When twenty-year-old Sandy Carpenter agrees to baby sit Cassie Johnson, she has no clue that Cassie has a peculiar talent. In fact, Cassie's own family is unaware what she can do. Over the following months, Sandy enjoys five-year-old Cassie's quirkiness and grows to love the enigmatic prodigy.
Reading together in Sandy's cozy Ventura living room, an unexpected warm breeze brings forth a feast of scents although no doors or windows are open. Cassie appears to be in some sort of “state” until Sandy snaps her out of it. Cassie exclaims that a handsome winged angel in a toga told her that something big is about to happen.
That Friday, Sandy and Cassie are able to have a sleepover and give the Johnsons a night out. Thunder and pouring rain awakens them to a dark house. The power is out and the radio will only emit a hiss of static. Although well into morning, there is not even the faintest gray of sunlight. There is only the occasional punctuation of lightning.
Hungry, they decide to venture out in hopes of breakfast and to assure the Johnsons that Cassie is okay. Sandy finds the car will not start. Meanwhile, strange sounds outside the garage door draw Sandy closer. Someone or something begins banging on the roll-up door with enough force to severely dent it. Sandy leaves nothing to chance and pushes the car against the door to prevent its opening. With Cassie embedded as deeply into an overstuffed chair as possible, Sandy paces, heart thudding, realizing they are not safe in her home. Why doesn't whoever is out there just come crashing through the picture window? Is he simply toying with them? She must protect Cassie at all cost.
Sandy remembers that her beloved Danny, now lost to her in this life, was Mr. Super Prepper and had prepared an emergency drum in the garage. Flashlight in hand, Sandy makes three trips and now has a backpack and gear. Prepared and resolute, Sandy takes Cassie in hand and sloshes through freezing rain for the local Sheriff's Annex a few short blocks away.
An otherworldly, shadowy attacker manages to separate Sandy and Cassie. Lost in the dark and pouring rain, all Sandy can do is pray that Cassie can run fast enough to evade capture, or worse. Frantic and choking back sobs, Sandy is nearly paralyzed with the thought that the choices she must now make could mean Cassie's life.
Meanwhile, outside their their bubble of alternate reality, the military, physicists and engineers puzzle ways to bring the survivors back, even as politicians work to cover the mess up...for good!
- D. Doyle Reynolds, April 2011
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