Chapter OneThe Storming Horsemen
AS THE crowd in the arena wildly applauded, three uniformed men approached Vicki
Byrne. One said something into a radio as Vicki concentrated on the screen. She
had hoped she was wrong, but it was true. The Morale Monitor outside the arena
had nabbed her friend Melinda Bentley.
"We believe there are more Ben-Judah followers inside," the Morale Monitor on
the screen said, "and we're going to conduct a thorough search before this
session is over. Right now, let's go to Houston, Texas, and find out what's
going on there."
The scene switched to a domed stadium, where it appeared other believers were
about to be exposed by the GC plot.
Vicki wanted to help Melinda, but she feared the men beside her. One was a GC
Peacekeeper. The other two were younger and wore Morale Monitor uniforms.
Vicki scanned the crowd for a familiar face or someone with the mark of the
believer. The auditorium was built in a circle and used for everything from
sporting events to rock concerts. She saw no one she recognized. Suddenly, the
Peacekeeper grabbed Vicki's arm. "Come with us."
"What did I do?"
Kids nearby turned and shushed them, then stopped when they saw the Peacekeeper.
The man leaned close. "You were running from one of our Morale Monitors. You
know the girl we have in custody. Now come quietly or we'll disable you." The
man flashed a stun gun.
"Let me get my purse," she said.
The man let go of her for an instant, just long enough for Vicki to break free.
She rushed down the row, climbing over legs, stumbling as she stepped on
"We've got a runner!" the man yelled into his radio.
Someone in the crowd shouted, "She's one of the Judah-ites!"
Vicki made it to the end of the row and headed down the steps. Another Morale
Monitor came toward her so she turned and headed for the top. Seconds later,
another boy in uniform descended toward her.
Vicki spotted a railing and darted into the crowd. Some scooted out of her way
while others tried to grab her. She fought to the railing and looked over the
side. Too far down. As the men converged on her, she swung her legs over the
side and eased down. She took a deep breath and closed her eyes as she prepared
to let go.
But a boy grabbed her arm. His T-shirt sported the face of Nicolae Carpathia and
the words The Hope of the World. "I got her! Help!" he yelled.
Vicki let go of the railing and lunged at the boy with her free hand. She
missed, but the boy let go and Vicki fell toward the concrete.
Judd Thompson Jr. knew from reading Tsion Ben-Judah's letters to other believers
that the horsemen would kill many more people. Tsion had written that as the
world came closer to the forty-second month into the Tribulation, the death toll
from the 200 million horsemen would reach a third of the population.
Judd ran back to the patio and joined his friends. He had seen the angry horses
before, but never this many. Hundreds and hundreds of thousands stampeded the
old city of Jerusalem. The horses had the heads of lions, and fire and smoke
poured from their nostrils and mouths. The riders wore gleaming breastplates.
Flashes of color nearly blinded Judd, and he had to turn away.
The enormous beasts made no sound as they galloped. It was like a horror movie
with the sound muted, but this was scarier than anything Judd had ever seen.
He counted nine people on the street, all unaware of the angels of death ready
to strike down anyone God would let them. The people coughed and choked as the
smoke billowed around them. All nine fell to their knees and grabbed their
throats. One man pulled his shirt over his head in an attempt to block the
suffocating smoke. Three collapsed into the gutter and lay motionless.
Mr. Stein knelt and closed his eyes. "I have never seen anything so horrible."
The army of horsemen and their animals kept coming, storming the city in search
of more victims. Judd shook his head.
Lionel leaned close. "This makes all the other attacks look like picnics."
"You think this is happening to the kids back in Illinois?"
Lionel frowned. "From what I'm reading off the Internet, this is happening
Vicki tried to land on her feet, but she fell backward and smacked the concrete
floor, stunning her. When her head hit, it almost knocked her out, but she
somehow managed to struggle to her feet. Her legs weren't cooperating, but she
realized she hadn't broken or sprained anything. Kids leaned over the railing,
pointing and shouting. Two Morale Monitors sprinted down the steps.
Vicki lurched into another hallway and staggered around a corner. She rammed
into someone full force, and they both went down.
It was Mark. "Keep going," he said, helping her back up. "I'll stall them."
Vicki raced on, hearing him yell something at the Morale Monitors. As she neared
a concession area, she heard footsteps and ducked into a rest room.
Mark Eisman waited until the Morale Monitors were nearly through the tunnel when
he stepped out and collided with one of them. "Are you looking for that girl?"
"Yeah, which way?" the Morale Monitor said.
Mark pointed away from Vicki. They turned down the hall, talking into their
radios as they ran. Mark looked for Vicki, but she was gone.
He went back inside the arena and noticed a flurry of activity in the stands.
Morale Monitors and GC Peacekeepers were searching the stands. A local announcer
interrupted the live GC feed on the screen and asked for the cooperation of the
crowd. The man described Vicki and asked anyone who saw her to report to the
nearest Morale Monitor.
"This girl is a Judah-ite," the man said, "and is dangerous. There is a reward
for anyone who helps us arrest her or any other Judah-ite."
The crowd seemed energized. Many looked around while others got up and moved
toward the nearest exits.
Suddenly, Mark noticed something strange on the huge video screen. People in
Texas were panicking, many running from the domed stadium. The picture switched
to a civic center in Memphis, where kids were also running from their seats in
Mark shook his head. Only one thing could scare people that bad.
Vicki found the last stall in the bathroom empty. She quickly swung the door
shut behind her and locked it. She took a moment to catch her breath, then
looked underneath the stalls. She was alone.
Vicki had to get out of the building without the GC seeing her, but how? Mark or
Darrion or Shelly could help, but with thousands of kids in the arena, finding
them seemed impossible.
The rest-room door burst open. Vicki held her breath, her heart beating
furiously. She sat and raised her feet off the floor. Someone kicked in the
first stall door, then the next.
The intruder kicked Vicki's stall door, and when it didn't open jiggled the
lock. Vicki saw the standard GC-issue black boots under the door.
She scooted as far back as she could but soon heard what she dreaded. "Global
Community Morale Monitor! Unlock this door!"
Vicki opened the stall and a female Morale Monitor stepped inside, closed the
door, and locked it.
"You're a Judah-ite," the girl said, "the one we're looking for?"
Vicki studied the girl's face under her uniform cap as footsteps sounded
"Natalie?" someone shouted from the hall.
"In the bathroom!" the girl said.
"Nobody," Natalie said. "Had to make a pit stop."
"Get out here. We need your help."
"Why did you do that?" Vicki whispered.
Natalie pushed back her hat, and Vicki saw the mark of the believer. Vicki
shuddered. "I thought I was caught."
"You will be if you don't get out of here fast," Natalie said.
"Wait. How did you become a believer?"
"Long story," Natalie said. "No time now."
"The girl being held outside is my friend. We need to help her."
"They've probably already put her in the van. There's no way ."
Natalie's voice trailed as screams came from the hallway. Now panicked voices,
shouting, and hundreds of kids running.
"Stay here," Natalie said and left.
Moments later she returned. "You're not going to believe this. Come on."
"But they'll see?"
Natalie shook her head. "You're the least of their worries now."
The two made their way through the frightened crowd to the outer ring of the
arena. There, Vicki looked through huge windows at a sight she would never
forget. Bearing down on them were thousands upon thousands of horses and riders.
Hundreds of kids streamed through the smoke- and sulfur-filled hallways,
knocking each other down, trampling, coughing, gasping for air, and covering
"This is the first I've seen of these things," Natalie whispered. "I read Dr.
Ben-Judah's descriptions, but this is worse than I imagined."
Vicki quickly told of her encounter with the horsemen at the schoolhouse.
"Remember, the Spirit who lives in you is greater than the spirit who lives in
Natalie nodded. "But what's going to happen to all these people?"
Kids were desperately trying to get outside, but those already out were
scrambling to get back inside. "A lot of people are going to die today."
A Morale Monitor raced through the crowd toward Natalie. He raised his gun and
fired at the huge window behind them. Glass crashed in the hallway, spreading
everywhere. Before Natalie could stop him, the boy jumped through the window and
fell to certain death.
Natalie handed Vicki a small key. "Find your friend. This will open the
Vicki gave the girl the address of the kid's Web site,
www.theunderground-online.com. "If they discover you or if you want a safe place
to stay, write us."
Vicki pushed through the crowd. Kids huddled in corners, screaming and crying.
Others had already been trampled to death, their crumpled bodies strewn in the
hall like rag dolls. Vicki stepped over bodies, stopping to check for a pulse
here and there, soon realizing there was no point.
She spotted the GC truck that had been used for the satellite uplink. A
microphone lay on the pavement. The Morale Monitor who had caught Melinda was
gone. Mark and Shelly ran up and hugged Vicki. Darrion followed a few moments
"I thought they had you," Shelly said.
"Let's get Melinda," Vicki said.
As they walked across the plaza toward the truck, Vicki had to focus. Horses
with lions' heads galloped overhead and angry riders bore down on the frightened
crowds. Vicki knew she wasn't in danger, but walking close to the thundering
herd of demonic beasts was still scary.
Vicki picked up the dented microphone. The truck door was closed, but through a
small window she saw an incredible display of video monitors and a huge mixing
console. Shelly gave a whoop from the front of the truck, and Vicki and Mark
In the driver's seat sat the Morale Monitor who had shown Melinda on the
worldwide satellite feed. Her eyes were open, but she had stopped breathing.
Beside her sat Melinda, handcuffed to the passenger-side door handle.
Vicki used the key and quickly freed Melinda. "Let's get out of here."
A huge explosion rocked the plaza. The kids huddled behind the truck and watched
the arena fill with flames. Kids scrambled to get out of the way. Some were
caught in the blast and killed instantly. Others were trapped inside.
"We have to help them!" Mark yelled over the noise. He ran to the front of the
building. Kids screamed and pounded on a huge window, trying to get out. Vicki
picked up a heavy rock and threw it as hard as she could, but it didn't even
crack the glass.
"Too thick!" Mark said. "I'll be right back." He ran from the area, fumbling in
his pocket for something.
Vicki and the others helped as many kids as they could. Some coughed and
wheezed, trying to breathe. Others lay motionless.
Moments later Mark raced up in their car. He honked the horn and yelled, "Tell
them to move back from the window!"
Vicki motioned for the kids to move back as Mark revved the engine and hurtled
toward the building. The crash sent glass flying as kids streamed out, pushing
When they had done all they could do, Mark inspected the car. "Flat tire. I'll
change it before we head back."
Vicki looked at Melinda. "How did you get here from the schoolhouse?"
"Walked to the main road and hitched a ride."
Vicki frowned. "No way all five of us are getting in this little car."
Mark touched Vicki's shoulder. "I have an idea."