Rays of Hope: Chapter 21

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It’s so nice to have people reading along while I have fun with Ray and Marla. Thanks for reading. And, thanks for the comments.

If you’re here for the first time, and you’re interested in starting at Chapter 1 of Rays of Hope, click here.

I see my newest novel as having lots of tornado activity; inside the characters and out in their environment.

Last week Ephraim woke me up in the middle of the night begging me to tell readers what he did during the war.

Jim and John’s Big Adventure is moving along and bringing smiles to my face.


“You told me my mother lived near a giant lake.” Ray balled her hands into fists and stiffened her back.

“A Great Lake,” said Marla, pointing past the shack. “Lake Michigan.”

Marla exhaled so slowly and for such a long time that her Outsider fogged up and the features of her face blurred together. Ray tried to discern whether Marla looked sad or angry.

“The Lake became a swamp that became a grassland, that eventually died to nothing. Fasther than anyone thought possible.”

“After the dominoes started to fall?” Ray tore her eyes away from Marla’s Outside and followed her outstretched arm to the wide-open space beyond the shack.

“Why are we here?” Ray’s voice jittered. She wanted to run and she felt her knees buckle under her as tears threatened to melt her into a heap of sobs.

“Why did you bring me here now?” Anger flooded the tears and surfaced as Ray’s dominant emotion.

“It’s because of what she and Taedan did. I never wanted to tell you. Their studies. She wanted to help. They were both so sure. I have to look.”

None of this made sense to Ray. She believed it made some sense to Marla.

Marla’s thoughts collided over each other on their way from her brain to the mouth. It was Ray’s turn to take a deep breath, exhale and wait. She followed Marla toward the shack.

The door clicked open and squeaked a rusty resistence as Marla pushed it open. She moved about the house with confidence. Ray followed her into the utility room where she flipped the switch of a whole-house air-purifier.

“The battery is still good, but for how long is anybody’s guess,” Marla said. “You stay here, and I’ll see if I can start the generator. With any luck, there’s still a bit of fuel.”

“Let me come.” Ray grabbed Marla’s hand in hers.

Marla knelt on one knee, took Ray’s Outsider-framed face between her palms and looked her straight in the eyes. “Take some time to explore until I come back. Maybe you can find a good starting place.”

Marla was out the door before Ray had her question fully formed. Starting point for what?

A thick layer of dust and grime covered every surface. And there was a lot of surface in this shack. Bigger than where Marla and Ray lived. Bigger than Trumble’s home, even including his laboratory and study. Her mother’s home had been spacious and probably nice. It had real glass windows. Ray rubbed at one of them with her jacket sleeve. All she could make out were shadows of light and dark. One shadow, that must have been Marla, moved about as if she owned the place.

Ray wondered who else lived here with her mother. Surely no one had a home this large by herself. Was it her father? A familiar knot pulled tight across her mid-section. Teasing that answer out of Marla would take some planning.


I wonder what Marla is looking for. Will they find it? Or will they find something else.

Wait a minute. Of course Ray has a father. Who is he?

Thanks for coming along for the ride.

Until next Friday, when we’ll both learn more.

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