Copyright (c) 2015 by Randall R. Peterson ALL RIGHTS RESERVED This is a work of fiction. All persons, locations and actions are from the author's imagination or have been used in a fictitious manner.
By R. Peterson
“And I looked, and, lo, a Lamb stood on the mount Zion, and with him an hundred forty and four thousand, having his Father's name written in their foreheads.” Revelations 14/1
Doctor Dickens made the initial cut for the cesarean section. The first baby ever born-of-man was about to be delivered high on the rocky crags of Mount Hood. Artillery shells exploded into the sides of the besieged ancient volcano and shook the ground. Anesthesiologist Spenser Boyington, P.A. Charles Bloom and three nurses wearing surgical robes watched in silence. The most significant medical event in history unfolded, as the cries of wounded soldiers in the cots next-door mixed with the sound of tremendous rock-slides outside the tent.
A sodium light-tube burst showering the surgical area with ignited argon and neon just as the doctor pulled the fetus through the abdominal incision. “We need another light here … Now!” P.A. Bloom yelled. Three paramedics who had been treating the injured soldiers stood up and gaped about in awe. The glow from the burning argon and neon particles should have dissipated but instead it grew in volume and intensity. Brilliant rainbow beams from all the spectrums of light flashed upward, mixed, and filled the tent with ethereal brilliance.
A pillar of colored light rose from the mountain into the upper reaches of the stratosphere, bands of colored carnival-light entwined for a world plunged into darkness. The soldiers at the base of the besieged mountain paused in the fighting to stare at the sky. Never before had the world witnessed such a spectacular display of color and light.
High above the Earth, Expedition 46 crew members took a break from mission assignments to photograph the new brilliant beam of painted light swirling inside the misplaced aurora borealis ascending from North America and continuing into deep space. Ukrainian Cosmonaut Sergio Volkov gasped as he watched from an International Space Station window. “Це так красиво” (This is so beautiful) he said.
At the base of the mountain many of the militia soldiers fighting for White dropped their weapons when they saw the new light. “This is bullshit,” A National Guard Captain from Idaho said, “first some kind of light shield that we cannot penetrate … and now this. We are supposed to be fighting to rid the world of evil … but what God demands that we kill a child for his glory?”
“You’re right,” others under his command said. “This looks more like heaven we’re attacking … not Hell.”
General Lemont Hicks and a squad of handpicked loyalists were quick to snuff out the rebellion. “There will be no dissention,” Hicks screamed as he cut the retreating men down with automatic gunfire. He stomped on a moaning soldier’s face and broke his neck. “There is only one rule in my army,” he said. “Do what I say … or die!”
Hicks ordered the bodies to be mutilated and then shipped to Salt Lake to be used in a propaganda film against Amna.
“How are we going to get past these defenses,” A Citizen’s Militia lieutenant from Georgia asked as he reloaded his smoking and previously illegal AK47.
“The shields will come down.” Hicks told him as he stared at the mountain. “We have people working on it.”
A nurse named Madeline Folger wrapped the newborn in a blanket and took it to Amna. “He looks so innocent and so normal,” she said placing the baby in his arms. “Not something to start a war over, where thousands upon thousands are being killed.”
“All children are born innocent,” Amna said. “It is the world and the people in it that teach them to fear.”
“I try not to hate others,” Madeline told him. “But if we do not kill those who wish to harm us … then the world and this child are lost.”
“You can’t stop hate and violence with more hate and violence,” Amna said. “We must trust God.”
The room was filled with exotic and often expensive gifts and toys that strangers had brought for the first child born of man.
Amna picked up a very soft stuffed Pooh Bear and then sat in a chair and was rocking the child when the baby first opened its eyelids. The old man was surprised by the brightness and clarity in the sky blue eyes. “Welcome to the world, my little one,” he said. “Don’t ask me where your mother is … for she never was.”
The baby, whom many were already calling Parousia which in Greek means arrival or presence, did not cry, but sucked hungrily on an infant bottle filled with formula.
Madeline held the bottle until first the baby and then Amna were asleep. She felt herself getting drowsy. Madeline lay on an empty cot and was soon asleep.
The ground outside shook and there was a rustling in the stack of toys and gifts in the corner. A Learning Journey helicopter fell from the pile and a red plastic number six stood upright on the floor.
A small wooden box with faded numbers in colorful paint began to play a tune as a tiny crank on its side turned. Amna and Madeline both snored. It was the baby whose eyelids fluttered as the tune reached its climax.
“Half a pound of tupenny rice,
Half a pound of treacle.
That’s the way the money goes,
Pop! goes the weasel.”
The lid opened and a ragged puppet in the shape of a rapscallion sprang out of the box and bowed toward the child. Black protruding jelly-bean eyes gaped at the newborn. Drops of real blood dripped from claws made from carved deer antlers as the puppet seemed to dance.
Amna was right; the infant stared at the goblin but displayed no fear even when the toy hissed as it slowly descended back into the box. The lid closed on the toy, right before the Jack-in-the-Box caught fire … and the baby the world would call Parousia … closed his eyes and slept.
“And there appeared another wonder in heaven; and behold a great red dragon, having seven heads and ten horns, and seven crowns upon his heads.” Revelations 15/3
Dani looked behind her until she was away from the camp and then she concentrated on the hazardous trail. The lights were pretty, but all she could think about was her mother. Carla Garafalo had not always been the best parent, but Dani obeyed her. When her mother asked her to remove the stone and come down to her Dani knew she had to do as she said. Most of the guards around the compound area were busy looking at the new light expanding upward toward the stars. It was easy to slip past them.
Her mother had taken Dani and a friend to a skating rink for her fifth birthday. It was her most precious and wonderful memory. Dani and Tim had glided around the ice on rented skates while her mother and two others drank from bottles hidden in paper sacks. She didn’t know what started the fight but she left with her mother before he police arrived. Her mother’s nose had been bleeding. Tim’s father had dragged him away screaming. Dani remembered the broken glass on the ice and the torn paper bag but also the magical lights and the Christmas music playing over outdoor speakers. Maybe this time her mother wouldn’t drink. Maybe this time she wouldn’t be so mad about everything.
Light radiated from the white stone at the top of the needle-like spire in the center of the ancient crater but the crude steps carved by lightning were still in the rock sides. Dani had a feeling that Amna would not wish her to remove the stone. She knew it was placed there for a purpose, but she also wanted to obey her mother. Dani thought about skating as she climbed the stairs; it helped push away the feelings of guilt. She could almost hear the music and feel the cold air on her cheeks as she glided around the frozen rink. Of course they would go there … and also to the park … with all the glistening snow.
In the meadow we can build a snowman
And pretend he's a circus clown
We have lots of fun with Mr. Snowman
Until the other kiddies knock him down
Dani jumped and took two steps back. She thought at first it was a giant-sized man standing next to the white stone at the top of the spire, but the massive figure was made of snow and wood. Who had been here besides her? A hood made from an upturned hollow tree stump with ten roots was pulled low over unblinking eyes made of chunks of coal. Seven golden rings glistened on the ends of the wood. A long twisted carrot, dry like last year’s produce pulled from a cellar, jutted outward and down for a nose. The black eyes turned and followed her. Arms made of twisted cedar limbs with ragged leather gloves thrust over clumps of twigs reached for her. A mouth made from a row of white pebbles opened and the stones fell like lost teeth. The coal-eyes ignited as the snowman spoke.
“Remove the stone and give it to me,” the creature said. His voice was like gravel being crushed. “And I’ll guide you down the mountain to your mother.”
“Who are you?” Dani moved away from the outstretched branches.
“My name in Hebrew is called Abaddon,” the snowman said, “but you can call me father.”
“I never knew my father,” Dani told him. “But I don’t think he was made out of ice.”
Abaddon was blocking the last flight of steps and he moved aside so that Dani could reach the stone. “Remove the stone from the spire and place it in my hand,” he said. The snowman thrust out a gnarled cedar branch with a leather glove covering the end as Dani climbed the stairs.
“My mother said to bring the stone to her.” Dani paused for a moment, because she was afraid. She closed her eyes and then reached out. The ethereal lights spreading outward and down the sides of the mountain were extinguished and the ground began to shake as Dani lifted the stone from the top of the spire. The snowman was looming over her as she tried to push past him.
“Give me the damn stone,” the creature demanded.
Dani pushed with the hand holding the stone against the dry branches that reached for her like fingers. The dormant wood burst into flames. The coal eyes in the snowman’s head were now blazing like huge embers. The seven balls of snow that had been crushed together to make the creature’s head were beginning to melt. “Place the stone in my hands!” the creature ordered. Dani stared as the two leather gloves reached for her. Both the snowman’s arms were burning.
Dani slowly stretched the hand holding the stone toward the leather gloves. At the last minute she jammed the stone into the hollow tree trunk with the ten dangling roots and the creature burst into flames. She jumped sideways from the last stair and moved around the screaming beast trying to beat out the flames.
“You are not my father,” she said.
And then she ran.
“And the serpent cast out of his mouth water as a flood after the woman, that he might cause her to be carried away of the flood.” Revelations 15/15
The top of Mount Hood was burning. General Hicks answered the cell phone on the second ring. Reverend Jason White’s voice was filled with heavenly triumph. “The shields are down,” he screamed. “Attack now while you have the chance.”
“The child has not returned with the stone,” Hicks said. “She might be lost in the attack.”
“I will bring the mother to the base of the mountain,” White said. “Kill all who protect .the child and then bring the infant down. The girl will kill the son of man with the stone … to save her mother.”
Hicks switched off the phone and then ordered the attack. Six armored divisions supported by infantry moved up the mountain from four sides. Rocket fire from a dozen AH-IW Cobra Helicopters lit up the sides of the mountain. The steady burst of automatic rifle fire interspersed with bombs sounded strangely like thunder and rain in the night.
The snow on the mountain was melting too fast. Dani slipped on the muddy path and was swept over a ledge and into a stream of raging water. The ground was smoking everywhere as if heated from within. Dani struggled to keep her head above the water as the stream twisted and turned as it raced down the mountain. She was nearing the camp of Amna where the baby had just been born.
Just to the east of the camp, soldiers from The Nevada National Guard launched several incendiary grenades into a rocky depression occupied by Amna’s followers. Dani watched as men and women rose screaming and on fire from the defensive positions and then were slaughtered by gunfire from the guardsmen. She grasped a branch as the stream swept around a bend in the rock channel, and pulled herself out. Amna’s compound was lit up like daylight as the bombardment continued. She watched from inside a clump of willows as hundreds of men were blasted from behind sand-bagged defenses and the guardsmen advanced.
“And the earth helped the woman, and the earth opened her mouth, and swallowed up the flood which the dragon cast out of his mouth.” Revelations 15/16
Amna had just lifted the baby from a cradle made from a gun crate when a blast of fire tore away the sides of the tent. He handed the child to Madeline and then stood in front of her. A dozen men with automatic rifles rushed inside. Conner Wilson was cut in half by machine gun fire as he rushed to his friend’s side. John Bingham turned away from the soldiers and stared at Madeline. “Let me see my baby’s face,” he said.
Madeline removed a blanket covering the baby’s head and the child stared at the man who had become its mother. “He has your eyes,” Madeline smiled at John.
John opened his mouth to speak just as a burst of gunfire turned his head into an explosion of blood, brain and bone.
“The voices of God have always become martyrs,” Amna said. “But if any of you touch this child you will die!” He stood proudly without fear.
“We’ve already considered that,” General Lemont Hicks said. He moved to the left of the tent so that Amna no longer blocked Madeline and the child. “You were right all along,” he told Amna. “The first time I saw you outside the revival meeting you were holding a sign. What was it the sign said … The end is near? … Well it is it is very near.” Hick’s smile broadened when he saw the slightest quiver in Amna’s hands. “It’s too bad we don’t have time for a cross … we could make this thing a lot more fun.”
The thirty millimeter shells flying from the rifle cut the old man’s legs into several pieces before his body struck the ground.
“Carry the baby out to the truck,” the Lieutenant ordered Madeline just as another tremor shook the ground. “It feels like this whole damn mountain is going to explode.”
From her hiding spot in the willows Dani watched as Madeline carried the blanketed baby and then climbed into the back of an HMMWV (Humvee). Soldiers were already starting to clean-up after the carnage. A group of men dragged the corpses of men and women into a trench formerly used as a latrine. Others brought cans of gasoline and drenched the bodies. The fire started as a huge flash of light and the horrible smoke burned her nose. Dani waited until the armored truck went around the first bend in the road and then she followed. The white stone was still clutched in her trembling hand.
“For God hath put in their hearts to fulfil his will, and to agree, and give their kingdom unto the beast, until the words of God shall be fulfilled.” Revelations 17/17
“We need that God Damn stone!” Jason White paced the floor inside the makeshift barracks at the base of the mountain. “It is the only thing that can destroy my rival.” Madeline Folger and Carla Garafalo were huddled in a corner of the tent along with the baby. The church leader’s former angelic looks had deteriorated over the last two months; General Hicks almost didn’t recognize him. The skin on White’s face appeared to have darkened and was cracked and peeling in places. The pupils of his eyed appeared red from broken blood vessels. Hicks attempted to placate his anger with good news from the more than thirty war fronts.
“We just received word from Riyadh.” Hicks said. “Both Israel and Saudi Arabia will accept the leadership of The New World Church of Divine Light as the new legitimate negotiating power in America and Europe. We should be able to extract substantial concessions from them the way we did the #%$&@# Chinks.”
“China and Indonesia won’t stay subservient for long,” White said. “As soon as we have the computer viruses in place that will shut down their nuclear retaliation capabilities, I want LGM-30G Minuteman strikes against Shanghai, Beijing and Tianjin. Vaporizing about fifty-million of those slant-eyed bastards should help scatter the sheep.”
The Earth shook below their feet for the third time in less than an hour, more violent than any tremors they had felt before. Instead of lessening after a few seconds the earthquakes increased. A swaying florescent light hanging by chains from the canvas ceiling broke and sent a shower of electrical sparks across the wood-plank floor as the fixture shattered. The explosion from the top of the mountain was deafening, the crack of doom that followed devastating. Blazing trashcan-sized balls of molten rock fell from the sky, tore the tent in half and started the canvas on fire. The wood planks on the floor buckled and then splintered as a huge fissure opened in the ground and swallowed Hicks and a table covered with maps and plans for world conquest.
The inside of the command barracks at the base of Mount Hood was a doomsday cloud of heated dust, shredded canvas and burning embers when Dani Garafalo crawled toward her mother and the woman holding the newborn infant. The sound of running soldiers trying to escape the carnage mixed with the screams of the dying and forced Dani to place her lips right next to her mother’s ear for the dazed woman to hear her. “I’m here momma … I did like you told me.”
Carla Garafalo’s eyes cleared for the first time for what to her felt like decades. “Oh Dani, you were always the best daughter any mother could ever hope for. I am so sorry that I’ve never been there for you.”
“We’re together now momma and that’s what matters isn’t it?” Dani’s face was bright and hopeful as she looked in her mother’s worried eyes. Falling ash made the sky black as midnight. Light reflecting from flames was the only illumination.
“Dani, it will take a miracle for any of us to get out of this alive,” Carla whispered.
“I still have this …” Dani held up the white stone. Bendable light glowed from within the rock and covered the faces like a soft blanket. “Amna said that it was some kind of magic.”
The face of a monster suddenly appeared out of the darkness. Jason White’s head was a mass of bleeding sores and hanging skin. “That belongs to me,” he said. “It was the prize Wormwood offered for the delivery of the Earth’s souls!” He reached out and grabbed Dani’s arm, digging jagged fingernails like claws into her skin.
Carla Garafalo sprang on Jason White before Dani had a chance to cry. Her strength was that of the supernatural as she tore at White’s face with her fingernails and bit his flailing arms. It was all he could do to hold her and try to push her away. “Not my daughter … not my daughter,” Carla screamed as the rolled across the floor. Just before Dani’s mother and the man who promoted himself as the Savior of the World disappeared into the smoking fissure, Carla turned and looked at the best thing to ever happen in her life for one last time. “I love you Dani,” she said. “I will never stop loving you.”
“And there shall be no night there; and they need no candle, neither light of the sun; for the Lord God giveth them light: and they shall reign for ever and ever.” Revelations 22/5
It was three years, two months and eight days since the explosion of Mount Hood. Dani, Madeline and the son-of-a-man journeyed across the burned corn fields and ravaged towns of Iowa. Paper money littered the roads, now useless garbage that no one would pick up. A doctor, in what was left of Denver, said that Parousia had been born with autism. A muddy stream, littered with floating debris and an occasional corpse, identified by a bullet-riddled sign as the Skunk River caused all three to hold their noses. “Boy did they ever get that name right,” Dani giggled.
A barking dog near a crumbled shack on the edges of a turned-to-rubble town called Brighton caused the three to stop. Parousia slipped his fingers from Madeline’s hand and ran to the starving animal. The canine was nothing more than skin hanging on bone secured to a scorched fence post with a rusty chain. Parousia knelt on the parched ground and smiled when the dying dog licked his face. He looked hopefully toward Dani and Madeline, he never spoke words, and after a moment they shrugged their shoulders and nodded.
The three-year old hugged the animal and the rusty chain dissolved from its neck. There was a light around this new child-of-man and the animal was instantly restored to a robust bounding health. Parousia was happy, but this was not unusual. He smiled again as he brushed soft fingers across the burned post that had held the animal captive. Rain began to fall washing the air. Light from another realm, from a distant mother galaxy, radiated from the man child into the wood and swept across scorched rows of dead weed and thorns. Wildflowers grew and spread across the borders of the fields in vibrant rainbow colors to delight even the most pessimistic of eyes. Grains of all types became golden ocean waves rolling across the land. Blossoms sprang from fruit trees as charred bark fell like thick black paint from the trunks. That which was lost in the World would now, forever, and into eternity be born once again.
Dani, Madeline, Parousia and the dog journeyed on. The world would need to be re-created for the kingdom to come. There was the entire east coast of America to be restored and then onward to Europe, Africa and Asia …
And the one-hundred forty-four thousand and growing survivors of mankind followed them … just seven days behind.
If you liked this story, please check out my newest book of short stories ... CRAYON MONSTERS available from Barnes and Noble or from Amazon with this link http://www.amazon.com/Cloverdale-CRAYON-MONSTERS-Volume-3/dp/1517660068 Thank you for being the reason that I write.