"No! Stay away from her, Frances!" boomed a man's voice behind them. Frances turned abruptly at the sound of her father's warning. He appeared like the tempest itself, rain soaked and fierce. The house shuddered around them, perhaps from the storm pressing in, perhaps from the exchange of power between a white haired witch, no longer old, and a father in the doorway.
Everything in the house was tipping and crashing and blowing. Frances crawled toward her father as the wind and rain entered freely through the broken windows and the open door. Outside the sky was black. Widow Beecher took her feet slowly and pulled her back straight, seemingly undisturbed by the storm.
"Follow me!" yelled the man as he yanked his daughter upright and turned from the house.
"Where are we going?!" screamed Francis.
"To the shelter!" responded Widow Beecher.
The old woman had come from behind and passed them with uncharacteristic speed. Her body was ancient but her muscles seemed taut and new. Her white hair loose behind her, she led Frances and her father through walls of straw and dust to a door in the ground and descending stairs. The door slammed above them as the sound of a train or a lion or a falling tree broke above them. Widow Beecher lit a storm lamp and the darkness retreated to illuminate their faces. And Frances couldn't breathe. The woman she had known her whole life had become something new. The dress was the same. The apron with holes remained. But her face was young, and her eyes were bright with action, and her arms moved with power. And Frances was afraid. More afraid of this woman underground than the sounds of destruction that shrieked above them. "We wait here!" Widow Beecher, or whoever she was, had to lift her voice above the noise.
Frances hid against her father's chest, his arms around her. She felt the pulsing of his heart beneath his shirt. He was agitated. His arms were tense. She knew his eyes were watching the old woman's every move. They remained like this, in the half light of the lamp for hours, or maybe it was days. Frances woke up, not realizing that she had dozed off, to a question in the now quiet darkness. The same question that had filled her dreams,
"Who are you?" asked Francis's father. Quiet. A soft sigh.
a.) I am Cordelia Jones. But I think your identity is much more important, wouldn't you say, Mr. President?
b.) I am Cordelia Jones. I've been watching you and your daughter for some time. There aren't many of us left, are there?
c.) I am Cordelia Jones. But then a telepath like you already knew that, didn't you.