“Daetzl!” screamed Korina. Bar-Reuel recognized it as the magical spell of suicide. All field agents were required to speak it if they were successfully mind-probed. And now, Korina had said it.
Jared and Bar-Reuel cried out in tandem, Bar-Reuel’s a moan of loss and despair, Jared’s a scream of rage and defeat. The two together were like the death-cry of a nightmare.
Bar-Reuel hardly noticed when the strong man released him, or when Jared ran from the house. He was numb to all but the echo of his wife’s cry. At last, he found the strength to stand, to walk, to do the one thing that might restore his hope or destroy it forever: to find out if she was truly dead.
Bar-Reuel knelt down by the side of his bed and placed his head against his wife’s chest. Her heart was still. Suddenly, the reality of her death hit Bar-Reuel full force, cutting into his very soul. He had cared for her more than his own life. Now that hers was over, so was his. “All that she loved died with her,” he sobbed, staring at the still bodies of his sons. “All but me.”
Then, as if defying his words, one of the babies stirred. Bar-Reuel gasped, then picked up the child and felt for its heartbeat. The pulse was weak but clear, and the joy that filled Bar-Reuel’s heart caused fresh tears to spring in his eyes. “Then she is not entirely lost,” he murmured to himself. “She left me you. Reuel. That’s what she was going to name you… if only she had had just a few more hours… if only it had been me instead… if only this was all a dream…”
Suddenly, Bar-Reuel’s pain was overcome by an incredible weariness, and he lay slowly down on the ground, his son in his arms. “There is something special about you, Reuel,” he thought. “I must protect you.” Then he fell asleep, too tired to realize that this last thought was not truly his own, or to feel the weight that lifted from his mind.