TC-Attic

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HCA: In the aftermath of her father's death Kim stopped going to school. Sofie and Dory came over after a couple of days to see if their friend was well. She was not, but their visit elevated Kim from her grief a microscopic bit and her mother Clara noticed that.

HCB: After Sophie's mother came to pick her daughter up Clara asked her to wait until Dory's parents arrived as well, because she had a request to make of all of them. When everyone was together Clara said, "I'd like Sofie and Dory to be with Kim for her father's funeral."

HCC: Susan Krause shook her head. "I don't think so. They're just school girls and a funeral is a very solemn thing."

Dory's father Ithuriel agreed. "Clara, this should be a private family time for you and Kim."

"But we have no family here," Clara said. "My folks are back east."

HCD: Dory's mother Anael pointed out that Clara still had in-laws, but she shook her head. "They're Bunner Incarnate. They always held me at arm's length. Kim is taking the death of Erik very hard but when the girls came over today I saw how they were like a family to her."

HCE: Ithuriel said, "I'm not worried about Dory. I'm worried more about Sofie and Kim. When you are on the other side of the Final Rite, Clara, you will no longer have the childlike faith that our Lord said was more blessed than the faith of who believe because they have seen."

HCF: It was a gentle negotiation. Clara got permission for Kim's friends to be with her for the funeral. Ithuriel persuaded Clara to have Kim sit out the actual Final Rite, and rarely in history have so many future lives been so deeply affected by so trivial a choice.

HCG: It would have been unseemly to run around playing while the body of Kim's father was sent to his long home along with three other Greendomites from around the country, so they sat around in the Temple basement. Volunteers prepared dinner for the families of the dead.

HCH: Gabriel Shybear joined them after breaking away from a group of boys smoking outside. Che seemed to know a lot of secrets about the Temple. Gabriel led the girls into a supply room which wasn't locked. Kim, Sofie, and Dory tagged along because there was nothing else to do.

HCI: There was no electric light in the temple attic, only a window with blinds and it was a gloomy January day outside. There was an old piano which was probably broken. Kim avoided the urge to play it. There was a map of Headwater and many of the usual church odds and ends.

HCJ: The kids found unused hymnals, stacks of old temple bulletins, empty mason jars, and dozens of stacked folding chairs. Sofie found a cane carved from gnarled wood and shifted it from hand to hand to get the feel of it. Gabriel stopped moving and went, "Shhh! What's that?"

HCK: The children froze but the only thing they heard was organ music and the choir bleeding through the ceiling from the main sanctuary upstairs. "Very funny," Sofie said, giving Gabriel a friendly shove. One of the walls was unfinished. Gabriel moved aside a piece of plywood.

HCL: The plywood had concealed another dark space beyond. It was so black inside it drank their vision like a sponge. "I've never been in there," Gabriel admitted. None of the girls wanted to go in there but Gabriel dared them to go. Naturally Sofie was the first one through.

HCM: Gabriel immediately followed Sofie to show che wasn't afraid. Dory and Kim were afraid of the dark hole and unafraid to admit it, but they didn't want to be left alone so they squeezed in also. Gabriel burned through ten matches before Dory brought a candle from the attic.

HCN: The kids found they were in a space that was about four times larger than the attic but there was no wooden floor, just natural stone and dirt rising halfway to the ceiling. Something like a rocky igloo reached nearly to the ceiling from the center of a circle of stones.

HCO: The ceiling creaked as someone walked to and fro overhead. Gabriel did a complete circuit of the space, then said to Dory, "This is part of our family history!"

She said, "This must be the very summit of Green Dome. Wanica built that cairn, and the altar right over it."

HCP: When Gabriel saw the blank faces of Sofie and Kim che was astonished. "Did you forget what they taught us in Sunday school? This is the Island in the Sky where God gave Chief Wanica the Golden Gift." "And God gave Moses the stone tablets," answered Kim. "I read that too."

HCQ: Dory pointed to the ceiling. "What do you think is happening up there right now?"

Kim considered her answer, because she didn't wish to offend her friends. Then: "It's a simple cremation of my father's body and the bodies of three other Greendomites, spiced with ritual."

HCR: Dory said, "Kim, you saw Gabriel when we went swimming once at Lake 13 and you still think the Buron is just a bunch of stories they invented?"

"I went to the library and looked that up," Kim replied. "Gabriel's a hermaphrodite. It's not a big deal. Sometimes it happens."

HCS: Gabriel rolled up hez sleeves and approached Kim, flipping both hands over a few times to show they were empty. Che said, "Hold out your hand." Gabriel clasped her hand, and when che took it away again there was a stack of 1942 silver half-dollars. "Explain that, if you can."

HCT: Kimberly put the coins in her purse because money was money and if Gabriel wanted to give her ten bucks so be it. She said, "Magic tricks, Gabriel, just like what they're showing Momma upstairs right now. Why can't people just be amazed at God for what he really did do?"

HCU: Dory threw up har hands in mock despair at har heathen friends. "White Wingers," sha muttered. Gabriel moved toward the cairn. "We'll never have the chance to be in here again," che said. "I want to see if it's really there." "And you'll go straight to hell," warned Sofie.

HCV: "There's no hell in Greendomism," Gabriel snorted, and che picked the boulder most likely to be easily moved. As soon as it did a mouse escaped. Dory and Kim screamed together when they saw it. Without a word Sofie let her cane fly in an arc over her head upon the creature.

HCW: Sofie was just hoping to scare the mouse away but she ended up hitting the critter instead with a lucky shot. "This is a church right? So there's your church mouse." Dory shifted immediately from fear to maternal concern. The animal was in obvious pain. "You crippled it!"

HCX: "I didn't mean to actually hit it!" They all took a closer look at the creature. The head of the mouse was misshapen with a huge white bump on the back that was nearly as large as the mouse's head itself. "Look what you did, Sofie!" Dory complained. "Look at that bump!"

HCY: "That isn't from anything she did," Gabriel said. "He didn't go in the cairn like that. He must have waited for someone to crack a gap in the rocks wider so he could get out, the poor little guy." Sofie finished him off with the end of her cane. "This is better for him."

HCZ: Its head was now a flat furry coin. Nobody knew what the white bump meant. Sophie scratched the dirt with her cane and dug a little grave for the dead mouse "Rest in pieces," she said, then remembered, too late, that they were at the funeral of Kimberly's father. "Sorry."

HDA: Gabriel returned to the cairn and tugged on the stone once more. Sophie gave him a hand, and the boulder slowly swung open like a hinged door, just enough that they could squeeze inside the stone igloo one at a time. Dory brought light. A plain white dome lay inside.

HDB: "So that's God," said Kim. Gabriel shook hez head. "No, but God made this. And don't say God made everything, Sofie, even you know better." The skin of the dome was dotted with thousands of little holes. Some of these sported needles, like a cactus. Kim touched it.

HDC: That was something Kim ought not to have done. With a sound like a tiny squirt of steam her fingertip was instantly skewered. Kim pulled her hand away involuntarily before the pain even registered. After that the white dome sported another extruded spine from its surface.

HDD: Dory was a little more wise. Sha grabbed a pencil out of har purse and leaned over the artifact with the eraser tip prudently standing in for har finger. Sha verified it was ready to defend itself at any time. Gabriel thought about kicking it but che was wearing moccasins.

HDE: Sofie was not afraid. She allowed her own finger to be skewered by the white dome and doesn't even wince. "Here we go, Kim. Whatever trouble you're in for getting stung by this thing, I'm in the same trouble." So she has the final victory over Gabriel in the test of courage.

HDF: After that they began to slide back out of the cairn, but they heard footsteps in the storage room next door. Dory put out the candle as everyone held their breath and tried not to make a sound. Deacon Paul looked into the dark gap and could just make out two silhouettes.

HDG: Bergin screamed at them to get out. Blushing, Gabriel, Kim, Sofie and Dory scrambled out from beneath the altar, then out of the supply room. They sat together in the basement lunchroom. The deacon locked the supply room, and true to Gabriel's words they never returned.

HDH: Dory's only casualty was a pencil with a soggy eraser. Sha said, "Thanks for that little adventure, Gabriel. I always knew the avatar of Chokhmah was real, but actually seeing it is something I'll never forget." Just then the attendees began to filter in from upstairs.

HDI: During the meal after the Final Rite Kim thought her mother seemed very different. The grief was gone. Clara said, "It's all true, Kim. Everything in the Green Book is really true!" She no longer needed a leap of faith to give her assent to the things taught by the Church.

HDJ: Kim knew her mother had been a nurse in the First World War and had seen things in France so terrible she refused to even talk about them, things which would crush the faith of anyone who believed in a good God. It was good to see some semblance of hope restored in her.

HDI: But Kim and Sophie needed more convincing. Over the next few days they grew bumps at the back of their head just like that poor church mouse. Dr. Wahkan said not to worry but Clara disagreed to the point of quitting her job at the little hospital and taking Kim to Lusk.

HDJ: Two days later Sofie's parents brought her to Lusk as well but the doctors there could do little more than watch the girls get worse. The bumps opened up like flowers to reveal stiff black hairs inside. By June 1942 the girls were under federal quarantine in parts unknown.

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