October 03, 2005

Chapter 31

John woke up as dawn broke, leaving Rachel's side for a moment and coming back quickly. Gideon and Sarah were just waking up.

Martha came in on her morning rounds a few minutes later.

"She hasn't changed at all," said Gideon. "Just sleeping quietly."

Martha looked over the machines. "She's changed a bit, I'm afraid, and not for the better."

John looked up. "Is there anything you can do - like you did for me?"

"Even if she were a citizen, at this point, no."

John's face fell. "How long?"

"A day, maybe two."


The old man brightened when Isaac arrived.

"Listen to what I told you?" he asked.

"Yes, sir," Isaac replied. "I have some questions, though, things I need to know for your story to make sense."

"Of course you have questions. How could you not? The world has changed."

"I just don't quite -"

"Of course you don't. Even for us this was a shock, a change in direction that many couldn't accept."

Issac sat down on a haybale in the cell.

"I haven't yet heard if Jerusalem was destroyed," he started.

"It was," replied Jethro. "Along with Rome and Mecca. We humans, filled with a terrible pride, destroyed our holy places."

Isaac sighed. "We can be terrible, no question." He looked around at the stall. "But how do you know that the world has started again, that Christ has departed?"

"There are a few key pieces. We always understood the events in Revelation to take place in Jerusalem, but a few verses make that painfully clear."

He picked up his Bible, and flipped to Revelation. "There's chapter 11, which starts:

"And there was given me a reed like unto a rod: and the angel stood, saying, Rise, and measure the temple of God, and the altar, and them that worship therein. But the court which is without the temple leave out, and measure it not; for it is given unto the Gentiles: and the holy city shall they tread under foot forty [and] two months."

"Of course, the Temple of God was in Jerusalem, and it's hard to measure that now that it's one big crater."

"Go on," said Isaac.

"Also in Revelation, there's the beginning of Chapter 14: 'And I looked, and, lo, a Lamb stood on the mount Sion.' But if there's no Mount Sion - the same as Zion - there's no place for the Lamb to stand. And Christ promised to return to Jerusalem when 'the time come when ye shall say, Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord' back in Matthew."

Isaac had no answer.

"There's one other piece," said Jethro, "which convinced me. It's from Psalm 125, and this one really struck at the heart of things:"

"They that trust in the Lord shall be as mount Zion, which cannot be removed, but abideth for ever. As the mountains are round about Jerusalem, so the Lord is round about his people from henceforth even for ever."

"Apparently we removed Mount Zion," said the raider. "The temple is gone and cannot be rebuilt, and the entire mountain has gone as well. It's hard to imagine."

"I have - I have to go," said Isaac.

"Take your time," said Jethro. "Come back whenever you like."


The snow outside was falling harder and harder. Miriam had radioed the farmers who had trekked down to the valley, and they were settling in for a long night in the enormous commune farmhouse, tending the animals there as best they could. The raiders hadn't broken in, and they had plenty of food and fuel to get them through the storm. They would try to reach the outer farms when it stopped snowing, and hoped they would be in similarly good shape.

Reporting to the elders had been simple this time, though their silence about Jacob was unnerving. She didn't expect they'd exile him into a snowstorm, but it would be good to hear that they weren't going to exile him.

She walked from the hospital to the barn, along a pathway already bounded by growing walls of snow. A raider had taken up reading scriptures again, this time shouting the book of Genesis into the room.

"And all the days of Seth were nine hundred and twelve years: and he died. And Enos lived ninety years, and begat Cainan: And Enos lived after he begat Cainan eight hundred and fifteen years, and begat sons and daughters."

"Did he have to choose the begats?" asked Caleb.

"I'd rather hear that than Joshua," replied Miriam. "Has it been like this all morning?"

"Mostly. One of them started early, got tired, then another picked up. It's one at a time, but they seem to pick what they want to read."

"All Old Testament?"

"Mostly. I'm pretty sure I heard some of Revelation."

"Anything new with the families?"

"Not since Zipporah, no. The women and children seem pretty relaxed, but the men seem even more tense than before. Any idea how long we'll be entertaining them?"

"Not for long, I'd hope, but this snow makes me wonder. It's getting windy out there too, and I doubt the city wants to risk losing a flight."

"The sooner these folks depart, the better. They're spooky. I've asked the readers to stop talking about religion with them."

"Nothing new to learn? Isaac seemed to get the story pretty easily from that old man."

"Maybe too much to learn," replied Caleb. Miriam looked puzzled, and Caleb continued. "I've found three of my readers looking through their Bibles, always in the first few chapters or in the very back, at Revelation."

"You don't think they'd -"

"That's the problem. I do think they might get some bad ideas here. They've seen what these people can do, but the shock's wearing off. And most of us - well, we haven't exactly had a theological challenge around here in a long time."

"I guess challenging ourselves in Sunday school wasn't enough?"

"Maybe not. Anyway, I'm having a meeting later to go over our message, and I'm emphasizing that message to our readers, not just to the raiders."

"Should we keep an eye on our own people?"

"Informally, yes. Formally, probably not. And did we hear from the city about Jerusalem?"


Jacob stood up slowly. Miriam hadn't been by in a while, and he was tired of depending on nurses for everything. He was tired and bruised, but not very broken. His first few steps were tentative, and he used the rolling stand for his fluids as a support, but he could get around.

Once he felt stable, he walked out of his room and looked around. More of the rooms looked occupied, though none of the nurses were around. He walked down the hallway, past a room whose door was closed. A young woman was resting in bed. He continued - then stepped back. He'd never seen her before.

He started on again, but stopped quickly.

"Jacob? What are you doing out of bed?" asked Abner, down the hall from him.

"I couldn't stand waiting around," Jacob replied.

"You never really could," said Abner, "but this one time you might be wise to. Here - let me help you."

They walked back down the hallway. "Who's she?" asked Jacob.

"She's one of the raider women. Apparently was treated badly. Miriam put her in here to separate her from the rest of them."

Down the hall another familiar face appeared, though not quite familiar.

"Jacob? Is that you?" asked John.

"John? John? What happened?"

"It's a long story. Abner can tell you - I just told him last night. The city doctors - well, my exile ended, and I'm a citizen again somehow, and, well, I'm here to see Rachel."

"How's she doing?"

"Not well. She's tossing and turning, and I need to find a nurse."

"I'll help," said Abner. "Jacob, you go in there and rest for a little while, and I'll be in to see you soon."

Posted by simon at October 3, 2005 10:20 PM
Post a comment

Remember personal info?

© 2004 Simon St.Laurent.
All Rights Reserved.