She was a gentle young woman with beady eyes that were the color of chocolate milk. Her hair was fine, curly, silver, neck-length, and worn in an uncomplicated style. She was tall with an Amazonian build that allowed her to go above and beyond when it came to survival. Her skin was pale due to lack of exposure from any direct bright sunlight for long periods of time (long being months, going on years). Her mouth was small and her lips were thin and pinkish red in color. Her wardrobe was businesslike, but not dressy.
She looked at the death, decay, and destruction that surrounded and consumed her. She had lived her life like this for as long as she could remember and she was only twenty-one years old. Her pale skin was like leather from constant work it took to survive this place she was in. The place was once a city that had been ripped apart to shreds by conquest, war, famine, and death.
All around her she saw makeshift homes and businesses. Streets had been dug out using the mile high piles of garbage and rotted corpses. From the hill, she saw cats and dogs scavenging dead, maggot-infested, rotting corpses of humans and other animals. She gagged as she tried to look around.
To her left, she saw what appeared to be an attempt of a neighborhood. To the right, the same. In the center was a cleared dirt path lined on either side with mountains of trash and corpses. She started down the hill and into the destruction. She looked behind all of this and saw other towns and cities similar to the one she was headed into hundreds of thousands of miles off in the distance.
She was surprised by this sight as she followed the path that led from the hill into the town because she was sure that the war, which had caused death, which had caused famine, which had caused pestilence, had wiped everything out. But as she neared the makeshift town, or city, whichever it was, she noticed that there were at least a few hundred shacks that seemed to be occupied and lived in.
She stopped at the edge of the town just before entering it. The sight made her sick. The smell did as well. She covered her nose and mouth with her shirt as she crept her way into the town. It was actually a city, she noticed as she walked through it and the way she could tell was by, one, all of the houses and business, and two, there was a large population of homeless widows and orphans. This was ridiculous, she had never seen anything like it before in her entire life!
She stopped at one of the burning barrels that had a widow and orphan standing at it. The young woman stuck her hands over the fire with them.
“How are you?” she asked them, smiling.
“What are you?” the widow asked.
“I’m sorry?” the woman said, still smiling but looking curiously at them.
“My name is Cornelia Hartman,” the widow said, “this is Elizabeth Emerson. Answer my question, what are you?”
“I’m not sure I get what you mean ma’am.”
“You’re dressed and speak better than anyone I ever met.”
The young woman glanced down at what she was wearing and then looked back up at Cornelia and Elizabeth, “I’m dressed like you,” she said, shrugging, “what’s the big deal?”
“Why don’t you look sick?” Cornelia asked.
The young woman frowned at her.
“We’ve been slowly dying of whatever this epidemic is that swept over the world, just as everyone else has already seemingly died and yet you look as healthy as anyone I’ve ever seen in my life.” Cornelia said, shaking her head disgusted.
The young woman had never thought about how she looked physically to others, but she knew she wasn’t what Cornelia and Elizabeth thought she was.
“Believe me ma’am,” the woman said, “I’m anything but.”
“You’re up and walking aren’t you, probably got a house and transportation and food still.” Cornelia said angrily.
“Please don’t judge me, ma’am,” the woman said hurtfully, “you have no idea what I’ve seen or…” Cornelia cut her off.
“Don’t play the pity party with me,” she snapped, “I’ve seen and know your kind. Always wanting hand-outs and favors while the rest of us Waller and squirm in our filth and disease!”
The woman’s heart wrenched, “I’m just trying to survive and get along like you.”
Cornelia scoffed, “Yeah right,” she muttered, “what’s your name anyway?”
“I don’t know that I want to say now.” the young woman said coldly.
There was a brief pause.
“I’m sorry,” Cornelia said, “it’s just I’ve been in this condition for so long and watching the city….”
“I understand,” the woman said calmly, smiling, “my name is Christie Ashlee Pittman.”
“Pleased to meet you.”
“Same,” Christie said, “I don’t blame you for snapping the way you did.”
“Oh,” Cornelia said, surprised, “why is that?”
“I’ve been sick my entire life.”
“With what,” Cornelia asked, “if you don’t mind me asking?”
“Oh, it’s nothing….it’s a rare condition.” Christie said, waving her hand as if to try and play off what she had.
Cornelia chuckled to herself, “you’re sick,” she said, “and possibly dying like Elizabeth and my…” Christie cut her off.
“The kid’s sick too,” she said, more serious than ever now, “what’s the matter with her?”
Christie studied them, the widow and the orphan. The widow had a hunched back and was bent over and had to walk with a cane she had made. She also wore tattered and torn clothes that barely hung on her body with a black hooded robe over it and grey headband that held back her matted hair that hadn’t been washed in months, on her feet were sandals that looked like something out of the days of the people in the Bible. The orphan was dressed about the same, only her clothes weren’t black, they were brown.
“Do you mind if I ask what you’re sick with?” Christie asked Cornelia as she saw no physical signs of illness, just handicap.
“We were struck with many different kinds of plagues and epidemics.” Cornelia said in a low voice and standing face to face with Christie, almost touching her.
“What about you,” Elizabeth said, “what’ve you got? You don’t look sick either?” she seemed annoyed and angered by the fact that what Christie had didn’t seem to affect her physical appearance as much as the inside of her body.
“Never mind that Liz,” Cornelia said, “do you know how to save us or not?”
Christie didn’t know what to say or think. She had never thought much about trying to help others because this was the first time she had had any kind of contact with anyone in years. She had been living just like the widow and orphan all that time, but yet, she had never given any thought to look for survivors because she had thought that the war, death, famine, and pestilence had all wiped everyone and everything in the world out. Now that she had found other survivors, she felt hopeful. But at the same time, she wondered what finding other people would mean.
She laid under an overpass that was just a few miles away from where the widow and orphan had been. As she did, she heard footsteps. She was up in an instance and saw the orphan standing before her. The orphan saw her and smiled big and bright, waving as she happily and excitedly ran over to where Christie was. When she arrived at where she was, she knelt down and threw her arms around Christie like they had known each other forever.
“How are you Elizabeth?” she asked, smiling at her as she let go.
“Fine now that you’re here.” Elizabeth said happily.
“What do you mean by that?” Christie asked.
“Aren’t you the one they said would come and save us and bring us peace?” the girl asked.
“How old are you again?” Christie asked.
“I’m fourteen, almost fifteen.” Elizabeth said proudly.
“What’s this about this prophecy you’ve heard?”
“Come on,” Elizabeth said, taking Christie’s hand, “I’ll show you!”
They walked away from where the girl lived with the old woman, who stayed behind.
“Where are we going,” Christie asked as the girl dragged her along with her, “what’s going on?”
“There’s something you need to see,” Elizabeth said excitedly, “it’s in that thing over there!” she said, pointing to what looked like the world’s biggest coliseum.
They soon reached the coliseum, but there appeared to be no way inside as the door was smashed in. But Elizabeth soon let go of Christie’s hand and hurried to the door and squeezed her way inside. Christie hesitated.
“Come on,” Elizabeth’s soothing, childish voice called from just inside of the doorway that led in and out of the building, “you can fit too!”
Christie slowly and carefully made her way to where the building and Elizabeth were. She squeezed through the door and entered it. Inside was more trash and dead, rotting bodies, just like there seemed to be everywhere else in the world. Christie had quickly adjusted and grown accustomed to, the stench as she followed the path someone had made out of the debris.
“Elizabeth,” Christie called as she followed the path, “where are you?”
The coliseum was round and similar to a maze. Christie didn’t know which way Elizabeth had gone and so she picked a direction to go, not knowing she was going the wrong way. There were doors all around another circle and two staircases on either side in front of the doors. Along the walls were bathrooms and vendor stands.
As Christie walked, her footsteps echoed in the empty concrete building. There were signs hanging from the ceiling that gave directions to each section of the inside circle. She walked up to one of the blue doors and pushed it open and entered the inner circle room.
There were hundreds, if not thousands, of seats in the room which was circular. Scattered about them and the arena below, were tents and people in those tents. The mass destruction hadn’t wiped everyone out like she had originally thought. Or so she hoped.
She walked over to one of the rails and peered over the edge into the arena. Tents filled the entire inner circle, but there had been manmade paths to get around such a small area. In the seats were more tents, but there were about two or three per section, all the way up into the nosebleed section nearest the ceiling. There had to be survivors in here, there just had to. Even if it took all day and all night, she was determined to find them at all costs.
“Over here!” Elizabeth whispered from somewhere in the mess of tents.
“Where are you?” Christie asked, somewhat angrily as she was sick and tired and frustrated.
She followed Elizabeth’s voice to the last of the tents, which were in an alleyway that led into the arena. She jerked back the rainfly to find the girl in a four person tent, but was the only one inside. Christie let out a sigh of relief when she saw the girl was alone and unharmed.
“What the hell are you doing in there,” Christie said shortly, “come on, get out of there, now!” she ordered.
“This is a much safer place than where I just was!” the girl said.
Christie shook her head, “But not much safer.” she muttered as they started back out of the coliseum and back to where they had been earlier with Cornelia.
“Why?” Elizabeth asked.
“This place is disease infested,” Christie said as she covered her mouth with her shirt and coughed like she was choking to death, “it’s too dangerous here for us.”
“But I’m not….” Elizabeth said, but Christie cut her off.
“Look, little girl,” she snapped, “just listen to what I say about this place and others and the world! I’ve lived in it and dealt with its shit and so has Cornelia a lot longer than you have!” she coughed and hacked again after she spoke and staggered out of the building with the girl close behind.
Elizabeth stayed silent as she and Christie exited the building and re-entered the world. She knew Christie was sick. She didn’t understand how or why she was sick, she just knew she was. She had seen it before in her own family, all of whom had died when wasn’t even a year old and so she didn’t remember them at all. The closest person she had as family was Cornelia. The widow whose husband had died early on during the outbreak, just after she had taken the infant in. Even though the young girl seemed extremely upset and hurt by how Christie was talking to her right now, she wasn’t. She was fully aware and understood why she was the way she was.
“How are you?” Christie asked Elizabeth as they walked though the death, decay, and destruction, searching for survivors.
The girl didn’t say anything.
“Elizabeth?” Cornelia said as she and Christie stopped and turned and faced the girl.
She had fallen over on the ground and was motionless.
“Elizabeth!” Cornelia and Christie shrieked as they ran over to where she was, knelt down beside her, and turned her over where her face was up at them.
Christie checked the girl’s pulse, “Dead.” she said, somberly, shaking her head disappointed.
“I didn’t realize she was that sick,” Cornelia said as they stood, “you know what this means, don’t you?”
“Yeah,” Christie said as she picked the girl’s body up and started walking again, “we have to find the source of this disease and find a way to stop it before it kills anyone else!” they walked until they found a spot in the dirt to dig a place to bury Elizabeth.
“What are you going to do with it?”
“Bury her of course,” Christie said, “she deserves that much.”
“I don’t understand,” Cornelia said, “why this, why now?”
“Well,” Christie said as they neared a spot she thought would fit the girl perfectly, “the Bible tells us that no one knows the day, the time, or the hour, not even the Son of Man.”
Cornelia sighed, frustrated, and shook her head, “I’m so sick of hearing shit like that I can’t hardly stand it!’ she muttered angrily, kicking at the ground as she spoke.
“Oh,” Christie said, “and why is that?” she stared curiously at her as she spoke.
“It’s annoying!” Cornelia said irritably.
Christie and Elizabeth exchanged glances. Christie wondered why Cornelia was behaving the way she was. She had a feeling the girl already knew.
Meanwhile, a group of renegades were frantically searching the area and surrounding ones for survivors.
“Anything or anyone you see move or so much as breath, kill it! Show no mercy!”
Cornell Louie Buchanan, twenty-one years old, five foot nine inches tall, slender, lean muscle build. He had shaggy black hair that made him look kind of hippie-ish and piercing dark brown, almost black, eyes. He was the leader of the renegades.
He had also never believed in anything. How could he? Especially when he had been born into such a world that was falling apart at the seams. He hated the girl he was searching for because of what she believed in. He was determined to find her and convince her that she was wrong and if that didn’t work, he would kill her. Not just kill her, but brutally massacre her and the others.
After Christie and Cornelia had buried Elizabeth, they continued down the dirt path, away from the coliseum, hoping to find a different shelter and other survivors. What they didn’t realize, though, however, was that they were about to cross paths with Cornell and the other renegades. But for now, they walked along the lonely dirt path.
“Listen, Christie,” Cornelia said, “I’m sorry for how I acted back there. It’s just….how can I believe in something or someone I can’t see when I’ve been like you and Elizabeth, being born, raised, and living in such a broken world and having no physical evidence or proof of this power you believe in?”
“Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed. John chapter twenty, verse twenty-nine.” Christie said, smiling.
“What’s that supposed to mean,” Cornelia said angrily, gritting her teeth, balling up her fists, and her body trembling with anger and rage, “why can’t you ever give me a straight answer instead of doing that?”
“Doing what?” Christie asked calmly.
“Giving me stupid verses from some bullshit book.”
Christie shook her head with dismay, “It’s not,” she said, “please, you’ve got to be patient my friend.”
“To hell with patience,” Cornelia said, “I’ve been patient enough for fifty-seven years and I’m sick of and done with it! Why can’t you just wake the hell and grow the hell up already and realize that this bullshit book you believe in is a lie, and so is the God you believe in that supposedly inspired its writing?”
“I know it’s not.”
Cornelia gritted her teeth, “grow up,” she said angrily, “grow up already, when are you going to grow up and realize that if this so-called God of yours existed, then the world wouldn’t be the way it is!”
“It’s not his fault.”
“Oh yeah,” Cornelia snapped, “then whose is it?”
“That’s the biggest bunch of bullshit I’ve ever heard,” Cornelia said angrily, “I’m a good person. I give to charity and care about people.”
“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”
“Goddammit,” Cornelia said angrily, “stop, just stop already! How do we survive this place since there’s nothing and no one around to help us do so?”
Christie started to answer her, but Cornelia cut her off.
“Never mind,” she snapped, “don’t answer that, let’s just keep looking.” and with that, they kept walking and didn’t speak another word to each other.
Christie felt her heart wrench. This world had tried to break her down all her life and just when she thought it had, she found she had yet to give up the fight. Even if she and Elizabeth were both considered too sick and unfit to live. She knew Elizabeth would rise again someday as a beautiful princess in the Kingdom. She couldn’t help but smile at the thought of this, but tried to conceal it from Cornelia.
The group of renegades wanted her. The old woman. She was all they wanted and they would stop at nothing to get her.
“She’s aware that we’re hunting her?”
“Well nothing, it’s just….”
“You think she’ll believe the lies of the young woman, yes?”
The young man that was Christie’s age nodded.
The old man that was Cornelia’s age grabbed his shoulder firmly and smiled, “Don’t worry, Cornell,” the old man said, “they will be dealt with for their rebellion and treachery soon enough.”
“Yes,” the boy that was Elizabeth’s age chimed in, “and then there will finally be peace upon the earth and in all men’s hearts.”
The old man laughed and firmly grabbed the boy’s shoulder and shook him with happiness, giving him a brief one-armed hug.
But the young boy, whose name was Eugenio, felt his mind and heart being violently pulled back and forth at the thought of God and Satan. Heaven and Hell. Life and death. It was all so confusing to him. He didn’t understand. All he knew was what the two men, Cornell and Dwayne, had taught him.
“We’re close.” Christine said to Elizabeth.
“To what?” the girl asked.
“I don’t know,” Christine said, “hopefully other life.”
“Where are they?” Elizabeth asked.
“There’s not anyone else here,” Cornelia said, growing more frustrated and angry by the second by Christine and Elizabeth’s ignorance and arrogance, not realizing it was really herself that was this way, “if there was, they would have found us, or vice versa, by now.”
“Cornelia,” Christine said, “just stop already, how could anyone find us when there’s no power?”
“Exactly,” Cornelia said, “there’s no power, hence, no life.”
“Then how do you explain our survival?”
Cornelia shook her head, “Why do I even try?” her mind wondered.
The sun fell behind the ruins of the city. As it did, Elizabeth grew tired and Christine took it upon herself to pick her up and carry her as best she could because she cared about her even though they barely knew each other, and she knew Cornelia wouldn’t.
“Are we there yet?” Elizabeth said tiredly as she clung to Cornelia with what little energy she had left in her body.
“Shhhh,” Cornelia whispered softly to her, “don’t worry. We’ll be fine. God goes before us and will guide and protect us all the days of our lives.” she glanced over at Christine, who had been fully consumed by her bitterness, malice, anger, and rage.
They soon came to a place that was abandoned. Christine inspected it and tested the structure to make sure it was safe to sit or lay under without having to worry about it falling in on them.
“Looks safe enough,” she said, holding out her hands for the girl Cornelia was carrying, “give her to me and I’ll put her inside.”
“No,” Cornelia said, clutching the girl tighter, “I’ve got her, it’s okay.”
“Come on, I’m not going to hurt her.” Christine said, taking a step toward them.
“I said I’ve got her!” Cornelia insisted.
“Why don’t you trust me to give her shelter?”
“It’s not you,” Cornelia said, “it’s the structure.”
“What about it?”
“It doesn’t look sturdy enough.”
The truth was, Christie knew what Cornelia was. That’s why she didn’t trust her. She knew in her heart and soul that if she entrusted Elizabeth to her care, something bad was bound to happen, and not just because they didn’t know each other. Instead, Christie and Elizabeth stayed outside of the shack. Christie found a pair of sticks and used them to make a fire.
The girl had been asleep all day. In some ways, it scared and worried Christie. She wondered if she should wake her and ask. But as she leaned over to do so, she stopped when her eye caught how peacefully the girl slept. She leaned back, dropping her arm to her side. Christine smiled at Elizabeth. She was suddenly reminded of children’s innocence and how nice it was to live so carefree with unwavering faith and love unconditionally with unfailing love.
“Was this girl the Messiah in disguise?” Christine wondered inside of her mind.
If, and this was a big “if”, if she was, why was she a child and not a woman? And did that mean that Elizabeth had come to save mankind from people like Cornelia? Of course it did, it had to! But Christine knew Jesus was a man. Why, if he had already come back, had he done so in the form of this girl and not someone else or even his actual self? If the girl was Jesus in disguise, why wasn’t she healthy and fine and already saved the world? And why, if she was Jesus in disguise, was she here on Earth and not in the sky like the Bible clearly said. Was she another false prophet and Messiah like she believed Cornelia to be? Or was God trying to tell her something using this girl?
The girl couldn’t be a false Messiah, she just couldn’t. This was something Christie refused to believe for several reasons, the main one being that she was sick to the point of death, but had unwavering faith. But Christie had seen propaganda on television before all hell had broken loose of many false prophets who had claimed to be from God, but weren’t. This thought only further ripped and tore at her mind, body, and soul as she tried to fall asleep.
The men and young boy that was with them knew what the girl that was with the women really was. They had been following them for years, trying their best to destroy them. But something seemed to be hindering them from doing so.
Eugenio, however, was second guessing himself and what he believed in. All of his life he had been told by Cornell and Dwayne how there was no God. But he had felt him, not once, not twice, but many times throughout his short life. This was it, he was sick of feeling this way. He would find those who believed and stay with them. He waited until he was sure the men were asleep and then snuck out into the night in search of the girl and the women she was with.
As he headed through the night, the voices of Cornell and Dwayne throughout his life rang and echoed in his brain. But there was another voice, an unfamiliar voice, telling him to be strong, hold on, and not look back. To do what he had been called to do. And what he had been called to do was find these woman that could lead him on the right path and save him.
Eugenio knew the path well strangely enough. As he walked along it, he wondered what this God he knew existed but had been lied to and told didn’t, was really like. Eugenio tried to imagine what he looked like, but couldn’t. There were still so many questions that filled his mind about how a God so loving could have allowed what had happened, and where was he now? He felt something pull at his heart as he walked and it made him sick to his stomach.
Eugenio soon saw lights. He looked behind him, but no longer saw the place from which had come. He let out a sigh like he had been holding his breath forever and nervously and excitedly made his way to the lights ahead of him.
He soon came to the door of the shack that Christie, Cornelia, and Elizabeth were in. He lifted his hand to knock on the door, but hesitated. His heart pounded in his head and chest. His body trembled like a tree in high wind. The sickness had intensified. But he fought through it and rapidly knocked on the door.
There was a long pause. He started to knock again, but the door opened, revealing the girl his age.
“Who are you?” she asked.
“My name is Eugenio,” he whispered, “I’m here because I need help.”
Elizabeth hesitated before letting him inside of the shack.
“What are you doing here?” Elizabeth asked him as they sat on the place where she had been sleeping.
“I don’t know,” Eugenio said, “something told me to come here.”
“Do you know what it was?”
“No,” Eugenio said, “it was like I heard a voice inside of my head and felt a tugging and pulling at my heart that was telling me there was something not right about the people I was with.”
Elizabeth’s eyes were suddenly wide and bright. Her heart leaped for joy. A million things were suddenly racing through her mind at the speed of light.
“What’s wrong?” Eugenio asked.
“Nothing,” she said, “do you know who the voice was?”
Eugenio shook his head, “No.”
“Well, what all did it say to you and I could probably tell you.”
“It just said run, get as far away from people like Cornell and Dwayne, people who don’t….” Elizabeth finished for him.
Eugenio nodded, “Yeah,” he said, “how did you know?”
“I’ve heard that voice too,” Elizabeth said, her voice rising with excitement, “Eugenio, do know what this means?”
He shook his head ‘no’.
“You heard God’s voice,” she said, “listen to him, believe, he loves you, he loves all of us and wants a relationship with us!”
“But that still doesn’t explain….” Eugenio started.
“All of the sin in the world is our own doing,” Elizabeth said, “but when Jesus comes back for us he’ll take us home to Heaven with us!”
“You really think so?” Eugenio asked.
“I know so,” Elizabeth said, “you have to too!”
“How do I do that?”
“Admit, believe, and commit.”
“What does that mean?”
“Admit you’re a sinner, and that you need his forgiveness.”
“And that’s it?”
“No,” Elizabeth said, “it’s only the beginning.”
They each got into their own beds and Elizabeth was soon fast asleep. But Eugenio wasn’t. He felt his mind and heart continue to spiral out of control as they wondered what this God Elizabeth kept speaking of was really like. He wanted to know more about him, but for now, he knew he needed rest and he would ask more tomorrow.
As Eugenio slept, he dreamed. In his dream he saw two men wearing hoods in the desert. They came towards him and stretched out their hands to him. He reached for them without thinking with trembling hands and felt them take his hands in theirs and lead him through the desert. He thought at first they were taking him somewhere safe, where he would no longer be sick, in any pain, or have see anymore of his loved ones died. Instead, they brought him to an enormous deep hole that someone or something had dug in the ground. The two men then let go of him and pointed at the hole.
Eugenio seemed to float, hovering just above the ground to the hole. When he got to the edge of it, he turned and looked for the two men. They were gone and had joined him at the edge of the pit. They now pointed down into it. He nervously leaned forward, and peered inside.
He gasped, terrified and horrified by what he saw. Thick, grey and black smoke rose up out of the pit. A million plus people were bowed down to a creature to terrifying and horrendous and hideous to describe. The beast was marking each of the people who were bowed down to its foreheads with the number “666”. Fire burned all around them and sulfur seeped and poured out of the walls of the pit all around everyone inside of it. He faintly heard, over the roaring flames and gushing liquid, the weeping of all those inside and the gnashing of their teeth. As some bowed down to and worshipped the beast, others fell from the sky and into the lake near the pit, which burned all of their flesh and muscle through to their bones. Their cries of agonizing pain rang out in Eugenio’s ears and made them bleed. His heart wrenched as he watched the sight, reaching out his hands to try and help them. But he was too far away. He then saw a beast, man, devil, and his demons, all fall from the sky and into the pit. They screeched and howled in pain as he watched their flesh rot off of their bones and they reached for and tried to grab onto him either to save themselves or drag him down with them or both. But he scooted himself far enough away to avoid this. Then, after he had watched all of this, the sky suddenly split open, and the entire Earth rumbled and shook as if it were about to explode. But it didn’t, instead, a beam of light came out of it and shone on the pit. The beast, man, devil, and demons all howled and screeched more frantically and hysterically, trying to shield their eyes. Eugenio saw the two men walk toward him and the pit. He froze in terror and fear. He wondered if they were here to kill him. Instead, the men seemed to ignore him and fearlessly stepped into the pit. When they did, there was a flash of bright white light.
Eugenio gasped, his eyes snapped open and he was sitting up in an instance as straight as a bored. He was panting, breathing hard and heavily as if he had been running a marathon. Sweat poured from everywhere possible in his entire body and the place where he had been laying was soaked. There was a huge lump in his throat that he couldn’t keep down. He threw the blankets off of himself and got up and stepped outside of the shack into the cool midnight air.
Elizabeth had heard Eugenio talking and stirring in his sleep. She too threw the blankets off of herself and followed him outside.
“Hey,” she said once they were outside, “what’s going? Are you okay?”
He hesitated, “I just had a nightmare’s all.”
Eugenio shook his head, “I…I don’t want to talk about it, it was just a dream. It didn’t mean anything.”
“It might,” Elizabeth said, “it depends on what you saw. Sometimes our dreams are God’s way of telling things we wouldn’t otherwise hear or understand.”
“I don’t even know how to explain it.” he said, his hands on his hips, he shook his head.
“Just try,” Elizabeth said, “and if there’s something you find yourself struggling to tell me, just tell me as best you can and I’ll repeat it to make sure.”
“There was a pit,” Eugenio said, “it was in the desert. There were two men near it pointing into it.”
“Did you see what was in it?” Elizabeth asked.
“I…I walked over to where they were and looked down into, yes.”
“Well, what was in it?”
“Another man and people and some kind of lake.”
Elizabeth’s eyes widened, “Eugenio,” she said nervously, “you’re saying you saw Hell?”
“I guess so,” he said, “I saw Cornell and Dwayne in the pit. They were with at least several thousand other people and they were all burning to death alive in a lake.”
“Yeah,” Elizabeth said, “I’d say you saw Hell.”
“Who do you think the man was that led me to it?”
“It was God,” Elizabeth said, “Eugenio, he’s trying to tell you that you need to surrender to him, otherwise you’ll suffer the same fate as Cornell and Dwayne.”
“But I’m fourteen years old.”
“So,” Elizabeth said, “you’ve still got a full life ahead of you. It’s what God wants for you and it’s something you should want for yourself.”
“Well I did like when God came down as a beam of light in the dream and destroyed the pit and the demons inside.” he said with a smile.
“And, you could have been having a vision that’s telling you Jesus is coming soon. Like real soon.”
Cornelia had heard the two stir and talking, “You’re dream is a lie,” she said to the boy, “it means nothing, your mind is just stressed and overactive because of what’s going on.”
“Cornelia, not now.” Elizabeth said, frustrated.
“Why don’t you go somewhere else. Like with Cornell and Dwayne?” Eugenio said angrily as he crawled over the beds that had been made in the shack and crawled into one and went back to sleep.
Elizabeth glared at Cornelia, “I’ll pray for you.” she said in a low angry voice as she crawled back into her bed.
In the night, Cornelia was struck blind and with coughing blood. She died in her sleep, but Elizabeth, Eugenio, and Christie didn’t know it until the next morning.
“Was it something I said?” Eugenio asked Christie.
“No,” Christie said, reassuringly, “it was all God. Just like everything else.”
“How did it happen?” Elizabeth asked.
Christie looked at where Cornelia’s corpse laid, “I….I don’t know. Come on, we can’t stay here.” they packed up what little they had and started out of the shack and back down the dirt path.
“Is that what’s going to happen to all of them?” Eugenio asked.
“No,” Elizabeth said, “remember your dream you told me about last night.”
They soon came to what seemed like the end of the world. There was a temple that covered it.
“What is this?” Eugenio asked.
“A place where none of the renegades shouldn’t be able to enter or harm us it looks like.” Christie said as she and the two teens entered it.
Sure enough, inside of the building was a wooden double door. The hallway curved around it and there were tables on the wall near the door with papers on them. It was similar to the coliseum, but had another floor that had what looked like classrooms and was in perfect shape despite what had happened.
Eugenio suddenly felt relieved. Every kind of pain he had ever felt was suddenly gone and he forgot everything that wasn’t good. His head had stopped pounding, as had his heart. His body had also stopped aching.
“Are you alright?” Elizabeth asked him.
He turned and smiled at her, “I’m fine now.”
“Why is this the only place on Earth that wasn’t completely destroyed?” Eugenio asked.
“There’s no telling,” Elizabeth said, “maybe it’s a sign.”
“From God?” Eugenio said excitedly and happily.
“Could be.” Christie said as they entered the Sanctuary.
The renegades neared the church, but as they did, they burst into flames and vanished into thin air without a trace. They were thrown into a lake of sulfur and fire while Christie and Elizabeth sat safely inside of the church. Cornelia had also joined them. The world as they knew it was ending, but this was only the beginning for them.