The Rapture: A Short Story
I paid the mechanic for his work. Luckily it was only a minor repair, just the replacement of the spark plug wires, so it didn't cost much. I was glad to hear that the car would run much better now. This wet weather had been making it run rather badly. I walked out to the parking lot toward my car and as I pulled my keys out of my pocket I glanced up at the sky. The rain had stopped and the sun was out. It was a beautiful cloudy day. Billowing cumulous clouds were everywhere, brightly illuminated by the afternoon sun.
But there was a peculiar feeling in the air, and a strange foreboding to the motion of the clouds. There had been rumors that something was going to happen. The fanatics had been warning that the time was coming soon. I never paid them much heed. I didn't believe in such things.
But it seemed as if some of the clouds were moving rather strangely and I paused for a moment by my car to watch. As I stood there, a peculiar formation began to form in the sky away to the north side of the valley. The clouds seemed to glow from within with a golden light as they began to swirl in a circular motion.
My first thought was to grab my camera. I unlocked my car door without taking my gaze off the sky. The clouds were moving much faster now seeming to form a sort of vortex. As I sat in the car unpacking my camera and quickly switching lenses, I kept my eye on the phenomenon that was developing. A broad slow moving swirling mist began to descend from below the cloud.
"A tornado?" I thought to myself. But it didn’t look right. The mist seemed almost illuminated from within, and the motion was too slow for a tornado. As it descended toward the ground the swirling mist broadened to more than a mile across. Below it was a large shopping center where I could see in the distance many people standing transfixed by the spectacle overhead. Some were running for cover, while many stood still with heads up and arms outstretched toward the heavens.
I stepped out of my car, raised my camera and pressed the shutter release, but nothing happened. The auto-focus was unable to fix on the swirling haze. I switched to manual focus and as I attempted to zoom in on the spectacle the wind began to swirl intensely around me, throwing me off balance. I wedged myself between the door and my car and as I blindly snapped photo after photo I could see hundreds of people rising into the swirling haze and ascending, spiraling upward to disappear into the clouds overhead.
This was no tornado. There was no debris caught up in the vortex, no cars, no buildings, no trees... just people. Maybe I should have believed, maybe I should have listened to the prophecies. But in spite of what I was witness to, I still had doubt. I still could not believe that this was the Rapture I had been warned of. The swirling cloud rapidly broadened to encompass the whole valley. The wind blew fiercely around me as I too felt the supernatural forces pulling me upward. The air around me roared with a deafening thunder. But I gripped tightly to my car and refused to surrender. All the while I kept taking pictures with my camera. My eyes squinted in the wind still trying to see. Ghostly gray figures howled around me seemingly angered by my defiance. My mind reeled. I tried to think. I tried to reason. I could see that every person that could be snatched away was sucked up into the heavens, this was not right; this was not like the prophecies foretold. Only the righteous were to be taken, not everyone. I strained my eyes to see through the haze into the skies, I could see the faint outline of a shape, a massive shadow within the clouds. My camera clicked repeatedly in hopes of capturing an image.
Suddenly all was silent. The wind ceased. The mists rapidly dissipated and the haze retracted upward. Soon all in the sky was normal. I stood motionless for several minutes before releasing my deathgrip on the car door. I was alone. For as far as I could see in all directions there was not another person to be seen. I was dazed with disbelief at what I just witnessed. I climbed back into my car and switched on the radio. There was much static, but soon I fixed on a station. The announcer was frantic. Such incidents were still occurring around the country. People everywhere were surrendering to the Rapture that was sweeping the planet. I was horrified. But I still did not believe. I thought about what I saw, analyzing the image that was still fresh in my mind. The shape I saw in the sky was cold and hard and real. It was nothing ethereal and heavenly. It was geometrical and mechanical. It was some sort of airship. Perhaps it was a spacecraft?
I had to do something before it was too late. I had to tell someone. I had to get to the authorities and show them the evidence that was in my camera. I got into my car and drove, hoping to find a city or town that had not yet been affected. I somehow had to let people know that for some unimaginable reason, alien spacecraft were sucking people away like an enormous vacuum cleaner.
This was no "rapture"... It was a "harvest".
By Del Banks and Timothy A. Banks
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