“let me explain something.’ etcher looked down at sally and back at the doctor. ‘things have changed around here, so you can’t be expected to have known. i’ve been running for the light, is the thing. i’ve been running and i’m almost there, and the light isn’t going to flicker out just at the moment i reach it. it’s not going to happen that way. you have to take into account the new power. you have to take into account the new capacity for ruthlessness.’ he said, ‘there’s been a shake-up, so to speak.’ he pulled the doctor down to his knees. ‘god works for me now.’
in the heat of their shock, which he felt on his brow, he heard the gasp of history. he heard history open its mouth and silently gape, no sound coming from it, only the silence that consumed everything around it. if there had been a sound it could have been a cry, it might have been a laugh, most likely it would have been the utterance in which a cry is indistinguishable from a laugh. in a city that lay outside of history, in a church that presumed itself unthreatened by the collision of time and memory that named its own truth, it was the joke of their arrogance that they presumed history might be locked away in a room without a single guard. they presumed their power was such that no one would ever turn a key and walk in and carry history out under his arm. what they now wouldn’t have given to have placed a guard by the door. what they now wouldn’t have given to put on an extra padlock. what they now wouldn’t have given for a bell that rang in alarm, or a whistle that blew; and what they wouldn’t have given to have entertained a single thought that once told them, Perhaps our hold on history is not so secure or inviolable. perhaps our confidence in god isn’t so justified. none of them said anything at this particular moment. maybe they tried to say something and etcher simply couldn’t, in the blur of his new freedom, see the contortions of their shock or insult.