***There was a cloaked figure; out of focus, large and looming, a man, definitely a man. He held an axe in his hand. A small figure lay tied up and wrapped tight in blankets like a cigar. Part of the figure was tied to the top of a stump. Split firewood covered the weedy lot. The man reached up with his axe and swung it down against a log on another stump. The log split immediately with the impact. He left the blade embedded in the trunk and held his hands to his face. He spit in them and rubbed them together. The hands looked soft, uncalloused. Bill realized this wasn’t a working man. He wanted to step out to grab the figure to prevent what he knew was about to happen, but realized he wasn’t really there. Bill cried out with his mind. He reached out but could not see his own hands extend outwards because he wasn’t there. The out of focus figure turned its blurred face up to the sky. Sunlight poured down, and Bill did not really see, but sensed, a smile. There was a prayer. Angels surrounded the out of focus figure. One angel wore the head of a lion, one wore the head of a lamb, and the last angel was the cherub that Bill remembered seeing in his vision. Dead swans littered the overgrown lot mixed in with loose, uneven piles of split wood. Bill heard a psalm pour forth from the figure’s lips, a song of redemption in the blood. The man grabbed the embedded ax from the second stump. He worked it free by jiggling it back and forth. He pushed his foot into the stump and leaned backwards. The ax came free. The figure huddled in the blanket shook and Bill heard muffled cries. The angels looked down with serenity etched across their ethereal faces. The man walked over to the bundle atop the first stump and lifted his axe. The glinting blade came down hard and fast. Within seconds, blood pooled. The man collected the blood into a silver goblet. He held it up and passed it to the angles. “Like Abraham, I can kill the child. I am true. I am yours.” The angels, one by one, came down and appeared to sip from the cup. The man held the goblet up higher. “Cleanse your servant with the blood so that I might better serve you, so that I might be stronger, less hesitant next time you ask for my service. Help me to usher in your next coming so that the world may be cleansed. May the blood of all the sinners, all those born from sin, wash over the world and make it pleasing to you again so that you might walk among your chosen once again. Lead me out of the desert. I know I’m not worthy, but still I ask. I serve only you.” He turned it over and held up his face. Blood splashed over him. The figure drank blood and smiled. He looked towards Bill, or where Bill would be if he were really there. His eyes were a pale and vibrant green like the first leaves of spring after a storm. There was thunder. Bill noticed the sky. Dark clouds and slanting rain showed up to the west. Above it all, the sun shone, and the dome of an immaculate rainbow enclosed the bloody scene below.
***“Bill! Bill! Are you okay?” Bill’s face turned to the left and then the right as a soft hand patted his cheeks with force. “Uh?” He opened his eyes. Gloria’s shadow stood over him. Her hair fell down onto his face and he could smell her shampoo. He reached up and hugged her towards him and began to cry. She hugged him back. “It’s okay, Bill. Shh. It’s okay honey.” Benny cleared his throat. “Hey, G. The peeps are back, ready to take over again.” Gloria’s embrace went slack. “Huh? Oh. Okay.” Bill looked up to the head on the bed. Dead eyes stared off towards the window as if looking outside to the blood red dawn.