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Rafer Alexander is the sole survivor of a plane crash over Sikkim in which his two parents and brother have been killed. After trekking down the mountainside, he is rescued by monks from a Tibetan monastery where he learns to deal with his grief through meditation. When a new friend develops cancer, Rafer takes his practice deeper, eventually discovering the ability to heal.
Through trial and error, he expands his healing ability to include paranormal feats like psychokinesis (which he parlays into a fortune in Las Vegas), conflict resolution (which he uses to help win historic agreements in Jerusalem and Kashmir), and thought-transmission at the U.N. (which brings a president to his knees). In a final, concealed experiment he even attempts walking on water.
In time his successes evoke a variety of responses. Some see him as a magician; others are convinced he is the Second Coming of Christ. Still others fear that he is the Antichrist warned about in the Bible. Through it all he eschews any suggestion of divinity, remaining true to the belief that he has done nothing more than what all humans are capable of doing.
1. The Crash
At the rim of the caldera, Rafer Alexander looks down into the crater where the tiny plane that left Kathmandu just days ago lies empty, its nose pressed against the rock and both wings askew, all glimmering in the mountain light like a crumpled silver butterfly. To the left of the plane lie four small, uncrossed mounds….catafalques of snow lovingly prepared and sheltered from the Himalayan winds by the spires of rock and ice behind. His eyes are riveted to the closest three.…one for his mother, another for his father and the third for Jason, his older brother. A fourth grave, carefully separated from the other three, holds the stiffened body of the pilot, he who boasted they could escape the sudden winds by dropping to 15,000 feet and hugging the border between Tibet and Nepal. It was a decision based on hope, not reality. Within minutes the snow had come sweeping down from the peaks and trapped them in a shroud of white, obscuring the cliffs directly ahead. Helpless to see, they continued to descend only to fly straight into a caldera, a mammoth crater left eons ago when a volcano exploded then collapsed, drawing its molten lava back into the interior.
Rafer had survived with nothing more than a gashed cheek and bruised left wrist but awoke to find his parents, brother and the pilot all dead. For five days he moved about, alternately scanning the skies for help and digging graves in the snow. With his one good hand he built fires; he wrote messages in the snow; he used bits of metal ripped from the wreckage to mirror the sun whenever a plane appeared overhead; he spent hours trying to resurrect a smashed cell phone. Despite these heroic efforts, each a torturous victory over the gravitational pull of despair, there was no sign that he had been seen, no dipping of wings, no flares, no parachutes of food or clothing. Five days passed and he was still invisible to the world, locked away in a pit carved deep into molten rock and obscured from above by both shadows and snow.
Still standing at the rim now, his mind drifts back to the previous night where he lies bundled into the rear of the fuselage, only feet from the bodies of his family. With no company but an ebbing moon, he struggles to calm his fears and review his options. Thanks to an appetite depressed by grief and anxiety, he still has enough emergency rations for another four or five days, but is it wiser to spend that time waiting for a rescue that might never come or should he climb out of the crater and try trekking down the mountain to a lower elevation in hopes of finding help in a remote village?
Friday arrives. As Rafer approaches the farm, Uma rushes to the gate and opens it, taking his hand as she leads him to the barn. No words are spoken. She looks up at him, smiling, as they enter the barn….the taut but radiant expression on her face giving evidence of her own torment in waiting for this day. Just beyond the barn door is a rack with saddles and reins hanging from hooks, She grabs a blanket….then returns for a second….before climbing to the hayloft on a home-made ladder. He is right behind, his nose practically touching the hem of the long dress she is wearing. By the time she lays a blanket down on the hay his heart is pounding so hard that he is afraid he will forget all the poetic phrases he has so diligently rehearsed back in the monastery. Still fully dressed, she lies down on the one blanket, keeping the other next to her, her arms outstretched in unconcealed desire. Slowly he lowers himself to her waiting body and presses his cheeks to hers. She turns her face, offering her lips. When he fails to respond immediately, she begins licking his skin, then reaches over and moves his head until their lips meet. He sighs, then pries her mouth open with his tongue, her teeth parting slightly to allow him in. Within seconds, he feels her tongue touching his. The intimacy of the contact sends tremors of disbelief rippling through his frame. Can it be true that he is inside her mouth, that he can touch her tongue with his own, that he can actually play with it, taste it, and then draw it into his mouth where it becomes part of his very being?
With their bodies thus joined, they close their eyes and allow themselves to be overwhelmed by the sensations of the moment. Nothing exists beyond the smells and tastes of the other. For him, all the speculations of the past week, all the plans so carefully rehearsed, are now funneled into the pure sensation of lips on lips, tongues on tongues….a place where all thinking is sacrificed to that ecstasy which presents itself only when all else is forgotten.
Uma reaches down now to pull up her dress. Without looking, Rafer senses her move and rolls to the side to give her space. When the hem passes her knees and comes to rest on her muscular thighs, he grasps it and pushes it further until the soft, black bush surrounding her flower comes into view. He bends to kiss her there as she opens her legs in welcome. Rolling to his side again, he pushes his pants to his ankles then kicks them off onto the hay. At this point that she reaches down and takes his hardened member in her warm hand and guides it to her sex. As he brushes his tip against her labia, moistening his shaft, she girds herself for the invasion of her flesh that is coming. After all, this is what she has dreamt of….to be taken, to be penetrated, yes assaulted….by the man she loves. She raises her hips slightly in anticipation of his thrust.
It is not to be. He enters cautiously, even timidly, as if he were not sure of his welcome. But no, it is more than that. He enters like one who is searching, probing, like a spermatozoon that has lost its way en route to a concealed egg. There is no breathless flurry of thrusting and pounding, no animal cries of victory as he plunges his manhood into her pink cavity. Yes, she can now feel his semen deep inside her but it comes not with the force of a volcano erupting but with the gentleness of a sloop entering harbor on a windless afternoon. Instead of bursting from his penis with a determination to possess, eager to fertilize another generation, it falls from his tip like the tears of a prodigal son who for years has longed for the comforts of home and is crying now at his joyful return.
Date of Publication: 2010
Length: 447 pages
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