That's When They Knew


He hurried through the undergrowth, stumbling, the weight of the 180 plus pound man hanging over one shoulder throwing him off balance. The canopy overhead blocked out what little sun there was. Rain fell steadily making the already slick ground even more treacherous. HIs mind racing he continued following the path his fellow teammates were speeding over.

The mission had gone sideways and they were hot footing as fast as they could out of there. Two of his team members had been wounded, one a gunshot to the arm and the other had taken a bullet in the upper thigh. That man was slung over his shoulder in a fireman’s carry. He glanced behind him and saw his team leader bringing up the rear. His face was grim as he gave him a curt nod. Turning back he stumbled over a root and went down to one knee, the man on his shoulder letting out a soft grunt. He struggled back to his feet, softly whispering an apology.

They were deep in enemy territory in a country he could never admit to being in much less caught in. His legs and back screaming he forced one foot in front of the other. Leave no man behind was their creed and he had to remind himself over and over as fatigue crept up his legs.

The mission had been simple, track a small band of terrorist to their base and take photos, get a count of how many enemies targets, check out their security and radio in the coordinates. They hadn’t counted on running across sentries so far out. They were a sneaky lot, he’d give them that. The firefight that had ensued had alerted the estimated hundred or so terrorist at their main camp to their presence. Now the hunters had become the hunted.

Without warning the weight was lifted from his shoulder causing him to fall sideways. He crashed to the ground with a muttered curse. He rolled to his knees searching for his teammate. He caught sight of the rest of his team standing stock still staring in shock at something he couldn’t see in front of them. Looking behind, him he saw his team leader staring at him his eyes stunned, rifle dropped low, the barrel grazing the soggy vegetation.

He regained his footing and began searching for is teammate. He searched in a slow circle but didn’t see him. He felt fabric brushing against his chest and reaching pulled a pair of fatigues off of his shoulder. He stared at the pants and did another scan of the immediate area. He blinked hard. He couldn’t have just disappeared right out of his clothes…

He stumbled over something on the ground and looked down to see a boot.

Slowly the team leader leaned over and picked up the boot. He shook his head as if not believing what he was seeing.

His mouth suddenly dry he looked over at another of his teammates as they held out a shirt, a flack vest, another pair of fatigues, a rifle and gun belt with ammo. The men gathered around confused and shocked expressions on their faces.

He looked again at his team leader and saw the blood drain from his face. Their eyes locked.

That’s when they both knew…


He slowed as he peered through the rain. A car was pulled to the shoulder and he could see the outline of a man in the faint light from the trunk. He flipped on his lights, the red and blue flashes alternating in the dimness. He pulled to a stop behind the vehicle and recognized the man as he turned, a tire iron in his hand.

He groaned as he recognized the man. The man give him a jaunty wave. He gave a half hearted wave back as he reached for his radio to call in to dispatch. After a brief conversation with the dispatcher he reached for his hat and glanced in his rear view mirror to check for oncoming traffic. Seeing nothing he opened the door of his police cruiser and stepped out into the rain.

He shivered as a few drops hit his face and slid down his collar as he put his hat quickly on his head. He could hear the drops start beating a drum on the plastic liner, and wished he could just slide back into the car. It had been raining steadily for two days and the weather had him aching for his shift to be over so he could go home where it was warm and dry.

He looked at the man standing a few feet from him, noticed the smile of greeting and forced himself to take a step toward the local pastor.

He didn’t dislike the man, he was friendly enough, but he could turn any conversation into a sermon. Well, maybe not a sermon, but he could bring the Bible into it. And he’d had enough of that to last him a lifetime. His mother had been a church person and had forced him to go every Sunday, morning, evening, and Wednesday nights as well until he had reached the age of fourteen. He’d told her he wasn’t going to church with her anymore. She’d cried, but he’d stood firm in his decision. He hadn’t set foot inside a church except for weddings and funerals since.

When he had gone to the local diner last Sunday for his lunch break, the pastor had been in there with some of his church members and he had overheard their conversation. They had been discussing the sermon from that morning. Something about Jesus coming for His bride. They had been boisterous in their conversation and he had rolled his eyes at his table companions. He had continued eating his lunch, catching snippets of the conversation. The rapture, blah blah blah. A trumpet sounding. A loud cry from the heavens. People disappearing in the twinkling of an eye.

He had a difficult time not laughing out loud at the ludicrous conversation. He’d been hearing that kind of talk his whole life. While his mother never got him to go back to church, she’d regaled him with synopsis’ of the sermons when she got home every Sunday and Wednesday.

Finishing his lunch he had paid his bill and left, only after he was safely out of earshot of the pastor and his church members letting out a laugh. Rapture, what a crock he’d thought to himself.

Bracing himself for a short sermon about the Great Flood, he jumped when the tire iron dropped to the ground with a clang.

He saw the pastors clothes hit the pavement with a wet sounding plop.

His feet froze and he stood there in the rain dumbfounded. He shook his head, and blinked rapidly. The cloths were still in a soggy pile partially on top of the tire iron. He rubbed his eyes and looked again, shocked.

The pastor was nowhere to be seen, but his clothes were lying on the ground. He could see the tips of shoes poking out from beneath the pile. He heard, as if from a great distance, the crackling of voices on his radio. He couldn’t make out the words, his ears buzzing in shock.

Out of the corner of his eye he say a car roll past, just barely missing him.

His hearing cleared and his instincts kicked in as the car swerved, hydroplaning on the rain soaked road. He heard a woman scream as the slid car out of control. It ran off the asphalt and hit the muddy ditch and slammed into a tree. Giving a last glance at the pile of clothes he sprinted across the highway as he reached for his radio to call in the accident.

He reached the drivers window and saw the airbag had deployed and the woman sitting dazed. He rapped on the window calling out “Are you okay ma’am?”

She stared blankly at him. He tried again. “Ma’am, are you okay?”

She shook her head as she rolled down her window.

He peered into the car and noticing the infant’s car seat asked her, “Are you the only one in the car?”

She shook her head no.

He stepped back to peer into the back window to see if the baby was injured. There was nothing in the seat. Just a small blanket, a pacifier, and what looked to be as the feet of a onesie.

“My son, is he alright?” The woman asked abruptly. She quickly turned in her seat to see the empty carrier. “Where is he?” she asked frantically. She unbuckled her seat belt and began scrambling into the back seat.

He felt a chill creep down his spine.

“Where is he?” the woman began tossing things from the carseat to the floorboard. Her breathing was ragged with sobs. ”WHERE IS HE?” she screamed.

His hands began to tremble as he stared at the empty car seat. He looked back at the pile of clothes on the other side of the road.

That’s when he knew….


She walked, head down, taking no notice of the other students milling about. They stood or walked in groups, coffee’s in hand, chatting, laughing, making plans for the upcoming weekend.

She ascended the steps and opened the heavy doors. The quiet of the library was a welcome refuge from the chaos of the rest of the campus. She made her way past the crowded tables and headed toward the stairs that lead to the stacks. Wending her way around bookshelves, she found a small table located in a hidden niche.

She dropped into the chair and set her books on the table. Consulting her study notes she carefully stacked the books in the order she would need. She placed a yellow highlighter, two blue pens, two black pens and two pencils next to the notebook she placed in front of her. She studied the tabletop and with a small nod of satisfaction, she set the timer on her iPhone for one hour and reached for the sociology text book.

A few minutes later she sat back and shook her head. She couldn’t seem to concentrate. It was extremely irritating, especially considering she was usually very focused.

It was all her roommate’s fault. Her, and her friends. With a frown she sat forward again and began reading the textbook.

A few minutes later she sat back again. Blowing out a frustrated breath she leaned her elbows on the table and dropped her forehead into her hands.

Why couldn’t she get the conversation she had overheard her roommate had been having with her friends out of her mind?

Every Tuesday and Thursday night her roommate had three friends come over and they had what they called “Bible Study”. For the last several months she had overheard several of their conversations. They would read passages out loud and the converse for several minutes before she would creep quietly out of the room.

She didn’t understand much of what they talked about, which irritated her to no end. She was very well rounded in her education. She could more than hold her own in any conversation, whether it concerned economics, history, current events, literature, art, etc.

But the Bible and it’s topics she knew nothing about. She was normally the smartest person in the room. Not understanding what her roommate and her friends spoke about was very unnerving to her. She had been a straight A student her whole life. She had a 4.0 average in college. Academia was her life.

She knew what she needed to learn to succeed in life. She planned to be a neurosurgeon like her father. She would one day join him in his practice and be as successful as he. But she wouldn’t reach her goal if she kept getting distracted.

Once again she sat forward and began to read. The timer went off a few minutes later, the iPhone buzzing against the table. She frowned at the offending phone and shut the alarm off. Sighing she placed the sociology book to the side and grabbed the anatomy book.

Starting the timer again, this time for an hour and a half, she bent her head to the book. As she made notes, she found her mind wandering again. With a huff, she tossed the blue pen down, scattering the other pens and pencils across the table. Her highlighter rolled off the edge and hit the floor with a small ticking sound.

She leaned over and picked it up, and set it precisely on the table. She straightened the rest of the pens and pencils with the same precision.

This just wasn’t going to do! She had to get focused! Why did her roommate and her friends talks have her so scatterbrained? She sat there gnawing her lip. Their conversations were a bit fascinating, if more than a little outlandish and unrealistic. Rapture. Being called up to heaven by Jesus. Leaving all earthly possessions behind. Disappearing in the blink of an eye right in front of people. The chaos that would ensue. Cars with no drivers. Planes with no pilots at the controls. Everyday people, police officers, doctors, paramedics, firefighters, all those who were believers in Christ and had put their faith in Him, just gone in an instant.

It was pretty scary stuff if it were to really happen. She didn’t believe it to be so, but those girls spoke with such conviction. She shook her head. It had to be hogwash. She didn’t believe that you had to put all your faith in a fairy tale that some man died for you so you could go to heaven. Heaven didn’t even exist as far as she knew from her extensive education. Science couldn’t prove it…

Her iPhone buzzed on the desk again. She gritted her teeth as she shut off the alarm. Two and a half hours of study time wasted. Putting the anatomy book aside, she reached for the biology book. She roughly flipped to the proper page, grabbing up the highlighter and set about reading.

Some time later she heard a noise and held up her hand, one finger raised, indicating to the librarian she needed one more minute. The woman always let her know when the library was about to close since the time she had been accidentally locked in. She had had to call security to let her out of the building. Since that incident the elderly woman made sure to personally let her know when it was time to wrap things up. She heard the woman turn to leave with a swoosh of her skirt.

Several minutes later she looked up and reached for her phone. It was almost midnight!! The library had been closed for almost an hour. Scrambling she grabbed her belongings and headed in the direction of the stairs. Dreading having to call security again to let her out of the building, she tripped over the pile of clothes left on the floor.

She went sprawling, books, phone, and pens flying.

She slowly rolled over and looked to see what she had tripped over. She saw the cardigan first. She reached out and picked it up. It was cool to the touch. Then she caught up the blouse. Her eyes narrowed as she say the rest of the outfit. A skirt, shoes and under clothes lie there on the floor.

Had the librarian changed clothes up here before heading home, leaving her discarded clothes on the floor? That didn’t make sense. Standing up she gathered her belongings and headed for the stairs. Descending, she saw the empty tables that she had bypassed earlier. There was a sport coat hanging on the back of one of the chairs. She picked it up and as she passed placed it on the librarians desk to be placed in the lost and found.

Phone in hand, ready to call security, she tried the main door and was pleasantly surprised to find it opened the she pushed at it.

It was chaos outside. People shouting and running. Some were crying as they held random articles of clothing. Others were on their knees, hands reaching towards the heavens. Others were just shuffling along looking dazed.

As she passed two men she overheard, “He just disappeared. One second we were talking, and the next his clothes fell to the ground!”

She stopped. Turning she stared at the two men. “What did you just say?”

They both began regaling her with their stories of seeing people disappear right before their eyes. She stood, gazed intent as she listened. A lump formed in her throat. Nodding her thanks, she took off at a run. She dropped her books and as she ran she scrolled through her contacts. Finding her roommates name she hit the call button. The phone rang several times the she heard her roommates voice.

“Hi, this is Sharon. I can’t come to the phone right now. I’m either in class, studying, working, or sleeping. Or better yet, the rapture has happened and I’m home with Jesus. If it’s not the rapture, leave a message and I’ll get back to you as soon as I can. If it is the rapture I’m sorry, but I’m betting there are no phones in heaven.” She said the last with a giggle. She hung up without leaving a message and slowed to a walk.

As she entered her dorm she made her way to her room. She paused, swallowed hard and put her key into the lock. The door swung open and she saw Sharon’s bed with a set of pajamas spread out as though someone had laid them out from the head of the bed to the foot. Or as if someone had disappeared right out of them.

She saw the Bible on the nightstand and slowly crossed the room.

She could hear cries and shouts out in the hallway, but they faded into the background as she picked up the Bible. Underneath it was a folder labeled, For Those Who Have Been Left Behind. She picked up the folder and began to read the pages inside. The sun was coming up when she finished.

That’s when she knew…


His wife gripped his hand so hard he thought the bones would break. With a grimace he continued to encourage her to breathe through the contraction. When it was finally over her grip loosened and she gave a shaky sigh.

“That was a big one.”, she said.

He gently pulled his hand away and shook it out, giving her a grin. “Really, I couldn’t tell.”

She laughed softly. “I'm sorry honey, are you ok?”

He nodded and leaned down to give her a gentle kiss. “Don’t worry about me. I can take whatever you can dish out. You just concentrate on having our baby.”

She nodded. “Can you believe it? We’re going to be parents soon.”

“I can’t wait to meet him.” he said.

“Or her.”, she answered with a mock glare.

“Or her.” he agreed his eyes twinkling.

“Whichever it is they will be a miracle. I can’t wait to meet them.” she said.

The nurse came in and checked her progress. “I’ll get the doctor. I think you’ll be going to delivery soon.”

The doctor came in as she was in the middle of another contraction. When it was over he checked her and gave her a nod. “You’re fully dilated. Lets get you into delivery.”

Once in the delivery room, the nurse rearranged the leads to the baby and his wife and gave him a once over to make sure he was gowned and masked. She patted him on the shoulder and with a wink at his wife asked, “Are you ready to meet your little miracle?”

He nodded, his eyes looking around the room nervously.

The nurse gave a small laugh. “It will be fine. Your job is the easy one. Just make sure your wife breathes properly, and let her know you are with her.” With a look at his wife she said solemnly, “Any threats of violence to your husband will not be held against you.”

HIs wife smiled and then grimaced as another contraction began.

The doctor sat at the end of the table and told them he could see the baby’s head. “On the next contraction I want you to push.”

“Will if offend anyone if I say a quick prayer for a safe and easy delivery?” his wife asked.

The nurse gripped her hand and nodded. “You do whatever you want. If a contraction interrupts you I will take over for you.”

“Are you a Christian?”

“Yes I am.” The nurse said.

“So am I.”

The nurse looked up at her husband. “Are you?”

“Me and God have an understanding.”, he said.

Another contraction began and the doctor hunched down and told her to begin pushing.

She began to pray as she strained, and when her prayer faltered the nurse took over.

When the contraction eased, she looked at the nurse and smiled. “Thank you.”

“You’re welcome.” the nurse said. “You know, there is only one understanding you can have with God.” She said to her husband. “You are a sinner in need of a Savior. There is nothing you can do to save yourself. That’s why God sent His only Son to die for you. I’m sure you’ve heard it before.” She looked at his wife.

“He has.”, she panted as another contraction began. “Over and over.”

When the doctor told her to stop pushing she continued. “I”m so worried he will never accept Jesus as his Savior. What if Jesus comes back for His church and he is left to face the tribulation?”

The doctor cleared his throat loudly. “Could you ladies keep the preaching for a later time. Some of us are trying to deliver a baby.” He glared at the nurse. “If the patient wants you to pray, I can’t say anything about it, but the preaching had better stop right now.”

“Sorry doctor.”, the nurse said, her eyes misting.

Another contraction swelled and the doctor gave the order to push. As she pushed her husband supported her, gripping her hand. The nurse held her other hand and prayed softly in her ear.

“Push!” the doctor said again. He reached out toward the baby as the head fully emerged when his patients husband slammed into him.

Falling back off the stool, he cursed as he heard a screams.

“Where is she?”

“What happened?”

The doctor pushed himself up off the floor and shoved at his patients husband. “Get off of her!” he shouted.

The husband pushed himself up and looked down at the empty table. He looked to the other side and saw the nurse was gone.

“Everyone shut up!” the doctor shouted.

The screams stopped and the room when still. On the floor next to the table a pile of clothes lay, and on the table the gown lay empty.

The leads to the baby’s heart monitor sounded a long beep as well as his wife’s. He frantically pulled at the gown and looked under the table.

They were gone. His wife and baby were gone, along with the nurse.

That’s when he knew.


She watched the children playing as hymns were piped into the room from the speakers. She loved the days she volunteered at the nursery held at the local church. Never having had children of her own, she enjoyed being a “mother” for a few hours twice a week.
She looked at the younger woman who was her fellow volunteer for the day and smiled. “They are so precious.” she said as she watched one toddler blow kisses to another.
“Yes they are.” the younger woman agreed. “Precious gifts from God.”
Inwardly she groaned and stopped short of rolling her eyes at the woman’s statement. She pasted on a smile and nodded. “They sure are.”
The younger woman scooped up a toddler who was about to throw a block at another child and nuzzled his hair. “It’s not nice to throw things at people.” she said as she gently took the block from the chubby hand. The boy looked up at her and with a toothy grin said, “Not nice.”
She set the boy down next to a large stuffed bear. The boy immediately grabbed the bear and hugged it tight.
Both women spent the next hour playing with the children, singing to them, then giving them their snacks in preparation of nap time.
After dimming the lights the younger woman began reading the story of Jonah and the whale. Children yawned as their eyes drooped and one by one they fell asleep.
As quietly as possible the two women moved to a table in the corner of the room and sat.
As soon as they were seated the younger woman began with her ‘church’ talk.
“My Bible class is studying the Tribulation.” she whispered. “It’s fascinating and frighting. I’m so glad I have accepted Jesus as my personal Savior and I won’t have to go through it aren’t you?” Without waiting for an answer she looked over at the children. “Can you imagine how scared and sad the parents of kids who are taken in the Rapture will be?”
For the better part of an hour she listened to the younger woman talk about Jesus coming back for HIs church and what the world would face during the Tribulation.
When the first child began stir she quickly interrupted the younger woman and said, “I’m going to take her to the little girls room.”
With a nod the younger woman smiled and went to another child who was stirring.
When she got into the restroom she thought of how nice it was that the church had child size toilets so she didn’t have to stand and hold the kids as they did their business.
As she waited she sent a silent thanks to the child for getting her out of the younger woman’s ‘sermon’.
She began to think of what she needed to do when she left the church. She needed to go by the grocery store and get something for dinner, and she was definitely going to swing by the liquor store for a bottle of wine. After listening to all the churchy talk she deserved as glass or two of wine. She would run a bubble bath and sip her wine while listening to her kind of music, not they hymns that were piped into the nursery all day. As she mentally selected her playlist, she realized the child was unusually quiet.
She looked over at the toilet and saw the child had taken off their clothes and left the room while she mentally planned her evening. “Oh no.” she muttered. She quickly gathered the clothes and rushed out of the restroom into the dim nursery. She looked for the younger woman and not seeing her began looking for the child. She walked around the mats and looked in the toy area expecting to find the child there.
Not seeing the child she looked at the small library of children books. She wasn’t there either. She looked back at the mats and saw she wasn’t there either. The she noticed another empty mat with the blanket tossed to the side. She tiptoed over to pick up the blanket before another child awoke and possibly tripped over it. She reached down and picked it up the realized it wasn’t a blanket, but a sweater. She held the sweater and wondered why the other volunteer had dropped it to the floor.
Then she saw the pants and shoes.
“What in the world?” she muttered as a sick feeling began to build in her stomach.
She looked around the dim room and not seeing the other woman, quickly went to the light and turned it on fully.
All the mats were empty. She went to the nearest mat and pulled the blanket back. She saw the child's clothing, but the child was missing.
She went to the next mat and discovered the same thing. She went back to the pile of the younger woman clothes and saw not only her pants and shoes, but a ring, watch, what looked like… what was that small piece of metal? She picked it up and looked closely. A filling? Was it a filling from a tooth?
She fell to her knees. NO! It couldn’t be! She heard screaming and realized the sound was coming from her own throat.
She got up and stumbled back until she bumped into the table she and the younger woman had been sitting at. She looked down and saw the Bible.
That’s when she knew.


The wedding had been beautiful, and the reception dinner had gone off without a hitch. There had been speeches, laughter, tears and great food. As the sun had set and the moon rose there had been fireworks which everyone had ooh’d and ahh’d over.

Now the dancing had been going on for hours and the bride and groom were holding each other close their smiles wide.

She impatiently waited for her baby sister, the bride, to have a free moment so they could have a private word.

With a wave she motioned to her sister and the bride made her way over.

They stood silent for a moment looking at each other. Finally they hugged and tears swam in both women’s eyes as they held tight.

The bride stepped back and they both laughed as they dabbed at their tears.

“You look beautiful.” she told her sister.

She laughed and waved her hand in a dismissive manner. “Thanks, but I want to see if you’ve thought about what we talked about last night.”

She nodded, “I have.”

“So did you do it?”

“Do what?”

The bride blew her breath out in exasperation. “Pray. Confess to Jesus that you are a sinner and need Him to save you. You know, the sinners prayer.”

She hesitated, and saw her sister’s eyes dim in disappointment. “Not yet, I still need to think about it.”

The bride took a breath and exhaled slowly. “I love you big sis, but you are analyzing this way too much. I’ve told you everything you need to know, including that some day Jesus will come for His church…”

“I know, I know, the rapture. But He’s not going to come before you get back from your honeymoon.”

“That’s the thing sis, no one but God knows the day or the hour. Not even Jesus knows when. He told his disciples that.”

“Really?” she asked.

Their baby brother came up and threw his arms around the bride and gave her a big hug. “Will you dance with me?” he asked his eyes full of innocence and love.

“Of course. Just give me a second.” the bride said smiling at her brother. She looked back to her big sister, “Not a single prophecy needs to be fulfilled before Jesus comes back for His bride, the church.”

“Jesus saved me! He will take me to heaven when He comes back!” He smiled his eyes shining, “Jesus loves me!” their brother said loudly.

“Yes He does..” the bride said as she gently brushed his hair out of his eyes.

“Jesus saves! Jesus saves!” he sang as he grabbed the bride by the hand and pulled her toward the dance floor.

Her heart contracted hard as she looked at her brother, remembering the day of the accident almost twenty years before. They had almost lost him when a drunk driver had hit him while he was riding his bicycle. The head trauma had been massive and it had been a long and difficult recovery, but he had physically recovered, if not mentally. The doctors had said he would remain childlike for his remaining years, and he was. Childlike and innocent, so loving and precious, he was a bright light to all who knew him.

“She preaching at you?” her older brother said as he stopped next to her. Her other sister was with him and added, “She cornered me yesterday.”

“She means well.” she defended.

“I know.” he brother said. “She’s got me thinking.”

“She does?”, her other sister asked.

Their brother nodded. “She got mom a couple of days ago. Now she’s reading her Bible and talking about going to church. Asked me if I was saved yet, and if I would go with her on Sunday.”

Both sisters looked at each other wide eyed. “Mom wants you to go to church with her. Where?”

“Baby sis told mom her and her new hubby’s church was great. The preacher was Bible based and doesn’t water things down.” he said.

“Are you going?” she asked.

“Maybe.” he shrugged.

An hour later the two sisters were helping the bride out of her wedding gown into her traveling clothes.

“So, I heard you got Mom to think about going to church.” she said.

The bride smiled. “Did Mom tell you?”

She shook her head.

“Our big brother?” the bride said with a laugh. “She had me pray with her a couple of days ago. It was wonderful.”

Her other sister rolled her eyes. “So have you hit up dad and the step monster?”

“Don’t call her that.”, the bride admonished.

Both of her sisters looked at her their eyebrows raised.

The bride gave a loud sigh. “Yes, I have talked to dad and our step mom.”

“And?” both sisters asked.

“I think dad is thinking about it.”

“But step monst... er I mean step mom isn’t”

The bride chewed her lip, “No. She got up and left.”

“Well, you can’t say you didn’t try.”

“I’ll keep praying for her and all of you.”

Half an hour later the groom was waving to his bride that they needed to leave.

She quickly hugged her brothers and her dad, his wife, her other sister then her mother.

Then she stopped and grasped her sisters hands. “Promise me you’ll call if you have any more questions.”

“I will.”

“With the way things are going in the world, you need to make a decision…”

“Would you stop worrying.” she said interrupting the bride. “Jesus isn’t going to come back this second. I just need to think on it some more.”

“I’m sorry I keep hound

She stood there her hands hanging in midair.

She blinked hard as she saw her sisters clothes drop to the floor in front of her. Then she heard the screams. She turned and looked around. There were people screaming, some with their hands over their mouths, some crying.

Her fists clenched hard and she felt something dig into her palm. She looked and saw her sisters engagement and wedding ring.

She heard her stepmother shrieking and turned to see her father with his hand clenched over his heart. He collapsed and she rushed over.

“No!! No!! Daddy! No!!!”

Her brother started CPR and she dropped to her knees next to him. “Don’t let him die!!”

“Daddy!” She saw her other sister drop to the ground on the other side of their father. “Don’t die!! Someone call an ambulance!!”

Two hours later they sat in the emergency room, their step mother sobbing uncontrollably. Their father had died, their baby sister had vanished along with her husband and most of his family. Their brother and mother were also among the missing. Their eyes met. Tears gathered, and fell.

She looked at her baby sisters wedding rings, the light glinting off the diamond.

They all knew.


The guards watched as the prisoners crowded together.

One guard raised an eyebrow at another and the two shook their heads and waited while a third walked away.

After a few moments the guard returned with the hose and with relish the three watched as the icy water doused those in the crowd.

The prisoners continued to crowd together as they were soaked, not one of them moving to avoid the spray.

With a shrug the guard tossed the hose to the floor.

The other two waited as he shut off the stream and then unlocked the cell and walked in as three more guards took position outside the cell.

One guard grabbed a shivering man by the arm and swung him around.

“What will it take to get you people to stop praying and singing to your God?”

The man stood silent as the guard gave him a shove. The other prisoners continued to pray quietly, some of them dropping to their knees, praying for deliverance.

Prisoners in other cells noticing the activity began to shout, banging on their cell bars, and climbing up them to get a better view.

The guards outside the cell made halfhearted attempts to quiet the other prisoners, then gave up and turned to watch their fellow guards as they shoved the prisoner back and forth between them.

The emaciated prisoner remained silent through the abuse and when the guards finally grew tired of their game he fell to the floor and crawled back toward the circle of prisoners. He then began to pray again with his brothers in Christ.

With sneers on their faces the guards left the cell, banging the door shut behind them.

“Do not give them food for three days.”, the head guard instructed as he walked away.

The guards moved away from the cell, but one remained behind, staring at the huddled group of prisoners.

One of the prisoners met his eyes, his voice carrying over to him. “…forgive them. We know they are blinded by the evil of this world. We pray that you will remove the scales from their eyes as you did the apostle Paul’s and they will come to repentance. Please let us continue to love our tormentors with Christ’s love. We pray that Your grace and peace will see us through this time of trial and we will be soon be set free, either through Your Son coming for His church, or even through death, for we know to absent from the body is to be present with You.”

The guard continued to listen to the prayers and in spite of himself began to wonder if what they believed could be true. He wanted to ask the men why they were so certain that their God would call them to heaven in what they called the rapture, but knew if he was overheard he would be imprisoned with them. He also wanted to know how they could know they would go to be with their God when they died. He envied them their certainty, and their lack of fear of death. He turned his back to the cell and walked away hoping none of the other guards had noticed that he had stayed behind.

As the hours passed and the guard made his rounds, he could hear some of the men praying and singing, while others slept, and others sat silently, watching him each time he passed by their cell.

He ended his shift and went to the dormitory to get some rest. As he slept he dreamed of the men in that cell, singing and praying.

He jerked awake as a siren began to shriek in alarm. He quickly got up and dressed. As he ran from his room he saw other guards running down the hall toward the prison. He reported to his superior and was instructed to go and regain order, and begin questioning prisoners in the cells near where the Christian prisoners were held.

He arrived to chaos in the cells. Some prisoners were looking confused while others were banging on their bars, some had their hands over their ears as the tried to block out the sound of the alarm. Some were looking panicked, and others were openly weeping.

He quickly grabbed the hose as another guard joined him and together they began to hose down the prisoners. He turned toward the cell holding the Christians and saw the cell was empty. He felt his heart jerk and fear began to course through his mind.

The hose he held continued to spray icy water as he dropped it while he stared spellbound at the empty cell.

“How did they escape?” the other guard shouted as he reached for the locked door. He quickly unlocked it and walked into the cell, his flashlight scanning the walls. He turned to his fellow guard who stood shocked. “We need to begin interrogating the other prisoners.”, as he left the cell and pushed passed the seemingly catatonic guard.

“How did they escape?” he shouted as he unlocked another cell and grabbed a prisoner.

The prisoner was weeping as he shook his head, “They disappeared.”

The guard backhanded the prisoner. “They didn’t just disappear.”, he snarled as the man lay on the floor his hand cradling his injured face. He grabbed another prisoner and slapped him while asking him the same question. “How did they escape?”

The other guard finally stirred. He turned and looked at the prisoner on the floor.

“They were there, singing and praying.”, the prisoner said, his eyes wide with terror. “Then they were gone.”

The guard stood staring at the prisoner, seeing the truth in the man’s eyes. He slowly turned and looked at the empty cell, then back to the prisoner.

That’s when he knew.