brass 'long' 9 pounder cannon was snugged up to the embrasure, a stone
wall about two foot high, its barrel trained to sweep the stretch of
steel grey ocean that crashed against the rocky shore. A long figure
stood silent watch, back against the wall and nearly protected from the
rain by a slate roofed overhang. Dawn was just beginning to lighten the
sky, the reason for watcher's vigil.
A rim of soft grey touched the horizon, lighting the storm clouds. The
watcher sighed. There would be no spectacular sunrise today, not with an
early autumn hurricane blowing up the coast. Sighing once more the
watcher pulled open a door and stepped inside. Coffee aromas beckoned as
the watcher pulled off a traditional So'Wester hat and hung it on a peg.
stunningly beautiful young girl with pale skin and pale blue eyes had
piled an amazing amount of corn silk blonde hair beneath the hat and she
pulled off a rain slicker then hung it beside the door before unpinning
the hair and letting it fall. It fell below the curve of her trim
bottom. An older woman handed her a thick mug which she took gratefully.
She pulled out a stool and sat at the grey granite counter.
"Vad kanna jag få du för frukost?" the older woman said in Swedish.
"Just some orange juice, mormor," the girl replied.
Her grandmother put her hands on her hips.
"Mal, you need something more than juice," she said, her accent thick.
"You look like a stick."
The girl knew her grandmamma was right, at 5' 10", she only weighted 120
pounds. She knew both her parents were worried about her because of it.
They didn't understand that she just wasn't hungry. Grandmamma placed a
tall glass of fresh orange juice and an almond bear claw before her. She
glared at the woman but was ignored. Well, she thought picking up the
pastry, it WAS her favorite kind.
Rain pounded against the glass, driven by the storm over a hundred miles
out into the Atlantic. Malin Tornquist ignored it as she worked. A
canvas was mounted on the easel and she deftly transferred her sketch to
the surface with a piece of charcoal. She was a gifted artist, a trait
she'd inherited from her mother, a professor at Maine College of Art in
Portland, and worked quickly as she held the details of the scene in her
Like her father, Malin loved the sea, the smell and taste of it and the
sheer power of it especially at times like this when Nature made herself
felt. The quarter inch of plate glass drummed as the wind gusted toward
the hurricane strength promised by the forecast. Broadcasters had warned
of the storm as it barreled up the Eastern Seaboard confidently
predicting an easterly track that never developed. Now it was upon them,
sighting in on her little slice of the world but it held no terror for
her. She reveled in the tempest with visions in her mind of a torn
seascape and a tall sailing ship braving the worst. That was how she saw
her father every time he was at sea during a storm, standing bravely at
the wheel of his boat, So'Wester plastered to his tall strong body.
There as barely an instance warning, a shape crack, and then a hail of
shards that should have shredded the girl as thoroughly as it shredded
her canvas. Instead the razor sharp death passed through her body as if
she were made of vapor. Some instinct had saved her.
She stood as if braced against the onslaught of wind and rain and felt
none of it. Even her long, silky white blond hair remained unmoving.
Touching her chest she could feel the rise and fall of her breathing,
the warmth of her skin and the softness of the cashmere sweater she'd
donned before starting her sketch but there was no hint of the hurricane
that now raged freely in the studio she shared with her mother.
She was a spirit. She had died when the glass had scythed through the
room. No, that couldn't be right, where was her body if that were true?
The studio door flew open and smashed into her grandmother as the latch
cleared the striker plate and to Malin's horror there was blood.
Forgetting her 'dead' state, she crossed the wreckage of the room,
literally passing through a table and one corner of the couch, to get to
She caught her before she could sink to the floor and pulled her clear
of the studio door, then shouldered it shut. The latch held in closed
and the wind vanished. It was then she felt the rain water trickling
down her soaked body. From totally dry to totally wet in an instant. It
didn't matter. She helped her grandmother to the kitchen and sat her
down on a stool at the counter then with a warm damp cloth, cleaned the
blood from a gash across her nose.
"My looks, they are ruined," grandmamma said with a smile.
"The pizza boy is going to be so disappointed," Malin said. "But you
will have a glorious battle scar now grandmamma. And perhaps a black eye
was then she caught the look the older woman was giving her.
"What?" she asked.
"I saw that board pass through you as I opened the door," Grandmamma
said. "And no wind touched you."
"I was a spirit, grandmamma," Malin replied. "Or something like one."
through three feet of snow to the bus stop the next time it happened. As
the bus slid to a stop and waited for her, a car with Georgia license
plates came barreling around a corner and started into a slide. Malin
had no chance. With the side of the bus between her and safety she had
an instant to realize death was coming.
The car, one of those hybrid things that didn't know if it was an SUV or
a luxury car slammed into the side of the bus doing 25 MPH giving the
girl no chance to get clear. Everyone on that side of the bus saw it
happening in slow motion. All of them saw her disappear between the
vehicles. All of them expected an eruption of blood to stain the snow.
Instead, they found the girl standing in the middle of the aisle, the
lower half of her body embedded in the floor of the bus. It took a
moment for the sight to register and the panic to start but by that
time, she'd merely backed away from the SUV and out the other side of
Special Agent Miller of the FBI arrived the next day.