"All They Ever Wanted Was A Miracle"
Written & Illustrated By Jeffrey Alan Love
Afterwards, they sat outside and watched the rain.
“You didn’t go in either,” said Mulhane.
“What?” Lang had dozed off.
“You didn’t go in, so don’t be giving me any grief. You and me, we’re in the same boat. And you,” Mulhane said, turning to the guide, “you just sit over there and don’t say another damn word. One more pip from you about zones and hope and miracles, I swear I’ll crack you.”
The guide didn’t say anything. He just stared at the bomb that was nestled at Mulhane’s feet.
“We’re all in the same boat,” muttered Mulhane, as they sat and watched the rain.
Three days ago they had started out from the dingy little mining town where they had hired the guide. They had gone further up into the mountains, sneaky-peteing past the patrols and sticking under the tree line to avoid any spotter planes. They didn’t sleep at night, but kept moving.
“What do you think it really was?” asked Mulhane.
“What?” said Lang.
“The room, the Room, what do you think it really was?” He was fiddling with a blade of grass that he’d uprooted.
“Jesus Christ, I don’t know. We didn’t…” Lang stopped. “I just wish this lousy rain would let up.”
Mulhane was shredding the grass into bits. “Do you think it’s causing the rain? Keeping us here?”
“Keeping us – Mulhane, you want to go back down there and blow it up, go ahead. I’ll stay up here with Wilson –“
“Watson,” said the guide.
“—Watson here until you get back. Whatever you’re thinking I don’t want any part of it. Okay?”
“I just want to get off this damn mountain,” said Mulhane.
They had been prepared for everything, except the quiet. There weren’t skeletons tossed around in the tall grass, or even birds wheeling about in the sky. Just a pervasive quiet. The only sound was their boots upon the loose scree as they made their way down into the valley. They could see it already, a small gathering of crumbled down huts and houses, except for one on the eastern edge that looked intact. It didn’t seem like much – a one-story, whitewashed building.
When they were within twenty-five feet of it they stopped. It was too quiet.
“I’m going to go blow the damn thing up,” said Mulhane, easing himself to his feet. He scooped up the parcel and stretched. “You coming?”
Lang shook his head. Watson just stared at the ground. Mulhane turned and walked out into the rain, back the way they had come. It looked like it would never quit raining.