Raven

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CHAPTER 39 – Blood and Tears

Reluctant to believe what she had just witnessed, Vonnie let her hand trail across Ronald’s gore-streaked but undamaged belly as she sat back on her heels.

Lila sank into his one-armed embrace and buried her face into his shoulder.

“I take it we won?” Ronald said as he partially sat up, propping himself on his free elbow. His face still had the pallor of a corpse, but he shifted his weight onto his other elbow without a wince, then wiped the tears from Lila’s cheeks with a thumb and a smile that couldn’t quite raise the corners of his eyes or hide the pain still behind them.

The astonished faces hovering above him begged for answers, but their owners were still too bewildered to even form the words of the questions.

In the tomb-quiet in the auditorium, Vonnie gasped, spun about, and lunged toward Matti. Her nurse-trained subconscious had noticed her other patient had stopped breathing.

“Quick, Jason, start CPR. I’ve got to plug up this hole in her chest. Nate, can you do the breaths while Jason does compressions? Erin, get me all the clean cloth you can find. Oh, Jesus, how could I have just turned my back on her?”

With everyone else scrambling about on assigned tasks, Ronald cuddled Lila who buried her face, again, in his shoulder. Emmie crouched beside them and watched the others with eyes wide and mouth grim.

With one hand holding the compress tight against the wheezing hole in Matti’s chest, Vonnie used her other to monitor the pulse in her neck. A faint throb was there each time Jason rocked down on Matti’s chest, but would it continue if he stopped? And Matti showed no signs of breathing on her own. Jason and Nate soon had their rhythm down, two good breaths huffed into Matti’s mouth enough to cause her chest to rise after every thirty compressions … two and thirty … two and thirty.

With her hand pressed tightly over the hole in Matti’s chest, Vonnie peered at the two men working with her, then at Erin who knelt beside her. Fighting back tears that threatened to destroy any control she might have of the situation, she said, “She has to be in shock. There’s no telling how much blood she’s lost, and still losing. Without getting some fluid into her, we’re probably fighting a losing battle. Erin, can you raise her feet up a bit? Just hold them on your lap should be enough. That’s it. It may help.”

As critical minutes dragged by, she answered Jason’s silent questioning look with a shake of her head and a whispered, “Not yet. Keep working.”

Ronald patted Lila’s hand and said, “Did you hear, my darling? Matti is in really bad trouble. You must see if you can help her.”

Lila responded by shaking her head and burying her face deeper in his shoulder.

“No, it’s okay, Lila. Really, it is. You can do it just like you did with me. Please? Matti is really hurt, and she needs your help.”

The small girl gazed over at Vonnie and all the others desperately working on Matti and started to cower again. Ronald turned her back towards Matti and said, “Please, dear, now. You must do it quickly, because Matti is going to die if you don’t.”

With a jerk, Lila looked back at him with fearful questions in her eyes. When Ronald answered with a solemn nod, she paused for another moment, and then she crawled across to kneel on the floor beside Vonnie.

She reached her tiny hand up to gently stroke Matti’s forehead. From there her hand caressed Matti’s slashed cheeks, and it was as though she had wiped a chalk drawing from a blackboard.

Even though they had witnessed a similar miracle just moments before on Ronald, a repeat was still shocking. Jason and Nate almost lost their rhythm and had to concentrate on maintaining it. Vonnie gazed wide-eyed at the cheeks that had been so horribly gashed and were now merely blood-smeared.

Lila moved her hand over the gaping wound on Matti’s forearm, pausing for a few moments, then pulled away. The bloody limb appeared undamaged.

Lila removed the blood-soaked bandage Jason had placed over the stab wound just below Matti’s ribs, laid her hand over the opening, closed her eyes, and just sat for a few moments. Vonnie watched the seeping blood stop running from beneath Lila’s fingers and down Matti’s side. When Lila removed her gore-covered hand, the puckered flesh had smoothed out to form blood-smeared but undamaged tissue. Lila ran her hand up to the puncture in Matti’s chest, pausing just long enough for Vonnie to remove her hand and compress. The hole bubbled and foamed with each of Jason’s compressions. Lila pointed her finger at the wound as though focusing her mind on the secrets beneath the skin. After a moment, the bubbling stopped, and then the bleeding stopped as the hole diminished and vanished.

Vonnie’s own heart began to race while the feeble pulse beneath her fingertips at Matti’s neck grew stronger.

Suddenly, Matti took a deep, gasping breath with clear lungs, something she had been unable to do since Mickey’s blade had done its evil work. Although she was still unconscious, she was breathing, so Jason and Nate backed away. Vonnie kept her hand on the pulsating neck artery while she wiped a tear from her eye with the gore-free back of her hand. Meanwhile, Lila made a quick exploration to find Matti’s other cuts – and erased them.

Erin came running up from the backstage door where she had just re-entered. Vonnie hadn’t even noticed when she had left. In her hand was a large, travel-type coffee cup. And when she kneeled beside Vonnie, she said, “Here, it’s water. Can she drink it? Will it help?”

“You bet! Normally, with the abdomen puncture I wouldn’t let her have anything to drink, but, now … after ….” Vonnie took the cup and held it to Matti’s lips as she raised the girl’s head enough for liquid to run down her throat without choking her. “It may not be as good as a transfusion, but it’s sure the best thing we’ve got.”

After a moment, while Jason whispered to Erin, wide-eyed and tearing, about how Lila had turned death away, Matti responded to the touch of liquid on her lips and in her mouth. She coughed once, opened her eyes and peered into Vonnie’s. Grinning and crying at the same time, with a combination of awe and relief washing through her, Vonnie tilted the cup to Matti’s mouth again, and the girl drank greedily.

* * *

Lila was back in Ronald’s embrace, but her eyes were locked onto Matti’s.

“That was wonderful, darling,” Ronald said, patting Lila gently on her shoulder. “You see? You saved Matti’s life. You did a wonderful thing, and I am very proud of you.”

When Matti heard Ronald, she caught his eye. She had fully expected to escort Mickey to Hell’s door and push him through. Now, it appeared, he would have to make the journey on his own. With a smile, she winked at the girl that had given back her life. With a quick smile in answer, Lila buried her face again in Ronald’s shoulder.

In answer to her look of bewilderment at his words, Ronald said, “Lila is a healer, Matti. Like Emmie, but much, much more. She took care of your wounds as she did mine. Although mine, I’m afraid, includes a punctured glymns. Do you know what that means?”

At first Matti could only shake her head, but then she remembered. Yes, she did know what he meant. In her mind and memories was a full understanding of what he meant. Her head stopped shaking and slowly nodded twice as her eyes grew large.

With the emergencies over, everyone started pelting her and Ronald and each other with questions until Matti sat up and leaned forward, held up a hand for silence, and said, “Lila has a very rare ability to perceive and to manipulate very small and hidden details. She can work on a microscopic level, re-joining separated tissue with such precision that even scars don’t form. She’s a healer.”

Now they all stared at her, and with even more questions clouding their faces. What would have been considered miracles of biblical proportions just a few weeks ago had occurred in clear view and at close range. There was no denying that these things had happened. That they could accept and believe what they had seen was almost as miraculous as the events, themselves.

Nate broke the silence. “You speak like you know exactly what you’re talking about. You’re just full of surprises. You gonna tell us how you know?”

Matti became flustered at the thought of trying to explain concepts that she barely understood, even with the knowledge now in her memories. However, other knowledge sprang back to the forefront of her mind, knowledge that she dreaded even as she knew she must act on it, and quickly.

She rose easily to her feet, took a deep breath, she said, “Everyone, listen. We’ve got to get back … away from Ronald. Quickly,” she added as her darting eyes met Ronald’s. “There isn’t much time.”

“What are you talking about?” Vonnie asked as she turned up to stare at Matti. “I would never have believed it, but I think he’s going to be okay. I just need to –”

“No, you don’t understand. If he were a man, he would be okay. But he’s not, and he’s not going to be okay, so everyone, please get away from him. Please! Now!”

“What in the world—?”

Matti cut Jason off with a grunt and a sob and a hand to his chest, pushing him backward, away from where Ronald lay. She turned and grabbed Erin by the upper arm and dragged her toward Jason. Turning, she went back and pulled Emmie and Lila to their feet and pushed them away. Then, with tears streaming down her cheeks, she did the same with Vonnie and Nate.

Before anyone could do more than protest, Ronald spoke. His voice still strained with a hollow, echoing quality, like a man talking from the far end of a long hallway. “Please listen to Matti. She is correct in everything she says, and she fully understands how deadly urgent it is. I repeat – deadly. Please. Do as she says.” He closed his eyes as he eased back to lie flat on the floor, and, with a sigh, he added, “She can explain all you are about to see. Goodbye, my friends.”

Matti moved them all as a group, much like a sheep dog herds its flock, until they crowded the four-foot drop at the front of the stage. She turned to peer back at Ronald just as blue-hot flames burst from his mouth, nose, eyes and ears. Within seconds every pore of his skin erupted, flames leaping two and three feet high.

Everyone reacted with shouts of shock and protest, and with starts toward the pyre that they quickly aborted as the intense heat convinced them of the futility of any rescue attempt. As the body within the flames reduced to ash, Erin tried to quiet Lila’s wails while they all turned to peer at the one in their midst that showed no surprise or shock at such an outrageous occurrence.

Feeling their eyes upon her, Matti nodded, took a deep breath, closed her eyes for a moment while she sorted out the details she understood well enough to relate. As she wiped away tears streaming down through the blood still coating both cheeks, she said, “Ronald wasn’t a human. A number of glurriks like him are here on Earth to help us against the kryls.”

“But, that’s –”

“But what just –?”

“How –?”

“Why didn’t –?”

Feeling as though she were trying to hold back the tide, Matti raised her hands to her confused and frightened friends. “Please,” she begged. “I’ll tell you all I can, just as soon as I can sort it out in my mind. I promise. Just give me some time to figure out what I know.”

“What you know? But, how do you –?”

Still reeling from a great sense of loss, Matti fought to keep the impatience and irritation out of her voice. “I’ll tell you that, too. I just need a little time. Please.”

Emmie spoke up. “I think she can. Ronald told her a bunch of stuff, and he said she would understand it later. I heard him.”

They all began to ask Emmie the same questions Matti had turned away until Erin took charge and, still cradling Lila, herded them all towards the door. “She said ‘please’ and promised to tell all. We just have to wait until she can. Now, shouldn’t we check on the others … or something?”

“She’s right,” Jason said. “I think the fighting is over, but we’d better take a look around and be sure. Nate, why don’t you go that way and I’ll go this way. The rest of you head for the front steps and wait there.”

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