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Stories from the Verse
Verse Three, Chapter One
Chapter 83: Hastings 29
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Saturday night Lauren arrived at her perch rather early. The fun was to start at three in the morning, but she had nothing much to do after nine. She brought everything she could imagine needing--all three rods, the pistols, the bow and arrows, kau sin ke's, psionic weapons, her Bible, even some of the exotic chemicals she'd brought from the last world. She stood on the building and watched.
Most of the humans, she reasoned, would leave earlier in the night. The vampires themselves possibly stayed in the building--Horta almost certainly did. The others would stay almost until closing. Thus it encouraged her to watch people trickle out after one. Around two she became aware of movement in the neighborhood. The wolves and the hunters were arriving, but staying out of sight until it was time. The sky was clear; Lauren had a clean view of the full moon.
On schedule, the moon began to disappear. As it did so, the wolves moved out onto the street in front of The Pit. They were ready. Lauren needed to start things.
Her mind found Raal quickly and easily. "I'm ready," she thought to him. "I just need to say go." Then she found Annuda, and thought to her that things were about to begin; and she contacted Father James, letting him know to bring in the lunch wagon. She then stood up by the edge of the building, and began to speak in a loud voice.
"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being. In Him was life, and the life was the light of men, and the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it."
As she was speaking, the wolves walked up the steps and opened the doors to the building. With these last words, a white light poured out of the doorway, and screams of pain were heard from inside. Lauren did not stop.
"There is the true light which, coming into the world, enlightens every man." The light grew stronger within the building.
But then suddenly it dimmed. Someone, Lauren thought, is fighting back. It's a good thing that it's not my strength that counts, but the power of God. She continued. "He will baptize you in the Holy Spirit and in fire. And His winnowing fork is in His hand, and He will thoroughly clear his threshing floor; and He will gather His wheat into the barn, but He will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire."
Several figures ran from the door, their bodies aflame. Lauren looked down on them, smiling. "The chaff gets baptized in fire," she said. She also realized that other things were happening around her. Father James was setting up the Saint George Mission on the Move, consecrating the sidewalk by the lunch truck. Hunters were moving into the streets armed with an assortment of weapons from shotguns to water sprayers to crosses.
But the light was fading; it was time to boost it again. "Then the righteous will shine forth as the sun," she declared, and a new light now emanated from many of her people, including the wolves, and the vampires could no longer look directly at them as they fought.
"It is appointed for men to die once, and after this comes judgment. If God is for us, who is against us? In all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. For there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God."
In this way she kept up a barrage of faith and words. At the same time, her mind was working in another way. Her clairvoyance took a peek inside the building, just to encourage her that her wolves were destroying the enemy. It then moved back and down to the basement, where a very large oil tank supplied fuel for the heaters. As it was still mid October, the tank was very near full in preparation for winter. Even while she spoke and focused her faith against the inside of the building, she focused her mind on that oil, and started heating it, slowly but surely. There was quite a bit of it; but she knew that size didn't matter. Patience and concentration were what counted.
She was vaguely aware that she was not alone on the roof. Bethany had arrived, and in the midst of everything had placed several toys on the edge of the roof. From the corner of her eye and in the back of her mind, Lauren realized they were army toys--a tank, a missile launcher, even a small fighter plane. Bethany pronounced her incantation, and most of the toys began rolling over the edge and down the wall of the building--except the plane, which flew directly toward The Pit, and disappeared inside. There was someone else, standing behind her; but she couldn't worry about that right at the moment.
The fuel oil was boiling, frothing, hot enough to burn; the pressure within the tank was growing. It just needed to be a bit hotter. Finally it happened; it spontaneously burst into flame, and, like the gas tank on Arnie's car, exploded. The rear wall of The Pit gave way, leaving a gaping hole, and flaming liquid and bits of shrapnel flew everywhere. The wolves were unconcerned. Some of them were in the midst of the flame, but the eclipse was near total by now, and they stood unharmed in the midst of it all.
Resting her mind and her voice for a moment, Lauren turned around to see who else was there. It was Lauren Meyers.
"What are you doing here?" she asked her double.
Miss Meyers answered, "I heard about the plan from Raal. I thought I'd come see what we're up against with my own eyes."
Well, it was a bad idea, Lauren thought; but then, better that she should know the whole story than that she should continue to think this was some fantasy adventure game. She turned back to survey the field.
Father James was helping those few people who really were people. No doubt he was using his famous phrase, "All who love Christ are welcome here." Raiden was on the ground, beating the stuffing out of ghouls who fled his direction. She recognized Jake Williams, water gun in one hand, handgun in the other. Most of the people on the ground she did not know. But she was very pleased to see wolves and humans fighting together to free the city of the scourge of vampires.
She once more repeated her verses. It was having great effect, but she realized she was losing her voice. Well, she would get it back. It was a small price to pay for this victory.
The moon was returning to the sky, and the wolves were passing out the new exit Lauren had provided through the rear wall of the building. Almost on cue, sirens sounded, and police and fire departments approached. The hunters fell back, some to the Mission on the Move, some into the alleys. Father Michael came out to meet the firemen; he was certainly asking permission to bless their efforts, something to which the men would not object. One young man unknown to her came up the fire escape, dressed in green camouflage fatigues and sporting a rifle of some sort. The battle was winding down; good was winning.
Suddenly there was a fountain of flame from the roof of the burning building, and like a rocket, like a Roman candle, something flew up into the air and arced over the street toward them. It came down hard and fast, shaking the roof as it hit, and raising a cloud of dust which took the form of a man and then became solid.
It was Horta.
With enough venom in his voice to poison the entire eastern seaboard of the United States, he spoke only one word: "You!"
There is a behind-the-writings look at the thoughts, influences, and ideas of this chapter, along with five other sequential chapters of the novel, in mark Joseph "young" web log entry #53: Character Battles. Given a moment, this link should take you directly to the section relevant to this chapter.
As to the old stories that have long been here: