HeavenBound: The Ash Gatherer (Work in progress)

HeavenBoundTheAshGatherercoverDell Dove … Good Husband … Good Father … Dying ………… Deceased, but resting in peace? Not in a long shot, or as Barnard would say, “That’s for atheists!”

Dell Dove has died and gone to Heaven. The people are nice as fluff, sweet to the point of a cavity, and trouble free, you would think, until a conversation is overheard at the Eden’s Apple restaurant: Mr. Riley Hatchet is missing.

Souls have disappeared and “Do Not Disturb” signs are posted in their wake, and suddenly, Dell, the new dead guy, is called on by Jorge, A.K.A. donkey man, to investigate. This, all in a time when there is a fanatical movement to bring back Kareyel, a great fallen general of the angelic legion, calling for the discovery of the two souls containing the seeds of Kareyel within them and their imminent and ultimate sacrifice. It doesn’t help either that one of the signs of the seed is an aura … which Dell has. The doves are looking at him like he’s a god while souls’ knees are bending, stirring a continual itch that Dell constantly has to scratch while he tries to figure out who they think he is. The demons have infiltrated, though no one seems to know, forcing Dell to set off a chain of events that even on paper doesn’t look good. Kicking the bucket was the easy part in this adventure of an after-lifetime … HeavenBound: The Ash Gatherer.

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First Chapter Teaser

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HeavenBound: The Ash Gatherer 

A novel by

Roger McManus

Chapter 1: The Terminal of New Arrivals

The walls were eggshell, and the hospital room smelling of newly cleaned bed sheets was full of guests, some known to some, but only one, a hooded intruder who was hiding, saw all the others. The nurses there sadly knew Annie and the boys too well, due to the family’s constant visits … but unseen to the nurses, and the patient, and the patient’s family, were three figures with folded wings upon their backs. Each of these three figures, recognized as “arcs” to those they were familiar, wore a white robe … and each bore a single object.

The first of the three callers was the tallest and elderly. His colorless eyes, under a high and distinguished forehead topped with short grey hair, were filled only with dark pupils, but the taut wrinkles pulling away like rays from around them made it appear as if light was emitting from these button black holes. Looking down his face, the overstretched skin on top could have easily been due to the disproportionate amount below. Gluttonous cheeks sagged like belly fat and wobbled a gelatinous fit as he p-p-p-puckered kisses to a sparrow pleasantly perched upon his finger.

Standing beside him was the second, a woman fond of eating, whose facial features were just the opposite of her strikingly aged companion. Heavy sausage-like brows seconded for eyelids and her cheeks ballooned up like a rosy cherub’s. Both squeezed in and around her bright blue eyes, hiding their whites except for the sides, which made them very cat-like and very noticeable indeed. Her chin though, was insignificant to the point that her mouth could have been resting on her throat, but that was if one could find her throat, which was hidden by the rest of her inflated self. Her rotundity lifted her robe, unlike her cohorts’ robes found draping the floor, up to her knees. Plump and happy, she held a Christmas cactus like a centerpiece on her two neighboring hands, surrounded by her ten stumpy digits.

At her other side, the last to make up this most dissimilar of trios was no more conspicuous than uncombed hair, which covered his top in a black bush, hung over his eyes like a filthy feather duster, and bloomed from his face just under his eyelashes to below his chin in tight curls like some sort of pad for cleaning muck off of dirty dishes. His hairy, sun-darkened arms protruded from under his garments and carried a wind funnel that danced between his two palms spread a foot or so apart, one on top of the other. The little tornado continued to ruffle his hair as it spun, keeping his unkempt, shaggy appearance at just that.

Behind a partially drawn curtain, the intruder, not capable of being seen by the family or the nurses, made sure it wasn’t detected by these winged others … and carefully peeked out. The concealed spectator had been weaving in and out within the family before the party in white had arrived, trying to smell them, taste them, know them … but had not expected any visitors … at least not of this kind.

The hairy arc stepped forward with his little torrent, and held it out over the bed. Hanging low with a long thin cavern between their bottoms and his arms, his draped sleeves melted through the sheets and mattress. He’d paid heed to the boy Matthew in the chair, going around him, though he could have easily gone through. Of course, the russet-haired boy never knew.

Annie, a fair-skinned, mild, and thin-boned woman with short brownish threads of hair, leaned over her husband, who lay in the bed, and gently pushed back his dark, but greying hair from his wet forehead. He was a skinny man with angular cheekbones, though youthful in appearance.

He gave her a faint smile. “Thanks,” he said, “I am hot.” and turned, and looked forward and stared.

The intruder observed.

“I’m hot,” the bed ridden man said again.

Suddenly, the wind flume spun away from the arc’s hands and toward the sick man. It whipped up a breeze that blew his salt and pepper hair up and back from his face and quickly evaporated the moisture from his skin.

Annie, on seeing his hair and having felt the wind too, searched for a cause for this sudden gust, which had swept over them, but could not find any between the locked windows and the closed door.

“That’s better isn’t it?” he said to his wife.

She was unsettled. The boys stirred a bit distracted. Their mouths hung open.

“Cool,” the sick man said to the whirl in front of him, and the little wind gently dipped, and returned to its carrier.

“No way,” the intruder mumbled to itself.

The bushy arc stepped backwards and bowed, and stepped away again, where then the elderly arc and his sagging cheeks walked forward to replace him, with the sparrow in hand. The bird popped off his finger hovering above the bed, and hopped across the sheets and up onto the pillow.

“Are you okay,” Annie asked.

“Why?” her husband answered.

“Your eyes are darting about,” she said. “That’s all.”

“Music?” he asked.

“I don’t think there’s a radio,” his wife said, but just then, the songbird peeped and raised its voice in an eloquent refrain. Annie’s thin eyebrows lifted. Now, her eyes darted. The little sparrow chirped and fluted an epiphany of song. On hearing what emanated from that little throat, one would have thought a tree full of songbirds chorused. Annie’s hand bounced on her chest. “Oh my.” She fell back into the chair.

Robert, also with brownish hair, ran to the window. “There’s nothing there!” he yelled.

Matthew still in his chair clapped his hands.

Annie’s brow was wrinkled in confusion. “What’s going on?” She rubbed her forehead.

The arc with the sagging cheeks moved away, leaving the sparrow to its solo. The plump woman with the Christmas cactus now brushed in beside him. The intruder still remained hidden and took all these things in.

“I was just thinking: this room is so bare,” the sick man said, gazing out in front of him. “The flowers have all dried up.”

Annie looked over at the wilted flowers that had been sent from the florist days ago, now in the small trash can.

“I can order you more flowers,” she said.

“But here’s one,” he said.

“Where?”

“In front of me.”

“There’s nothing there, Dell,” she said.

The sparrow’s voice fell silent, and the intruder leaned further in.

“What do you mean?” he asked. “Annie? … Didn’t you feel the wind?”

“I did, Daddy.”

“Yes, Matthew?”

“I heard the song,” Robert said.

“You did, Robert. Didn’t you?” Dell said. “The potted plant’s right here as much as the bird is on the pillow by my ear.”

“I don’t see anything,” she said, “I’m sorry.”

“Matthew?”

“He shook his head side to side.

“Robert?”

“I did hear it, Dad.”

Dell looked at the plant. “I guess it’s just me.”

With that said, suddenly another segment added itself to the tip of one of the small cactus’ limbs, and then another, and then another segment on another limb, and then another. Each limb popped one more and followed it with many more. The Christmas cactus grew and grew. The butterball arc, who had brought the plant, was unexpectedly caught off guard herself by the sudden growth spurt and retreated. The plant wept over the sides of the bed. It applauded to the ceiling, celebrating with a splendid display of erupting raspberry colored flowers. The sparrow jumped back into song. The plant’s arms reaching out knocked the shade on the lamp. Annie jumped back. The sheets on the bed distorted in waves of ebbs and flows with the many parts of the cactus brushing and rubbing against it. Matthew marveled at the mysterious sight. The stand with Dell’s dinner on it rolled away in the commotion. The little wind hummed in the hairy arc’s hands.

“You can’t see it?” Dell said, completely blown away by the ever growing ambulatory forest of just one plant. “Do you smell it?”

“I do, Daddy!” Matthew called, as his hair was muffed up by the expanding growth.

“Me, too,” Robert said, staring at the blinds on the window, rattling up and down like a running of the scale on a xylophone.

A nurse stepped into the room, dribbled on herself, and ran out.

“Annie?”

Her eyes were bugged out by the moving articles; she could find no explanation for.

“Annie?” Dell asked again. “Annie?”

Her nose sniffed. “I … I do smell flowers?” she said. “… I can’t believe it. I must be nuts.”

“You’re not,” Dell said and laughed.

The dry hospital room of a sick man had turned into an invisible parade of belief and disbelief, but for Dell, it was all too real. Christmas had come early in his eyes.

“We have found the one,” the elderly arc said, and the other two nodded. These sounds, as prophets bear, resounded in whispers … only for so long.

The intruder had seen enough, and apparently the three figures in white had seen too much. The curtain ripped open. Annie and the boys saw only another object an invisible plant had displaced, but the arm of the intruder whirled and whipped a wire with two steel balls across the room. It snared the plant woman’s head and yanked her back, pulling her off her feet, continuing to wrap itself around her skull until it ended with a loud crack.

Crack!

Dell jumped and the boys spun to where they had heard the noise. They could not see the arc fall, bleeding profusely from her ear, but did, however, see the trash can on its side. The two standing arcs turned just as another projectile seized the bird man’s throat, wrapping itself around tight, until his head was severed. The final arc, with the hair on his arms sticking out like pine needles, let his spirit fly, busting open his wings, and donned a sword his right hand had become. Scraps of cactus exploded around the room as he lunged through at the intruder, who dodged the thrust and kicked the man back with its foot in his chest. Dell was confused by the shredding flora, not able to see either the fiend or the arcs. The hooded intruder lost its balance and fell into the bed, breaking off a piece of the plant, which then fell into its pocket. Dell was jarred and Annie knocked by the bed to the ground. The shaggy arc charged the intruder with his blade, but the fiend swiftly rolled over on the bedding, avoiding the sword, making use of the arc’s momentum and its own leg to lift him up and somersault him over to the floor on the other side. The villain sprang up and around, prepared to fend off the returning volley, but nothing came. It stepped up onto the mattress and stared down the other side. The arc lay on the ground. Gasping, his wings were trembling. The fiend slammed its foot into the pot, walking over to the edge. Dell saw only the pot shatter out. The plant began to wither. The intruder saw that the arc’s blade had penetrated his bowels.

“Hmm.” The hood dipped as it reached under its top robe and unfastened a small crossbow that hung on a red chain-linked belt. From under the other side of its robe came a steel tipped arrow.

The arc’s sword morphed back into his right hand, and the intruder pulled back the bow and locked it, knowing the arc had weakened, and loaded the arrow.

“Who are you?” the hairy arc cried in anger. “God help you.”

The intruder shook its hood, “no,” and lifted the bow. Dell kicked his foot at the unexplainable swaying bed. The intruder stumbled and quickly turned and aimed the crossbow at Dell, who, out of everything he couldn’t see, saw the glare of the tip, but couldn’t make out what it was. The fiend pivoted again.

Thup!

The flash of steel disappeared at the floor, and then there was one less.

Dell watched the plant shrivel and dry into dust as the hooded intruder dropped from the bed amid the bird’s screeching, but Dell, still no less than blind of the being’s presence, could not understand the sparrow’s troubled state. The fiend bent down to peer into the protesting sparrow’s black eyes … and cracked all its little fragile bones. Dell saw the bird crumble and drop to the sheets.

Beeeeeeep!

Dell’s machine signaled cardiac arrest.

The intruder spun around without missing a beat and pursued the struggling, fat, plant woman who had a nicked wing, and whose belly was getting in the way of her knees as she desperately tried to crawl to an armchair to lift herself up.

“I … I can make it.” She was panting heavy as she reached for the seat.

The door blew open, and a crash cart and a team of nurses and a doctor rushed into the room. Lunging down onto one knee next to the plump arc, the intruder grappled the woman’s head from behind and snapped her neck, and then proceeded to quickly remove the white garment from the limp, blubbery body and place it on itself.

“Charging!”

As if the intruder had expected it, black skeletal shadows rising from lack of life tore out of the fallen arcs’ bodies, shrieking like banshees.

The hospital chaplain, bible in hand, was shoved through the door.

Vengeful, sunken eyes of the shadows searched for their bodies’ assassin.

“Clear!”

Badump.

“Who needs an exorcism?” the chaplain asked, unaware of the skeletal wisps above him.

The elongated but emaciated images of the dead arcs saw the figure in white …

“Take them outside!” the doctor cried. “… Exorcism?”

… but the shadows were fooled by the cloak and passed the intruder over for an innocent arc.

“Charging!”

A nurse escorted Annie and the boys out.

“Perhaps a last rite, Father?” the doctor said, and then shouted, “Clear!”

Badump.

The chaplain wheeled around to the unsettled nurse that had pushed him into the room. Looking beseechingly for sanctuary, her hand was busy cutting the air ahead of her throbbing lower lip with the sign of the cross.

“Clear!”

Badump.

Agitated and with a final look, as the chaplain blessed Dell and mumbled a prayer, the nearly fleshless bones of the fallen shrieked again, and vanished through the ceiling, and left.

“Clear!”

Badump.

The flat line went jagged.

“Normal rhythm, doctor,” a relieved nurse gasped … and sighed.

“Okay, I think we got him,” the doctor announced, wiping his brow, and placed the paddles back. “Good job, folks.” A nurse handed him a tissue. “Thank you.”

“Good job, doctor,” said another nurse straightening up the cart, and the doctor nodded.

“Thanks, Father.” The doctor slapped the chaplain on the shoulder, causing the chaplain to drop his bible, and walked out.

As the scene settled, still cloaked in white, the intruder played attendant and carefully cleaned up, never touching them, three globs of green slime resembling large heaps of jelly, and stuck them away in a dresser drawer.

A nurse helped Dell sit up. Another fluffed and fixed his pillow while the fiend lifted a tag that had fallen from its robe, and reattached it under the white garment, which would remain a disguise for it against future visitors while it kept an eye on Dell.

“You gave us a scare,” one of the nurses said, “but you’re fine now.”

“Dad!” Matthew bolted into the room followed by Robert and Annie, who tried to hide her tears. All took a hold of him somewhere.

“Guys, guys,” Dell said, “I’m okay.”

Tap. Tap. … Tap.

The intruder pushed the dresser drawer closed and turned around.

Tap. … Tap. Tap.

In the corner, the little wind spun like a lost top banging against the wall.

Tap. Tap.

The intruder approached the corner.

Tap.

The minute twister stopped banging the wall. It sped up, inched into the room, and defiantly blew hard, filling up the intruder’s hood like a balloon, but the fiend’s chest rose and rose some more, and then exhaled a gale that overtook the little wind, and when it had ceased … not even a breeze remained.

* * * * *

Peak time was sprouting. The freshness of a cool breeze in the warm sun, without the burn, was a sure sign that a new day was remaining. The time here was not measured, but allotted by each citizen into two times, alone time and communion time, known also as AT and CT. The Elite were the people of The Light. Elite was not a title of class distinction. It was the same difference as in saying you are from Boxtown, so you are a Boxtownian. It was who they were, and who they were, were a people wound up in pleasure, who found it of no value to unravel themselves in troubled curiosities.

The heart of the town was the Terminal of New Arrivals, and like the heart, its arteries ran out into its body, running out into The Light, continually filling the cup that would always remain half filled. Here was the hustle and bustle, where citizens went to welcome family and friends they had left behind in a world they once knew. It’s not to say they had forgotten. It was more like a ball of yarn where you keep pulling on the string until the ball is gone. Those who had loved ones yet to come were more attached to that past world. Where those, when all whomever knew them had come into The Light, found the string of yarn in their hands with no ball attached, no drawstring pulling them back to that complicated style of life. They resided in and became more with The Light and did not forget, but put those memories to rest beneath some blankets in their minds.

Call them youth, the young souls newly arrived at the Terminal. If they had left the world behind at 2 or 92 years of age as that world turned, today was a new day. It was their first, and like all changes, they would have to go through a period of adjustment.

This was the reality of those who arrived at the bay doors of the Terminal. Not only were they removed of all burden, but in the gleam of an eye, followed by a misty stroll and a married ride, they found themselves standing in a sterile and spotless atrium, an atrium one would have deemed cold in appearance, if not for all the love and affection that emanated from its glass-like walls. Whether one had been in a car on the expressway, surfing the waves at the beach, lying in a bed at a cancer facility, or lying alone in an abandoned building with a needle stuck in the arm, this atrium was the entrance to The Light.

It was on this new day that John and Rachel had received the arrival notice. Rachel was a little woman with a small forehead and a big heart. She wore her dark hair in a bob that kissed the base of her neck, and she bottomed out like a slender pear. John, with his five o’clock shadow, was tall in comparison with moderate shoulders. He had a slightly bent nose, from a break that went against his warm nature. He didn’t carry a six pack, but bore love handles Rachel could hold on to. John had entered The Light from a construction site some 30 years earlier. His wife, Rachel, had drifted off to sleep into The Light 11 years prior. Rachel’s passage had been relatively easy, believing her reunion with John a dream. She always said she was caressed into The Light. John’s on the other hand had been an exorbitantly traumatic demise put on course when a crane’s cargo broke loose from its chain, dropping a cement reinforced drain pipe on his head, which he saw coming. For some time after his passing, before entering The Light, John exercised that escape in his mind over and over until he finally came to terms with it and accepted that he hadn’t escaped it at all. The denouement to this whole “pee in your pudding” ordeal, his late alcoholic dad, who’d abandoned his family, stood at the atrium to welcome him in on his arrival, wondering why he took so long … to say the least, unforgettably distressing to the point of mental collapse. His dad would joke; it was the only time a defibrillator was needed to bring someone back to The Light.

John and Rachel hastened out of their home, a cobblestone covered house that dissolved into the green tufts and earth tones of the land. A stone wall, the height of two feet, surrounded the abode. It was just high enough to complete the quaint picture, and just low enough to not say, “Keep Out!” The two walked together like the two sides of a step ladder that leaned on each other to stay upright. Down the country-road-like path to the Terminal of New Arrivals, surrounded on both sides by oaks and pines and black walnuts and palms, and all trees of all statures in all seasons save winter, fragrant with their flowers in bloom even as their leaves changed color, but never fell, Rachel strolled snug and tucked under John.

“Can you believe Dell is coming?” Rachel said. “I believed he would come, just not now.”

“Young.” John nodded.

“Yes, young.” She shook her head. “You were young, John, when I lost you,” Rachel reminisced.

“Found me again, didn’t you?” John said, and gave her a squeeze, leaning his head on top of hers.

“Sure did, John, but you were young.”

“Yes, I thought so too in my last two seconds. Three seconds later, I was thinking about something else.”

“Yeah, what the hell are you doing here, Dad!” Rachel bellowed, quite out of character, as they both laughed heartily. “Did you tell your dad about Dell, John?”

“I’m sure he got his own notice.”

“Right, you’re right, John.”

John paused for a moment in thought by a white birch and cactus. “Wonder what Dell’s reaction will be when he sees us?” he said. “He’s always been a good boy. Peeking in on him has been wonderful, but now … ooh wee!” Suddenly John found himself bent over to one side and waddling somewhat like a duck. “This … yeah this …”

“Hey, buddy! You okay?” a passing citizen interrupted John, and looked at him strangely.

“Sure am,” John piped up, and the man continued on. “Hmm, what was that about, Rachel? Rachel?” John turned around and found himself staring at the cactus. Rachel was gone. “Oh,” he said, laughing to himself. He now understood the man’s expression, and it dawned on John what had happened. Rachel had been “blown away.”

It was called “blown away,” because in appearance the person disappeared in a flutter and then a swoosh much like a flame that had been blown on and out. For those who had been “blown away,” they described it as a little nudge by the wind that then wrapped itself around them like a light silk scarf and pulled them gently away as they disappeared into the breeze. John had been “blown away” eleven years ago, just prior to Rachel’s passing. It brought back memories. He had been staring at the sky when a pocket of air bumped him. It wrapped itself around him and felt just like Rachel’s warm touch. The breeze felt like her fingertips walking gently over his skin. It was not tickling, but was so close to tickling and not tickling that it became something else. It became something so wonderful that only two people in love could share when souls met.

“John! John!”

Snapping out of his dream, John was suddenly aware that Rachel had returned, but her face was different. It seemed wrong, something about it, confused maybe. He examined her closer. John thought he saw worry. It was an expression that did not suit her face well, perhaps because it had been so long since it had. The muscles in Rachel’s face seemed to stumble, trying to recollect where each one should go and what each should do to achieve “worry.” What should the eyes be doing? How should the mouth be, downward like a frog or up like, like someone pushing a frog’s mouth up, or pursed, or slightly straight? Her lips trembled with indecision as if she had been in cold water for far too long. Rachel blinked and twitched and her cheeks contorted in such ways they appeared gelatinous. At one point it seemed a bone had been misplaced, if that were possible.

“I saw Dell!” she blurted through a mangled grin. She tried to catch her breath. “He was asleep. There were …”

Swooosh!

Rachel was gone again. Even John had felt the gust that had stolen Rachel away this time. He wasn’t sure, but he thought that that was odd.

Rachel drifted through an ocean of muffled sounds and garbled pronouncements. Images were seen through ebbs and flows of thick … air, she supposed. It was not wet. She had the sensation of having fallen off a boat, sinking away from the light of day into the depths, but falling out into a darkness that arrived on a horizontal path. The journey was slow, then thickness began to drain, and being whisked away, she felt again with the wind that had taken her. This rush brought her towards a needlepoint of light, which became a room in a half a penny of time. Then, in a pause that did not exist, she saw. Her eyes swallowed up so much in such non-existing time that her mind was fooled into thinking a pause had occurred, though in reality, swoosh!

Rachel saw a hospital room. By a bed side stood a figure celebrated in white, a glimpse of a wing. A machine beeped, but not with a steady squeal. This was a calming beep that occurred over and over again at equal intervals, signaling the presence of life still. Her Dell, who lay in the bed, the figure seemed to pay homage to. Dell’s eyes were closed. His chest rose and sank and rose again, but not calmly or at equal intervals as the machine dictated. Dell’s chest sank like the lowering of a car jack, a little, a little, a little more, then somehow up again. In the corner of the room stood a young lady, who brought an aura of life to the table, youthful energy … to her side …

“Barnard?”

Swooosh!

Another gust yanked Rachel from her self-created pause and into a little morning town with a hint of autumn. There was a boy of about five, holding his mother’s hand. The boy was Dell. Rachel watched from behind them as they walked a slate sidewalk, a sidewalk where wild grass swayed between the stones. He was headed to his first day of kindergarten. The ground was wet. Puddles were remnants of a storm that had passed. A bench, with a cemented back and cement legs, and a seat of mint-painted wood, approached them. A lone hooded figure sat upon it. The bench was perched in front of a stone building, which stood removed some forty paces to the rear from where the bench, the mother, and child passed.

She said, “This is our church,” pointing towards the stone.

Her hand washed through the head of the seated figure. Like watercolors, it ran as if she had spilled something on it. The mother was blind to the draped specter, but the child saw it. Wide eyed, he stared as he watched the hood and its shadow beneath come back to its original form. One eye could be faintly seen. It was green. The cloaked stranger’s hand grabbed the boy’s.

“Come,” it said.

Little Dell retaliated by falling back away from the specter and into his mother’s leg. He nearly knocked her over, but she did not react. She only said, “This is your first day of school. Are you excited?” much like a toy doll whose string has been pulled.

An old oak on the church grounds bent into the child’s line of sight. From its limb hung a limp ashen body with a noose around its neck. “Pray for me,” it moaned.

“You are going to learn so much,” the boy’s mother continued, either unaware or unaffected.

A noise, which had been heard faintly in the distance, was now upon them.

Clop! Clop! Clop!

“Brrhrrr!” It was an old horse blowing flies from its snout, which drew a hearse. The crooked steed’s dry hair blanketed its eyes, not needing to see to know the way it was accustomed to taking. Within the carriage’s velvet adorned interior, a large, solid, shiny oak coffin lay, but strapped to its rear, rather like pots and pans strapped to the back of a chuck wagon, was a worn splintered pine box. A hand hanging out of it had been caught between the box and the rope that gripped the box to the carriage. One decrepit finger from this caged corpse stuck up out of rigor mortis and pointed at the boy.

“Pray for me,” exhumed from the rotting crate.

“Look, a parade,” the mother said.

The boy looked down into a puddle. He saw himself alone. Then he saw Rachel standing alongside himself, and the child grew up. The morning town in autumn faded away into the light, and the light into an eggshell-painted wall and semi-smudged dry-marker board of listed allergies and precautions and today’s unpalatable menu with the exception of the chocolate pudding. Heavy breathing was heard, and a machine dictating beeps.

“Mom?”

“Yes, Dell, I’m here with you.”

“You’re not a dream?”

“No, I’m not, but I must say you have quite an imagination.”

“Was it mine? … Can I go with you?”

“Yes, soon … we’ll be waiting for you.”

“Dad, too?”

“Yes, Dad, too. Don’t be afraid.”

“Mom, I’m … I’m not.”

“You’ve had a good life,” she said, and then murmured, “… though you are so young.”

“Mom, are you saying I shouldn’t come?”

“No, I’m not saying that, and if I were it wouldn’t matter. Your time is at hand, Dell. Neither I nor you have the power to change that.”

“But if I don’t come?”

“You would remain between our two worlds.”

“A ghost?”

“Yes, a ghost, not totally here, not totally in The Light.” Rachel smiled invitingly. “The Light is wonderful, Dell.”

Dell looked slightly away in thought.

“You know, Dell, you can check in on those you leave behind after you enter The Light. You can even communicate with them, if they’re open to it. Oh I know, Dell, you were never one to believe in mediums, but …”

“I’m sorry I didn’t try to contact you,” he apologized.

“Oh shoosh, you had your beliefs. How were you to know? Did your dad or I ever go that avenue? We live again and learn,” Rachel boosted him up.

Dell was still meditative.

“I know it’s hard to let go,” she said, “but it’s not forever.”

“Did I do enough for them to remember me? I mean really remember me as a good dad, a good husband?”

“Better than that, babe, your father and I have been peeking in on you since we left. We’re so proud. You’ve done the work. You’ve done the love. Now you need to continue on.”

“I feel drawn to them, but I also feel drawn to the light. I have a purpose there you know. I feel it’s going to bring me back to them.”

“It works that way. You’ll come? See Dad?”

“Yes. Tell Dad, ‘hi.’”

“You can tell him soon enough.”

Dell had a wet smile. “And the …”

“We’ll meet you at the Terminal of New Arrivals for your first day,” Rachel quickly added.

“Terminal?”

“You’ll see. It’ll be alright, Dell.”

“What about the …”

“Love y’, babe”

“What?”

Rachel took a breath and sighed as she was whisked away.

4 Responses to HeavenBound: The Ash Gatherer (Work in progress)

  1. Thomas says:

    Definitely a whistle

  2. Kathy Devlin McManus says:

    Waiting…for the 1st chapter…..this is intriquing! I love the cover art too!

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