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Chapter 21

 

The severity of Macro's iron rule affected everyone living in and around Jerusalem. Neither had the rest of the world been spared. Cafes and restaurants were forced to close as food supplies became scarce. The few remaining coffee shops near the temple, were quiet most days. These shop owners were glad when Macro and his entourage made a scheduled public appearance, bringing extra customers. Later, people hurried home, wrapped tightly in shabby coats, after collecting whatever food was available. They were afraid to stop and chat lest a guard, or one of Macro's domineering followers, report them for some minor misdemeanour. Random checks were made in an effort to detect unmarked citizens. Guards carried tiny electronic scanners and any person without the identifying mark was jostled into waiting prison vans. It reminded many Jews of Hitler's ruthless regime during the Holocaust. This had been remembered through the Holocaust Museum in Jerusalem and by the oral tradition of the Jews.


It was on such a cold, bitter morning - unusual for Spring in Jerusalem - that Macro, Warwick and some of Macro's temple priests walked to the temple mount. In spite of Macro's harsh rule, many cheering throngs adored him. Jews and Christians who had so far escaped detection, stood among the crowd listening to Macro.


"All Jewish books have been removed from the temple and destroyed. Bibles have also been removed from libraries, schools and bookshops. These are now banned books. Even if those who received the mark are caught with any religious books, they will be executed."


A thin Jewish man, in a drab gaberdine overcoat, shivered as Macro's tirade ended. As some cheered Macro, the Jewish man moved slowly to the edge of the crowd. Swiftly and silently he withdrew a shiny dagger from the belt under his coat. With a flick of his wrist the weapon flew past the bystanders and hit its mark. With a startled look of unbelief Macro fell to the ground, mortally wounded.(1) Spectators screamed and ran as their self made hero toppled before them. In the confusion, Macro's guards were unable to catch the fleeing man who disappeared into the terrified crowd. Warwick rose from his seat beside Macro, a faint smile curling his lips as he watched people fleeing the scene in panic.


"Remain calm! We will catch the murderer and he will be dealt with. I will issue a statement later in the day."


The three shocked, blue robed temple priests gently lifted Macro. They carried him to his private chamber in the temple and placed him on the canopied bed. Warwick followed closely behind but failed to show the same emotion as the priests. He dismissed them and quickly called Macro's personal doctor, Sophed Valentino into the room. Together they removed the scarlet robe and white undergarments stained with blood. The doctor checked Macro's vital signs and shone a torch into the vacant staring eyes. He filled a syringe with clear liquid and squirted a tiny stream into the air before plunging the needle into Macro's heart. Warwick noticed the doctor's face relax as he closed Macro's eyes.


"This is all I can do. My work in finished for today. Call the temple priests in and give them your instructions."


Doctor Valentino left as Warwick ushered the young priests into the room. They fell at the foot of the royal bed, and in their grief, began to moan and chant.   "Enough," hissed Warwick.


"Prepare our leader in his finest clothes. He must look perfect as he lies at the altar for all to see."


He turned abruptly and left the chamber, anxious to have reporters release times and details for the planned viewing. Within the hour, the media released the dramatic announcement on the Internet and all other news outlets.


'Alexander Judastus was mortally wounded when he was hit in the chest with a dagger thrown by an unknown assassin. Macro's body will lie in state in the temple, for three days(2) before burial.'

Macro's worshippers filed solemnly into the temple. Men wore black armbands over crisp white shirts. Women, with covered heads, hid their tears behind dark lace veils. Outside, the hired wailing women rested from their ear-piercing shrieks as they beat tambourines against their breasts. The ornamental ivory carved pillars stood out against the wood of the canopied bed as the mourners knelt briefly beside it. Some whispered, "Alas for him." Every face was bathed in salty tears. At dusk each day, when all the mourners had gone, Dr. Valentino was seen being ushered into the main hall. Each night he administered an injection into Macro's stiff arm. On the third day he slipped quietly away as the guards began to admit thousands waiting to view their leader. The early morning light cast strange shadows from the recently unveiled golden image. The stark pallor of Macro's face added to the eerie atmosphere in the temple.


Throughout the day, as mourners came and went, Warwick watched secretly from his vantage point behind the one way viewing panel. Later that day, he knelt before an upturned wooden cross and began to chant in an unrecognizable tongue. He emerged from his secret room, well prepared for the deceptions that would be seen by many. Smoke suddenly billowed from the ceiling. People screamed as tongues of fire(3) came out of the mouth of the golden image. As its eyes began to move, people cowered in terror. They heard the image speak these words.


"Watch and see. Macro will rise again. I have power over death."(4)


The people shook and wished they could escape the unbelievable horror of this moment. All faces were fixed on Macro's form as it lay upon the bed. Warwick searched the people's faces until his eyes met those of the doctor standing with a guard. Dr Valentino checked the time on his watch and whispered into a tiny microphone hidden inside his jacket.   "One minute to go, approach the body."


Warwick walked ceremoniously down the long aisle towards Macro. At the end of the stately bed he stretched out his hand. Slowly Macro's eyes fluttered open. He lay still for a moment, trying to remember his last conscious minutes. Macro's hand touched the spot where he had been wounded. It was completely healed, leaving no tenderness where the knife had entered his flesh. Warwick turned in a slow circle, pausing as he faced each side of the temple. He then shouted, " I give you your god and king risen from the dead."


He stretched out his hand to Macro, encouraging him with his words, "Arise, take your rightful place on the throne. Your people worship you and your image."   Macro slowly sat up. As Warwick's hand touched his, he felt blood returning to warm every part of his body. Macro rose effortlessly to his feet. The onlookers screams of fear, turned to shouts of excitement. Their hero stood triumphantly over death, it seemed.(5) They fell to their knees and began chanting, "Forever lives Macro our god."   Again Dr. Valentino spoke to Warwick through his concealed microphone.


"The poor fools really believe he has risen from the dead. The drug worked perfectly. I will visit Macro tonight as planned."


Macro walked slowly down the long aisle. Adoring worshippers fell at his feet, reaching to touch the hem of his purple robe. Warwick brushed them aside as if they were flies hovering over a meal.
"Master, you are our benefactor. Without you we could not survive. May you rule forever," they bleated.

 

Macro and another man had just finished a meal of chicken and yogurt, washed down with red wine, when the doctor arrived. After a thorough check of Macro's heart and blood pressure, Dr Valentino pronounced him fit after his three day, drug induced coma. The serum from the injections had quickly dispersed safely through Macro's system, leaving no ill effects.


The thin man, his work satisfactorily completed, picked up his drab coat and the envelope bulging with money, given to him earlier by Macro. He left quickly, not noticing the armed guard hiding in a dark archway outside the temple. The man fell, clutching the money, as the silent bullet entered his brain. The guard stepped from his hiding place and took the money from the dead man's grasping hand. It would buy the guard more food on the black market.


Macro gave the doctor a glass of wine as he congratulated him for his part in the counterfeit resurrection. Dr. Valentino drank greedily and within minutes lay dead at Macro's feet, a victim of his own lethal medicine.(6)


The NovelNotes Feature

These are a helpful feature of this novel. Their use is optional. They may be used if you want to understand more of the underlying Biblical aspects of the story, or the historical and factual material. However, you do not have to use these to follow the story line of the novel.


Chapter 21 NovelNotes

1. Truth is often stranger than fiction. This part of the story told by John in the book of Revelation, Chapter 13 is an amazing revelation of the power of the Antichrist, permitted by God for a short time. To the world, the Antichrist is apparently mortally wounded. This man, who it seemed was going to save the world, was now gone, or so it seemed.

2. Although the Bible does not say, it probably will be a period of three days, in order to mimic the three days of Christ in the tomb before His resurrection.

3. The Antichrist is temporarily given power to do such things. See Revelation, Chapter 13, verse 13. In the Old Testament Elijah, through God, did a similar thing.

4. This is supernatural deception of the first order. The idol, the image of the Antichrist, actually speaks. See Revelation, Chapter 13, verse 15.

5. The deception is complete when the Antichrist is seen to rise from the dead. It will convince many he is the right one to follow and many more will now follow him.

6. As with most who dabble in and with evil forces in this world, these two who took part in a great deception and evil act, paid for it with their lives. The most well known example was Judas who betrayed Jesus. See the book of Acts, Chapter 1, verses 16-19.

Continue to Chapter 22