When the world knew without a doubt that Heaven no longer existed and everyone feared the worst, Sherman Critchlow should have called his daughter but he felt confident that she had taken the revelation in stride just as he had. Self-identifying with one of his favorite Bible verses, Acts 10:2, he believed himself to be A devout man, and one that feared God with all his house, which gave much alms to the people, and prayed to God always. He accepted the fact that Heaven was no more and knew deep in his heart that there was a purpose. God always had a plan and the reasoning behind some of His plans were simply beyond our limited ability to comprehend.
And when the great fog fell upon the Earth, ushering the return of the spirits of the righteous dead, he should have called his daughter but he knew she like himself wouldn’t have batted an eyelid, accepting it was all part of the grand design. Having said that, Sherman was startled when Adina first appeared in the house. It was one thing to know something was true and quite another to experience it firsthand.
Nothing had changed. He was still attracted to her even in her current ghostly form. It was a heady trance with the right blend of shy and sweet, accented by a slight confidence and just enough ego that had him muddling his words and blushing uncontrollably whenever she was around. He had to admit to himself that he was afraid when he first saw his late wife. Afraid of her disappointment in seeing that he had grown older and softer in the passing years while she looked just as young and beautiful as ever.
When Sherman finally called Myra, it was at his wife’s urging. Perhaps that was what she was trying to communicate from the very first moment she returned home but for some reason he wasn’t able to hear what she was saying. Not that he was ignoring her but no sounds came out of her mouth when her lips moved. And then this morning he was filled with a knowledge as certain to him as his own name, the same way he knew that Heaven no longer existed, he now knew that a brand new heaven was on its way and his daughter was carrying it. The moment the information planted itself in his brain, that was when he heard Adina’s voice.
“Call Mayra,” his specter wife said, her voice airy and barely above that of a whisper.
And so, he did. He expected the conversation to be awkward the way it had always been between them but when his daughter answered the phone he found an uncommon ease in communicating with her. Although it was nothing he detected outright, he sensed that Mayra had changed and perhaps he had as well.
Sherman tilted the phone away from his ear enough so Adina could hear as well as he and Mayra made their way through familial pleasantries and catching up on recent events since the world tilted on its axis. He noticed that Gavin’s name hadn’t been mentioned once and decided not the press the issue at the present time.
“It’s so strange, Dad,” Mayra said. “First, I had a hard time wrapping my head around that fact that I was having a baby, and then discovering my baby is actually a new heaven…I mean, how do you process something like that? There’s not even a baby bump yet so I must look like a complete lunatic when I keep stroking my stomach but every time I do it a sensation of peace sweeps over me and I can’t help but think it’s the baby Heaven trying to help me, like maybe that was simply the way Heaven made everyone feel. I feel like I’m rambling. Does any of this make sense to you?”
“Perfect sense. Your mother was the same way when she was pregnant with you, minus the heaven bit, naturally,” Sherman said. “Now, as much as I hate steering you to more serious topics, honey, we need to address the fact that you’re going to be in a lot of danger.”
“You’re starting to sound like Bethy,” Mayra said.
“She’s smart, you should listen to her.”
“Okay, now I know the world’s going to end. You’re agreeing with Bethany?”
“Just because I think she’s too mouthy doesn’t mean I can’t see how good a friend she’s always been to you. And you’re going to need someone to watch your back because people are going to want to control you in order to control the new Heaven.” As Sherman spoke the words, fear flooded through him.
“I can come down to stay with you,” he continued. “Or, you can come back home. You realize that’s an option, right? I know living with your old man may not seem like the ideal situation for you at the moment, but this is your home and it always will be. You can show up any time, day or night, no hassle, no questions asked. Besides, it’d be nice to have you in the same house as your mother.”
Sherman glanced at Adina who smiled and nodded but didn’t speak, which he found odd. Why wouldn’t she say something to her daughter? Could it be that he the only person his wife could verbally communicate with?
“That does sound nice,” Mayra said but there was something in her tone that made it seem like his daughter dismissed it as a possibility, like no matter how badly they wanted things to go back to the way they were before, it was no longer a possibility.
Then a niggling doubt tickled the back of his mind: was his caring genuine? It was an odd thought, to be sure, because of course he cared about his daughter’s well being but there were powerful forces at play here and how could he be sure he wasn’t one of those people who wanted to, if not control, then steer the direction of the new heaven, if such a thing was even possible. Was his faith strong enough, was he himself a righteous enough man to avoid the temptation of trying to lay claim to the afterlife?
“You’ve always been a headstrong girl, like your mother,” Sherman said, shaking the crazy thoughts from his head. “So, you’re going to do as you please, but just keep in mind that it’s an option.”
“I will, Dad,” Mayra said. “But right now, I don’t have a plan and absolutely no idea of what I should do.”
“Well, when you do devise a plan, remember to keep it simple. Keep a low profile from the world for as long as possible. Everyone and their mother knows about your situation so in order to protect yourself from what’s coming next, the best thing you can do is plan for the worst and hope for the best. Once people find out where you are they’re going to want more from you than you’re willing to give and the last thing you need is for some nutjob zealot to try to kidnap you, or worse.”
“You think it’ll actually come to that?” Mayra asked and he could hear the fear in her voice, fear that he placed there, which he regretted immediately.
“I don’t know, honey, no one does for sure. I think it’d be a wise thing to get you out of that apartment and into somewhere safe where no one will think to look for you. Once we’ve done that you should try to lay low until it’s too late for anyone to interfere in the birthing process, and hopefully by then everything will be okay.”
Still feeling guilty, Sherman tried to steer the conversation onto lighter, happier topics and even somehow convinced Adina to join in on the conversation and it almost seemed like old times. When he eventually hung up the phone he felt mostly positive that the conversation ended on a good note and he was able to maintain a positive outlook on the situation…until he watched the Six O’clock News.
A group of field correspondents were reporting from outside Mayra’s apartment building.
“It is believed that some sort of explosion occurred,” the female reporter said. “Though there is no preliminary evidence to suggest a gas leak or explosive detonation occurred. According to building management and rescue official, the building has been evacuated successfully with no casualties listed as of this moment. The building has been classified as unfit for human habitation pending an proper inspection, leaving dozens of people without a home tonight.”
Though no casualties were listed, Sherman knew his daughter was in trouble. He called her landline, which was busy, called her cellphone which went straight to voicemail and he left numerous messages for her to let him know she was safe. He dialed and redialed the number until her voicemail box was full. He even attempted to call Bethany before realizing he didn’t have her number.
Pacing the living room, his head swam with the worst thoughts imaginable. She knew he and her mother would be worried, so she would call, why wouldn’t she call? The only logical explanation was she wasn’t able to call. When he couldn’t bear it any longer, he grabbed his coat and started for the door. Adina was suddenly in front of him, blocking his way. Sherman knew better than to walk through her after the he tried to hug her when she first appeared and nearly went into a coma.
“Adina, I don’t have time for this,” Sherman said. “Mayra needs my help!”
“Not yet,” Adina whispered and in the blink of an eye she bridged the distance between them and kissed Sherman’s lips.
It happened so quickly he had no time to react. Frostbite brushed his lips and the color drained from his face as if his heart had suddenly stopped beating. He swayed for a moment, staggering backward with his mind swirling. His breath became shallow when nausea crept from his abdomen to his head and the world went black.
To Be Continued…
©2017-2020 Rhyan Scorpio-Rhys