Second Dead

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Chapter 49: Winford again

The hail lasted a mere two minutes, but it felt like the end of the world. I stood up and gazed about. Giant chunks of ice lay scattered all around. The hail grew thicker on the other side of the fence. Outside the sanctuary pillars, hail lay a foot deep. Incredibly, none was on top of our vehicles.

A miracle? Perhaps. The work of God? Seemingly. I was ready to believe anything. We were safe and alive, and that defied explanation.

Dad and Penri whooped and hollered. I gazed at them before my eyes settled on the scene outside the fence. Moaners, or more accurately, the lack of moaners. They were buried under the hail and not one of the beasts stirred.

Faint green light towered up into the dissipating clouds. I cast my gaze about for the source of the aura. My eyes fell upon the altar and the sight therein.

Sanguis lay in a great pool of blood. Much more blood than could be accounted for from such a small cat. At last, what I’d known but refused to believe, revealed itself to me in all its wonder. I walked to the altar, stood by Sanguis and scratched behind her ear.

“Thank you, Winford,” I whispered and waited for the inevitable.

A weeping Klara along with Major Penri joined me. Together we stayed with Sanguis until the end. With a final yawn and a weak yet somehow joyful meow, Sanguis passed into the unknown. Green warmth floated from her body.

“We should bury her,” Klara croaked.

“No,” Penri whispered. “She was a mighty hunter. Let her return a little something to the carrion.”

“A rainbow,” Susan exclaimed.

I turned my eyes upward. I’ll be damned.

The children ran around the sanctum trying to get a better view. “We’re in the rainbow,” Laura yelled.

She was right, in a way. The rainbow appeared to start in the sanctum and stretch upward away from us. Seven colors melded together. They came from the lamp stands. I was sure of it.

Chris entered the sanctum. “Well, this has been the weirdest, err --” He looked at Theo.

“Saturday,” Theo said after glancing at his watch.

“I’ve ever had in my life.” Chris stared at me for a moment and then burst into laughter. “You look like a frigging bunny.”

“What?” I glanced from Chris to Theo who also erupted in laughter.

Mom handed me the mirror.

“Oh shit,” I exclaimed. When mom wrapped my head with a towel, she tied it at the top of my head. The loose ends stuck out like ears.

“Come here. Let me fix you up,” Jane said. She sent Theo to fetch her bag while she sat me down to inspect my scalp.

“Anna, what happened? This was --” Dad faltered.

“Insane?” I offered.

Dad gazed past the fence. “I was gonna say a miracle.”

“Good enough word for me. What happened? That’s a question for the Prestor, I think.”

Everyone glanced around. Timor was gone.

Finally, Susan pointed. “There he is.”

Already far across the field, Timor walked away from us. “Hey come back here, you old coot,” Dad yelled. “You have some explaining to do.”

Timor turned. His voice floated to us. “Arrivederci, my friends. Until we meet again.” He waved and disappeared down the hill.

Meet again? I hope not.

Theo returned with Jane’s bag. She pulled out a small flashlight and shined it in my eye. Brow furrowed she switched from eye to eye. I took her arm and lowered the light.

“Well, you don’t seem to have a concussion,” she said.

I held her hand. “Your father was here.”

Jane stared at me. Her face tightened. “Well, maybe a little concussion.”

I gazed into her eyes.

“You need to stay awake for the next eight hours--”

“He’s been with us almost the entire time.”

“Just take it easy for a few days.”

“He wasn’t one of the lost ones.” I took both her hands in mine. She deserved to understand.

“He tarried willingly.” I glanced at Mom. “Just as Nana did.”

Mom smiled. Then her lips turned downward and her chin scrunched up. “I know.”

Jane stared from Mom to me. “Wha -- Where…?”

I turned my gaze to Sanguis. “He was one of the lamps your Bible spoke of. Him, my nana, and Prestor Timor Domini.”

“Okay, Anna. Just remember what I said. Take it easy for a few days.”

“He brought the hail down. It amused him.”

Jane started. Her watery eyes locked on mine. She sat back on her heels and stared at me in wonder. “Father was a meteorologist. He specialized in hail storms.”

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