The day was made for miracles.

Rippling tides of sunlight washed over the earth accompanied by news of the

unbelievable. The inexplicable.

Every adult and every child with any kind of cancer . . .

. . . had woken up healed.

+ + +


+ + +

There are times when you question everything. Why you believe what you

believe. Why you do what you do. Times where you feel like you've lost your

mind. Like you've lost your way . . . and you might never find your way home.

Doctor Ian Slaine, the Head of Surgery at Saint Peregrin Hospital was having

one of those evenings. One of those months.

Slaine's phone vibrated in the pocket of his slacks, but he was too distracted, too

devastated to notice.

Erin Jessup, a young mother of three, had trusted Ian to remove a cancerous

tumor from her husband Brian. To save his life . . . save their future, but Slaine

had failed them. Now Erin's had no husband and her children would have no


Brian was the third patient Slaine had lost this month. The tenth this year. And no

amount of money or alcohol would ease the horrific guilt that now weighed on


Sitting on the front pew of the hospital chapel, Slaine stared blindly at the large

golden cross wrapped with a golden serpent on top of the altar.

"Where were You?" he whispered.

Slaine narrowed his weary eyes as his fingers curled into a fist.

"WHERE?!?" he growled, slamming his hand into the pew!

The phone shook once more.

Slaine hung his head, then slowly looked around and discovered he wasn't alone.

Several rows behind Ian, an elderly albino woman sits staring at him with her

piercing pink eyes.

Normally, Slaine would care. Tonight, however . . . he didn't.

After a few seconds, the woman gave Slaine a soft, odd smile then turned her

eyes away. Apparently she didn't care either.

Slaine's phone vibrated. This time he reached into his pocket, pushed past his

insulin pen and, as he rose and stepped toward the altar, he withdrew the phone.

Slaine glanced at the caller ID . . . sighed . . . then answered.

"Hey, Cass."

"Dad," his daughter replied, "Are you okay? Pam called and told me what

happened with the surgery. I'm so sorry."

"Yeah," Slaine said as his eyes welled with tears. "Me too."

"It happens, Dad. You've got to stop being so hard on yourself. I know you did

the best you could. They all do."

Slaine wasn't so sure—of anything.

"Did you take your insulin? You always forget when you're . . . distracted."

"Yes, Cassidy," he lied.

"Dad, I know you. I know you're upset, but you can't neglect your own health

because of it."

Slaine rubbed his brow.

Cassidy continued, "The last thing they need is for you to have a diabetic fit on

the floor."

Again, Slaine sighed.

"Okay," he answered softly. "I'm in the chapel right now. I'll do it when I get back

to my office." Hearing sirens in the background, Slaine gratefully changed the

subject. "Are you okay?"

"Yeah, I'm fine. The night keeper at the Hallow Springs Zoo just called in a

supposed crime. Probably nothing. Sounded drunk to me. Anyway, he claimed

that . . . when he got there, all the cages were locked, but empty. The giraffes,

the hippos, the koalas, even some golden cobra—"

Slaine's spine turned to ice. His eyes crept toward the snake wound around the

cross. It was moving. Gold skin rolled ever so slowly around the cross. Then, the

cobra's head rose, stretched toward Slaine and snapped open its fleshy hood.

Slaine's phone fell from his hand and crashed onto the hard hospital floor.

Suddenly, the cobra—fangs bared and hissing—lunged for Slaine!

+ + +


this Thursday