The Reckoning

by Elroy Jackson


this story will make you rethink your life.

The clouds are rushing across the sky as if to be racing each other as I stand in amazement of this aerial show, then everything started to go wrong. The sound that came from the sky was like a trumpet, it wiped the smile from my face, then there was a roar of thunder followed by the most incredible lightning strike imaginable to the human eye.

I started to back up and head toward the house because this event was getting out of hand quickly. As I reached the porch I turned and noticed that the lightning strike set fire to the ground for as far as I could see, and it was rushing toward me so fast that all I could do was throw my hands up in front of my face. Then there was total silence... nothingness was my companion and I quickly woke into a new existence.

This was it, the day of reckoning, the end of the world...

My mind returned back to the last week of my life and this is my story.

I woke to the television blaring a report of several crazy people on corners preaching the gospel and saying the end was near. I got up with a smirk on my face and got dressed to head to church. When I drove up to my church I noticed one of those folks from the tv standing in the church parking lot speaking to anyone that would listen. Most of the congregation was telling him that he needed to get off of the churches property but it didn't deter him one bit, he just kept on repeating the phrase " These are the end of days, he is coming for his saints and he comes to conquer the sinners."

As I walked by him, he called my name " Jeremiah, time to go home" I stopped in my tracks and turned to him and asked "How is it you know my name?" he looked to the sky and said, "It was written in the clouds." I walked a bit more briskly toward the church doors where some of the congregation still were standing. They were talking about the gentleman in the parking lot. " Can you believe the crazies out there in the world?" said one woman and another shook her head while saying " He needs to come in and get his mind right with the holy ghost."

I walked up the church stairs to them and said "Good morning ladies, are we ready for another good service?" One of them said, " Yes if we can ever get that crazy fool out of the parking lot." The preacher stepped out of the door and said " Everybody come on in, don't worry about the gentleman in the lot, let God take care of him." He held the door until everyone came in steady saying "Good Morning, thanks for coming."

As I sit and listened to the sermon it was totally about revelations and I found it a bit scary as most of the congregation did. but knowing my faith and trust in God I wasn't worried in the least because I knew I was ready to be in that number. As church let out and everyone was making a bee-line to the churchateria as we called it the same man stood in the parking lot holding a sign that read "He Has Come are you ready?"

Some laughed and some others just paid no attention to him but I somehow couldn't take my eyes off him, His eyes seemed a crystal blue inside of the grayish-black hair and totally bearded face, and everything seemed to slow down as I walked across the parking lot to the dining area. I bumped into the back of one of the women standing in line to get into the chuchateria and quickly said "Oh I'm sorry I wasn't watching where I was walking" She smile and said That's alright brother Jeremiah, you fine."

After a very good meal as always, the congregation went their separate ways, some home to watch sports others off to bingo. I simply went home and got ready for another work week the following Monday.

Monday- Seven days till the end of existence

I wake up six-thirty in the morning as usual and stagger out of bed to the bathroom while listening to the television that I leave on all night every night, and the good morning show is on, and after about a minute what they were saying started to make sense. They were actually reporting on strange people showing up all over the world trumpeting the word of God and the end of days.

I thought to myself as I brushed my teeth, "I don't remember reading this in the bible" Could I have missed it? I thought to myself. As I got dressed I made up my mind that I was gonna do some study in that bible when I got back home from work.

I ate breakfast and went to work, and as soon as I walked into the office I heard them talk of those strange people. Some were saying that they were aliens which made me giggle, but others were a lot more serious about it, Working in an environment like telemarketing you get a real diverse thought process from a very different kind of people.

I sat down at my cubicle, shifted my seat forward, and started to read my leads sheet when my neighbor Gary stepped around and said, "Mornin Jer"

"Good Morning," I said as I yarned quietly.

"What do you think of these stories on the tv man?"

"Don't really know what to make of it Gary, but I intend to read my bible when I get home to see if this is a real sign," I said.

"You think there could be something to somebody saying the end of the world is near? I mean, how could anyone really know that?"

I looked up at him and said " Yesterday at church one of them called me by name, I asked him how it was he knew my name and he said he saw it in the clouds."

Gary laughed and said "And you believed him?

"I didn't say that, but I do know to get into the word and find out because God will always lead me in the right direction."

The start to work light lit up and everyone sat and started making their calls of the day. After work, I drove straight home and as I walked into the door I went to my bible and took it with me to my bedroom. There I read revelations until I fell asleep.

Tuesday---Six Days until the End of Existence

`Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him and he with me.' ---Revelation 3:20I woke to the mailman's fist against my front door. Against my head, it felt like. I stumbled out of bed, almost tripping over my Bible where the carpet had broken its fall. It lay open at chapter 3 of Revelation, a headache for the Bible publishers if ever there was one. Should Christ's words there be printed in red too, or just the ones He spoke in His earthly life, as we have them in the Gospels? It was a conundrum I was glad not to face right then; I barely managed to yank my door open and scrawl what passed for my signature first thing in the morning. In exchange, I received a package about the size and shape of a bestseller. Which was exactly what it turned out to be. The bestseller, in fact: a leatherbound Bible, ancient and kind of dusty. I riffled the pages to see whether the gold leaf was genuine and it turned red right enough. I stumbled back into the bedroom and turned off the TV. It was mighty kind of someone to send me another Bible, but I didn't have time to sit down and read it. I was late for work. I put the Bible into my shoulder bag, where my sandwiches would have gone if I'd remembered to make them last night. I'd have to get something from the deli at lunchtime. Telemarketing was in the basement: I guess that saved us from begrudging Martens his corner office. I stopped outside our building and looked up and wondered what it was the execs on the upper floors did to deserve their plush suites and country club memberships. And yet we are all equal in God's sight. The rain was forming puddles by now but wasn't content to stay in them. A black Mercedes sailed past and splashed me. It braked hard and I thought I was going to get an apology, but it turned into our parking lot with an air of having better things to do. When I got to my cubicle the light was already on. Gary had a difficult prospect on the line; I could tell by the way he was chewing his pencil. This is the Computer Age---he didn't even need a pencil. I guess you can't chew a keyboard without getting whisked off for an HR assessment. Gary raised his eyebrows to acknowledge me. I squelched into my swivel chair and hoped Martens hadn't noticed I was late.I clamped my headset over my ears, hoping I wasn't quite wet enough to make electrocution a real possibility. Martens' door opened. I pretended not to notice. Martens came towards me, skewed sideways to force his bulk through the gap between rows of cubicles. I tried to look busy. If I'd had the foresight to bring a pencil to work, I surely would have started gnawing it.

Martens walked straight by me and greeted his guests: Matheson from HR and two stiffs I didn't know. The shorter one was clearly in charge. Even from my stolen glances, I could tell his suit cost more than I earned in a year. The four of them went into Martens' office and shut the door. The two guests didn't even pretend to take an interest in the work going on around them. If I'm honest, nor did those of us who had to do it. Saint Paul talked a lot about earning a living and leading a quiet life. I would have traded my cubicle for his tentmaking tools in an instant. The next time I dared look up, there was some animated pantomime going on behind the glass wall of Martens' office. Martens looked to be making a whole lot of fuss about something; Matheson, arms folded, was presenting him with a fait accompli; and the rich guy and his lackey remained impassive, knowing that they had got whatever it was they wanted. I didn't know why they came down here for their kicks. If I ever came within spitting distance of affluence, here was the last place on God's earth you'd find me. After that, I got a wise guy on the other end of my line. By the time I'd maneuvered him into being rude enough that I could hang up, Matheson's office was empty. Somehow I made it through to lunchtime and paid the price of my laziness at the deli. Afternoons are plain sailing compared to mornings: everyone is somehow mellower, with or without a pick-me-up over lunch.I found Martens' memo on my desk. It said: JERRY. COME SEE ME BEFORE YOU GO HOME. M. That left me with nothing to look forward to. The afternoon ground to a halt and died right there under the buzzing fluorescents. `I have a special project for you,' Martens said. I stood before his desk just like all those times in school when I hadn't done what they expected of me, whatever that was. Back then, I had given them silent treatment. It seemed to work on Martens too, at least to the extent that he loosened his tie and looked a little uncomfortable.`We have a new client,' Martens said. `A new campaign. This is your opener.'He handed me a hastily-typed script. The title read: THE END OF THE WORLD IS NIGH. I met Martens' eyes for the first time. `Why me?'He shrugged. `They asked for you. You start tomorrow.' He shuffled some papers to signal that the meeting was at an end.

Wednesday--- Five days until the end of existence

I turned and walked out of martens office with a quizzical look on my face thinking "why would somebody pick me for something like this?" then I started to remind myself of the strange guy in the church parking lot that knew my name. I grabbed my backpack and headed out of the building to my car, and as I walked through the parking garage I pulled out the Bible that I had received in the mail and started to glance through it as I walked. I became so involved in the pages of this book that I almost ran into a parked car next to mine.

This leather-bound book had a glow to it, the pages were as of gold and thicker than regular pages of a bible. The words, though ancient were as clear as English to me. The words seem to speak to me as if the book was created for me to read and understand. I opened my car door and got inside feeling sort of light-headed from the small-time reading this book, so I just sat there for a minute to compose myself, then was startled by a figure standing at my driver's side door saying " These are the end of days, my brother, he has come" I didn't let my window down, I just started up the car and put it in reverse. He backed away as I backed up and drove away looking in my rearview mirror wondering how he got in the parking garage in the first place, it's supposed to be a guard at the entrance.

As I was leaving the gate I asked old Mr. Buford did he see the guy come through and he said "Sir, no one has come through here without a ticket, trust me on that." I just blew him off as usual and drove away.

On my way home I started to notice those people everywhere, and billboards started to appear on the freeways. Each and every one of them seemed to look deep into my eyes and through to my soul somehow. This really scared me, even from across the street they could find me with their eyes. I twice almost rear-ended cars on my way home but finally made it safely to my abode. I walked into my home, showered, made dinner, and afterward sat on my bed in my bedroom and took this leather-bound book out and started to read and... Darkness.

Wednesday Morning

When I awoke on Wednesday morning it was still early, about three forty-five. The old bible was lying there on the bed next to me and the pages glowed in the dark. I sat up and reached for the bible and when I touch it my hand seemed to start to glow also. I thought for a second I was dreaming, but soon figured out that this was no ordinary bible and this was no ordinary situation, something was happening on this earth, and I somehow have found myself a principal part in how things are going to unfold.

As I read the pages of this great book I felt a sense of purpose, a sense that I was born to spread some sort of message to the world through the media eye. It didn't read like the bible but it was the word of God. My eyes burned as they scanned through the pages, and soon I started to cry uncontrollably with the knowledge I was absorbing at an incredible rate, Until now I could never read this quickly with the total understanding of what I was taking in... Until now.

I suddenly jumped at a noise that sounded like it was right outside my window. I sat the bible down on the bed and walked over to the window and slowly pulled back the curtain with a sudden fear of what I would see standing outside. I peered out into the darkness and there stood a yard full of those people with what seemed like small candles in the middle of their hands, I quickly shut the curtain and walked backward toward my bed and sat down terrified in a way, but somehow at peace. I asked myself "Why are these people here? What am I suppose to do?" I fell to my knees and started to pray "Lord I accept you as my Lord and Savior, and ask that you guide me in the direction you want me to go."

Just then from all directions, they came through the walls, I scooted back to my headboard in my bed apprehensive and afraid. They all circled me, one hand to their sides and the other straight out with a light coming from the middle of their hands. Not one of them said a word nor was I sure they even could, but I could hear a spiritual message coming from the whole room.

"The time is nigh upon us, The end of days is near" It was repeated in my head it seemed a thousand times a minute...

I awoke saying those words as the morning light shined through my window signaling Wednesday had arrived.

A dream--Shortly before the end of existence

And Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit for forty days in the wilderness, tempted by the Devil. --Luke 4:1-2

The guy with the crystal eyes said, `Spare a dollar, brother Jeremiah?'

`How do you know my name?' I said.

`It's written all over your face,' the putative angel said and held up an open Bible. In it, I saw my face, crisscrossed with so many scars that there was barely any skin between them. `With a few corrections,' he added.

I screamed but no sound came out. `Now you know how I feel,' the guy said.

I put my hands to my face and gingerly stroked my cheeks. They felt perfectly normal.

`That's right,' the guy said. `How you feel is how you really are. Normal. Not like the twisted thing this old book says you are. You gotta stop reading this dull old book, Jeremiah. Gotta start thinking for yourself.'

He handed the Bible over to my pastor. I saw it was the special one with the ancient script that I had received in the mail.

Pastor Murray opened the Bible and I saw the same delight in his face that must have been on mine when I sat reading it. I had felt as though it were a message just for me.

Tearing his eyes off the pages for just a moment, Murray said, `You won't be needing this. I'll take care of it for you.' He turned and walked back into our church, leafing through the mesmeric pages as he went. I reached out a hand to stop him but the messenger blocked my way. `Your sins are upon your own head,' he said. `Doesn't matter to God one way or the other. You can't get through to him.'

Pastor Murray closed the church door behind him. The building turned to fire. The breeze bore me a roasting smell. Still, the angel would not let me pass, though I struggled and raked his face repeatedly. I drew blood and felt it trickle from my own temple, but I kept on clawing him until both our faces ran red.

Finally, I slumped on the asphalt, drained. The angel stood over me and said, `I'll forgive you. Maybe.'

Wednesday thru Thursday morning

So was I dreaming or wasn't I? I asked myself that question many times as I got ready for work.

I turned the television on and the morning news was all about the strange happenings in the city and all over the world. I walked out my front door to get the paper and as I bent down to retrieve it I noticed the front yard had footprints all over it, I walked over to one of the prints and watched it track all the way to my window and then disappear as all the rest did as they reached my house. As I walked back to my front door quite perplexed by this event I heard the phone ring and hurried to the living room and picked up the receiver and said "Hello"

"Jeremiah, good morning" It was Marten my boss at work.

"Good morning sir, is there a problem?"

"No Problem, I just need you to go for your first assignment to Saint Michael's Cathedral Downtown."

I paused for a second then asked "Sir why am I to go there?"

He quickly said, " There will be two gentlemen there to meet you, they will brief you on what to do, goodbye."

"Hello? Hello?" I said, but Martens was gone and I was left in a state of total confusion. I got dressed and proceeded to the destination given to me by Martens, and upon arrival, those same two gentlemen from Martens office were standing outside the Cathedral and they reminded me of men in black somehow with the dark shades and black suits. I parked, grabbed my briefcase and laptop then got out and walked across the street to met the gentlemen. As I walked up to them the shorter man said "Welcome brother Jeremiah,

Please follow us." I walked behind them through the doors of the cathedral and to an elevator that took us to the lower floor, then to a secret door that led deeper into the bowels of the cathedral. I hesitantly asked " Where are we going?" but neither of them answered or even turned around to acknowledge I had spoken.

We reached another door that had a priest standing watch, and as we walked through the door he looked at me and said " The end of the world is nigh upon us brother, welcome to the other side." I didn't say anything in return as I entered behind the two gentlemen, I just stared at the priest who seemed somewhat in a trance the whole time... A spiritual trance.

After a long walk down a darkened hallway with not an utterance of words we turned into a room that couldn't exist in the world I knew to be real. I immediately noticed that the room was wider than the church itself, and the height was far too high to be in a church like the one I knew I walked into. Then a light illuminated the whole existence around us and I was blinded but yet I could see in a different existence than I knew to be true.

And he saith unto me, Seal not the sayings of the prophecy of this book: for the time is at hand. He that is unjust, let him be unjust still: and he which is filthy, let him be filthy still: and he that is righteous, let him be righteous still: and he that is holy, let him be holy still.

I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last.

Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city. For without are dogs, and sorcerers, and whoremongers, and murderers, and idolaters, and whosoever loveth and maketh a lie. I Jesus have sent mine angel to testify unto you these things in the churches. I am the root and the offspring of David, and the bright and morning star.

And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will let him take the water of life freely. For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book: And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book. ¶ He which testifieth these things saith, Surely I come quickly. Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ is with you all. Amen.

Just then darkness...

I woke in my car with a police officer tapping on my window saying "Move along sir."

I sat up and looked across the street at the cathedral, then at the clock in my car and noticed it was it Ten-thirty Thursday morning... Oh my God, I had lost a whole day!

I nervously called my job all the while believing I had somehow lost my mind and Martens answered " This is Marten how can I help you?"

Mr. Martens this is Jeremiah, I am so sorry sir I know I'm late but I will be on my... "Jeremiah" Martens interrupted. "You aren't late, you were sent to handle an account, don't you remember?" When you get back here I need you on the phones relaying that message you've learned to as many prospective clients as you can! Get your head right son! Your job depends on it." He hung up before I got a chance to even say a word.

I looked at myself in the rearview mirror and asked myself internally what just happened, even though I knew exactly what just happened. Now I know... I am one of them.

Thursday toward the end of days

I started my car and headed straight for work.

Even after losing a day, I was still dressed as if I was going to the office.

As I drove I was reminded of the scriptures that I heard, they were from the book I was sent. I somehow feel I know what to do now, but I can't explain why.

I just know that the world as we know it is about to cease to be, and since the day of my birth, I have been destined to be an Angel of Angels, A Messenger of Messengers.

When I got to work and drove into the garage old Mr. Buford tipped his hat at me as usual, as I went through the gate arm. I parked, got out, and turned right into the face of one of those people "Jeez man! You startled me!" I said as my voice echoed in the garage. He just smiled and said, "I am glad you know Jeremiah, God bless you, I recognize you for who you are and I am your servant to assist in spreading the word."

I just walked towards the elevator looking back occasionally to make sure this person wasn't following me. I am still quite queasy when it comes to these people but I know they mean me no harm. When the elevator reached my office floor and opened, I walked out and felt everyone in the office was watching me as I stepped over to my desk and sat down.

Gary stepped around and asked, "What is going on Jer? Everybody is acting strange around here, and where you been?"

I looked up at him then looked around the huge floor of phones and computers and said.

"Gary, you don't feel it? You can't see it. Why is it that you are the only person in this place that is unfazed by what is going on?" He sort of half-laughed shrugged his shoulders and said in return. "I don't Know Jeremiah, you tell me."

I said. "That's just it, I can't Gary." He then just walked around the cubicle without saying another word. I picked up my phone and simultaneously everyone on the floor picked up his or hers also. Just to make sure that I wasn't dreaming I put the phone down and picked it back up, and everyone did the same in harmony with my movements.

I picked up my phone, started to dial along with at least seven hundred others, and started to spread the word that I heard to potential clients of the Holy Father.

My spiel started with "Are you ready to make a choice?"

I soon started to understand that not only was my floor making the calls but every floor was making the calls in the whole building. Martens stepped out of his office and just stood there looking over the vast expanse of people all working like bees in a hive, or like ants in a hill. I likened the experience to a Sheppard and his flock.

He then smiled and looked over at me, winked then mouthed the words "Good job Jeremiah" and went back into his office.

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