Back at The Temple, Harry admired the altar, all his own design. He ran his fingers along the bar that ran across the slab, positioned so it would thrust the sacrifice's hips high. He checked the back-strap and the shoulder constraints. Checking his watch, he felt a shiver of anticipation run through him. Time to light the incense burner. Harry was wearing his robes - he felt all-powerful. Life and death were at his command. He was sure this afternoon was going to be special - and so that the moments would be captured for posterity - and for his own occasional entertainment - the video camera was all ready on its tripod and pointing in the right direction.
And then he wondered. Could he trust those Williams boys? All they had to do was pick the kid up. He toyed with the idea of supervising them, rather enjoying the idea of being there during all the key stages; pick up, ceremony, sacrifice and relocating. Maybe he'd go for it, just this once.
Harry Bixby had done his homework. The boy would collapse. He'd just be walking along, then zammo! Lights out. They had been following at a distance, hovering like buzzards, and now it was time to swoop. Billy Ray brought the pick-up to a grinding halt twenty feet past Mike's sleeping body. Jimmy jumped out and ran the short distance back to him. 'I don' like this one bit, Jimmy. We just never do the pickin' up!'
'Look at him, Billy Ray. He ain't goin' to be giving us no hard time. Let's get him loaded. Get out here now, an' hep.'
Billy Ray stretched his neck, turtle-like, to see a little further over the horizon. 'No way, Jimmy Williams. There's a car coming.'
Jimmy checked the rise. Yes, there was a car coming. So what! Looked like a big black limousine. Jimmy couldn't have cared less as he hauled Mike up and over his shoulder. He threw Mike's dead-weight into the flatbed without even bothering to drop the tailgate. As he turned, it was only of mild interest to him that the car appeared to be pulling up.
Mike endured a little death. He floated in the dark without dreams or thoughts of any kind. It could have been an hour, it could have been a whole day. His mind slowly surfaced up through layer upon layer of cloying blackness until he became aware of his first conscious thought. He felt pressure at the base of his spine, across his upper back and tight in on his left shoulder. Maybe he'd been hit by a truck and he was all mushed up. In a moment or two, perhaps the pain would kick in. He felt disorientated and tried to remember where he was, but as he surfaced through another thermal, he knew that whatever had happened during downtime, he hadn't got himself killed.
He breathed deep, and caught the smell of something that ached for the associations that would attach it to a specific memory. Someone ran their fingers through his hair, and he felt the rise and fall of a chest closely in contact with his own. Then, absurdly all the clues tied themselves together. Mike felt that if he opened his eyes, he would be on Scott's lap - in Portland, under a huge gray statue of an Indian boy sitting astride a stag with a full set of antlers, the plinth bearing the legend "The Coming of the White Man".
Mike knew it couldn't be true, so he kept his eyes shut enjoying the lie for just a little longer. Then Mike placed that smell. It was Scott's favorite after-shave. Tears welled up behind his closed lids and his heart began to race and lead an attack against all logical thought. Mike still kept his eyes tight shut while he ran a list of possibilities through his head. One: he was dead and gone to heaven, and for all his pain and suffering, God had made him an angel in the image of Scott Favor. Two: he'd finally flipped into cuckoo land. Three: he was still asleep and dreaming.
Then through it all came the sound of the voice he loved. 'Mikey. Come on man. Wake up Mike.'