Chapter OneInnocent Blood
Lionel Washington took a deep breath and
tried to comfort his friend Sam Goldberg.
They had just seen Nicolae Carpathia murder
Sam's friend Daniel Yossef inside the temple.
Thousands had gathered to watch
Nicolae's every move. Many supported him,
flocking outside the temple like it was some
sporting event. But Carpathia's words and
actions repulsed followers of Jesus Christ and
Orthodox Jews. Lionel had heard how cold-blooded
Nicolae could be, but he never
dreamed the man would kill in front of a live
camera. Lionel couldn't understand why
anyone would follow this evil man.
Sam looked at one of the huge television
monitors and whispered, "Do you think
Daniel believed the message about Christ
before he was killed?"
"I hope so," Lionel said. "It took guts to
refuse Carpathia's order to shoot at those
Lionel looked around for Judd. They had
become separated earlier, and Lionel yearned
for a familiar face. People trembled from the
pain of sores breaking out all over their
bodies. Many Morale Monitors and GC
soldiers had moved to quickly constructed
medical tents. Others without Carpathia's
mark or the seal of God on their foreheads
shook their fists and sprinted up the temple
Through television monitors came the
clear voice of God's prophet Dr. Chaim
Rosenzweig, who called himself Micah.
Somehow the Tribulation Force had broken
into a live Global Community Network
News feed, and this small, robed man was
speaking out against the evil ruler.
"As Carpathia continues," Dr. Rosenzweig
said, "you should be able to see the laver
where the priests wash their hands before they
approach the main altar. The temple was
creatively placed over a series of underground
waterways where gravity allows constant water
pressure for the various cleansings. Of course,
he has no business in this place, and even a
ceremonial washing of his hands will not
exonerate him for defiling it."
For some reason the camera switched back
inside the temple, and the scene was so
frightening Lionel turned away. Carpathia's
eyes seemed to dance with glee as he stood
over the dead man's body.
Sam gasped in disgust. "Look at his hands!"
Carpathia stared into the camera and held
up two bloody hands. Someone inside the
room said something and Carpathia sneered.
"My faithful get the message." His voice
echoed in the room as he shouted. "Any who
dares interrupt my pilgrimage will find his
blood on my fingers!"
* * *
Judd Thompson Jr. closed his eyes. Was this
a bad dream or reality? As Chaim Rosenzweig
tried to convince viewers around the
world of Carpathia's evil, Mr. Stein drew
close and tried to explain why the robed holy
men would risk their lives to stop Nicolae.
The priests scrambled up the stairs, yelling
and shaking their fists. Judd glanced at the
video monitor above him just as the camera
whirled, the screen filling with priests charging
like enraged animals.
"See where this blood comes from!"
The priests stopped at the sight, their faces
pale. One at the front glanced at the body on
the floor and threw out his arms. "Does your
evil know no bounds?"
Nicolae's face reddened. "Are you the god-haters
who do not know me as a god, a god
acknowledged by all others, but not named
"It should not surprise you," one man
said, "that we showed our loyalty by offering
daily sacrifices on your behalf."
"You have made offerings," Carpathia spat,
"but to another, even if it was for me. What
good is it then, for you have not sacrificed to
me? No sacrifice shall ever again be made in
this temple except to me. Not for me, to me.
Now leave or face the same fate as this unlucky
one who was foolish enough not to believe
that I have been allotted the nature of god!"
"God will judge you, evil one!"
"Give me your gun again, Supreme
The priests took a step back, but one stood
his ground. "We retreat not in fear but rather
because you have turned the house of God
into a killing field!"
Mr. Stein turned to Judd and whispered,
"That is Ethan Ben-Eliezar. We have had
many discussions about-"
Carpathia screamed again. "Just go! I shall
have my way in my home, and should you
be found without proof of loyalty to me by
week's end, you shall offer your heads as
The priests turned, shouting threats and
joining their followers outside the temple.
When the man Mr. Stein identified as Ethan
Ben-Eliezar emerged, other priests cheered.
He lifted both hands toward the sky and
yelled, "Lovers of God, unite!"
The priests repeated the words until it
became a chant. Judd glanced at the monitor
again, expecting to see Carpathia mocking
them, but Dr. Rosenzweig was back.
"The inner court inside the pillars has
stairs that face east and lead to the main
altar," Chaim began. "Priests who revere God
march around the Court of Priests and the
Holy Place with their left hands closest to the
altar. This one who would trample holy
ground has already begun the opposite way,
so his right hand will be closest to the altar.
The Scriptures foretold that he would have
no regard for the one true God. What plans
he has for the beast with which he ridiculed
the Via Dolorosa will be revealed only as he
invades deeper into God's own territory."
"He's going to do something with the pig
he rode?" Judd said.
Mr. Stein pursed his lips.
Chaim continued, contrasting Carpathia's
rantings with the way God had displayed his
glory. "God appeared to Moses on Mount
Sinai when the Ten Commandments were
handed down. He appeared again when
Moses dedicated the Tent of God. And finally
he showed himself at the dedication of Solomon's
Temple on this very site. Should God
choose, he could reveal himself even today
and crush under his foot this evil enemy. But
he has an eternal plan, and Antichrist is
merely a bit player. Though Antichrist has
been granted power to work his horror
throughout the world for a time, he shall
come to a bitter end that has already been
* * *
Vicki Byrne was riveted to the radio coverage
from Israel. The news anchor explained that
the audio was being taken from the video
feed and broke in to talk over the man
As Mark drove south, Manny Aguilara, the
new believer who had escaped the Global
Community, studied a map. Their plan was
to rescue Morale Monitor Claudia Zander
with the help of one of Manny's gang friends.
Between Carpathia's pig ride down the Via
Dolorosa and his assault on the temple,
Manny told his story. Vicki was astounded
when she heard how Manny had been placed
in a cell next to Zeke Sr.
"Sure, I went to church with my mother
when I was little. But when it came time to
choose between the gang and God, the decision
was simple. The gang gave me money,
protection, and friends. It made sense to me
"Did you ever try to get out?" Vicki said.
Manny shook his head. "I thought about it
once or twice when things heated up. The
police would get close or somebody would get
shot and I'd wonder if it was worth it, but getting
out is more dangerous than staying in."
"What do you mean?" Vicki said.
Manny pointed to a tattoo on his face, a
small x. "I got this when I joined. Everyone
knows you're part of the gang by this. They
fear it. But try to leave, and your own gang
wants you dead. Then other gangs come
looking for you. It's easier and safer to
"Did anybody ever try to kill you?" Mark
Manny looked at the floor. "Our gang was
into drugs. We had our territory and no one
was supposed to cross the line. Our rivals
violated the boundary, so our leader said I
should go along to help end the problem."
"What do you mean, end the problem?"
"Usually you take a couple of guys and talk
with the people, to scare them. But things
had gone way past scaring. The disappearances
changed everything. I don't know how
to explain it, but we had lots more business
and the violence was getting worse.
"The meeting with this rival turned ugly.
Hector pulled his gun first, so it forced me to
as well. Four people died that day."
There was silence in the car. Finally, Vicki
said, "Four died because of a territory
Manny nodded. "Sounds stupid now, but
back then I dreamed about killing or being
killed. Dying was just part of life."
"And you think one of these gang guys will
help us?" Mark said.
Manny hesitated, then nodded. "The
As they drove on, Vicki thanked God that
Manny's life had changed. She knew they
would be in great danger and was glad
people were praying for them back in
Wisconsin. The kids had set up a room where
at least one person would be praying at all
Now, listening to Carpathia on the radio
and the voice of his right-hand man, Leon
Fortunato, Vicki snapped back to reality. Leon
had joined Carpathia in the temple and
weakly said, "You, my lord, are the good spirit
of the world and source of all good things."
* * *
Judd stayed close to Mr. Stein, asking questions
when there was a lull in the action. He
knew Carpathia wasn't finished defiling the
temple, but he couldn't believe it could get
"I don't understand how these people are
going to get away from here," Judd whispered.
"When is Operation Eagle going to begin?"
Mr. Stein looked concerned. "That is my
question as well. We must take advantage of
this window and put out a call to everyone to
flee before Carpathia attacks."
Jewish priests filed by them, and Mr. Stein
called out for Rabbi Ben-Eliezar. They were
making such a commotion, still chanting, that
the man didn't hear. Mr. Stein turned to Judd.
"Stay here. I will talk with the rabbi and
Judd nodded, leaned against a stone, and
surveyed the crowd. At times the noise was
deafening, with Carpathia supporters trying
to shout down the Orthodox Jews. Others
who had taken the mark, Morale Monitors
and soldiers, could barely stand. That seemed
to give energy to the anti-Carpathia group,
and they grew louder and more menacing as
each minute passed.
Judd took a breath and prayed silently.
"God, you know how much these people
need to know you. You know how powerful
the evil one is. I pray you would remove the
blinders from those who haven't taken the
mark yet. Help them see the truth about
Jesus. And help us get out of here alive."
* * *
Lionel stayed with Sam as the crowd turned
into a mob. There was so much noise around
them-shouting, arguing, and people throwing
dirt and stones-that the two had to huddle
in a corner.
Sam finally stood, his face streaked with
tears. "We'll never know if Daniel truly
believed in God or not. Carpathia took his
life in front of all these people and we're not
Lionel put a hand on Sam's shoulder.
"Calm down. We're going to get out of here."
"Is that what you want to do?" Sam said,
pulling away. "You want to be safe?"
Sam suddenly glanced up. He whispered
something under his breath as Lionel came
out from behind their shelter and looked at
the huge monitor nearby. Nicolae Carpathia
approached a curtain that stretched out of the
camera's view. Lionel noticed the crowd had
quieted, mesmerized by what was on the
"He's in the Holy of Holies," Sam
whispered. "He's ready for the final
Carpathia grabbed the handle of a long
knife he had tucked in his belt and dramatically
raised it over his head. He reached as
high as he could and plunged the gleaming
steel through the veil. The fabric ripped as he
pulled the blade all the way to the floor.
Nicolae pushed each side of the curtain back,
revealing the altar and the massive pig from
the day before. There was no saddle this
time. The pig struggled and tugged at ropes
held by two men. Lionel wondered if this
animal sensed evil.
Sam clenched his teeth. "I can watch this
no longer. I have to do something!"
"Sam, wait!" Lionel said, trying to grab the
boy's arm, but it was too late. Sam disappeared
into the crowd of priests and
* * *
Vicki listened as the reporter in Jerusalem
tried to describe the scene. Before he mentioned
the pig, she heard it squeal in the
background and guessed what was about to
"Pull over right here," Manny said
suddenly. He wiped his forehead with the
back of his hand and squirmed in his seat.
"We're not that close, are we?" Mark said.
"Just pull over."
Mark parked on the darkened street and
turned off his lights. Manny switched the
radio off and sat back.
"What's the matter?" Vicki said.
"I didn't tell you the whole truth," Manny
said. "In fact, I lied."