Shake, rattle, and gone
June 21, year 3 of the last 7 years.
Bob had been watching the construction behind the former Walmart for months. He found out that the new construction would be an extention of the holding facility that he and Tim have been living in for over a year now. That told Bob that the facility would be a permanent home for the forseeable future for the people the new world order had deemed intolerable. Not that the facility was unlivable, they had comfortable accommodations, 3 meals a day, it was a very acceptable "jail" in alot of people's opinion. Bob, however, knew different, that would change quickly according to prophecy. As he blankly stared through the courtyard fence, that seemed impenetrable, he noticed something he had never noticed before, tools. The workers had left all their tools where they laid and left for lunch. This gave bob an idea and he quickly ran to tell Tim, Allison, and the rest of his little group.
Tracy was showing signs of frustration. Feeling like a caged animal, she wanted out. Despite all the speeches regarding the atmosphere outside, the CUE enforcers instructed to gather the "chip-less", and the limited options available on the outside, the fact that the food and water rations, while plentiful, couldn't last forever. She didn't want to join the CUE or anything that crazy, she just wanted to walk in the real world for a while and couldn't see the harm. She would resist the temptation, however, because of her fear of the CUE patrols, but that didn't take away her natural taste for freedom. Although she enjoyed the evening bible study immensely, she was not quite arriving at the conclusions that everyone else was, that she was in need of a savior. Her analytical nature was her biggest enemy. She loved Jesus, knew all the prophecies and seemed to have it all together, she just hadn't sealed the deal with repentance and trust yet, and time was running out.
Her only saving grace was Judy. The 2 had developed a close friendship, but despite that, her salvation was still in question.
The radio was one thing, real knowledge was another. While Johnathan Browne stood close to the radio for news updates, he was still skeptical as to how truthful those updates were. They would have to go out at some point for a recon mission. Johnathan had stored enough food for his gang of 7, but now that their numbers grew to 11, he was unsure of that lasting. "Jed!" He called. "Yes dad" came the reply from across the room. "We need to plan a recon mission. Not immediately, not even in the short term, and not everyone, but we need to plan, we can't stay here permanently, that I'm sure of. However it is extremely dangerous out there so we have to start training for it. Go get those training videos I told you about in the safe and tell nobody."
October 4, year 3 of the last 7 years left.
"Tim, check it out." Bob said as the two strolled past the fence. "Wow, they can't be more than 5 feet away." Tim said, speaking of the workers who made excellent progress on the mammoth structure that not only dwarfed the detention facility they currently occupied, but would replace it before long. "We gotta figure out how to use their habits against them." Bob said, speaking of their months long habit of leaving their tools out on their breaks. Those tools were inching closer to their position on the other side of the fence with every break for months now and the perfect timing Bob had been speaking of for just as long was almost upon them.
"What do you mean there's no food left?" Tracy said to Pastor Allen. Evidently loud enough for others to hear, and the grumbling was reaching a fevered pitch. "Relax", Pastor Allen said. "While I expected this, It has come a little sooner than I expected." Fear was evident from everyone in the crowded shelter some 20 feet below the long abandoned Morning Glory church. "this facility has served us well these past months and will continue to do the same, but the time has come to go on the offensive." Several people spoke up. "what does that mean?" "Can we get out of here then" "But they all have weapons and are after us" The concerns outweighed the drive to fight. "calm down" Pastor Allen said. "I don't mean combat, I mean surveillance and supplies, we need a small band of volunteers to venture out and hunt down either fellow believers holed up in better circumstances, or sympathetic people who can buy and sell, who's with me?" Several hands went up, including Al Jennings who proved to be a natural thanks to his time in the Army, and his wife Tracy, who would do just about anything to get out in the real world. "Alright then, We got about a month of food left, So I say we assemble ant review exactly how and what we plan to accomplish this little mission as quickly as possible.
"So we are in agreement then?" Johnathan Browne spoke to the group. "not all of us" Jessica said. "I still don't understand why only you four get to go" She was speaking of the four men who would be going out on the recon mission to bolster their position in the shelter by tracking down food, supplies and possibly contacts in the outside world. "We've been over this babe" Sam said, as he holstered a gun to his belt. "And just who do you think you are?" Jess continued. "A year ago you were crying in my apartment afraid to go outside, now all of a sudden you're Rambo." Sam was not laughing, he was still scared on the inside but couldn't let Jess Know it. "Look Jess" Kevin said, "The last thing I ever thought I would do is hand Sam a gun, but he's right, you gotta trust us, this is the only way." As the men bid a tearful goodbye to the women, they began ascending up the tunnel and eventually out into the darkness to what they hoped was a successful mission.
"O.K., here's the plan" Bob spoke with such confidence that no one questioned the success of his plan. "At 3 AM. Jim here will heave this rock as hard as he can at the opposite Side of the shelter. Hopefully it hits something very breakable and very noisy. As the guards investigate I will run out into the lobby, grab the flag pole, throw it into the courtyard and return before the guards return to their posts. that's part 1." Tim spoke up, "and what is part 2? They're bound to see the flag pole sitting in the courtyard before long." Bob continued, "There's only 2 guards we have to worry about, Frankie and the guy that likes Allison." Both of them made Tim wince with anger. "The fact that there are only 4 guards on the overnight shift is a monument to their underestimating us, let's hope this works, Tim you got the best chance of distracting Frankie, he's been ignoring you almost since we got here, that ends now, engage him, get him angry and distracted. Allison, you are gonna give loverboy exactly what he wants." Allison shot him a look that could melt lead, "Excuse me!" Bob immediately looked apologetic, "I didn't mean to imply that" He said and continued, "I just meant that you can distract him better than anybody while I run out and shove the pole through the fence, hook the toolbox, and pull through the ones we need, hide them in the spot we've been creating for weeks, and work on that fence until we can fit through, our time is running out fast. Are we all in agreement?" Frankie was so irate and egotistical someone could have sent up a flare and he wouldn't have noticed. "1 down and 1 to go." Bob whispered to Allison. "Your turn."
Bob could tell her flirting was working when the guard led Allison away to the corner away from the door to the lobby, and made his move. With cat like reflexes Bob called on all his military training and achieved his goal in less than 15 minutes, hid a pair of pliers and bold cutters in the hiding place and pushed the toolbox back into place before returning to the main facility. As Frankie returned with a black eye and Allison returned with a planned "date" with the guard, Bob said, "We'll be long gone by the time you have that date."
"I know this place" Pastor Allen said, "This is John Browne's house" He continued. " It was getting lighter out so they needed to seek shelter or else they would be spotted. As they approached the house they could tell it was ransacked, abandoned, and empty. "I wonder what happened to the Brownes." He said. "I don't even want to think about what they do to people who the catch." Tracy said. Al just motioned and said, "Let's go in, unless you want to be one of those that gets caught. It don't look like anyone is coming back soon, and we need shelter until tonight when we can move again."
"Dad look, Thelma's place, Man what I wouldn't give to go there again, best pancakes and syrup ever." Although the place looked out of business, Sam swore he thought he saw a light coming from the basement window. "Stay here" Johnathan said as he crept up to the back door. The door easily pried open and creaked slightly as Johnathan was met with the business end of a Louisville slugger. "Dad!" Jed yelled As Kevin and Sam Barrelled through the door, weapons drawn, only to find Johnathan Holding his bleeding head and laughing at the apologetic Thelma lou Robinson, who both knew and loved the Browne family, and who just pasted it's patriarch with a bat. "I'm so sorry, John, What are y'all doing here? You better come downstairs with me before the patrols come by." As they made their way to the restaurant's basement, Johnathan spoke , "How long have you been holed up here?" Thelma answered, "I don't rightly know, seems like a lifetime, there's just me, a portable radio and enough simple ingredients to keep me going." She pointed to the stock room that still held plenty of food, if you had to sparingly feed only one middle aged woman. As she opened a rickety door in the basement she revealed a room that would easily go un noticed unless you were looking for it. "Mister Char-dee-neigh ain't ever gonna find me." Kevin added, "you mean us." Johnathan smiled, "With your dry ingredients and my water supply, we got some more time to survive. "Less than a year till paradise, boys, and I plan on stickin' round till the end." Thelma added, "But y'all can't fit down here, what you got in mind?"
"Hurry up, the real guards will be here in 15 minutes." Tim said. "The sun is coming up." Allison said. About 6 of the "prisoners" had gathered, waiting for Bob to cut an area big enough to slip through the fence. "That's about as big as it's going to get, we're out of time it's now or never." As they slipped through one by one, the last of the group sliced his leg open on the fence and let out a scream of pain that could be heard for a mile. As the guards came running from the building, they began firing at the escapees, hitting 4 of them, including Tim, in the shoulder. As the other 3 dropped, Tim, Bob and Allison made it to the woods and hoped they would be upon a hideout before long. Frankie was the only guard to follow them into the woods and the chase was on, fortunately, they had a 5 minute head start. They ran for what seemed like miles until finally Allison rested on an old stump in the woods and said, "I can't go on, I need to rest." Bob yelled, "We gotta keep going, or we're dead" All of a sudden, Frankie was on them, "You're all dead regardless" But before he could shoot, He was flattened by gunfire.
As Tim, Bob and Allison looked up, they saw Sam Johnson, holding a smoking gun, and saw the rest his gang emerge from the woods. "Kevin Johnson?" Bob said. "What are all you guys doing in the woods? And thanks by the way." Sam was visibly shaken having shot a man, who was obviously dead. "What's the bible say about that, Jed?" Jed said, "It was self defense Sam, you saved us all." Allison was beside herself with panic and said, "What are we gonna do? they obviously heard that and will be here soon, and we can't hide in the trees." At that Jed said, "Well we're gonna if you'd move" At that they had all of them, their supplies, and even Frankie's lifeless body in the shelter in minutes. They waited hours untill the coast was clear and then proceeded to bring Frankie to the Browne home, surprising Pastor Allen and company who were unsuccessful in their hiding from Johnathan and Kevin who escorted them back to the shelter until they could regroup and attempt more missions and get to more believers.
May 19th, year 4 of the last 7 years of the Tribulation.
The last 7 months or so everyone became very accomplished at recon runs. they were able to locate other holdouts in town and built a nice network of believers. casualties were light and they consoled each other with the fact that their lost comrades would be waiting in heaven when they arrived. What went unknown by all was the fact that several members of the group, or groups at this point, were not soundly saved. Survival had taken over the instincts of all and while they all thought they were saved, the sad truth was, not all of them were. Many were head saved and not heart saved. They knew the basics and the prophecies, but for some reason, many were unable to commit to the Savior and could only commit to themselves and the group they belonged to. Jed raised this issue one night to his father. "Dad, can we talk?" he said. "sure son, what's on your mind?" Johnathan said. "I'm worried about Sam, among others that I've met." Jed Said. "Worried how? About their safety or something else?" Johnathan wondered. Jed said, "Worried about their salvation. Sam still talks like he doesn't believe it all, Jess is so concerned about Food and Sam that I don't think she'll ever get it, Even Mr. Edwards who is the smartest man I know, next to you, seems , well, confused. Could we start a study or something to see what's going on with everyone spiritually, just to make sure we all got the basics?" Johnathan cocked an eyebrow and quipped, "The basics? At this stage of the game? I'd like to think that soon we'll all be raptured and the basics will fade away into blissful worship in a perfect Heaven. But if you feel that is necessary, then, Sure. Tomorrow night, you have the floor." Jed smiled and sighed a big relief, "thanks dad, I already got my speech planned.
May 20th, 8:00 PM, year 4.
"How do I know I'm going to heaven?" Sam Said in disbelief. "You finally get me to believe all the stuff you've been preaching since we were kids, and you ask me that?" He continued. "I think it's a fair question" Kevin Johnson Said. "Me too" Lillian said. "Don't you see, Sam, Believing is not enough, The Devil believes and he ain't getting in" She finished. "Why are you bringing this up now?" Sam Said. "Yeah, after all we've been through, if we haven't proven ourselves by now, what's the point?" Jess said. "Its not about proving yourself, its about repenting, putting on the Lord Jesus, and surrendering your life to him. Has everyone here done that?" Johnathan asked a stunned group. As the discussion was about to get heated, the radio reported another holdout group rounded up across town. "That's the 3rd one this month" Kevin said. "They'll never find us."Johnathan said. "I suggest we all turn in tonight and start fresh tomorrow without the tempers, this is for the good of all and we don't want anyone "left behind" to coin a phrase. Everyone think about all that we talked about tonight and have your questions ready, we're almost home, not much longer."
Just then, the ground shook. Supplies started falling and everyone started screaming. "Is this the earthquake?" Jed said. "I don't know" Johnathan replied. It was over in less than 10 seconds. "I don't think that was it." Kevin said. "How can you be sure?" Jessica said. "I have a feeling that if this was a worldwide earthquake, it would be a little longer and more dramatic, plus the small fact that we are all still here and Pastor Allen said the earthquake and the rapture are almost at the same time" Johnathan said. "I don't know what it was." Jed said, "But doesn't it give you a sense of urgency to get this matter settled?" He said, staring at Sam and Jess.
"Did you feel that?" Tracy said to Al back at the church shelter. "Yeah, it felt like a boom." Al said. Just then Pastor Allen came in, "pack anything you need and leave anything you don't, we need to be ready to move tonight." Tracy was confused, "What's going on?" she said. "They are blowing up buildings all over town that are abandoned or run down, so, unless you want tons of rubble falling on you tomorrow, you need to be ready to go tonight." Al said, "where we goin'?" Pastor Allen said as he was leaving the room, "Back to John Browne's shelter, it's 1/4 mile from his place which they just blew up, and that big boom you felt was only a block away which tells me the'll be here before long."
Thursday, October 3rd, Rosh Hashana, Year 4 of the last 7 years of the Tribulation.
Bob Edwards, Tracy Jennings, Sam Johnson, Jessica Reagan, Tim Gordon, Judy Starling and Jedidiah Browne were all together in one location, 3 1/2 years after the treaty was signed ushering in the last 7 years of life as they knew it. 7 different people, with 2 very different views of what was going on. While all awaited the Rapture, not all would be taken. Jed was busy talking to Sam And Jessica making one last ditch effort to ensure that they were soundly saved, when it happened. The entire shelter started moving, furniture was tossed, walls buckled then cracked, screaming filled the shelter, and most were either buried under debris or struck by it. As Sam reached for Jed's hand to pull him out from underneath a section of wall that partially buried him, Jed's body went limp. Sam then dragged him out from under the debris and felt nothing. No life, no pulse, and very cold. "Oh my God, I think he's dead!" he screamed to Jessica, who was protected under the overturned sofa. But Jessica couldn't move, she was paralyzed with fear. Sam heard the faint screams of a couple people he couldn't make out from the other side of the now decimated shelter. But Absent were the sounds of over 30 people that resided in the shelter. As he rode out the almost minute long shaking of the shelter, he saw that Jess was safe but wondered why he only heard the yelling of a couple people, Was everybody dead, he wondered, were him and Jess in the right place at the right time? After the rumbling was over he began to venture out into the main shelter areas. What they found were bodies everywhere. Pastor Allen, Judy and Robert Starling were actually embracing each other but seemed lifeless. Johnathan Browne and his whole family, except Jed who was in the other room. All seemed Gone. Then he heard the plead of someone in the distance, "Help! Help!" He ran into the kitchen to find Bob Edwards jammed under the refrigerator that had fallen on top of him As he uprighted the fridge, Bob crawled from underneath. The two of them then found Tim and Allison in one of the bedrooms coming to after it seemed they were momentarily knocked unconscious. They were all bruised but otherwise O.K. As they made their way out to the main area they observed Tracy Jennings awaken, cough, roll over and see her husband and begin to scream. As they ran to them, Allison said, "What is wrong with his eyes?" Bob Said, "They're Gone." But they weren't gone, just Void. Void of Color, pupil, and life. Jessica appeared in the shadows and said to the others, "The eyes are the windows to the soul, and their souls were taken, ours were not, and we have nobody to blame but ourselves."