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The Visitor--an inspirational short story series

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For The Strength of Youth

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The Visitor--an inspirational short story series
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    Ch. 44 The Wisdom of the Wise
 
Submitted by Steven ODell on 12 January 2009 - 3:48pm.

Fireproof
Steven G. O'Dell © 2008

It seemed like a dream, but it had to have been real. There was no other explanation possible. But let's start at the beginning, shall we? My name is..., well, that isn't as important as the story. Besides, you may not believe me and think me some kind of nut case. I almost don't believe it myself.

Recently I was driving through the Rockies on my way to a new job opportunity on the west coast. Everything was going well, I was making great time and the scenery was gorgeous. My mood was totally upbeat and there seemed nothing that could dampen my spirits. They say it's when you let your guard down that things sneak up on you and whack you in the head. Maybe that's what happened to me that day.

As I rounded one corner in the road, there met my eyes the sight that sends chills through even the toughest truck driver, let alone an everyday Joe like me. Smoke was coming up over the next rise in the road and I just knew that I was about to see something I didn't want to see. That premonition was right, too. As I climbed over the rise and started down, there was a woman in the road, waving her arms frantically for me to stop. Not that I had any choice--I was too stunned to drive further and she was standing right in my way to block me.

"Please, help my son!" she screamed, as she pounded on the hood of my car. I sat paralyzed for a moment, unable to move. It just hadn't sunk in yet as being real. That's when she ran to the driver's side window and yelled again. This time I put the car in park and got out to see what was wrong. She dragged me by the arm to the shoulder of the road and pointed over the embankment, crying hysterically. Below I could see a white, mid-sized car, already in flames. The words of the woman now came through with power. Her son was in the car!

"Front seat or back?" I asked her. She was still sobbing uncontrollably and pleading for me to get him out. I could get no answer from her, but knew every second was critical. I had to move now and solve the next question when I got there. So, I started down the embankment, as quickly as I could without losing footing and becoming a victim myself. As I approached the car, the flames seemed to suddenly leap in their intensity. It was a whole new ball-game now, I knew. I wasn't sure I could do anything except get horribly burned myself. I turned back and looked almost helplessly at the poor mother standing above me, hoping beyond hope that a miracle would happen and I could save her child. There was no way. I knew it and God knew it. The thought sickened me, but no amount of wanting to help would get him out in any condition he would want to live in the rest of his life. And I would be scarred forever, as well. Much as I revolted at the thought, it was best to let him die quickly and not suffer a lifetime of torment.

I turned again to look at the mother and wordlessly told her with my eyes and posture that there was nothing humanly possible to be done for her son. Her knees buckled completely and she fell to the dirt on all fours, groaning with such agony as only a loss of this magnitude could cause. To tell the truth, I felt about to collapse with the emotional pain of it all, too. I wanted to help. I really did...but what could I do?

That's when 'he' showed up. The man just came bolting over the embankment in nearly a dead run. He almost hit me as he passed and I was afraid he wouldn't be able to stop, but just pass on by or end up in the fire himself. But he stopped almost dead, too, right at the car as it was burning out of control. I could feel the intense heat from where I was, several yards uphill. From where he was, it must have been unbearable.

Then he raised his right arm to a square and in a few seconds, the flames all but went out! I have never seen anything like it! I wouldn't have believed it if I hadn't seen it with my own eyes. To this day, I almost don't think it was real, but I did see it, so it has to be.

Everything sort of went slow motion after that. The car was charred so badly you almost couldn't tell it had been white paint. It was tipped on its side at about a forty-five degree angle, buried partly into the dirt and he had to climb on top of it to get to the doors. One window had shattered from the heat of the fire and he peered in to see where the boy was. Back seat, it appeared. Before I could make a move, the back door was being pried open and he was reaching in deep to fish the kid out. I didn't have much hope for the child, to be frank. I was in for a real surprise.

As the man straightened again, he pulled a boy of about four years old with him and turned to put him on the ground behind him. He quickly swept the car with his eyes again, to make sure there was no one else in it, then turned to the boy again to inspect him. The mother was speechless for a long moment and then began to awkwardly and hurriedly slide down the hill to recover the child.

I couldn't believe it. There wasn't a scratch on the kid. He wasn't even crying! The man picked him up and started climbing to meet the frantic mother. When they met, she grabbed the boy and scared him so bad that he did start to cry. Here he was, just rescued from a rollover on a mountain road that could have killed him and a fire that could have barbecued him, too--yet he was crying simply because his mom had grabbed him so fast she scared him. Rather ironic, if you ask me.

When she knew her son was undamaged, she immediately began to show her gratitude to the man who had rescued him. I guess I should have felt foolish or been ashamed for not being able to do anything helpful, but I knew that there was nothing I could have done--and I knew that this man had done more than humanly possible. I had just witnessed a miracle.

And then this guy just starts to walk away, up the hill, without saying anything! Well, I couldn't let him go that easily. I had questions, you know? And I knew only he could answer them.

"Mister! Hey, mister! Wait a minute!"

He turned again to look at me, huffing and puffing my way up the hill, as he reached the shoulder of the road. When I finally reached him, I took hold of his shirt to make sure he couldn't get away. Maybe I just needed to know he was real and that I hadn't been hallucinating.

"Mister, that was some trick you just did. How did you stop that fire? What made you think you could get through heat like that? Are you Superman or something?"

"Whoa! One question at a time, okay?" He grinned far too easily for what he had just been through, I thought.

"Well, you gotta admit that... Sheesh! I don't even know what to say! That was just plain crazy!"

"I had faith it would all work out. That's all."

"That's all? That's all! You gotta be kiddin' me! You say that as if it happens every day for you. It doesn't...does it?"

"Of course not. Not every day." He winked slyly and turned again to leave.

"Wait a minute! Hold it right there! You can't just leave like that. You have some explaining to do." He now turned so suddenly that I stopped dead in my tracks, too.

"What do you mean? What is there to explain? I saw a need and I helped. End of story, right?"

"Not by a long shot! Those flames just stopped without any reason. Right when you got there. Explain that! Who are you? I still want to know."

He took a deep breath and let it out slowly before speaking, kind of resigning himself to the demand, I guess. When he spoke, I didn't believe him.

"Alright, you win. I am an angel sent from God to save this child. He has a lot to accomplish in his lifetime and he can't do it if he's dead. That should make sense to you."

I stood dumbfounded, unable to speak for a minute. Did he expect me to accept such a wacky story? And yet, what other explanation made sense?

"An angel, you say?"

"Why not? How else do you account for what just happened? The child should have been killed for any number of reasons, but he doesn't even smell like smoke. You tell me how that happens." And then he waited. I think he had a smirk on his face, but I can't be sure. All I knew was I couldn't tell him. So he went on.

"Listen. I really am a messenger from God. I had a mission to fulfill and I did it. I know you believe in God, so why not a messenger sent by Him? Is it that unreasonable?"

"No, I guess not. I just never saw one, that's all. You feel real. Shouldn't angels have wings and be...like ghosts or something?"

"No, they shouldn't." He nearly laughed out loud. "And they don't and they aren't. Only dead men are ghosts. I haven't died yet. And I expect not to for a long, long time. I am not Superman, either--to answer your previous question. I stopped the fire by faith in the priesthood of God, which I hold. The same power that preserved the boy. More than that, there is nothing to say." And he turned to walk away again!

"Wait! What's your name?"

"Timothy. You can call me Timothy."

I turned away just for a second to look at the woman and spun back to ask what he thought ought to be done to help her further--and he was gone! There was no physical way he could have disappeared, but he did. And then it occurred to me that there was no other car there, except mine. He had just popped in and popped out again, in the blink of an eye.

I don't know what to think, actually. I know I will never forget what happened that day, but I can't think on it too long before my brain hurts. I'm a simple guy and thoughts like that are just too deep for me to tackle for any length of time.

I took the woman and the boy to the next town for help and gave her money to use the phones and get a meal and room for the night. Seemed like the right thing to do. Somehow I knew that would be what Timothy would do if he were here still. And I can't help but wonder... what must it be like to be that fireproof?

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