TO SELL YOUR SOUL
What would Tess, Monica, Andrew, and Gloria do, if they found themselves during the end-times scenario prophesied in the Bible, prior to Jesus' coming? What kinds of assignments would they receive? How would they handle their assignments? This alternate-universe series is my attempt to answer that question, to surmise how the angels would handle the events of the Rapture and the Tribulation.
The first story in this ongoing series was written by Robin Day and myself. The rest, I am writing on my own.
In story #11 of my end-times series, a pregnant young woman is fleeing from a boyfriend who is determined to force her to take the Mark of the Beast. Can the angels save her from that fate, and get through to her boyfriend?
The grayish-brown jalopy, spattered with dirt, roared down the rutted dirt road, stones sticking out of its surface. Clumps of trees lined both sides of the road, from horizon to horizon. The young, pregnant woman pressed the accelerator, gazing in terror at the cloudless Georgia sky overhead.
"I've got to find a place to hide," she said. "I've just got to!" She wiped the beads of perspiration off her forehead. "So warm and sunny for this early in June," she muttered.
She was 26 years old, and formerly had been quite attractive. Her blonde hair hung down to her shoulders. She had an emaciated figure and a fair complexion that sunburned easily. As she sped down the road, leaving a cloud of dust behind her, her stomach protruded from the rest of her stick-thin body, and tears streaked her perspiring face. Her worn, tattered maternity blouse and blue jeans hung on her frame.
A moment later, the car stalled. The engine's roar died. After several minutes of trying vainly to turn the engine back on, the woman leaped out of the driver's seat and kicked the tire.
"No!" she moaned. "How am I going to get further away on foot?" She stared down at her oversized stomach, then wiped her sweaty face. "And who's going to help me when I go into labor?"
Desperation engulfed her soul. She could not go on much longer—she knew her ex-boyfriend was, in all likelihood, hot on her trail. Any time now, he might find Aileen; when he did, he would force her to go back with him to Atlanta and receive Antonio Puccini's horrible implant. He would also compel her to worship the replica of Puccini's image set up in Atlanta two months before.
I couldn't afford food now, even if I agreed to the implant—which I won't! she thought. That stupid war in the Middle East has cut off all oil to us. Prices have become so high, only the rich can afford to eat. She shook her head. How could Russia do this to us all?!
Moreover, she was almost nine months pregnant, so her time was almost up. In just a few days—perhaps sooner—she would to go into labor. She had to find shelter and someone to help her, and fast!
The now-familiar stomach ache made her double over in pain, clutching her abdomen. How long had it been since she had last had something to eat? Her stomach had felt empty for days. Whimpering, she knelt at the side of the engine, spreading her hand on her stick-thin legs.
"Please, God," she prayed, "help me!" She swallowed, as, pressing her blouse against her chest, she rubbed her hands over the ribs jutting through. "God, I don't know who You are, although I've been told of You. But I beg You to help me. Please!"
The now-familiar sense of thick oppression settled over her. "God will never listen to you," a voice inside taunted. "He doesn't love you, and He never will! You're doomed. You missed the Rapture, and you're doomed to Hell."
Shaking her head violently, the woman crawled away from the car into the thick grass lining the dirt road. Trees on both sides obscured her vision of the horizon. Choking back sobs, she curled up on her side and laid her face in her hands.
Unknown to her, four angels stood on her other side, gazing down at her with sorrowful eyes. One of them—a slender, beautiful angel with long reddish-brown hair—clasped her hands in front of her waist. Pearl earrings dangled from her earlobes. "Aileen Adamson," Monica said softly. She spoke with an Irish accent.
Her supervisor, Tess, nodded. "Yes. She's in a desperate situation, and she needs God's intervention to save her." She pursed her lower lip. "She's in her 9th month of pregnancy, and on the verge of labor. She hasn't had much food in a long time, and now she's near starvation." Sorrow tinged her voice as she folded her ebony arms across her ample chest. "Look at her big her eyes are, and how thin her arms and legs are."
Gloria sighed. "Millions of other people are in the same shape."
Andrew nodded agreement. "They certainly are," he agreed. "The war in the Middle East has been in progress for three months now, ever since Russia began double-crossing its allies." He shook his head. "The Russian prime minister is an interesting piece of work. He promises his Moslem allies he'll help them destroy Israel, then he proceeds to invade them first. He's been at it for quite a few weeks now." He sighed. "And in that time, I've had to take countless soldiers Home, as well as a number of civilians."
He shook his head again, then inserted his hands into his pants pockets. "The second and third seals have been broken in rapid succession. The fourth seal is on the verge of being broken even as I speak." The other angels exchanged unhappy glances. They knew what he meant.
The angel of death paused. "Ever since the war started, first double-digit, and then triple-digit inflation has set in and raised prices rapidly. Famine has spread all over the world as a result, and millions of people are starving. Just like Aileen." He sighed. "Most can't afford more than a loaf of bread—inflation has gotten so bad, it takes a whole day's salary just to purchase a very meager amount of food. And it will be even worse for those who won't take the implant—they won't be allowed to buy or sell, or even hold a job. Already, their bank accounts have been frozen, and their debit cards rendered useless." Deep sadness welled up in his expressive eyes. "It won't be long, now, till millions of people will start dying of starvation and disease. And crime. People will literally kill one another for a bite of food."
"No, it won't be long," Tess agreed. "Right now, though, our assignment is this young woman." She glanced at Aileen as she spoke. Dirt and grass stains had mussed her clothes.
Gloria tilted her eyes as she fingered her glasses. "She just prayed a few minutes ago, yet I sense she's convinced that God hasn't heard her."
Tess inclined her head. Her ruby brooch glistened in the sunlight as she turned to face Gloria. "You've sensed correctly, baby. Aileen is indeed convinced of that. She prayed to God repeatedly during the early days following the Rapture, but the demons always taunted her, telling her that God had rejected her." She paused. "As they're doing now."
Monica looked from Tess to Gloria. "So, our job is to show her that God has not rejected her."
"If we don't, chances are her soul will be lost eternally. She's at a crossroads, baby," Tess explained. "Her boyfriend is determined to force her to accept Antonio Puccini's implant and to worship his statue. He's convinced it's the only way to survive in today's world. What he doesn't know is that he will sell his soul if he does this." A disapproving glare etched her face. "Or that Aileen will sell hers, if she gives into his demands."
The supervisor angel shook her head. "Aileen is not a believer, but she knows in her spirit that taking that implant would be a fatal mistake—that's why she's on the run." She looked from angel to angel. "The trouble is, unless she gives her life to God, she will not be able to resist Dylan when he finds her. She will try, but he will be stronger than she is."
She turned to Monica. "You know our instructions, Miss Wings." She wagged her index finger. "Just don't take a lot of time deciding what the house is to look like—all that matters is that it's large and comfortable." She paused. "And that we have a place to hide Aileen when her boyfriend comes."
"And food," Andrew reminded her. "Aileen will need nourishment when you and Monica take her in."
"We will also need medical supplies," Gloria added. "And maternity clothes for Aileen. The ones she's wearing now are dirty and almost worn out."
"Yes," Tess agreed. She turned to Andrew. "You're on standby, Mr. Halo, until you're needed." Nodding acquiescence, Andrew folded his arms across his chest and turned his gaze toward Aileen.
Monica swiveled to face the hill behind them. She trotted 30 feet up the road till she found a spot where the ground was smooth, and fixed her eyes on the incline. Within seconds, a two-story white Victorian house with pillars and a porch spanning the front appeared; an ornate metal fence spread alongside the road, enclosing the front yard. Tess smiled approvingly at her. Unaware of their presence, Aileen broke out into convulsive sobs.
END OF PROLOGUE