He’s Not the Way She Pictured Him
by William A. Pike
Cathy had waited a lifetime for His return. For as long as she could remember she had been waiting for His glory to envelope her and whisk her away, to take her home. Her mother, rest her soul, told her it would happen, probably in her lifetime. Her minister concurred, telling her that it would be during her time on earth that He would return to lay waste to the nonbelievers, to pass judgment on the world. And to take her home. In a small diary she recorded the events unfolding throughout the world. The unravelling of the moral and social fabric of the country. The peculiar weather and ‘natural disasters’ rocking the planet. The politicians serving as minions to the Dark Lord. She recognized the signs of the coming judgment day, saw them unfolding before her very eyes.
And indeed her mother and Pastor O’Brian and Billy Graham and all those desperately impoverished televangelists (who began and ended each televised sermon with pleas for your generous tithe) had been right: the end was nigh, and it had come to fruition in Cathy’s lifetime.
But as He hovered over the town of Little Cove, Maine, in a metallic kingdom that blotted out the sun over the entire New England region, Cathy’s apprehension reached critical mass.
It wasn’t the chaos gripping the planet. Every country had gone straight down the proverbial shitter, as prophesied in The Good Book. Hundreds of millions of panicked people were suddenly gripped with bloodlust, looting liquor stores, slaughtering passersby, committing mass suicides. Before the television went to static, cable news outlets had been reporting on the mass hysteria that was resulting in an unprecedented number of casualties.
It wasn’t the sadness she felt for her no-good nephew who refused to accept the Lord as his personal savior, and would now endure all the hardships of Tribulation and Hell eternal. It wasn’t the way her granddaughter was sobbing and clutching her hand tightly, so tightly the girl’s fingernails left little crescent moon-shaped gouges in the flesh of Cathy Mulligan’s hand.
And it wasn’t the lack of trumpets. The unfathomably enormous craft had appeared almost out of nowhere, preceded only by a deafening roar and a bizarre oscillating whir. It shattered the windows of every structure in New England, but it didn’t sound like the trumpets she had spent a lifetime waiting to hear.
What bothered Cathy, what terrified her the most, was that He looked nothing like the long-haired, bearded figure that screamed in anguish upon his cross. Every painting, every image of Him, even the miraculous appearances he made on toast and in the oil slicks in parking lots, had been wrong. For here he was, broadcast in some sort of a cosmically enormous hologram, addressing the people of earth, looking nothing like her Savior.
A strange brown hood covered his hairless head, and his silvery-gray skin looked leathery and sick. His large eyes, entirely black, were emotionless and unblinking. His small mouth, thin and devoid of teeth or tongue, seemed incapable of screaming in anguish. And when he raised one hand and made a strange circular motion with what should be his middle or ring finger (He had but three long fingers to accompany his deformed thumb) it was very clear that there were no scars from an iron spike hammered through the gray flesh long ago.
She had no doubt that there were many rooms in that strange intergalactic house, but she was suddenly unsure if sure she wanted Him to prepare a place for her in His Father’s Kingdom. As she stood on the front lawn peering into the sky at the hologram that stretched into the Heavens (she didn’t even register the gunshots that marked the Thompsons’ suicides next door), a thought gnawed at her brain.
You’ve been misled.
He spoke not a word, instead using what must have been a form of telepathy to convey his strange message to the people of Earth. Cathy was able to comprehend His intentions. Everyone was. Judgment day had indeed arrived, and things were about to get worse than they already were.
Trust in me, he seemed to say with his eyes. Trust in us. Commit your body to the new existence you are about to experience.
Cathy reached into the depths of her soul and examined her faith. It felt as strong as ever. The trust she had in her mother, in Pastor O’Brian, in Billy Graham and all the impoverished preachers was unwavering. No, only the apostates had been misled. Beard or no beard, long hair or a bald gray head, He was the one she had waited on for so long. It was time to repent, to accept His Glory.
She ushered her granddaughter inside and went to the hall closet where her late husband kept his military-issued sidearm. Returning to the dining room she instructed her granddaughter to kneel and pray with her. The child lowered her head and closed her eyes.
“Let us commit our earthly body and soul to His glory,” Cathy whispered as she peered at her granddaughter from the corner of her eye. “Let us be grateful for His blessing and let us be worthy of praising him.”
She put her arm around the girl and squeezed her closer. With her other hand she gripped the 9mm.
“For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory—”
“Forever,” her granddaughter finished.
“That’s right, darling. Forever.”
◊ ◊ ◊
William A. Pike
William A. Pike is a writer from a desperately rural township on the coast of Maine. His writing credits extend mainly to journalism—his political commentaries and articles have been published in various national magazines. Though it is his second love (after a glass of bourbon), fiction is a relatively unexplored territory for the author.