Life blood, p.27
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       Life Blood, p.27

           Thomas Hoover
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  _Holy earth, giver of life,

  Help us in our struggle against

  The God of the House of Darkness.


  Wait a minute. What's she saying?

  "Who's the God of the House of Darkness?" Could she be talking aboutAlex Goddard?

  "I didn't want to do it," she blurted out, reaching out to me, her eyeseven sadder. "But he said you're the new special one. We had to."

  What the hell was she talking about? Had to what? Did it have somethingto do with my "visit" to the women in the hut?

  "Please stay here with us," she pleaded as she took my hand. "Don't go."

  Stay? Don't even think about it. I had Sarah halfway to freedom. Whilethe Army was still getting its act together, we could lose ourselvessomeplace in the forest where nobody would find us, and when Steve gothere tonight . . .

  "Sar, come on, it's time." I pulled away from Marcelina and slipped myarm around her. "Nothing here is what you think it is."

  "Are we leaving?" she asked, her eyes blank.

  "Yes, honey, we're leaving. This very minute."

  The dense forest was all about us, and I'd just carry her into it if Ihad to. In the coming storm, nobody was going to find . . .

  That's when I noticed I was beginning to have gastric rumblings. Damn.Never, ever eat "native" food, no matter what the social pressure. Thatdamned "visit" . . .

  When I turned to ask Marcelina if she would help me get Sarah outside,I noticed she'd been joined by the two women, both still in their whiteshifts, who'd just fed me the sickly

  sweet _atole_. And more women were behind them, all staring at me,expectant, as though wondering what I would do.

  Maybe it was my imagination, or the dizziness that was abruptly growingaround me, but it also seemed they'd painted their faces with streaksof white, designs like the men in the square were putting on.

  "She's going to be all right," Marcelina was saying. "But we have toget you back now. You'll need your strength."

  I needed it then. My stomach had really begun to gyrate, and my visionhad started growing colored. I noticed I was sweating, even though theday was cooling down. Actually, I felt as though I was about to passout. What had those women fed me?

  It was finally dawning on me that Marcelina's fearfulness back in thehut had nothing to do with betraying Alex Goddard. It was because sheknew she was betraying me.

  Well, damn her, I'm not going to let Alex Goddard win, no matter what.

  "Marcelina, please help me. I've got to get Sarah out of here. Now. Idon't know what poison drug he's giving her, but he's driving herinsane."

  "We'll take care of her," she said. But I could barely make out thewords. They echoed bouncing around in my head.

  "I'm really getting dizzy." I glanced over again at the women standingby the door. "Please tell me what they--?"

  "The elixir," she said. "For tomorrow at sunup. That's when you'll seehis real power."

  I'd begun experiencing white spots before my eyes--and for some reasonI had a vision of the Army Jeeps parked up the hill. I didn't know howthe two were connected but in my jumbled thoughts they seemed to be.

  Just get Sarah and get out into the air. Walk, don't think, and you cando it. . . .

  I pulled her next to me and struggled toward the door, the womenstudying us, unmoving.

  "Morgy, I've missed you so much," Sarah was saying, slipping her armsaround my neck to help herself walk. "I'm . . . I'm ready to go home."

  "I've missed you too." I think my heart was bursting as I urged her onthrough the stone portico. At last. Had something clicked that freedher from Alex Goddard? Maybe her mind was finally becoming her own.

  When we got outside, the skies were growing ever more foreboding, stormclouds looming. Steve had been right about the coming rain, but now itseemed the perfect cover for us to just get out. I took a deep breathof the misty air and forced myself to start helping Sarah up thecobblestone path.

  "Sar, you can walk, I know you can. Be strong. For both of us. I'm . .."

  I felt myself sinking slowly to the cold stones of the walkway, thehard abrasion against my knees, Sarah tumbling forward as I pulled herdown on top of me, Marcelina's arms around me trying to hold me up. Itwas the last real sensation I would remember.

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