CHAPTER TWENTY FOUR- Dawn of the not-quite-dead.
It was not the first notion of a pale, pre-dawn sky to the East that tore Ray Meadows' attention from the flickering computer screen in that small apartment in Lyndon, Illinois. He couldn't possibly see any of the sky from where he sat with his back to the windows. The stars were still out in all but the most eastern portion of the heavens as he continued to read about Arthur Crutchfield's life in the Summer of 1945. There was still a war on in Arthur Crutchfield's world and it was still night in Ray's. But if it was still night, what's with all that noise?
Mister Meadows, late of Greenwood, Indiana, had become increasing aware of things happening outside of his immediate domain: Specifically, what was with all those birds? They were getting louder and more numerous by the minute. Since when did birds stay up at night and party? Ray found it harder and harder to concentrate on the story he had been reading. He finally gave up and stood up. Big mistake. His injured leg immediately gave way and he found himself as one with the rug. Ok, maybe he had been a bit hasty there. With the computer desk for support, he tried again. Slowly. Back on his feet (again for the first time) he saw out the front (east) facing windows. What was all that light? A forest fire or something? The idea that he might have been up all night reading that file never occurred to Ray. He was, after all, just waiting for Barbara to show up so they could head for home tonight. Tonight? What time was it? And why didn't Steve Vaan leave any clocks around in here?
Over a hundred miles to the East, and closer to the rising sun, Barbara Meadows was alive. She was also in the ICU at a hospital in Louisville, Kentucky- and very lucky to be anywhere at all. Last night's horrible collision on Interstate 64 near Croydon had been considered a one-car accident (and a fatality at that) until that onlooker raised the question about the second car. What second car? Barbara's car, almost a quarter of a mile away and squashed like a big bug upside down in the ditch on the other side of the road. From there it had been one fast helicopter ride to make up for lost time once she was found- and cut- out of the wreckage. Now she was stable but unconscious (resting comfortably, as they say), and in the completely wrong state of the Union. The Troopers had no trouble finding out who she was- or at least who she was supposed to be- from the car's license plate, the vehicle's identification number and her driver's license (once they found it). Mrs. Barbara Meadows of Greenwood, Indiana. Theoretically, Raymond Meadows' wife, since his name appeared as a co-owner of the now very defunct vehicle upside down in the ditch. A local Trooper in Greenwood was assigned to go to their house to find Mr. Meadows. No Mister Meadows. It had been near midnight by then, and the house was dark and locked up tight. The Trooper banged on the door as loud as he dared without breaking anything and tried the doorbell until he thought the neighbors might complain. No lights, no answer. Nobody home. Nothing else to do until Mister Meadows- if there was a Mister Meadows- came looking for his wife and filed a missing persons report. The Trooper left his card wedged in the front screen door. With no other car registered in either of their names, the Troopers were going to have a tough time finding Ray. Now, in fact, the Troopers were not going to even be looking for Ray Meadows. It would be up to Ray to find them. Hence the card.
Back in Lyndon, Ray watched the sun come up only mildly concerned over the fact that Barbara had not yet arrived. It was easy enough for him to convince himself that she had stayed the night in their house. Why not? No reason to rush, really. May as well get a good night's sleep and drive back in the morning. Barbara wasn't all that used to driving, anyway. She'd be here by noon. He was sure of it. He quietly rounded up some food for breakfast and sat back down in the living