Authors: Tim Lahaye,Jerry B. Jenkins
Tags: #Adventure, #Fantasy, #Science Fiction, #Adult, #Thriller, #Contemporary, #Spiritual, #Religion
He prayed Laslos would see the oncoming vehicle in time to keep from slowing and pulling off the road.
Rayford’s phone rang.
“What is coming from the south with no lights?”
“I don’t know, Laslos! I’m on the ground! Keep going, just in case!”
The vehicle flew past, and Rayford felt the rush of wind. He tried to get a look at the car but could determine only that it was Jeep-like. “That could have been GC!” he said into the phone.
“It was,” Laslos said. “Stay right where you are! It doesn’t appear they saw you. They will be able to see us behind them for miles, so don’t move. We will come back when we feel it is safe.”
“I’d feel safer back in the foliage,” Rayford said.
“Better wait. They might be able to see movement. We will see if other G(S
vehicles are coming.”
“Why are they speeding around without lights?”
“We have no idea,” Laslos said.
Buck couldn’t remember the name of the place, but it was one spot he and Chaim had been to together where no one would expect to see either of them. It took an hour to find an empty cab, and he was informed that any ride, regardless of distance, would cost one hundred Nicks.
Buck described the place to the driver and told him the general area. The man nodded slowly, as if it was coming to him. “I think I know place, or some like it. All work same when you want get, how do the Westerners say, medicated.”
“That’s what I want,” Buck said. “But I have to find the right place.”
“We try,” the driver said. “Many closed, but some still open.”
They rolled over curbs, around crumbled buildings, through dark traffic lights, and past accident scenes. The cabbie stopped at two bars that seemed to be doing land office business, considering, but Buck recognized neither.
“It’s about the same size as this one, big neon sign in the window, narrow door.
That’s all I remember.”
“I know place,” the man said. “Closed. Want these, or other place?”
“I want the other one. Take me there.”
“I know is closed. Closed weeks.” He held up both hands as if Buck didn’t understand. “Nobody there. Dark. Bye-bye.”
“That’s where I want to go,” Buck said.
“Why you want to go where is closed?”
“I’m meeting someone.”
“She won’t be at closed place,” he said, but he drove off anyway. “See?” he said, slowing at midblock nearby.
Buck paid him and hung around the street until the cab left, the driver shaking his head. He soon realized he was in sheer darkness, trees blotting out the clouds and far enough from the emergency action that no lights were visible. The cab lights had shown that the earthquake had leveled several buildings on the street. It was clear now that the power was out in the area.
Would Chaim have come here? Could he have? They had come here looking for Jacov the night he had become a believer, Chaim convinced he would be at his favorite bar, drunk as usual. They had found him there all right, and most assumed he was drunk. He was on a tabletop, preaching to his old friends and drinking buddies.
Buck was fast losing faith. If Chaim was alive, if he had been able to find someone to cart him around, how long would he have stayed on a deserted, dark, destroyed street? And was there really any hope that they might both have thought of this obscure establishment? Buck pulled the flashlight from his pocket and looked around before it occurred to him that Chaim would not likely be in sight, at least until he was certain that it was Buck with the light. And how would Chaim know that? Buck stood in front of the closed bar and shined the light on his own face. Almost immediately he heard a rustle in the branch of a tree across the street and the clearing of a throat.
He quickly aimed the beam at the tree, prepared to retreat. Incongruously hanging out from under one of the leafy branches was a pajama leg, completed by a stockinged and slippered foot. Buck kept the faint beam on the bewildering scene, but as he moved slowly across the street, the foot lifted out of sight.
The lower branch bent with the weight of the tree dweller, and suddenly down he came, agile as a cat. Standing there before Buck in slippers, socks, pajamas, and robe was a most robust Chaim Rosenzweig.
“Cameron, Cameron,” he said, his voice strong and clear. “This is almost enough to make a believer out of me. I knew you’d come.”
Another unlit GC vehicle raced past while Rayford lay in the dirt. All he could think of was the Prodigal Son, realizing what he had left and eager to get back to his father.
When the predawn grew quiet again, Rayford forsook caution and dashed for the underbrush. He was filthy and tried to brush himself off. Laslos and his pastor had to have seen the other GC vehicle and were playing it safe. Forty minutes later-which seemed like forever to Rayford-a small white four-door slid to a stop in the gravel. Rayford hesitated. Why had they not called? He looked at his phone. He had shut it off, and apparently the battery was too low to power the wake-up feature.
The back door opened. Laslos called, “Mr. Berry!”
and Rayford ran toward the car. As soon as the door was shut, Laslos spun a U-turn and headed south. “I don’t know where the GC is going, but I’ll go the other way for now. Demetrius has a friend in the country nearby.”
“Demetrius?” Rayford said, extending his hand to the passenger. “Rayford Steele.
Call me Ray.”
The younger man had a fierce grip and pulled Rayford until he could reach to embrace him. “Demetrius Demeter,” he said. “Call me Demetrius or brother.”
Tsion was moved and took comfort in the verse that reminded him that during this period of cosmic history, God would pour out his Spirit and that “your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions.” The question was whether he was an old man or a young man.
He decided on the former and attributed what he had felt on the floor to his drowsiness. He had apparently lost consciousness while praying and nearly slipped into a dream. If the dream was from God, he prayed he would return to it. If it was merely some sleep-deprived fancy, Tsion prayed he would have the discernment to know that too.
That the passage had gone on to reference the heavenly wonders and blood, fire, and smoke the world had already experienced also warmed Tsion. He had been an eyewitness when the sun had been turned into darkness and the moon into blood.
He read the passage to Chloe and reminded her, “This is ‘before the coming of the great and awesome day of the Lord.’ I believe that refers to the second half of the Tribulation, the Great Tribulation. Which starts now.”
Chloe looked at him expectantly. “Uh-huh, but”
“Oh, dear one, the best is yet to come. I don’t believe it was coincidence that the Lord led me to this passage. Think of your father and our compatriots overseas when you hear this: ‘And it shall come to pass that whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved. For in Mount Zion and in Jerusalem there shall be deliverance, as the Lord has said, among the remnant whom the Lord calls.’ You know who the remnant is, don’t you, Chloe?”
“Yes! And in Zion, which is Israel, and Jerusalem, where we know some of our own were, if they call upon the Lord, they will be delivered. Chloe, I don’t know how many of us or if any of us will survive until the Glorious Appearing. But I am claiming the promise of this passage, because God prompted me to find it, that our beloved will all return safely to us this time.”
“In spite of everything?”
“In spite of everything.”
“Is there anything in there that says when the phones will start working again?”
Leah Rose had landed in Baltimore and pondered her next moves. Finding Hattie Durham in North America was like pawing through the proverbial haystack for a needle someone else had already found. The GC was on Hattie’s trail and clearly hoped she would lead them to the lair of the Judahites.
If Leah could get her phone to work, she would call T at Palwaukee and see if that Super J plane she had heard so much about was still at the airport and ready for use.
On the other hand, if she could get through to T, she could have gotten through to the safe house and sent them running. Did she dare fly commercially to Illinois and rent a car under her alias?
She had no other choice. Unable to communicate except locally, her only hope was to beat Hattie to Mount Prospect. Finding the woman and persuading her to mislead the GC was just too much to hope for.
“How close can you get me to Gary, Indiana?” Leah asked at the counter, after waiting nearly a half hour for the one airline clerk.
“Hammond is the best I can do. And that would be very late tonight.”
Having misled the young man about her destination, she switched gears. “How about Chicago? O’Hare and Meigs still closed?”
“And Midway,” the clerk said. “Kankakee any help?”
“Perfect,” she said. “When?”
“If we’re lucky, you’ll be on the ground by midnight.”
“If we’re lucky,” Leah said, “that’ll mean the plane landed and didn’t crash.”
The man did not smile. And Leah remembered: We don’t do luck.
David lay in bed with his laptop, knowing he would soon nod off, but perusing again the abandoned buildings and areas in northern Illinois that might provide a new safe house for the stateside Trib Force. The whole of downtown Chicago had been cordoned off, mostly bombed out, and evacuated. It was a ghost town, nothing living within forty miles. David rolled up onto his elbows and studied the list. How had that happened?
Hadn’t the earliest reports said the attack on Illinois had been everything but nuclear?
He searched archives, finally pinpointing the day when the GC ruled the city and surrounding areas uninhabitable. Dozens had died from what looked and acted like radiation poisoning, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta had urged the ruling. Bodies lay decaying in the streets as the living cleared out.
Remote probes were dropped into the region to test radiation levels, but their inconclusive reports were attributed to faulty equipment. Soon no one dared go near the place. Some radical journalists, Buck Williams wanna-bes, averred on the Internet that the abandoning of Chicago was the biggest foul-up in history, that the deadly diseases were not a result of nuclear radiation, and that the place was inhabitable. What if? David wondered.
He followed the cybertrails until he was studying the radiation probe results.
Hundreds had been attempted.
Not one had registered radiation. But once the scare snare was set, the hook had sunk deep. Who would risk being wrong on a matter like that?
I might, David thought. With a little more research.
He had just studied the skyline of Chicago and become intrigued by the skyscraper that had been built by the late Thomas Strong, who had made his fortune in insurance.
The place was a mere five years old, a magnificent eightystory tower that had housed Strong’s entire international headquarters. Pictures of the aftermath of the bombing showed the top twenty-six stories of the structure twisting grotesquely away from the rest of the building. The story-high red letters
had slid on an angle and were still visible during the daytime, making the place look like a stubborn tree trunk that refused to cave in to the storms that leveled most of the rest of the city.
David was about to hack into the blueprints and other records that might show if any of the rest of the structure had been left with any integrity when his laptop beeped, announcing a news bulletin from Global Community headquarters.
His eyes were dancing as it was, so he bookmarked where he had been and determined to go to sleep after checking the bulletin. It read: “A spokesman for Global Community Supreme Commander Leon Fortunato in New Babylon has just announced that satellite communications have been restored. He asks that citizens employ restraint so as not to overload the system and to limit themselves to only emergency calls for the next twelve hours.
“The spokesman also has announced the decision, reportedly made by Fortunato alone, to rename the United Holy Land States. The new name of the region shall be the United Carpathian States, in honor of the slain leader. Fortunato has not announced a successor to his own role as potentate of the region, but such a move is expected under the likelihood that the Supreme Commander be drafted into service as the new Global Community potentate.”
David wondered why he had been asked to interfere with telephone capability and someone else had been asked to reverse it.
fought to stay awake in the warm backseat of Laslos’s small car. Pastor Demetrius Demeter pointed the way to the rustic cabin in the woods, some twenty kilometers south of Kozani. Laslos avoided any talk of Rayford’s guilt or innocence but took it upon himself to cheerfully bring Rayford up to date on the growth of the underground church in northern Greece.
Rayford apologized when a snore woke him.
“Don’t give it another thought, brother,” Laslos told him. “You need your rest, regardless of what you decide.”
Suddenly the car was off the highway and onto an unpaved road. “You can imagine what a great getaway is this cottage,” Demetrius said. “The day will come when we, or it, will be found out, and it will be lost to us.”
Rayford had gotten only a brief glimpse of the young man when the car door was open. Thin and willowy, it appeared he might be as tall as Rayford. He would have guessed Pastor Demeter at about thirty, with a thick shock of dark hair, deep olive skin, and shining black eyes. He was articulate in English with a heavy Greek accent.
The cottage was so remote that one either came there on purpose or found it while hopelessly lost. Laslos parked in the back where they also entered, using a key Demetrius pulled from under a board near the door. He grabbed Rayford’s bag from the car, over his protests.
“There’s nothing I need from there until I get back home, thanks,” Rayford said.