The word just lay there between them.
Finally Miranda said, “I don’t know what that means.”
He played with the top of his sheet. “A god. A supernatural thing. It … noticed me.”
The words slipped out of Miranda’s mouth. “There are no gods. You taught me that.”
He shook his head. “We have to think there are no gods. It keeps them from noticing.”
The machine to Dad’s left made an insistent beeping sound. He started breathing deeply and it stopped.
From the door Cindy said, “Who from noticing?”
Dad started, like he’d forgotten Cindy was there. “I not sure it even has a name.” He laughed hollowly again. “The rare times I let myself think about it, I just call it the mad god.”
He looked crazy. Miranda wanted him to be crazy. Her head couldn’t fit what he was saying into anything else she’d learned. He’d taught her to only believe in solid, real things.
“The less you think about it, the better. All I can tell you is that it … it’s not a person honey.” He reached out and she took his hand. She couldn’t remember the last time he’d done that.
Certainly not since she was a teenager.
He considered for a moment and then he said, “Cindy, you and your dads are about three months old.”
The door clicked shut with a snap. Cindy had leaned against it. “That’s not… That’s not…” She wound down. Almost like she was in a trance, she walked back to her chair and sat down.
Miranda couldn’t focus on anything. “The school changed. The roads are gone.” She waved to out on the halls.
Dad nodded. “That’s what happens.” He looked cagey, like he was still hiding something.
He pushed himself into a sitting position. He winced and a gasp fell from his lips. The sheet fell away. Three pieces of gauze dotted his chest and abdomen. A red dot showed through each.
His hand shook, but he took her hand again and squeezed it. “It’s not even awake. I tricked it into falling asleep, but it can still do all this.” Dad motioned out the window. “You can’t even imagine what it can do when it’s awake.”
Behind her, Cindy quietly cried. Miranda really wanted to hold her hand.
Her voice sounded surprisingly calm to her own ears. “How? How did you make it go asleep?”
Dad squeezed her hand. “The mad god noticed me because … I have powers.” He looked at his hands. “You and I both have powers.”
This was too much at once. Miranda looked back at Cindy, but she looked like she’d checked out. “What kind of powers?”
Now Dad looked a little less small, like saying this took a weight off of him. “I can hold things together. I can keep things from changing.” He pulled the sheet up over his wounds. “At least when I’m conscious.”