Friday evening — 6:15 P.M.
Delphie almost collapsed with relief when Johansen released her. In the last few hours, he had been brutal with her. She wasn’t sure if the old man was getting careless or simply didn’t care if he hurt her. At one point, she wondered if he wanted to destroy her psychic capacity. Her mind and body felt battered and bruised.
Jacob’s vortex, the vortex she’d taught him to make just two month’s ago, brought further relief. She was safe! She was finally safe! Like standing behind an opaque crystal, she could only make out the vague, blurry images of Jacob and Johansen fighting.
Then BAM! The explosion in the Chapel rocked the very foundation of the Castle. Her heart pounded with fear. The Chapel had been her spiritual home since Celia bought the Castle for her. Even though Celia assured her that Katy was not inside, Delphie couldn’t calm her racing heart. Something awful was going to happen. She just knew it.
Watching through the opaque vortex, she made out Johansen and Jacob fighting. She’d never expected Johansen to be so out of control. For the life of her, she couldn’t understand what he wanted.
“That’s because you refused to believe he wants to kill every Marlowe,” Celia said. “You have to believe there’s some good inside him.”
Delphie nodded. She had to believe there was some good inside him. After all, he’d been her protector, the only father she’d had from the time she was six years old until Celia saved her when she was sixteen. In some ways, she loved him. If he was pure evil, what did that make her? Was she evil of her connection to him?
Delphie saw the short blurry person moving carrying the enormous stick move toward Johansen.
“That’s Jill,” Celia said. “You must have gotten through to Jill.”
“Not me,” Delphie said. “Must have been Katy.”
They watched Johansen fall. The blurry figure bent over Johansen and the vortex collapsed.
At that moment she felt a tearing, ripping sensation in her mind, her eyes filled with the most spectacular light. The beautiful orange, yellow and white light consumed all thought and feeling.
She heard herself scream. The light blocked out the figure of Celia. She vaguely heard Celia calling for her. She felt her body fall to the floor.
Surrounded in the gorgeous light, Delphie felt no pain, no loss, only joy. She was enraptured. Life slowed to a stand still and the light grew from within her and around her.
She felt soft hands on her head. And Jill entered the light.
She smiled at Jill. She even said hello. But Jill couldn’t hear her. Jill looked worried, frightened even. Delphie tried to tell Jill not to be afraid of the light.
“Please don’t leave.”
Jacob. She heard his voice. She’d said those words to him when he was inside his mother. Don’t leave. She’d repeated them all of his life and now he was saying them back to her.
Couldn’t he see the light? Why wasn’t he with her inside the light?
Jacob was her child. The one she loved the most. The child she’d saved from certain death. Even Celia, who loved him completely, said he was really her child, her son, her prodigy.
Why couldn’t he see the light?
From her position in the light, she watched Johansen’s soul leave his body. Unnoticed and unloved, he simply moved on. No one would miss him. No one would even know he’d lived. There were no bee hives to tell that he’d died. No garden that would go to seed. No tears, no grief, no loss. He was simply there one moment — alive and evil — and gone the very next moment. Like dust, his soul dissipated on the wind.
Filled by the joyous light, she waved to him. Good-bye old man. May your next life be filled with joy.
Where was Celia? Why couldn’t she see Celia? She called for her best friend by her earth name – Celia! She called for her by her soul name – Naomi. Come join me in the light.
She felt a desperate longing for Celia.
And for Sam. Where was Sam? Sam would love this light. Sam would tell her all the colors and laugh at her confusion. Where was Sam?
And Katy? Where was the child she thanked the Goddess she lived long enough to meet? The baby she’d tricked Jacob into creating. Katy would never exist if not for her intervention. Where was her Katherine?
She was desperately and completely alone.
Even the beautiful joyous light couldn’t take away the horrible knowledge that she was completely and totally alone.
Where were her dogs? She longed for the touch of Scooter’s fuzzy ears or to hear Sarah big bark or to feel Buster’s wet nose. They should be here, right here, with her.
In that moment, longing for the touch of the dogs, Delphie realized that she was dead. She’d died on the floor of the Castle. Delphie was overcome with grief.
She had loved life more than anyone else she’d ever met.
And she was dead.
There would be no one to pray for her transition. She’d have to make it on her own.
Until life or good will or some beautiful Goddess or powerful God would allow her to know Celia, Sam, Jill, Katy, Jacob, Valerie and Mike again. She keened with grief for the loss of her own precious life.
A figure appeared on the horizon.
Who are you?
Are you an angel?
Can I stay to say one last good-bye?
I haven’t seen Valerie or Mike. And my dogs will miss me. And I need to visit my bees. They will disperse if I don’t go and say good-bye. And what about my gardens? They haven’t been turned for the early spring. The grass will overtake them and in a few months time they will disappear.
Please. May I spend one day or one month or maybe a year in my Castle?
Don’t make me leave the Castle and all the people I love.
Please don’t make me leave.
The angel laughed. The laughter was like crystal bells on some far away church. The sound shattered the light like loud sound waves through glass. The world came into view.
“Sleep now,” the angel said. “You are safe.”
And Delphie slept.
Friday evening — 6:55 P.M.
Jill shook her head.
“I can’t… She’s having a stroke. I can’t stop it.”
Jacob wrapped himself around Delphie’s body and whispered in her ear:
“Please don’t leave.”
Jill did the only thing she could think of doing. She put Delphie’s head in her lap and placed her hands around Delphie’s ears. Maybe she could keep the damage from getting too severe. She blew light and love into broken and bleeding arteries. Jill didn’t have the heart to give up.
She couldn’t give up.
She wouldn’t give up.
Her entire focus was on Delphie’s brain and the blood seeping from her arteries. Out of a corner of her eye, she saw Jacob shift, then felt hands on her shoulders. Her brother Steve and sister Megan put a hand on each of her shoulders. With their touch, they pumped their meager healing energy into Jill.
Her capacity rose. And still it was not enough to save Delphie. This precious woman was beginning to fade.
Jill felt the jolt of her sister Candy touching Megan’s shoulder and Mike joining Steve. The siblings funneled all of their capacities into Jill.
And it still wasn’t enough.
“Are you ready, Jilly?” Jill heard.
The power surge was tremendous. Jill could almost smell her senses burn like bread left too long in the toaster. Her ears roared with the sound of Delphie’s blood and the power pouring through her body. Jill held on tight.
She felt the tide shift. The blood began to seep backward. The torn artery began to heal.
“We must stop,” Anjelika yelled. “The police are on their way.”
Two at a time, her siblings let go. Mike and Candy first. Megan and Steve next.
“1-2-3,” Anjelika yelled.
Anjelika and Jill let go at the same time. They rose to standing. Anjelika took Mike and Candy’s hands. Jill took Steve and Megan’s hands. Steve took Mike’s hand and Megan completed the circle by taking Candy’s hand.
“Take in this healing with love, for the best use of your soul and body,” they said in unison.
Crying, Valerie took Jill’s place at Delphie’s head. Valerie caressed Delphie’s head and hair. She kissed Delphie’s cheek and pressed her own face to the cool skin.
“She’s breathing,” Valerie said through her tears. “Oh God, she’s breathing.”
“What are we going to do with…?” Jacob said over Johansen’s body.
“Children,” Anjelika said.
Jill moved to Johansen’s body. Sitting down, she placed her hands on his head. The wound, created by the hockey stick, diminished leaving only small gash where he’d hit the floor. His shoulder healed to full use.
“Go,” Anjelika said.
Steve and Candy touched Johansen’s body. Mike and Megan followed.
“We’re releasing the negative effects of the healing into his body,” Jill said. “For every positive energy, like healing, there is a negative energy, like illness. If we dabble in one, we get the other. Rather than take it into our own bodies, we are releasing it into his.”
“Your turn, Jill,” Anjelika said.
Jill put her hands on Johansen’s abdomen.
“You will tell them that this man entered your home and took Delphie hostage,” Anjelika said to Jacob. “You believe he’s a friend or old friend of Delphie’s but you don’t know. You confronted him. He fought with you, breaking everything, then blew up the Chapel. Startled by his own explosion, he collapsed and hit his head. When he did, Delphie screamed that her head hurt and fainted. He might have done something to her, but you’re not sure.”
“That’s it?” Jacob asked.
He bent down to help Jill to standing. He wrapped her in his arms.
“Yes,” Anjelika said. “Delphie will need a hospital and surgery.”
“And Val?” Mike asked.
“She should be all right, but you need to do what makes sense to you.”
“I’d rather stay with Delphie,” Valerie said.
“Get cleaned up,” Anjelika ordered. “Go now.”
Mike helped Valerie to her feet. They ran toward the door and up the stairs to Jacob’s bachelor studio. Not two minutes later, the Denver police ran into through the Castle through the side entrance. The paramedics arrived moments later. After stabilizing Delphie in the living room, she was off to St. Joseph’s with Valerie at her side.
The Police department’s noise and confusion brought Sandy and the kids from the tunnels. Jill and Sandy took Noelle, Nash, Paddie and Katy upstairs to the loft. Jill’s family arrived moments later. Anjelika and Sandy set to work on a pot of chili and corn scones. Dinner was almost ready when Valerie called from the hospital.
Mike had asked their friend Dr. John Drayson to act as their liaison. Dr. Drayson said the doctors had diagnosed Delphie’s aneurism. The aneurism was significant and on the verge of bursting. They must operate immediately or Delphie would surely die. As it was, her chances of surviving the surviving were limited. Dr. Drayson agreed to attend the surgery to keep them apprised on what happened.
When Anjelika agreed to stay with the children, the rest of the group left for a long night at the hospital. Sam arrived just after they descended on the OR waiting room.
Unaware of all that had gone on that day, Sam said: “I told her to take care of her blood pressure” then broke down. Jacob and Valerie held their father until Sam was able to regain some control. Blane arrived moments later with warm turkey sandwiches, fresh chocolate chip cookies, and coffee. The group ate and waited.
No one dared mentioning the obvious. Delphie had always waited in these rooms for them. Delphie was there for every operation, broken bone, or illness. With her prayers, spells and incantations, Delphie was their cornerstone of hope for every hospital visit. With her crazy bottle red hair tied up in a knot, Delphie would say, ‘No need to fret. The Goddess loves us.’
Now Delphie’s life hung in the balance.
Together, Jacob, Jill, Sam, Valerie, Mike, Blane, and Sandy waited through the night for news from the surgery suite.
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