The Rockport Miracles-Part 2-Episode 4: "Navigating A Nightmare" Fiction by Scott MacGregor

The Rockport Miracles

Part 2: Episode 4 “Navigating A Nightmare”

Wren Mathews and I squirted out of Sparrow’s Cave as soon as the storm had passed. As we galloped down the wind scoured beach we could see a shimmering orange glow and hear a stew of chaotic sounds spilling over the edge of the cliff promontory. Wren led me to a hidden stairway that ascended from the beach to the top of the cliff. “Hey!” I yelled, “Why the heck did we ‘Audie Murphy’ ourselves down the cliff when we could have taken the stairs?!!” Wren gave me a quizzical look and said, “Who the heck is Audie Murphy?” 

Upon ascent, we were gobsmacked with a scene straight out of Revelations. The entire city of Rockport appeared to be on fire from east to west and as far south as the eye could see. The storm had blown flaming trees a half-mile inward toward the heart of the town setting blocks of houses and businesses ablaze. More immediately, the park where hundreds had gathered to watch the annual Christmas tree bonfire had become a disaster area with many residents injured and dead. Firefighters wisely triaged their limited resources throughout the town’s midsection while local medical professionals intuitively rushed to Rockport Hospital.

Mayor Frank Warren was dead. He’d been standing near the bonfire drinking hot cocoa and kibbutzing with “Kiwani Bill” Edwards, a civic legend and the most outspoken of Rockport’s many unelected mayors. Both men were burnt to a crisp after the derecho winds had propelled a woven stack of flaming trees right into them. With steely eyed pluck that led to political fortune, Robert “Fat Bob” Franklin, a local used car dealer, quickly organized the Kiwanis and Rotarian members who weren’t dead or hurt into teams that heroically lifted fallen trees off of people and herded dozens of panicked rats over the cliffs with tinseled Christmas trees and donuts. 

Wren and I had just helped a little boy find his parents when our gazes turned toward the direction of another strange warm wind coming from the northwest. Wren screamed, “LOOK AT THAT!!”, while pointing at a bright light hovering over the park cemetery. “IT’S SPARROW!” she cried. I muttered, “Oh no, not again,” under my breath. We both ran into the cemetery but, instead of finding a ghost we discovered Father James Marlowe, the Pastor of St. Swithun Church. A sycamore tree had fallen and he was tangled up in its branches. “Help me, goddamnit!” he yelled. We quickly untangled the branches and pulled him to his feet. “Father?” asked Wren, “Did you see Sparrow? We saw her light.” The priest replied, “I saw the light, too. It was not your dear departed sister.” We watched as he bent down and picked up something off of the ground. It was a small flying crucifix powered with a wind-up rubber band propeller and a battery powered light. “I bought it at a Billy Graham Crusade a few years back,” he said with a chortle. “I just wind it up and let it go--the stupid thing never fails to attract the curious and forlorn.”  I turned to share this laugh with Wren, but she was gone. I saw her making haste through the panicked crowds and toward the park exit. "Let her go, son," said the priest. "She's navigating a nightmare--let her alone.” Father Marlowe was a good guy but I wasn't about to follow his advice.

After all we’d been through on that tragic night, I wasn’t about to allow any hard won affections for me melt into the thin air. When you are a teenager, days are weeks and weeks are months. I could've been old news by sunrise and wasn't about to let the girl of my dreams go un-gently into that dark night. I drew a bead on Wren’s bright red scarf making its way through the chaos but I didn’t have to run very far. The fires all around us had made it too dangerous to leave the park. I found her hunkered down behind the stone wall at the park’s entrance and I still like to think that she’d been waiting for me to catch up to her. She was crying and I opted to keep my big mouth shut and just sit quietly and supportively beside her.

As the burning of Rockport and the relentless din of police and ambulance sirens intensified all around us, a miracle happened. I was looking into Wren’s tear-filled eyes and was about to say something stupid when a giant, wet blob of slush hit me in the face like a snow pie. “What the…!!” I screamed. Wren’s blue eyes lit up and for the first time all night she burst into laughter. “HA! Revenge is mine!!” she exclaimed, referring to her own unfortunate encounter with slush earlier that day. Those laughing moments behind the wall with Wren while Rockport was being destroyed remain among my fondest memories.

At first, the thick, wet snow fell randomly and made “plop-splat” sounds on the ground. The weather soon escalated into a torrential slush-a-rama that blobbed everything and everybody. Residents trapped in the park watched in awe as the freak weather slowly and successfully extinguished all of the fires it had savagely created.

“OH, NO! MY MOTHER!!” Wren screamed, as she jumped up and disappeared down a shortcut through Rockport’s tangled maze of dense neighborhoods. By that point, I was already up to my neck in the adventure story known as Wren Mathews. I had to see where else her life would take me. For several blocks we dodged and leaped over fallen power lines and trees until we reached Wren’s street. All of the homes in her neighborhood had varying degrees of damage. All, except for Wren’s house which was completely unharmed by the storm. We entered the house via its side entrance and after some calling and searching, we found Wren’s Mom face down on the living room floor. I knew then that the nightmare Wren was navigating still had many miles to go.

Next: Part 2 Episode 5: "Family Matters" 

© 2018 Scott MacGregor-EOI Media Press Inc.

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Volume 14, Issue 18, Posted 10:34 AM, 09.18.2018