Chapter OneNada 's Surprise
Judd couldn't believe his eyes. The man
in the apartment had a dark beard and a
mustache. On his forehead was the mark
of the true believer.
The man picked Nada up and hurried
inside. Judd closed the door and looked
through the peephole. "I don't think
anybody saw us."
"Good," the man said, placing Nada on
a couch in the living room.
The apartment was dark. Blinds were
drawn, and a flickering light came from a
computer screen down the hall.
"She's out cold," the man said, putting a
hand to Nada's face. "I hope she didn't hit
her head." He hurried into the kitchen and
brought ice in a plastic bag. He lifted Nada's
head and gently placed the ice underneath.
"Are you her boyfriend?"
"I guess you could say that," Judd said.
"What do you mean, you guess?"
"Yes, I'm her boyfriend. What's your problem?"
The man gritted his teeth. "If you really
cared about her, you wouldn't have brought
her here." He brushed hair from Nada's face
and knelt beside her. "She should have
stayed in Israel."
* * *
"How did you know she was from Israel?"
Nada stirred. The man propped her head
on his lap and whispered something in her
ear. Finally, Nada opened her eyes.
"Is it really you?" Nada said. She reached
out and touched the man's face.
"You're not dreaming," the man said
She pushed his hair away, revealing the
mark of the true believer. Nada hugged him.
Judd paced. How does Nada know this man?
Is this one of her old boyfriends?
Nada sat up and slapped the man hard
across the face. "Why didn't you tell us?"
The man caught her hand and she tried to
hit him again. He pulled her close. "Shhh,
it's all right. I'm sorry. I couldn't let you
Nada wept. When she had composed
herself, she reached for Judd's hand and
squeezed it tightly. "I want you to meet my
friend. This is Judd Thompson from the
United North American States."
The man put out his hand. "Pleased to
Judd shook his head. "I'm sorry. I don't
know who you are."
"I'm Kasim. Nada's brother."
* * *
Vicki followed the others to the new truck.
Chris Traickin knelt to tie his shoe before he
climbed into the passenger seat. Pete drove
and Vicki, Shelly, and Conrad rode in the
As Pete always did, he said a brief prayer
before they pulled out. "And we thank you,
Lord, that you've brought a new brother to
us. Protect his friends who are in custody,
and release them soon."
"Amen," Traickin said softly.
Vicki watched for any GC vehicles, but
none came. Traickin took off his helmet but
kept the rest of his protective suit on.
"I've heard there are groups of believers
springing up all around the country,"
Traickin said. "How many would you say
are in Johnson City?"
"More than a hundred," Pete said, "and
that was just one cell."
"Where did you guys hide?"
"There's a cave up in the hills behind the
gas station," Pete said. "We hid there, then
spread out to people's houses." Pete
explained how he had crashed the truck in
order to get away from the Global Community
"You're a genius," Traickin said. "You coordinated
everything through that guy at the
Pete nodded. "Roger Cornwell. Fantastic
guy. If we hadn't met him, all those people
would be in jail right now."
Conrad frowned and leaned close to Vicki.
"I wish Pete would shut up."
"Tell me about the believers back in Illinois,"
"Let me," Conrad interrupted. "There's
only the four of us and a little old lady and
her dog. And the dog's the smartest of the
Pete shot Conrad a look.
"It's okay," Traickin said. "You don't have
to talk to me."
"Why don't you tell us more about yourself?"
"What do you want to know?"
"How long have you had that mark on
Chris Traickin smiled. "The same time it
showed up on everybody else. Look, why
don't I give you my story?"
"You don't have anything to prove," Pete
"I like telling it. I had a wonderful wife
who tried to tell me the truth. But I was
caught up in the political world. I thought I
was really important. Then my wife vanished
into thin air."
"You were with her?" Pete said.
Traickin nodded. "Dana and I had an
apartment in Washington, D.C., and a house
in Maryland. I picked her up at the apartment
late that night. She went to sleep as we
Traickin glanced out the window. His lip
quivered as he continued. "I record talk
shows and listen later. Dana always hated
them, which is probably why she went to
"I was exiting the interstate when I saw
something move. Her clothes went flat and
her shoes fell to the floor. Her door was still
locked, so there was no way she could have
gotten out. I pulled over and looked in the
backseat. She wasn't there."
"I bet it made you think, didn't it?" Pete
"It made me crazy," Traickin said. "One
minute she was there; the next she had
vanished. I retraced my route. I looked along
the side of the road. Then it hit me. She had
told me about God coming back for the good
people, but I didn't listen."
"So that's when you believed?" Pete said.
"I went to the house and found a Bible
and a book Dana had tried to get me to
"What book?" Conrad said.
"Mere Christianity," Traickin said. "It's by
C. S. Lewis."
Vicki looked at Conrad. He shrugged and
leaned forward to listen.
"How did you find other believers?" Shelly
"First, I got involved with the militia
movement. It felt weird because I was always
against guns and war, and here I was working
next to people I'd been against.
"It was there that I met my first believer.
He showed me Dr. Ben-Judah's Web site and
helped me find a group to meet with."
"Where's this guy now?" Conrad said.
Chris Traickin shook his head. "He was
killed at the start of World War III."
"Figures," Conrad muttered.
Vicki didn't know what to believe. Traickin
sounded genuine, but the part about God
coming back for "good people" made her
wonder. She glanced in the side mirror and
thought she saw someone behind them. She
kept watch as the truck rolled toward Illinois.
* * *
Judd sat hard on the couch and stared at
Kasim. He remembered pictures Nada had
shown him of vacations when they were
younger. He had seen a couple of Kasim in
a GC uniform, but in those, Kasim had no
beard or mustache. No wonder Nada fainted,
Nada was clearly upset with her brother.
They spoke in a different language until Judd
said, "English, please."
"I was just asking how he could do this to
his family," Nada said, turning to Kasim.
"Why not send us an e-mail or pick up the
Kasim put a finger to his lips as footsteps
sounded down the hall. "Let's move into the
When they were settled in the computer
room, Kasim began his story. "I was questioning
my loyalty to the Global Community.
I met a man named Dan who-"
Nada interrupted and explained they had
talked with Dan in a GC prison. "He's the
one who told us to come here."
"So that's how you knew," Kasim said.
Judd explained how they had read the
computer files embedded in his daily log.
"You read my diary?" Kasim said.
"We thought you were dead," Nada said,
"and you never gave us any reason to doubt
"I'm getting to that," Kasim said. "I met
with Dan several times. I don't know why he
trusted me, but he told me the truth. On the
morning of the earthquake, I made my decision.
I was on security detail on the ground
floor of Carpathia's building."
Kasim took Nada's hands in his own. "You
have to understand. I was not just choosing
God; I had to choose against Nicolae. He was
my whole life, everything I had hoped for. To
turn from him was so difficult, but after reading
and researching, I had to do it.
"I walked outside and prayed the prayer
Dan had written for me. Afterward, I felt like
a weight had been lifted from my shoulders,
and yet, another one had taken its place.
How could I be against Nicolae and work for
the Global Community?"
"What happened?" Nada said. "How did
you survive the building collapse?"
"I went inside but noticed something
strange. Dogs barked. People walking them
were being dragged down the street. Then I
remembered that animals can sense the
vibrations of the earth.
"I ran inside and told everyone to get out.
They stared at me. I said there was an earthquake
coming. One woman got on an elevator.
She was laughing. They all thought I was
"Did you run?"
Kasim nodded. "But before I went outside,
I took off my radio and my badge and left
them in the lobby. I ran as fast as I could. At
the time there was a field a few blocks from
"Where the park is?" Judd said.
"Yes. I ran there, hoping no buildings
would fall on me. The earth opened up and
nearly swallowed me. I spotted the helicopter
on top of Carpathia's building and figured he
made it out. Then I saw people falling from
the chopper. It was terrible."
Nada put a hand on Kasim's shoulder.
"Judd heard he kicked people off the helicopter
who were trying to get on."
"I believe it," Kasim said.
"So, how did you get here?" Judd said.
"When I left my badge and radio in the
building, I knew I was walking away, but I
hadn't fully formed my plan. I knew I was
a believer in Christ. That meant I was an
enemy of the Global Community. When
the building collapsed, I knew I would be
counted along with the other dead."
"So you disappeared," Judd said.
Kasim nodded again. "Getting out of the
country was impossible. I found Dan and he
let me stay here."
"They didn't find you when Dan was
arrested?" Judd said.
Kasim held up a hand. A radio squawked
in the hall. Kasim switched the power off in
the apartment, and the computer went dead.
"Quickly," Kasim said, "follow me." He
raced to a back bedroom. Judd noticed there
was nothing out of place in the apartment.
Kasim lifted the carpet in a closet. Underneath
was a door. He opened it, and the
three climbed down a ladder mounted to the
wall. Someone was putting a key in the door
to the apartment as Kasim repositioned the
carpet and closed the trapdoor.
The room below was long and narrow.
Kasim told them to keep quiet and showed
them a video monitor hooked to a small television.
"Where are the cameras?" Judd whispered.
"In the smoke detectors," Kasim said.
Two GC Peacekeepers moved furniture and
searched the apartment. One opened the
blinds. "What was the report again?" the
The other Peacekeeper was right above
Judd, inspecting the closet. "Neighbor across
the hall heard a scream. She looked out and
saw somebody coming in here."
The Peacekeepers moved to the other end
of the apartment. Kasim whispered, "Dan
knew they would try to catch him one day,
so he built this hideout. Then he rented the
apartment above and cut the hole. The
people who moved in here never knew the
back bedroom was supposed to be four feet
Judd noticed a refrigerator and cans
stacked in the corner. "You must have
enough food to last a month."
"Two," Kasim whispered. "It was packed so
full I could hardly crawl in when Dan was
"Why didn't you call us?" Nada said.
"Mother and Father were so upset."
"Dan found the GC files confirming my
death," Kasim said. "I was afraid an e-mail
would be traced, and the same with a phone
call. Dan was arrested before I could get
phony identification. Without that, there's
no way I can get out of the country."
The Peacekeepers moved to the kitchen.
One opened the refrigerator. "No food in
here. Why don't we just rent the place to
somebody and let them keep an eye on it?"
The other Peacekeeper walked into the
living room and sat on the couch.
"Oh no," Nada said.
"What?" Kasim said.
"We forgot something."
"Hey, look at this," the Peacekeeper said,
bending over and picking something off the
Judd gasped. The man held up the ice pack
Kasim had brought to Nada.
"The ice is still frozen," the Peacekeeper
said. "Secure the building. We're not letting
them get out of here."