Sam's Map of the Universe

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Sam’s Map of the Universe

-Travis Martin

 

Written in dedication to Brooke Harris, my Brandy of the story.

 

For days Sam had studied for the psychology test. All the professor’s lectures had been interesting enough to hold his attention for the entire class, a somewhat rare quality. In all his other classes he either dozed off or daydreamed about Brandy. It’s not like he could help it – she was far more interesting to him than most other things. The parts of his life that didn’t involve her were like a bland mixture of boring events that only meant something to everyone but him.

            Brandy, his love. Funny, those beliefs in Christianity she held so deeply. But that didn’t matter to Sam. He merely passed those by and savored all her other virtues…the ones that actually mattered to him.

            Even so, after his life had nearly fallen apart before his eyes just after graduating high school, he was almost insulted by her naive beliefs in a loving God. There was no such thing. There couldn’t be. Perhaps there was a loving God for some people, but not for Sam. In fact, he was almost certain that God was about to curse him once more. It could only be a matter of time in his ‘oh so pathetic’ life.

            He sat down at an empty desk and pulled a No. 2 pencil from the right pocket of his jeans. This is gonna be too easy. For once I might do well in a class.

            But as Sam opened the test packet and read the first question, his hopes quickly faded. The question had nothing to do with what he studied. The answer? He had no clue.

            Question two. Nope – he didn’t know the answer to that one either. Question three…question four…question five…question six. Every one of them he skipped.

            “No,” he whispered sharply. “Dammit no!”

            A fellow student who had severe facial acne looked at him and glared. “Shhhh!”

            “Hey, buddy, screw you,” Sam said louder than intended. Several other students looked at him and laughed.

            His gaze returned to the test. Second page. Question eight had to do with the sleeping patterns of the human brain. He did his best to list them:

           

Phase 1: REM

            Phase 2: Light sleep?

            Phase 3: Deep sleep

            Phase 4: I don’t know. lol…

           

            The rest of the test was about the same. A question here and there he might have marked the correct answer, but otherwise he knew he had failed. His school career may as well have been over. He couldn’t afford to fail another class.

            Sam wrote his name at the top of the first page and turned it in. He was the first one finished.

            “Done already, Mr. Carson?” the professor asked.

            Sam smiled. “Yep. I’m the smartest person in the class.” He turned and walked out the door.

 

***

 

            Driving home was miserable. The traffic on the expressway due to construction was nearly dead stopped, and none of those rude “city people” would let Sam over when he needed to change lanes. It’s just the way God made them, he thought bitterly.

            More stop and go traffic could be seen up ahead. “Midnight Train to Georgia” played softly on the radio, a cruel irony to the situation. He could hardly breathe with all the paralyzing bad luck in his life. “Dear God, why won’t you just kill me already!” he yelled. And from the deepest depths of his heart, he meant it.

It was at the exact moment he finished uttering those words when all the other cars vanished. The asphalt darkened from the lack of headlights – Sam’s beat up Durango the only vehicle left on the expressway. “What the…” he said with astonishment.

The map on the GPS flickered and then changed to a menu he had never seen before. He immediately slammed on the brakes, sliding to a stop halfway between two lanes. White smoke rose ominously from the fresh tire marks.

He pulled the device out of its cradle. “This can’t be.” He hit it in the palm of his hand a couple times to make sure it wasn’t broken.

The menu blinked three times. It read:

 

Map of the Universe

 

Select a destination:

1) The internal life of Samuel Carson

2) The Goldens at the Edge of all things

3) The Battle for Samuel Carson

4) The Battle for Planet Earth

 

            Sam pressed option number three. A red error message blinked: No Access. He then tried option number one.

 

Destination 1: The internal life of Samuel Carson

 

The sudden change in location made him so dizzy that he nearly puked. He found himself standing in an empty street surrounded by tall buildings. The sky was black as a rainless storm hovered overhead. Lightning silently pierced the clouds with a peculiar lack of thunder while a chilly breeze sent loose papers and other debris tumbling down the block and into a darkened alley. Sam shivered.

There was no life other than himself. Everything else was dead. There were even human corpses scattered here and there, often laying in the doorways of abandoned buildings. He walked over to one and looked at its face.

“Oh!” He took two steps back as he recognized the mangled expression before him as his father’s. “What is this place?” he wondered aloud.

Another familiar figure was sprawled out on a nearby curb. Sam walked to it. It was his best friend, Zach. Or at least he had been his best friend before the heated argument over Brandy. Zach thought she wouldn’t be any fun to hang out with because of her “religious enthusiasm” – Sam disagreed because of his self-gratifying lust for her beauty. Again, his face had a mangled expression as if he had seen something horrifying just before he died.

A street lamp flickered a few hundred feet down the street – the only functioning artificial light. A female figure stood beneath it propped against the pole with her soft brown hair waving in the wind. She appeared to be alive.

“Hey!” Sam yelled with both hands cupped around his mouth. He ran in her direction. “Hey you! Over by the street light!” The girl looked up about the time he got to her. He instantly recognized her. “Brandy?”

Her lips moved as she tried to say something, but no sound came out.

“What you sayin’?” Sam whirled his pointer finger around his right ear. “I can’t hear you.”

Suddenly her expression changed to that of fear. Something was behind him…something she was looking at. Her mouth hung open as her striking blue eyes stared blankly.

Sam felt a hand on his shoulder. “Hey, man. Don’t listen to her. She’s not what’s important right now. She will only slow you down.”

He turned around. A young man who appeared to be of about the same age stared back at him. He had straight, dirty blonde hair that dangled loosely in front of his eyes. It was oddly well matched with the rugged white T-shirt he was wearing that had no sleeves. A glowing Triskell made three inwardly rotating spirals on his right shoulder, which seemed to correlate with a ring he wore on his right hand.

“Who are you?” Sam asked boldly.

“My name is Rex, God of the Universe and all that is in it.” He paused thoughtfully. “Your life is a disaster, Sam. You’re falling apart more and more with every passing minute that you’re alive.”

“Yeah, I know that. What’s it to you, God?” His voice was tainted with bitter sarcasm.

“I can save you.” Rex outstretched his hand in a waving motion. “All you have to do is hand your life over to me.”

Sam smiled. “As I said a second ago, what’s it to you?”

“Nothing. As I said, I’m God of the Universe. My job is to ensure order and stability, and no offense, but you’re a piece of work.”

“Well thanks. Um, look, God-of-the-universe…how about you give me some time to think about it. We can make buddies till then, ‘kay?”

Rex extended his hand. “Wanna shake hands on it?”

“Sure.”

The two shook hands. A tingling sensation went up Sam’s arm the moment their skin made contact.

“So…” Sam looked around. “What exactly is this place anyway?”

“This is your life and all the memories in it. Everything you’ve ever known resides in this city. All the corpses are people that have either abandoned you or you left them in search for something better. Welcome to Carson City,” He took a step back and bowed, placing his right hand over his sternum. “where you are the king.”

There was silence for almost half a minute. Finally Sam spoke up. “I can’t be a king! I’m just a lousy college student who hates life.”

Rex deeply inhaled the stale air. “Just look around you, Sam. This whole place revolves around you. Isn’t that what you’ve always wanted?”

“Everyone’s dead.”

“No. Only the ones you see here…the ones that don’t matter to you in the first place.” He put his arm around Sam’s shoulders and started walking. “Come on. Some things are better understood when you can see them with your own eyes.”

When Sam glanced back at the street lamp it had dimmed to where it was giving off almost no light. Brandy was nowhere to be seen.

 

***

 

They walked for what seemed to be several miles. With the city buildings behind them, they stood upon a grassy hill overlooking a massive army. Sam couldn’t tell exactly what the soldiers looked like, but as a whole they formed a giant brown mass on a large plain that seemed to expand forever off into the distance.

“These are the new occupiers of your city,” Rex said. “They will bring you fortune and riches of all kinds.” He then chuckled, switching to a mocking tone. “I like to call them the Salvation Army.”

“An army,” Sam said, bewildered.

“Yes. One more powerful than you have ever seen. But before you receive them, you must recognize me for who I am.”

Sam nodded and slipped his hands into the pockets of his jacket. “All right.”

“Know that I am God.”

All of a sudden Brandy appeared next to them. She looked at Sam. “Run. You need to run, Sam. Run for your life.”

“She’s only keeping you from understanding the truth. You can’t listen to her!” Rex took a step closer to Sam. His voice took on a deeply harsh, raspy tone. “Kill her. Kill her now or be a failure forever.”

“What?” He looked back and forth between his love and his new god.

Fire spew forth from Rex’s eyes. “I’ll help you.” He then turned to the army, raising his voice so it could be heard throughout the land. Every syllable of his battle cry sent flames from his tongue. “Army of the spirit prince of the Kingdom of Persia! I hereby set you against this city, o’ City of Carson! Power for power, spirit for prince! I now send this battle commenced!”

A vicious roar came from the army as it charged. The ground shook beneath their feet. Sam looked at Brandy and saw tears form in her eyes. “Run!!!” she screamed.

Sam had seen enough. He turned and bolted in the direction of the city. His legs moved fast – faster than they had ever moved before.

 

***

 

With the Army of the spirit prince of the Kingdom of Persia surrounding Carson City, Sam had no way to escape. He looked around, desperate for an option. There was a large tower in the center of the city square. A door.

He ran over and tried to turn the knob. It was locked. Helplessly he stood there, not knowing what to do. The crash of a glass window breaking echoed down a nearby street. There was movement. Fast movement.

Then it was there. Right in front of him stood one of the soldiers, staring back with blood red eyes. It had brown hair all over its body, yet its thick neck was long and bare. Its head was unusually small and pink-colored, smiling with long, terrifying white teeth. “Get out of my way.”

Sam stepped aside.

The creature – or soldier – whatever it was leaped at a nearby corpse and sank its sharp teeth into her abdomen. Partially coagulated blood spilled onto the street. The stench was nauseating.

Another bite. The creature tore through what had at one time been Sam’s youngest sister – the one who always sided with his parents when they got themselves into mischief.

“Stopit!” he yelled.

“Don’t even bother!” came a raspy voice from a different direction. It was Rex. He was carrying a dagger in his right hand. “It’s all over. You’re mine now.”

When Sam saw him he knew time was running out. He looked at the door to the tower and thrust all his weight into it, knocking it off its rusty hinges with his left foot.

Up the tower he climbed. In the darkness the air was damp and had a musty smell to it. Finally at the top he came to a closed wooden door. It opened. He closed it behind him and tested the lock, making sure it worked by jiggling the knob a couple times.

He turned to examine the room. There was no other exit aside from the single open window in the corner, but that only led to the soldiers on the ground outside. He was trapped.

The GPS. Sam pulled it out of his coat pocket. The menu was still there, awaiting a new destination.

All of a sudden he was thrown into the wall by what seemed to be an invisible force, knocking the GPS out of his hand. Rex stood over him with the dagger and laughed. “You’re pathetic.”

“Why are you doing this?” Sam pleaded.

“I’m God. I can do whatever I want.”

“You are not God.”

Rex pinned him down, firmly pressing the dagger against his throat. “Oh I am.”

In a last attempt for freedom, Sam grabbed Rex’s wrist holding the weapon and punched him in the nose as hard as he could. There was no effect.

“You belong to me, Sam. All hope for you is lost.” He then snarled angrily. “And you will now worship me as God!” He lifted the dagger and directed it toward Sam’s heart.

As Rex moved for the kill, Sam slapped the GPS that had been lying just within arm’s reach. For once, luck sided with him. He had hit Destination 2.

 

Destination 2: The Goldens at the Edge of all things

 

            The disorientation didn’t matter to him. He was just glad to be out of there, away from Rex and his army of destruction.

            Sam looked around, but could see nothing. Deep blackness like he had never experienced before was the only thing he could identify. Another noticeable factor: there was no gravity.

            He was just about to select Destination 3 when a man appeared off in the distance. The only reason he could see him was because of the glowing aura that seemed to radiate off his skin.

The man jumped, sending a massive shockwave outward from his feet.

            Stars formed in every direction in space as soil and rock took form beneath their feet, held together by nothing more than gravity. It was all flat, the surface of an expressionless brown planet at the edge of the universe.

The man then turned and walked over to Sam. With a pointed finger he spoke firmly, “Who do you think I am?”

            “What?” Sam asked defensively.

            “Who is it you think I am that I need you!” he thundered.

            “I don’t understand!” Sam was frightened at this point. The man was so intimidating that it made him nearly collapse onto the ground.

            “Watch.” He then put his hands onto the soft dirt and shook it up and down as if it were an old rug that needed dusting off. As he tossed it up and down, the surface of the planet wrinkled with mountains and diverse terrain. He slowly exhaled his breath over the surface, which immediately sprang with life that was perhaps more beautiful than anything on Earth. “Now do you understand, son of man?”

            “Son of man?”

            “It’s what you are. It’s all you are. You are nothing more than the son of another man.”

            Sam suddenly felt worthless and insignificant. Nothing he could possibly ever do could make a difference to who he now realized was standing in front of him. "You…you’re…you’re either God or Jesus…or the same thing…who are you?”

            The man nodded. “Go on. Say what you know in your heart is the truth.”

            “You…are…” It was hard to breathe the words. “The Son of God.” He wasn’t sure how he even realized that. Perhaps it was just something that he as a human being knew. “You’re God, King of the Universe.” Suddenly he was petrified with fear. He yanked out the GPS in an attempt to try to leave, but when he pressed Destination 3, the words No Access appeared again. He frantically pressed Destination 1, where Rex and his army had tried to murder him, but the same thing happened again. He wasn’t going anywhere.

            “Why do you keep trying to run from me when you know I am Truth?”

            “I’ve cursed you my entire life!” Sam cried. “And I deserve to be destroyed for it!”

            “That you do. There is a harsh penalty for the things you’ve done against me.”

            “What is it?” He dreaded the answer, but felt he had no choice but to ask. “What’s my penalty?”

            The Lord waited a moment to answer him, as if it pained him to say it. “The penalty for your actions is death…not just death on Earth, but also for your very soul. The penalty is your utter destruction.”

            Tears streamed down the once proud human’s face as he began to fall apart with hopelessness. “Oh, God, no. Oh, God…Oh, God…Oh my God, no.” But he was still there. Still alive.

            “It’s time for you to see your penalty.”

            There was no choice. Suddenly the two were at Brandy’s house, in her bedroom. She was there, but didn’t seem to be able to see them. She was talking to herself.

            Sam suddenly realized she was praying.

            “Oh, Lord. Please reveal yourself and your greatness to Sam. He needs you so much. Do it for my sake. I love him, oh Father God. I love him. Come into his life like he never believed you would. Erase what the enemy has done to him. Make him like a new person.”

            A knot formed in Sam’s throat as he thought about how bitter he had been towards her for trying to ‘convert’ him, as Zack had so bluntly put it. In reality she had been trying to save him. She had been willing to sacrifice everything just to see him know God for who he was. Her love for him that inspired her desperate prayers was overwhelming. It was nothing Sam had ever believed could exist within another human being.

            “Sam,” the Lord said. “She is one of my own. I have adopted her and made her my daughter. Do you know what that means?”

            Sam didn’t know what to say, but remained speechless.

            “It means she is the Princess of the Universe. Everything in my Kingdom – I have given her power over it because she was made royalty. There have been many prayers like these prayed over you. Open your eyes, Sam, and see what army fills her life.”

            Bright objects appeared all in the room and outside her window. They had brilliant wings and gold hair, wearing white garments with gleaming swords strapped to their waists. They sang with their voices reaching out over all creation and into the very gates of Heaven. “Oh, Praise the Lord! God of all things and who is the most holy of everything!” It was beautiful, easily outsounding the best music Sam had ever heard in his entire life.

            In an instant they were back at the newly formed planet. Its sun was rising off in the horizon, casting an orange haze over the surface.

            The Lord looked at Sam. “Do you understand now?”

            He wanted with all his heart to say yes, but he still wasn’t sure. “I think I do.” His voice was nervous.

            “Then it is time for you to see your penalty.” He took off the upper portion of his robe, revealing deep wounds all over his torso. Pieces of glass and rock protruded from several of them, along with a gaping hole that ran across his side. There was a hole in each of his wrists and his two feet. “Look.” A vision appeared before them. It was Jesus, hanging from a wooden cross, barely recognizable as the same man who stood next to Sam.

            “Oh no.”

            “You now understand.”

            Sam nodded. With astonishment, he took hold of the fact that the vision before him was his penalty. The King of the Universe had taken his place, spared him from the destruction which he so rightly deserved. It was unfair, yet somehow still Truth. “That’s…you. And my penalty.”

            “Yes,” the Lord said quietly. “All you have to do now is believe and give me your life, and you will be made like Brandy. A prince in the Kingdom of God.” He paused. “And my very own son.”

            “I’d like that.” It wasn’t a selfish desire, but the Lord had died for him. It was already done, and it couldn’t be wasted. His death couldn’t be for nothing. “You died for me.” Remorsefully he then said, “I want to be part of what you do.”

            “Then say with your mouth that I am Lord.”

            “You are Lord.”

            “Now believe it with your heart because I have given you the power to do so.”

            “After all I’ve seen, there’s no way I can deny it. I also recant my belief that there’s no such thing as a loving God. You died for me.”

            With a rushing wind, something took hold of the inside of Sam. What was it? Peace? Yes, it was that, but also something else. Something…alive. Something beautiful and good in every way.”

            “You now have my Spirit inside you. Now live, my son! Wake up and become alive!”

            With that Sam burst with so much energy that he began to hover above the ground. He roared with a Warrior’s Spirit, which shook the planet with a powerful quake. “I’m going to take back Carson City, in the Name of the Lord!” Fire sprang from his hands and feet. “I proclaim that my life will forevermore be for God…the mighty King of the Universe!”

            “Yes!” the Lord exclaimed happily. “Yes, Sam! Yes! That’s good! He then became bright like a star. Almighty power burst forth, pushing the trees and other vegetation aside to form a giant grassy plain.

Then he began to dance. It was a pattern like nothing that existed on Earth. A swift back and forth motion filled with perfect energy. Music beat forth as God threw his hands forward, a million lifeless, angelic soldiers appearing out of thin air to fill the plain. “O’ GOLDENS, LIVE! I COMMAND YOU TO LIVE!!!”

            They suddenly stood up, their shuffling making the planet shake like a house in the path of a tornado. Then they began to dance with him, throwing their forms in one direction, then another, then yet another. It was spectacular in its holy magnificence. “For the King!” they shouted. “For the King!”

            Several minutes later it all stopped. The newly formed Goldens – or angels – whatever they were, drew their swords with a loud scraping sound and held them before their faces. It was their form of attention.

            The Lord God then turned to Sam. “You may now press Destination 3. It will take you back to your city where the enemy hoard now resides. Rex will be upon you just as he was when you left, but you mustn’t worry or be afraid. I will go with you, and with me you’re invincible.”

            “Thank you. I don’t know what to say.”

            “It’s okay, you’re not expected to say anything. I know your heart. Now go, my warrior, Prince of the Kingdom of God. With my power, make Rex bleed.”

            Sam pulled the GPS out of his pocked and pressed Destination 3. This time it didn’t refuse him.

 

Destination 3: The Battle for Samuel Carson

 

       Carson City. The room at the top of the tower. Rex stood above Sam with the dagger as if no time had passed at all.

“You belong to me, Sam. All hope for you is lost.” He then snarled angrily. “And you will now worship me as God!” He lifted the dagger and directed it toward Sam’s heart.

            As Rex moved for the kill, Sam started laughing. The dagger slid down the side of his chest, unable to penetrate the skin that may as well have been made of steel.

            “What? Impossible!” Rex shrieked.

            Sam stood up, his hands and feet now like fire just as they had been earlier when he stood before God. “Guess what, Rex?”

The Holy Spirit then blasted him across the room so hard that he tore through the wall and fell to the street below. All the enemy soldiers below stared in bewilderment.

            Sam stepped through the fresh hole and gracefully jumped down to the ground, a height of about three stories. He picked up Rex by his shirt and threw him into the nearest skyscraper, which then collapsed on top of him, sending gray dust in every direction.

            The army lunged toward him, but just like their leader, they couldn’t touch him. Sam couldn’t help but smile.

In the crowd of enemy, he picked out the one that had eaten the corpse of his younger sister. “Spit her back up.” The soldier then threw up on the ground, his vomit then reassembling itself back into the corpse it had once been.

            Suddenly the clouds rolled back to allow sunlight to reflect off the Carson Skyline. Although empty and broken, the buildings seemed to stand a little taller, as if hope had finally reached their rooftops.

            The army turned away from Sam and scurried into the structures. Soon he was the only one on the street, feeling a thousand eyes from all the windows. It occurred to him that they were perhaps afraid of all the warm sunlight. He smiled as a fresh breeze replaced the stale air from before.

            A crackling sound, followed by something like thunder. Three of the skyscrapers suddenly fell to the ground. Sam felt a sharp pain in his side. When he grasped it with his hand, he felt something sticky. Blood.

            More buildings began to fall. He fell to his knees in agony. They’re destroying the city!

            Sam cried out desperately. “Lord, God! Where are you?” His savior had told him not to be afraid when he arrived at his destination to face Rex – that he would be right there with him. But the King was nowhere to be seen. Sam could perceive no evidence of his Creator. “Where are you?”

            Everything went black, but he wasn’t unconscious. Panic nearly overtook Sam – he was blind. He could feel the reoccurring presence of the enemy surrounding him. “Oh, God! Save me!”

            “Look at me,” said a familiar voice.

            Sam turned to the sound and opened his eyes. He rubbed them with his hands as light filled his vision. “Oh thank God, I can see.” His breath escaped his lungs with relief. “What happened?”

            “You tried to rely on your own strength.”

            “The city. It’s almost nothing but rubble! Only a couple buildings are still standing!”

            “If you place yourself in my hands and let me take the pain, your city will be restored.”

            Sam nodded. “Please. Just take it all.”

            He instantly felt peace. He watched as the Lord raised his hands, as if lifting a box to be placed onto a shelf.

            The debris arose from the streets and reformed the buildings they once were. The very foundations of Carson City moaned with stress. An oddly controlled chaos occurred all around them as everything fell into place.

            “All done,” the Lord said with a smile.         

Sam turned his head to look in every direction, taking everything in as fast as his mind would allow. Utter awe and surprise filled his thoughts. The city was…beautiful. The streets were smooth and clean. The buildings shone with glamour as if they were built by the designers of Heaven themselves. The trees and other decorative plantlife that ran along the street medians were in full bloom, ready to spawn fresh life in their seasons. It was almost too much.

A gentle hand pinched him on the shoulder. He turned to set his eyes on her. “Brandy,” he whispered.

“Sam, this is remarkable! The change here – I can’t even begin to describe how happy and proud I am of you!”

“The soldiers are still here.” It was all he knew to say. “I can feel them.”

The King looked up at the buildings and yelled, “Come out! All of you! Stand before your Maker, you rebellious curse!”

It was only a matter of minutes before every single one of them was back onto the streets, all terrified to the point where they could do nothing but kneel low to the ground – something Sam didn’t believe was even possible.

“Now get out of here,” the Lord commanded.

Sam looked at Brandy. “He’s not gonna kill them?”

“Just watch.”

The army hurried and massed themselves in the plain outside the city. Jesus stood with Brandy and Sam on the hill that overlooked them – the same hill that Rex had made his battle cry before Sam was saved.

A dark cloud formed over the enemy. Lightning burst downward, striking individual soldiers as if they were nothing more than target practice. As each one hit, its victim exploded into flames, collapsing to the ground only a moment later.

“I now call on my Goldens to fill the skies and overtake this demon army!” the Lord yelled.

Like a swarm they came out of nowhere, swords drawn. Ten legions of them, all over the plain that was now a gigantic battlefield. Half of them landed for up close combat, while the others remained in the air – some swooping down to pull enemy soldiers hundreds of feet into the air only to drop them into a bursting pile of flesh, and some throwing their swords into ground targets.

In a matter of minutes the fight was over, the battlefield a nasty combination of brown and red. The Goldens disappeared off into the sky.

The trio of observers walked back into the city. Upon reaching the square with the tower, a voice called from behind them.

“I told you, you’re mine. I own you!” It was Rex. He was walking toward them quickly, his gate filled with rage. In his right hand, he tightly clenched the dagger. He looked like he was ready to use it.

The Lord stepped in between his two followers and Rex. “You know I paid the price for him fair and square. His life belongs to me now.”

Rex angrily threw his dagger into the ground. He knew he had been beaten. “Fine. But this isn’t over. I’ll see you at the valley of Armageddon.” With that he disappeared into orange flames.

 

***

 

            After walking around the city, the Lord seemed sad to see all the corpses lying around. Sam pleaded with him to raise them back to life, but his only response was, “These are for you to fight for on Earth. I cannot force them back into your life, however I can give you a clean slate.”

            With that the corpses faded until they were all gone, leaving the streets clean and empty.

            “I placed Brandy in your life to raise you from the dead. Now I want you to do the same for the corpses that were here.”

            “How do I do that?”

            “Only with my strength alone can you hope to achieve such things. Pray for them. Seek them out. Do all these things as I call on you to do it. I will teach you how to listen for my voice.”

            The tower in the city square suddenly grew into a giant silver building that reached high above all the others and into the clouds.

            The Lord nodded his head toward it. “That is my temple – the heart of your city. Because of it, I will always reside here with you, never abandoning you or leaving you to die in the face of danger.”

            Sam bowed his head. “I can’t express how honored I am.”

            “Go now. Press Destination 4 and take part in the greatest war of all time.”

            He quietly pulled his GPS out of his coat pocket and obeyed.

 

Destination 4: The Battle for Planet Earth

 

A church. God’s own house of prayer and worship. One hundred fifty-seven believers sat in the congregation listening to the words spoken from the pulpit.

Satan took a seat in one of the back pews, wearing a new disguise. He watched intently as the pastor spoke of something the Lord had done during the past week. The congregation cheered with delight. The Holy Spirit seemed to dwell strongly in this place.

There was a nonbeliever in the back, just ever so close to being convinced to accept Christ into his life. The Devil turned to look at him and smiled. Three demons walked into the back door quietly and stood behind him. They made eye-contact with Satan as if awaiting an order from him.

He nodded.

Instantly they entered the nonbeliever’s body and took over as if it were their own. Stealing someone’s physical form wasn’t uncommon as long as they weren’t already occupied with the Spirit of the Lord.

“Hey!” the demon-possessed man yelled at the top of his lungs. His voice was almost strained as the words exited his mouth. “Hey, Pastor Greg! I gots a question for ya!”

As the two men began to shout from across the sanctuary, the Holy Spirit dwelling in the place became quenched. This was due to one reason and one reason alone: the people listened to the man.

Suddenly about fifty more demons poured into the church. They walked around until they had picked out someone they liked, then began to whisper blasphemies into their ears. Doubt filled the minds of these Christians, hurting the very cores of their lives. Hope was being sucked out of them like a parasitic insect eating the slime of a caterpillar’s insides.

People started talking and whispering different things that had just been uttered into their ears. None resisted what was going on. None of them except one young girl in the third pew who refused to give in to the lies that were trying so desperately to invade her mind.

Brandy walked to the podium and tugged at Pastor Greg’s sleeve. “I think we should pray. Something’s happening.”

At first he didn’t say anything. But then he nodded reluctantly, while a demon screamed into his ear to avoid prayer.

They closed their eyes.

“God help me,” Brandy whispered. She then looked up. “In the Name of Jesus!”

Everyone got quiet.

She continued. “I command the enemy to leave this place and everyone in it alone at once!”

The man in the back screamed in agony and passed out. Like a rushing, stale wind, the enemy fled in terror. Satan made sure he was the last to leave, and before he exited he turned and looked Brandy straight in the eye. A murky grin formed across his lips just before he turned his gaze back to the door and left. This had been just the kind of game he enjoyed during his spare time.

 

***

 

            Flash! Sam was suddenly behind the wheel of his Durango, travelling at seventy-five miles per hour. Taking in his bearings nearly cost him his life, because one second he was standing in the middle of Carson City, the next he found himself here.

            The GPS was back in its cradle, displaying a map of all the streets around him as they slid past. Nothing out of the normal was on its screen.

            Sam blinked rapidly a couple times, taking short, panic-filled breaths. His hands were shaking from adrenaline. I’m back.

            Midnight Train to Georgia” was still playing on the radio. He turned it off, deciding he’d rather complete the drive home in silence.

            When he finally pulled into his driveway, Brandy was waiting for him on the front porch. He got out of his car and walked over to her. “Hey, sweetheart. You okay? I wasn’t expecting you.”

            “I was just worried about you. It was just a feeling, but I felt it was a good idea to come see you.”

            Sam pulled her into his arms and grasped her tightly.

            “What’s this all about? Usually I’m the one who shows affection.”

            He let go and then shrugged, a loving smile forming on his face. “I don’t know.” He paused thoughtfully. “Why don’t you come in for a few minutes? Maybe we can sit and talk for a little while.”

            Brandy smiled. “Okay.”

            They walked into his living room and sat down on the couch. Sam grabbed the remote to the television, something he knew he shouldn’t do, but had already hit the power button before realizing that. He was about to apologize and turn it off when something on the news caught his eye.

            “We’d like to bring you this special report of James Walton, the most recent candidate for the primaries of the upcoming Presidential Election. Here he is in New York, giving his first speech live!”

            The camera changed to a man standing behind a podium. To Sam’s horror, he immediately recognized him. It was Rex, only slightly different.

            “Hey I know that guy!”

            Brandy laughed. “Well yeah, he’s one of the candidates.”

            “No.” His voice began to quiver. “I mean I know him. Like in person.”

            “How?”

            Sam suddenly leaned over and kissed her. “Something happened to me on the way home from class that I think you deserve to know about.” He then proceeded to tell her all about what had happened on his journey through the universe.

 

 

 

My biggest inspirations for this short story were: God in all his glory, Brooke Harris, a long hot shower, and a nearly failed humanities test on the day I started writing this, which I was late for because my GPS gave me the wrong directions.

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