As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent. Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me. To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne. He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.
~Revelation 3: 19-22
Right On C.U.E.
Present day, Lincoln, 5 months later, March 15, 9:00 A.M. Year 2 of the last 7 years of the Tribulation
"Dad, I hate peanut butter!" Jed said as he bit into what was probably his 100th peanut butter and jelly sandwich in the last 5 months. His dad countered with, "you are more than welcome to take the hike, I hear they got meat this week." Jed immediately changed the subject, knowing what "the hike" really meant, Registration with the F.E.M.A. relief personnel 2 miles away in a downtown Lincoln Wal-mart. Registration was simple, and you could get your Government food rations quickly, however, the registration came with a price. Telling the Government where you were, who you were, and the details of your home, were not exactly the details that Johnathan Browne felt comfortable with. The federal Government set up the site within 7 days of the blackout and only operated during daylight hours, while guarding it during the night time with what seemed like an overkill of national guard personnel. The latter is what kept Johnathan and Kevin Johnson, Sam's dad, up at crazy hours of the evening, in shifts, watching and waiting. But now, the stress had begun to take its toll on them all. Johnathan, Catherine, and their children were holed up at their home with Kevin, his wife Lillian and son Sam, as well as Jessica, Sam's Girlfriend/fiance, he still didn't know what to call her, she was going to officially become his fiance last year before the "collapse" as everyone now called it, but now, having not been able to make it official in the proper setting and format, he fiddled with the engagement ring in his pocket, as he listened to his friend argue about peanut butter with his dad, who was matter-of-factly dismissing Jed's comments all while finishing, coincidentally enough, a jar of dry roasted peanuts.
These were all friends and loved ones, however the close quarters were now becoming too much for all involved. "Time for my daily question to the experts." Jessica said, referring to mainly Johnathan but directing the question to the over 40 set of parents in the room. "How much longer?" Everyone in the house, save Sam and Jess, was convinced 100% that all the events of the last year, were biblical prophecy. Jess would put her and Sam in the skeptical category, not that they didn't believe, the just didn't know or understand all the facts enough to stake a claim in any theory, let alone a loving God who would make her eat food for 5 months that she wouldn't even consider eating before this situation. Jed answered her knowing his father wasn't going to. "Jess, if any of us knew that then we'd be the one sitting at the right hand of God right now, not Jesus." At that, Jess stormed out while screaming, "I can't take this anymore!" As Sam went after her, Jed put a hand on his shoulder, "let her go, she just needs to cool down, its tough for everyone, Sam." Sam wrenched himself away and said, "Don't tell me what she needs, we all need normal, and we need it now!" As he stormed out after Jess, Jed went to follow until his dad said, "let 'em go, they won't get it until they get it." referring to the biblical truth that all have to turn to before they get saved. Living in close quarters for so long, it became quite apparent that, although Christians, Sam and Jess were not soundly saved, and did not follow Jesus. "but dad, He's my best friend, I know he's difficult, but I can't stamp his ticket to hell just yet." That brought a wince and a moan out of Kevin, and sobs from Lillian. Although she wasn't Sam's real mom, and although Sam was very cold to her, she thought of him as her son, and with Sam's real mom dead, a result of last years riots, she was all Sam had left in the maternal department.
Sam found Jess by the back deck pacing frantically "Are you o.k.?" he said. "I can't take this, I'm starving, I'm going crazy, we can't be alone for one minute without your dad or Jed's dad butting in, I've had it!" She screamed loud enough for Jed to run in and ask if she was o.k. as well. "I've got to get out of here or I'll go insane." Jess said. "And just where do you think you are going?" Johnathan Browne said from the hall, walking toward the trio. Jess answered, "You can't hold me here, I'm 20 years old, I'm an adult, You aren't my father, You aren't the law, I appreciate what you all have done for me in an impossible situation, but I am gone." With that she bolted out the door and Sam ran after her much to the disapproval of his dad. "Wait!" he shouted, running to catch her, "where are you going?" She spun to meet his gaze, "Food!" she screamed.
Tracey and Al had spent the last 5 months in close quarters, closer than they spent in years. Al had spent the lion's share of that time finally convincing Tracey that this was all God's doing. He cited scripture that she never read, avoiding it for years in her busy work schedule. She winced every time he brought it up, citing time after time her running off to work while he was left alone, open bible and all. However Al sensed something was still missing. Tracey, being her analytical self , was more interested in the what than the who. She was more interested in the body of the situation rather than the body of Christ. As she was studying the scripture, Al walked in with the latest ration of food from the local shelter. About 2 months earlier when they ran out of food, Al found a local shelter that had been receiving rations from the Government to distribute to the locals. Al had signed up Tracey and himself for weekly ration pick up until order was established and normalcy was returned. He was worried, of course, but when the forms turned out to be simple without any pledge of allegiance to anyone or anything, he knew it had nothing to do with end times prophecy. Besides, they were hungry. "I'm back, How 'bout a burger?" He said as he placed the familiar box on the table, and started to put away the food. He continued, "Anything interesting happen when I was gone?" She replied, "No, just reading more prophecy, Can't believe I missed all this, When does all the bad stuff start, And when's the rapture, I was always taught that we'd be gone before it got bad, or is it gonna get worse than this first?" Al laughed, "Man, that liberal church done messed you up, come over here and get a crash course."
As Tim ate on an old, Worn picnic table near the F.E.M.A. distribution center, he spotted Frankie in the distance wearing some sort of uniform, he sprang from the table and was on him in seconds. "I'm so glad to see you, Where did you go? Are you O.K.? Were you serious about us? Whats with the uniform?" Frankie wrenched away and replied, "Dude, get off me, You read the note, I assume, 'nuff said, It's over." Tim was visibly shaken, the note was bad enough, but to hear it so coldly, he had to know why. "Why, was it that bad, I thought things were great." Tim said. "Great for who?" Frankie said, and continued, "You were so busy trying to make being gay fit into your bible that you got too needy for me, I don't need God, and I don't need you, leave me alone and go find some other pathetic guy to cling to." He finished, "And you'll find out about the uniform soon enough, I aint gonna spoil it for you by stealing Mr. Chardanay's thunder, watch the news." As Frankie walked away, all Tim could feel was anger, for the first time in his life. He actually wanted to hurt Frankie, he was done being a doormat, he had to change soon, especially in this atmosphere. For now all he could wonder was what the letters C.U.E. meant on Frankie's hat.
Bob was feeling things he hadn't felt in years. He didn't know if it was the education he got from his neighbor Tony, or the weird cops who took the body of his victim off of the front porch. Either way Bob was nervous about his encounter with them. Instead of A.T.F. or F.B.I., their vests read C.U.E. They were obviously legit, he reasoned from the encounter, having all the right credentials, but something about the way they behaved coupled with the confiscation of his gun, made him uneasy. He recalled 5 years earlier when he shot an armed robber at the store that the cops merely questioned him, recorded the incident and reasoned that it was self defense. They never took his gun or filed any charges. It was an open and shut case. This time, however, the police were more concerned with his gun than if a crime had occurred. They made a big deal about other guns in the house and questioned weather or not a search of the house was necessary or not. Bob convinced them that he lived alone and the gun was his only one. His story became more believable when he voluntarily, without them asking, handed over a box of 9mm ammunition along with the gun. They told him that he would get them back after a complete investigation. Something told Bob that just wasn't going to happen. After they left, Bob kicked into high gear. He had a 2 pronged plan. one, crack open his bible and see all that Tony taught him. This was a new feeling for Bob, being taught something about the bible from somebody else, but Bob had a feeling that everything Tony told him was true, as if God himself was trying to tell him something. The second part of his plan was going to be tougher, creating his own "War room" Bob was ready for tough times, and it was going to start by figuring out how to deal with those cops when they came back, and they would come back, as soon as they looked at the records and found out about the other 4 weapons Bob owned.
Judy Starling had relied on the Lord most of her life, in fact Judy could not remember ever not relying on God for anything, and this crisis was no different. As she was putting the dishes away, however, her attention was diverted away from the Lord, to the piercing sound emanating from the television. Robert came running from the basement like a flash, "What the hell is that noise?", repenting almost instantly for his language misuse. Almost simultaneously Judy turned down the television volume while the two of them read the ticker scrawling across the screen. "ALERT! ALERT! 8 P.M. ANNOUNCEMENT..... Tune in to this station at 8 P.M. for a major announcement concerning the global chaos that has gripped our planet....ALERT! ALERT! 8 P.M. ANNOUNCEMENT....." over and over it scrolled repeating the siren noise every 15 minutes that made Judy drop her dish and cup on the floor. Robert channel surfed to reveal the same ticker on every channel. He chuckled and said, "It's 6:30 now, wanna play some scrabble till the new world order is announced at 8?" All Judy could do was smile, give him a kiss and say, "Come Lord Jesus."
This place looks scary" Jessica said as her and Sam arrived at the former Wal-mart that was now a food distribution center "maybe we better turn back" Sam said, "I got a bad feeling about getting my dinner from a guy with an assault rifle. Maybe Mr B was right, this seems a little, who's that guy? George Orwell?." Jessica replied, "Maybe you're right, besides, I'm better now, sorry I snapped at everyone, I guess I should go back and apologize." Just as they were about to head back, A giant screen above the building came to life. "That's the biggest T.V. I've ever seen" Sam said "It looks like those old style drive in theaters" Jessica said. as curiosity got the better of them, they sat on the hill at the edge of the parking lot to see what was about to appear on the Giant screen.
8 P.M. Judy, Jed, Sam, Jessica, Tim, Tracey, and Bob, as well as all their loved ones, all of Lincoln, and any resident of the planet who owned or was near a television, or computer was positioned to hear the announcement. It began with an introduction by the President of the United States, after what seemed like a dismal state of the union address, of Anthony Chardanay, who appeared to be the main attraction of the broadcast. Dressed in casual clothes, flanked on either side by what looked like military soldiers with vests and hats reading C.U.E., and looking like he just came from a construction site, he began by reiterating the past several months, the causes, the effects, and the greedy dismantling of the world's economies. He was surrounded by what seemed to be every single world leader, president, and politician who had anything to do with leading their prospective countries. He very casually said in a loving, trusting tone, "I have been commissioned by these leaders around me to outline for you our plans to bring the world back from the brink of disaster. We are all in complete agreement, which is probably the first time in world history that has ever happened, complete agreement on this plan. Life will be back to normal within months, make no mistake this will be a long recovery, however we must all be confident that we can pull together as brothers and sisters of this planet to unite in the best option we have to regain our world." Sam was cheering with the crowd, "finally somebody is doing something." he said.
Chardanay continued, "No doubt many of you have benefited from our global food distribution centers, this is just the beginning. We will begin implementing our plans by distributing new laws, statutes, guidelines, and expectations to national, state, and local leaders to distribute immediately, many of these changes will be celebrated, some will not. I urge all of you not to resist or fight any part of this plan. We are suspending all worldwide laws and statutes indefinitely until such a time as we get back to some assemblance of normalcy. Like I said, for any plan to work, we need 100% participation, we realize these changes will not be accepted by a minority of the populace, however, for the good of our planet, we will deal with any opposition to this plan quite harshly. Worldwide marshal law will be implemented immediately and will be in place for 6 months. At that time we will evaluate the next phase of our operation. meanwhile, Stay in your homes, continue to frequent the distribution centers, and above all, respect the authority of law enforcement, they will have zero tolerance on all matters. You will all eventually be told, in detail, what is coming in the way of information that will directly effect all of you listening to this broadcast. A website, television channel, and direct mail will all be arriving shortly to assist you with your questions. I will simply sign off now by saying we will soon be back to normal, we will all work, play, love, and laugh again, with everyone's help and support, we will be as one on our new Continental United Earth." The erupted applause deafened Jessica who watched as Sam was the loudest one cheering. In the midst of the celebration however, she managed to grab his hand and usher him back on track headed for Jed's house. "What are you doing?" Sam yelled. "C'mon, we gotta get back, I got lots of questions for your dad and Mr. Browne, and I don't feel good about any of them."
"What do you suppose they mean by zero tolerance?" Jed asked his dad. Johnathan Browne answered his son, "Just what it sounds like, if you are an enemy of the world system, they don't care why, they just want you out of their way" Just as he finished his statement, Jess and Sam walked in. Jessica apologized for her behavior and told them all about their experience at the Wal-Mart. "I'm just glad you are both O.K." Kevin said. "Oh, we are far from O.K." Jessica said. She continued, "Judy has been telling me about this for years, what I just saw was exactly the language she said the Anti-Christ would use, is this guy the Anti-Christ?" Johnathan replied, "Pastor Allen called it over a year ago, but we weren't 100% positive until that announcement, Welcome to Revelation chapter 13 Folks, its all downhill from here."