Monday, March 2, 2009

Conversions 4

"The only positive is that she told me what they said to her." Paul pushed the leaflet across the desk towards Patrick. "Have you ever heard of the Rapture?"

"Robert might have mentioned it. I don't really remember."

"It's nonsense," said Paul. "I mean, it always seemed like nonsense. You can read the Bible from cover to cover, and you won't find anything about the Rapture unless someone explained the code to you first. They've taken a handful of verses out of context and stitched them together to make this pseudo-prophecy about the faithful getting into Heaven without dying."

"Religious nutcases," said Patrick.

"Yes," said Paul. "But religious nutcases who predicted the Event years before it happened."

Patrick shuddered. "That's impossible."

"I wish it was," said Paul. "They've always been there, saying it was going to happen, and no-one's ever taken any notice. Well, it looks like they were right after all."

"But that would mean God's ... well ... playing games with us."

Paul nodded. "You can see why Kate took it so badly." The Event, terrible as it was, could still be a part of God's incomprehensible plan. But the God he had loved and trusted could never be the God of the Rapture cult.

"And you didn't manage to convince her it's not true?"

"They've got all the evidence on their side," said Paul. "All I could try to do was-"

Before he got any further, the door burst open. Gary staggered into the room, white-faced and breathless. "Reverend," he said. "Thank Go- I mean, you're safe."

"What's happened?"

"More disappearances," Gary said. "On the TV. Had to make sure you were still here."

Patrick looked from Paul to Gary. "Kate," he said, and dashed out.

Paul poured Gary a cup of water. "More people have disappeared?"

"That's what they were saying on the news. I didn't wait for the details - I was afraid you were one of the ones..."

Paul switched on the TV in the corner. One of the civil servants from the Event Commission was speaking to the camera. " theory at this time, but we would urge the public to remain calm and let the emergency services do their jobs." Across the bottom of the screen ran a ticker saying Breaking News: Further disappearances?

The civil servant finished talking, and the newsreader appeared on-screen. "Footage from Jerusalem this morning suggests that last week's Event was not an isolated occurrance. Potentially the start of a second wave of vanishings, this incident has sparked widespread panic."

The newsreader was replaced by a grainy video of a jostling crowd. "Here in Jerusalem," a reporter said, "everyone has their own explanation of what caused the Event. Tensions are higher than usual as different splinter groups blame each other for bringing down what they call 'God's punishment'. The security forces are at full-" A flash of light blotted everything out for a second. "Jesus, what was that?"

The video played again, this time in slow motion and with part of the image circled. Two men rushed at one pair of preachers, obviously incensed at something they'd just heard. After the flash, they were nowhere to be seen. The preachers, chillingly, were still speaking as if nothing had happened.

"We're not sure at this time whether this new incident is connected to the Event or completely unrelated," said the newsreader. "Dr James Tobin, professor of-"

Paul switched the TV off.

"It doesn't sound that similar," said Gary. "There was no blinding flash when ... with the Event. And it was everyone at once, not just two people."

The Rapture cult leaflet was still lying where Patrick had let it fall. Paul picked it up and turned to the explanation of what the prophecy claimed would happen next. The second paragraph described two preachers in Jerusalem, with anyone who attacked them struck dead by fire. Would that explain the flash?

"It's not the same thing," said Paul. "But it's connected."

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

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