Citizen Journalism with a Better Flavor
Volume XI, Issue XVII
Hear my prayer, O Lord, and give ear unto my cry; hold not thy peace at my tears: for I am a stranger with thee, and a sojourner, as all my fathers were. O spare me, that I may recover strength, before I go hence, and be no more." --Psalm 39:12,13
Days stretched into months. Time lost its meaning in the sameness of the work and weather. The highway patrol force was enjoying the labor that Fred gave them, so there was no great hurry in their minds to send him on ‘the way of the goat.’ In the bleak sameness of his routine, Fred’s soul was stirred to great imaginings. Though there was no hope of escape, there was a hope that always arrived just in time to fight back the demons of despair.
Trucks rolled by. There were few cars now and most of the convoys were military. Fred saw that there was little likelihood of escape. The drivers were closely watched and most of the private loads were sealed. There was simply no place to slip out of sight and ride away.
Then one day a local came through with a canvas topped truck carrying boxes of food and such. The agents detained the driver as his paperwork was out of order and he was crossing into their sector. As a bit of haggling over the bribe amount took place, Fred saw his chance. His captors were deep in discussion, arms waving and voices loud, as Fred slipped into the back. He had no idea if this would work, but he decided to go for it. There was a bit of space in the haphazard jumble of containers that just might work and Fred eased himself into the void.
The haggling droned on. “Whatever these guys were angling for, it must be good.” Fred thought to himself. Eventually it appeared that a deal was cast and Fred’s two captors appeared presently at the back of the truck with the driver. A large box was wrestled off of the truck and the agents strained to carry it to the customs house as the driver sped off.
How far would this ride take him and would he ever find friendly help? That was something Fred could not know, but his instinct had brought him this far. The honorable art of striking a deal had consumed three men’s attention when he was most vulnerable. He had not been captured. Fred found himself praying, asking God to help and direct him. For the time being he bounced along on what turned out to be a very long ride.
Then, just as the truck pulled through a checkpoint on the border of the Russian Federation, there was mechanical trouble. The border agents obviously knew this guy and waved him along so that he could get some help. The agents didn’t want to deal with a disabled truck so they performed a rather perfunctory inspection and let it go. There was an Intercontinental Logistics bunkhouse and service compound 40 kilometers in and if the driver reached it, there was a mechanic’s shop that might give him some honest help.
The wheezing diesel chugged its way into the lights of the compound and the driver began pleading his case. Fred decided this might be a good place to make his move and when he saw his opening he slipped out of the truck and around to the back of the driver’s mess. There were some Russian cooks there talking with the manager in English. Fred quietly approached the kitchen door. One of the cooks was reading something aloud in his broken English and Fred listened in thankful astonishment:
Therefore, since Christ suffered in his body, arm yourselves also with the same attitude, because whoever suffers in the body is done with sin. As a result, they do not live the rest of their earthly lives for evil human desires, but rather for the will of G-d. For you have spent enough time in the past doing what pagans choose to do—living in debauchery, lust, drunkenness, orgies, carousing and detestable idolatry. They are surprised that you do not join them in their reckless, wild living, and they heap abuse on you. But they will have to give account to him who is ready to judge the living and the dead. For this is the reason the gospel was preached even to those who are now dead, so that they might be judged according to human standards in regard to the body, but live according to G-d in regard to the spirit.
The end of all things is near. Therefore be alert and of sober mind so that you may pray. Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of G-d’s grace in its various forms. If anyone speaks, they should do so as one who speaks the very words of G-d. If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength G-d provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen.
Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice inasmuch as you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed. If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed, for the Spirit of glory and of G-d rests on you. If you suffer, it should not be as a murderer or thief or any other kind of criminal, or even as a meddler. However, if you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name. For it is time for judgment to begin with G-d’s household; and if it begins with us, what will the outcome be for those who do not obey the gospel of G-d? And,
If it is hard for the righteous to be saved,
what will become of the ungodly and the sinner?”
So then, those who suffer according to God’s will should commit themselves to their faithful Creator and continue to do good.” – 1 Peter 4
I’m sure the ICL employees who jumped at Fred’s arrival at the door were momentarily convinced that they were about to see that passage play out in their own lives, for what they were doing was indeed something not encouraged by Worldstate. Fred introduced himself and it was soon clear that all of them were trying to learn the more perfect way.
Sergy, Peter and Vladimir were their names. They had found a well-word ‘Guide to Priscilla and Aquilla’ in a missing comrade’s belongings and in spite of the official decree that all such materials were to be turned in to the authorities, they were sharing it.
Sergy told Fred their story after the shock of their first meeting, and Fred’s admission that he too was studying ‘the way.’ They had put the pieces together in their mind after the Russian Federation President had gone missing during the disappearances. The man had been raised by an atheist KGB grandfather but had shamelessly embraced his Orthodox heritage after finding his Grandmother’s Bible. That story, though Worldstate Media was suppressing it, had spread like wildfire. All the filter algorithms in the world could not stop the power of friend telling friend face-to-face.
Indeed, Worldstate’s promise of fulfillment through government policy rang hollow with anyone who was familiar with the history of the old Soviet Union and here were three men, not scholars, but men with eyes open, who dared to believe in fulfillment beyond this life. “We don’t know if there are many of us,” Sergy continued, “But we listen to the drivers and it seems there is a gathering of like-minded disciples up at ‘the bridge.’ By design we don’t have contacts but it seems likely that the same guidance that brought you to us will serve to take you to them.
Every week there is a small van that carries paperwork and some supplies from ICL central offices in Wales, in the Alaskan Republic. Sometimes the driver is a man we know, who is with us. Perhaps he could take you closer to your home. There is a problem in that you have no papers, but we will have to give you an identity if we can find someone who looks like you in the ranks of our employees who have disappeared.”
We have done that before,” Peter added. “We believe the man got as far as Diomede.”
Peter referred here to the island along the bridge where one first came into America from Asia. The evacuated tube trains were not passing straight through anymore as Worldstate had established her new capital in the Alaskan Republic. They monitored their borders closely.
Take a look at the ‘new you!’” said Vladimir as he handed Fred the mirror. Fred stared in stunned silence at the change rendered by hair dye and prosthetic makeup. What he saw unnerved him and Vladimir asked him about it. “Nothing,” said Fred, “I just feel like I’ve seen a ghost!” Come, said Peter, we’ll give you your walking papers. Sergy handed him a folder. Fred carefully opened it… he didn’t want to know the truth he feared was coming. He took a nervous gulp as he arranged his new wallet and passport folders… “I am now Joseph Robert Kirke,” he gasped, “It is a pleasure to make your acquaintance!”
The supply shuttle was quite erratic in its schedule, so it would be weeks before Fred would reach the International Date Line.
(to be continued) [click to read
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