By John Thomas Tuft

(This is from the last chapter of my latest novel, THE HEALING, sequel to THE HEALER, coming sometime in 2022. This is the story filed to the newspaper, The Testament, by the protagonist, Jason Tribe. This is fiction.)

By Jason Tribe

On the morning of Tuesday, September 11, 2001, two airplanes loaded with passengers were flown into the twin towers of the World Trade Center in New York. To the south, another loaded airliner was flown into the side of the Pentagon in Washington, DC. And in a field in mountainous rural Somerset County in Pennsylvania, Flight 93, at 10:03am, was intentionally slammed nose first into the ground, vaporizing all aboard, including the four men who had commandeered the plane in a concerted action designated as an act of terrorism. Near where the plane impacted the ground stands a grove of trees. Closest to the crash site are two intertwined sunset maple trees, their trunks forever locked in an intimate embrace. Locals call this unusual formation the Daughters of Sorrows. Some believe the area to be an ancient burial ground for people of the Shawnee tribe, and some refer to this place as Paz Meadow. Some claim that it is a mysterious portal. To where is anybody’s guess.

On the morning of Tuesday, September 11, 2001, at 10:03am, a man was found shot to death inside the north cable car of the Duquesne Incline, that travels up and down the steep slopes of Mt. Washington in Pittsburgh, PA. Police identified the victim as Luther Quinn, 52, a respected businessman, a benefactor of many local charities, and vice president of the international security firm, Silent Crusade. Police reported that evidence on Mr. Quinn’s body led them to the crash site of USAir 427 in Hopewell Township. Upon arriving, authorities reportedly found the body of Caston Rubino, 57, President of Silent Crusade. Police reported that Mr. Rubino apparently died by suicide by hanging. So far, they report they continue to investigate any links between the deaths of the two men.

On the morning of Tuesday, September 11, 2001, a baby was born at 10:03am in Pittsburgh General Hospital to Christopher Drabek and his bride, Che, both 33. Christopher and Che report that they met when Che, became his nursing assistant as he struggles with symptoms of multiple sclerosis. Che (which means whisper) was a baby when her family came to the United States after the government gave refuge and asylum to members of the Hmong people of Laos and Vietnam following the Vietnam War. The couple plans to name their 6lbs. 12oz daughter Ab, which means Precious in Che’s native tongue. They report that they were rushed to the hospital by mysterious benefactors who left without ever giving their names. All they could tell the hospital staff was that the young woman was about twenty years old, and that half of her face is covered with a deep scarlet birthmark. If anyone has any information, they may contact Pittsburgh Police.

On the morning of Tuesday, September 11, 2001, at 10:03am, a farmer reported to the Sabbath Rock volunteer fire department that he had spotted a fire west of the old cemetery, near the old cave locals refer to as The Grotto. When he investigated, Mr. Samuel Atkinson reported that the entire interior of the small cave was ablaze with a fire so hot, “I couldn’t get near it. Never saw anything like it in my life. All white flames, so bright I coulda near gone blind staring at it.” Mr. Atkinson further reports that all he found outside the burning cave was a blood-soaked silk scarf of some sort, and what appears to be a Japanese samurai sword. Neither the State Police nor the fire department could be reached for comment as they are currently overwhelmed with the events at Shanksville…

Jason looks up from his writing, staring at nothing but memories for the longest moment. He flips to a new page and resumes:
As I write these words, I am sitting on a bluff overlooking the waters of Lake Erie. Down on the rocky beach my friend Gideon is walking with a toddler, Zanna, the daughter of his close friends, now tragically passed. This place is beautiful, peaceful, an oasis of care and compassion for wounded souls, and exhausted hearts. It’s run by a delightful couple, Daniel and Coll. As I watch, a figure comes around the curve in the cliffs, walking along the beach carrying her infant son, JT. She smiles and waves to Gideon. Her name is Laurel, Gideon’s wife. She’s been to another world. I know it sounds crazy, but I believe her. And I believe her when she says that the people on Flight 93 have gone there now, as well. For a new purpose. A new story.

Oddly enough, Daniel and Coll say that Laurel just appeared on this beach in a shroud of mystery. Stepped right out of the waves. On September 11, 2001. At 10:03am.

“Dad, are you done yet?” Sierra, 11, stood in front of him, hands on hips. “I told them Sarah and me would watch Zanna play in the waves this afternoon.”
She was starting to look more grown up, Jason thought. And he still wondered at the bright red mark on her cheek. It looked like a heart with a crack through the middle of it. But she was still here, thankfully. “I,” corrected Jason. “Sarah and I will watch her.”
“Dad,” sighed Sierra. “Don’t be such a—such a dork. Adults can be so juvenile.”

He turns back, finishes with a flourish:
Who is to say if every healing is not a miracle? It can take time. And learning to keep your eyes… on… the… fire.

Peace and blessings to you and yours… and healing. Always.