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Christian Inspirational Fiction

Firestorm

The sunset was truly spectacular.  In any other circumstance, a photo would be a shoo-in for a calendar or a spot on the six 0’clock news.  But this sunset had the ominous distinction of being caused by a gigantic wildfire.  John only took a moment to view the scene as he had much more pressing matters.  His sisters had just left after packing up the family truck and heading for the evacuation route.  John had previously seen the farm livestock taken away.  They would hopefully be safe, but the forecasts left doubt that anywhere was safe.  And now he had to attend to his parents.  He could only shake his head and wipe away the tears hoping to hide them from his parents.  Their farm was generational.  It had been in the family for just over one hundred years.  The Davis family had endured storms, droughts, crop failures, and family crises, but never anything like this.

            Heavy smoke was topping the hill country to the east.  The smell of smoke had been strong for days, but was worse now.  John’s eyes itched and watered.  He had developed a continual cough that now had his usual black phlegm flecked with blood.  As he entered the farm house, he thought he saw a flame on top of the ridge.

            John’s dad sat beside his mother’s hospital bed in the living room of the family’s farmhouse.  Mother was pale and a shadow of her former vital self.  The oxygen tubing vibrated with her pained respiration.  John heard the generator running outside the living room window.  The power company had cut the power earlier in the day due to the dangers of the fire.

            “Dad, we can do it.  We can move you and momma to safety.  I can use the old farm truck, or I can call 911.”

            Dad looked at John with sad defeated eyes.  John could see that his mother’s illness had changed his dad from a vibrant seventy-year-old to a feeble skeleton.  They had all prayed for a miracle, but it had not come.  “John, we’ve been over this time and time again.  The hospice people could not change your mother’s mind.  She wants to die here.  She was born here and birthed you children here.  She nursed our sicknesses and celebrated our happy moments.  She’ll be at peace passing right here.”

            John knew there was no further use arguing with his father.  His mother spoke in a whisper, “John, time is short, you should leave us now.  Dad and I will be fine.”

            John felt the tears coming again and turned his head.  He hugged his father and held him close.  It was a long tight hug.  A hug that would have to last forever.  He bent over his mother’s bed and kissed her cheek.  He held her body up off the pillow as he embraced her, but soon the coughing spasms began and he had to lay her back on her pillow.  

            Dad looked at John, “You should go.  You must go—go now.”  This was said in Dad’s no-nonsense voice that John knew not to question.

            John gave his father a last, tearful look and left the room.  On his way out he noticed the kitchen.  It was spotless as Mom had always insisted. On the dining table oil cloth was a half-bottle of bourbon.  Dad had never touched alcohol that John knew, but he guessed that now was the time.  He also saw the old revolver that had belonged to his grandfather.  Beside it lay two cartridges.  

            John hoisted his back pack and mounted his Honda.  His last item in the pack was a tin of family photos his parents had insisted he take.  The old cycle hesitated, but finally caught and he was on his way.

            In the house John’s parents watched him leave.  They smiled knowing he was headed for safety.  Dad turned his attention to his wife of fifty plus years.  He held her cold hand and sang songs.  “Am I blue? Am I blue? Ain’t these tears in my eyes telling you….”   

After a few old favorite standards with the husband’s soft singing and his wife silently mouthing the words, he changed to prayers and their favorite hymns.   “What a friend we have in Jesus…”  And finally, they sang together, “…where he leads me, I will follow, I’ll go with him all the way.”

The sky began to darken, much darker than the time of day allowed, but there was no rain storm.  Out the window there were flames edging ever closer.  It was raining, but now it was raining glowing embers.  He saw the barn roof ignite and knew that time was short.  Smoke had begun to fill the house.  It was time.  She was smiling with her eyes closed as he walked softly to the kitchen.  He loaded two cartridges and returned with the ancient revolver to the living room.  He whispered a hoarse, but intense prayer giving thanks for his family, his wife, and lastly for himself.  He lowered the revolver to his wife’s temple and placed his trembling finger on the trigger.

John was powering the cycle toward safety as quickly as possible.  The sky was totally dark, but flames from the hills cast some light and now showers of embers were passing the bike.  He heard a howling wind almost like a hurricane.  He thought he heard a pop like a pistol and really hoped it was, but he knew he would not hear his father’s shot from here.

Dad’s finger began to press the trigger, but suddenly his wife was gone.  He looked around confused, and in the room lighted by sparks and flames saw a figure standing at the foot of the bed.  “Who are you?” 

“I am the one you seek.  I answer prayers of the just and sometimes the unjust if requested.”  

“Are you the holy spirit?”

“Just say ‘I am.’”

“You’ve taken my wife.”

“I’ve merely moved her to a new life.  You can call it an intercession.  I will do the same for you as I have heard your prayers.”

A week later the family was grieving.  There was no joy as they sifted through the ashes of the old farm house.  John found the revolver in the ashes of the living room. The cartridges were in place and miraculously unfired.  There were no remains of Mom or Dad.  Not a bone or a tooth or fingernail were present.

The man and his wife awoke on a river bank.  As they looked about, they saw they were in a flowering meadow.  He looked to his invalid wife and could hardly believe his eyes.  Her hair regained its blond sheen from her youth and she looked more eighteen than seventy.  He could see looking in her eyes that she saw the same changes in him. 

“Where are we?” she queried.

“I don’t know if we’re in heaven, but I think that God’s given us a miracle.” 

December 28, 2023 18:02

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