For some reason that morning, Diego had decided to don his Zorro outfit. He wasn't sure if it had anything to do with that dream he had the night before, but it seemed important that Zorro should continue the journey. Luckily he was far enough away from any town to raise any alarm from the soldiers that would be patrolling the area. For the moment he was safe.
The air was dry but cool as he and Toronado began crossing the vast desert that lay before them. He was glad that he had remembered to bring extra water with them as they made their way across the soft sandy terrain. As they plodded along, Toronado's hooves sank down into the sand making the footing and traveling slow and arduous. They came upon some small dunes and Diego dismounted to lessen the load to make it easier on Toronado as he dug his hooves into the sand and made his way over the hills. Once over, Diego mounted and rode on.
The sun was beginning to reach it's intensity as it rose higher in the sky. So far it was a clear day, and the sun shone bright as Diego shielded his eyes with his hat as he squinted and looked up at the sky. He pulled out his handkerchief and wiped away the beads of sweat that were running down his face. It was beginning to get hot as the black silk shirt began to stick to Diego's skin. Toronado was also beginning to feel the effects of the heat as rays from the sun bounced off of the sand as he slowly trotted across the desert.
Diego gently reined in Toronado and dismounted. He took his canteen from the saddle and removed his hat and filled it with water and let Toronado have a drink. As Toronado drank, Diego poured some water on his handkerchief and wiped his face and neck. Inwardly he was hoping that they would soon make it out of this desert before they both died from the heat. Of course wearing black and being in this intense heat did not help matters much.
Diego decided to lead Toronado for awhile as he felt riding him would just make it harder on him. They had walked for quite some distance and Diego was beginning to walk a little slower as the heat became more intense. He finally stopped and sat down on the hot sand and rested as the rays of the sun seem to scorch the desert.
As Diego mopped his face with his handkerchief that had by now, become dry, suddenly as if out of nowhere the wind began to blow in large gusts almost causing Diego to fall backwards as he quickly stood up. He grabbed Toronado's halter and held on as the force of the wind became stronger.
The moment the wind began to increase, large swirls of sand began to form and blow about slapping Diego sharply in the face with its fine particles of grit. Toronado began pitching his head and neighing as the sand stung his eyes. Diego held onto his halter and managed to calm him while he removed the wrap from around his waist and covered Toronado's face to shield his eyes.
The swirls of sand grew larger and thicker and the wind became stronger as Diego turned Toronado sideways and pressed himself against his side shielding himself from the blast of the sand. Diego squinted his eyes and peered over Toronado's saddle in time to see a large bright lightening bolt flash in the sky. Suddenly the ground began to shake violently as Diego held firm to Toronado's halter and saddle.
"Madre de Dios! What's going on!" said Diego trying to keep his balance.
The lightening and rumbling continued as did the wind and sand until Diego thought that he and Toronado were going to be torn and shaken to pieces. As quick as this turmoil began, it suddenly began to die down and soon everything was calm and quiet.
Diego released himself from Toronado and shook himself, brushing the sand from his clothes and hat. He removed his wrap from Toronado's eyes and gently patted his forehead. He wasn't quite sure what this cataclysmic occurrence was or where it had come from, but he was definitely glad it was over and that they were still alive to talk about it.
As he walked around to the front of Toronado, he picked up the reins and was about to go on his way when suddenly his eyes grew wide and he stood almost frozen in place staring at the site in front of him. There in the distance in front of him sitting on horseback were the two people he had seen in his dream. The man was dressed in buckskin with dark blond hair that came to his shoulders and his complexion was tan. The woman's complexion was fair and her eyes were green and her hair was auburn. She wore a white blouse with a long blue skirt with soft pleats all around. The most amazing thing that Diego noticed was that she had a medical bag hooked over the horn of her saddle.
He shook his head and rubbed his eyes to make sure he wasn't dreaming. He looked again and stared hard at the couple as if he was burning their images into his memory. He dropped the reins in his hand and began walking toward them.
Sully and Michaela shook their heads and looked at one another somewhat dazed. They looked at themselves and then looked around, scanning the area around them eyeing their surroundings in total confusion. One moment they were out in the middle of a meadow under a clear blue sky with trees and mountains off in the distance, and now here they were in the middle of a desert with nothing but cactus and sand all around.
It wasn't where they were that confused them however, it was how they got there that baffled them. It was such a sudden transition, that it was obvious to both of them that each was clearly shaken by the experience. They inwardly calmed their nerves and slowly urged their horses forward in hopes of finding someone who could explain this strange episode.
They had not ridden far when suddenly Michaela quickly reined in her horse and stared in amazement. Sully halted his horse as well as his eyes widened in surprise. They looked at one another briefly and then dismounted and stared in disbelief at the man that was coming toward them.
Michaela turned to Sully as her face mirrored a look of astonishment.
"Sully, it's the man in black!" she exclaimed as she gazed back at Zorro walking toward them.
Sully nodded and walked over and stood close to Michaela eyeing Zorro somewhat guardedly. He placed his hand upon his knife and slowly pulled it from the leather holder and stepped in front of Michaela.
"Hold it right there mister, don't take another step!" Sully stated firmly as he looked sternly into Zorro's eyes.
As Zorro neared them he noticed the expression on Sully's face and quickly stopped, leaving some distance between them. He slowly put his hands out to his sides in a surrendering gesture.
"Señor, allow me to introduce myself. I am el Zorro, I mean you know harm!" replied Zorro earnestly, as he kept a wary eye on Sully. "May I ask who you are?" he inquired hesitantly.
Sully cast an examining eye on Zorro and slightly relaxed his stance. "My name is Byron Sully and this is my wife Michaela. Excuse me for asking, but why are you called the fox?" Sully inquired as he eyed Zorro resolutely.
Zorro released a sigh and cast a weary gaze upon Sully and slightly smiled. "Ah, I am pleased to make your acquaintance Señora and Señor Sully! As you can see, I am not going to harm you in any way. I would appreciate it if I could put my hands down! It is very hot and my arms are getting a little tired!" He commented earnestly.
As Michaela's eyes peered into Zorro's she suddenly remembered her dream about Zorro being a friend. She stepped up to Sully and put her hand on his shoulder and looked at him thoughtfully.
"Sully, Zorro is the one I saw in my dream. He's not going to hurt us! He's a friend!" stated Michaela resolutely.
Sully glanced over at Michaela and gazed into her eyes and slightly smiled. He too suddenly remembered the vision they had both seen in Cloud Dancing's teepee. He nodded and then looked at Zorro earnestly and smiled as he placed his knife back in the case.
"You can put your hands down Señor Zorro. I trust my wife's judgement in people and she's a pretty good judge of character. I apologize for being rude." Stated Sully earnestly.
Zorro gave a sigh of relief and dropped his hands by his sides. He turned and put his fingers to his lips and whistled for Toronado. Toronado trotted up to Zorro and nuzzled his hand. He patted his neck and took the reins in his hand led him over to Michaela and Sully.
"I accept your apology Señor, but it is not necessary. I understand your reasons for being cautious. My appearance must seem a bit strange to you, but I assure you Señor, I am no bandit and I am not going to kill you!" Replied Zorro earnestly.
Michaela smiled and sighed. "That's good to know Señor Zorro. By the way, you never did answer my husband's question. Why are you called the fox, Señor? What is your real name?" Michaela inquired as she cast an inquisitive gaze upon Zorro.
Zorro cast a warm look at Michaela and smiled. "Señora, for reasons that are my own, I have to keep my real identity a secret. It's a rather long story. As for my name, it is just a name that I acquired through the years, that I go by. Where I am from, the people that live there know me quite well." Said Zorro resolutely. "By the way, I see you speak Spanish." He added casting a curious eye on the couple.
Sully slightly shrugged his shoulders and looked at Zorro earnestly. "I know a little Señor Zorro. We're from Colorado Springs and some of the people there speak Spanish. By the way, where are we and where are you from?"
The moment Sully said Colorado Springs Zorro's eyes widened in amazement. Not only were they the couple he had seen in his dream, but they were also from the same place he had dreamed about. He stared at them for a moment as if he were entranced by their appearance. He momentarily blinked and inwardly shook himself from his revelation.
"Señor and Señora Sully, I apologize for staring, but did you say you were from Colorado Springs?" Zorro inquired as he cast an examining eye on the couple.
Sully nodded. "That's right! Now are you going to tell us where we are and where you're from?"
"Si, you are in California and just two days ride from a small pueblo called Los Angeles, which is where I am from. However, there is something I have to tell you. I know you will find this hard to believe…in fact I'm not sure if I believe it myself but for some reason, I knew we were going to meet one another. It came to me in a dream I had a couple of nights ago. It was very strange! You see, the pueblo where I am from is suffering from a very serious influenza epidemic and I have been riding for two days in hopes of getting help! Many people there have died because the doctor there is running out of the medicine needed to save them! My dream told me that you Señora Sully are the one that I had to seek for help! I don't know how you got here, but I do know that you are the one that I saw in my dream!" Replied Zorro reflectively as he cast an attentive gaze at Michaela.
Michaela's eyes grew wide, as she too suddenly seem to have a revelation of her own. The moment Zorro mentioned California and the small pueblo in Los Angeles that was suffering from an influenza epidemic, she grabbed Sully's arm and flashed an intense astonished look at him.
"Sully, he said we are in California! That pueblo he mentioned, that's the one I saw in my dream! That's the one I dreamed about where all the sickness was! We have to go there Sully! People are dying!" she replied in an anxious tone.
Sully glanced at Zorro and cast an insightful look at him and then turned to Michaela. He cast a reflective look into her eyes and put his reassuring hands upon her shoulders.
"You forget Michaela, I saw the visions too! We'll go to this pueblo and help these people! If we get started now, hopefully we can make it before it's too late!" Sully remarked as he gazed thoughtfully into her eyes.
Michaela looked at Sully and sighed as she wrapped her arms around him and hugged him tight. Sully hugged her and kissed her cheek as he held her close. When they parted, they gazed thoughtfully into one another's eyes and then turned to Zorro.
Michaela walked up to Zorro and cast a solemn look upon his face as she gazed thoughtfully into his eyes and put a reassuring hand upon his shoulder.
"Señor Zorro, I don't know how we got here either. Maybe it was fate or God or both! Whatever it was that brought us together, it was definitely for a reason! Sully and I will go to your pueblo and help your people! I am a doctor and I have the medicine that will help save your people! I'll do everything I can to help!" replied Michaela as she cast a decisive look at Zorro.
As she was about to walk back to Sully, Zorro gently put his hand upon her shoulder. As she turned and faced him, he took her hand and pressed a tender kiss to the back and smiled.
"Muchas gracias, Señora Sully! I will not forget this!" he replied warmly as his soft blue eyes peered earnestly into hers.
Michaela slightly blushed and smiled. "You're welcome, Señor!" she turned and walked back to Sully and smiled.
As the three of them mounted their horses, Zorro cast an earnest look at Michaela and Sully.
"I passed a small a pueblo on the way here. I can only take you as far as the edge of town. There are many officials in this territory who do not find me as popular as some of the inhabitants do. My appearance makes them a bit angry. There is a very ill natured Alcalde in the pueblo de Los Angeles who is particularly interested in having my head in a noose. However, I have a friend by the name of Diego de la Vega who will meet you half way between here and the pueblo de Los Angeles. He will escort you the rest of the way. In the meantime, I would suggest that you stay the night at this pueblo and get a fresh start tomorrow. Considering what you have been through, I think it would be wise to get some rest." Replied Zorro earnestly.
Sully and Michaela nodded in agreement. It was obvious that this extraordinary experience had taken it toll on both of them. As they rode toward the edge of the pueblo, Michaela gave a sigh of relief as she saw the tavern ahead of them. Zorro was right. She was tired and she knew Sully was too, even though he didn't show it. Zorro gave Sully his map and pointed out the location where Diego would be meeting them. Sully thanked him and smiled. Before Zorro left, he thanked them one more time for their help and turned Toronado toward his home and rode away.
As Michaela and Sully watched Zorro ride away, they looked at one another and wondered who this masked man really was. Each one had appeared in one another's dreams and they had actually met face to face. Michaela was right when she told Zorro that she didn't know what force had brought them together, but she knew one thing was for certain, she was also right when she said she was going to do everything possible to help save the people of pueblo de Los Angeles.