Episode 3 of The Intruder Serial appears below, after The Unexpectedly Inclusive Rapture
The Unexpectedly Inclusive Rapture
Thank heavens for funeral homes, for without them, we could have completely missed the Rapture.
Harry Samuels, proprietor of one such establishment, Samuels Family Funeral, was wheeling the recently embalmed Felicity Parsons into Viewing Room II just before lunch on November 14th, 2016, when, and these are Harry’s words, “the old lady turned blue, like she was cold, which she couldn’t have been because she was dead as a brick. Then she started sizzling all over, hissing and bubbling like a piece of fried bacon. I admit I jumped back a step, it gave me quite a fright, and she lit up like a bunch of Fourth of July sparklers. Then she broke up into little pieces and floated up to the ceiling, like dandelion seeds in the wind, except that they were bright blue and white lights, not seeds. The lights floated up and disappeared, and all that was left in her casket were her clothes and shoes, a real nice wedding ring, the hairpiece we’d pinned on her, and all of the embalming chemicals.”
This description had already tested the limits of Harry’s vocabulary, so his wife, Marlene, who had been at Wal-Mart at the time, was sure to add details for him when the Spokesfield Tribune came calling. “He heard what could only be described as the trumpets of angels and felt the breath of the Lord upon him as Mrs. Parsons ascended to Zion,” she reported.
Harry noted that, after his encounter with Felicity, he had checked on their other “customers” and found all of them gone, leaving behind an assortment of clothing, shoes, jewelry, pacemakers, dentures, and gallons of embalming fluid.
This phenomenon occurred in funeral homes around the world, as well as at the resting places of several world leaders (those who remain on display). Visitors to Hugo Chavez, Lenin, Stalin, Eva Peron, Ho Chi Minh, Mao Zedong, Kim Jong-Il, Saint Bernadette, and others mostly witnessed a slight deflation and the sudden appearance of floating blue and white sparkles, but later they would all count themselves as firsthand witnesses to the Rapture itself. Except for those attending the (pricey) “Mystery Mummies of Zeleniy Yar” exhibit at the British Museum. They saw nothing, and upon hearing that visitors to the museum’s regular mummy displays had witnessed distinct signs of the Rapture, demanded compensation. The Mummies of Zeleniy Yar were later proven to be replicas and the relationship between the United Kingdom and Russia suffered greatly as a result.
Soon after the Rapture itself—in some cases, mere seconds after initial reports—graves were dug up en masse to see if anyone at all had been left behind. At least someone from each major (and minor, to be fair) religion was horrified to find that all dead bodies had sparkled themselves away, regardless of religious affiliation, race, gender, or anything else humans could think of to categorize themselves by. The Unitarians were a notable exception and exalted in finally getting some validation from the greater religious community.
The fact that new dead people, those people who passed away even milliseconds after that moment just before lunch on November 14th, 2016, failed to rise or sparkle or anything of the fantastic sort caused a great many folks stress. They wondered if they had missed the Rapture. They wondered if they were doomed for eternity while their forebears (among them murderers, terrorists, and reality television personalities) had risen to everlasting life.
Though these questions clouded the happiness of more than a few people, the overall global reaction to the Rapture was one of pure joy. For the first time in this Age, this Age of photographs and videotapes and television and the Internet, there was proof that something else was out there (or in here; according to a cult which believed that Mother Earth absorbed all of the bodies for food). And that something else, that She or He or It or What, loved them and took them Home (or stole them, another small but vocal minority argued). As a result, the world, for a long (but not long enough, of course) time after, experienced a period of peace and unity never before seen in recorded history.
◊ ◊ ◊
Mike McClelland spent a decade as an ad man, during which he lived in England, South Africa, and Hong Kong, before relocating to the American South, where he lives in the forest with his husband and a menagerie of rescue dogs. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in Cactus Heart, The Daily Maverick, Campaign Magazine, and anthologies from JMS Press and Beautiful Dreamer Press. Keep up with him at magicmikewrites.com.
A Serial in Five Parts
She looked around the room in panic. She had to do something now! Quickly she flattened herself and slid under the small bed. Again all was silence, except for her beating heart, loud in her ears. She strained to hear as she breathed through her mouth. She could smell the dust that had collected on the slats that were holding the box springs. Her nightgown had ridden up around her hips. She pulled it down. It felt incredibly thin, offering no protection.
She lay under the bed and watched the bottom of the door for any movement. The passing seconds seemed like hours. Three minutes passed—an eternity. Her breathing slowed and her heart now beat at a more normal rate. Hiding under the bed. How ludicrous. If the situation were not so dire, she would have laughed.
As she looked around the room, she could see very little from her hiding place. The bedspread reached to within inches of the floor. She noticed Davie’s baseball bat leaning in the corner of the room. Quickly, she scooted out far enough to reach and pull it back to her. At least now she had something to defend herself with, even if only a bat. She felt the smooth, cool wood in her hands and let her cheek rest against it. There was no room to swing it, but she felt better with it in her hands.
She lay and waited. Several times she thought she could hear someone moving around, but wasn’t sure. Time stood still as she lay in the dust holding the bat to her cheek.
She saw the door move. No sound, but the door slowly inched open. She held her breath; her heart resumed it’s thunder. She watched shoes move into the room, then stop. He must be listening. Surely he could hear her heart pounding. She breathed in short quiet pants through her open mouth.
The intruder moved to the closet door and opened it. She could hear the rustle of clothes. He stood for a moment, moved back to the door, hesitated and went out. He left the door open. She could hear him moving around. First in the hall, then back into the master bedroom. She lay under the bed, hoping that he would get tired of looking and leave.
As she lay there, she heard him open a window. Probably to see if she were on a roof outside, she thought. He moved into the guest room. Again the window. Now back to Davy’s room. She watched the shoes as he moved to the window. The sound of the opening window seemed loud. The intruder moved back to the door, but just before going out he stopped and turned. Long seconds.
She could see him dropping to his knees to look under the bed. Though she couldn’t swing the bat, when she saw the face she thrust the bat with all her might, hitting his cheek. Quickly she scooted out from under the bed, and ran for the door. Almost out the door, she felt the tug on her nightgown, pulling her down. The bat went flying from her hands. She felt the weight of him falling on top of her, knocking the wind from her and mashing her face into the carpet. As the rough hands turned her over, she struck out at him with her fist, only to meet a solid chest. She couldn’t breath. The hard back hand knocked her head to the side. Again he struck and then again. Things started to go dark,
To be continued