So there’s a whole genre of books based on some crazy idea called Darbyism. The Left Behind books are en example of this genre. They have a set of weird ideas about the end times and the books have to touch on all the plot points. I’ve been reading a great blog detailing some of the problems with the Left Behind series and I thought I could write better than that. so here goes:
Mary Sue bent over her bicycle, jiggling the key in the rusty lock. She kept forgetting to get grease for it. She kept running late. “Merde”, she mumbled.
A clean cut, blonde, broad-shouldered Dutchman approached her, pamphlet in hand. “Wordt u gered?” he asked.
Mary understood but pretended not to. “Ik spreek geen nederlands.” She mumbled. Half true. She had rehearsal and no time for Jesus freaks.
The man, mercifully, did not pester her, but instead approached a sprawled junkie nearby. Mary turned away from them and started towards school. The junkie closed his eyes and cursed softly as the young Christian shoved a pamphlet into his hand. He prayed a silent prayer that all the evangelicals with their weekly Thursday public prayer meetings would just disappear. When he opened their eyes, they had.
Mary biked past the Jesus houdt van u – Jesus loves you van with the top mounted speakers, out of tune hymns blaring out at evening commuters. And then the hymn halted all at once, mid note, like somebody pulled the plug from the speaker. But there was no click and pop of a disconnection, just the clunk of the microphone dropping to the ground. And then the whine of feedback.
Mary braked and turned to look back as a collective gasp went up. The only previous time she had ever heard the Dutch gasp like that was the time her dog had attacked a guide dog in the middle of the shopping district on a sunny Sunday afternoon. This gasp was even more shocked, but without the air of titillation.
All of the street preachers were gone. A moment ago, they had been witnessing and now they were just missing, piles of their clothes were on the ground. Mary’s mouth hung open, like mouths all over the GroteMarktstraat. A woman with a baby stroller glanced down into it and began to scream. The scream echoed across the city, across the country, across the world. Her baby was gone. All the babies were gone.
Mary numbly sat where she was on the ground. Around her, people frantically rushed around. Around her were sobs, cries and sirens. “Mijn baby!”
This can’t be happening, she told herself. I have got to quit smoking pot before bedtime, the dreams are too weird. But then she thought of something else, Ralph’s crazy story of going to Israel to visit his boyfriend during the Ethiopian-Russian war.
“I saw all the missles,” he had improbably claimed while they sat at the bar at Cremers, sharing a joint and drinking beers. “They were all over, coming from everywhere, right towards us. It was terrifying. I swear I peed my pants.” His eyes were bright, although glossy and red-rimmed.
“Hmm” Mary said, too high to trust herself to say much more.
“And then, like, all of the sudden, all the power went off everywhere at once. I thought it was like an electromagnetic pulse, from a neutron bomb or something. I thought I was dead. Everything stopped. Everything. Every mechanical sound or electric thing just stopped. And the missles, seemed to be going in slow motion. They pulled up and turned, passing each other in the sky. And they were gone. It was unbelievable. I looked at my watch and it had stopped right then. It said 4:20.”
Mary suppressed a giggle. That explains it.
“But then I looked down it later and it had restarted. Not only restarted, but the time was right. Everything was like that. Everything turned back on as if nothing had happened with the new correct time. All the radios came on at once. It was crazy, unbelievable, but we all just stood there. Nobody screamed. We all stood and listened, totally calm, like the most peaceful thing in the world had happened. And then the news announcer came on and said in calm, cheerful hebrew that Moscow and Ethiopia had been nuked beyond recognition. They launched pre-emptive strikes at each other at exactly the same time! How is that even possible? I felt the hand of G-d there. I really felt it.”
Mary swallowed another sip of beer. “So that’s why you converted?
“Jews really are G-d’s chosen people! How else can you explain that?” Ralph was getting loud, but didn’t seem to notice the now-widespread eavesdropping.
“Mass hysteria?” Mary flinched at the look Ralph gave her. “No seriously.” she paused. “Ok, I was in the big earthquake in San Francisco in 1989. One of my high school teachers was in the gym. He absolutely swore he had seen the sky when the roof of the building popped up and landed back where it belonged. He really, really believed it. But it was impossible, even he admitted it. If the roof had jumped up like that, the building would have collapsed. He wasn’t the only one to see it, but it just couldn’t have happened. None of the bolts were even out of place. He just thought he saw it because he was so scared.”
Ralph sipped his beer and considered. “But that analogy doesn’t work. He was scared because he was in the earthquake. If what I saw didn’t happen, then I wasn’t in anything. I had no reason to see anything. None of the thousands or millions around who saw the same thing. But we all did.”
The lights at the bar flashed on and off then, signaling the end of the evening. Mary hadn’t thought about that conversation for the last week. She’d been so high, she’d barely remembered it the next day. But it came flooding back to her now. But this felt nothing like the hand of God. This felt like a bad dream. She sat where she was and cried.