The encounter with the female Aquavian sent Agnon and Jadeion scurrying with the twins up the mountain. Climbing atop a huge rock in a clearing, Agnon could make out the movement on Moonshine Beach.
He and Jadeion considered returning with the twins to the other refugees near the lake but decided against it. The whirling sky machines. The dark-clad Aquavians running and shouting. The searchlights. All signaled fear, and with fear came danger.
They looked for a place to rest, to feed the twins, to dress their wounds, to think. Scouting ahead, Agnon saw the small square structure with the pitched rooftop reflected by a tall light on a post. Pushing his life-blood to his longest finger, he used it like an orange beacon to summon Jadeion to come to him.
The window on the second story of the structure proved too high for Agnon to reach but, once Jadeion folded her body into a square like a stool, Agnon was inside easily. He helped his family through the doors and placed a metal chair against them. He hoped for the warning sound of it falling if someone entered while they rested.
Jadeion had already found a spot in the hay loft to sit. She wasted no time opening her robes to allow the twins to nurse from her body. Agnon found water from a spigot on the lower level and they both were able to drink and get some sustenance from shoots of sweet hay. Agnon wrapped their wounds with the balmcloth he pulled from pockets in their robes.
He was nearly finished when they heard a vehicle outside slide on the gravel to a stop. They froze and Jadeion kept her hands ready to silence the twins if needed.
The radio blared as Velma got out of the truck and left her door ajar. But Harley killed the ignition and pulled her door closed, quickly. He had lost the argument about waiting to air out the barn until morning. He planned to wait in the truck, shut his eyes for only a few seconds and relax while Velma opened the big barn doors. He settled in to his seat, happily drunk, still humming that George Strait song.
The falling metal chair did more than startle Velma. It hit her in the bad knee, and she fell, shouting for Harley before she hit the ground.
Harley jumped so quickly he twisted his bad shoulder, sending pain all the way to his neck. Grabbing his rifle he stepped out to the driveway and, still teetering from the booze, had to catch himself from slipping on the gravel. He stood beside his wife and shouted into the barn for whoever was inside to come out with their hands up.
Velma, meanwhile, used his right arm to pull herself to her feet. “I’ll get the phone in my purse,” she whispered. “I’ll call 911. Stay right here, Harley. It’s probably just kids.”
But Harley was ready to defend his property. He already had his weapon raised and a round in the chamber.
The mud trail up the ladder to the loft caught his eye, even in the low light streaming in from the outside pole lamp. Disobeying his wife, he moved further inside, shouting again for the trespassers to show themselves and raise their hands.
“I’ve got a rifle,” he said as steely as he could while simultaneously hitting the switch for the fluorescent lights.
Recognizing the weapon as a danger, Agnon tossed his loudest and lowest voice in a funnel pattern at the Aquavian, while puffing his body into its largest, widest, tallest form. Harley heard what sounded like a monster truck and looked up to see only an attacking cloud of gray and orange as he fired the .30-30 twice.
One round hit just above the twins, sending oak splinters on to them. The other tore through Agnon’s secondary neuron center and then his primary brain, killing him instantly.
His outstretched body, though, hung in the air above Harley.
Dropping the rifle, the old man pulled his Ruger .38 Special from his hip holster and fired it also, as quickly as he could, while retreating toward the door.
Once Agnon finally fell, Jadeion threw her highest pitched shrieks in a direct line at Harley’s upper body. He fell backward with full force, his head hitting the tines of the rotating cultivator he had left upended during a cleaning the weekend prior.
The gunfire came as Velma tried to tell the 911 dispatcher what was happening. Seeing Harley fall, she dropped the phone and limped toward him as fast as she could. Staring up at Jadeion, who had now puffed her body to its fullest form, Velma fell and crawled to her husband, who was not moving.
Jadeion, flapping her outstretched form in a frenzy, pushed everything she touched toward the Aquavians. A sawhorse, chains, a wooden crate and the long rake all missed Velma. The pitchfork did not.
As cobwebs and hay floated to the barn’s dirt floor, they fell on to inert bodies. Jadeion, trying to get to Agnon, had to make two trips to bring the twins down the ladder.
By the time she reached her breedlove, separate streams of red and orange flowed on the earth toward her sandals.
Performing the ancient rite to send his lifeforce home, she removed his robes and wrapped her glowing arms around him a last time before swaddling the twins in his garments and moving quickly out the barn door.
Stepping past Velma’s cell phone, Jadeion heard the dispatcher’s insistent voice asking again and again for someone to return to the line.