Chapter Twenty Seven

“What were you thinking?” She said. “I don’t care how much money it brought in! A naked construction worker?”

“He had shorts on.” Mike retorted.

Really?” Mallory Johnson, Pastor Mike’s wife, was furious. She had known that Meadow Song would be the main event but did not know the details of how it was going to play out. The surprise had caught her completely off guard. She had been purposely distracted just before the Naked Construction Worker came out on stage to take care of a lame issue in regards to distributing parting gifts to the women. By the time she had realized what was going on, everything had gotten completely out of hand and the majority of the women had crowded the stage. Interference at that time would have caused absolute pandemonium. The women who were offended had already left anyway.

It had been a long day. The residual had been mixed through both services. Some people were upset and some thought it was great and that this church was the coolest church they had ever gone to. The bottom line was that through ticket and CD sales they had managed to raise almost enough money for the entire parking lot expansion.

Mike was numb to Mallory’s lectures and focused mainly on what was going on ahead of him on the road and out the driver’s side window. He looked in the rearview mirror. His daughter was looking out her window trying hard to remove herself from the ongoing argument. She had looked forward to seeing Meadow Song too but was also disappointed at the inappropriate exposure.

In his mind Mike was justified in his actions. His wife didn’t understand the pressures of what he was going through being a pastor. He wanted to be successful like other pastors in the area who seemed to have it figured out. Give the people what they want and they will come back, making you and your church successful. Sometimes stirring the pot got people talking.

Seven Mile Community Church’s numbers had been dropping for the past couple years. Pastor Mike accounted it to competition in the valley. It seemed like new churches were cropping up everywhere. With the bad economy and all that was going on in the world, going to church was big business. People needed to be comforted and they sure did not want to hear about Hell and Doom and Gloom. They got enough of that all week long from the news. What they wanted was a positive, uplifting message to get them through the week. He felt like he was walking a tightrope between the government and losing their not-for-profit status and the people in the church wanting to hear a good well presented message. Sunday service needed to provide an entertaining atmosphere or people were not going to stay. That is the way it was in this business.

Suddenly a car veered across two lanes of traffic in front of them. Mike slammed on the brakes and instinctively held out his right hand to protect his wife from careening forward hitting the dash, but she wasn’t there. She was gone. He looked in the rearview window and his daughter wasn’t there either. Her clothes were in the seat but she, her body, was gone. Disappeared in thin air. His heart immediately dropped realizing what had just happened. The beer truck in front of him slammed to a stop and through his shock, his response was delayed and he rear ended the truck deploying the airbag into his face. The hard cover over the steering wheel flew off with such force into his nose causing it to bleed immediately. He searched for anything to stop the bleeding and grabbed his wife’s scarf. She wouldn’t be using it any more he thought!

“Are you okay?” the beer truck driver asked.

“Yes, do you have a pocket knife on you?” Mike asked.

“Ya, here.” He said handing Mike a box cutter. “This is going to sound weird but the car in front of me t-boned another car that ran a stop sign and no one is driving either car!”

Mike cut the airbag out of the way and got out of his car. “Yes, I know. They were raptured.” Hearing those words come out of his own mouth brought everything home to him. He was a pastor. He knew the rapture would one day happen. He had taught that sermon when he was younger so many times. What had happened? He looked back at his wife’s clothes in the front seat of their car. She was gone; home to be with Jesus.

Why did this surprise him, he thought? He had led his church right through the falling away, the apostasy. 2 Thessalonians 2:3. He had taught about it when he was younger. It wasn’t like he didn’t know this period of time was coming. It was written in black and white plain as day. He had even been convicted about compromising with a watered down teaching, but still, his desire was to make the church into something big, which ultimately surpassed teaching the truth.

He said to the beer truck driver. “See? My wife is gone too. Her clothes are here but her body is gone, to Heaven, to be with Jesus.” Mike looked up towards heaven and the beer truck driver’s eyes followed in suit.

“Whoa!!! No kidding?” he said looking at Mike in shock.

“Go look to see if their clothes are lying in the front seat like my wife’s are.”

The driver headed towards the front of the truck. Mike walked over to the back of the beer truck and tested the handle. To his surprise the door opened. He stepped in and grabbed a half rack of beer.

Screw it, he thought What’s the point?

On his way back to the car he stopped, turned around and put the half rack back.

He was in a daze. The road ahead of him was so congested there was no way of getting through. He stepped back into his car and turned around slowly heading back to the church. Many people would be showing up there soon. He wanted to escape what he knew was coming upon the world any way he could. But he knew there would be no escape now.

Chapter Twenty Six

The spring produced much more water than Sam had expected and fortunately he had built into the collection device an overflow large enough to accommodate the extra flow. Sam knew that water was the most important commodity needed in the event everything went south. What was unique about this spring was it flowed under several hundred acres of solid rock. Its source was from the snowmelt higher up the mountain twenty miles away. Flowing under that much rock kept the water cool but also filtered it very efficiently and not much could leach through to contaminate it. He also knew how hot the high mountain desert climate got during the summer months and most likely the flow of the spring would be dropping in another month.

By the end of the day they had the spring dug out, the plumbing installed and the spring was working well. It needed to be filled in with clean rock, gravel and native soil. With the flow confined to the PVC, the hillside where the spring once flowed gradually began to dry up. They piped the water down the steep hillside to a head of ten feet where they set up a ram pump that pumped the water back up the hill to a tank that was to be buried in the ground by the caves in the cove area. That water would be saved in the cistern for use during the hot summer and early fall, when water was scarce. They still needed to bring the five hundred gallon tank up the hill and put it in the hole but were waiting to do that in the evening at dark in the event someone might be watching. Sam did not want to advertise all of the work they were doing.

Sam had devised a refrigeration system using the residual water left over from the ram pump operation. The excess water gravity fed through a buried PVC pipe to an insulated underground pit house. The theory was to use the material removed to dig out the underground storage to fill bags to construct the walls for the underground building that would be used as the cellar and refrigeration system. The excess cool water would run through a half inch copper pipe running serpentine down the wall in the deepest part of the dugout to keep perishable food cool and then piped out to water plants in a below grade greenhouse. The refrigerated room would be insulated with foam board and dirt dug into the side of the steep north east facing hillside. The underground greenhouse would face the southwest. By being below grade, the mass of the walls would be heated by the winter sun during the day and would keep it warm through the night. The plan for this trip was to get the spring operational, get the tank in the ground and begin filling it with water. If they could remove or loosen as much of the dirt as possible for the other structures, that would be a bonus. Filling the bags and building the walls would take some time.

It was hot on the open hillside. Sam was finishing up with the overflow plumbing from the tank in the ground. Cory had gone down to the gravel pit at the bottom of the hill and was returning with the last load to fill in above the spring.

Marty started barking erratically at Sam and ran to the edge of the hill looking down to where Cory was coming up the steep road.

“What in the world are you barking at?” Sam got up from under the cliff wall and walked over to where he could see Cory. Marty just kept on whining and acted like he wanted to go back to the truck. “What? You silly dog.” Sam looked across the valley. It was a beautiful afternoon. Large puffy clouds were moving rapidly high above the desert floor. Two redtail hawks circled on the rising air currents searching for their next meal. He could see for miles. There was a slight breeze that did little to cool the skin on the hot sloped hillside. Sam went to the cooler and grabbed a bottle of water. The ice had melted but the remaining water was cold. When he shut the lid to the cooler, the ground shook underneath him. He wondered to himself if he had felt that or was he just getting tired. He opened the bottle to take a drink and the ground let loose under him. It was like fluid and the sound was deafening. He turned to face the rock cliff in time to see a large chunk of the wall break off and fall in slow motion to the hillside in a cloud of billowing dust. The ground was like trying to stand on a water bed and it took everything he had to stand in one spot. A boulder dislodged and fell off the wall landing where Sam had been working, breaking the pvc connection. He turned to look down at Cory coming up the hill. Rocks were rolling all over the hillside down to the valley floor. Sam headed down the slope to get away from the cliff wall. Marty was barking and leading the way towards the truck. The ground was heaving up and down dramatically and he felt drunk running down the hill tripping and falling down. He sat up and watched as a large rock rolled down towards Cory. Cory was still moving up the hill. Why couldn’t he tell what was going on? The large rock was tumbling faster and faster in a collision course straight for the small skidster. Sam yelled at Cory waving his hands as hard as he could. Cory looked up at him and Sam pointed to the rock just as it hit the front of the loader in the front of the bucket spinning it in the road. Instinctively, Cory dropped the bucket preventing it from flipping over and tumbling down the hill.

Sam looked up across the valley floor below him. He noticed a great amount of dust fly straight up into the air in spiraling streaks. “What in the world is that?” he said out loud. He tried to place where that was. It was at the old cemetery. That was so weird. Surely no one would be blasting at the old cemetery and there was nothing there to cause all of that dust. The streaks flew up into the sky like bottle rockets without exploding. It seemed like instantly out of nowhere the clouds turned very dark and ominous. It looked like a huge storm was blowing in and the wind was picking up. The thought of the storm in the dream Sam had came to his mind.

The ground finally stopped moving. Sam stood up still dizzy and headed down to where Cory was standing surveying the damage of the boulder lodged against the bucket. “Boy,” he said somewhat unnerved. “That was a close one!” as Sam walked up. “I am not sure how we’re going to get this boulder dislodged. Maybe that excavator can do it but I think that rock may be too big. I may need to go back to town to get a larger piece of machinery.”

They started making their way back up the hill talking about the crazy earthquake. Marty did not want to follow them and stayed back at the Bobcat whining and barked at Sam. All of a sudden a large white piece of ice the size of a softball hit in the dirt next to Cory and then another one and another. “Wow! That is hail!” Sam said and started running up the hill. “We need to get in one of those caves!” Chunks of ice were hitting around them on every side. Sam whistled to Marty and Marty passed them up to the cave. A large hailstone hit Cory in the left shoulder almost knocking him to the ground and another hit his cheek instantly causing it to swell. Sam grabbed a hold of his arm and guided him up to the cave. Lightning flashed in the sky and immediately a colossal boom echoed down the ridge as they dove into the first smallest cave. They were barely able to fit all three of themselves into it but it provided adequate protection from the ice falling from the sky. It didn’t take long and the whole hillside was covered in hail and the temperature outside dropped twenty degrees. The sky was very dark; almost black and the contorted clouds twisted in the sky erratically. Sam told Cory about the strange sight that he saw coming from the cemetery. Cory’s face was black and blue and his eye was swollen shut. “Boy Cory, that eye doesn’t look good. I need to get you to a doctor.” Sam said.

“Yeah, I don’t feel very good either.” Cory responded somewhat loopy. Sam figured that Cory had a concussion. He tried to call Robin on his cell phone but there was no reception. “The hail storm probably knocked out the tower.”

The hail had stopped and was melting rapidly now. He looked down to the valley below which was covered in white. The once dry stream beds were moving in a river of ice. It was going to be a challenge getting out of there.

Sam looked at Cory. “Do you think you can make it out of here or do you want me to go for help?”

“I am going with you, dude!” Cory said with a distorted smile. Sam laughed. “All right hang on!”

They both slipped and slid down the road to their rigs. When they arrived they were both shocked to see the damage that lay before them. Cory’s truck was decimated with dents and the windshield had been completely shattered to the point you could not see through it. Sam’s truck was virtually untouched in comparison. One section of the back window slider had been broken and there were two or three dents in the hood and the sidewalls but that was it. The tree that he had parked under had been stripped of leaves but saved his truck. There was a limb which had broken the window in the back of Sam’s truck. Sam opened the door for Cory and Marty jumped in the back seat glad to be back in his truck. As Sam walked around to the driver’s side of the truck he remembered Robin putting the blood of Jesus over him, Marty and the truck when he left the previous morning.

The clay in the soil made the tires fill up with gumbo mud tossing clumps thirty feet in the air as they drove the once dirt roads back towards the pavement. Sam slipped it into four wheel drive and was thankful for having all of the fuel in the back tank for the added weight.

Remembering the view from up on the hill, Sam knew that they would have to cross one big draw before they hit the pavement. He started praying under his breath, “Lord please help us get through that crossing!”

When they came to the rise overlooking the draw, he could see the mixture of ice and mud flowing swiftly. He remembered his dad warning him when he was a kid about crossing the draws and gulley’s in a flash flood. He said, “I don’t know Cory, this might get a little hairy. You better hang on!”

Cory grabbed the handle above the door and nodded back at him with a warped smile reminding Sam of a bull rider cinching himself to a rank one.

Sam dropped the clutch sending the truck in motion down the hill towards the fast moving slush with mudslinging in the air and the tail of the truck swinging side to side wildly. When they hit the bottom, there was a small dip in the road causing the truck to bottom out before becoming airborne. Sam saw Marty in the air in the back seat through the rearview mirror. They were committed now. The truck sailed to the middle of the ice filled stream sending ice and mud in all directions. Sam had the pedal all the way to the floor and the initial force of the drop caused the lugs on the tires to grab traction on the bottom of the rocky creek bed, lurching the big truck across the stream. Just as the front tires cleared the other side, the motor bogged down and the swift ice swept current pressed hard against the side of the truck pushing it downstream. Sam shifted down to second gear and punched it causing the front tires to spin in the mud but they were losing ground quickly. “C’mon you can do it!”, Sam cried out, and the left front tire caught traction on a large rock obscured by ice. It was just enough traction to pull the truck out of the water relieving the force against the side panels and slowly climbing out of the stream.

“Yeah Baby!” Cory hollered. “One down!”

Sam laughed. The gravel road got progressively better as they approached the old cemetery. A truck came flying down the road towards them slowing cautiously. The old rancher had a terrified look on his face. Sam rolled down his window and said, “You’re going to have a tough time crossing the creek. We almost didn’t make it.”

He answered in a shaky voice, “I am not going back that direction. There are things flying out of the graves at the cemetery!” and he took off up the road showering gravel behind him.

“I think that ol boy might have been hitting the sauce pretty hard this afternoon.” Cory said laughing.

“Yeah, I don’t’ know. I have seen that ol rancher out here since I was a kid and he is tougher than most. I heard he eats nails for breakfast and he just looked really scared!” Sam said. “I wonder what in the world is going on?”

As he pulled up on the old cemetery they noticed that all of the graves were open like they had been blown open with dynamite. “Oh crap! That doesn’t look very good!”Sam said.

Cory said “Look over there!” And pointed towards something crossing the road in front of them.

Sam grabbed the binoculars and glassed in that direction. “Oh Lord. What in the world is going on!” his voice was shaking.

“What?” Cory said concerned.

“I don’t know what that thing is but it looks like some sort of demon.” It turned and looked at them sitting in the truck like it had heard them speak and leapt over the fence and into the field. “Oh, God! What is going on?”

He slipped the truck into gear grabbing his cell phone speed dialing Robin. The phone was busy. He tried Erica and Ben. All busy.

He drove faster down the road. Cory called Monica.

“Hey Monica!”

“Cory! Where are you? It has happened!”

“What has happened?” Cory said annoyed.

The Rapture Cory. People are missing.”

“Where are you?” Cory asked.

“I am here”.

“Where is here, Monica?” his voice was shaking.

“Home, Tyler is gone Cory. His clothes are here but he isn’t. Please come home Cory!”

“Okay, we are on our way.”

“Have you heard from Robin?” Sam yelled.

Cory looked at Sam and shook his head. A car flew past them down the road almost hitting them and Sam swerved to avoid them sending road dust into the air. The closer they got to town the more chaotic it became. Cars were in the ditch, stalled in the middle of the road without drivers. Smoke billowed up from sporadic fires, some caused by transformers, others by automobile accidents. Sam and Cory drove down the county road in silent shock trying to process the scene in front of them.

“Why are we still here Cory?” Sam asked, hoping that the answer would be different than what he already knew.

“I know why I am here Sam. There is no denying it. I have blatantly under-estimated the sin in my life. You need to figure out for yourself why you are still here Sam. We both had a shot at grace and we both, obviously, compromised and blew it. Now the age of grace is over and we have only one chance left. This one we cannot screw up! ” Cory said without firmly.

“What do you mean? What happens next?”

“If this is the rapture Sam, it is going to get very difficult. It won’t take long now. Someone will make an announcement probably declaring that aliens were responsible for the disappearance of the people, who have really been raptured by God. This person will probably rise to the top overnight probably through war. I am sure if we could hear the news, Israel has already been attacked by Russian and Iranian forces. Nuclear weapons were probably used but they won’t be able to destroy Israel. God will intervene. This war will probably cause the leader of the New World Order to come forward. He will most likely be the antichrist. The bible says that there will be a strong delusion that will be so real that even the elect will be deceived. I don’t know what that will be, but most likely aliens will make an appearance soon, most likely next to the Most Holy Bishop from Mother of Apostles Christian Church. This will be so real and convincing that they will deceive many if not all people. They will probably say something like they were the ones that created us and because we are destroying ourselves they had no choice but to step in. They will sat that they had to remove Christians because they would not conform to the truth. That will set up all Christians to be singled out and killed. The  antichrist will come up with something that everyone will have to do to worship him. Everyone will need to do this in order to buy or sell. It might be a mark, or a chip, maybe an implant who knows, but it will ultimately give us a choice that will ultimately compromise our relationship with Jesus. If you choose to take the mark or  follow the delusion the antichrist sets up along with everyone else, you will lose your eternal life. Through it somehow, they will attempt top make us worship the person that rises to the top and if we don’t do it, they will cut off our heads. You might as well get it in your head that you’re going to lose your head if you want to have eternal life. The only way we will get to heaven now Sam is to die for our belief in Jesus. This is going to be very difficult. There are going to be earthquakes and famines like never before. An asteroid will hit the sea wiping out a third of the sea life and poison a third of the oceans and springs. That might be what people call Planet X or Niburu. Then the bible says that Locusts will come out of the pit like smoke. Those are Satanic demons sent to inflict pain with a sting like a scorpion. If you get stung, it will be unberarable for five months for anyone who does not have the mark of God on them.” Cory paused and said “Then Sam, it’s going to get bad.”

None of the stoplights worked and other drivers didn’t use them anyway. As they passed by a store, a man came running out with an armload of food dropping some cans on the ground. Cars were crashed on the side of the roads and intersections. Occasionally an ambulance drove by. It was like trying to put a band aid on a trauma patient. People were in the streets screaming deliriously for their children and loved ones that had disappeared and the calamity the disappearances had created.

Sam dropped Cory off at his house and told him that he would be back but he needed to find Robin.

The cows greeted Sam running along the fence as he drove down the driveway and Erica’s car was still in the driveway which made his hope leap in his heart. Marty ran ahead of him as he hurriedly walked into the house. He could smell her. “Robin!” he called for her anxiously. His voice echoed in the house, it seemed hollow to Sam, returned unheard. Empty. “Erica, hey Linda! Is anyone here?” Nothing.

Marty had made the rounds through the house and returned back to him staring at him differently. “Where is Mom, Marty?” Marty looked at him with his head cocked to one side and ran down the hall to the bedroom. Sam followed him to the master bedroom. Marty stood sniffing a pile of Robin’s clothes on the floor. That wasn’t like Robin to leave her clothes in the middle of the floor, Sam thought. He did not want to admit what he knew in his heart. He knelt down to grab the empty clothes and could feel her bra still hooked, inside her shirt, her panties were inside her Levis; all of them were piled up on top of her flip-flops.

Sam collapsed on the floor. “Robin!” He knew. Of course, she was unwavering in her faith. She was the only person he knew that was uncompromising in her love for Jesus. He had always known deep in his heart that he never had that same relationship that she had with Jesus. So many times she had tried to explain it to him. All he had ever wanted was her. He buried his face in her clothes smelling her sweet lingering perfume. “Oh Robin,” he sobbed. “Lord, please show me what I need to do to be back with her again. You gave her to me and now you have taken her. I know that she is not coming back here but please Lord, show me how to get to where You took her.” That was the most sincere prayer Sam had ever prayed in his life. He was lying on the floor tears in his eyes and noticed across the floor one of Robin’s contacts. He picked it up in his fingers and said “Please Lord, remove the scales from my eyes and give me the eyes to see!

Chapter Seven

Sam’s phone buzzed a little after 3:00 pm. It was Robin.

“Hey, you busy?”

Sam got up and went into the conference room and closed the door.

“Hey honey, how’s your day going?”

“I have been thinking about that dream you had last night”

“Yeah I have been too.” Sam replied “I can’t shake it actually”

“Sam, I think that dream was from God.”

“What do you mean?” Sam said.

“Sam, I looked it up in the bible. Listen to this. This is what it says in Joel 2:28” Robin read it to him

 

“And it shall come to pass afterward That I will pour out My Spirit on all flesh; Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, Your old men shall dream dreams, Your young men shall see visions. “

 

“What? Are your trying to tell me that I am old?” Sam tried making light of what Robin was saying. She was being serious and it was making him nervous.

“Sam, I am not kidding, please think about it.” Robin pleaded. “What time are you going to be home?”

Sam told her that he needed to work late so he would be home around eight or nine and asked her to have Ben do the chores.

Sam did think about the dream and had been thinking about it all day long. He went back to his office. They had a large contract that they needed to get out that week and this dream had interrupted his thought process.

Many of the other employees were leaving to go home. Aaron stopped by and poked his head in the door. “Hey, you working late tonight? He said.

“Yes, I have to get that Middleton Plaza job knocked out.” Sam said, remembering that Aaron was kind of a Jesus freak. “Hey Aaron, you got a minute?”

Aaron walked in and sat down “Sure what’s up?”

Sam got up and closed the door behind Aaron. “I am not sure how to say this, but I had a really weird dream last night. Between you me and the fence post it scared me pretty bad.”

Sam relayed the dream to Aaron and noticed that Aaron’s eyebrows went up a few times. “What do you think about that? Do you think there is anything to it?”

Aaron said “Well, hard telling Sam. I know in the bible it talks about in the end times that men will have dreams and visions. I think that is in the book of Joel if I am not mistaken. I would have to look it up for sure.”

“Aaron, do you think we are in the end times? Really?”

“Oh yeah, I do Sam. The bible says to keep an eye on Israel. That is God’s time piece. When you see what is going on over there right now you can tell that time is very short. The bible says that Jerusalem will be a stumbling block for all nations. Right now, because they are expanding settlements in Jerusalem the whole world is against it. The world is dictating what they can and can’t do in their own cities! How crazy is that? Would you put up with your neighbor telling you what you could and couldn’t do? So now, everyone wants to take them out. Every nation in the whole world is against them right now, just like it says in the bible. I tell you what Sam everything that is coming down was written in the bile and it is like it was a screenplay. All the actors are in place perfectly!”

“Do you think shit is going to hit the fan Aaron?”

“Yes, I do Sam! It sure says we will go through it in the book of Revelation. I hope I am not here to endure it though! I plan on being gone in the Rapture, but if not the Lord will get me through it. He always does! Have you ever read the book of Revelation Sam?”

“No, Aaron, I haven’t. I have heard how scary and hard to understand that book is and just kind of bypass that book and the book of Daniel as well.”

“Sam, I encourage you to read both of them especially the book of Revelation. Did you know that Revelation is the only book in the Bible that has a blessing associated from reading it. One at the beginning of it, chapter one verse three, I think and also one at the back of the book in chapter twenty two verse seven or eight”…

“Hmmm… okay Aaron, thanks. I appreciate it.” Sam said standing up.

Aaron stood up too and opened the door to leave and turned to Sam and said “Hey Sam, Have you accepted Jesus as your Savior?”

“Oh yeah, I did that at a Monty Edwards Evangelical Conference at the Super Dome in Seattle in ‘93. It was an all men’s Conference, it was amazing. In fact the Lord cured me of chewing tobacco there at the same time. It was awesome!”

Wow, that is cool! You actually got to see Monty Edwards? I think he is still alive isn’t he? He is like the greatest evangelist in America!” Aaron was impressed.

“Yeah I don’t know if he is or not. I think his son Tony took over his ministry.” Sam replied.

“Well Sam, if you ever want to sit down and talk about this end time stuff just let me know. I love it!”

“You know Aaron I might just take you up on that one of these days.”

“Don’t wait too long Sam. I would hate to see you left behind!” Aaron had an infectious smile that made Sam smile.

Sam closed the door behind Aaron and remembered the For Sale sign on the property where they went chukar hunting. Maybe Robin was right? Maybe God was telling him to get ready, to get prepared for a storm about to hit this world.

He looked for the photo and dialed the number.