My apologies for the erratic schedule, which is an unfortunate reflection of current life status.
But like Harry, Ray, and the crew, LG and I will fight through to the finish.
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Chapter 38 Pt. 5
For Harry, the nightmare was old.
Older than his daughter.
Older than the war.
Older even than his knowledge of his wife’s true name.
It was also, paradoxically, new, in that every time the nightmare took him was, to him, the first.
The first time he spied the smoke rising, thick and black, from the skimmer he’d driven, returning home after a short trip to Mars, where he’d helped settle a protected witness.
The first time he gunned the engine while calling the fire in to the forestry service and the local fire division.
The first time he jerked the skimmer to a bobbing stop, as he discovered it wasn’t the forest burning, but the cabin that he and his wife had built.
The first time he jumped from the skimmer, his boots skidding on the gravel drive, his heart pounding in his ears as he pounded through the small garden to the kitchen door.
The first time he dove into the house to be greeted by muttering flame and a thick, choking smoke stinging his eyes.
And it was again the first time he would burst into the great room, calling for Sarah (for she had been only Sarah to him, then), and hearing the faint response from upstairs—had she called his name?—just before the creaking timbers above cracked, the report so loud it might have been the spine of the world breaking.
Or one man's heart.
Blinking away tears, he scrambled away from the collapsing ceiling.
If he could just reach the stairs...
But flames were already eating the treads, faster than he could climb.
What had started it?
Why hadn't Sara used the fire suppressors?
Hearing the snap of Sara's voice, he froze.
And so, to his wonder, did the fire.
Smoke hovered motionless over the still-life rendering of flames.
Unmoving motes of soot flecked the air, not even drifting away from the hand he waved through them.
In the stillness, the only sound was Harry’s indrawn breath, followed by a hollow,, “What- "
"What the hells?" Siane, her voice barely more than a hiss, completed the thought as, all around him, the illusion shimmered and dissipated, as if no more than smoke itself, leaving him gazing at Siane’s face, as she leaned over his seat.
He allowed his eyes to shift past her to see that, somehow, Siane had gotten the both of them out of the lift, and into the cockpit of a scooper maintenance shuttle. "Huh."