HOME, SWEET HEAVEN INSTALLMENT #37

Chapter Thirty Six (continued)

The drastic cutback of life repeated itself throughout the Earth. On the other side of the world from America a young girl named Jana happened to live in one of the rare and widely-scattered enclaves of human habitation where survival was possible. Her own continued existence was either a miracle or an odd freak of nature gone berserk. Born into modest but comfortable means nine years before the beginning of the Great Destruction, she was a toddler when the Wave came. Her mind mercifully blanked out most of the events of that day, but throughout the rest of her life she was constantly subjected to flashbacks of overwhelming terror that she was helpless to resolve. The certain knowledge that they would return to torment her kept her in a shy and humble prison of fear. The image that she most dreaded was the morning on the seashore, where she was playing on the ground with her mother in sight and the water close at hand, its gentle lapping just one of the many mild background noises. Then the ground beneath her began to shake and great cracks opened up everywhere. In one terrible moment her mother was gone, lost inside the voracious mouth of soil that had suddenly turned into a hungry monster. But it shook so badly that Jana couldn’t think beyond the terror. She could only stare without comprehension at her loss, the tense ground shivering in rage. The shaking went on and on, it wouldn’t stop, and she could see, again without understanding, great palls of smoke where red liquid gushed out of the ground to engulf houses and screaming people and turn trees bright red and sometimes white before they vanished. These images burned themselves into her mind, storing themselves for nightfall, when they would return during unguarded moments to torment her. Much later the shaking stopped, and she sat where she was, on an island of undisturbed ground, numb with shock. Not a soul came to her aid; she could see a few others but they were either quite still, like herself, or slowly and awkwardly reassembling themselves.

After a time Jana became aware of the intense, oppressive silence, and that was when she turned her head toward the coast and screamed in fright, for the sea was gone. Instead, the land continued out from the shoreline, brown mud and rock that dropped gently but steadily down into a plain that extended out to the horizon, as far as the eye could see. She stared at this new land in disbelief, her terror so extreme that she was unable to move. She was still staring when her mind dimly recorded motion on the horizon, a movement so vast that it was beyond the power of her brain to put it into the proper perspective. A dark line, glints of silver, marching across the plains below, expanding, a dark wall advancing upward, blotting out the sun. It moved faster now with the shortening distance, looming upward, filling the sky, filling the valley as it rushed headlong toward her. Roaring, peaking, cresting up, engulfing clouds, ripping them into streamers and wisps, the hurting pressure of her ears tightening in pain, the air exploding, lifting, hurtling headlong toward the town, spanked from behind, thrust faster, tumbling, overtaken, shaken, engulfed.

Jana hit something, flattened into it and continued to swirl and churn in the crushing grip of violently moving water. Every day thereafter she would vividly remember that first desperate gulp of air as the tree to which she clung tossed about on the restless water, traversing mountains that suddenly turned into valleys and then back into peaks. She would often wonder but never come to fully understand what freak motion of water or indentation in the ground over which it surged prevented it from falling down upon her and crushing out her life, as it did with the rest of her village. She wouldn’t realize that she was badly injured until several hours later. Only when the water deposited the tree and her with it scores of miles inland from her village, and the adrenalin subsided to be replaced by pain, did she understand her state.   Her left eye was damaged beyond healing from the blow of the initial contact with the tree that saved her life. Even in the sorrow that comes from remembered violence and loss she possessed the vanity of a pretty girl. She grieved over her damaged face, but was later able, with clever arrangement, to cover the empty eye with her hair.

Very soon after she returned to the ground she was seen by an aimlessly wandering man, a kind person who picked her up and carried her with him in his search for his village or someone he knew. They were very lucky; his village, being situated on a high plateau, was spared the violence from shaking and water that had destroyed hers. Although much of it was severely damaged, some shelter still remained and there were people who remained alive, with whom they could share experiences and talk out their fears. Jana was given to an elderly lady, old enough to be her grandmother, but she was also kind, and gently nursed her back to health. Jana remained with the old lady, a time when dark, murky clouds extended down to within a few feet of the ground and very little sunlight penetrated the gloom. It became cold and there was very little food to eat. The tiny village subsisted mostly on rats, who had become fat on the death that stalked the land. This unpleasant fare was washed down with stale, rank-smelling water from the marshland to the west.

In spite of the hardships and discomfort of attempting to survive in a world that suddenly had marginalized mankind, Jana was given a precious gift. The old lady with whom she lived was a devoted Christian, and every night at bedtime she was in the habit of imparting to Jana a portion of her knowledge of God.

Far below the turmoil on the surface, the earthmotion yanked at the underground communities scattered throughout the earth, where the majority of political movers and shakers now resided. The terrific heat from the moving crust-mantle boundary surged upward through layers of rock that were turning soft and in some locations molten, themselves merging into the boundary and becoming part of it. The effects, which were strongly influenced by latitude and crustal depth, were felt unequally. The pressure of moving ground drove the nearly plastic red-hot walls of the Malaysian shelter inward toward each other, squeezing the long-dead community inside into a soupy pulp that was forcefully mixed into the surrounding rock. The meltdown of the reactor generated an insignificant little belch. News of this disaster never reached the other communities. From the very first there was a sharp rise in electrical activity that rendered electromagnetic communication impossible. Earthshocks made a joke of the alternate laser communications, their violence completely overwhelming the optimistically-designed damping mechanisms. Then when the winds came and the lands were breached with water the ground was immediately swept clean of sensors.

The European governmental community located in Belgium was particularly ill-sited, having found itself covered by water to a depth of a mile and a half. The extreme pressure forced water down the cracked heat-exchanger pipes that were exposed on the surface, creating colossal jets of deadly liquid that sprayed into the shelter, uprooting people, buildings and equipment before the invading liquid eventually settled down to fill the caverns, drowning the trapped inhabitants. Here the reactor survived intact for a time, humming away happily in the midst of quietly floating bodies.

The Brazilian facility remained intact in its entirety, continuing to function through the directives of automatic control systems, its human inhabitants being dead to the last man. They simply couldn’t handle the sustained one hundred fifty degree temperature that was maintained by a greatly overloaded environmental system.

GLOW, of course, had rapidly moved into the nearest underground shelter that was available to him, which actually was very close to the position where Jacob and Moira, along with Sidney and Mary, lay at their observation post. This shelter was virtually unique, in that it remained intact throughout the major part of the bombardment from above. The facility’s communication with its above-ground sensors was destroyed, however, causing him to be irritated with his lack of information on the world above the shelter. Quickly tiring of this forced isolation from the world that he had come to understand as his personal possession, he took the elevator back up to the surface. He just had time for a swift glance around when a final piece shed from the comet stamped on his head and smashed him into the ground. Despite the finality of this event, there was yet another leg to GLOW’s involuntary journey. Eventually Wisdom would oversee his transportation to the fresh new daughter of Jupiter that still loomed over the Earth. There, in the somewhat warmer climate that prevailed in the center of that planetoid, GLOW would literally and quite spectacularly represent the name he had chosen for himself.

With a precision unique to God, there existed by His divine Hand a tiny enclave of life in addition to the hills below Dafna in Israel that escaped the general turmoil. This island of life was located in midwestern North America in the Black Hills region of South Dakota. Here in the vicinity of Mount Rushmore the territory not only was spared the hurricane winds but became blanketed above by cloud, being located near a node of minimum atmospheric disturbance. The people who resided there in temporary but quite adequate shelters had very little knowledge of the worldwide disturbance, as their communication devices were inoperable due to intense ionization.

Shielded from the awful apparition above them, these people shared a thread of commonality: most were Christians who had come to this singular location at the nudging of the Holy Spirit; the others came, albeit reluctantly, as family members. They had in common one other thing, which was an extremely rare and precious circumstance: some of them continued to survive through the next day.

The Black Hills began to rise even as the giant tsunami rushed toward them from the east. As the land rose, cracks appeared in the soil and snaked upward to the precariously balanced rocks above. Responding to the shaking and the undermining, enormous pillars of granite toppled and rolled down the moving slopes, like giant sequoias, felling the trees in their paths and leaving scratches like giant claw marks. Jackrabbits and deer scattered out of their paths along with terrified humans. Most were successful. Some were not. Those who managed to dodge the monsters were troubled yet further by a noise from the east that rose above the nearby din of tumbling boulders.   Far below them the Cheyenne River became a metallic ribbon of reflected light from the leaden sky above as the outflow from the broken dam of the Angostura Reservoir cut into the changing topography to pencil out a new channel. But this insignificant line was dwarfed by an astonishing plane of pewter rimmed with silver farther to the east that stretched to the horizon. As the frozen people stared in open-mouthed awe, the plane continued to flow toward them like liquid mercury as the horizon itself rose perceptibly and light and shadow firmed to define a crest fifty miles to the east of the rapidly approaching trough. The scale was too large for the human mind to grasp, living beings never having encountered before such enormity of motion. Only when the new water tumbled over the changing Cheyenne River, completely dwarfing it, did the awful scene come into perspective for a few. As the magnitude of the liquid cliff became apparent the revelation evoked the dizziness of hanging over a sheer precipice; many were so overwhelmed that they simply stood there, puke pouring from their open mouths. As it bore down upon them, the white frothing vanguard of water was a roaring cliff of such incredible height that it appeared to be above them. The roar deafened them; before they fell onto their faces in panic the compressed air threatened to lift them into its turbulent maw and fling them headlong to the west. Then the wind front swept past, followed by the sea of darker water, furnishing a more constant reality to the nightmare. The level of onrushing darkness continued to rise about them with the approach of the first crest. But then it finally passed them and the water started slowly to descend. They began for the first time to breathe hope.

Through all this commotion the Christians had prayed fervently for deliverance, but they also were quick to appreciate that they were located at that spot for just that reason. With the passage of The Crest, as the peak of water would be called for generations to come, their prayers turned to thanksgiving. As the turbulent ocean continued to rush past beneath their amazed eyes and which had instantaneously turned their mountain into a western Atlantic island, they came to the conclusion that such force must necessarily have been related to a planetary event and pondered the significance of it to the rest of the world. Being attuned to the Biblical account of Noah’s flood, some had now come to appreciate that the Bible was far more accurate that the contradictory science to which they had been so thoroughly indoctrinated. Implicit in that new understanding was the realization that what they were now experiencing was a repetition of events that had occurred long ago.

San Francisco was still in nominal night as dawn arrived in New York; however, the large globe sitting on the western horizon lit the sky with a white glow that totally dispelled the darkness. Those who could bear the sight watched in horrified fascination as the comet noticeably increased in size before their eyes and then, as it approached the Van Allen zone, appeared to spread vast wings as an eagle swooping down on its prey. Most who watched this appalling scene from their apartment windows were unaware of the drama taking place on the waterfront below them. For the first time in over three thousand years the sea was transgressing its boundaries to complement its retreat from the eastern continental edge. Slowly at first, the tide kept rising. At an ever-accelerating rate, the black water engulfed first the docks, then the low-lying buildings, and began to mount the hills. The apartment dwellers first became aware of this new disaster indirectly, noticing first how slowly the comet moved below the horizon, and then how the reflected light of the comet on the ocean appeared where land was shortly before. Then the winds came and the ocean continued to rise, white caps gleaming, then great waves, monsters smashing into buildings accompanied by tornadic screechings and the jolt of buildings being ripped off foundations, glass breaking and frigid wetness.

Within a short time the western coastline of the American continent was inundated to a depth of over six hundred feet. San Francisco was now eighty five miles seaward of the new, violently battered shoreline. Then, as quickly as it had come, the sea receded back, forming an enormous mass of moving water that would cross the Pacific to smash headlong against Asian coastlines. The lifeless remnant of San Francisco would stand, dry, to receive the rays of a tropical sun. To the north, Portland lay buried beneath two hundred and fifty feet of mud, silt, and the remnant soils of what used to be the banks of the Columbia Gorge. Here, during the inundation of San Francisco, the mighty Columbia had been an immense river of saltwater that roiled up the gorge to smack into dam after dam, mountainous white spray bursting upward to the sky, cracking each in turn like a fragile eggshell. But each assault and breach claimed its toll of energy. As the sea reached its easternmost boundary, it spread out and gently licked at the dry plains. For a tiny instant, with mountains flaming and smoking, bleeding lava from thousands of rotten sores, the water itself was expended and quiet from the exhausting climb landward. Then, slowly like a brakeless freight train gathering downhill momentum, it began to recede. Shortly it was speeding out of control, sucking at the river banks, digging up new channels, creating a new Grand Canyon that, like its predecessor, now lay at a latitude that used to mark the boundary between Arizona and Utah. From time to time rumors of Portland’s existence would surface, but Portland itself would never be found again.

“Let’s call it a wrap,” the Divine Will said to His beloved Consort, who responded with an outstretched finger leveled at the threatening monster. Seen by fewer than a thousand people, a great sword of blue-white light connected for the merest instant the Carlson Comet with the Earth. Had the atmosphere been quiet instead of the raging maelstrom that it was, the thunderclap could have been heard around the world. But in that same brief instant the world was saved: no longer did the Carlson Comet loom larger with each second that passed.

The Carlson Comet came to within less than five earth diameters of the ravaged planet before hurtling away along its own path. Close as they came to actually colliding, and devastating as its proximity was to the earth and to the life upon its surface, pockets of life nevertheless remained, humbled and ready to fully accept the leadership of God and His Christ. To prepare the way for this welcome transformation, the physical devastation of the planet served to bury the ravages of man so far beneath the surface that for all practical purpose the numerous blights no longer existed. Particularly satisfying to Wisdom was the complete removal of all the disgustingly ugly wind farms, every windmill of which had deliberately been thrust past the Earth’s mantle to melt back into basic molecular constituents.

The strange violence on the surface of the Earth died out over time, but slowly. Its passing was reluctant, attended with endless battles between sea and land, taking its time to subside as the floor beneath the seas continued ever more slowly to restore itself to equilibrium.

Existence would be primitive from that time forward for over a century as the remnant of mankind learned to adjust to new latitudes and piece out the rhythms of new seasons. But God was now with them and, despite the hardships of their daily toils, they would sit by campfires at night and recount tales to their children of a great winged monster who shook the earth, and of enormous waves, and blood-red lava, and of God with them.

 

 

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