By J.J. Macke

There she is, the girl from my vision.

It is dark, and finding her was difficult amid the clutter and bodies, yet there she is. I cringe at the replayed scene of a well-used needle pushed into her retreating arm. This time is different though. It is now, and the needle is propelled, not by her hand, but by that of a man twice her age and size, and he does so just in time to deliver the dose without spilling.
Can I still save her?
Yes, the Voice says. You can. That is why you are here.
The flesh is that of a child-woman in her late teens. I hear her cry out at first, but her fear morphs quickly into ecstasy, her eyes close, and her lips freeze into a mildly erotic smile as the drug takes hold. Predictably, she falls and I rush in to catch her, but the dull thud and the biting-hot blast to my nostrils of freshly-sprayed urine tell me I missed.

“Who the hell are you?” It’s needle-man asking.
“Noble Wonder,” I say.
He looks me up and down. I smile. He smirks and walks away. I stoop down and check her pulse. She is in a deep sleep. I lift the syringe from the growing puddle on the filth-strewn floor. Extra careful to avoid its foul tip, I raise it up to my nose. Heroin. I know because I was a user once. In another life. I throw it away and turn back to the unconscious lump lying near me. Looking at her, my heart fills with the realization that this girl is someone’s daughter, just a baby really, so young, so innocent.

“Bounce, asshole!” It’s needle-man again, and this time I look him up and down.
Ignore him, the Voice says. Her name is Jessica and her father calls her Jessie.
“Jessie,” I say. “Let’s go, baby. We have to go.”
“Hey asshole! I’m talkin’ to you.”
“Daddy?” She peers at me through slits. “How did you know I was here?”
“Hey buddy, you have shit between your ears?” Needle-man is relentless.
“Don’t worry about it, sweetie. Let’s just go, okay? We need out of here.”
I start to help her up when needle-man reaches for my shoulder and is deflected by an unseen force. “Ouch! What the hell?” He looks around anxiously, then back at me. I am unaffected. Unafraid. Clearly baffled, needle-man steps away. Jessica moans as I place one arm behind her back, the other beneath her legs, and lift. She doesn’t weigh much and I move around with her easily, but it’s hard to see in the darkness and I am worried about falling. I make my way to the door over piles of garbage, bedclothes, strewn mattresses, and drugged bodies. I struggle to get an encumbered hand on the knob.
“Where you goin’ with her, pal?” It’s a second dark figure, bigger and meaner than needle-man, a real brute. “That bitch is mine! She stays here.”
“She’s not yours.” I say. “She belongs to God, the All-Knowing, the Wise, and I am taking her to Him.”
Brutus shoves me. I fall in slow motion and expect to hit the ground when a gentle uprising lifts me and the girl as if on a cloud. I smile and feel great warmth surround us as we are carried. Brutus slams headlong into a wall, heaved by that same invisible force, then drops to the floor, bleeding and unconscious. The door opens, seemingly by itself, and we float out. I return to my feet with Jessie still asleep in my arms and scan for a spot to lay her down. The afternoon sun is blinding, yet I am comforted by it. The scent of new-mown grass fades into jasmine and auto exhaust, bird songs play, bells of distant wind-chimes arrive on the gentle afternoon breeze, children laugh and shriek nearby. I reach the curb and lay her down on the grass with great care. I consider her drug-induced state for a moment, then mold her into the same fetal position as before, placing my rolled jacket at the small of her back for support. I sit down beside her and consider my next move. Do I try to find her a new home or the one she came from? Or do I recruit her into The Cause? Or both? Neither?
 
She is for The Cause, the Voice says. You will teach her to work faithfully at your side.
 
Very well. But I have to figure out how to care for her.
No need, the Voice says. God will provide, Noble. He always does and always will. Your faith is all you need. Just keep a watchful eye and you will see.
 
“Yes,” I say. “God does provide.
“So, is this her?” Aaron asks from behind us. He sits down next to me at the curb.
I nod my head and Aaron’s big brown face brightens.
“Was there help for you like you thought there’d be?”
I smile. “Isn’t there always?”
“I coulda’ come in with you. I told you I would.”
“It worked out, Aaron. Everything is okay.”
“Dude!” Aaron says, “We’re gonna win!” Aaron slaps me a high-five and we hug. “We’re gonna win, man!” Aaron laughs and I with him.
Members of the Army of Light are nearby and laughing with us. Aaron can’t see or hear them, but I have told him about them.
 
We live to fight another day.
 
Yes, the Voice says. Yes, you do.
Copyright 2013 by J.J. Macke. All rights reserved.
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