The October morning broke bright and sunny. A perfect fall day in the Northeast. The Jamison family was, as usual, scurrying around the house with kids getting ready for school bumping into adults getting ready for work. All in all just a typical morning in Paradise Heights… until it wasn’t.
There was no verbal sound but they heard the voice in their heads.
“Come to me, my children. All are chosen.”
If that wasn’t disconcerting enough to the Jamison family, to all their neighbors and countless others across the suburbs, cities, and towns across America, the vision of a giant image of Jesus hovering in the sky pushed them over the edge.
Brian Jamison, his partner Susan and their children Brett and Thomas, stepped outside after they heard the voice and gazed in wonder to the sky. The image of Jesus, arms outstretched and smiling like so many pictures and images they had seen their whole lives hovered above them.
Their neighbors stood around, some in awe, others on their knees in prayer, and some shaking their heads in disbelief.
Brian’s neighbor Luke came up to him.
“This has got to be a joke, right Brian,” he said, with some hesitation.
“Did you hear a voice in your head, Luke?”
“Yes. We all did. Even the Habib family for Christ’s sake,” his voice trembling. “Oops, I probably need to watch my language now, huh.” He gave Brian a sheepish look.
“Well, I think this image can be faked but the voice in our heads? I just don’t know,” said Brian.
Another neighbor came over to them. A young guy named Cody who moved in a year ago with his wife Amy.
“Pretty freaky, huh?” His eyes were a little glazed. Since marijuana became legal it didn’t matter what time of day it was.
Soon the whole neighborhood was speculating. The true believers saying it was the second coming and that those who were sinners need to get down on their knees and repent now. Someone told them to fuck off.
After about a half-hour of this back and forth with people choosing sides between the true believers and the non-believers someone came out and said this was on the news and it was happening all over the world. Governments were calling emergency sessions and churches were filling up with the faithful as well as those that the day before didn’t much care.
Brian turned to Susan. “Probably a good day to call in sick, ya think?”
Susan called out to Brett and Thomas. “Hey guys, school is canceled today.”
They wanted to yell out in joy, but they knew a giant Jesus in the sky just wasn’t right.
At about 11:00 am a bulletin came across all the cable networks for people to standby for an announcement. The picture zoomed in on the Oval Office and the president.
His usual arrogant self was a bit frazzled and his hair, usually plastered with hair spray to keep it all in place looked a bit…well, out of place, like he had been tugging on it.
“My fellow Americans. As you have all seen a giant Jesus is floating in the sky all across the country. I can tell you right now your government is not involved in this. You know I am close to our religious leaders but frankly, we don’t know what this is. It is not our adversaries because the same image is floating above their countries as well. That’s all I know right now. Stay in your homes and God bless America…I hope.”
And with that the talking heads broke in with their analysis on what does it mean, are these the end times, what about those that aren’t Christian. Then it was to a commercial about testosterone products.
The president meanwhile got on the phone with American religious leaders. Some were in their multi-million dollar jets, winging their way back to their homes. He caught one of them midway home.
“What can I tell you, Mr. President, It has to be fake.”
“Why do you say that Pastor Kane.”
“Because it’s all bullshit. This is a business. I’m in for the money. I don’t believe in this at all.”
The president exploded. “You mean I had to go along with you and your wacky followers for what! Just so we can get judges on the supreme court?”
“Well, yes sir, that and a few other things, like keeping those homosexuals and women in line.”
“Meanwhile Pastor Kane we have a giant Jesus in the sky. Any ideas?”
“Sorry, can’t hear you, sir, the signal is breaking up.” With that, he was gone.
“Fuck!” The president slammed down the phone.
He turned to his acting Secretary of Defense. “Ok, Bob, any suggestions?
“Well, we can’t send F35’s to buzz or fire at Jesus. Certainly not on national TV.”
‘I know that you idiot.”
‘I suggest we wait and see.”
Meanwhile, the Secretary of Energy, who was of the Jewish faith walked in.
“Mr. President, you know this “apparition” is bullshit don’t you?”
“So I have been told, Janet.”
The president called out to his secretary. “Helen, get me the Vatican.”
A few minutes later the president was talking to the Pope’s representative.
“I realize he must be in prayer,” said the president into the phone. “Don’t you think this giant Jesus would shrink himself down and a least talk to the Pope, face to godly face! OK, have him call me if Jesus decides to fill him in on his intentions.”
Meanwhile, back at Paradise Heights the Jamison family was making lunch and deciding if a trip to the cottage on the lake might be in order.
“I say we go, Susan. No telling what kind of panic will break out. Yes, I know it is Jesus and panic and mayhem are well…not in his binder, but you know me, I am not a believer, I think all this religious stuff is made up just to control people.”
But at 1 pm the trip to the lake was put on hold.
The giant Jesus began descending into Paradise Heights and once again the voice in their heads called out. “Come to me my children, all are chosen. Heaven awaits.”
Brian peeked out the front window. “We are staying right here. Don’t go out. Brett, see what the TV is showing.
Around the world giant Jesus’s were descending, even the one in Washington DC.
At the Jamison’s there was a knock on the door. They all jumped.
“Brian, go see who or what it is,” said Susan, huddling her sons close to her.
Brian opened the door and standing there was Jerry, another neighbor who also happened to be a prepper.
“Come on in, Jerry.”
“Wow, Brian, I had a lot of things on my list to be prepared for if the shit hit the fan, but a giant talking Jesus? Didn’t see that coming. What are you planning to do?”
“We are staying right here, Jerry. As Carlin said, I am going to watch the end of the world on TV with a bag of Cheetos in my lap.”
Jerry broke out laughing. Susan, on the other hand, was not amused.
At the White House, the president was meeting with the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
“Ok, you’re my guys, what have you come up with?”
“Frankly, Sir, this is a bit out of our wheelhouse. We have planned for every contingency. But not this. We don’t know if we should stand down our military and go home and get drunk or…”
“For fuck sake, give me some options!”
A Navy admiral stepped forward.
“Sir, we see these giant Jesus’s are descending to earth. We don’t know if it is the real thing or not. I mean, those that are believers have been told to expect the Second Coming. Maybe this is it.”
“Bull shit,” said the Army general. “We don’t know what it is. How many of these floating Jesus’s are out there now? 20? 30? Why so many? Wouldn’t one be enough? After all, it is Jesus.”
“Well, they are descending, gentlemen and people are starting to flock to “them” and disappearing.”
“I suggest we send one of our people in with a body cam, volunteer of course, to see just what we are dealing with.”
Within the hour the pentagon had sent over a young Navy lieutenant to the White House.
He was quickly escorted into the Oval Office where he was met by the president, members of the cabinet that had not fled Washington, and the Joint Chief of Staffs.
The admiral stepped forward, met the lieutenant said a few words and escorted him to the president.
“Lieutenant, thank you for volunteering. I know you have been watching the news, wish I could say the fake news media was making it up, but hell, there He is,” The president pointed out the window with a shaky hand.
“Anything for my country, sir!” He stood ramrod straight.
“Now we don’t know if this is the real thing or some massive hoax. And who would have the ability to pull something off like this?”
Off to the side, the Secretary of Commerce whispered to the Secretary of Energy. “With his history, he better hope it is a hoax.” The Secretary of Energy replied, “It wouldn’t be a giant Jesus chasing him down.” They both stifled a chuckle.
“This is the plan sir,” said the admiral. “We are sending the lieutenant with a body cam to mingle with all the people flocking to it. And then the lieutenant just follows the crowd.”
“That’s your fucking plan? Follow the crowd?”
“That’s all we have right now sir. One step at a time. The lieutenant is resourceful. He will know what to do.”
“Are you a religious man, lieutenant?”
“Yes, Mr. President. God and Country sir.”
The lieutenant was wished well by the people in the room and sent on his way.
He followed the crowd walking towards the Washington Monument to the spot where the giant Jesus had landed. He saw people walking into the hem of the robe of Jesus just above his sandals and disappear.
“My God,” he said. “Are you all seeing this?”
In the Oval Office, they were indeed seeing it as the body cam transmitted its pictures to the monitor on the president’s desk.
‘I’m going in,” said the lieutenant.
As he got closer he could see the robe shimmering. His body cam picked up some interference but kept transmitting.
He passed through the robe and into a long hallway with a line of people ahead of him. He turned around to where he came in. The robe was now a bulkhead of some sort and it was of a substance he had never seen. He touched it and he pulled away from the slimy coldness, his fingertips numb. As he moved forward he heard a whirring noise. The floor, like a conveyor, speeded up and he and the others were carried away to a larger room where a mist enveloped him and the believers. The end was quick and painless.
Even though the lieutenant was no more, his body cam still transmitted.
In the Oval Office the president, chiefs, and officials looked on in horror.
Beings, ant-like but standing upright on three legs, were efficiently loading the human bodies in containers and stacking them in a large cargo space inside the giant Jesus. When they loaded the lieutenant’s body inside one his body cam stopped transmitting.
Within minutes people walking towards the giant Jesus, no matter what location, found they could not enter and bounced off a solid wall instead of the shimmering robe they had seen just moments ago. Around the world, the apparitions rose and in the blink of the eye, were gone, leaving the believers anguished and in despair at not being taken, unaware of the fate that waited for them inside.
Back at the Oval Office, the president was the first to speak. “Gentlemen, it is safe to assume after watching the lieutenant’s transmission that was not Jesus.”
It took a few days to come to a decision but the president after consultations with other world leaders decided to share the webcam video with the world.
The video, accompanied by a panel from government, news organizations, religion, and academia, was aired nationwide on all networks.
The shock of the video paralyzed the world.
Anguish and sorrow erupted in homes of those that lost loved ones. Some homes were empty as whole families of “believers” walked willingly into the “Jesus’s”.
The panel of experts was dumbfounded, except for one.
“The peoples of the world were manipulated by beings that appear to have been studying us for quite some time,” said Professor White.
He continued. “All they had to do is monitor our television broadcasts to find our weak points. And the use of giant facsimiles of Jesus and the biblical sounding telepathic message we all heard proves my point. They clearly understood that the promise of the second coming and a better life in heaven was something millions would willingly, and without thinking, surrender themselves too.”
A chorus of derision, skepticism, and agreement erupted among the panel.
Professor White held up his hands to urge calm. “You don’t believe me? Look how easy it was to lure a mass of humanity to leave everything behind and walk into those “ships”, and that is what they were, ships, not Jesus. And you saw what happened to those poor souls. We don’t know what their fate is. Slaves? Experiments? Or as food for those ghastly beings.”
Some of the panel turned green and blanched at that thought.
In the Oval Office, the president’s chief of staff turned off the TV.
“What now sir?”
“Well, no sense in running for reelection. A lot of my voters walked into those ships. I doubt if those aliens will let them use absentee ballots.”
In Jamison’s neighborhood, it was quiet. No lawnmowers or kids yelling. Most had stayed indoors, afraid to come out. Many houses were empty, their owners having gone off to the great beyond, wherever that is.
Brian though was not afraid and stood outside staring up.
Jerry, his prepper friend walked up next to him.
“Think they will back?”
“I don’t know, Jerry. But if they do they can’t use the Jesus apparition again.”
“Maybe the will come back as giant Santa’s, just in time for Christmas.” Jerry guffawed at his joke.
Brian smiled. “And Happy Holiday’s to you.”
The two neighbors stood scanning the skies, their levity diminished as a cold wind picked up.