Zach Springer cast a frustrated glance at his surroundings. It had been raining like Niagara Falls for the better part of the month now, which was not exactly typical for October in McLaughlin, Vermont. Usually, there were plenty of crisp, sunny fall days, with a brilliant blue sky acting as a backdrop for the dazzling colors of autumn. But, alas, not this October. This October was one foggy, soggy dishrag from beginning to end.

Made his job a living nightmare.

Slowly, his gaze traveled over the landscape of the project he'd been hired to do. As a building contractor specializing in the renovation of old houses, Zach was looking for a way to beef up the eroding soil around one of Vermont's many historic landmarks, the McLaughlin House. Sitting up so high on the hill the way it did, the old place needed a retaining wall around much of its perimeter.

As he surveyed the site, water sluiced over his yellow rain hat, and from there the rivulets drizzled down over his slicker and puddled at his feet. Zach passed an icy cold hand over his eyes in order to better stare at the dismal situation.

Just how they were going to pour concrete in this weather was beyond him. What am I doing out here? He wondered, longing for the thermos of hot coffee that lay in his rig down the hill a piece. The weather was definitely turning unfriendly.

As if the threatening sky could read his thoughts, lightening, like so many fiery fingers, reached out of the clouds toward him, causing the little hairs at the nape of his neck to come to attention. Then, mere moments later, a great clap of thunder roared across the sky, sounding like a stampeding herd of buffalo.

"Yep," Zach muttered to himself, "it's time to head for shelter." He stood for a moment, peering through the sheets of rain at the old house on the hill and then down at the ground beneath it.

Bad situation.

"Hmm." A suspicious note rumbled in his chest as he leaned forward to get a closer look into the backyard. The wind must be blowing something fierce, because it almost looks as if . . .as if . . . well, as if that little tree behind the house is . . . moving.

Zach blinked.

Yes, he was certain now. The soil around that area had begun to crack. Funny. Even the old McLaughlin House looked as if it were beginning to list on the downhill side. He stood there processing this information for a moment before the warning bells went off in his head.

Uh-oh. Landslide!

"Uhh . . . uhh . . .uhh . . .ohhh!" Willing his shock-leaden legs into action, Zach began running back toward his truck. He had to get out of there. He had to get out of there fast!

" O Jesus! O Lord! O Lord Jesus, help me!" The earth beneath his feet began to ooze down the hill. Stumbling, bumbling, he dragged his feet through the sucking, waterlogged mud and headed as if in slow motion to the safety of his truck.

From Raising Cain . . . and His Sisters by Suzy Pizzuti, copyright 1999, WaterBrook Press. All rights reserved.

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