Inside Windows of the Heavens
When the heavens open on the small river town of Occoquan, Virginia, the streets flood and a candle shop is swept away. A Methodist pastor named Harley Camden witnesses the destructive deluge and then discovers, in the debris, a dead man with a crude carving of Satan’s claws in his back. Harley is drawn into the mystery of what caused the flood and who killed the man, while diving into questions of good and evil, body and spirit, humanity and the environment—especially questions about the change in climate that now threatens life around the globe.
Rain pounded on the roof of Harley’s house, banged on the windows, and rattled down the gutters all through the night. The cascading water provided the soundtrack for a vivid dream, one in which three women were standing around a huge iron cauldron at the western end of River Mill Park. The night was as black as India ink, and a raging wind whipped the hair and clothes of the women as they chanted the words, “Double, double, toil and trouble; fire burn and cauldron bubble.” The words were familiar. Shakespeare, perhaps? … Then a wail cut through the sound of the spinning liquid and woke him. Startled and confused, Harley came to the surface not knowing where he was, or what was happening around him. … Putting on his bathrobe, he proceeded to the bedroom overlooking Mill Street, and there he looked southward and saw a cruiser up the hill from his house, parked at the corner of Commerce and Union Streets. For a second, he assumed that it was a traffic stop, but when his eyes adjusted to the darkness, he saw something more surreal than anything in his dream.
Union Street, which runs from Commerce down to Mill Street, had become a river. A torrent of black water, several feet deep, was running toward the Occoquan River, swelling, rolling, and ripping merchandise from the porches of shops along the street. Harley thought he heard a train, but then realized that the sound was being made by the water as it roared through town, even causing parked cars to rise up, spin around, and crash into buildings. Logs and large branches were being carried downhill, along with lawn chairs and pieces of fencing, and while some of the debris spilled left and right onto Mill Street, most of it flowed directly into the Occoquan River. In the glow of the streetlights, he could see that the gravel parking lot that stood between Mill Street and the river was now submerged—it had become a muddy delta linking the two rising, churning, bodies of water. Up the hill were two police officers on Commerce Street, trying to set up barricades in the pouring rain, but the sawhorses they tried to put in place were immediately swept away. …
The Town of Occoquan was being transformed by the flood.