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Chapter 25

 

Macro and Warwick solemnly paced the patterned floor of their chapel, bowing as they reached each upturned cross. Their glazed eyes stared from beneath long, black, hooded capes. Grotesque shadowy creatures lurked in the damp recesses of the room. As the two trod the same monotonous course over and over again, their chanting grew louder and louder. Dark demonic shapes joined the shadowy creatures filling the chapel with evil. Their pungent odour masked the smell of melting wax from thin candles, flickering in golden candlesticks on the altar. Macro and Warwick knelt before the altar, bathed in a brilliant white light that shone through the heavy black curtain in front of them. Behind the curtain, smoke rose out of a deep furnace-like crevice. Creatures unlike any seen on earth emerged from the smoky pit.(1) A sinister laugh, from the master of these creatures, filled the chapel and the black curtain fell to the ground. Macro and Warwick lay prostrate before him, for he was their god. His name - Satan - the tempter of all mankind and the adversary of God in heaven. There was no love, truth or purity in Satan. His only desire towards mankind was to possess their souls and use people to build his kingdom.


The demonic beings, with human like faces, tossed their long silky hair as they emerged from the bottomless pit. A golden aura encircled their heads. They chanted as their long wing-like arms beat incessantly upon bodies strong as iron. The sound was such that Macro and Warwick, in their trance-like state, were unable to move. They heard Satan's voice echo around the chapel, "I have opened the bottomless pit. You have authority to torment for a period of five months, all who do not have the seal of God on their foreheads. You will not kill anyone, but cause them great agony. People will long for death rather than suffer the pain you inflict, but death will elude them. I am the prince and god of this world."(2) With a flourish of his hand Satan signalled the spirits depart and begin their torment.

 

In that instant, Macro and Warwick were released from the power holding them prostrate to the floor. Satan disappeared in a blinding flood of white light, leaving the two awe-struck men before the altar. Outside, the air was thick with smoke from the pit, hiding the sun from view. Screams were heard as the demonic creatures stung their victims. Many tried to wash the pain away with cool water as their bodies jerked uncontrollably. The pain was so relentless, that some went mad and tried unsuccessfully to commit suicide.


God's people escaped the stinging creatures, but could do nothing to ease the suffering of those smitten. Even in their torment people refused to turn to God. Jihela and Echon continued to preach, begging people to repent before it was too late.(3) Day after day hospital emergency wards filled as people sought relief - but there was no antidote, relief or cure. Because of this, there were staff shortages at factories, shops and service organizations still operating after recent wars and natural disasters.

 

Reuben and some of his staff were busy salvaging undamaged stock from the ruins of Granright, when the stinging tail struck him. Searing pain crippled both feet momentarily. He felt as if his legs were on fire. The thing confronting him was like something out of a science fiction movie. As he crumpled to the ground, the devilish thing struck again. Stinging needle like pain shot from his hands and along his arms, leaving him faint and afraid. Suddenly the creature rose and moved to its next victim. Only those without the compulsory mark escaped the sting of these demonic beings. They struck like a swarm of wasps and left just as quickly, leaving a trail of pain and misery behind them.


Reuben's employees cried out to him wailing and grovelling.
"Help us! What were those hideous things? Where did they come from?"   With teeth clenched, he answered through his pain, "I don't know. I saw what looked like their leader. He wore a ring like the one Macro wears."  "But why would this person, or Macro, use these things to harm us?  "I'm also confused. I have no answers. Can't you see I suffer with you?"


The workers left, screaming out for someone or something to end the pain, not knowing where to turn for comfort. Reuben struggled with his thoughts as pain and weariness clouded his thinking. He needed to find the answer immediately, so he dialled Macro's headquarters from his mobile phone.


"Yes," came the cold reply. "It's Reuben. We were invaded by weird things that swept all around us causing agony to everyone. They seemed to be under the command of a man wearing a ring like yours."   "So he revealed himself to you also?" chuckled Macro, unconcerned at Reuben's distress.


"He is our leader and hates those who follow the Christian God."
"But why were we harmed today? We are your staunch followers!"
"Many will suffer, just as many suffer in any war. This is all part of a much bigger plan and nothing can change it. Who are you to question me, or Satan our leader?"  Macro knew Reuben had outrun his usefulness.


It was futile for Reuben to question Macro any further. Impatiently he threw the mobile phone to the ground. His body ached and twitched making him wince. After prising open the crushed first aid box, he picked through its contents and swallowed two morphine tablets. His agony eased a little and a strangeness descended on him. He dozed in the makeshift shelter under the one remaining olive tree, standing starkly adjacent to where David's home once stood.

 

Simon, Ari and the others reached Petra without any loss of life. Once again they were secure in a large rock fortress. Their entry into the town had been a happy event. Fellow Christians who escaped Macro's tyrannical rule greeted them. They celebrated their safe arrival with a feast like that celebrated by the Jews at their New Year. Later, they met to give thanks to God Who guided them out of danger into this safe place. Simon's thoughts turned to Reuben. He wondered if he had escaped the disasters reported in the media. Reuben never once returned his or Simon's phone calls or faxes. Tonight, Simon felt uneasy and shared his feelings with Ari. The two men sat perched on a flat rocky outcrop high above the narrow gorge, wrapped in warm, wool blankets. As they sat looking past a skyline broken up with outlines of towering modern hotels, they became aware of their own puniness in such a vast place.


"Dear Father in Heaven, I fear for Reuben's very life. My heart is heavy because I know he bears the mark imposed upon him by Warwick. Reuben chose by his own free will to follow these men. I pray he might be freed from Macro's control, for I love Reuben as a son."


Sobs escaped Simon's lips when he remembered Reuben and David as boys. The anguish Simon felt hurt so much he nudged Ari, signalling him to take up the prayer.


"Father God, we have always loved Reuben in spite of his wrong choices. We have given up hope that one day he would return to us and turn to You. He is my friend, and I can do nothing to save him, for You alone are his hope and his salvation. Into Your hands we commit Reuben."


The two men sat for a while, neither wanting to speak. Words could never express the depth of their sorrow. Already they grieved as if Reuben were dead, knowing at the bottom of their hearts that because he had taken Macro's mark, their was no hope for him.


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 25 NovelNotes

1. The fifth trumpet judgement of God that unrepentant mankind must suffer, is particularly devastating. During it, a total of one third of all people on earth are killed from the fire and brimstone that comes out of the mouths of the demons. Full details of this are found in Revelation, Chapter 9, verses 13 to 21.

2. There are a number of verses of Scripture that verify Satan can call himself both god and ruler of this world. (With God's temporary permission of course) See 1st Corinthians, Chapter 4, verse 4, John, Chapter 12, verse 31, and Ephesians, Chapter 6, verse 12. 3. Although God is still giving men and women a chance to repent, this is not really the time to do it. The proper time is before the rapture of all believers to heaven, so all these judgements of God do not fall on them.

Continue to Chapter 26