Listen before it’s too late.
You have to tell some you know- and love.
Helen heard the voice one sunny, summer afternoon as she lay in her hammock on the south side of her verandah. She was reading a trashy romance novel.
Light. Bright and superficial. Perfect for a warm summer afternoon.
She had just started to read the top of page 128 when she heard it.
Helen. Pssst. Helen. Stop reading that book and listen to what I have to say.
A great urgency in the voice.
Helen stopped. She thought a bee had been buzzing around her head. She made swooshing motions with her right hand.
She started back on page 128- again.
Helen. Please. Listen to this. It’s so very important.
Who the hell has a radio on? It’s at a very low volume but it’s still annoying. She swung both legs sown onto the verandah floor. There was nobody.
Across the street, Alfie Dunbar was riding his bike up and down the sidewalk. Mrs. Beggs was kneeling on the grass- next to her rose garden, pruning some early bloomers. A delivery truck from Frampton’s- new furniture no doubt, being delivered to the Smith-Paul’s who had just moved in down the street about a month ago.
All is normal on Maple Street. Helen wondered what the heck was making that noise.
Irritating, secretive noise.
Full sentences- maybe.
Helen swung her short legs back into the hammock and concentrated on the book- at least she attempting to finish page 128. Reaching for the tall glass of lemonade on the railing next to the hammock, she took a long thirst-quenching sip.
Then she sipped more slowly.
Nothing like a glass of lemonade on a sunny day out on a comfortable, cozy verandah.
A robin was tweeting to a mate in the hibiscus bush next to the steps leading up to Helen’s haven of peace.
Helen. Please listen.
I need to tell you something.
I need to say it now before it is too late.
Helen, please concentrate. Listen to my message.
It’s me. Michael.
I’m not just any voice.
You’ve heard me before.
I have talked to you plenty.
Helen, you just have to focus and listen.
I can’t give you the message until I have your full co-operation.
She tuned the page.
As she did, Michael came into her mind. Michael was her brother.
Michael had passed seven years ago.
She felt a chill.
So, you do know I am here!
You can feel me- can’t you Helen.
Now listen to me.
Listen well Helen.
Oh My God!
Helen placed the book on her chest.
She had just realized it was seven years ago that very day that Michael left her world. Only on that day she was not swinging in her Hammock, she was keeping vigil at Northward Central Hospital.
She shuddered as her mind took her back.
Michael- lying there, hooked to tubes and monitors. His breathing was slow and laboured.
Please listen to me.
Listen for my voice.
You know something is here. You feel the energy.
You feel the touch.
What a day.
Helen felt sad by joyous too. She knew that Michael’s suffering ended that day seven years ago. What do they say? It’s a blessing.
If one feels that way.
She was a woman without faith in some superior power pontificating about life.
Helen was a free spirit and Michael had been too.
Over the past seven years there were times when Helen could hear Michael’s voice so distinctly. She could almost reach out and touch him. She wasn’t afraid. She felt warm. She didn’t feel alone. She knew that Michael was fine in the next phase, somewhere over there.
Over that hill.
Something was still nagging at her.
Someone was whispering in her ear.
‘at a girl!
Now you’re coming round.
Helen. It’s me.
Listen for me. Feel the energy.
It’s all around you.
Michael. It’s you.
You’re here. Here with me right now. Sorry Michael. It’s this book.
I was taken in by a trashy book.
I know you’re here. Here now with me.
Listen. I have to tell you something.
Michael, I know you are saying something to me. Soft words.
Words I hear on the fluttering of wings.
You are asking me to pay attention.
Yes. I am. I am listening Michael.
I know Dear Sister. I know you feel my presence.
My energy is all around you now.
You are safe.
You are showing me being wrapped in arms.
Big, strong arms.
I feel…I am…What are you saying?
You’re telling me I am safe.
Safe from what?
Michael- from what?
Terrible. Helen Something terrible.
Michael’s words were coming to her easier now.
Helen you must do what I say. You must be well. You must be safe.
Tell them to be safe.
Something is coming.
But only ten.
No More. No less.
Circle the house with salt.
An unending circle.
An unbroken circle, where you’ll be safe inside.
You must tell them to do the same.
You must tell them. If they understand it’s that they were meant to.
They will be expecting your call. They are all waiting.
You need not explain much.
Circle of salt.
Wait until it passes.
Call. Salt. Circle.
Safe after. I hear you Michael Dear Brother.
You will know. You’ll see and know.
Just do it now. I’ll be here with you.
Out there. Just a short distance from town, there are ugly clouds. A torrent of energy ready to strike anyone and anything- down.
Hungry- for people like Helen.
Matter. A sense. A sense with a purpose- deep and dark.
It had a plan.
Many would be unprepared.
Many would be safe.
Michael wanted Helen- and ten, to be safe.
Alfie Dunbar was still riding his bike up and down the street. Mrs. Beggs was nowhere to be seen but her kneeling pad and garden buggy sat next to the rose bushes she had been trimming. Helen raced into the house and stood in front of the phone in her kitchen office. Next to the phone was her directory of numbers both friends and colleagues.
How can I decide which ten?
Let it be Helen. Let it be.
Michael said no more.
She opened the book. There was a number highlighted with pure, clean light.
She turned a page.
She turned three more pages.
Then, two more.
She turned pages until she saw ten.
Hurry now Helen.
There is just barely time.
Yes. Hurry. I must hurray Michael.
Outside of town the clouds were darkening. It was warm. Very warm. More than humid.
Much more than hot. There was no air.
Laughter from its midst.
Horrific laughter from what was now a single cloud.
Helen dialed her Father.
Listen, just do this. She told him about the salt and the circle.
He seemed to understand.
She hung up and called another.
She ran to the pantry and grabbed a bag of salt. She ran outside and encircled the house.
That’s Good. Helen that is good.
You will be safe as will be the other ten.
Now be calm and wait.
Wait for it.
For it is coming.
…and it did. The cloud swept over town. It smote young and old. It took neighbours and friends- outside of the ten.
It passed ominously, darkly over Helen’s neighbourhood and house.
Helen watched its darkness.
She heard its belching. Heard the noise.
Like thousands of bees. Like pigs in a slaughterhouse.
Not of this world.
From darkest depths.
Dark, putrid, smelly depths.
Helen stood on her verandah and watched
She heard Michael’s calming spirit.
You are safe Helen.
I am here.
You did all you could.
Some people didn’t understand.
They were told.
They had to be told.
They can’t think or believe outside what they have been told.
It’s not right Helen- I know that- but it’s what it is Dear Sister.
That part is difficult for you to understand but you will…
Then, there was great quiet.
The sky cleared. The terror and darkness had slid away out of town.
A voice called Helen’s name.
It was Mrs. Beggs. Her rose trimmers peeking out over the top of her apron.
There were salt crystals clinging to the top of her gardening shoes.
Helen had spoken to her in only what seemed a short moment before.
It was much longer than that.
Both women knew that.
Helen walked across her verandah to greet her.
The women looked deep into each other’s eyes.
Helen could see Mrs.Begg’s soul. At least she thought it was her soul.
She didn’t know exactly.
Mrs. Beggs was smiling.
Mrs.Beggs appeared grateful. She said just that to Helen.
No more. No less.
She smiled again.
In the distance Alfie’s bicycle lay on its side on the hot pavement at the end of the walk leading to the front door of his parent’s house.
Mrs. Beggs shook her head ever so slightly and Helen knew that Alfie had not been on Mrs. Begg’s list of “no more than ten”.
Helen. Helen. You may tell Mrs. Beggs that things are as they should be.
She is safe.
She should be happy.
She was one of your “no more than ten”.
There is no big answer.
What’s done is complete.
I must leave now Dear Sister.
Mrs. Beggs sensed a presence near. She asked Helen if it was for her.
A tear rolled down Helen’s cheek.
Mrs.Beggs placed a welcome, loving arm around Helen’s shoulder.
She told Helen she believed it was for the best.
Both women stood quiet and still.
The sun shone through the huge Maple in Helen’s front yard forming a kaleidoscope of shapes on the lawn beneath.
A robin chirped from its tallest branch.
The air was refreshed.
It was new.