Emory Steen walked home with Coreen after Math Club. Autumn leaves covered the sidewalks and Emory crunched through them making as much noise as possible. “See you tomorrow,” he said.
Coreen waved a goodbye as her friend slouched down the street.
Goldy waited inside the front door. Her parents had let her get the puppy as a reward for good grades. He trailed at her heels as Coreen followed the sound of voices; the Bible study group had started. Mr. and Mrs. Tennant were decent people, trying to raise their children as Christians. Both of Coreen’s brothers went to meetings. David was almost eighteen, and the eleven-year-old Junior worshipped him. Little Sweetie was only five, and she was bundled off to bed halfway through the evening.
The Siemens family, the Whites, the Bartlets and their two cousins visiting from Holland were in the dining room. The group met Tuesday and Friday evenings at the Tennant home. The adults passed earnest hours in spirited debates, trying to understand what Bible passages signified.
Bibles covered the dining room table. Red silk ribbons marked open pages, but they’d set them aside. Everyone stared at a laptop screen, filled with yellow letters in a blue background. An image of the Earth floated, circled by what looked like the rings of Saturn. The largest ring ended in the letters VOG.
Goldy’s wagging tail thumped against a chair and the group finally noticed Coreen had entered the room.
Her godfather Richard turned from the computer and placed an arm over her shoulder. Richard White was old enough to be her grandparent, and he enjoyed the authority that came with age. “We’ve been waiting for you. Good thing you’re in that Math Club!”
“I told you, Richard. She’ll follow the proof just fine.” Coreen’s father gave her a hug.
Richard pushed a sheet of paper across the table. “Take a look,” he said eagerly.
“What is it?” Coreen picked it up.
“Just, see for yourself.” The gathered members held their breaths as they waited.
Coreen bent her head over a page of proofs, then back up to meet a roomful of expectant eyes. No one spoke, waiting for her to add two and two together.
She looked back at the sheet. “I’m not sure what I’m supposed to see.”
Richard patted her arm. “It’s okay. It took us a week of prayer before it became clear, and then suddenly it was all wonderfully clear. Look.” Richard took a second piece of paper from Mrs. Siemen. He tapped the page. “A day for God is a thousand years. Christ was crucified on April 1st, 33AD. Five equals ‘atonement’, ten equals ‘completeness’, and seventeen equals ‘heaven’, so the time between Christ’s crucifixion and next year is 1,978 years. Follow so far?”
Coreen’s brow furrowed as she listened.
“It’s right here.” Richard patted the sheets of paper and leaned over the table to point at the computer screen. “It’s clearer than clear, Coreen: the Rapture’s on the way!”
Mommy spoke up. “Honey, God’s lifting two hundred million people directly to Heaven, and then He’ll cover the earth in tsunamis and quakes. It’s very near. In fact, it’s less than a year away. The end’s coming in a series of earthquakes on May 1st. Six p.m. for each time zone.”
“What about everyone else?” Coreen asked in a small voice.
“God’s judgment.” Mommy was a middle-aged woman with an affect as comforting and warm as a meal of pot roast. Tonight, incandescent, her face glowed. “Six months later, November 1st, the final destruction arrives.”
Dad broke in. “Someone’s found the Biblical passages proving the Rapture begins in May. All believers ascend to Heaven. Those left behind will experience the end of the world. Six months of it, before fire consumes whatever’s left. We can be ready for it!”
He leaned across the table and turned up the sound. The voice speaking from the computer terminal was both tinny and gravelly, like metal clanking over heavy rocks. VOG sounded otherworldly. “My friends, now is the time to prepare! The end is on the way. But don’t wait for the Lord to send the first sign. You will feel it in your own lives down here on Earth. Pay attention my friends, little by little He will peel away all that no longer matters. Welcome the changes! Welcome the signals of His arrival! Trust in the Lord!”
Dad turned the sound back down and turned expectant back to his daughter. “Well? What do you think?”
“There’s a paradox,” Coreen began. The End of Days sounded as if the final agonies stretched out, God Himself unsure when to end them. “Does the world end in May, or in November?”
“Which part of Armageddon don’t you understand?” David sneered. Coreen hadn’t noticed her older brother in the corner. He sat, so no one could see how short he was compared to her.
“Yeah, VOG said so!” Junior parroted.
Coreen ignored them, knowing skinny little Junior would go along with anything his brother said.
David recited, “The Bible tells us that exactly one hundred and eighty-four days later God destroys the whole world. The name says it all. The Voice Of God. VOG.” David had learned about the Rapture end date before Coreen. He understood it better, too. For once, he was doing something first.
Prepare to meet a hero with dangerous fantasies. A young woman trapped in a cult. A person who dreams other people’s futures. A man drinking glühwein at a Christmas Market as he waits for disaster. And Lynn, the connecting thread, taking a train trip with a seductive stranger. I’ll be posting the first pages to each chapter.
Committing my characters to an appearance on this blog makes them real. As of tonight, they exist beyond my imagination.
Here are the opening pages to my novel (Name being withheld until publication date). This second chapter is titled, The End Of The World.
Copyright © 2014 Jadi Campbell. Look for this novel in book and eBook form on Amazon.com in December.