After hours listening to Bill Brewster until it seemed he had nothing new to report, Phil sauntered out on the streets to mix with the crowds. As he approached the magnificent edifice where he usually attended church, he observed a motley crowd outside. Few were the ones inside praying. (That congregation did not know the meaning of prayer.) As he drew nearer one of his fellow plant managers, Bill was ripping into Dr. Moderne. Phil was almost by the crowd when he heard a sharp blow and a thud. Some women screamed. Bill had knocked out the great theologian! An elder and friends carried his limp form inside.
Bill was all wrought up: he almost ranted to Phil as he came alongside at that very moment. “That berobed hypocrite is still too asinine to admit that he has pulled the wool of his own blindness over our eyes! He even had the stubborn nerve to say that as yet there was no evidence that God had taken anyone out of this world (except by death). “Maybe that ‘pill of understanding’ I gave him will help – after he comes to!”
Bill joined Phil: they strode towards the plant. Quite occasionally they heard gun shot, or a pistol. They thought the pistols were by police, warning mobsters. But shortly they met an officer who volunteered the information, that all over people were suiciding. By gunshot and poison, by rope and off bridges, or out of boats. Others hysterical and screaming had raced into careening cars!
It was still early in the afternoon for either police or local heads to have come out of their daze, and take steps to get things in hand. Swaying in the streets were both men and women, with unconcern carrying their opened bottles, occasionally stopping to drink. Law officers were equally as unconcerned. The entire day and scene were ‘out of this world’ and without historical precedent. So utterly bizarre it numbed the mind.
The largest crowd Phil had ever seen on that street milled about the liquor store : it was completely sold out Some were scurrying away in the direction of another – hoping that there they might find better luck.
When Phil came back to Mary, she told of listening to the newscasts as they had been coming in from the western time zones. The story was the same from everywhere. The simple, the lonely, and religiously queer were missing while priests, ministers and their elite congregations were all still too solidly left in the flesh. But this one fact was beginning to stand out she said, “All the missing ones are known by friends to have been fervent believers in Jesus’redemptive work and all of them claiming they had received the spirit baptism. Phil according to what I’ve heard, they were all like Martha the very finest of Christians to grace our earth, but none of them actually queer, except in the sight of those like ourselves who thought of Martha as foolishly religious. But now it is only too evident that it is we – the modern sophisticates who have been weighed in the scales of Christ our Redeemer and found woefully wanting. It is the Martha’s and the Joseph’s whom Christ has beheld as fit for himself, while we unfit to longer know the fragrance of their presence.” Momentarily her voice trailed off into silence.
All radio programs had been cancelled (who cared?)! Bill Brewster’s voice had long since given out: he had been replaced way before noon; now a reserve was spelling off Tom Brown who had come on at twelve.
Phil and Mary found themselves quizzically gazing at their breakfast ashtray. Both had lit their king-size cigarettes taking the first few puffs before placed in the tray when they had first turned on the radio. The sight was utterly foreign: half the length of cigarette ash inside the tray, the other half on the table as the butts had fallen off.
Mary spoke, “Phil, aren’t they nauseating? I haven’t thought of a smoke all day Phil. Would you mind if I took tray, packs and all to dump in the garbage?”
“With my blessing” Phillip quickly replied. “I have had no desire for them all day – since that session of prayer this morning.”
There were no more smokes in the house of Phil and Mary.
As they switched to the sitting room to hear the new broadcasts in more comfort, they could scarcely understand their own stunned amazement when the announcer reported they had been trying to get Rome all day but only now enabled to establish contact The Pope was still there! And so were his Cardinals throughout their far-flung domains. And similarly, by and large, were their simple sheep: the blind and trusting congregations who had childishly believed that the Church, even their priest’s had fully attended to their visas to heaven. As up to the moment, the consensus of reports indicated that the missing Catholics – either Roman or Greek, were so few and far apart they were hardly worth mentioning.
Contact with Salt Lake City had also been eventually achieved. Report was identical to that from Rome; only three persons missing out of the entire Mormon colony.
They too had been queers – seldom attending the services.
Throughout the long bedeviling day, reporters had tracked down the intimates of multitudes missing: the analysis of events was shaping up. Peculiarly enough, the most chagrined of the lot seemed to be the Pentecostal people! The congregations of the tongues movements, true enough, some of their ministers were actually missing: the mute evidence left behind that they had vanished into thin air. And also vast numbers of their congregations throughout Christendom were authentically reported missing. But behind they had left a multitude of dumbfounded tongue-talkers, all of whom had been so cocksure that they were in that number. Up to the moment, reports indicated that the Pentecostal congregations had church-wise, by far fared the best (of all the churches). But behind had been left a vastly greater number of thoroughly dumfounded ones, who had been so sure that their unintelligible chatter in church had constituted that unmistakable sign that they were ear-marked for the first ‘bus’ heaven-bound.
Among the rational and the realistic reporters the consensus of opinion was straight and to the point: all missing persons they had traced had been described in superlatives as faultless before God, and all claiming to have been baptized by the fire of his holy spirit That, since the day was almost ended and still not the faintest trace to be found of anyone reported missing in the morning, no other possible explanation had been forthcoming than the utterly dumfounding claim by Jesus of old that he would eventually return to take unto himself those waiting, watching and praying with oil in their lamps. The conclusion seemed inescapable that this is precisely what had happened, but the one outstanding dilemma was that no one had seen Jesus.
Jerusalem too, had been on the wires: the entirety of orthodox Jewry was still solidly in the flesh. No Messiah had shown up in Jerusalem, neither any reports about him. Yet, Jerusalem was in a state of agitation. The Jerusalem Wire Service reluctantly admitted that a considerable smattering of Christians in Jerusalem and throughout the Holy Land, had allegedly, been reported as missing; but as up to the moment, they could neither affirm nor refute such claims.
A few days earlier, it had also been reported from Jerusalem that 2 men with knee-length beards had appeared in their midst, warning of impending judgment and the Messiah’s return; and claiming they were John and Lazarus of old. But of course, no one had believed such reports who could believe the impossible? In other countries the report had been classified in the same category as Wells’ Martian invasion of Earth.
By Mikkel Dahl