and then they were gone

“And Then, They Were Gone”

On a perfect Spring day, I got dressed to go on my walk with my best friend.  Our daily routine was a pleasant ritual and one that I always looked forward to, for the most part.  We would meet at Hy-Vee to get a bite to eat, then hit the road where we would basically take a tour of Trenton that would last about an hour and a half, talking about the news of the day, our families, movies, nerd stuff, and the one area that I would feel the least comfortable with, religion.  Oh, to be sure, he didn’t press the issue, but we would always come round to it near the end of the walk.  Honestly, I can’t say if he would steer the talk in that direction or if it was me, but the result was always the same.  It was the final stuff, the “Jesus talks” that seemed to escalate as of late.

I think it was the news.  Yeah, it was the news that seemed to increase his Jesus speech.

“Yeah, all the nations are in their right place and war would break out soon.  It says so right in Isaiah and Ezekiel.” Doug said with enthusiasm

I tell you, I wish I had never introduced him to Google Alerts and taught him how to set things up to be delivered to his inbox on any subject he wished.  He seemed to just absorb it, especially when it concerned Israel and Jerusalem.  He seemed to be a growing expert in national affairs and, to be sure, he had been right on how things were going to happen, but it was when he talked about “being saved” and the whole rapture thing that got me upset.

“You mean, I’m going to be left because I didn’t say some magic words to an old man in the sky?  Well, that sounds about like a bible-thumper, always scaring the Hell into people.type of thing to say!”, but he really didn’t, he just talked about it.  He never brought up the fact about me looking at other women when I’m married, about my Facebook posts that griped about Christians, but I hated the whole Jesus thing, and I knew that I would hear it today.  Today was May 14th, Israel’s “second birthday” as he would say.  I just knew that this day would play into some magical Bible prophecy thing and the whole cycle would start again.

I heard him knocking, whistling a hymn as I saw his bright smile through the window of my door.  He was always in a chipper mood and I did admire him for that, as well as enjoyed his company, but the news playing across my TV changed all that.  I couldn’t believe what I just heard.

“Damascus has been utterly destroyed by Israel!  This is a breaking story!”  The words just seemed to hang in the air, words that other commentators on the hastily created panel of experts seem to echo on CNN with wide-eyed disbelief.

As I opened the door, my chipper friend saw the color leave my face and asked if I was ok.

“No, I’m not.  Have you heard the news?” I asked.

“Oh yeah, I heard, and I didn’t think it would happen this soon and this quickly,” he uttered.

“What do you mean, no wait, don’t tell me, prophecy,..right?”

“Well…yeah, but I can tell you don’t want to hear about it today, so let’s just get something to eat and walk,” Doug replied.

“Yeah, I’m not hungry, but I do need to burn off this energy, so let’s walk.”

I couldn’t believe it, Israel, the “friendly terrorist state” had destroyed Damascus with a nuke.  In one night, they killed so many people and the destruction, not to mention the radiation, will leave the ruinous heap permanently vacant so that no one would ever be able to live there again.  My fury began to rise as we made our way on our route. Since our new starting point was near the end, we made our way to the elementary school by way of the cemetery, then we would loop back around and start at the beginning as I really needed this walk to help me think.

My friend was very quiet during the walk and I welcomed this change.  He was always good about sensing when things needed a break, even the Christian stuff.  I dogged him about his faith quite a bit and he took it all in stride, never getting mad and always willing to answer questions.  He never agreed with me when it came to matters of our country social policies, changing laws and he challenged my way of thinking many times, and I’ll have to admit, he had me on the ropes a time or two, but he was never a jerk about it.

We neared the cemetery and were about to round our way toward the school when all of a sudden, my friend just stopped dead in his tracks.  He seemed to be startled, which was odd in and of itself as I’ve never seen him jump as he just did.

“Did you hear that!?”, but the question couldn’t be answered through the shaking of the ground.

The earth seemed to be “moving” underneath my feet and I could almost sense a pressure building up.  My thoughts were “an earthquake in Missouri?”  My eyes looked desperately around for some kind of shelter where we could both go and that was when I questioned my sanity.

The cemetery exploded.

I could see many of the graves open up as the caskets were thrust above the earth.  I thought that all those zombie movies were about to come true, but even more strange than exploding coffins were the people that came up from them.

They were…beautiful.

I had never seen anyone so beautiful, nor so many beautiful people in one place.  All of them looked around for a brief moment, then looked up and smiled.  In that flickering instant, they were gone and the earth stopped it’s turmoil.

Did I actually see it?  Yes, of course, I saw it, but was it just here or was it everywhere?

I got out my phone and checked my social media and they all told the same story.  Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, news outlets, they all had the same videos and live feeds of cemeteries across the globe exploding, people running, panicked people crying and so much worse.  I looked up from my phone back towards the cemetery, now a pile of dirt and empty coffins and the sweat began to cover my body like a cold wet blanket.  It was then that I remembered something that my walking buddy had said about this.  I turned to ask him about this whole rapture thing and how it might look.

In a single instant, a panic gripped my entire being as it had never done before.

My friend was gone.

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