Chapter Seventy Six
Mary changed her plans. She nodded to Elise and Diane on the way past. “Some nervous folks over there. Guess they might like some Calm Assurance. Maybe we all do, huh?”
She noticed the same lady from the day before. Mary put aside her business. The lady sat alone, listlessly sipping a cup of hot chocolate. I know that feeling, this just, seems right, don’t know, help me Jesus.
Mary sat down next to the lady and noticed she wore a knee brace and had her arm in a sling. “Hi. I’m Mary. You look like a survivor from Ravenna, same’s me. May I join you?”
The lady stammered a bit. “Yes, um, please do. I’m Carol.” Carol looked away again, her sad eyes looking at nothing on the ground.
Mary sat still for awhile. Finally the memory took shape for her. “Didn’t you live near Maple and 4th? I was down half a block, what’s left of it.”
Hearing this, Carol turned her sad eyes on Mary but hesitated… “Yes. That’s right. I’ve seen you downtown, well, not anymore, since…”
A flash of recognition hit Mary. “That’s it. Weren’t you a waitress at Sams? I used to waitress there too, years ago. I’m still not sure how I escaped from…, from all that. You?”
Carol lifted up her face, showing more tears. “I’m so alone and ’fraid. The few friends I had, well, don’t know if they made it. I barely did. Don’t know ’bout Helena. She lived two doors down. So crippled. I don’t think she’d have a chance…, and I didn’t turn back to help. So scared…”
Mary nodded her understanding. “Yeah, I know ’bout that. I remember now, how walls fell, and trees shattered. Seemed like each step meant new hazard.”
Carol brightened at her understanding. “Exactly. I woke up when my windows blew out. I had to crawl down the stairs because part of the ceiling fell in. Then the door at the bottom wouldn’t open far ’nough to squeeze through, so I jumped out a broken window. That’s how I got these.”
She gestured to her knee and arm. “You know? You’re right. After I got out, it seemed like everything reached for me, like a new set of horror…, then, well, kinda hard…”
Mary waiting in respect. God, help me know what to say.
“Don’t know…, you’ll probably laugh, but, two men seemed to suddenly be on each side of me…, helped me to the bridge, an’ the danger didn’t seem to be reachin’ for me. Strange that way…” Carol waited, reaching for her thought. “You believe in angels?”
Mary nodded. “Absolutely. The people here have seen ‘em, had vision, you know. Since I’ve known Christ for these two weeks, um, kind of hard to explain. I’ve known of His Presence, at the services, an’ at special times, just God an’ I. Hard to explain.”
Carol sighed. “Good, thought I was losing it. I’m sure it was two angels that helped me. When I turned either way to thank them, they were gone, just like that. No way to explain it.” Carol waited… thinking. “Don’t know what to do. Keep thinkin’ of Helena. She was always the strong one. Always talkin’ ‘bout her Jesus an’ how she was prayin’ for me…, and now…”
Mary nodded her understanding. Sounds similar to what I went through, ’cept a lady here told me ‘bout Jesus, an’ I understood for the first time, how Jesus loved me, in spite of the awful woman I was…, an’ I found Jesus. Now, I’m free of the wretched darkness. Free to worship God and finally…, finally be truly happy.”
Carol looked sharply at Mary. “You sound like Helena. But, how can God love me? Some of the things I’ve done are…”
Mary thought of her former life as Raven. “You know Carol. I can say – me too. My former life as Raven was filled with the kind of evil that men like… But now I’ve turned that over to Jesus. Now I don’t live in the dark pit of sin. Now I have Jesus. I don’t have anything to share with you but that God loves me, and He loves you too.”
She fumbled in her pocket for the Testament that Rita gave her. Turning to her marked page in John, she quoted her favorite verse. Then she turned to Romans, just like she learned from Rita. Reading the verses she stopped. “You see Carol. I needed to confess my sin to Jesus, and believe these words, that He can save me. An’ He did, an’ I feel whole ’gain.”
Carol wiped a strand of dirty hair away and nodded. “Yes, that’s me. That’s what I need, no, that’s what I want to do.”
Mary swallowed hard. She felt cold shiver down her spine. Oh God, I know that shiver. Darkness is here, pulling Carol back. Help me Jesus.
Mary felt Calm flow over her as Warriors descended around her, ending the reign of darkness. She remembered Ted, then Rita, prayin’ the words out as she repeated ’em. “How ‘bout if I pray His words an’ you repeat after me, same’s I did?”
Carol squeezed herself into a tight ball and nodded. “Yes, yes, please hurry, ‘cause darkness is a comin’ fer me.”
The words flew out of Mary’ mouth to be repeated by Carol. Then, in an instant, Carol stood and shook her fist. “No more Satan, get out, in Jesus Name.”
On a dirt road, seven miles away, the old man shuddered as if he’d been slapped hard across the face. Another one gone. Lost to the Light. My forces…, getting’ weaker. Got to make Simon understand. He’s got to make it…
Mary and Carol leaned away as another group of survivors slowly walked by, helping some crippled people along. Carol noticed the familiar roll of walk from her friend Helena. She jumped up and turned to see that it was her good friend.
Helena responded. “Praise God, you made it out in time.”
Carol forgot about Mary for the moment. “Yes I did? But you? The stairs were blocked. How…?
Helena put out her arm toward Carol to steady herself. “Yes, I know, the stairs were blocked. Can’t explain it. Two men showed up out of nowhere and helped me. Don’t know how, but it seemed if the dangers were held back. Can’t explain it, but they helped me to the bridge, then, well, don’t know. Tried to thank ’em, you know, but they were gone. How ’bout you?”
Carol put her hands to her face in alarm.. “Me too, same thing…, two men helped me to the bridge. This is too much.”
Helena chuckled. “Not for my Jesus.”
Carol remembered. “Yes, our secret angels. I found another one too, an’ she led me to Jesus. Helena, I’d like to introduce you to Mary. She led me to Christ, just moments ago. Now I’m free, yes… Free at last.”
Mary beamed her answer. “Looks like Jesus answered your prayers. Now you’re both safe with Jesus.”
Helena nodded. “Amen to that.”