Monica meets Tess in the desert, at the same bus stop where she began her job as a case worker. It is from this, the place where her first assignment began, where she will take on her final one. If all goes well, Monica will advance from caseworker to supervisor. She can't wait to get started, so that she can start work as supervisor at Tess's side. But Tess tells her that it won't be that way. She's put in for a new position as well, back in heaven sitting at God's feet and singing his praises. She hasn't been training Monica to be her partner, she's been training her to be her replacement. Monica is upset to hear the news, but her goodbye is cut short by the arrival of the bus. She climbs aboard, wondering where she is going and what her assignment will bring. On board she meets Zack, a traveling handyman, seemingly without a care in the world. She asks where he's going and he tells her he's going where she is, Ascension, Colorado, the bus's final stop. When they finally arrive in Ascension, they are greeted by a feeling that something is missing. It doesn't take them long to discover that thing that it absent, is the children. There are no kids here, but there is plenty of evidence that they once were. Bikes lay discarded beside the diner, toy trucks, lie in the grass by the school, and joyless adults wander through their days pondering the emptiness in their lives. Two years prior all of the children were killed when the school's boiler exploded. Now, the only thing the adults want more than to forget, is justice for the person responsible. It turns out there was a witness to the whole thing, Joey Machulis, one of Monica's former assignments. And he's not the only familiar face in town. His brother, Wayne, is the sheriff, and Sophie, a formerly homeless acquaintance of Monica's is here too. Also, Mike, a big time lawyer who Monica saved during her search and rescue days, is the Mayor. Knowing that there is no such thing as coincidence, Monica tries to figure out what she is doing here and how she can help. The answer soon becomes clear, as Carver, an out town developer, claims to have seen Zack somewhere before. In fact, it was by the school the day of the explosion. Such a small claim, from an unreliable source, is all the grieving townspeople need to become incensed. While there is little justification, their small world turns on its end, and suddenly everyone is looking at Zack as a killer of children. Monica is astounded.moreless
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