GladeSwope.com - art, music and more...
Pleiades Star Cluster: Hubble/NASA/STScI
Order this novel at: BookBaby Amazon B&N Kindle, DRM-free epub & more, only $2.99
On an August Friday night, there is a young-looking guy sitting on a bar stool, in deep thought, drinking a diet cola. A rare sight, as not too many people go to bars to think. A man at the bar says to him, "Hello, Christopher Joshua."
The T.V. in the bar shows the news. The pundits discuss the campaign of Presidential candidate Dr. John Adramalech (phonetic: Add-rum-Al-ick) Balor, D.D.
Chris asks, "Penny for your thoughts about him?"
"You don't even drink. How about a ride home?"
"Dr. John Adramalech Balor, Doctor of Divinity, 40 years of experience as a deacon at an unaffiliated church that calls itself Spirit-filled. Tomorrow at 2 he will deliver his first ever eulogy. Nobody ever wants him to do a funeral. My name is Mark, by the way."
Chris asks, "So who is the guest of honor?"
Mark raises his eyebrows at the phrase "guest of honor." Within half of a second, tears flow from Mark's eyes uncontrollably. His teeth chatter. "His name is n... nay... uh," He covers his face with his hands.
Chris asks, "I'm sorry. Did you know him?"
"No. It's just... I have such a bad feeling about it. You could say that I'm a reluctant intuitive. I was raised to be against such things, but I just could not get rid of it. Frankly, I don't know why I even wandered into this bar tonight, I just felt the urge to come to this particular place at this particular time."
Chris takes hold of Mark's hand, gazes into his eyes, and says, "I understand."
The stage speakers power up, and the M.C. announces "Welcome to our annual Stand-Up Stand-Out Comedy Brawl! The performances will be scored by you, the audience. The best scoring performance wins a fifteen-hundred dollar gift certificate toward the purchase of a brand new car! Our first contestant is..." A drum roll is heard. The MC reaches into a hat, pulls out a slip of paper, and reads "Christopher Joshua!"
Chris shakes Mark's hand and says, "I'll be back with you soon." He dances up to the stage through a crowd of polite applause.
Chris reels off on the microphone, "A man walks into a bar, and orders a beer. As he takes the first gulp from the glass, it comes flying out of his mouth. He just couldn't drink it." Chris makes the sound of spitting, and shouts into the microphone, "Pff.... Someone put poison in my beer! He gets kicked out of the bar. He walks down the street, and enters another bar. Again, he orders a beer. He takes one sip of the beer. Someone put poison my beer! He slams the mug onto the counter. Again, he gets kicked out of the bar. He goes to another bar, then another, then another, and to make a long story short, the same thing happened. He gets home to his wife. He opens the refrigerator door and pulls out a bottle of beer. He says to his wife, I don't know why, but it seems like all the bartenders in this town are trying to poison me. They keep putting poison in my beer. He opens up the bottle and starts to drink. Pff... Oh no, not you too, you put poison in my beer! He throws the bottle at the wall and it shatters. Oh no, she replied, you've been drinking the poison for over 20 years, and you just started to notice it now."
The crowd breaks out in a standing ovation with maniacal laughter. Everyone writes an 11 on their cards.
The manager walks out from behind the counter with a nasty frown on his face. Chris starts walking off the stage. The manager pushes him through the emergency exit door to the street on the right side of the stage, shouting "Don't ever come back here again or I'm calling the cops."
The crowd gives the manager some free boo's.
The M.C. walks back onto the stage and speaks "Now for our next conte-" The sound system suddenly is silent.
The manager, standing by the sound booth with an unplugged wire in hand, yells, "This show is canceled."
The crowd throws their glasses and bottles at the stage.
Mark walks out to meet Chris on the side of the road. Chris says, "Let's get out of here."
Chris opens the door to his ten-year-old blue Chevy Impala and invites Mark in. Chris says, "Where we going?"
"63rd Avenue by Eagle Lake?"
"O.K. What were we talking about?"
Mark replies, "His name is Nathan. I live right by where they found him. He was thirteen years old and from an orphanage. Custody of the matter ended up in John Balor's hands because Dr. Balor was, to make a long story short, the lowest bidder. There was no next of kin to complain about it. It's none of our business anyway. I don't have a clue why I was so upset before. It was nice meeting you." Destination reached, Mark departs from the car with twitching in his face and chattering teeth.
On his way back home to Maple Grove, Chris is blocked by construction and confusing detours, forced to make one wrong turn after another, eventually leading to Zachary Lane, on the opposite side of Eagle Lake from Mark's house. It's a dead-end road, but it has a beautiful view. The clear starry night sky reflects on the waves. The stars in the waves appear to dance. Before he can turn the car around it stalls. He turns the key. Silence. He turns it again. No lights, no radio, nothing. He pulls out his cellular phone, but the screen is dark. It won't turn on. He places his hands together, his head tilted forward.
Chris hears a faint sound coming from the direction of the lake. He opens the window to get some fresh air, as the cool of the air conditioning is wearing off. He can now hear the sound of a young boy giggling. The surface of the water begins to glow with a barely-visible purplish-blue light. He looks away, but finds it irresistible to look at it again. A glowing blue orb ascends up out of the surface of the water, then moves straight toward the car, reaching it within a tenth of a second. The car fills with a blue light so intense that he can not open his eyes. However, he can see his surroundings completely with his eyes closed. Sitting on the hood of the car appears a young boy apparition. The glowing figure looks Chris straight in the eye with a big smile on his face, and says "You will meet me there this morning." The car is immediately running again as if it never stalled, without even making the usual "Tzhum" sound when the key is turned. The starry night sky lightens to a blue. A bright golden yellow line appears on the east horizon, slowly growing into a sickle. He checks his watch. It's 5:11 A.M. He remembers that it was only 10 P.M. when he left the bar. The analog clock on the dashboard still reads half-past-eleven from the time that it stalled. He knows that he did not sleep. From his point of view this all happened in three minutes.
He heads back home. The traffic jams and detours throw him off course a few times, but he eventually makes it to his apartment on Timber Crest Drive at 8:10 A.M. He lies down in his bed quickly, not even taking his clothes off. He begins not with his usual prayers, but "Dear Jesus, If this is wrong, if this is not real, take it from me. If this is-" He falls quickly into a dreamless deep sleep.
At 1:22pm, Chris is woken with an electric shock, and a voice calling his name "Chris!" A burst of energy fills him. He didn't know what he should do, but felt unease about where he was and knew that he should go somewhere, now. "You are directing my steps," he utters under his tongue.
Chris leaves to get back in the car. Remembering the conversations from last night that he almost forgot due to exhaustion, he realizes he has little over a half an hour to make it to the event if this invitation was real. He searches for the event on his web phone. The name Nathan and today's date are enough to find it easily. The display reads:
Balor Truth Deliverance Crusade Central
New Hope, MN
Nathan Anthony Tobit, age 13, parents unknown.
Public invited. This event is not for the faint of heart.
I'm going to tell it like it is.
John Adramalech Balor, Doctor of Divinity
Chris was banned from this church, so this is going to be easier said than done. There is more in the announcement, and he's about to scroll down. He is interrupted by a tap on his shoulder and hears the voice speak rapidly, "Don't waste time now-Lean not on your sight nor your memory nor your understanding-He is more afraid of you than you ever were of him-You have broken his spells before by your very presence-You're the only one who can do what must be done-Once there you will see me as clearly as you have when night turned to dawn-Now you must-As surely as Christ has come in the flesh-Go there now!"
Chris asks, "Nathan, is that you?" Nothing happens. All hints of any presence are gone immediately after hearing the words "Go there now." However, those three words reverberate within his mind, instilling an irresistible and ever-increasing urgency.
The car rolls down Timber Crest Drive, taking a left on Route Ten. He takes a right on Route 61. When he reaches route 9 he is about to turn left. At the instant Chris turns the turn signal lever, he hears the voice again, "Yes, I'm Nathan. Don't go that way. Continue going south. Fork left at 154, left at 55, North on Boone Avenue. I know it's longer, but trust me."
Chris follows the detour that the ghost gave him. As he passes by the intersection of Boone Avenue and Route 9, the ground rumbles. A boom is heard from the left. Sirens wail. Nathan says, "Never-mind that for now. You're almost there. Straight ahead."
Chris arrives in the parking lot of "Balor Truth Deliverance Crusade Central," the place he swore he would never even look at for the rest of his life a long time ago. Half-transparent stands Nathan, mostly in the tint of bluish purple, outside the driver side window. He forms his translucent hand with his thumb touching his fourth finger, other fingers up, and points to Chris. Chris sees a flash of blue light. The car vanishes.
Chris falls onto the pavement of the parking lot, but it doesn't hurt at all. He moves his hand before his face. He can not see his own hands. Nathan appears completely solid to him, and says, "Whatever you do, you must stay out of Balor's line of sight. Nobody else will be able to see you, until you are standing on that altar. You will know what to say and do when you get there. Also, do not speak physically, not even to me. Respond only by using your mind's voice. Simply think of the sound of what you wish to say, imagine it flowing in my direction, and I will hear."
It's 2:21 P.M. Chris is 21 minutes late for the service, but so are all the staff. The doors are locked. Nathan and Chris take a walk around the parking lot, and hear some interesting conversations. Nathan says, "Remember, don't speak to anyone. You are now invisible."
Mark from the bar is here. He says, "I don't know what's going to happen here. I just came out of curiosity."
An old lady replies "I knew Nathan. I work at the orphanage. That line in the announcement about telling it like it is doesn't sound good at all. Nathan was not one to keep all the rules, and I was there when he came to visit their usual Sunday service. He only came once, just one day before he drowned in the lake, and I remember quite well that Nathan said it's all just a scam to frighten people into conformity and get them to donate money."
Mark says, "Oh what if he were wrong? What if he were right?"
Another lady replies, "I have never been here, but I've seen John Adramalech Balor on T.V. If I had my way we would not allow the kids at the orphanage to watch."
Nathan says to Chris, "That's Balor's car. He would see you. We must hide at the back of the church." They go to the back of the church and wait. "Wait here. I will return when you have a chance to come in." Nathan walks through the back wall as if it were not there. Chris tries to reach into the wall, but hits it. It's a real wall.
In the back yard of the church, nestled in overgrown grass and weeds, lies a broken-down rusty bus. The side pane reads, in worn-out red letters, "Balor Truth Deliverance Crusade - Healing - Miracles."
Two elderly ladies are nearby, in conversation. "They really cherish the good old days that never were. There were never any miracles here."
Chris, still invisible, listens intently, careful to be quiet.
"It was 42 years ago. I suffered from liver cancer. I came to one of his tent crusades riding on that very same bus you see stowed in that patch of bamboo. I walked down that isle to accept Jesus Christ as my personal savior and requested prayer for healing. I started coming every Sunday and to every Bible-study on Wednesday. Each week he would speak in unknown languages, and touch me on the forehead. He caused me to fall on the floor several times, but the pain just got worse. My doctor did not expect me to survive for over half a year. John Adramalech Balor, who I assure you is no doctor, told me that I wasn't healed because I didn't have enough faith, that I probably wasn't really born again and on the way to hell in spite of my sincerity, and that it might help if I paid more in tithes and offerings, and really put the Lord first in my life. Soon I was giving him over half of my paychecks, did volunteer work cleaning his church bathrooms, and he continued to say the same things to me. About two months later, one Easter Sunday morning, I just could not bring myself to come to the service. I wandered over to the beach at Eagle Lake park. I prayed alone. My conscience remained with my body, but seemed to drift, awareness of my physical location gradually feeling thin. I felt a despair beyond description, that all hope was irrevocably gone. I began to hear howls and moans. I was absolutely sure I was about to drop dead right then and there. I saw a black hole coming toward me, slimy around the edges. I smell something like burning rotten eggs. Just as I'm about to be swallowed up by this hole, everything is engulfed in a blinding blue and white light. I'm wide awake, full of energy, and a voice from within, the purest and most lovely voice that I have ever heard in my life, resonating through every fiber of my being, says, 'I'll tell you a secret, my darling. I would not do that to anyone.' Right then and there, my cancer was gone. The doctors couldn't find any evidence that I had cancer. I came to next week's evening service, a miracle testimony night. I got on stage. I told of exactly what happened. What happened next? John Adramalech Balor called me a witch and kicked me out of the church."
Nathan appears out of the wall and says, "Chris, he is walking around the left side of the building to get some supplies from the bus. Now is your chance to get in without being seen. Go around the right side and enter the sanctuary. Go to the 4th bench from the back on the left side. Lie down under it. Remember, nobody can see you except for me and John Adramalech Balor, but you will be heard if you speak. Keep your breath very quiet."
Chris walks around the lot. There are four long lines at the door. A rough-looking young man with a snake tattoo and prematurely-gray hair says, "John Adramalech Balor. What a funny guy. I've seen him listening to Jonathan Edwards sermons in his car, played backwards?"
"He practices speaking with it. It's very convincing. He won't speak in tongues if he's being recorded. And he has a word of knowledge if you've got a hidden recorder on you." Chris sees a gap in the lines just wide enough to run through. A few people notice something touching their shoulders, "What was that?" There is no further reaction. Chris goes to the fourth bench on the left, crawls under it, and lies down. There is a trap door under it. He waits.
A loud voice fills the room from the church sound system, which could support an arena rock concert: "Ah, welcome. My name is John Adramalech Balor, Doctor of Divinity and founder of the Balor Truth Deliverance Crusade. I see that many have taken at least a small step of faith to come here this day. This prophetic event is not for the faint of heart, and I'm gonna tell it like it is. No compromise. Just as there is no joy in heaven in the perishing of the wicked, there will be no celebration here today, but an example and a warning. Perhaps some of you are expecting that this will be done in the usual way? Prepare for a rude awakening. Typically these days, they like to just start rocking out with I'll Fly Away Old Glory, but I intend that you not be deceived. The covenant of grace does not apply to anyone who is not in that covenant. And never-mind Jesus Loves the Little Children. That don't apply to him because he is not that little. He had the understanding and opportunity to reject the gospel. Not only that, I heard and saw him do it first-hand. When he came down to this very altar, his first and only visit to this sanctuary, he was given the same warning I will give all of you tonight."
The microphone cuts off. John Balor wiggles the wire. It makes a popping noise. "Just a moment, I'll be back."
Chris hears Nathan's voice next to him, "Get under the trap door now! He'll see you!" He opens the door, climbs under, and shuts it quickly.
It is dark under the trap door. Chris says, "It's dar-"
Nathan says, "Stay silent!"
"What was that?" shouts the voice of John Balor, who is just three feet from the trap door.
The steps of John Balor get louder. He is right on the trap door. He's about to open it. In the dark, Chris hears Nathan say "Hold the door hard." He holds it shut.
From above, John Balor is heard saying, "Dah- uh, it won't open. It must be locked. Did any of you say anything? You know I don't allow any talking out of turn here. I heard someone say the word 'it's'. Well, I'm glad whoever it was knew enough to stop speaking." The sound of the footsteps fades.
Nathan says, "John is in the office now, looking for a microphone cord. Now open the door as quietly as you can. Get out, run to the altar, and hide behind the curtain."
Chris climbs out of the trap door, then carefully closes it. He walks down the isle, jumps onto the altar, and runs behind a white curtain at the back of the room. There is a tiny hole in the curtain, just large enough to give Chris a backstage view of the event. He looks through and watches John Balor walking down the isle, carrying a cord. There is a plain-looking closed wooden box on the stage about six feet long. There is a red carpet covering the stage. On the carpet, front and center, stands a glass podium bearing a carved image of a Bible and three crosses. The stage is otherwise bare, with no candles nor flowers.
A boy apparently the same age as Nathan is sitting on the front row center bench, dressed in black semi-formal attire, his eyes bloodshot. He takes a pencil and paper from his pocket and writes a note. Chris can see an apparition of a wise old man, but only 2 feet in height and reflecting bright white as if it were made of diamonds. The bright crystals forming the apparition flow around like a continuous mass of shooting starts. It's as if its body were made of a turbulent liquid held together by these crystals that are constantly moving in all directions at once. It sits next to the boy on the front center bench. It is carrying a bottle and collecting the tears from the boy's eyes.
Balor returns to the pulpit and replaces the microphone cord. The sermon continues, "As I was saying, He had the understanding and opportunity to reject the Gospel. Not only that, I heard and saw him do it first-hand. When he came down to this altar, his first and only visit to this sanctuary, he was given the same warning I will give all of you tonight. He perished, both body and soul, the very next morning. Why even bother trying to soften the blow? It's too late for the young man in that box over there. There is nothing you can do about it. There is nothing I can do about it. Yes, God is forgiving, there are second chances in life, but never on the other side of the grave."
The boy in the front-row-center bench folds his note into a paper airplane, and throws it onto the pulpit. Nathan appears next to the boy in the front row, grins, and gives him a pat on the shoulder. There is no sign that it was felt. Nathan points to the note. Chris looks closely at the note as Dr. Balor opens it. It says, "If you had the love of God in your heart, you would beg to be proven wrong."
Balor flatly ignores the words on the note. He says, "Oh, a little mischief here, a little mischief there. What's the harm? Oh, that's what you think. Beware. You see it's all lain out in black and white in the Bible!" His right hand raises. A red glowing orb in the shape of a goat's head, which only Chris and the apparitions can see, projects from Balor's hand, and flies across the auditorium. A big black leather-bound book jumps out of the sound booth at the back, and flies through the air, landing on Balor's right hand. "No need to know the verse numbers. Everyone knows it. It is appointed to man once to die and after that the judgment. Breath has left Nathan. God does not love him anymore." Balor slams the Bible onto the casket.
The two-foot apparition transforms into a dove and flies onto the altar. It transforms again into the little old man. The little old man sits on the wooden box next to the Bible, with the bottle in his hands, apparently in serious thought.
Dr. Balor continues, "Oh, even now, the devil lies in wait, for perhaps some of you tomorrow morning! Each and every unconverted person properly belongs to him. Tomorrow? Not even the next second is promised to you. You must make your commitment now. You don't know how long the devil can wait. Over blazing fire do you hang as if by a thin thread. God may cut that rope at any time and give the devil his due, ... You!"
A punk in the back row makes the devil-horn salute and shouts, "Whoo!"
"You think I'm being funny? You think you're gonna like it? You see, it was fun for Nathan for about three minutes in the water. He was sure he was headed straight to paradise. But oh, what a surprise when he found himself absent from body and immediately present with the devil! As the flames go higher and higher, he's in the lake of fire. He's still there. He'll be there forever. The same could happen to any one of you any minute now. It is appointed to man once to die and after that the judgment. Breath has left him. God does not love him anymore."
Nathan touches the wire on the microphone. It stops working. Dr. Balor wiggles the cord, but to no avail, "I'll try a new microphone, just a moment." He climbs off the altar and heads back to the office. Nathan takes his hand off the microphone and it's working again.
Nathan touches Chris on the shoulder and says, "We're ready. Step up to that microphone." The wise man apparition pulls out the bottle, and rubs the contents into Chris's forehead, transforms into a dove, flies away about three feet and disappears. Nathan walks over to the wooden box, points at Chris, and says "Now." Chris suddenly can see his own hands. The crowd is aghast.
"Who is that?" is heard from the back of the crowd.
Chris says, into the microphone, "Whom among you, all else being equal, would refuse to forgive someone you truly loved, just because he has died? Raise your hand now."
Seventeen seconds go by. Absolute silence from the crowd. Not one hand was raised. Chris speaks, "Interesting. Now shall it be easier to say, that the Lord still speaks unto the spirits in prison today, or shall it be easier to say, return ye now to this mortal form, and live to tell the tale you may?" Chris points to the wooden box and screams, "By Yeshua, Lechti Cumi!" A bolt of lightning shoots from Chris's finger to the box. A much louder piercing scream comes from inside the box. Everyone covers their ears. The lid comes flying off of that shabby sarcophagus twenty feet in the air. It falls directly onto Dr. Balor's glass podium and it breaks into hundreds of pieces.
Dr. Balor comes storming out of his office, and is walking down the isle quickly with hard steps on the floor, growling. Chris looks him right in the eye with a grin. Dr. Balor yells, "Who let that troublemaker in here?"
Nathan climbs out of the casket and looks Dr. Balor in the eye and says, "I summoned him." Nathan's green eyes and golden yellow hair, moderately long and well-combed, become unforgettable as he walks around in his grave robe.
Dr. Balor turns to Chris and yells, "How dare you, Christopher Raphael Joshua, bring this... uh, this... this, ahem, WICKED WITCHCRAFT into this sanctuary!"
Chris replies with a grin, "I don't have an exotic gemstone by winning a bet with the angel of death in an alternate dimension reached from a secret passage between platforms in a train station, if that's what you meant."
Balor mutters under his breath, "Oh my G-, Cr-, ah, the headlines. What would that do to my campaign? I better not let any witnesses survive." He pulls a rod out of his pocket. He waves it with his right hand and makes a sweeping gesture with his left. Many red orbs with the image of a sword and a snake fly out of the wand, each arcing a well defined path. Within one second, each orb is directly over each person in the sanctuary except for himself. The wise man apparition appears again, and waves his hand. A white dome appears over each person's head. The red orbs touch the white domes and bounce, flying to each of the four walls. The walls burst into flames. Everyone runs out of the building. Balor hides in the bus in the back yard, covering himself in bamboo.
Chris goes back to his car, and it's normal, solid and where he parked it. He goes home. He turns on the TV news. They mention a bridge collapse on the highway in the area he detoured around, followed by a gas explosion four minutes later. They mention the fire at the church, and say that the cause of it is unknown. Exhausted, Chris falls asleep quickly on the couch.
And so it was, the headquarters of the Balor Truth Deliverance Crusade was a total loss. However, one more walked out of this unfortunate event alive than came in. The next day, Sunday morning at 10 A.M., Balor held service at the parking lot. It was advertised extensively, in newspapers, Internet, radio, TV and billboards. He spent all the insurance money from the church building on the ads. The sermon was titled "The Danger of Miracles Outside of Fivefold Order." By the way, nobody came to this show.
... Not even a mouse.
This is only the beginning!
There is a reason that they don't want you to read it!
© Glade Arthur Swope - Most rights reserved.
Order this novel at: BookBaby Amazon B&N Kindle, DRM-free epub & more, only $2.99