Cherishing Destiny (A Dangerous Destiny) (7 page)

“You could have a concussion, so I think you will take it
easy,” Aurora lectured as well as any busy body nurse could have.

Sara stopped protesting.  Aurora scared her a little.  She
looked to Alex. “What happened?  I seem to remember some of it, but it doesn’t
make much sense.”

Alex gave her a quick synopsis of what he remembered,
throwing in his earthquake theory even though he was starting to think it was
less likely that an earthquake had been the root cause of all this chaos. 
Perhaps the earthquake was a symptom, but not the cause.

“I’m not sure what would have caused an earthquake in this
area, and I have no idea what the lights were,” He concluded.

“I remember the lights,” she said. “I know what they are,
but they weren’t supposed to be anything like that. I would have said something
last night, but the floor fell out from under us, and I blacked out at some

“We all did, Sugar.  What about the lights?” Aurora was interested
and listening.

Sara blinked a couple of times and tried to gather her
Oh my gosh. Aurora Lake just called me Sugar and is having a
conversation with me.

Um, well, I’m not an expert on
the science, but I am sort of interested in Astronomy, and I read an article a
couple of weeks ago in the waiting room at the dentist’s office.”  She glanced
up and saw that Aurora was starting to look a little impatient for her to get
to the point.

“Okay, never mind all of that.  It’s like this.  Sun spots
are dark spots visible against the sun.  They are caused by intense magnetic
energy, and as they move around in the photosphere of the sun, they can cause
solar flares of varying magnitude.  Massive solar flares are like sun storms
that can disrupt radio signals.  Sometimes a solar flare will release a bubble
of charged plasma called something like corona masses. That’s not it, but it’s
close.  Anyway the mass can impact Earth causing geomagnetic storms that in
turn affect radio signals, power grids and so on.  They also charge up the
Northern and Southern Lights otherwise known as auroras.”  She looked at Aurora
and smiled when she explained the last part.

“Ironic,” Aurora commented. “So the Aurora Borealis caused
all of this?”

“Not exactly.  It’s the plasma bubble….wait, I remember
what it’s called.  A coronal mass ejection impacted Earth and created the
geomagnetic storm that caused all of this.  The lights were just another

“So, if scientists, astronomers knew this was coming, why
weren’t we warned?” Alex interjected after listening quietly to the whole

Sara shook her head. She was now sitting up because Aurora
was so caught up in the story that she forgot to hold her down.  “It wasn’t
supposed to be anything like this.  The auroras were supposed to be a
spectacular show, and the worst that should have happened was some temporary
radio signal interference.” 

“Well, this was obviously much worse than that.” Alex
displayed his signature frown. “I think I should still walk to town.  We can’t
stay here in a shed.  We need a car and some supplies. It shouldn’t take me
more than a couple of hours to get there and get what we need.”

“Be careful, Love.” Aurora stood and touched his face.
“There are still other things going on that we don’t understand.”  She raised
her eyebrow in a gesture that told him, she did not want to share the other
problems with Sara just yet.

“I’ll be back before you know it. Don’t worry.” He brushed
her lips in a quick kiss and started walking to the road.

Sara squinted after him. Without thinking, she said, “What
in the world is he wearing?”

He had been wearing his robe, like Aurora, when everything
happened.  So, when he was looking around the property, he looked for something
else to wear. With the only structure even partially standing and not burning,
being the garage, all he found was a set of greasy coveralls. 

At least the fit wasn’t too bad.  He guessed that they
might have belonged to Sara’s brother, Ryan.  He had only been gone a couple of
years, and he used to change the oil in the cars.  He was a big man, Alex
recalled.  Maybe even a bit bigger than Alex.  Alex was sure that Ryan had not
been around to see Sara because of him, and he felt a little guilty about that
when he thought of sweet Sara sitting back in the shed.  Well there was nothing
he could do about it right now except make sure Ryan’s little sister was okay.
So he wore Ryan’s greasy coveralls and trudged, barefoot, to the road. 

Aurora watched him go and then turned her raised eyebrow
look on Sara.  Sara clammed up and sat with her back to the wall of the shed. 
She grew nervous when Aurora came to sit beside her. 

“Where did you learn all of those facts about sunspots and
solar flares? I’m impressed.”

Sara blushed hotly.  “I went to school for a while, but I
never finished my degree.”

“Why not?” Aurora turned her head to look at Sara as they

“Mrs. Lake, You’ve been so nice to me, but I’m sure you
don’t actually want to hear about my boring life.”

“Of Course I do, Sara, or I wouldn’t have asked,” Aurora
leaned very close and brushed Sara’s hair off her brow to check the healing
progress of the gash there. “ And my name is Aurora.”

Sara reached up to touch the healing wound on her
forehead.  She hadn’t even known that it was there.  It didn’t feel like much.
It must not have been too bad, but it was obvious that Aurora had checked on it
while she was unconscious.  This evidence of Aurora’s kindness was confusing
Sara.  She always thought of Aurora as cold, conceited and spoiled.  Granted,
she also thought of her as beautiful and mysterious, but still cold.. 

The trauma of the last few hours was overwhelming her, and
the stress and confusion over Aurora’s apparent change in attitude towards her
was more than she could take.

“Aurora, can I be blunt with you?” she ventured a little nervously.

“I prefer frankness in all my friends, Sara,” Aurora stated

Sara just stared at her incredulously for a moment.
“Friends? Is that what we are? Aurora, to be honest with you, I honestly didn’t
think you knew my name until a few minutes ago.” She gathered her courage and
went on in a rush. “It’s not that I don’t want to be your friend, but I am
why now? Why do you want to know about me after all these

Aurora didn’t say anything at all for a long moment, then
she said, “Let me also be honest with you, but I must first ask you a
question.  Assuming no horrible accidents ever befall you, how old do you think
you will be when you pass?”

Sara thought about it and said, “My grandmother was 89 when
she died, but my mother died of cancer when she was 47. So, I guess I can’t actually
tell you what would be more likely.”

“Thank you for your honest answer,” Aurora said quietly. 
After a pause, she went on.

“Sara, I am fourteen hundred and 13 years old.  I was born
in the first month of a new century in 600 AD.  You can have no idea what life
was like in that century, but one thing has never changed in all those years,
and that is the value of a true friendship.  I have been blessed, over the
years, to know many incredible women.  They were all remarkably different but
had one thing in common; I loved them very much, and then I lost them.  I know
you think I am uncaring and that it’s despicable when I don’t bother to
remember the names of people around me.  But, sometimes I am just afraid to get
close.  The most difficult thing about being a Vampire is watching people you
love wither and die. I’m sorry if I seemed cruel.”

Sara looked back into the eyes of Aurora for the first time
without looking away or blushing.  “Wow, I never thought of that, before. I
know how awful it was for me when my mom died, I can only imagine going through
loss after loss. I’m sorry too, for not understanding.”  She reached out and
squeezed Aurora’s hand.

Aurora didn’t try to pull her hand away.  She just said,
“We have some time to kill. So, do you think we could start over? I would really
like to hear about that college you went to.”



Alex walked on the grass next to the road headed toward
town.  He didn’t think that there was much glass left in his feet, and they
seemed to be healing, but the grass was more comfortable than the pavement.  As
soon as he was out of sight of Aurora and Sara, he had stopped and picked out
as many of the tiny pieces as he could find. 

He didn’t like this vulnerable feeling any more than Aurora
did, which brought him to his next concern.  The estate was only about six
miles outside of Saratoga Springs, and he could have easily run it in less than
15 minutes at Vampire speed, but, he was already feeling a little weaker than
he should, and he did not know when he might feed next. Obviously their blood supply
had gone the way of the house and was destroyed.

So, he walked and tried not to worry too much.  He was lost
in thought when he nearly walked into a fallen tree in his path.  He was about
a mile from home, and the sides of the road were forested, starting at about
thirty feet back from the pavement.  There was still a lot of wilderness around
the area this close to the Adirondacks.  The tree in his path was a tall cedar
that had been growing at the very edge of the forest.

I guess now it’s just long.
smirked a little at his wit. 

He followed the tree trunk back to its base, walking around
or stepping over branches as he went.  At the base of the tree, the torn roots
pointed in all directions, huge clumps of soil still clung to them.  The ground
around the tree was devastated, and the damage appeared to continue along the
edge of the forest as far as he could see down the road.  He saw at least two
other trees that had fallen, as well. 

As he approached the roots to examine the area of upheaval,
he discovered that upheaval was actually a remarkably accurate description of
the problem

A fissure, approximately six inches wide had opened directly
under the tree and one side of the opening, the side furthest from the road had
heaved about sixteen inches or so upward, tearing out the roots and tipping
over the trees.

He leaned cautiously over the opening to look down in, but there
was nothing to see.  Some spidery roots and larger root stumps were visible for
a short distance, then the crack plunged into complete darkness, and it was
impossible to tell how deep it went.

Alex climbed over the trunk and continued down the line of
trees, climbing over the other fallen logs as he came to them.  He really
didn’t have a better option at that point, he decided since the trees were so immense
that they spanned the roadway and continued onto the opposite shoulder.  
Nearer the road, the trees had more branches to contend with so, he felt that
following the fissure was the easiest path. 

He walked about another three quarters of a mile, when the fissure
veered at an angle toward the roadway.  As it approached the pavement, it got
wider and wider until the point where it crossed; it was about two and a half
feet wide.  The up-heaved side was about two feet high in the road, and the pavement
from that point forward was cracked and broken. 

He still could not see very far into the depths, but he
thought he might have smelled a very faint odor like something burning.  A breeze
appeared and whisked any scent away.  All that was left was the strong smell of
cedar and overturned earth. 

He had to jump over and up to get across the fissure. 

How big does a fissure have to be before you
would call it a crevasse?

He walked on without the “
to occupy him
any longer.  It had continued into the trees on the other side of the road.  He
could see the trees toppled for a short distance.  The woods were too thick for
most of them to fall all the way to the ground, and they leaned against each
other drunkenly. 

He pondered what Sara told them about solar flares and that
made him think about the sun.  He was in awe of the light that surrounded him. 
At that time of the day, the sun was shining straight down on him, and he felt
it warming his hair.

He paused to look up at the sky and he noticed a thick line
of black smoke in the distance.  It had to be Saratoga Springs.  He also
noticed a less impressive but considerably closer cloud of smoke.  His
ever-present worry lines grew deeper.

He reached the foot of a private drive branching off from
the roadway, and the smaller cloud of smoke was drifting above about the right
place to be coming from a home at the other end of the drive. He debated
quickly, not wanting to leave the women alone too long on one hand, and
checking for survivors on the other. It didn’t take him long to decide.  He
jogged down the drive and emerged into clearing of at least 10 acres.  A barn
stood almost appearing untouched by the damage visible everywhere else.  What
must have been a farm house at one time, was just a flattened mass of charred
wood and ash, still smoldering enough to create the smoke that Alex spotted
from the road. 

He knew that there would be no survivors in that wreckage. 
He crossed the barn yard and opened a smaller door that was inset within a
larger sliding door on the front of the barn.  Horses were stamping and making nervous
noises in their stalls.  It was clear that they didn’t like the smell of smoke
that was drifting around the area. 

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