Robert Ovies

The Rising

Debut novel. World English rights sold to Ignatius Press – publication spring 2014, Verus Editora/Brazil

C.J. Walker is 9-years old. He has a mom, Lynn, who loves him, a separated dad, Joe, whose interest in figuring out sharper angles for quicker profits overcame his interest in building a family nearly a year ago, and a fearful obsession that he has just raised a woman from the dead

The whole greater Detroit area is caught up in the televised coverage of the woman; a woman who the verified as being dead, whose body was sent to a funeral home and supposedly embalmed, but who was then found to be alive in her own casket, at her own wake service. It was a local firestorm of speculation, charges and counter-charges, but C.J.s parents are focused only on C.J., and the suffocating fear that they can’t snap him out of. Joe decides the only way to bring him back to reality is to take him to visit Joe’s aunt; eighty years old, hospitalized with cancer, and already scheduled for Hospice. C.J. will do his thing, Joe reasons, nothing will happen, and it’ll be time for McNuggets. Problem solved. C.J. barely touches the woman’s sleeve and breathes a quiet “Be well…” That’s all. But fifteen later the woman is walking, and by the next afternoon, she’s in complete remission. Joe’s beside himself. After another experiment with another patient and another apparently immediate healing, his need-to-know and maybe get rich quick speeds him into arranging the ultimate test: have C.J. say his words with an embalmed cadaver, and in front witnesses: Joe, Lynn, C.J., the funeral director, and a priest, who is Lynn’s friend and pastor.

C.J. says his words again, and again life happens. They see one finger move after fifteen minutes, then two, then breath and warmth and the living man’s hand rising over his body. What Joe and the others discover, though, after their breathless all-night discussions and stumbling first steps as to “What to do next…” is that the undertaker, anxious to prove he’s not a scam artist, has videoed everything: from the first cut of the embalmment through the man’s recovery, including the five witnesses. And copies of the video are on the way to Detroit’s TV news channels even as the group, huddling around C.J. and one another, slowly leaves the scene. 

Reactions to the video are explosive, not only locally but nationally and internationally. U.S. Government Agencies, the Vatican, national and international medical and other scientific establishments, even the heads of foreign powers and assorted individuals, both legitimate and criminal, move overnight to try and control, by whatever means work, the isolation and investigation of 9-year old C.J. Walker, and to control what, if anything, the boy and what he can do, if the stark videos are as legitimate as the networks claim, might ultimately represent. The result: Lynn and C.J. become fugitives, and Joe with them, driven into an escalating series of maneuvers and manipulations, pursuits and escapes, helpers and enemies, all of which are eventually drawn together in a final and decisive resolution.

In the end, it’s Joe himself who finds the way to set his son and wife free, in the only way possible, from the brutal net that his son’s terrible gift had covered them with. No one of us has ever chosen to come into life in the first place. But might the question ever become: If God is really good, and if our reasons are really selfless ones, might any of us ever be able to refuse the invitation to come back to life for a second time?