Being Caught up

“Repent! For the kingdom of Heaven is at hand.” How many thousands of times had he heard his father preach this? Noah remembered the conversation as he watched the bodies rise from the ground and float toward the sky. ‘Repent,’ he scoffed. How many times had they argued over this? “It’s not that simple, dad. You can’t just turn and walk away from your life. It's more complicated than that,” he explained. His father waggled his finger and gruffly replied, “nothing is too hard for God.”

Noah didn’t recognize any of the people that floated through the ground of the cemetery. His bus was late again, and the reason was apparent. He decided to leave the stop and walk along the fence, hoping to see someone he knew. He saw a drunkard waving at the people as they floated by. Drunkard was another term his father had used, just another cynical way of describing people. ‘When will he ever learn that you cannot alienate a person you are supposed to love?’ As he walked, he saw Miss Jackson from the first grade rising up. Noah shouted and started waving his arms. She heard him and waved back. It wasn’t long before she was out of sight.

He continued his trek until a car crash distracted him. It was an SUV that side swiped a parked car. The driver wasn’t fazed as he stared at the people that floated away. It was Mr. Sidwell. Noah called to him and jogged over after catching his gaze. In a conversation three months ago, Mr. Sidwell tried to persuade his father to drop his “Repent” message. Sidwell was a recovering alcoholic and railed against the idea that change is a simple thing to do. “People have routines that are embedded in their soul. Only large-scale challenges to their systems might break them free. It takes a lot of effort to adjust to change and most people are in opposition to it,” he had argued. Noah’s dad didn’t have a retort for this. Perhaps Sidwell’s authenticity was too powerful for the preacher to contest. “Isn’t this exciting?” Noah asked. “I never thought I’d actually see it. Oh, should you be driving?” “I don’t think I can anymore,” Sidwell replied as he saw the fusion of the cars. “Listen, time is running out and I need to call some folk to warn them.” He bade Noah farewell and quickly lumbered off while pushing buttons on his phone.

It was a beautiful sunny day with only a few clouds. Noah was on his way to his Poli Sci class when the risings began. Watching Sidwell pushing buttons reminded him that he needed to call Tamika, a classmate of his. He was going to make his move today and ask her for a date but considering recent events that wouldn’t be happening. He returned to his position along the fence as more bodies climbed out of the ground. He pushed buttons on his phone in hopes of reaching his older brother Adam. Adam had become addicted to heroin, and unlike Sidwell he was not in recovery. His lack of effort garnished the disdain of their father. The two hadn’t spoken since the last tongue lashing his father had given him almost a year ago. It was the same message again and it was laid on thick, ending with Adam waving a hand gesture as he left the parish. Noah was able to keep in contact and they spoke every 2-3 months. This attempt to contact resulted in Adam’s voicemail.

As he looked into the sky, He saw Ms. Wilson, his 8th grade teacher waving to him as she rose. She died of cancer two years ago and he misses her. More noise from across the street grabbed his attention. A woman was screaming frantically as she noticed that her baby stroller was empty. Another woman began screaming outside her third story apartment window. “He’s gone! He's gone! He just disappeared,” she yelled. Noah turned and noticed that people had stopped rising from the cemetery. The prophecy is halfway done and the whole world was about to change. Denial struck him quick. ‘No law school. My first beer. Tamika! Oh God I need to call her.’ But as he reached for his phone it buzzed. The display showed it was his mother. He accepted the call and nervously asked, “Mom?” However, his mother wasn’t the one to reply. “Your mom isn’t here,” his father said. “She vanished while hanging out the laundry. One minute she was there and next she was gone,” he continued. “She’s been taken?” Noah asked. “Yes,” his father replied. “Yes, she was.” He sounded disappointed. Noah could hear the disbelief in his voice. His father wasn’t taken. Amazed he asked his father, “why not you? Why were you not taken?” His father shrugged off the accusation. “I’m sure I’ll be next.” he said confidently. “I doubt it,” accidentally slipped passed Noah’s lips.

Noah was shocked as a mysterious force controlled his mouth. Words usually bottled up found their way to his lips. “You’re too stiff-necked while riding your high and mighty horse. It’s no wonder you weren’t taken. You’ve never followed your own advice. Repent,” Noah’s mysterious voice yelled.

Noah started to tremble. His eyes shot up as he saw the most horrible thing. An airliner plunged from the sky and struck the center of a skyscraper. As the sound waves of the explosion arrived, people were running everywhere while cars crashed into things. Noah looked and saw a woman hiding in the entrance of an apartment building. She vanished before his eyes. He decided that it was time to go. Rather than run with the crowd, he climbed the fence and ran toward his buddy Brad’s house. Brad had a generator and a freezer filled with deer meat. If he could make it there, he would be safe. Behind him he heard gunshots popping and then a large explosion shook the ground leveling him.

As he sat up, he heard his father yelling through the phone. “What do you want, old man?” shouted Noah’s mysterious voice. “How dare you speak to me in that tone? I’m your...” “You’re still not getting it, the other voice interrupted. “You had your chance to live your life and you made your choices. We sent many people to straighten you out, but you pushed them away. Sister Smith, Rev. Jones, and Mr. Sidwell all showed you the proper way, but you belittled them and dismissed them. You get just one more chance. Don’t blow it,” the voice ended. Noah was nearly paralyzed with fear. His world was falling apart all around him. Shaking he held the phone up, “Dad? Dad you there?” There was silence at first but then a loud weeping sound filled the receiver. “Dad,” he continued. “I’m sorry,” his dad cried, “I’m sorry. Please don’t leave me here. I’m sorry.” Noah could not believe his ears. His fire and brimstone father was weeping. Noah could feel his hurt and anguish as he continued to beg to be forgiven. Filled with compassion he thought he’d never have for his father, Noah tried to encourage him. “It’s okay dad. Don’t worry. You’ll be okay.” Suddenly there was a draft. It was as if he’d forgotten to wear pants. He looked down to check and saw his clothes on the ground with the phone beside them. “Oh crap!” he shouted as he started to rise into the sky. He waved his hands and feet but quickly realized that things were ok. He’s afraid of heights, yet he’s tranquil at 3 stories up. He feels confident, fearless. He gazes around and sees others rising as well. He’s pretty sure he can see Mr. Sidwell two blocks over. At six stories he can see the carnage of the risings. There are buildings on fire, cars upside down, and bodies lying everywhere. At twelve stories up he realizes that he isn’t cold. The rate of travel isn’t fast or slow but consistent. When he reaches the half-mile point the ground is a smoking ant farm. The rising people are closer together, and that was Sidwell he saw. He tries to wave and speak but nothing happens. He can only move his head. Tired of looking down he looks up and sees a man standing in the clouds. A joy passes over him that he has never felt. It feels so good that he cannot take his eyes from Him. He keeps looking up, never returning to his old thoughts.