Chapter OneUnder the Stage
JUDD gently lowered the guard to the ground,
knowing the man had died trying to protect
Buck Williams and the others in the Tribulation
Force. Footsteps pounded on the stage
Lionel grabbed the guard's walkie-talkie.
"Come on, we have to get out of here!"
Judd and Lionel rolled under the stage and
held their breath. The radio squawked in
Lionel's hand. He turned it down.
Two guards jumped from the stage and
felt for a pulse on the downed guard. One
barked into his radio, "He's dead, sir."
A voice shot back, "Find the rabbi and
those others. I want them dead before they
get out of the stadium!"
Judd whispered to Lionel, "We've got to
But before Judd could move, another voice
blared on the guard's radio. "We've spotted
them in a Mercedes a few blocks from the
"Probably headed to the Rosenzweig
estate," another voice said. "After them!"
Judd sighed. "Nothing we can do now."
The stadium was nearly empty. A few stragglers
knelt near the stage, praying. Medical
personnel attended to the injured.
Judd and Lionel watched from the shadows
as GC peacekeepers dragged the dead guard
away. A cameraman flipped on a light, and a
reporter stepped in front of it. "We are live at
Teddy Kollek Stadium," the reporter said. "Just
moments ago, this Global Community peace-keeper
was murdered at the conference called
the Meeting of the Witnesses. Those in the
audience listened to a message of love and
peace, but it seems someone did not follow
their leader's teaching."
"No way one of the witnesses shot that
guard," Lionel said.
Judd gritted his teeth. "Carpathia will
make Tsion look-"
"What?" Lionel said.
Judd spied a heavyset boy near the front
row. "I know that kid," he said.
When the Global Community guards were
gone, Judd and Lionel crept from under the
stage and approached the boy.
The boy's mouth dropped open. "Judd,"
the boy said, "what are you doing here?"
"How do I know you?" Judd said.
"I'm Samuel. Nina and Dan Ben-Judah
were my neighbors." Samuel had given Judd
the video of the murders of Tsion's family.
"I wondered what happened to you," Judd
said. "They took the video you gave me
"We should not stay here," Samuel interrupted.
"Come with me."
"We have to find our friend," Lionel said.
"You can find him later," Samuel said.
"The followers of the rabbi are in danger.
Come to my house."
Judd told Samuel their things were at the
university. Samuel said, "We will go there on
the way. Quickly! My father must not see
"Why not?" Judd said.
"He is working with the Global Community!"
* * *
Vicki ran to the others to tell them about
Melinda. Phoenix ran beside her, clearly glad
to be free from the rope and tape Melinda
had wrapped around his legs. When Vicki
entered, Darrion held up a hand.
"Just a minute," Vicki said, "I need to talk
to you all."
"But something terrible's happened!"
Vicki yelled. "Please! Melinda's gone! She
tied Phoenix up and left."
Conrad said, "How long ago?"
"I can't tell," Vicki said. "Let's search the
house and the woods."
"I'll check the shed for the motorcycle,"
"Sorry, Darrion," Vicki said, "but this is
Darrion hung her head. "I thought you'd
be concerned about Judd and Lionel and Mr.
"What do you mean?"
"Shots were fired at the stadium."
Vicki put a hand over her mouth. "The GC
is shooting at the witnesses?"
Darrion shook. "I'm scared, Vick."
"Judd and Lionel can take care of themselves,"
Vicki said, hugging Darrion.
The kids found no trace of Melinda in the
house. Conrad said, "At least she didn't take
the last motorcycle. She has to be on foot."
Vicki looked at her watch. "Plenty of
daylight left, but we have to spread out."
Conrad and Darrion roared off on the
motorcycle toward the main road. The others
split up on foot. Vicki prayed as she ran into
* * *
GC emergency vehicles stopped traffic as
Judd walked with Lionel and Samuel to the
university. Lionel turned up the walkie-talkie
and heard peacekeepers relaying information.
"They must be checking every car," Judd
"The GC are very upset about the rabbi
and what he has done," Samuel said.
Judd turned. "Why are you helping us?
You're not a follower of Dr. Ben-Judah."
"How do you know?" Samuel said.
Judd glanced at Lionel. "We can tell."
"Nina and Dan were my friends," Samuel
said. "I feel terrible about what happened to
them. I would not want to see the same thing
happen to you."
Hundreds of witnesses gathered outside
the gymnasium. A commotion at the front
caught Judd's attention. GC guards led a
dozen people from the building.
"What's going on?" Judd asked a man
"They are arresting the local committee,"
the man said.
Yitzhak Weizmann, the man who had
given them shelter before the meetings
began, was being led away in handcuffs.
Behind him stood other committee members,
including the meeting emcee.
The man next to Judd said, "They suspect
the group is hiding the rabbi."
Judd gasped. The last man out the door
was Mr. Stein. Judd shouted and waved and
pushed his way to the front, but a uniformed
officer appeared at the door with a bullhorn.
"Attention, everyone who was using this
gymnasium for shelter!" The officer passed
the bullhorn to another man, who repeated
his statement in several different languages.
"This is a crime scene," the man continued.
"We have your belongings, and we will
keep them until this situation is resolved."
"Mr. Stein's money!" Lionel whispered.
"That's the only way we're getting home."
"Form a single line to register for your
belongings," the officer said.
People lined up, but Samuel pulled Judd
and Lionel away. "Do not give them your
names. Come with me."
"We have to help Mr. Stein," Judd said.
"I can help you get him out," Samuel said,
"but you must come with me."
Judd and Lionel followed Samuel back
into the traffic near the stadium. They got in
a cab, but the driver yelled at Samuel in
Hebrew, and the three retreated.
"What did he say?" Judd said.
"He cursed at us," Samuel said. "Because of
the traffic, he cannot move."
They walked through the congested streets.
"You have heard about the meeting at the
Wailing Wall tomorrow?" Samuel said.
"We'll be there," Judd said.
"Don't," Samuel said. "The GC are planning
to execute Dr. Ben-Judah."
"Carpathia promised he wasn't going to
hurt anybody," Lionel said.
"They're going to make it look like a terrorist
attack," Samuel said.
"You know this because of your father?"
"Why did he let you go to that meeting?"
"He didn't know," Samuel said. "I came on
They passed a crowded bar, and a photo of
the guard Judd had met flashed on a big-screen
television inside. Beneath his photo
were the years of his birth and death.
"Wish I could hear this," Judd said.
"We're not far from my house," Samuel
said. "We can watch there."
Lionel pulled Judd aside. "His father's
working with the GC!"
"He trusted me with the videotape. He's
okay. He wants to help."
"But he doesn't have the mark."
"Maybe we can change that," Judd said.
* * *
Conrad and Darrion returned and met Vicki
and the others near the shed to discover that
still no one had seen Melinda.
"I say we head toward town," Darrion said.
Vicki's weird friend Charlie walked up.
"What are you guys going to do with her after
you catch her?"
Vicki looked at the others and shrugged.
"Drag her back here?"
Conrad scratched his chin. "I don't care. I
just want to find her."
"Maybe she doesn't want to rat us out,"
Vicki said. "Maybe she just wants to get
Shelly agreed. "Tsion's message could have
been too much for her. She might just need
"And she might run into the GC," Conrad
said, "which would be the end for her. Let
me at least stay on the road awhile."
* * *
Judd and Lionel crept to the back door of
Samuel's house and followed him in. Emergency
vehicles screamed by, sirens blaring.
Samuel answered the ringing phone. "My
father," he mouthed.
"Did he tell you what's happening?" Judd
said as Samuel hung up.
"He told me to stay inside. The crazy zeal-ots
are killing people."
Samuel turned on the television, and the
photo of the guard flashed on the screen
again. Another photo appeared beside the
"It's Buck!" Lionel shouted.
The news anchor looked grim. "Global
Community forces believe this videotape
reveals this man as the murderer at Teddy
Kollek Stadium. The suspect has been identified
as American Cameron Williams, former
employee of the GC publishing division.
Williams is reportedly staying with Rabbi
Tsion Ben-Judah at the home of Israeli Nobel
Prize-winner Dr. Chaim Rosenzweig."
Lionel's radio squawked. "Proceeding to
the Rosenzweig estate," a man said.
"That is only a few blocks from here,"
Leon Fortunato, Nicolae Carpathia's
right-hand man, appeared on the screen at a
news conference. "We will do what we must
to bring these criminals to justice. We have
witnesses to the act, a videotape recording,
and several of the local committee members
in custody. Rest assured, we will bring to
justice the man or woman who did this."
"Buck was running away when the guard
was shot," Lionel said. "The videotape has to
"The truth never stops these people," Judd
Samuel brought snacks, and Judd and
Lionel ate as they watched the news and
monitored the guard's radio.
"Has your dad always worked for the GC?"
Samuel shook his head. "Only since the
murder of Dr. Ben-Judah's family. My father
had helped them in the past, but that
changed when the rabbi abandoned his faith.
My father went totally for the Global Community
and Nicolae Carpathia. He works-"
A roar went over the house. Judd ran to the
window and saw a brilliant flash.
"A GC chopper," Samuel said.
"Closing in on Buck and Tsion, I bet,"
Judd said. "We have to help."
"You can't go there," Samuel said.
"These are our friends," Judd said. "We
might be able to do something."
Samuel told them how to find the Rosenzweig
estate, then turned on a light at the
rear of the house. "If this light is off when
you return, tap on my window and I'll let
The night air was cool and the streets
almost deserted. Judd and Lionel rounded
a corner and saw two squad cars parked in
front of a huge gate. They could hear the
Lionel listened to the banter of the GC
peacekeepers on the walkie-talkie. Chaim
Rosenzweig wasn't letting them inside.
The chopper hovered over the estate, then
put down on top of the house.
"They're going in through the roof," Lionel
Judd peered through the darkness at the
GC insignia on the side of the chopper. Three
figures leaped into the helicopter just before
it lifted off and headed north, a few feet
above the rooftops.
Another chopper approached from the
south and hovered directly over them. The
frantic voice of the pilot came over the radio,
trying to communicate with the other chopper.
"Tsion and Buck have to be in the first
chopper," Judd said.
"Who else was with them?" Lionel said.
Judd shrugged. "Let's head back to
Samuel's house before they spot us."
Just after 1 A.M. Judd and Lionel found the
light off. Judd tapped lightly on Samuel's
window. A light came on over the door. Judd
and Lionel climbed the steps and waited.
Something moved behind them.
Samuel opened the door and smiled. "I
knew it! I told you they'd come back!"
Judd turned. A man stood behind them,
holding a gun. "Good work, Son."