Authors: Shelley Madden
His body may be frozen, but his eyes were not. He followed
the electrical cord down the wall to its socket. It was still plugged in. He
tried to shake his head in confusion, but it had become a block of cement. He
wasn’t breathing, but he was. He didn’t exist, but he did. A dribble of saliva
trickled from the corner of his mouth, as he fought to scream.
He glanced at his wristwatch, barely visible under the cuff
on his protruding arm. Twelve past noon. He choked back a sob as he realized
the second hand on his own watch was also frozen in place.
He now understood. Heaven was the reason the clock on the
wall had come to a grinding halt in an apocalypse of confusion and lost momentum.
She’d gone somewhere. Somewhere behind time itself. Straight into a vortex
where life ticked away minute by minute, second by second. She was fixing
things. Maybe it was a window or a vase, or maybe a patient at the hospital.
He had to get her the hell out of here. He should’ve never
allowed Harmon to bring her to the facility. There was no need. Her wound was
already a thing of the past. Now, there were films of her wrist left behind for
the world to see. She’d evaporated down the sterile corridors where even more
people might witness her strange phenomenon. She was a time bomb. A walking,
talking, breathing time bomb.
He suddenly knew what the scream down the hall was. Someone
had come in feeling quite ill, or perhaps with a cut or bruise. Heaven, out of
the kindness of her heart felt compelled to help.
A vision of the golden coins with her likeness emblazoned
upon them fell around him and as suddenly, disappeared. Maybe, the natives
worshipped her. Maybe, she was a demigod. Churned up from phantoms of the
timeless seas. It all made sense now.
He jolted forward, as whatever held him set him free.
Gasping, he jerked his head toward Harmon and watched as the last traces of
color evaporated from the musician’s frozen face.
Though it was only a few minutes past noon, the sun seemed
to have set, leaving his employer’s handsome features bathed in darkness. He
knew what the musician knew. Heaven’s secret was no more. It played across the
musician’s face like a wrinkled newspaper tucked behind a paperboy’s arm.
Perhaps it was time to get an attorney. Or better yet, a
mental hospital. He and Harmon could relax and enjoy themselves amongst the
white-coated faceless ghosts who floated on endless errands through the
corridors. He’d loose himself in countless aged gardening magazines and rerun
after rerun, before lights out. First, he’d throw all the clocks away.
“Let’s go.” Harmon cried, as he woke from his stupor.
Bice shook his head clear, and staggered out the door behind
They found her in the adjoining room, lying motionless on
the cold floor. A moaning woman lay on the unforgiving tile beyond the bed. A
small child was sitting up in bed, and crying.
“She did this Harmon.” Bice studied the blood-spattered boy.
What was once an obvious gaping wound across his forehead was healing before
his eyes. He stared in horror as the remnants of ragged tissue seemed to melt
together and seal the deadly gash. Sticky blood ceased downward spiral and
dried instantly in place.
A mind-shattering metamorphosis of all he knew could not
possibly be, was. Of all he thought was not possible, not in a book or movie,
for God’s sake not possible, was unfolding before his eyes. As the damp wings
of a butterfly might as it emerged from its cocoon. He could not speak. He
could not move. He could not breathe.
He watched as a mortal wound across the boy’s bare chest
shriveled and shrank. He gasped and staggered backward. A chest that had looked
like a wadded piece of cellophane when he burst through the door was slowly
un-folding, springing back to life. A rib bone rose upward beneath the skin,
and with an almost audible
, moved back into place amongst its
“Harmon...” He groaned and staggered backward. He pointed to
the crying boy, as he struggled to inhale.
“Let’s get her the hell out of here!” Harmon picked Heaven
up from the floor.
Bice could only watch as the musician staggered toward the
door with the limp girl. Thundering hooves where coming down the hall. The fine
line between reality and a lost land of childhood imagination was no more. What
he thought could not be and what he knew he’d seen, would forever be one in the
He could not sweep it away as if it had been something from
a decayed comic book he’d read as a child. He would not pretend what he’d seen
was the remnants of his mind fraying at the edges. He and Harmon had been
around the world not once, not twice, but too many times to count. He’d seen it
all, when in fact, he’d seen nothing.
He held the door open, unable to wrench his eyes from the
crying boy as Harmon rushed out carrying Heaven.
He watched Harmon charge down the hall, choking back the
building bile in his throat. The fire in the musician’s soul which had ignited
that terrible dawn the day he’d found her near lifeless body now made sense. It
showed. Harmon had a connection to her. If he’d only listened to him, it might
have fallen into place sooner. If only he’d listened.
Harmon had said she reminded him of his dead sister. He’d
insanely fought a hurricane to find her before it was too late. It damned near
killed them both. There was a reason the girl was at the estate. An
unmistakable plan was unfolding.
A sense of foreboding washed over him. He suddenly felt
very, very mortal. A feeling of impending doom threatened to wash him away come
high tide. The pull of the moon threatened to suck him into a dark vortex high
above the furthest galaxy where he’d forever remain for eternity.
He finally wrenched himself out of the room and bolted after
the musician. They raced down the corridor, pushing aside patients and staff
and burst through the front entrance.
The sun disappeared behind a whirling mass of thunderheads.
But the storm was only above their waiting car. The rest of the sky was clear
and sunny blue. Bice staggered to a stop in the parking lot, watching in terror
yet another haunted scene play out before him.
Rain poured over their car as lightening raced above. The
nearby cars were dry, bright sun reflecting from each. Not a drop of rain fell
on their glittering hoods. The shadows beneath them were crisp and clear.
Almost as quickly, the thunderheads evaporated and raced
away. The sky slowly faded into a bright and clear aquamarine blue. A beam of
sunlight burst from above and fell across their car, lighting it into an ebony
* * *
Heaven opened her eyes a day later. She remembered the boy child at
the hospital, and smiled.
Filtered light from the setting sun played across her hands.
She raised her broken arm for a closer look, but the fashionable pink cast was
gone. She wiggled and stretched her wrist and flexed her fingers. The pain was
also gone. She lifted her leg, noticing the elastic bandage was also absent.
She smiled with joy.
She studied Bice, who was asleep at her bedside chair.
Quietly, she reached over and grabbed a book from the table. She launched it
into the air, and watched with glee as it spiraled downward and whacked him
across the head.
Bice stumbled from the chair.
What the hell?”
She eyed the bookcase above his head, but said nothing. Of
course there was an empty spot where the book had once been. Maybe one day he’d
figure it out. She batted her lashes at him in mock innocence.
He rubbed his head and stared at her. “I’m glad to see you
are back amongst the living. Well, sort of.” But, the merriment in his eyes was
fleeting. “Heaven, we need to talk.”
* * *
Dr. Killmore stared at his patient a day after the toddler had
suddenly come back to life.
He’d turned the corner the day before, in time to see Harmon
rush out of the dead boy’s room, carrying the crazy girl. She was as limp as a
rag doll. He watched as the man inexplicably raced down the corridor, and out
the front doors with her. Bice was hot on the pair’s heels.
He’d stared aghast at Heaven’s limp body as it flopped in
Harmon’s arms, until he could finally call out to the fleeing trio.
He watched in amazement as they quickened their pace upon
hearing his voice, until they finally reached the front entrance. They never
turned back at the shouts ringing out behind them.
He gazed at the boy who’d been declared dead the day before.
The attending physician hadn’t ordered X-rays or scans on the child, there was
no need. He was dead when he was brought in. No pulse, and definitely no
heartbeat. The hearse was already waiting out back on their corpse.
The boy’s chest had been crushed under the vehicle, it’d
taken paramedics nearly fifteen minutes to extract him. The child was dead
close to thirty minutes by the time he reached the hospital. He’d been left to
explain to the undertaker the call was a terrible misunderstanding.
He gazed at the boy’s mother. “Mrs. Martinez, what happened
She smiled at him and held the boy close. He wriggled
happily, grasping locks of her hair and shoving them into his mouth.
“The Senorita…the girl…” She spoke in broken English, and shook
“The Senorita, she put her manos on little Niûo’s head.” She
whispered, holding the boy tightly. She raised one hand into the air, and
placed it upon her child’s head.
“Her hands? She put her hands on his head?” His eyes
threatened to bulge from their very sockets. His heart began to race, pounding
as a racehorse crossing the finish line. He hung in eternal anticipation as she
carefully spoke each word. If this woman said the words he so badly wanted to
hear, his life would be forever changed.
“Si, Senor.” She thought a moment longer, until a wave of
realization finally washed over her delicate face. “Senorita, she is a Santo.”
“A what?” He clung desperately to each word as she carefully
“Santo.” She stammered, trying to choose the correct words. “I
believe you call a Saint, Senor.”
“I see.” His mouth had gone dry. He needed a drink soon,
because his tongue was now suddenly adhered to the roof of his mouth. It
finally broke free, allowing him to speak as his eyes glazed in thought. “You
can take the boy home today.”
He knew he’d get no further details from her. If he did, he
wouldn’t be able to understand them without an interpreter. Besides, he had
research to do. He’d read Heaven’s medical records when he was attending to her
wrist injury. He would have to re-read them, and search for a clue as to what’d
happened in the boy’s room.
He remembered she’d been in the hospital only a short time
before, when her legs were crushed. According to what he’d read and the x-rays
he studied, she should not be walking. No person could heal from that traumatic
of an injury, much less walk again so soon.
He suddenly realized why she’d never been brought back to
the facility for cast removal, or physical therapy. There was no need. Her
guardians seemed incredibly protective of her as well. Right down to when he
showed them the X-rays, and they’d dismissed what was clearly in black and
white as if it were nothing. He knew they were hiding something.
He’d get the video tapes from the waiting room she was in,
and the tapes from the boy’s room. But, his personal life was pressing him. He
knew he must get home to check on Tommy.
He wasn’t looking forward to telling his son the bad news
about his best friend.
* * *
Bice gazed at the lovely girl sitting patiently on the bed. She was
as fresh and bright as a new spring day. No sign of what had occurred the day
before etched her haunting eyes. She’d slept an entire day though.
“Heaven, Dreams is here for a visit. I’ll bring her in
shortly. First, I’d like to apologize for not keeping my word with you and
missing our walk. I have no excuse, thus I will offer none.”
“Dreams is here?” She whispered. “You’re kidding?”
He watched as a wave of delight crossed her eyes, and
breathed a sigh of relief. He was off the hook.
“Harmon is speaking with Dreams at the moment. We’ll ask
Bonita to fix her a nice lunch. Later, you two can go for a swim in the pool,
if you’re up to it.”
“Thank you, Bice.” She leapt from the bed, and threw her
arms around him.
“In the meantime, you have chores to do. Your arm and leg
are healed. I won’t ask any question as to how or why. Somehow, I know better.”
Heaven hung her head in silence.
“Harmon has decided he wants you to work around the
household, to earn your keep. This fall, you will have a tutor.”
She said nothing, only nodding her head in agreement.
“Bonita is waiting for you in the kitchen. Today, you will
learn to make a salad and set the table for lunch.”
“I’ll head right down.” She smiled at him.
Bice studied her a moment longer. She was obviously unaware
of the havoc she’d caused at the hospital the day before. No swelling could be
seen in her ankle or arm. Additionally, she didn’t seem bothered by the fact
that somehow her body worked at the speed of a jet when it needed to mend a
He strode out the door, leaving her to dress. It was time to
meet Harmon in the study.
He had a few questions he wanted to ask Dreams himself.
* * *
Harmon stood and smiled as Dreams came into the study. He motioned
for her to take a seat opposite his desk.
She seemed a bit nervous, and her face was flushed with
anxiety. Her chiseled cheekbones sported bright pink blotches, as if she’d
fallen into a cotton-candy vat at the local carnival. The teenager was still
wearing the same drab grey dress they’d picked her up in the day before.
“Don’t be nervous, Dreams.” He smiled. “I’d like to offer my
apologies for not getting a chance to visit with you last night. As you know,
Heaven turned up missing. After she was located, some rather odd things