Visits From A Man Named Nobody 88

Visits From A Man Named Nobody 88

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They looked at each other.

“You mean she’s in remission.” Jordan’s comment was strangely equal parts statement and question.

Paul smiled. “I meant what I said. The doctor said it was almost like she never had it.”

He proceeded to tell the story about the visit to the hospital. They both leaned forward as he went back to explain his night in the hospital religious services area, his prayer, and his current efforts to read and understand Scripture. 

“God could have taken my mom,” Paul said. “He could have let her linger in pain. He could have done anything, but he gave me this. He … he gave me that and so much more—“

Suddenly there were four arms wrapped around him tightly. “That’s cool, man,” Jordan said. 

“I’m so very happy,” Lidia said.

Paul laughed. “Happy?” 

They let him go and took a moment to sit back down. 

“Paul, I want you to figure out teleportation,” Jordan said. “We both want you to find someone, to have happiness like we have. But this, accepting Christ, that’s what we want for all our friends more than anything else.”

“That’s just it,” Paul said. “Am I saved? I don’t feel different? I mean, I’m not … It’s hard to explain.” He took a breath to try and find a way to break it down. “I’m reading the Bible. I know God is in charge of my life, and I want him to be, but … like, is that it? Aren’t I supposed to like, say something or … Maybe I should have started in the New Testament. What’s so funny?”

Jordan needed another minute to calm down. “Listen, ultimately God knows who he’s chosen or who he hasn’t. If you’re asking how to know you’re saved, that’s way more complicated, but there is something critical.”

Paul sat up, waiting to hear what his friend had to say. 

“Do you understand that you’re a sinner?” Jordan asked.

“Of course I am,” Paul’s face screwed up in confusion. “But I’ve given my life to Christ, and because he paid the price for my sins, I’m forgiven.”

Lidia’s jaw fell open. Jordan looked over to her. “He’s a scientist. That’s a process that makes sense.”

“Of course it makes sense,” Paul said. 

“I’m just … That’s the part I struggled with.,” Lidia said. “You just stated it like it was perfectly rational.”

“It is,” Paul said. 

Lidia smiled at him again. “I’m glad.” It sure seemed like she had more to say, but she didn’t.

“But after that, like, there’s more, right? I can’t just sign a card and move on in life. I have to do things? Is there like a checklist or something? Why do you keep laughing? Dude, I’m trying to understand!” Jordan’s chuckles, no matter how enduring, were starting to bother him.

“The same thinking that made the doctrine of justification so simple to you is a problem you’re going to face,” Jordan said. At least he’d stopped laughing. “If you’re asking for what to do, the answer is both simple and complicated. First, if you’re saved, you should be baptized as a demonstration of faith. But the danger is in turning worship of God into a series of checks and tasks instead of a life change, an attitude change. You can’t just pay a tithe and serve in a church and build up some sort of metaphorical Christian credit. What you do is far less important than why you do it, but it is important. You can’t ever sin to honor God, but a guy can give to the church and feed the orphans and pay for widow’s fees for his whole life and never know God.”

“What?” Jordan was right. That made no sense. “If I do everything I’m supposed to do.”

“Were you saved because of anything you did?” Jordan asked.

“No,” Paul said. 

Jordan nodded. “Then you can’t work in that manner. You do what you do to honor God. If your every thought and intention is to act like Christ and honor God, then you’re fine.”

“Then I’m screwed!” Paul flung his hands in the air. “I’m pretty sure I’ve sinned like, four times today. There was this girl I saw jogging on the way over here, and she had on this —“

“That’s enough!” Lidia cut in, raising her own hands in the air. 

“Sorry,  but my point is that didn’t honor God, so I sinned. Does that mean I should like baptize myself every day?” Paul asked.

“That’s the part that will take some time for you, I think,” Jordan answered. “Let me try it this way. Salvation is not equal to sanctification.”

Paul nodded. 

“Salvation occurs the moment you acknowledge Christ as your savior and submit to his rule over your life,” Jordan continued.

Paul nodded again.

“Sanctification is the process by which you continue to live, slowly working to eliminate the sin from your life.”

“Ohhh!” Paul said. 

“Wait,” Lidia asked, “That actually made sense?”

Paul and Jordan looked at her. “Of course,” they said together.

She laughed. “You two are ridiculous.” 

Paul shook his head. “So is there, like, a certain number of sins per year I need to stop? I mean, how do I know? And if you start laughing again, I’m going to sin against you!”

“Also sinful … “ Lidia muttered. 

“Sorry,” Jordan said. “It’s not a checklist. It’s not a list of dos and don’ts. Yes, there are sins, and we should never sin, but we’re human. Our very nature means it’s inevitable. One would have to be fully glorified to be fully free. Our task, is to try to be more like Christ. We never just sin because he’s cool with it. He’s not. We stumble, and we recognize that sin. We repent and ask forgiveness, and we work to never do it again. We call those who sin without ever trying to stop, ‘lost’ because they have simply accepted the pattern of sin in their lives and stopped doing anything to grow. But those who truly repent, those who stop and work to turn from every sin they can find, and they do it because they love Christ, and they never want to do anything to disappoint Him, those are the ones who are blessed.”

“Think of it like having a friend,” Lidia said. “You know it annoys him when you bite your fingernails, but you just keep doing it because you figure he’ll get over it. Why would you ever do anything to annoy your friend?”
“I wouldn’t,” Paul said. “Wait, was I biting my nails just now?” 

Lidia shook her head. “It’s just a hypothetical. If you are the one who’s annoyed by it, you  might try to get over it, but it means more when you see your friend make a genuine effort to stop, and eventually, he does.”

Paul finally leaned back in the recliner and rubbed his head. “I think I was happier when I was studying theoretical physics.”

… to be continued …

A Surprisingly Underrated Movie: A Reflection on Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

A Surprisingly Underrated Movie: A Reflection on Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

Greetings all,

My youngest son is working his way through the Harry Potter movies, and my family was worried I’d feel like I missed out if they watched it when I sleep in during vacation (as I tend to do). I told them that once they get through the third movie, I don’t care.

You see, I feel like that fourth movie and the seventh movie are just terrible. You’re welcome to disagree, that’s just my opinion. Then I gave it some thought. I realized that my sincere and (in my opinion justified) feelings on movies four and seven tainted my objective view of movies five and six. I didn’t see the fifth movie as my son watched it, but I started watching the sixth movie, and I’m really enjoying it.

This confirmed my hypothesis. It’s a phenomena that happens a lot. A few bad episodes, chapters, or volumes can absolutely have a negative impact on the whole or even the next part of a series.

I’m still on vacation, so I never intended to go into too much detail about it. Instead, I just wanted to say I underestimated this particular movie, and I’m glad I gave it another shot.

Thanks for reading,


Book Review: New Spring by Robert Jordan

Book Review: New Spring by Robert Jordan
The cover image from this book is from its Amazon buy page for review purposes under Fair Use doctrine.

Spoiler free summary: New Spring by Robert Jordan is the prequel novel to the Wheel of Time. Moiraine and Siuan are accepted of the White Tower. Soon, they will be Aes Sedai, but even sooner than that, ancient prophesies long feared come to pass. The Dragon has been reborn on the slope of Dragonmount, and they are two among a small handful of people who even know. Unfortunately, those who would take or kill the baby to help the shadow also know, and Moiraine must find the boy. She runs into a group of soldiers on her travels, but will they help her, or will they turn out to be more darkfriends leading her to certain death?

Character: I must be open and transparent here. This is at least the tenth time I’ve read this book. The characters are the reason this whole series is my second favorite (Dragonriders of Pern). This book elevated Moiraine for me, and while Siuan was never on my top list of favorites, this book allowed me to understand her better. Then, of course, there’s Lan, who steals the show. The characters are sympathetic and proactive. They have goals and flaws. They are why this saga is so special.

Exposition: This is probably where the book is a bit weaker. That’s not to say it’s terrible, but a world of this scope demands exposition. The other issue is that this book is first out of 15, but it was written much later in the series. The author was forced to act as if it was the first book, and that drags the pace even though the book is relatively short (especially when compared to other volumes in the series). So yes, it is excessive, but it’s not more than anyone should expect from a book setting up an entire world.

Worldbuilding: The reward for excessive exposition (see Dune, Dragonriders) is immaculate worldbuilding, and in my opinion, Wheel of Time has the best worldbuilding ever. I’ll mention this here even though this book isn’t the best one to mention it. Most fantasy stories I’ve read talk about other lands or nations, but they are vague mentions. This world is full of different places with customs an habits. In this book alone, we learn about White Tower politics and Shienar and Malkier. We meet people from those lands. We don’t just hear about them, we see them, and that’s setting aside Moiraine’s home nation of Cairhien, the matchstick for the entire saga.

This image of the late Robert Jordan, God rest his soul, was taken from the MacMillan Publishers website for review purposes under Fair Use doctrine.

Dialogue: As is the case with most of my favorites, this book has charming dialogue that doesn’t just expand the plot, but it reveals characters. Even their curses are unique to their nation or background.

Description: if anything slows down this story for me, it’s the sheer volume of description. The positive is that I can practically smell these characters. The down side is I have to slog through all of it. I feel like Jordan falls on the excessive, but he may just be the standard for an aspect of writing I’ve never really been particularly good at or interested in. I don’t know if it bothers other fans as much as it did bother me, but it does wonders for the imagination.

Overall: As an outrigger, this book fills in a lot of gaps that I wish we’d have seen fulfilled. As a prequel, it sets the stage. I start with this book when I re-read the series, but I wouldn’t recommend people new to the series start here. I’d read at least book one before going back (and I might recommend at least waiting until after The Dragon Reborn). That’s not because it isn’t good. Instead, there are surprises and treats that a reader gets from waiting to let this book add to the content rather than methodically play it out. Whatever you do, it’s a great book that really sets the standard for fantasy fiction.

Thanks for reading,


Visits From A Man Named Nobody 87

Visits From A Man Named Nobody 87

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June 8, 2038, 11:52 a.m. 

13 Years, 179 Days Ago 

Paul stood before a red door wondering why it was so hard for him to ring the bell. He’d spoken to Jordan a few times, but he’d grown more and more distant, especially since his mother had gotten sick. Paul finally took a deep breath and rang the doorbell. 

Paul expected the chime, but that chime set off a series of other noises Paul hadn’t even realize he’d forgotten about. A dog started barking. That woke the baby, who started crying. 

Right, Paul thought, the baby must have been born a few weeks ago. 

The door opened to reveal Lidia wearing a simple t-shirt and jeans. Paul started at her. This could have been my house if I wasn’t such an idiot. Of course, if that were true, Jordan would probably be alone. A part of Paul still felt like this was better. 

“Paul!” The momentary staring contest ended as Lidia wrapped her arms around him. “Jordan, Paul’s finally come to visit!” She nearly blew out an ear drum rather than pulling away to call her husband. 

Footsteps thundered down a flight of stairs revealing Jordan, who held his child in his arms. 

“Hey! Man I’m so glad you’re here!” Paul thought Lidia would pull way, but Jordan just fit himself beside Lidia and further encircled Paul. It was like being wrapped in a blanket of love. They were genuinely happy to see him.

Paul lingered there, enjoying the group hug even though he couldn’t actually return the gesture. 

They finally let him go. Jordan smiled at him. “I guess you’re here to meet your godson.” 

Paul stammered as Jordan gently set the baby in his arms. Even as he tried to say, “No thanks,” he wound up holding the child and looking at it. 

Everything went still. The baby was so small and helpless. It had stopped crying. It was strangely alien and beautiful. 

“Paul,” Lidia said. “We’d like you to meet your godson, Paul.” 

Paul’s head jerked up, fixing the two in a state of awe. “You …”

Jordan laughed after Paul failed to say anything else. “There really wasn’t even a need for a plan B, unless of course it was a girl.” He rubbed the back of his head with his hand. “I mean, we probably would have gone with Paula or Pauline, but we’re sort of glad it was a boy.”

“I don’t know that we’ve really talked in … how long?” Paul was more thinking out loud than talking at the moment. 

“It’s been a while,” Jordan said. “And you typically need time, but once you get that, you usually come back around. You did come to see him, right?”

Paul looked down at the boy. “Actually …  my mom.”

“Oh, God.” Lidia wrapped her arms around him again. “Please say she’s OK. She’s not …  She’s OK, right?”

“She’s fine,” Paul said. “That’s … I don’t know how to explain this.”

Jordan carefully took his son back. “Maybe we should go sit down.”

The couple led Paul into a living room centered around a polished long coffee table decorated with a white vase filled with sunflowers. A corner couch wrapped around the coffee table. A recliner sat on the opposite side of a large glass door covered by flower-pattered curtains.  

Paul sat on the recliner. Lidia vanished into the kitchen and came out with a Dr. Pepper and a glass of ice. She set the drink next to Paul and sat beside her husband, who had just put their baby in a small, portable pack and play just in front of Paul’s small coffee table. 

“So your mom is doing better?” Jordan asked. 

“That’s why I came here,” Paul said. “She’s not doing better.”

Jordan and Lidia’s faces fell as they gripped each other’s hands. They looked at him with such sympathy. 

“She’s healed.” Paul let the words ring in the air. They felt so good to hear and even better to say.

… to be continued …

I’m On Vacation

I’m On Vacation

Greetings all,

Just a quick note. I’m on vacation. I’m getting a bit of work done on 1,200, but most of my energy is actually going to marketing because it’s just that time of year (every three months). I should pick up speed later, but there are actually quite a few keywords to get through this time.

I just wanted to let you all know.

Thanks for reading,


Book Review: Battle Ground by Jim Butcher

Book Review: Battle Ground by Jim Butcher

Spoiler free summary: Right off the heels of Peace Talks, (my review is here) Battle Ground ramps up the action as the battle for Chicago (and the world) begins. Everything changes in this tragically beautiful, action packed story that amounts to what might be the longest battle sequence in history.

The cover image for this book was taken from its Amazon buy page for review purposes under Fair Use doctrine.

Character: The character development in this book is much different here. I must give a special nod to Butters. I feel like he stole the show. Molly is interesting here as well. Honestly every character has huge revelations in this book that change the scope. I’m still shocked at the rumor that Dresden is ending since I feel like these books opened so many new doors to explore. I still think Butters and Molly steal the show, though neither has a ton of screen time. I must also give Murph some credit.

Exposition: This might have been too short for a casual reader, but for fans who just wanted to get going, it’s perfect. So the quality of this category probably depends on your familiarity with the series as a whole. I loved it because I didn’t need to read segments of a story that were clearly put there just to fill in people who may not have been familiar with the series.

This image of Jim Butcher was taken from his website (quite some time ago) for review purposes under Fair Use doctrine.

Worldbuilding: While there are many revelations in this book, the world building only expands a slight amount. Now that’s a metaphorical crack in the universe (Doctor Who reference), but it’s not in the amount of new data but the magnitude of the data.

Dialogue: This book actually contains a great example of how to use dialogue to develop and reveal character. Now that I think of it, it has a few. So many of the conversations, especially those that happen after the more major (spoiler related) events. If this category is an area in which you want to improve, this is a book that can help.

Description: While I think the same major thoughts apply from my last review, I do think this is better. That perception might be because this book is so much more action oriented. It would make sense, but this book did more for my imagination than its predecessor.

Overall: This book easily competes with the end of the war against the Red Court. It’s that good. I’m heartbroken if there really is only one book. If you can confirm it either way, please do so in the comments below. This story is fantastic, and brings Harry right back to his beloved place.

Thanks for reading,


Visits From A Man Named Nobody 86

Visits From A Man Named Nobody 86

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Paul’s head jerked. Both Feniker and his mother were staring at him. “What?”

“You’ve been staring at nothing for at least a full minute,” Feniker said.

“I … I don’t believe it.” Paul said. 

His mother chuckled. “It is almost too good to be true.” She gave a more nervous chuckle. “But I’d like to believe it.”

“That’s not what I meant. I know you’re healed. I … “

Paul stared at her for another long moment. 

“What is it, son?” She was trying to encourage him, but he couldn’t wrap his head around a single thought.

“I just didn’t want you to be in pain anymore.” Paul stepped up to her. He realized tears were falling down his face, but he didn’t bother to wipe them away. “I thought you were dying, but it would be OK because you weren’t hurting.”

“I don’t think I’m going anywhere, at least not because of cancer; right, Doctor?” Mary looked at Feniker.

The man shrugged in a gesture that looked like a poor wire-frame coat hanger had just buckled under the weight of a pea coat. “Apparently, you’re as healthy as anyone could ask to be.”

His mother took his hands. “See … I’m fine. I’m fine!” She had to have been, her grip actually cut off some circulation.

Paul didn’t care, he was trying to articulate thoughts he was still trying to understand himself. “I know. it’s just so much more than I asked for, more than I’ve been asking for.”

Her eyes widened. “What do you mean?” 

“That night, when you got real sick, I ended up in the hospital religious area. That’s why it took a while for anyone to find me. I was just … I just didn’t want you to hurt. I couldn’t imagine you dealing with this pain anymore.” Paul was rambling, but his mother just nodded as he spoke. “I told God it was OK if he took you. I told him he could do whatever he wanted. I had to admit he can do whatever he wants. I just begged him to end your pain. I thought I was praying for your death to be peaceful.”

His mother’s smile grew wider by the moment. She practically leaped up and flung her arms around him. “Oh, son! He always gives us more than we deserve, and it’s almost always more than we could have hopped for.”

A strange sound drew Paul’s attention to Feniker. It sounded like he’d burned himself, or maybe a teapot somewhere had just started to come to a boil. 

“Is something wrong?” Paul asked. The man’s eyebrows looked like they were trying to point as his chin. 

“I’m certainly glad you’re OK, Ms. Autumn, but I highly doubt some being just wiped the cancer from your body.” He sounded legitimately angry. 

Paul gently pulled himself away from his mother, who sat down, and walked over to the MRI negatives. “Then where’d it go? And how?”

“Like I said, the treatment must have been even more effective.” Feniker actually raised his voice. Why was he so mad?

“So how often has it worked this well? Has it worked this well ever? Do you intend to tell other patients about my mom and expect the treatment to have this same effect?” Paul couldn’t keep the smile off his face. Clearly the doctor wanted to defend his treatment, and maybe it did work. Maybe that was the medical cure, but he was every bit as baffled. 

“We need to do more tests.” Each word came out like a jab. “When we understand more, I’m quite sure we’ll understand it better and use this treatment to help all of our patients.”

“I’ll be excited to see it,” Paul said. Maybe that was it. Maybe the cure was just groundbreaking. Maybe in five years, brain cancer wouldn’t be nearly as horrifying as it had been. But Paul doubted it, even as he truly hoped it would be the case. 

“So what do you need from us?” Mary asked. 

Looking at Paul’s mother did something to reset Feinker’s demeanor. Maybe years of bedside manner training kicked in. 

“We’ve already run a full set of tests,” he replied. “We’d like to see you once a week, at least for a month, just to see how things develop.”

She nodded.

“Until then, congratulations!” He gave her another smile and turned out of the door. He actually turned in a direction that allowed him to avoid looking at Paul.  

Paul chuckled. He couldn’t blame the man. A bit more than a month ago, Paul would have shouted at himself. He looked back at his mother, who stared at him with a face that somehow conveyed equal amounts of joy, wonder, and bewilderment. 

“You … you prayed?”

Paul laughed. “I’ve been praying since that night. Just for the one thing. And I’ve been reading again.”

“Again? Reading what?”

Paul shrugged. “A little before that night I called the police, back with … him, I …  someone gave me a Bible. He’s the one who made me want to think about teleportation. It felt like a challenge, so I read it. But back then it was just like reading any book. I was just doing it to show him I could.”

She nodded as he spoke, letting him drive the conversation. 

“I only read it the one time, and after Bill … Mom I was so angry. I’m still angry, but I realize that God has all the power. He can do what he wants, and sure, I can feel however I want about it, but what’s the point of it? I thought he wanted me to hurt and suffer and be angry.”

He took the round chair that Feniker usually used and scooted up in front of her. “But when you were hurting, I just wanted it to stop. I was willing to let you go, and I thought he’d take you like always, but he didn’t.”

She gently used a hand to wipe the tears from his eyes and wrapped him in her arms again.  

“I still don’t understand it. I’m just happy!” He gripped her, forcing himself to be gentle. “For now, let’s just go home.”

… to be continued …

A Blessing In Disguise? An Update on the Hazel Marketing Issue

A Blessing In Disguise? An Update on the Hazel Marketing Issue
Here’s the alternate cover we used.


Last week I spoke about how Amazon informed me that they were stopping my marketing campaign because of my cover.

I updated the cover for the ebook. But something pretty interesting is happening. Before this issue, I would spend $1 a day on Hazel. She made some money, but not a ton. However, over this past week, I’ve spent $4.72, which is less than it was, and I’ve made $11.66 in royalties. I’m not sure how much more that is, or even if it is more, but it feels like things are actually moving in a better direction.

I’ll keep tracking, but this is a surprisingly pleasant situation. My ACOS is up. My cost per day is down, and I think my sales picked up after that first (albeit horrifying) fall.

So it’s currently good news. I though I’d update you on things since I announced what was going on last week.

Thanks for reading,


Book Review: Peace Talks by Jim Butcher

Book Review: Peace Talks by Jim Butcher
This cover image was taken from the book’s Amazon buy page for review purposes under Fair Use doctrine.

Spoiler free summary: Peace Talks is the sixteenth book in the Dresden Files series by Jim Butcher. All the magical powers in the world are holding negotiations to end hostilities, and that’s when Harry’s brother, Thomas, decides to do something stupid. Already caught between four very different and conflicting lives, Harry must navigate these tightropes that can’t coexist. But most people aren’t even remotely interested in peace. One group plans to use this for its own ends.

Character: On one hand, it was just so good to see Harry and Murph and the others, that a part of me just sort of relished having them back. I remember feeling like this book was good to see old friends, but that the story itself didn’t really move for me. However, just having the gang back after I don’t know how long, made me happy. I must also note (and I feel this is the right section to do this) that I sort of consider these two books to be one larger story kindly split in two reasonable chunks. They are absolutely part of one narrative arc. However since both were individual titles, I kept them as separate reviews. I think readers should read both one right after the other to get the right effect.

Exposition: I was a little surprised here because while there is exposition, I actually expected there to be more. It’s be a looooong time since we’ve seen Harry, and I for one didn’t re-read the other books to re-familiarize myself with the plot. There’s really not so much going on that one can’t catch up, but maybe this isn’t the book to start. Honestly, this book (if I understand what I think I understand) is sort of leading up to the very end of the Dresden Files, which I disagree with. There’s so many more directions for this story to go. Hopefully I’m wrong. Regardless, it’s still leading to the end of a conflict that has been building for a few books now. So new readers will, I think, be a bit lost.

This image of Jim Butcher was taken from his website (quite some time ago) for review purposes under Fair Use doctrine.

Worldbuilding: Given that this is the sixteenth book, Butcher doesn’t really expand on the world he’s been writing in. Instead, he just uses it as a launching point. This is another reason why it’s not a recommended path for new readers. It’s a solid edition to the series, though not great in and of itself.

Dialogue: Most of my favorite authors have witty dialogue. This is no different. It’s good to hear the banter between characters. It’s every bit as enjoyable as any other. I don’t really know what one would have to do to have “great” dialogue. But good dialogue is that in which the conversations express character at least (if not more than) advance the plot or provide exposition.

Description: If I’m being fair, it’s hard to evaluate something I don’t typically want to think about. I know Harry is tall. I know Murph is short. I know Thomas is handsome. I know Harry’s grandfather is old. So I have what I need to a certain degree. I think Butcher is great with fight description and scene description. But I don’t know that I can see the characters so much. I don’t personally care. I tend to want stories where I can sort of book my own cast. But then I think about Wheel of Time, which got annoying with description, but I can picture those characters in my head. I think writers should consider this and what they want readers to do when they write stories.

Overall: This book is more of a ramp up to the next, and that’s OK. It’s not a great stand alone story. I even remember feeling a bit let down when it came down to it. However, the next book (see my review next week), delivers on the promise this book makes.

Thanks for reading,


Visits From A Man Named Nobody 85

Visits From A Man Named Nobody 85

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June 1, 2038, 2:00 p.m. 

13 Years, 186 Days Ago

Paul fidgeted in his seat teetering between rage and fear. Yet again people brought his mother into the lab. Yet again his mother was carted around like a delivery of groceries some new employee couldn’t quite get to the right shelves. They even sent them back to the original hospital. 

This time, they shoved his mother in at least three machines that he knew of. Each time they would walk in, mutter a few words about how something just had to be wrong, and then they’d cover her in another machine. 

They’d been working since 5 a.m., and not a single person cared to do much more than mutter about how they’d get everything set, and then start over again. Paul passed the time reading the Bible. He was careful to hide that fact from his mother. A part of him kept having questions he wanted to ask, but simply revealing that he’d turned to scripture would lead to anything from some sort of elation that he’d turned a corner to pointed questions he didn’t have a single answer for. So he kept the Bible in the bag they brought his mother’s change of clothes and snacks in, and he was careful only to pull it out when he was sure they were moving her to and from one of the machines that apparently refused to work. 

However, with his mother suddenly sitting and waiting right there with him, Paul found himself out of things to do aside from sit and/or stew. He bit his lip, trying to avoid asking his mother if they’d said anything to her. He’d already asked the question a number of times, so there wasn’t any point in asking again. 

She was reading her own copy of the Bible, which was projected from her PID. That created a new stress. Every now and then, she’d mutter a verse out loud that Paul had questions about.

It wasn’t the same as it used to be, though. Instead of wanting to disprove every passage he heard or reveal it as nonsense, Paul wanted to see how one verse connected to another. Given he hadn’t so much as looked at the Bible in years, he may as well have been reading it for the first time. 

Paul stood up to pace, if only for some reason to be moving, but Doctor Feniker burst through the door, giving both Paul and his mother a shocking jolt. 

“Good afternoon.” Feniker stepped over to a backlight and flipped it on. He opened an off white folder and started hanging MRI negatives up. “Frankly, I don’t know how to explain this other than trying to show you.”

Paul listened as each image slid out of the folder and flopped on the back-lit portion of the wall. 

Feniker hung the last one and stepped back, pointing at the first image he hung. “Do you see that dark spot?” A bony finger pointed at a spot on the right side of the image. 

“Yeah,” Paul said. 

Feniker nodded. “Huh, so I’m not seeing stuff.” He actually sounded relieved. “So here’s the question. Point out the same spot, or anything at all, in the other images.”

Paul stepped up to the remaining five images. He looked intently in the same area. “I can’t make anything out.”

“Neither can we,” Feniker said. “When our techs here failed to find anything, they assumed our machines were broken. That’s why we gave you a referral for another lab. We genuinely thought we needed to order repairs for our machines until earlier today, when the technicians over there called to ask me why I thought I had time to prank them.”

“Prank?” Paul repeated the word as if he didn’t know what it meant.

“I’d have thought the same thing if I took these images of someone who’s supposed to have a tumor.” Feniker smiled. 

Paul scrunched up his face in confusion. “I don’t understand. My mom’s been in treatment for months. Everyone here knows she has brain cancer.”

Feniker shrugged. “Which is why we were trying to figure out what was wrong with our machines. But you’re a scientist. You know that if five tests show the same result, it has to be true.”

Paul practically fell onto his chair. “You’re not saying … Doctor, are you really saying.”

Feniker gave another shrug. “We had had some small hope for these treatments. Tests showed they had a great impact on reducing the size of a tumor. Which is why we tested your mother’s blood as soon as you got here. Apparently, this treatment worked better than we could’ve hoped.”

Paul heard the doctor mutter under his breath. “Or I would have thought possible.”

“You’re saying,” Paul sucked in a deep breath. He didn’t know what to think or feel. “Doctor, I need you to say it plainly.”

Feniker gave a huge grin. “If you wish.” He looked over at Paul’s mom. “Mary, I’m happy to tell you that you’re in full remission.”

She brightened, and her eyes shone with unshed tears. “You mean, I’m cured?”

Feniker looked from her to the images and back again. “Honestly, if I hadn’t have seen it myself, I would have thought the same thing that other lab did. I had to send the original scans with all your information just to prove to them I wasn’t playing a trick on them.”

“What are you saying?” Paul wished he’d remembered any other word in the English language than those four.

“If I’d looked at any of those five images, I’d say whoever that patient was had a clean bill of health. There’s just no evidence anything was there to begin with,” Feniker said. 

… to be continued …