Reid waited for death, no longer afraid but now merely curious of his future. Would he enter into God’s Kingdom and see Mama, her arms spread wide and her face split in her sunny grin? Would he see St. Peter, standing by the gates and waving folks in through the pearly gates? Or would it be like Mr. Landers said, where there wasn’t a thing but darkness and where no one could even sense a thing?
If I’m in Heaven, I hope God lets Helena in, too,he thought.
The deafening staccato of gunfire drowned his senses, and when he opened his eyes, he was surprise to see the soldiers falling back, firing recklessly. They were bellowing at one another, and Reid sensed fear in their words.
Suddenly, one was hoisted into the air and tossed aside, shrieking horribly as he slammed into the fuselage of the crippled plane.
The battered patrol car plummeted out of the air, landing on top of a trio of fleeing men, crushing them before they had a chance to acknowledge their own doom.
Other soldiers fell to their knees, roaring and screeching, clutching the sides of their heads. One by one they went slack and collapsed.
Reid looked up.
Magnus stood, arms stretched wide am muscles tensed. His battered face was wrenched into darkness, his glowing eyes wide with brutal hatred.
The remining squad of soldiers cried out, horribly aware of their impending demise. Reid watched with sickened fascination. Their deaths came fast, but not lacking in pain.
Once the howls of the dying subsided, Reid struggled to sit upright. Excruciating pain stabbed all along his body. Exit wounds to half a dozen gunshots decorated his side, smudging his shirt in stupefying coloration of mud brown and deep crimson. He let out a shuddering breath.
“You are beyond help, subhuman,” Magnus remarked. Reid expected the Celestial to smile at this proclamation, but he looked displeased.
“Helena…” Reid managed.
“Dead, I can sense it.” Magnus spat. “She was innocent. Innocent like all of my brethren, save me.” He looked in the direction of the destroyed Celestial craft, smoldering dark smoke across the horizon. “She wanted Tiberius to let me stay. She wanted me to go home, too. I could sense that Tiberius would have agreed to it, if not for his precious honor.”
Reid coughed, and stared at the bloody phlegm on his hand. “I am sorry. I shouldn’t have waved at the car.” He tried to adjust his position and was seized by a fresh bolt of pain. In the distance, he thought he heard singing. “If I hadn’t waved…”
“Peace, Reid,” Magnus replied. “It wasn’t you that drew these men here. That communicator set off a signal they could track. I warned them. They almost made it.”
The singing seemed clearer, but Reid focused on Magnus. “I wish they hadn’t done that, killing all the Celestials.” He realized he was weeping, but not from the hurt. Sorrow was consuming him. “Mama told me that hate was for weak people. She said you gotta be strong to love people that’s different from you. Was I strong, then?”
Magnus faced him, and Reid witnessed a smile cross the stoic Celestial’s features. “Yes, Reid. Helena saw it. We all saw it.”
Reid smiled. “I’m glad for that.” He looked past the last hangar and saw Mama and Helena. They were laughing like old friends, and smiling so brightly with flowers in their hair. “Hey, there’s Mama! And Helena! Ain’t that something!”
Magnus nodded, blinking rapidly. “Yes, it is. Go to them, Reid.”
Reid said nothing. His smile fell from his face.
Magnus was alone.
“You were always the strongest, Reid,” Magnus said, his voice thick.
“The weak will get what’s coming to them.”