Excerpt: Downfall

By Marie Robinson

–too late.

William's finger was one magnet, and Miguel's forehead the other.

They touched, then the cell exploded in Light.

It was everywhere. Heaven before his eyes, singeing Eamon with its brightness. A beautiful pain he didn't want to stop.

Then it did, and the room was rinsed of its light like rain baked away by the sun.

In the remaining illumination, dim as it now seemed, Eamon said, “Are you okay?”

But he didn't know who he was asking — the boy who was no longer glowing but appeared to be ever so slightly older or the young man now blinking at the world.

“The pieces are no longer broken,” William said.

“Why am I in jail?” Miguel asked, still looking around.

“Don't ever do that again.” Sherry pulled William against her. “We need to know where you are before you go off running. Do you understand what I'm saying?”

“Yes.”

“I'm serious,” Miguel said. “Where am I?”

“What's the last thing you remember?” Eamon asked him.

Miguel's face was blank as he thought, though not at all like the empty slate they'd seen before. It suddenly lit with something like recognition and he said, “I remember going to The Steeple.”

“And what happened when you got there?” Eamon kept going, though it was hard without Rosa there, knowing he would have to replay this later and doing his best to capture every shade and nuance.

Miguel slowly shook his head. “It's fuzzy. Not just blurry, but distorted, like trying to play a game from behind a cracked screen. I do remember a lot of thoughts inside my mind. It felt like the whole world, but it wasn't even all of Montana. They were all going somewhere else. Maybe to the aliens. Probably the aliens. But what do I know?”

Not a question so much as a condemnation. Miguel sniffled then wiped at his nose.

“What did it feel like?” Sherry whispered in wonder. “With all those thoughts in your head?”

Miguel turned to Sherry with an appreciative smile, as if grateful for the question. “It felt like a womb.”

“What else do you remember?” Eamon asked.

“Nothing.” Miguel shook his head. “That's it. The Light, all those thoughts and getting lost inside them, then the next thing I knew my eyes were open and I was looking at William.”

The rush of footsteps pounded down the hall, then Rosa exploded into view.

She surveyed the situation, her face relieved as her gaze found Miguel, who was not only looking her way, but smiling as she approached him.

“You're okay!” Rosa exclaimed, doing something that Eamon should've already done, and unlocking Miguel's door.

He left his cell and fell into her embrace.

“Don't you ever do anything that stupid again!” Rosa yelled at her brother, without a note of anger. “And I don't want to hear about how I'm your overprotective sister who doesn't understand. This shit was stupid and you know it.”

“It was stupid,” Miguel admitted with a sheepish grin that made him look a decade younger than he was.

But then, a cloud seemed to find him. Something hovering overhead, already gray but blackening fast. The threat of something awful remembered. He swallowed and licked his lips, then seemed to almost surprise himself. “I saw Katrina.”

“What?” Rosa had to have heard fine, despite her loud bark of disbelief.

“Or not her, exactly. But what felt like her shape. Katrina's colors, if that makes sense.” Miguel shook his head because clearly it didn't. “I'm sure she's alive — I could feel her. She's on some sort of farm. I saw a few dozen silos. And it didn't feel too far from here.”

“How could you have possibly felt something like that?”

Rosa and Sherry both looked at Eamon like he was an idiot. The Steeple, stupid.

“We'll look into it,” Rosa promised, leading Miguel down the hall as William, Eamon, and Sherry all followed. “But right now, we all need to rest.”

No arguing from Miguel or anyone else, but as they passed Gleeson's cell, the preacher yelled, “Good job, my son! But God's work isn't finished yet. There is good to be done that only you can do!”

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