Thursday, January 28, 2021

A New Christian Book About the Bible's Last Days

Photo by Ann from Pexels
I am working on a new fiction book based on the Biblical End of Days. I have written several chapters and hope to have it finished by early April, but I am notoriously slow. I will archive this on the WayBack Machine, but I might take this post down in the future. This chapter is first draft, so there will most likely be some tweaks and changes. Here is the opening:

 

Chapter One

The ticking grandfather clock was all that remained in the room now. Emily stared at it, holding onto it like a lifeline in a restless ocean, and the last remnants of the room faded away. Was she dying? Going blind? The clock’s noise grew louder, and each tick slowed, until the pounding thud reminded her of a steady, drawn-out drumbeat. What was happening to her? She tried to move but couldn’t; wanted to call out for Mike, but was silent, wished she could scream but wasn’t even afraid. Some invisible force held her to her chair. It was as if her body had turned into steel, and she was in the grip of a powerful magnet.

The door of the grandfather clock blew open, blown back as if by an explosion, and letters swirled outward and up, a’s and b’s and c’s, filling the room like blown snow on a winter’s day. They settled and gathered into words, and the words joined other words, until her living room was a wall of sentences and paragraphs and headlines.

There was another noise in the room now. Footsteps. Was it Mike? She hoped it was Mike. She began to read aloud. Her voice a far-away monotone.

“SANTIAGO, Chile - A massive 9.0-magnitude earthquake struck Santiago early Monday morning, collapsing buildings and leaving roadways impassable. A ‘state of catastrophe’ has been declared as the death toll reaches 81 people and is expected to soar.”

The words dissolved and new ones formed. She could hear Mike’s frantic voice, but it sounded as if it were coming from a distant dimension—one connected to the restrictive laws of physics, space, and time. Such things didn’t apply here.

Wherever here was.

She continued reading.

“IRAN Vows Revenge as Airstrikes in Syria leave 57 Dead. The Israeli military is suspected in the deadly airstrikes which killed 57 Iranian-backed fighters in Homs Governorate, Syria. The airstrike targeted military sites belonging to Iranian militias near the town of Khirbet Tin Nur. The Israeli military has made no comment on the incident, but Israel routinely targets Syrian military sites backed by Iranian fighters. Several secondary explosions were reported, and the death toll is expected to rise.” 

New words. New sentences. She dutifully read on, even though the words weren’t in any language she was familiar with. Her voice was audible, almost bell-like, but she didn’t know what she said, or how she was able to read the foreign words.

One by one the block-like letters dissolved and new words, in new languages, formed. She continued to read until there were no more letters. No more words. The clock dissolved. The world dissolved.

And everything went black.

The laborious ticking of time was all that remained. It filled her existence until even it ceased. The silence was like waiting, like a breath held too long. Then the ticking resumed, but it was faster now. It quickened like panting, like gasping after a long run in the woods. It grew louder and louder, then abruptly changed, morphing into a wail; a sinking, rising cry that filled the void. She was reading again, but this time the words were scrolling across her closed eyelids.

When the world returned, she was no longer in her living room or her comfortable chair.

She was in a hospital bed, and Mike’s bloodshot eyes stared down at her.

“What happened?” she asked, straining to sit up.

“You’re asking me?”

She couldn’t tell if he was going to laugh or cry. His head dropped and he didn’t answer. She waited, then reached forward and took his hand. “I’m okay,” she whispered.

She could tell now. She could see it in her husband’s tortured expression. He wasn’t going to cry. He had been crying. She knew him well enough to know that he was trying to hide his tears, not wanting to frighten her, or himself. Speech was impossible. He’d break down. He was struggling to hold everything together, struggling to be in charge of a situation that was beyond his control. Probably had been for days judging by how he looked.

“When was the last time you slept or showered? You look like Barney.” She smiled as she thought about the homeless man they bought hamburgers for. Barney walked around town with a sign that read “the end is near” on one side and “have a nice day” on the other.

Mike looked up, wiping at the tears that flooded his eyes, determined not to let any of them fall, and half laughed, half wept. “It’s odd you ask about Barney. He dropped off a hamburger for me at the information desk this afternoon and left a get-well note for you.” 

He reached into his pocket with hands that shook and pulled out the stained and crumpled piece of paper. “He can’t spell, but his heart is in the right place.”

She took the note and read it in silence, “will soon cellebrate hmbunger at The Stoore. all the love onn planet. U get wel before i starrve now. do not u forgget old barney. wil not foget what you do.” Some of the letters faded, leaving only a cryptic message that leaped out and glowed like a neon sign. I can help. Get out now.

She handed it back to Mike. “Ignore the first “w,” the punctuation, and the spaces. Then read every seventh letter, but not out loud.

His eyes grew wide and he stared at her with a bewildered expression. “What do you think it means?”

She shook her head. “I’m not sure, but something tells me we should take it seriously.”

He nodded in agreement. “Yeah, I think we should take it seriously too. I don’t like what’s happening around here. Apparently, some of the things you said were classified, and the earthquake and airstrikes you predicted happened right on schedule. I was live-streaming when this began, and Facebook has taken down my account, but it’s too late. After the earthquake and the airstrikes in Syria, this thing exploded. It’s gone viral. Everybody, and I mean everybody, has been asking questions, and I don’t have any answers.”

It felt as if time were slowing down again, rewinding, moving backward. When she spoke, her words seemed far away, detached. “Tell me what’s been going on, Mike. And don’t leave anything out.”

When he spoke, his words formed grainy pictures in her mind. The past played out in front of her like an old black and white movie. She slumped back against the bed and watched, but she was watching from inside Mike’s head.  

+++

Raking was pointless until the wind died down. Leaves swirled over his head and around the backyard, piling up in corners and crevices. They were so deep he almost missed the tiny fawn frozen in fear on the far side of his lawn. It was nearly impossible to imagine that a deer could ever be so small. He glanced around for the mother and saw her standing at the end of the garden trail. She was as motionless as her baby. Mike eased his phone out of his pocket and began recording, live-streaming to his Facebook page as he did. The mother took a hesitant, prancing step forward, stopped, then repeated the movement. The slow methodical dance continued until she reached her baby, then she turned and bounded away. Her miniature-self followed close behind. They didn’t stop until they reached the end of the lonely lane; then they turned and stared back at him, making sure he hadn’t followed.

The wail of wind died down, and the flurry of leaves found new corners to pile into. Mike bent and removed the rake from the sidewalk, then he hurried toward the house, anxious to show Emily their tiny visitor. He entered the living room with the words, “Wait until you see this,” but his next words were never spoken. His first thought was stroke. Saliva had pooled at the corners of Emily’s mouth, bubbling up like foam. Her eyes were open, but the gaze was as fixed and frightening as death.

He heard the porch door open behind him and a familiar voice rang out. “Package, Mr. Mays.”

He whirled toward the sound, “For God’s sake, Avi, call 9-1-1. Emily’s having a stroke!” Then he bent over his wife and rubbed her hands, pleading with her to talk to him. Then she began to speak, but it wasn’t to him. It sounded as if she were reading the evening news.

+++

Avi stood behind him as they waited for the ambulance and fire department. “It’s Hebrew, Mr. Mays. I didn’t know your wife spoke Hebrew.”

Mike turned and stared at him. “She doesn’t.”

Avi didn’t move, just continued staring at Emily. “Well, she is now. It sounds like she’s reading a newspaper article about a mutated strain of Coronavirus. She says there are new lockdowns in Israel, and they are expected to last longer than anything that came before.”

Mike turned back to his wife. “Before you walked in, she said there was going to be a 9.0 earthquake in Santiago, Chili, and that military strikes would kill 57 Iranian fighters in Syria. I’ve never heard of someone with a stroke speaking clearly, especially in a foreign language they’ve never spoken before.”

“I don’t think this is a stroke, Mr. Mays. My grandmother had Alzheimer’s. She was hallucinating and hearing voices before...”

His words broke off abruptly, but Mike knew what he had been about to say. Before she died.

The wail of the approaching sirens dragged him away. He ran to the front door and unlocked it, calling to the firemen and paramedics, “This way! Hurry!”

+++

Mike looked up as Doctor Edelman closed the curtain of Emily’s hospital room and approached, holding a chart in his hands and looking bewildered. The FBI man, Becker or Decker, or whatever his name was, stood behind Doctor Edelman like a guard at Buckingham Palace. Agent Whoever had been at the hospital since day two. Did he and his team never leave? Could they even speak? All they did was listen. They let everyone else ask their questions for them. They followed everyone who had any connection to Emily—from visitors and cleaning staff, to doctors, nurses, and the press—especially the press—everywhere they went. Their warning was noticeably clear. Anyone who talks will answer to us.

Even us.

Their perpetual silence was unnerving. Perhaps that was the point. 

“We’ve ran a battery of tests, Mr. Mays, and all of them are negative. I can’t find anything physically wrong with your wife. Her PET scan lit up like a Christmas tree.” His last sentence was mumbled under his breath as if he were talking to himself. He looked at Emily as if she were a visitor from another planet. “That’s Japanese now. I visited there once. I recognize a few of the words. They don’t make much sense though. ‘Ships, buildings, emergency.’ I thought you said she only speaks English. She’s been speaking at least seven or eight different languages since I admitted her.”

Mike was losing his patience. How many times did he have to tell these people that she only spoke English? He’d been married to her for twenty years. They’d married right out of high school. Of course he knew what languages she spoke. They’d grown up together. “Like I’ve said, she only speaks English. I have no more idea about what’s going on here than you do.”

The guard looked at him with narrowed eyes and Mike wanted to punch him in his smug, silent face.

“I’ve consulted with some…” Edelman began and then hesitated, glancing over his shoulder at the guard, “...with some colleagues. It looks like she will have to be transferred to another hospital.”

He looked away, unwilling to meet Mike’s eyes. What was he hiding?

“I’m sorry. I wish I could help. I’ll let you know when everything is final. Until then, the guards will keep out unwanted visitors.”

Mike almost asked, keep them out or keep us in? He held back. It might not be wise to let this man know that he didn’t trust him—or his colleagues.

+++

The men walked out of the room and Emily followed them. She was no longer in Mike’s head. It felt as if she were floating along the ceiling. She didn’t feel dead, but she was no longer in her body. Oddly enough, everything seemed right about that.

Whatever she was out here, this was her real self.

The big man turned and entered a locked door. Emily moved through the closed door behind him and waited. There was something in here that she needed to see or hear. There were three other men in the room. One of them looked up.

“Well?”

“The husband is going to get in our way. We don’t need him, but we can put the wife to good use. Sutter, you take care of the husband, but don’t leave any traces.”

Sutter threw down the newspaper and stood. “OK, Deck. Consider it done.”

Decker put a hand on the man’s shoulder as he tried to walk past him. “Not now, you idiot. Wait until the transfer. It will be easier then.”

+++

Emily’s eyes flew open. She was back in her hospital bed and Mike was still talking. Had all of that taken place in the blink of an eye? Mike didn’t even seem to be aware that she had been gone for days or that any time had passed. She reached out and grabbed his wrist.

“It’s alright. I know what’s been going on. Barney is right. We have to get out now!”

 

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