The Weatherman had got it wrong again. Rain turned to snow and back again as Carl drove his rusty car, he didn't know what kind it was, home from work. "There goes the barbecue." He thought. Carl yanked the wheel of the car to the right as a grey car with its headlights off zoomed past him down the road. He muttered under his breath and turned to look over his shoulder at an old lady who was just then swerving back into her own lane. The car was already invisible, masked by the wet drops of snow that were being poured down from heaven. Carl turned back to the road and frowned, looking left and right. "I don't remember turning here." he thought. Carl pulled on the steering wheel of the car and pulled over onto the roadside. As he put the vehicle in park, it continued to slide towards the furrow off the side of the road. His heartbeat spiked to twice its normal rate as he struggled to unbuckle himself. Just as he unclasped the belt that was meant to keep him safe, the car slid backwards into the ravine. Carl's hands locked onto the armrest and he twisted around to see the ground rushing up at him. The rust-bucket hit the ground and crumpled, trapping Carl against the dashboard. He knew that he had broken something, and he struggled to retain composure. “The more I try to move, the more stuck I’ll become.” He thought. The car was only compressing more as time went by. Carl could bear it no longer.
“God! Help me!” He cried aloud.
As he struggled frantically to find his cell phone, he saw movement through the totaled windshield out of the corner of his now black eye. A man jogged down the side of the ditch, then sprinted to Carl’s car, which now looked like an accordion. Carl saw that the man was tall and muscular, with brown spiky hair and a wet beard. The last thing Carl remembered was the man prying off the door with a crowbar and giving him a reassuring wink.
Carl woke up in the hospital to a grumpy looking old nurse staring at him over the rims of her glasses. Her lips were pursed as if Carl’s accident had ruined her Friday night plans.
“How do you do?” Carl asked, with what he thought was a smile. The woman rolled her eyes and waddled out of the room. Carl looked around the room and shuddered. Hospitals had always creeped him out. They were always white and perfectly clean looking, but everyone knew that their cleanliness only camouflaged the germs.
There was a large wrap around his stomach, and he assumed he had broken a rib. “Or five ribs.” He thought to himself with a wince. His right arm was also suspended in the air, encased in a hard-white cast. He knew his face was damaged too, but there was no mirror to see how bad it really was. “I probably don’t want to know anyway.” He thought with his eyes closed.
The doctor whisked into the room with a confident stride, a smile on his face and a tune on his lips. The doctor hummed a cheerful tune and began to check something on a piece of paper. “At least I know I’m not dying.” Carl thought and chuckled aloud. The Doctor looked up at him and Carl gasped. The man looked very similar to the man who had pulled him out of his car. The Doctor rushed to his left side.
“Are you in pain?” He asked.
Carl shook his head, still gawking, “No, you just look very familiar, that’s all.”
The Doctor frowned skeptically and stood back up. “Well, you are free to go tomorrow, there seems to be no major injuries.”
Carl must have looked disbelieving, because the doctor continued. “You broke a few ribs and an arm, and you have a minor concussion, but those have healed. You may feel the scrapes and bruises for a few more days, but other than that you should be back to normal.”
“How long have I been here for?” Carl asked, dreading the answer.
The doctor looked at him like he was joking, “Since last night.”
“You mean that all of my broken bones healed overnight?”
“Yes,” the doctor looked amused, “We will check on you sometime tonight, and tomorrow you will be free to go.” Then he whisked up his clipboard and left the room humming the same tune as he had when he entered.
Carl was dumbfounded. He had never heard of a bone healing so quickly. He twisted his pendulous arm back and forth. It did not hurt. He stared at the door which the doctor had left through moments ago and mulled over the similarities between him and the stranger from the night before. These thoughts occupied his tired mind until he fell into a deep comforting sleep.
The next morning, the grumpy nurse, whom Carl had learned by her name-tag was Genevieve, woke him up by opening the door to the hospital room. She quickly hid whatever she had been holding behind her and placed it on a table where Carl could not see. Genevieve moved to take off the cast and prepare him to leave. Still amazed that any fracture could heal so quickly, he started to ask Genevieve a question, then stopped when she stared at him over her triangular glasses. “Who wears triangular glasses anyway?” Carl thought.
Carl stepped out of the hospital and into the waiting taxi. He looked back and saw the cantankerous Genevieve glaring at him, and the mysterious doctor waving goodbye. Genevieve walked back inside as the taxi pulled away. The Doctor stood there smiling, then he winked and walked back inside. Carl gasped. Had it been the same man? Surely the doctor would have told him if that were so. With even more thoughts and questions than before, Carl sat silently for the fifteen-minute duration of the ride. He knew he would have to go back to work, and live life like normal again, but the events that had unfolded over the last twenty-four hours of his life were not normal.
Carl took the day off of work to fully recover, though he knew that he really already was already healed. He smiled to himself and thought, “A perfect day for some ice cream.” The icy rain that had fallen just a few nights ago had now melted and given way to the warm sunshine. Carl walked slowly into the center of town, enjoying his free time. It seemed that many people were enjoying the sun: Kids were out playing, old ladies were taking their dogs on walks, and nearly everyone had a smile on their face. Carl walked into the ice cream parlor that had a huge led sign hanging vertically. The sign read: “Heavenly Gelato”. Carl walked up to the counter and studied the various flavors. A man walked up behind the counter. He was tall and brawny and had spiky hair and a beard. Carl did a double take. He stuttered but could not find words to talk.
“Welcome to Heavenly Gelato!” the man said in an unmistakable voice. An old lady came out from behind the counter with a hat pulled down low over her face. She asked him if he wanted a sample.
He decided to sample one called “Pecan Surprise” but kept his eyes on the mystery man the whole time. As he put the spoon into his mouth, and swallowed the ice cream, he was surprised indeed. There had been a large pecan under the scoop of Ice cream, and he began to choke. The man behind the counter glared at the old woman and walked quickly to where Carl had dropped to the floor. The man put his hand on Carl’s head and looked him in the eye. He was clearly saying something, but Carl could not understand him. Suddenly, Carl stopped choking. The pecan was gone.
The man stood, a fierce look in his eyes. In fact, it looked as if his eyes were on fire. He strode with purpose over to the old lady who had taken off her hat. The man uttered more words that Carl did not understand, and the old lady, who Carl knew as Genevieve, shrieked an inhuman sound and started vibrating. Carl sat frozen in place as Genevieve transformed into something ugly and unidentifiable. The creature wailed again and then disappeared in a gust of hot steam. Carl looked at the man, now glowing with a brightness brighter than the peaceful sun outside terrified beyond compare.
“Sir, how?” was all he could get out. The man walked slowly and non-threatening towards Carl and said:
“There are unseen forces and places more real than what you see now. You called upon protection from the One True God, and you have received it.” The man smiled. “And please call me Michael.”
“Were you the doctor? And the man at the accident?” Carl asked feeling overwhelmed with happiness. But Michael did not answer. He continued to smile, then he winked, then he disappeared from right in front of Carl’s teary eyes. Carl laughed like he never had before. He felt happier than he had ever been, despite the unheard-of events he had witnessed over the past days.
“Thank you, Lord!” Carl shouted to the heavens, then he passed out in pure joy.