Chapter OneThe Getaway
Vicki mashed the accelerator to the floor and
glanced in the rearview mirror. Flashing
lights from an oncoming Global Community
squad car cast an eerie glow in the rain. A
shadowy figure darted across the wet street.Natalie should have come with us, Vicki thought.
Charlie craned his neck to see, and Vicki
told him to stay down.
"You think they're going to shoot at us?"
Vicki shrugged. "Just stay down."
Phoenix squirmed in the backseat. Charlie
grabbed his collar and pulled him to the
floor. "He's excited to see you!"
"I'll be excited to see him once we get
away," Vicki said, gripping the steering wheel.
She kept the lights off, hoping the GC car
wouldn't spot them in the rain. Vicki's heart
raced so fast she found it hard to breathe.
She remembered the driving instructions
Conrad had given during their trip west.
"Make sure you stay calm behind the wheel,"
Conrad had said. "If you're angry or scared,
"Great," Vicki had said. "I'll never learn
because I'm always angry or scared."
Conrad had helped Vicki get comfortable
with driving in all kinds of weather. During a
severe rainstorm in California, she drove in
an empty parking lot, sliding when she made
sharp turns. Now, as she rushed down the
wet road, the practice was paying off.
"Where are we going?" Charlie said.
Vicki quickly explained about the kids in
Wisconsin. "We may not make it tonight,
but we'll try." She turned a corner without
touching her brakes and grazed a parked
"They're stopping at Maggie's house,"
Vicki drove on, wondering what Natalie
would say to her boss.
* * *
Natalie Bishop leaned against the car, rain
dripping from her hair, as Deputy Commander
Darryl Henderson stumbled down
Maggie Carlson's front steps. He fell in the
wet grass with a thump.
Natalie screamed in mock pain. She quickly
reached into Henderson's car, stuffed his
keys in her pocket, and kept screaming. She
fumbled with her key chain-a combination
pocketknife, flashlight, and Mace dispenser.
Natalie had seen a few prisoners who had
been maced. Their eyes turned red and filled
with tears. She could only imagine the pain.
"Bishop!" Deputy Commander Henderson
shouted. The man was on his feet again.
"Bishop, what happened?"
Natalie pulled the Mace dispenser close as
lights swirled from the oncoming GC squad
car. She glanced at the car Vicki was driving
and saw it move around a corner.
This is my only hope, Natalie thought. She
had planned it this way, and so far everything
was working. Vicki and the others were
gone, and if Henderson believed her, she
might be able to keep working for the GC.
"Where are they?" Henderson screamed as
he opened the car door.
Natalie closed her eyes tightly, pressed the
nozzle, then opened them as the spray filled
her eyes. For several moments she could hear
nothing but her own screams. Unbelievable,
searing pain! Her eyes felt on fire. She
covered her face with her hands and rolled
on the pavement, unable to focus on
anything but the pain.
"Where are my keys!?" Henderson said.
Another GC squad car pulled up, and an
officer tried to help Natalie. Henderson
screamed for the man to follow the car that
had just pulled away.
"I didn't see any-"
The officer sped off and Henderson barked
orders into his radio. An older woman arrived,
and Henderson questioned her about her car.
She gave him the information, and he called
for all available units to respond.
The woman knelt by Natalie and asked
what was wrong. Natalie said she had been
sprayed with Mace, and the woman helped
her into the house. "We need to flush your
eyes with water."
As Henderson combed the yard for his
keys, the woman took Natalie to the kitchen.
"That was a brave thing you did for those
kids," she whispered.
Natalie tried to open her eyes but couldn't.
"It's okay," the woman said. "I can see by
the mark on your forehead that you're a
believer. I'm Maggie Carlson."
Natalie sobbed, forced to her knees by the
pain. "I took Henderson's car keys so he
couldn't follow," she whispered. "If he finds
"Where are they?"
Natalie patted her right pants pocket and
Maggie took them out. "I'll care for them.
Keep your eyes under the running water."
* * *
Judd Thompson Jr. sat alone on a leather
couch in Z-Van's hotel suite and prayed for
his friends. He had sensed danger several
times before, but never so strong as now.
As the New Babylon sun peeked over the
palace a few blocks away, Judd took a bottle
of water from the small refrigerator and
walked into the main living area. Z-Van's
sheet music lay stacked on the grand piano,
but Judd couldn't look at the words. The
man had seemed possessed since the day
Carpathia had risen from the dead, spending
every waking moment writing his tribute to
the risen potentate. Judd knew Nicolae could
take power over people's minds. Was
Carpathia controlling the singer?
Judd used a laptop to log on to the kids'
Web site. He read Tsion Ben-Judah's latest
message again and shuddered at the prophecies
about the Antichrist. Soon the Global
Community would require every living being
to receive a mark on the hand or forehead
and swear allegiance to Carpathia. Anyone
who willingly took that evil mark would
never be able to come to God.
That's why we have to tell as many people as
quickly as we can, Judd thought.
Around the world, loyal citizens were
prepared to kneel before Carpathia's image.
The GC had been working on biochip technology
that would accompany the mark, but
Judd didn't know how long it would take to
distribute the machines used for the injection.
Judd thought of the trip Z-Van had
planned to Jerusalem. It would be safer to
hide or get out of New Babylon altogether.
But something in Israel tugged at him. Was it
Sam? Mr. Stein? Nada's family? Lionel felt it
too, so they had stayed.
Judd typed a short note to his friends in
the Young Tribulation Force and asked about
everyone. He knew Charlie had been taken
by the GC and wondered if this was the
reason he felt the need to pray.
Judd was astounded at the number of e-mails
to the Web site. He had known when
they started it that many would read its
contents, but he had no idea hundreds of
kids would e-mail every day from around the
globe. They asked everything from how to
become a true believer to what was coming
next on the prophecy timeline. Mark and the
others had done a good job of listing the
most frequently asked questions, or FAQs,
but some wanted a personal response.
One girl from the former country of France
gave a first name of Eleta and wrote:
I grew up knowing nothing about God.
My parents and teachers never talked about
spiritual things, believing religion was
unimportant or just superstitious. Now that
Nicolae Carpathia and Leon Fortunato
have performed miracles, many are saying
Carpathia is truly a god. They want to
worship him, but I'm not sure. The things
you have posted make me wonder if Carpathia
is really evil. Please help me understand
the truth so that I can tell my family.
Judd's heart leapt. This was exactly the
kind of person the kids had hoped to reach.
Judd sent a message, quickly explaining more
about what the Bible revealed about God
and how important it was to not follow the
Global Community's twisted religion.
Sadly, others wrote in support of
Carpathia. One man said he was monitoring
the Web site and had notified local GC
authorities. It's only a matter of time until they
find you and shut you down!
Judd heard someone stir in the next room.
He started to leave the Web site, but a new
message sparked his interest. The subject line
read New Babylon believer-help.
Lionel walked into the room with Westin
Jakes, Z-Van's pilot who had become a
believer. Judd waved them over and put the
e-mail onto the full screen.
Dear Young Trib Force,
I am seventeen and a believer in Jesus.
I have been visiting New Babylon with my
parents. My father is a huge supporter of
N. C. and came to pay his respects at the
funeral. He and my mother do not know
of my faith in Christ.
My father wants me to work for the GC.
Though I'm still in high school, I have a
number of skills with computers. The GC
have given us a free apartment until I can
be processed for employment.
The last thing I want to do is work for
the Global Community, but my father
insists. We have had arguments and he will
not listen. Me working for Carpathia is an
honor greater than anything my father can
imagine. Can you help me? I have only two
believers I can talk to right now. Please
write as soon as possible.
Lionel studied the message. "You think it's
"Looks genuine to me," Westin said.
Judd nodded and typed a reply. "I think
this is someone in a real jam."
"We have no idea who this C. W. is,"
"Doesn't matter. If he's a fellow believer,
he deserves our help."
"What advice are you going to give him-or
Judd smiled. "No advice. I'm going to set
up a meeting."
* * *
Vicki made her way through backstreets
and alleys, trying to stay out of sight. A few
minutes after they had escaped, she took a
wrong turn down a dead end. As they turned
the car around, a GC squad car passed
on the street in front of them, its lights
"Maybe we ought to find a place to hide,"
Vicki shook her head. "The GC will be
crawling all over here by morning. It's dark
and raining. We should try to get as far away
as we can."
Lightning struck nearby and the sky thundered.
Phoenix whimpered in the backseat
and Charlie tried to comfort him.
With their lights still off, Vicki found what
was left of Rand Road and headed north.
Anytime she saw the lights of GC squad cars,
she turned at the nearest street and stayed
out of sight.
Charlie leaned forward. "When are we
going back for Bo and Ginny?"
Vicki stole a glance at Darrion. "Natalie
couldn't get to the Shairtons."
"You mean we're just going to leave
Darrion turned in the seat. "We need to
get you to safety, and then we'll see about
"I don't want to get to safety. I want to
help them. They were like a mom and dad
to me. Can we turn around?"
Vicki shook her head. "I don't expect you
to understand, Charlie. We need to keep
Charlie slumped in his seat and put his
face in his hands. Lightning flashed and Vicki
spotted a sign that said "Wauconda." Several
headlights approached from behind. A few
miles later, Darrion spotted a street sign and
asked Vicki to turn. They followed a muddy
road into the countryside.
When they reached what looked like an
old general store, Vicki parked in the back.
With each flash of lightning they spotted
abandoned barns, cornfields, and old farm
Vicki fished Maggie's cell phone from her
pocket and called Mark in Wisconsin. He was
glad to hear they were safe and asked about
Natalie. Mark offered to meet them, but Vicki
said they would keep driving and call again
The three sat in the car, staring out at the
darkness. The only sounds were the patter of
raindrops on the roof and Phoenix panting.
Finally, Darrion broke the silence. "My mom
and dad used to bring me up here every fall
to pick apples. I wish I could get a mug of
hot apple cider right now."
Vicki smiled. "Or a caramel apple." She
turned and put a hand on Charlie's shoulder.
"It's good to have you back."
"Didn't think I was going to get out."
Vicki scooted down in her seat. "Tell me
more about picking apples."
"My dad would hold me on his shoulders
so I could get the high ones. Then I'd find the
biggest pumpkin, and he'd carry it back to
"Petting zoo?" Vicki said.
"How'd you know?"
"One of our neighbors knew a farm
family. I always liked the hayrides."
"The place we went to had a corn maze.
They'd cut rows out of a cornfield and you'd
have to try and find your way to the middle."
Vicki thought of her little sister, Jeanni.
Just the sight of cows by the side of the road
made the girl squeal with delight. Vicki
closed her eyes and began to cry. Darrion put
a hand on her shoulder.
"I'm okay," Vicki said. "I was just thinking
about my sister petting those farm animals.
She always laughed when she fed the goats.
For some reason I can't remember her face
anymore. I try hard, but ."
A light flashed inside a house behind
them. Tears ran down Vicki's cheeks as she
started the car and headed for the main road.