
Thursday, isn't it."
"Yes," she said.
"What time is it?" he asked.
"Almost nine o'clock," she said.
"Nine o'clock?...What happens every Thursday night at
nine o'clock?" he asked.
She thought for a second. "Charmed is on at nine
"Only it can't be on if The Charmed Ones have become
real," he said. "So whatever is on in its place may be related to
what's happened to us."
Stuart grabbed Alyssa and pulled her into the living
room.† "I don't know which channel
is The WB here," he said picking up the remote control.† "We'll just have to go through each
"On NBC Thurs-" Click
"-Fox Television." Click
"-On Dawson's Creek, next week on The WB."
"Got it," he said, and they sat down on the sofa.
"Now stay tuned for The Demon Dimension on The WB
Thursday," the voice announced.
Stuart and Alyssa looked at each other.
"We've been cancelled and replaced," she sighed.
The teaser began with a young man in work clothes looking
into the window of a jewelry store.† The
camera zoomed in on the ring he was looking at, a small oval diamond.† It switched back to a shot of despair on his
He sighed and as he started to turn away, he bumped into a
man standing beside him.† He appeared to
be about thirty years older than the younger man, with a look of someone who is
very much in control.
"Oh, sorry," the young man said.
"That's all right," the older man said.† "That's a nice ring you were
"Uh, yes.† It's
very nice," the young man said.
"Planning on getting it for someone special?" the
older man asked.
"Well, uh...I wanted to get it for my girlfriend," the
young man said. "I wanted to ask her to marry me.† But, I'm not getting it.†
It's...more than I can afford."
"That's a shame," the older man said.
"But...step into the doorway over here for a moment, I may be able to help
you." He motioned to the younger man to follow him into a hallway.
Once inside, the older man opened his jacket and pulled out
a small black ring box, opening it for the younger man to see.
"That's...the same ring I was looking at in the
window," the young man said with surprise.
"Yes it is," the older man said. "It...fell
into my hands, if you know what I mean.†
I can let you have it for one-third of what the store wanted."
I...don't want it," the young man said.
"It's not a fake," the older man said. "We
can go down the street and have it appraised before you pay me.† Your girlfriend really shouldn't have to
wait until you can afford the store's price."
"No, I buy only... from legitimate stores," the
young man said, nervously.†
"I...don't buy things like that."
Never??" the older man asked.
"Never," the young man answered.
"Honest," the older man said.† "And innocent."
He quickly pulled the ring out of the box and pressed it
against the young man's heart.† The
young man's eyes opened wide and he slowly fell to his knees.† Then his eyes closed and he collapsed on the
The older man returned the ring to the box and put it back
in his pocket.† He stood up tall and
took a long, deep breath.
innocent soul to give me more power," he said. "Soon, I'll have all
the power I need."
As the camera zoomed in for a head shot, his eyes glowed
brightly, an evil look on his face.
"Very soon," he said.
After fading to black, the image of a normal town filled the
screen as the voice over began.
People at work.† Children at
play.† Families at home.
"The world.† As
they know it.† With sunshine. With
happiness. With hope.
"The world.† As
they expect it to continue to be."
The image changed to that of a large sinister looking man,
obviously a demon, surrounded by burning candles with smaller demons on either
side of him.
"But there are others who want a different world,"
the voice over continued. "A world of pain.
A world of darkness and despair.
Of souls taken and lost forever.
Of destruction and devastation and domination
by evil demons.
"And so they plan.†
And when their plans are ready, they will act."
A series of clips of the show's three stars replaced the
demons as the voice over continued.
"Only a handful have the powers that could thwart
them.† Only these few stand in their
way.† Only they can save the
innocent.† Only they can save the
"And they themselves are in constant danger from the
demons because of that.† Because only they
THE† DEMON DIMENSION
Stuart looked at Alyssa as the commercial came on but said
nothing to her as she stared silently at the screen.
"Samantha...one of the people they showed...who's trying to stop the
demons," she said after a while, shaking her head. "That was the name
of my character on Who's the Boss. And the actress playing
Samantha..." She hesitated.
"Do you know her?" Stuart asked.
Alyssa stared at the screen in bewilderment.
"I...recognize her," she said. "That's Lori
Rom.† She...she was the original Phoebe
in the Charmed pilot. Is
Samantha...supposed to be...me?"
They said nothing further as the episode's opening credits
began to roll over an image of demons gathering in a room.
"Phew," Stuart exhaled, sitting back on the sofa
when the next commercial break came on.
Alyssa said, as what she had seen sank in.
They both sat in silence, thinking about what they had just
"We've got it backwards," Stuart said after a
minute.† "We thought the forces of
evil sent you here. But it wasn't them.†
It was the Forces of Good,† Leo's
side.† It was The Elders."
"And that's why a demon tried to run me over,"
Alyssa said.† "And why one tried to
kill me today.† To break the Power of
"You're the few, Alyssa...Phoebe, the few
they said who can stop them," he said. "The Charmed Ones.
Weíre in the real world, so these
demons...they must have existed all along in the real world.
But no one knew about them. So now that their plans are coming together
and theyíre ready to use them there was no one who could stop them. That's
why there's a role reversal; that's why your characters were somehow made real."
"To save the world," Alyssa said, as the full
understanding set in. "We have to
save the world from major destruction and devastation by demons.
By our roles becoming real, we were given
the powers in real life to use against them."
"And this show that's on instead of Charmed, " he
said, "this Demon Dimension. It must be there as a way for us - for you - to
learn things about them."
"This is more than about just being Phoebe," she
said. "This is about taking on a responsibility, about fighting evil in
real life the way we do on Charmed. †But
I'm an actress not a fighter.
What do I
know about fighting evil?"
"What did your characters on Charmed know about
fighting evil?" Stuart said. "The scripts said they knew enough to do
it. Just like them, you know enough,
having acted the part, to really be one of the Charmed Ones.
Otherwise, The Elders would not have brought
you here and entrusted you with saving the world.
"And the caring, kindness and goodness that Phoebe
displays is really yours as well.
Otherwise, they wouldn't have left this in your hands, either."
"You have a lot of confidence in me," she said.
"My confidence in you is just a reflection of who you
are," Stuart said. "For you to see what you are capable of doing and
to believe in yourself the same way that I believe in you."
"I never thought about being some kind of savior who
fights evil," Alyssa said.† She was
quiet for a while, then took a deep breath.†
"But I wasn't asked and I don't think I have a choice.† Sometimes, life puts you in a position you
can't shirk away from.† If all of this
is true, if we are truly the only ones who...can save the world...then I will
have to be Phoebe Halliwell and try to save it."
The break ended and they silently watched as the show
Stuart turned to Alyssa as the closing credits rolled.
"I'll get a calendar," he said,
pulling one out of his wallet and holding it for her to see.
"The eve of the summer solstice," he said.
"They said their plans have to be executed by then for them to
"That's about seven weeks from now," Alyssa said,
looking at the calendar. "We have
less than two months to save the world."
Stuart jumped up, a knife in his hand, as he looked all around the
hallway.† Holly laughed and continued on
her way to the bathroom.† The door
opened behind him and Alyssa stuck her head out.
"What happened?" Alyssa asked, the morning
sunlight shining through the doorway into the hallway.
"It's just your knight in shining armor defending you
against a half-asleep witch," Holly told her as she opened the bathroom
door and went inside.
"Sorry," Stuart said, sheepishly.
"I told you I'm a light sleeper.
And I guess I was also dreaming about that
demon we saw on The Demon Dimension last night."
"How'd you sleep?"† Alyssa asked.
"OK, more or less," he said. "Actually, a lot
less than more.† I kept waking up at the
slightest sound, including Kit's meowing.†
Is there something about a witch's cat that she doesn't sleep at night
the way normal cats do?"
"Hmmm," Shannen said as she inspected the hallway
floor, then looked underneath Stuartís mattress.
"What are you looking for?" he asked.
"Traces of demon blood," Shannen said.
"Surely after bravely defending the hallway all night you must have
vanquished at least a few demons."
Stuart opened his mouth to answer her but nothing came
out.† He turned instead to Alyssa.
"I...I...I...think I'll go get dressed now."† He started to go to his room but then turned
around as he remembered something.† He
flashed a half-smile, bent down to lift the edge of his mattress and
self-consciously dragged it back to his room.
Shannen covered her mouth with her hand as she
chuckled.† She continued down the
hallway and reached for the bathroom doorknob.
Shannen turned around, leaned against the door jam and folded her arms.
"How could Charmed's writers have put only one bathroom in a
house this size?" she complained.
The last of the morning fog was quickly dissipating as Holly
sat on the top step of the porch. Her elbows on her thighs and her chin in her
hands, she stared silently at the street below. Shannen opened the door and
came outside, picked up the newspaper from the porch and sat down beside her.
"Yesterday when I woke up," Holly began slowly, a
hint of melancholy in her voice, "my first thought was that what happened
on Wednesday...our being here, the powers...it was all a bad dream.† But when I opened my eyes we were still
here.† Then everything that happened
yesterday...the attack on Alyssa...you and Tori...and Brian...or whoever, whatever
he is..." She stopped and exhaled.
"And today is Friday and we're still here,"
she continued. "Three days! If this is a bad dream, we're trapped
"Or maybe," Shannen said, "it's just a bad
episode from The Twilight Zone that we're trapped in." Holly half
smiled in response and Shannen put her arm around her and pulled her towards
"All of this," Holly said, "...it can't
really be happening. Yet...it is. We're sitting here. On the steps of..."
she stopped and exhaled again. "...of the Halliwell Manor. In San
"We're going to find out what's really going on,"
Shannen said, "not what someone wants us to think is
happening.† And we're going to start
with Stuart.† He has to be connected to
all of this.† Heís wanted us to accept
all of this from the very beginning. I'm going to find out just who he really
"How?" Holly asked. "We don't exist
here.† We don't even have anyone to help
"There's Four One Five," Shannen said.
"Four One Five?" Holly asked, incredulously.
"That made up magazine from Charmed? That's going to help us get back to
"I was thinking," Shannen said.† "I have the pictures I took of
Tori.† I'll take them down to the
address that's in the copy of the magazine we found in the house.† And if...there...really..." Shannen
stopped and gritted her teeth.† She was
having difficulty saying the words. "...is...a...magazine there...I'll use
their resources to check on him.
"One thing that Stuart said is right,"
Shannen continued.† "We have each
other. †We're in this together."
"I wish Brad was in this together with us," Holly
said.† "Then maybe he could have
written us out of here."
They looked at each other and chuckled.† "We have to keep our sense of
humor," Shannen said, "so that we can keep thinking clearly."
The cat came out the open door, walked over to Shannen and
jumped onto her lap.
"You seem to know your way around here, don't
you," Shannen said, running her fingers through her white and caramel
fur.† "You're the only who really
"I also know my way around here," Holly said.
"Everything is the way The Manor is laid out on the set. What if that
means that I...that we...really belong here, too."
Shannen said, taking Holly's hand and squeezing it.† "Prue Halliwell does not exist off of
the Charmed set.† And neither does
Piper, nor Phoebe nor any of the other characters.† And we have to keep reminding each other of that."
"If I said that to Brian," Holly said,
"somehow, I don't think he'd know what I was talking about." She
"What if Alyssa is right?" Holly asked. "What
if this is all real...and we can't do anything about it?"
"No!!" Shannen exclaimed. She dropped the
cat into Piper's lap and stood up. "No one is going to convince me that
I'm not Shannen Doherty. I'm going to find our what's really happening here.
Stuart has to be the key to this and I'm going to start with him.
"I'm not Prue Halliwell and you're not
Piper. And we don't belong
here."† Shannen turned around and
went inside the house.
Holly lifted the cat's head and looked into her eyes.† The cat stared back, her eyes locked on
Holly's.† Thereís something in how the
cat is looking at me, she thought. As
if...she knows something. About us.
Holly slowly shook her head.
"What if we really do belong here?" she
asked, frightened. "What if we really do?
"We don't know anything about you other than what
you've told us," Shannen said to Stuart as Holly came into the living room
and sat down next to her on the sofa.†
"And as you don't seem to exist here we can't find out anything,
either. I tried to all morning using Four One Fiveís computers and came up with
"The magazine is real...isnít it?" Holly asked rhetorically,
knowing the answer.
"I know I donít exist here," Stuart said.† "All I can do is ask you to trust
"We're in a situation that we can't logically
explain," Shannen said, "and where we're in danger. Trust is in short
supply just now."
"Remember the episode where Bane kidnapped you?"
Stuart asked. "Piper and Phoebe came to rescue you only to find...uh, to
find you telling them to trust Bane.†
And they didn't want to, they thought you were, uh...out of your
"That was a TV show," Holly said, "from a
We're talking about real life
"The Charmed Ones have become real," Stuart
replied, "and everything associated with Charmed has become part of the real world, too.
I've no doubt that if you check on the list of inmates at the state prison,
you'll find Bane Jessup there. That
episode was real here.
"When your lives were in danger, you asked Piper and
Phoebe to trust you about Bane.† They
did - and you were right to trust him. I'm asking you now to trust me."
"We are out of cat food," Alyssa announced as she
marched into the living room.† "I
just fed Kit the last can we had.† Some
things were overlooked when shopping was done this morning."
"I checked the pantry to see what we were short
of," Holly said.† "I really
wasn't thinking about cat food, just human food."
"Kit does not do her own shopping," Alyssa said.
I'll run down to the store and get it," Stuart said, turning to
Alyssa.† "Promise me you won't
leave the house until I get back."
Alyssa tilted her head as she looked at Stuart.† "Promise," she said smiling.
"Car keys are on the kitchen table," Holly said.
"I'll go out through the back," Stuart said.
"Ohh-K," Alyssa said, after Stuart left.† "What have you been talking about
"This...situation," Holly said.† Alyssa could tell from her voice, and the
look on Shannen's face, that a part of each of them was still holding out, and
could not - or would not - stop trying to reject what happened.
"Look," Shannen said, "I'm really just
Shannen Doherty the actress. I'm not really Prue Halliwell the demon fighter.
Only..."† Shannen hesitated and
looked around her.† "This isn't
really a Charmed set."
"No, it's not," Alyssa said.† "We didn't get pulled into an elaborate
Charmed episode.† This is the
real world, the same real world we were in before we were brought here.
The only thing that's changed in it...is us."
"And those close to us, like my agent - and
Dorian," Shannen said.
"And Brian," Holly added.† "Why doesn't he know who he really is
like we do?"
Alyssa shook her head.
"I don't know," she said. "On Charmed, there were
episodes where things happened all around us and no one besides us realized
they had happened.† The scripts said it
had something to do with our being Charmed.†
Maybe it's the same here."
"Or maybe...it really isn't Brian," Holly
said, fearful of the implication if that was true.
"That could be," Alyssa said. "Maybe, whoever he is, he has
his own...appearance. Itís just that his manifestation is as ĎLeoí because
thatís how he was portrayed on
Charmed ." Holly closed her eyes for a moment and shook her head.
"Look," Alyssa continued, "we didn't ask to be brought
here, we didn't ask for this to happen us. But we have to accept that it did
happen. We have to accept that we've had a role reversal. That we're no longer playing the role of the
Halliwells - but that we really are the Halliwells in real life. That Charmed is now part of the real
"I've been thinking about this a lot since last
night," Alyssa continued. "Look at everything that's happened.
Whether or not we want to be, we are
The Charmed Ones now. And we have to
accept the responsibility, to fight evil, to save the world from major
destruction, that goes with it. Stuart's right.
We have to stop fighting reality.
We have to stop wasting our thinking, our efforts on trying to
disprove what has in fact happened."
She looked over to Shannen.
"You still don't trust him, do you?" Alyssa asked.
"You have to admit," Shannen said, "that
everything, all of this, started right after you met him."
"I trust him," Alyssa said.† "I trust him - and you just have to
"I still want to know more about him,"
Shannen said. "But as he doesn't exist here, we have no way of checking on
him.† Four One Fiveís computers couldn't
find anything at all about him. We don't know who - or what - he really
"You admit that Charmedís magazine really does exist
now," Alyssa said. "Then why are you still refusing to accept that the
rest of Charmed exists now, as well?"
"Because Piper Halliwell isn't real...and I'm not
her," Holly said. But there was more desperation than conviction in her
"I am not about to...to give up my identity.† I am Holly Combs.† That is who I am, who I have been all of my life.† I am not going to give that up."
"You're not giving up your identity," Alyssa said
gently.† "When you do a scene on
Charmed as Piper Halliwell, you're not giving up who you are.† You're just putting it aside until after the
scene is done.† And during the scene,
you think only as Piper and act only as Piper."† She took Holly's hand in hers and looked into her eyes.
"We're in a scene now," Alyssa continued, "a
very long scene, the most realistic scene we've ever done.† And we don't know when the director will
yell 'cut'.† The only way we're going to
make it through the scene, to accomplish what we've been brought here to do and
maybe get...get off of this 'set', is to think and act all the time like The
"In the first episode of the show when we became The
Charmed Ones," Shannen said, "we were the target of a warlock who
wanted to kill us. And afterwards, we
were the target of every demon that wanted to destroy good witches.
But that was acting.
This is real.
In the episode, we didn't have a
choice. We had already become
But here -"
"We don't have a choice either," Alyssa
interrupted her. "We've already
become witches, too. That Demon
Dimension episode was there to show us why we were brought here.
Because The Charmed Ones, and their powers,
are needed to stop these demons from wrecking major destruction in the
world. And only we know how to be The
"You almost died yesterday," Shannen said.
"We all almost died yesterday," Alyssa said
"if not for your reacting instinctively as Prue.† That's why it won't work if I'm Alyssa
Milano, if I stop and think each time 'what would Phoebe do now?'.
"I have to be acting instinctively and thinking
instinctively as Phoebe.† To do that, I
have to remain in the role, to stay in character, all the time.† I have to become, in real life, Phoebe
"And you both have to do that as well.† You have to become, in real life, Prue and
Shannen was silent.†
She turned her attention to the vase on the table and using her power,
slowly moved it to the far end and then back to its place.
The power. She
really did have Prue's power. And despite her insistence that she wasn't Prue,
and her determination that very morning not to accept that Charmed had become
real, she had to admit to herself that after three days of trying she could not
find any other explanation for it.
The doorbell interrupted their thoughts.
"Maybe Stuart forgot his key," Alyssa said. She went to
the door, opened it, but no one was there.†
Looking down, she saw something by the doorstep and knelt down to pick
it up.† It was a watch with a note taped
to it.† 'Answer the telephone' it said.
As Alyssa turned to go inside the telephone rang.
"Who was it?"†
Shannen asked but Alyssa ignored her and ran to pick up the phone.
"Who is this?" Alyssa asked.
"You have something of ours that was left behind
yesterday," the voice said. "And we have something of yours.† Your friend.† That's his watch you're holding.†
Let's make a trade.† Our dagger
for your friend."
Alyssa took a deep breath but didn't hesitate.
"Where?" she asked.
"Come to the alley off of Second Street behind Mission
at eight-thirty," the voice said. "You'll see a black metal door with
an orange circle on it. "
"After what you tried to do to me yesterday I'm not
going to come to you alone," Alyssa said. "I don't trust you
"You can bring your sister with you if you're
afraid," the voice said. "But not the one that moves things.† If we see her anywhere around here,
we'll kill your friend. This is a straight business trade.† Nothing more."
"OK," but before Alyssa could say any more the
line went dead.
"What-" Shannen began to ask.
"They have Stuart," Alyssa said. "They want
to trade him for the dagger."
"Who has him?" Holly asked.
"The demons who tried to kill me yesterday,"
Alyssa said. "They sent his watch to prove that they have him."
"This watch - it could be anyone's," Shannen said.
"No," Alyssa answered, "I recognize it.† Stuart was showing it to me last night.† See the scratch on the bezel?† It's his."
"The car," Holly said.† They quickly ran through the kitchen and out the back door.† The car stood in the driveway.† Holly knelt down and picked up something
lying near the front door.
"The car keys," she said.
They went back inside and sat down in the parlor.
Shannen was silent for a moment. "There is of course
another possibility," she said. "That the watch wasn't really taken
"You...you think Stuart's in on it!?" Alyssa
asked. "You think he's part of whatever has happened to us?!† After everything he's done-"
"I know what he's done for you,"† Shannen said, then stopped, realizing how
uncaring that sounded.† "For us.
You're alive because of him.
"I'm just saying...that maybe...he's connected
somehow to everything that's been happening - including this.† Maybe he doesn't even know that he's being
used.† It's a possibility that, with our
lives having changed in ways that we can't understand, and in danger, we can't
"It's not a possibility," Alyssa said.
"We have to trust each other, like real sisters.† And you're just going to have to trust me, just the way Prue and
Piper would trust Phoebe.† Because
that's who you and I are now.† Stuart is
an innocent.† And we're going to bring
the dagger to them and save him."
"And they want you to just walk in there and hand it to
them?" Shannen asked
"They agreed to let Holly come with me," Alyssa
said. "But not you.† They know you
have the strongest powers and can hurt them."
"It's a trap," said Holly, staring ahead blankly.
"What's a trap?" a voice asked.
sudden arrival startled Holly.† She
could no more get used to it in real life than the writers said she could as
Piper in Charmed's scripts.
"The demons kidnaped Stuart," Shannen
explained.† "They want...Phoebe and
Piper to bring them the dagger in exchange for Stuart."
"Of course it's a trap," he said.
"I know," said Alyssa.† "But I'm going anyway."
"You can't," countered Leo.† "I won't let you do this.† It's suicide."
Alyssa looked Leo directly in the eyes.
"When a car was trying to run me down, Stuart saved my
life," she said.† "He did it even though
it was suicide for him to jump in front of that car.
"When the demon tried to kill me with the dagger, he
jumped in front of me to save me, even though it was suicide to do that."
Alyssa stood up, determination in her voice.
"He nearly died twice saving my life," she said.
"I am not going to leave him there." She paused.† "It is our responsibility to protect
the innocent.† And I will protect
Holly closed her eyes and gently shook her head in
disbelief.† That was a line from the
writers to explain the basic premise of Charmed.
And now Alyssa had just said it in real life!
But what other choice was there, she reluctantly had to
admit.† She took a deep breath.
"We," Holly began slowly, realizing that there was
nothing else she could do but agree with Alyssa, "...protect the
innocent." The last vestige of stubborn resistance to whom she was evaporating in
"We are...The Charmed Ones," Holly said.† And she was, she finally accepted, Piper
"Phew," was Shannen's reaction.† This is the reality, she thought.† Already yesterday, Alyssa had accepted that
she's Phoebe and now Holly had accepted that she's Piper, too.
Reality.† They had
somehow been transported here, there was Leo, there were demons and other
supernatural things happening - and they had the powers.† They really had the powers of The
accepting the un-believable - that they had become in real life the roles they
had created acting - made no sense, then continuing to deny it - after
everything that had happened to them the past three days - made even less
We are Prue...Piper...and Phoebe," Shannen said, saying each name
slowly and deliberately.
do protect the innocent." And she was Prue...the third sister.
They were no longer playing their roles as The Halliwells.
They had become, in real life, The Charmed Ones.
The three actresses' role reversal was complete.
Shannen stopped for a second and concentrated on assuming her
character - for real.
"We'll need a good plan to save Stuart," she
"And we'll have to come
up with it ourselves.
We don't have any
writers to do it for us."
"Writers?" Leo asked.
"Never mind, Leo," Piper said.
"Go up to the attic Alyssa...uh, Phoebe,"
Prue told her, "and see what you can find in the Book of Shadows that will
help.† We'll stay here and try to come
up with the plan."
Phoebe nodded her head.†
The three of us are finally in synch, she thought, the way we're
supposed to be.† We are, indeed, the
three Halliwell sisters.
Phoebe lifted the coffee cup from the table.
"To the power of three, if we like it or not," she
"Delightful neighborhood," Piper observed, as they
walked down a desolate street with warehouses and dark alleys.
"They never show this part of San
Francisco during Charmed's opening credits."
They turned left at the alley and found themselves facing a
black metal door.† A large orange circle
was in the center.† Piper stood in front
of it and put her hand to it but didn't open it.
"This was easy on the show," she said.† "We knew what was going to happen.† Here, we don't have a script to rely on to
make it turn out all right."
"I know," Phoebe said.† "We just have to rely on each other.† And we have to remember that we really are
The Charmed Ones."
Piper closed her eyes. She thought about her character,
about how she would play Piper on Charmed when she was faced with danger and
was going to use her powers. She let those thoughts, those feelings, that
psyche fill her mind.
"I am Piper Halliwell," she said quietly to
herself. She opened her eyes and thought about The Manor, about being in San
Francisco, about the powers that she now had.†
About Piper Halliwell coming to life.
"I am Piper Halliwell," she repeated. She
took a deep breath.
"OK, Phoebe," she said, her emotions a mixture of
fear and resolve.† "Let's do
They entered a dark, short hallway and made their way to a
door at the other end.† Piper opened it
and they found themselves in a large, dimly lit room.
"You came.† But
then I expected you would."† He
stood opposite them in the middle of the room.†
He was taller than the demon who had tried to kill Phoebe, who now stood
to his left.† A third demon walked in
behind them and stood by the wall to the right of Piper.
"They came alone," he said to the tall demon.
Phoebe saw him behind the demon.†
He was tied up in a chair, his mouth gagged and a blindfold over his
"He's not hurt," the tall demon said.
"I want to see that for myself," Phoebe said.
"First, the dagger," the demon said.
Piper opened the large pocketbook she was carrying.† She pulled out the dagger but left the
The demon stuck out his hand, motioning Piper to bring it to
him.† She shook her head and instead,
knelt down and placed the dagger on the floor.
The large demon motioned to the demon next to him.† The smaller demon went to Stuart and removed
the blindfold.† He blinked and squinted,
trying to adjust his eyes to the light, dim as it was.† The tall demon nodded and the smaller demon
began undoing the ropes.
"Give me the dagger and we'll let him go," the tall
Piper kicked it to the far wall, away from the demons.† The tall demon quickly went over and picked
His hands free, Stuart pulled the gag from his mouth.† "Get out!† It's a trap," he shouted. The demon who had untied him swung
the back of his hand hard against Stuart, his knuckles making contact with his
jaw, knocking him off of the chair onto the floor.
"Of course it is," the tall demon said, as he
fingered the dagger in his hand.†
"After all the trouble I went through to have you killed, I can't
let this opportunity go by."† He
turned to a small table behind him and lifted a triple scabbard.† He opened it to reveal the other two daggers
"On the eve of the summer solstice, these will make me
invincible," he said as he placed the third dagger in the scabbard.† The three daggers began to glow.
That's what the Book of Shadows meant by 'the long sun'," Phoebe
"But first," the tall demon said, "this
dagger has two more witches to kill."
Piper raised her hand but nothing happened.
"Oh," the tall demon said. "Did I neglect to
mention that we don't freeze?† That's
why I didn't care if you came along. In fact, I wanted you to come so that I
could kill you along with your sister.†
Sorry to disappoint you about your power."
"I'm not disappointed," Piper said.† "I didn't think it would work on you.
Piper shouted into her open pocketbook.
In a couple of seconds, Prue appeared in the room, standing
next to Piper.† The demon who untied
Stuart started towards her but Prue waved her hand at him and he went
flying.† She looked at the demon to
Piper's right and knocked him back against the wall.† The tall demon removed the dagger from the scabbard and began
running towards them as they started the spell.
††† †††"Frubos who destroy
†††††††††† Your end
is this day;
†††††††† Let the
demons of daggers
†††††††††† Be taken
They had backed up against the wall as they said the
spell.† The tall demon was only inches
from them as a fire appeared above the three Frubos and ignited their
bodies.† They began screaming in agony
and as the fire intensified, the demons seemed to shrink until both they and
the fire were gone.† Three seconds
later, Prue disappeared.
"That was close," Piper said.
Prue sat up in the armchair in the living room of The
She bent over to retrieve the
cell phone that had fallen from her hand to the floor when she had slumped
"It worked," she said to herself.
"It worked," Phoebe said to Piper with a tinge of
The spell really worked!"
"It worked ...because we really are
witches," Piper said without enthusiasm, reluctantly accepting the final
proof of their role reversal - and of whom they now really were.
Piper and Prue were curled up on opposite armchairs later
that night while Stuart and Phoebe sat together on the sofa.
"We did it," Prue was saying, a trace of awe and
disbelief in her voice.† "We
actually vanquished demons."
"We eliminated evil...and a threat to the world,"
Piper said, pausing.† "We did something
good, something... that's really important. Yet...it doesn't feel real."
She paused again.
"We weren't working from a script," she continued.
"We were just using our powers in real life.† There were no scenes,† no
cameras... It all felt...surreal."
"I know," Prue said, "I felt that, too.† But what does that say about us?† About how we look at things?† Hollywood feels real to us...and reality
"I'll tell you what feels real - we saved Stuart,"
Phoebe said, turning to him and squeezing his hand.
"You trusted me," Stuart said.† "In the end, you trusted me."
"Phoebe trusted you," Piper replied, "and we
"We really do have to trust each other
completely," Prue said.† "And
- maybe Bane Jessup really does exist here," she added with a smile.
"You took a big risk for me," he went on, turning
serious.† "If the Frubos' place
turned out to be underground, or had thick walls around it, the cell phone
would have been in a dead zone.† And
Prue would not have been able to hear you, focus on your voice and astral
project into the room."
"Then we would have been in a dead zone,"
"How did it feel?" Piper asked Prue.
"I was there, in the room with you," she replied.
"But I felt that some part of me was elsewhere.† It's like a rubber band that you stretch.† One end stays where it is and applies some
resistance.† You keep pulling the other
end to where you want it to be.† So I
just pulled myself to be with you.† But
I can't keep it stretched for too long.†
Then I just let go and was pulled back to The Manor.
"At first, I didn't know what to do other than what I
did on Charmed which was to just slump.†
And nothing happened.† I kept
thinking 'how is this supposed to work, how was Prue supposed to do this.'
"Then I realized that that was what was
wrong.† I was thinking like
Shannen.† 'No - I'm Prue Halliwell', I
thought.† I let my acting give me the
push into character but then I crossed the line and let myself become her, I
let myself think naturally as Prue.†
And it came to me.† Like
something you know but can't remember.†
When you relax and let your thoughts flow naturally it comes to you.
"There is a technique to this astral projection and now
I know how to do it.† You were right,
Phoebe.† We have to be thinking in
"I wish it wasn't this way," Piper said, "but
it is.† The plan worked only because you
did just that - and because I was...because I am, Piper Halliwell."
"Our lives here depend upon our reacting instinctively
and instantly as The Charmed Ones," Prue continued.† "The only way we're going to do that,
whether we like it or not,† is by living
our roles and being The Halliwells all the time."
Piper looked at her hands,
turning them over slowly. Her hands through which she now had Piper
Halliwell's power. Her hands that made her Piper Halliwell.
"We're going to have to get used to really being The
Halliwells," Piper said, with resignation and acceptance.
"That we really are our characters...and only our
"So long Holly Combs," she said.
"It was nice being you."
They became silent, thinking about who they really
were now. No cameras, no scripts. Just real life. A Charmed real life.
And in this real life, they would have to think, act and be The Halliwells
in everything they did.
Prue took a deep breath. We'd better get used to this, she
thought. They would be The Halliwells until...until The Elders
undid the changes to reality, the changes
that affected them and no one else, and Prue Halliwell once again existed only
on the sound stages of Ray-Art Studios. I don't think that will be anytime
soon, she thought.
"I think we did rather well with our plan," Phoebe
said, breaking the silence.† "I
don't think Charmed's writers could have done any better."
"Yes, you did," Stuart said.† "I think you should all get honorary
memberships in the Writers Guild."
"Well, we should start to work on our next plan to find
the other demons-," Prue began.
"Ahem," Phoebe loudly cleared her throat as she
looked at Prue.† "Ahem, ahem."
At first Prue didn't understand, but then she caught on.
"On the other hand," Prue said. "it has
been a long day.† Maybe I'll just go
upstairs and go to sleep and start fresh in the morning.† Right Piper?"
"Uh.." Piper hesitated,
"...r-r-right...right!† I had no
idea how tiring vanquishing demons in real life could be.† So, uh, I'll go to sleep.† Upstairs."
"And...we'll stay upstairs...not down here...with
you," Prue added, looking at Stuart and Phoebe.
Piper got up and gave Phoebe a good-night hug.
"Don't do anything I wouldn't do," Piper whispered
in her ear.
"Umm..." she added as she let go, reflecting on
what she just said. "Maybe that wasn't
such good advice."
Phoebe laughed as Piper turned and followed Prue up the
"The whole time I was tied up there," Stuart said,
"all I thought about was you.† I
just wanted to see you one more time.†
But I kept hoping that you wouldn't come.† I didn't want you walking into the trap.† I didn't want anything to happen to
"There wasn't any way that I wasn't going to come, that
I would let anything happen to you," Phoebe replied softly.
"But you hardly know me-" he started to say.
"I know," she cut him off, "you know me for
two years but I know you for only two days.†
But today made it three days - that's a fifty percent increase.† That's enough 'knowing you' to justify
"I've been thinking about what I told you," Stuart
said, "that I didn't understand why I felt more towards you when I watched
Charmed. Well, I don't understand how
it could not have been clear to me."
He leaned forward towards her. "It's absolutely clear to me now.
"I haven't really told you that you're beautiful,"
he continued. "At least, not the way others do when they see you.† Of course you are. But when I look at you I
see a different beauty. I see that you're beautiful on the inside.† That's what real beauty is. That's what
matters in a person. Thatís what matters to me.
"Your inherent goodness. Itís real. And that's what makes
you so exceptional.
"And that's why I'm attracted to you, Alyssa. You...the
real person.† Not just the character
Phoebe. Because this beauty inside of you...your very special character...isnít
only Phoebe's. It's yours, too.
"Most people donít know who you really are.† Theyíre attracted to you because you're
famous, because you're a TV star.† That
doesn't mean anything."
"Uh..uhh...that didn't come out the way I meant
it," he said. "I'm glad for you that you're a TV star.† You've worked hard at acting since you were
a child.† You deserve to be a celebrity.
"But to me, I wouldn't care if you were Alyssa
Milano...secretary.† Your being a
celebrity is not what interests me.†
It's who you are...what you are inside of you.† Itís that natural goodness of yours...that
natural goodness thatís hard to find in people."
"Some things are clear to me also," Phoebe said as
they looked into each other's eyes.
"Even though you vanquished the Frubos," he said,
"there are other demons out there.†
We don't know whether they're also out to get you.† So I'm going to sleep outside your room
again tonight to protect you."
"I'd feel more protected," Phoebe said slowly,
"if you slept inside my room."
They drew closer to each other and gently kissed.† Then they stood up and, holding hands, went
up the stairs together.