A Short Story on the Website of
the Red Dirt Writers Society

According to Plan
by Brittney Brown (Nov 2007)


“What are you doing, Peniel?”

Peniel looked up from the Book of Life. Jacob, a fellow angel, was walking up the golden stairs toward him. “I don’t understand,” Jacob continued, “why humans fascinate you so much.”

Peniel grinned. “You should read this sometime. It’s amazing, to read the plans and rejoice when people follow them. They all fit together so perfectly.”

“Really?” Jacob leaned against the Book’s pedestal. “Like how?”

“Well…” Peniel flipped through the pages. “Take Adam Delano, born in the year A.D. 1970, in the United States of America. Remember the great disease the Enemy sent to the world that reached its pinnacle around that time?”

Jacob nodded. “Cancer.”

“Yes. The Lord has finally sent a cure through Adam.”

“I suppose you’ll want to read it to me now.”

“Actually, if you don’t mind…”

“I’m off duty for now, so I suppose I have time.”

“Good.” Peniel bent over the page. “I won’t bore you with his whole life story, just one part that sums it all up…”



Adam Delano, M.D., 38 years old, walked around the partition to a huge round of applause. A famous talk show hostess stood, smiling and clapping, every brown strand of hair smoothed into place. She embraced Adam and kissed his cheek. “Dr. Delano! So wonderful to see you.”

They sat on a cream-colored couch as the applause subsided. “Adam Delano, everyone,” the hostess announced. “Winner of the 2008 Nobel Prize.”

Adam’s handsome face split into a grin, and the crowd applauded again. The hostess lifted her hand for silence. “Ever since he was a sophomore in college, he’s been working on a cure for cancer – something many doctors and scientists strive for but do not achieve. And if I’m correct, this dream goes back a lot farther for you, doesn’t it, Dr. Delano?”

“Yes,” Adam agreed, “I’ve wanted to help ever since I was ten years old and my best friend’s father died of skin cancer.”

The hostess put her hand over her heart. “How touching.” She turned to the audience. “Let’s take a closer look at Dr. Delano’s accomplishment.”

The lights dimmed and an image of Adam in his lab and wearing a protective mask popped up on a huge screen. The hostess narrated the video. “Dr. Delano has worked with other scientists and doctors for the past eighteen years on an immunization which works in an unborn baby’s developing immune system. It is given to pregnant women in the first trimester.” The camera zoomed in on a doctor giving a woman a shot in her slightly bulging stomach.

“The medicine,” the hostess continued, “virtually eliminates the future possibility of all types of cancer for the baby.”

Adam came on the screen, wearing a lab coat, his dark blonde hair a little mussed. “This is the collaboration of many other, greater minds throughout history. I was just able to put it all together and give it some finishing touches.”

Next came a shot of Adam receiving the Nobel Prize and shaking hands with the president. “Dr Delano, an ordinary man with an extraordinary dream, has inspired many across the globe,” the hostess said. “The immunization has now been given to over 1,000 babies, and the experts agree – there is no possibility of those children ever developing cancer.”

“This,” Adam said, appearing onscreen again, “is just a stepping stone to other cures for already existing cancer. Since this medicine is fairly inexpensive, it’s expected that soon all unborn babies will receive it. In a few years, cancer will be nothing but a bad dream.”

The video ended and the audience applauded. “Doctor, what does it mean to you to be the Nobel Prize winner?” the hostess asked.

“Words can’t describe it,” Adam replied. “But more important is the fact that future generations will be healthier and the death rate will decrease dramatically.”

The hostess nodded. “When I first heard about this, I thought it seemed impossible.”

“Well, if it were someone else doing it, I would say it was nothing but wishful thinking,” Adam laughed. “Nobody would have thought the first baseman from North Dallas High School could actually do this. But, with help from the researchers at Texas University, this was able to become reality.”

“What was the crowning moment – the icing on the cake – that made this all worthwhile?”

Adam leaned back against the cushions. “The day I found out my wife, Mandy, was pregnant and we gave my son Dan the immunization. He’s now a happy, healthy two-year-old and the light of my life.” He squinted past the glare of the stage lights to the front row. He grinned at Mandy, a strikingly beautiful blonde. Dan lay asleep in her lap, and Adam’s mother sat next to her. “It means everything to me to have the love and support of my family,” Adam said.

“That’s what it’s all about,” the hostess agreed with a smile. “I understand your mother made a lot of sacrifices for you.”

“Yes, she missed her senior year in high school to raise me.”

“How wonderful,” the hostess murmured. “Our time’s almost up, but on behalf of we here at the studio, I would like to present the Delano Cancer Research Institution with a check for ten thousand dollars. Congratulations, doctor.”

Adam’s mouth dropped open, and the audience went wild. The hostess gestured to the Delano family, who left their seats to join Adam onstage. Mandy handed their son to Adam. She kissed Adam on the cheek and gave the hostess a hug. His mother looked on from the side. Dan rubbed his eyes and looked around, confused.

Adam’s mother shot him a proud smile. He grinned back. “I want you to know,” he whispered to Dan, “this was all for you and your mommy.”

Dan frowned at the bright lights and buried his face in his father’s shoulder. Adam laughed as the cameras rolled.



“Now,” Peniel said, shutting the Book, “you can’t tell me that wasn’t fascinating.”

“It was,” Jacob admitted with a grin. “Where’s the young man now? I’d like to peek in on him when I go on duty.”

“He hasn’t been born yet. This all happens in the future.”

Jacob looked disappointed. “Oh.”

“But I think his mother just found out she was pregnant a few weeks ago,” Peniel went on. “Want to check on her?”

“Sure,” Jacob replied.

A few moments later, they were standing in a driveway in the middle of suburban Dallas. Neat little rows of brick houses lined the empty street. Peniel tugged on Jacob’s robe. “Here she comes.”

A light blue Volkswagen pulled into the driveway right next to the angels. “Carrie Delano, seventeen years old,” Peniel said as a pretty, dark-haired girl got out of the car.

“Adam’s mother?” Jacob asked.


They watched as Carrie dropped her keys in her pocket and looked around nervously. She took a deep breath. The angels followed her to the door. She rang the bell and a man wearing a white coat opened it. “You Carrie Delano?” he asked, taking a puff of his cigarette.

She hesitated, and then nodded.

“Dr. Smith,” he replied and stuck out his hand. She did not shake it.

“Oh, no,” Peniel said.

“What?” Jacob asked.

“Well,” Dr. Smith muttered, withdrawing his hand. “Don’t look so scared. Come on in.”

“She’s not following the plan,” Peniel said.

“You’re sure nobody saw you?” Dr. Smith asked.

“No,” Carrie replied softly as she closed the door behind her.

“What was that?” Jacob asked. “I don’t understand.”

Peniel leaned against the side of the house. “This is one of the places women can come to illegally get rid of their unborn babies.”

“No!” Jacob reached for his sword. “But what about Adam? What about the Nobel Prize?”

Peniel shook his head. “What I read to you will only happen if everyone involved follows the plan. It looks like Carrie’s choosing not to.”

“Isn’t there anything we can do?”

“She has her free will, Jacob. This is up to her.”

Jacob removed his hand from his sword, muttering to himself. The two waited without further conversation. Finally, the door opened, and Carrie came out. Dr. Smith shoved a paper sack into her hands. “Painkillers,” he said. He shut the door.

Carrie hugged the sack against her stomach and started crying. She stumbled down the walk to her car as if she were in pain.

“She’ll need protection. She can’t drive in that state,” Peniel noted.

“What about her free will?” Jacob asked.

“I don’t think she’s able to make clear choices right now.”

Carrie started the car, and Jacob waved to Peniel. He followed as it puttered down the street, giving it a little shove to the left when Carrie got too close to a mailbox.

Peniel sighed. “Good-bye, Adam.

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