Chapter 1: God's Arrow
There was a sharp chill in the late December air as a young girl lay screaming within a hot labour room. Outside, the sky shimmered and sparkled with stars on a moonless night. Only one shone so much brighter than all others as it travelled across the sky, leaving a vapour trail of ice in its wake. The ball of rock and ice had made this journey many times before. Its appearance leading to predictions of greatness to the end of the world it passed. Some may have believed the young girl and its appearance was a mere coincidence.
‘How could a frozen piece of rock have any bearing on anything on earth?’ Some asked.
But there were a few that placed a greater significance in its presence.
The people on the streets below pushed and shoved each other. Arms filled with festive gifts for their loved ones unaware that somewhere in their city an important event was taking place. Setting the ball in motion to change their world forever. For many, they had not even seen the comet that was passing overhead. Maybe some had caught glimpses of a news report, but didn’t care to look up. Not when there was so much to look at on their own level. Lights of varying colour flashing with tacky decorations filling every available space held their attention more than any celestial activity. Why should any of them care when there was food to buy and gifts to wrap. Each individual wrapped up within their own bubble unaware that the safety of such could at any moment burst.
Inside the city hospital, in the best room that could be found, one young girl was fighting for her life. The girl had so much more on her mind than what time of year it was. She didn’t care about tinsel and fairy lights. All she felt was the burning, searing pain that rippled through her body in regular intervals.
A doctor and his midwives tried on vain to relieve her of pain as the room filled with another scream. The girl’s face was red with the strain of pushing. Her face dripping with sweat and tears and her eyes wide with fear.
‘Je veux ma mere,’ she whispered through cracked lips.
The midwife nearest her shook her head as the girl repeated her request more urgently. In sympathy, the midwife placed a wet cloth on her dry lips, but the girl turned away. She didn’t want anything. Just her mother.
Pushing was slowly becoming impossible and with it, as her head rested on the hard bed, came the realisation she was not going to make it. This thing that was ripping its way out of her body was killing her. She’d lost everything because of what grew inside and now she just wanted it to be over.
She would never be home for the festivities. Had anyone even bothered to buy her gifts, knowing the inevitable? If only she'd known last time then maybe she'd have shown more gratitude to her parents. This was her punishment. She'd turned her face away from God and this was his revenge for her being an insolent child. Let it take her if that’s what it wanted. She no longer cared. She was alone anyway. No-one would care once it left her body. That’s all they wanted. She was nothing but a piece of meat to them and she knew it. A spasm of pain caused her to cry out once more.
‘Pousse!’ the midwives encouraged.
She tried with all her being to do what they asked, but she no longer had the strength. Her body was giving up, she was dying and all she wanted was her mother. Just one last time to see her face. Say goodbye even, but that request was not going to happen. She really had been abandoned by everyone.
A car screeched to a halt in the car park of the hospital and a man and woman stepped out. They both hoped they’d made it in time and not missed their chance. It was imperative that what this young girl was preparing to push from her body was never put into the Church's hands. They knew for sure that two priests would be waiting for the cry of a newborn, so they needed to work fast.
Carefully, they made their way through the hospital corridors. The maternity ward sat at the hospital's furthest point and both knew they had little time, but had to show nothing but calm. It was all show and pretense, because they were scared of failure. The Church had found their prophecy and they had theirs. They knew exactly when this night would occur and who the girl would be as had many before them. The knowledge privy to only those chosen and that would never be the Church. They could never have that information.
Full trollies with the sick and infirm lined the corridor walls and both tried to ignore pleas for help. The past month had brought an epidemic of flu to the city and many were falling victim. Almost like a prelude to what was about to happen. It was ironic that what was about to enter the world would be the very thing that could cure this place of all its ailments. Some would be praying to a god that was no longer seated where he should be. Those that died tonight would enter a place that could be just as doomed as the world left. It was a desolate thought, but neither could afford to think on it too much. Time was running out.
Months of planning was finally paying off as neither of them was stopped as they found the lift to the maternity floor. Dressed as though they worked there, they stepped out of the lift and asked the nurse at the desk where the girl was. She pointed down the corridor, but they could already hear the girl’s screams. Seeing the priests with their heads bowed they made their way into the room and waited.
Two priests sat waiting outside the room, their hands clasped in desperate prayer. This night had been prophesised for nearly a millennia and there had been many who’d tried to predict there wheres, whens and hows, but none had come close. That was until ten years previous when two archaeologists employed by the Vatican, found a faded parchment hidden inside a tomb during a dig on a Greek island. The parchment was filled with cryptic symbols and among them was a phrase, which once translated both excited and chilled the Christian church.
‘First comes the darkness as the world started, followed by the light that the Lord commanded.’
Officials of the Vatican went into overdrive as they tried to make sense of what the parchment meant. All they could make out from the symbols and the phrase was that both light and darkness would be brought forth from a pure force and a symbol of a star gave them the clue they needed, telling them that when the time came the gods would send an arrow across the sky. Using astrologers, they were able to see that a comet would pass the earth within the decade.
Years passed and the Church waited for the pure force and soon one came. A parish priest from a small village in the northern regions of France came to them with a story of a young teenage girl who claimed that she was untouched, yet discovered pregnant. She’d sworn on her bible there had been no intercourse and doctors agreed was intact and still a virgin. The Pope ordered totally secrecy and the girl was flown to Rome to be checked. It was only when a scan showed she was expecting twins that the Vatican realised for sure that this girl was the purity which would bring forth the darkness and light. Only a select few were allowed to be involved with the girl and her family, and the priests who now sat outside the labour room had been two of those few.
They were both sat anxiously waiting for the first newborn to cry. The orders were clear; kill the firstborn, as the first was the darkness that would plague the world as the Anti-Christ. The priests knew that this night would impact the world as a whole, Christian or not. Their Church was on the brink of collapse as more and more people were choosing other ways to worship, and at last they would now have the proof that their doctrine was the true path.
Both men were deep in their thoughts and not noticed that the screams had now ceased. Jumping up in panic they ran towards the labour room. As they pushed through the door they crossed themselves in horror. The room looked like a torture chamber, the scent of blood and fluids were so strong they could taste it. Its victim being unhooked from the machines and covered over. The poor girl was no more than a child and they could not help but shed a tear for her. Then they realised with horror that the cots were empty. They had failed.
Two doctors hurried through the winding corridors of the hospital carrying what looked like a bundle of blue scrubs. The female of the two glanced quickly behind her nervously, hoping that she and her husband would not be discovered. They reached the long corridor that they had passed earlier and it erupted into chaos as every patient began to throw themselves from where they were laid or sat. Screaming as if in pain. Medics came running out to see what had caused the commotion, but the husband and wife knew as they continued out in a desperate hurry.
Soon the exit came into sight and as they ran through the doors the cold night air slapped them in the face causing them to suck in their breath. Reaching the car park they finally came to a stop. They both looked down at their bundles and found themselves lost in the warmth of the babies’ new born eyes. They could not help but smile. The presence coming from the babes was so magnetic that it became apparent that they would both find it difficult to separate. These two children would never know each other or know the other existed. This would be the last time they would be together as siblings.
The woman looked up at her husband and found herself swallowing tears. They had been together for so long and he always made her feel safe. His build was sturdy and his height seemed to tower over everyone, although his heart was as soft as butter, and the thought of leaving him tore at her insides. But it needed to be done. This was their sacrifice to the world. All they were doing was to save a world that threatened to let its dogma destroy them. They would take a child each and separate them until the world was ready to embrace their future.