Rope the Weather trudged down the road, the smooth and blessed road to the Abbey, after three hard days slog through bramble and cold streams and no fishing connection to the known world, carrying a weakening child. Until the ditch and the log of uncertainty.
"I'm sorry I threatened to eat you!" Rope called down the road, "I just needed to scare you across so you wouldn't stop, you first in case that old plank broke under my weight!" But she shouted to the freshening winds off the ocean a few miles east, for the child had found her feet, and had, at least, run off in the right direction. Rope smelled rain, as well, and trusted that sense, despite the bright sun, a low golden slanting illumination throwing red shadows of the stunted trees in tattered autumn plumage.
She followed the doubled metal ribbon, hoping that over this rise some proof that prayers worked. In some inscrutable way, proof of some underlying and logical principle, she yearned for a wish to happen. The copse of pines obscured her view down the curving fall of the road, but the rainbow colors painted on the shed just off the eastern ditch answered her appeal to the universal principle. She loped down the asphalt, grinning. Then laughed aloud when she heard a carrying, singing voice.
"Hey! Hey,hey, hey!" The warbling screech drew her on, it's source still hidden. But she knew what made that noise. "Hey! Hey, hey, hey!"
"Mountain the Hermit, where are you? I can hear you," Rope asked once in earshot, of normal human voice, of the ramshackle leanto. Then she spotted the rags and greasy blonde braids, boney arms waving a frantic semaphore, off in a swampy hollow a throw away from the road.
"I found a little bird, you want her? You'll take her? You call me Bob the Hermit, I am Bob, the dream said so. I protected her, she's here." The skeletonous man, continued to wave, even when Rope came close enough to duck the flailing hands.
"I'm here, she is with me, um... Bob." Inwardly, she shrugged, call her Hermits whatever they wanted, even if they went for the old names, none of her business.
"You get her help, right?" Bob hovered, "Something going on with a storm. Can't connect to get a report, not for days now. Still recording, can't send it, no answer, no one listening!" His agitation took on a slower pace, and he sighed a forced sigh. "Still get me credit for that, right?"
Rope touched the fetal child curled on the ground between them, sliding her hands under the familiar weight. "Had the same trouble, yeah, I'll make sure you get your package." She lifted the shivering body. "Bob the Hermit, is there a cycle in that shed of yours?"
"Yes, yes." Bob said, and stared off to the west.
"Does it work?" Rope asked patiently, trying to make her tired arms settle the chilled body onto her shoulder.
"Uh hun." Bob murmured.
"Would you get it on the track for me, so I can get this child to the Abbey sometime tonight?" She asked, the patience thinning slightly.
"Need to get thee to the medics." Bob's face had gone slack.
Rope resisted the urge to touch him, knowing his potential reaction. "Bob, put the cycle on the rails, please." She ordered, firmly, calmly.
He nodded, as the rain pattered down among the three. "It's not fish."
He was right, thought Rope, but not quite rain either. More like blood. She put the girl down on higher ground, slipped the collapsible funnel and collecting bottle from a sleeve, as the crimson curtains descended, gleaming pink in the golden light. "Rather pretty, but it smells funny," she shouted in the roar of thickening downpour, the sky opening a vein, an artery. The fluid in the glass jar in her palm swirled scarlet, translucent, nearly opaque. Enough, she folded and sealed the apparatus, secreted both into inner pockets, and gathered her small, dense burden. Then she could hear the weak voice singing in her ear, about a fountain filled with blood, in a ceremonial melody well known in the Abbey. 'Bob' stood, transfixed.
"Bob!" Rope tried the order, after a few minutes as the strange rain slackened. No discernible response. She gave up. Through the now steady pink fall, she carried Leaf to the rainbow shed, opened the half dozen animal proof locks, with one hand, and shoved through the creaky door.
Sure enough, an old, reliable cycle, three wheels, bamboo in good shape, a tarp covered load compartment, and praise be, a windshield. Even a fresh straw bale on the shelf. Rope awkwardly pulled the tarp away, threw in a nest of straw, then unburdened herself of the wet child gently. "There, safe as eggs, little one. We'll be warm and fed by morning." She pulled the tarp over her, bumped the cycle out into the thinning rain, now clear water, as far as Rope could tell, and onto the road. Mount... um, Bob the Hermit disappeared as she latched the wheels onto the rails. She tied up her loose clothing to avoid the gears and settled herself back on the sling, fragile cargo nestled behind her, adjusted the pedals, knowing it didn't matter about light, now. Make her legs churn way, and the road would get them home safely. Assuming nothing attacked them or ran into them, Rope added to her assessment.
The gloaming land slid away around them.