“Fire it Up!” It’s a 6.

Holy shit damn!.. hang on baby, we’re goin’ for a ride!”

As the huge fireball filled the rear view of the Humvee, Jaya hit the gas like Ken Miles at le Mans; as the military vehicle cornered on 2 wheels, ravenous red orange flames licking its bumper, elation spread across her face like the raging inferno consuming the warehouse behind them, now a literal island of fire; it was then she realized there were some perks to surviving a post-apocalyptic world.

“Damn! did you see those rabids? never knew what hit ’em …. hey Ry, you ok over there?”

White knuckled left hand gripping the outer edge of the leathered passenger side seat, right on the grab handle above, Ryan turned towards Jaya, doe-caught-in-the-headlight eyes focused on the woman behind the wheel and wondered when she’d turned Furiosa  – “uh, good yeah, thank you…but…how…um like…what just…?

Her laughter cascaded out of the Humvee’s open windows; for a second, Ryan wondered if something in Jaya had snapped, if she’d gone crazy – this was, but not, the same woman he’d been on the road with going on 2 years . One would think under the circumstances, you’d get to know someone pretty well while trying to avoid raving monsters determined to rip you to shreds and eat you.

Bless me Father. It’s a 6.

Children’s laughter tumbled out of open half windows as the yellow school bus neared the corner of Bitteroot Way and Sunflower Lane; rumbling to a stop, it’s trifold door opened, freeing the girls and boys from Feldspar Elementary onto the side walk in a neighborhood only recently host to a summer full of kids without the demands of adults.

Father Lazarus gracefully dodged an abandoned tricycle, the caboose from a toy train set and various other toys spilled over from the community playground; walking down the row of townhouses, an occasional furtive glance behind him, he arrived at number 8711.

I cannot sanction it, nor does the Holy See, regardless of fanciful media reports of an increase in so called demonic possessions; in spite of the evidence you’ve provided Father Lazarus, the answer remains an emphatic no.”

Pardon my objection to your decision, Your Grace, but I have been pastor at St. Damien’s for the last 13 years and know my parishioners and many of their friends, Catholic and otherwise; the family that brings me here, seeking your and the Church’s support, I know very well and I would not be pleading my case if I did not believe in the legitimacy of the family’s claim.”

The red front door of 8711 Harmony Court flew open just as Father Lazarus reached for the bronze, hand shaped knocker (the significance representing a religious family resided within, did not go unnoticed); Maria D’Aletandre greeted the priest with a voice as soft as the early fall afternoon breeze whispering in the trees, “God bless you for coming”.

From somewhere on the second floor, piercing the hushed silence as Father Lazarus stepped through the threshold of the home, came the sound of furniture scraping hardwood floors and a guttural noise as if from a wounded animal so loud it was followed by the peal of shattering glass – the grip on his small duffle bag secure, he followed his parishioner up the stairs.