Hurricane Heidi is going down as one of, if not, the deadliest hurricanes ever to hit the United States of America. The United States Weather Bureau predicted it would be and it was. Property devastation is massive
with an estimated damage over forty billion dollars. Because of its gentle topography, the city’s run off systems were not able to handle the storm surge and severe flooding occurred. People who live along the shore communities no longer have a place to live leaving millions homeless. And even people who live inland were hit hard too. The storm’s blowing winds tore most structures apart, huge waves created floods that reached miles inland, and power was knocked out for days causing food to spoil and people to get sick. Casualties are in the thousands and hundreds of people lost their lives. Hospitals and medical facilities are past their capacity. There is death and destruction everywhere you go along the eastern coast. Morales are already low and to make matters worse, people are allowed to take only five hundred dollars a week from banking institutions. Many banks are closed which is creating long lines at the ATM machines and gas stations. There are also long lines for the stores that are brave enough to remain open. It actually seems like the apocalypse is occurring and this is what Chasity and her family walk into when they venture outside the day after the storm.
Chasity is holding Caitlin’s hand and the Bible is clutched tightly to her chest. Harry is holding his son’s hand as they walk amongst others who also had to leave their apartments. The streets are filled
with zombie looking people, some which are walking around aimlessly, some are pushing and fighting to get to ATMs, some are shoving each other either into stores or out of stores, while others have the nerve to be ripping people off of their food and money. This is what the Cromwells see as they try to make sense of what’s happening around them. Chasity and her family are shocked for she has never seen such devastation from a storm in her whole life. Tree limbs are strewn all over and trees are knocked down. Car windows are broken which has sent glass everywhere, and some cars are flipped on their sides. And standing right there in the middle of the block, Chasity begins to preach, Harry interrupts her saying, “Chasity, please be careful because it’s not the same out here anymore. Just look at these people, they look lost”. “I know, that’s why I have to preach because they need it!”, she says with a gleam in her eyes. And Harry knows there’s no stopping his wife when she gets that gleam in her eyes, so he once again says, “just be careful”, as he instructs their children to stay with their mom. He then fights his way through the people and tries to get the food and money they need.
With her children by her side, Chasity stands in her spot, opens up her Bible and begins preaching. She starts by shouting Timothy 2 Chapter 3, “This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, Without natural affection, truce-breakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good. Traitors, heady, high-minded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away”. A group is now gathered around Chasity listening to her preach for some know her from the church they all attend not too far from here. It is the same church which she and Harry have gone to since they were children and some are familiar with the Cromwells. Most shout, “preach on for we need this now”. While others yell profanity at her saying, “shut up, you religious freak”.
Chasity ignores the cursers and continues to preach, ”heed these warning signs that the Lord is showing us. And this is only the beginning for the mark of the beast is also coming and whatever you do, do not take its mark. Revelation 13: 11-18 says, “And I beheld another beast coming up out of the earth; and he had two horns like a lamb, and he spake as a dragon. And he exerciseth all the power of the first beast before him, and causeth the earth and them which dwell therein to worship the first beast, whose deadly wound was healed. And he doeth great wonders, so that he maketh fire come down from heaven on the earth in the sight of men, and deceiveth them that dwell on the earth by the means of those miracles which he had power to do in the sight of the beast; saying to them that dwell on the earth, that they should make an image to the beast, which had a wound of a sword, and did live. And he had power to give life unto the image of the beast, that the image of the beast should both speak, and cause that as many as would not worship the image of the beast should be killed. And he causeth all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, to receive a mark in their right hand, or in their foreheads. And that no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name. Here is wisdom. Let him that hath understanding count the number of the beast: for it is the number of a man; and his number is Six hundred threescore and six”. When she tries to continue, a brawly looking policeman appears from out of nowhere and irritatingly yells, “ma’am, I already have my hands full, you have to stop this now! I need these people to clear out of here!’ He then says to the people who have gathered around to hear Chasity preach, “okay, let’s break this up. Everyone has to move along, let’s go”. Two more officers come and assist in dispersing the small crowd. Harry comes along at that very moment and says, “officers, I’m so sorry this is my wife and kids and they are waiting for me to return”. “Yeah, well, you need to take them home!”, says one of the other officers. “I will sir”. And with that, Harry escorts his family to their building.
The supplies that Harry is able to procure are getting less and less each time he goes out for them. They’ll share whatever they can with Gladys and her children, but it’s not much. Harry knows that the Lord will provide for them, but this does not stop him from worrying. He’s not sure when he will return to work, food is becoming scarce, and money harder to obtain. Anyway they don’t have much money left in the bank to get. Many church members are relaying their worries and fears to them too. Some of them said as much when they stopped to hear Chasity preach. He’s glad that one of the church members gave him two buckets and they stood on line to get water from a fire hydrant. Most of the food in the fridge and freezer spoiled and they don’t have many nonperishables, so they are low on provisions. He says this to Chasity as they approach their apartment. Gladys hears them and comes out of her apartment intercepting them. Harry hands her a bucket saying, “Gladys, I wasn’t able to get much this time, but here’s a bucket of water for you and your kids”. “Thanks Harry and Chas, I’m grateful for everything you guys do”. Chasity hugs her friend and says, “Gladys be strong for things are gonna get harder. I’ll be praying for you and the kids”. And with that, she, Harry, and their children go into their apartment and close the door.
Gladys stands there with a weird and confused look on her face for a few seconds before going into her own apartment and closing the door. She’s a little bewildered about how her friend acted and this is what she’s contemplating as she brings the bucket of water into the kitchen. She splits the water up into two large pots, one for the bathroom and the other for the kitchen. She then pours some of the water into an even smaller pot and puts that on the stove to boil. She uses the hot water to wash her hands and some dishes, and then makes peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for she and her kids to eat. They have been very somber and quiet. She was hoping that Chasity would have asked them to join she and her family, but instead, her friend seemed to have been writing her off. This is not like her at all. The Cromwells have always been a rock for her to lean on during hard
and trying times, but now that seems to be waning. She hopes that’s not the case because she doesn’t know what she’ll do without them, especially, now.
Chasity sighs as she does the same exact thing that Gladys did with her water. The only difference is that instead of making peanut butter and jelly, she makes tuna fish sandwiches for lunch and dinner. She calls her family to the table, and tells them to use the hot water in the container that’s in the kitchen sink to wash their hands before sitting down to eat. She says a prayer and they all eat in silence. Only after their food is finished do they talk. And as always, she begins the conversation saying, “Harry, I found my friend, Asia’s mother’s phone number in one of my old phone books. I’m going to try calling her tomorrow”. “Maybe you should try to call her this evening, while the battery to your phone is still up. We don’t really know what’s gonna happen”. “You’re right”, she responds back. Caitlin and Jacob are just as somber and quiet as Gladys’ kids, and they remain silent throughout their parent’s conversation. They go to their room and lie down even though it is only midafternoon.
With the piece of paper where she wrote down Asia’s mother’s phone number in her hand, Chasity first says a prayer and then punches up the numbers she found, into her phone, and listens to it ring. It rings ten times until the answering machine clicks in and she hears, “this is the Halt’s residence and we are not able to come to the phone at this time. Please leave a message and we’ll get back to you”. Chasity says into her phone, “Hi, my name is Chasity Cromwell and I’m an old friend and I’m trying to reach your daughter, Asia. Please let her know and my number is….”. Chasity leaves her number and prays that Asia is notified. Right now all she can do is leave it in God’s hands. And then, like her children, she too lays down for the evening and goes to sleep. As soon as she falls asleep, Chasity begins having the Mark of the Beast nightmare. She hasn’t had this dream in over a year, and now its back. This time, she’s conversing with Asia, and Asia is now talking back to her. In the dream, she’s screaming, “Asia, we can
beat this thing together, But I need your help!” And Asia is screaming back, “Chasity, you have my help! I’ll do anything I can for you and your family”. Chasity smiles in her dream and in real life.
Harry is watching his wife in her sleep and sees her smile. He hopes, no, not just hopes, but knows it means something good. He didn’t get a chance to question her about the phone call to Asia, but he suspects it’s good. This calms his soul and he too falls into a deep and satisfying sleep where he dreams of being in the mountains. There are hundreds of trees and greenery all around him. He breathes in, and fresh clean air gushes into his, Chasity, and their kid’s lungs. The sun is shining bright and the sky is a lovely blue color. Caitlin and Jacob are running around happily playing with children they’ve never seen before, yet they are more than happy, they are ecstatic. There’s fresh clean water and plenty of food to eat. They seem to not have a care in the world when all of a sudden the environment changes. The atmosphere becomes dark and foreboding, and this putrid smell comes from out of nowhere. The stench is so horrible that it almost makes him vomit. He actually puts his hand over his mouth in his sleep to keep from throwing up. Chasity and his kids race past him ducking and dodging these sharp objects. When he turns to see what they are running away from, he wakes up sweating.