"Are ya sure, Man? We can't take the risk of becoming lost," Aiden said. "There's no time."
They turned a corner, and walked into a room, bright with white light. Everyone covered their eyes. When the light dimmed he was alone, standing in front of a strange-looking chair. Looking to his feet, he saw that his sooty clothes were replaced with all-white cottons, and white casual shoes. He raised his eyes back up to see a man, standing by the chair, and beckoning him to sit.
"No," he heard himself, and began to back away.
He felt himself grabbed from behind, and suddenly, he was a child. "No! Mammy! Pappy!" he screamed, as the large hands forced him into the chair. "No!" he kicked violently. "Where's my Mam?"
He looked around, and the pink walls were vibrating. The man put something on his head, sort of like earmuffs, and then everything went black.
Todd sat back and closed his eyes. All he could think of was home: Blair, leaning over him, her breasts swinging slightly in her nighty, putting her lips on his chest, and the smell of her hair; Jack, Sam and Ray, the day with the bear, hiking with him in the woods; and Jewel holding his little finger in her hand, with it wrapped all the way around it.
They were all outside on a beautiful sunny day, playing in the yard. He was throwing the ball to Jack, who was throwing it underhand to Sam, who was throwing it to him, and often not making it far enough, so Todd would have to run and get it. Ray was playing in the sandbox, digging with a shovel and moving his trucks through all of the little mountains he had made. His hair, still long, was tied in a ponytail in the back at the base of his neck, much like Todd wore when Blair first met him, and also, when he was a child.
The sun was almost blinding at times. Blair was pouring lemonade into tall icy glasses, and Jewel, who was still in the basket, was cooing and playing with a rattle. Mixie was running around all of them, barking here and there, when suddenly, his barks took a different tone. Todd caught Sam's last throw and looked up to see a tall looming figure coming up behind Blair . . .
Then, his eyes flew open and he jerked awake. Shit. What the heck was that? He looked out the porthole. He was long above the earth. He gazed out the window a bit longer, studying the clouds. So beautiful up here. Just so . . . free. He remembered telling Blair, for the first time, what it was like to fly, and she had told him about riding horses. He'd been lucky enough to have her, not just once, but over and over, in his life. This time, he was really never letting go.
His thoughts went to his mother, staring off into the lake. He swallowed, and flashed on her drawings, the ones of her dreams with the titles under them, like episodes. They made him feel cold, and he hugged himself. She knew something. He shook his thoughts free of the ghastly artwork, and went to the back of the cabin and got the phone. "Babe, can you hear me?"
"Yeah. I can. Are you all right?" Blair said.
"I'm in the air. Can't shake this Momma stuff."
"She'll be all right. Honestly. I'll watch over her. And the kids. We're all okay, Todd," she said. "So what spooked you, exactly?"
"I dozed. Dreamed of you and the kids, outside, in the sun. A figure . . . let's just say it turned out nightmarish."
"The bear. That's what it was."
He stopped, and then said, "Yeah. That's what it was. Then I started to think of Momma and her pictures."
"Oh, that could upset anyone."
"Yeah, well, it did. So I called. Just to hear you. I wish I could see and touch you."
"Well, you can't touch but you can see me. We can Skype at your hotel."
"You mean, Skype, really Skype?" he smiled.
"Whatever you want, Mr. Manning. I'm always yours."
"I call you when I get to Timothy and Tina."
"Okay. I love you."
She was gone, and the phone, silent. He still never understood how or why she loved him, he just was very glad that she did.
It was the dead of night, and all was silent at Mountainview. Sister Rebecca Katherine tossed and turned, restless in her bed.
Suddenly, she sat up, and choked back a scream. "No, Dear Lord, take these horrible thoughts from me," she said aloud, and reached to her side table and grabbed her rosary. She began praying, to ward off the memory of her nightmare.
She finally threw the covers off, and in her flannel nightgown with the high collar, she sat at her desk, taking out the Bible to read to herself. Then, she heard noise in the hallway, and peeked around the corner. "Hello? Is someone there?" she was still reacting as if the dream were real.
"Sister, is that you awake in there?" It was Clyde, the night custodian.
"Yes, it's me, Clyde. Good evening."
"Sister, it's like 3 in the morning. You should be sleep," he said.
"Well, I was. But the night urchins got me, I think."
"My momma always told me that if you talk about your dream, you can go back to bed. I remember a few times, my nightmare was so bad, then when I told her about it, I ended up laughin' at it."
She looked at him. "I'm fairly certain I won't be laughing at this one, Clyde. My family, they were terrorized by a terrible man. Again."
"You had that dream before?"
"Something like it, yes. This was worse, Lad. Thank ya for y'ar concern."
"You wanna talk about it?"
"Not really. I'm trying to move my mind from it."
"Well, if you change your mind, I'll be around. I have this whole hallway to do." He went on his way.
She turned back to her Bible, and it slipped out of her hand, falling down to the floor, but instead of facing down, as one might think, it faced up, open to a page, perfectly. She lifted it, not knowing what page she was viewing. She adjusted her glasses, looked down and read what was in front of her: to open eyes that are blind, to free captives from prison and to release from the dungeon those who sit in darkness. Isaiah 42:7
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