Chapter 1: “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.”…………………….page 8
Chapter 2: “He makes me lie down in green pastures.”………………………page 18
Chapter 3: “He leads me beside still waters.”………………………………….page 26
Chapter 4: “He restores my soul.”…………………………………………..…page 42
Chapter 5: “He leads me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake”-page 55
Chapter 6: “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for thou art with me.”…………………………………….…….. page 71
Chapter `7: “Thy rod and thy staff, they comfort me.”……………………….page 80
Chapter 8: “Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of my enemies”- ……………………………………………………………………….page 120
Chapter 9: “Thou anointest my head with oil.” ……………………………. page 133
Chapter 10: “My cup overflowed.”………………………………………..… page 141
Chapter 11: “Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever.”………………………………page 150
The premise of this science fiction novel is that each line in the 23rd Psalm describes what the Christian and Jewish survivors will do to stay alive after a comet destroys most of the earth. I was researching several books on Jewish and Christian messiahs when the idea of this book came to my mind. What if a comet hits the earth and only a handful of survivors on mountaintops survived the disaster? How would these two religious groups learn to work together to survive? What if one person in the two groups began to have visions about the future that came true? What if, after many struggles, the Jewish temple group and the Protestant group chose a messiah, the man who was having the spiritual visions that came true again and again?
This is a story about survival and the determination of two small groups to find higher ground and, eventually, safety on the earth flooded to six thousand feet above sea level. This is a story about the year 3550 when world corporations sought to make religions illegal.
In the year 3550, the earth was almost destroyed after a comet, the size of the moon, collided with earth. The impact was so severe that it caused the earth to move out of its normal orbit around the sun. The earth was a million miles closer to the sun after the impact of the comet. The explosion was so great that when the comet hit the southern part of the Pacific Ocean, off South America, the south polar cap melted down almost immediately. The ocean surge covered South America completely, leaving only the Andes Mountains, showing as islands above the waters. In a week, Europe and North America were underwater, and the north polar cap began to melt. The Asian continents suffered the same fate, except the Himalayan mountain range that stuck out as islands in a vast new ocean. All the mountain ranges around the world became islands, jutting out of the ocean that rose above seven thousand feet, surviving the initial flooding. The highest mountains in the Sierras, the Appalachian mountain chain, and Mount Rainier in Washington State all became islands above the seven-thousand-feet-above-sea-level point.
All the plants and native animals around the world drowned under leagues of seawater. The only surviving animals were those that lived at high elevations to begin with, such as mountain goats, yaks, deer, and some varieties of birds. The fresh water fish in all the lakes and rivers died when the salt water filled all the lakes and rivers around the world. The sea marine life did survive, however, despite the temperature rise. The entire population of penguins eventually was washed away toward the mountains of the Andes thousands of miles away. Few of the penguins survived.
As for the human race, those that survived were those that ran to the high ground or happened to be living on high ground to begin with. The floods came so quickly that all of California and the West Coast were covered in salt water in less than a week. The same flooding became the fate of the East Coast of the North American continent, the water flooding east across all the states until it reached the high peaks of the Adirondack Mountains.
The only humans known to survive in the western part of North America were a group of Old World Christians on a religious retreat at Lake Tahoe in Sierra Nevada and a group of Old World Jewish community members who were vacationing in the Sierras. Neither religious community knew that the other had survived until months after the disaster.
By the year 3550 religions and their attendant spiritual life had been virtually wiped out. The World Corporate Order had greatly discouraged their practice by declaring them illegal. The material world of the united World Corporations had seized control over every facet of life, and the spiritual life of the old world religions would only get in the way. Many religions, centuries old, had begun to die out from the persecution and threat of arrest by the World Corporate Order. The original Christian movement that survived for 56,000 years was now secretly called the Old World Christian movement. Likewise, the various Jewish sects were called the Old World Jewish religion. The World Corporate Order also declared practicing Judaism of any kind illegal.
Thus by outlawing all religious worship or philosophic creeds, the ideology of The World Corporate Order had replaced all past enlightened thought with economic equality and a benevolent consumerism. Nationalism everywhere had been replaced by world rule as it was thought to be the source of war that had been also outlawed. Old World Buddhism, Old World Muslims, Old World Hindu, and many other religions suffered the same fate as the Old World Christians and the Old World Jewish sects and were reduced in size and popularity and were illegal to practice in public. They had all become secret religions that were not approved by the World Corporate Order of the thirty-first century. The World Corporate Order frowned on the free worship of any religion or belief in any philosophy by the year 3550 because it was felt that these only mucked up the economy by creating differences between groups of people and therefore conflict between them, upsetting the consumer oriented apple cart. Consumerism, by replacing everything else created world peace. A mild, common sense ethical system that would have been the envy of a Hunter/gatherer society was established in place of religion, philosophy and nationalism. However, the old world religions met in secret and kept their membership closed and secret in fear of corporate punishment by the World Corporate Order that controlled all the continents on earth. But some believed that the enforcement of the laws was purposely soft, permitting the secret practice of some religions in order to allow a sort of escape valve for those who were not practicing public disobedience.
“The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.”
The date of the apocalypse was September 4, AD 3550. It was in the middle of the day that the first emergency broadcast was sent out by virtual beam, old-fashioned radio waves, short-wave ham radio, and virtual television. “Emergency, this is not a drill. Repeat, emergency. Attention, all citizens of the Corporate World Order, this is an emergency. Our scientists have determined that a comet is about to collide with earth in about forty-eight hours. Do not panic. Try, if possible, to head to high ground above five or six thousand feet above sea level. Go to the mountains in your region if possible. Leave now and do not delay. End of broadcast.” What happened next seemed to have been lifted from the Old Testament.
For the next forty-eight hours, every person’s antigravity vehicle (AGV) was headed toward the closest mountains in every country. Antigravity vehicles had replaced cars thousands of years before. The AGVs were similar in size to cars but ran on electromagnetic waves that bounced off a track buried in the venues (roads). Venues were blocked for hundreds of miles as millions upon millions of people of the earth fled to high ground to avoid the impact of severe flooding.
In the quiet Sierra Nevada Mountains in Northern California, near Lake Tahoe, there was a group of forty Old World Christians of the Church of the Sunrise on a religious retreat. Most of the Christians were couples, married or otherwise. A few were single and unmarried. Pastor Swift, a short chubby man with a balding crown, was just finishing a lesson on the 23rd Psalm about “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.” After the service, as the small group of the Church of the Sunrise walked toward their cabins, one of the young boys named Billy came running toward Pastor Swift.
“Pastor Swift, Pastor Swift, there is an emergency warning being transmitted. You need to come quick!” the young boy exclaimed. “All right, all right, everything is fine. It is probably a fire emergency being broadcast. I will be right there,” said Pastor Swift. As he approached his cabin, there were several people standing outside with long looks on their faces. Something big was up, and Pastor Swift could not tell what the emergency was going to be.
As he entered his cabin, a virtual broadcast was loud and clear: a comet was going to hit the earth in less than forty-eight hours. “Oh my god!” Pastor Swift exclaimed. “Billy, run and get Colonel Jim Shepherd and have him meet me here as soon as possible!” A few minutes later, retired colonel James Shepherd, a tall man with a military-style crew cut and a long gray mustache, appeared at Pastor Swift’s cabin with his wife, Elizabeth Shepherd. Elizabeth was a short brunette with some gray hair and has a very skinny body that she kept in shape by jogging every morning. She was a retired biologist from UCLA with a PhD in biology. As an employee of the World order it had been her job to ensure that any unborn child that was not a perfect human specimen would be made so with the proper hormone shots, or in extreme cases, aborted. This way all babies born would be perfectly healthy and have an equal chance to live a happy, healthy life. In the World Order no resources would be wasted on unworthy lives. There was zero tolerance for physically or mentally “challenged” individuals. In fact, Elizabeth’s specialty was to detect unborn babies who were psychotic. Since no cure had yet been developed these were immediately aborted. Cost effectiveness for psychotics was considered the most expensive waste of resources. And as a result, crime had been greatly reduced and violent crime almost wiped out.
“Jim, as you may have heard, we have a major emergency on our hands. I have just been informed that a comet is about to collide with the earth in less than forty-eight hours. There is a strong possibility of flooding around the entire earth, especially if it lands in one of the oceans or hits the North or South Pole. We need to get to high ground fast before others do and stake out or claim to land higher than seven thousand feet above sea level. We know Donner Pass is 8,700 feet above sea level, and that is just down the road from here. I suggest we head for North Star Mountain that is just above Donner Pass, and we are close enough to get there quickly. I am not a military man, nor do I pretend to know how to handle this emergency, so I am putting you in charge of our church and its survival. I will ring the emergency bell and have everyone assemble immediately,” said Pastor Swift.
“OK, Jim, I will take charge and get us safely to high ground by the end of this day,” said Colonel Shepherd. A million questions went through Colonel Shepherd’s mind at the moment, but he suppressed these thoughts to focus on the emergency.
The bell rang loudly, again and again, and everyone assembled quickly in front of Pastor Swift’s cabin. “Brothers and sisters, we have limited time, and a major life-threatening emergency has developed both here and worldwide. A comet is about to collide with the earth in forty-eight hours. This comet is estimated to be about the size of our moon.” There was a hushed silence for almost a minute, and then women began to cry and men were cursing under their breaths. “Retired colonel Jim Shepherd is going to organize our evacuation to higher ground immediately. I want you to listen to him carefully. He will be in charge of everything. Remember what I said in the Bible study group, ‘The Lord is our shepherd, and we shall not want,’” paraphrased Pastor Swift.
“All right, everyone, keep calm. This is what I want you to do. Return to your cabins and stock up your AGVs with all the food you have. Remember to pack blankets and any survival equipment like light sources, batteries, solar energy collectors, water, medicine, axes, old weapons, knives, and any ham radios or battery- or sun-operated radios,” shouted the colonel to the group.
“Are there any questions? Oh, and bring any portable laser cutting tools to cut trees and wood also,” the colonel commanded. No one asked any questions. There were some women in the crowd, crying softly from fear, but no one spoke out loud. They all walked away rapidly to their cabins and began to gather all they could pack their AGVs with and still have the vehicle move along the ground. “Come back here with your AGVs loaded within two hours, and we will assemble in front of the mess hall,” shouted the colonel to the group as they departed.
Two hours later, all the Old World Christians had assembled with their AGVs fully loaded with everything they could take. Colonel Shepherd addressed the group again. “Brothers and sisters, Pastor Swift will lead us in prayer, but first, I want to tell you where we are going. We are headed to North Star Mountain, above Donner Pass, down the road from here. I will personally lead the group in my AGV, and everyone will follow in a single line. When we get to the site, we will begin to organize an encampment to survive the comet collision with the earth. Pastor Swift, if you will,” the colonel said.
“Let us pray. Dear Lord, guide over and protect us and all the humans and animals of the world during this apocalypse. Guide us on our way to North Star Mountain and keep us safe and secure from the possible flooding. We ask this all in Jesus’s name. Amen,” Pastor Swift finished. “Amen,” the group responded.
All the AGVs were started up, and the trek to North Star Mountain began in a long single line of about forty vehicles. An hour later, they had arrived at the base of North Star Mountain and departed their vehicles and began to climb the open trails up the mountain. Antigravity vehicles were made to follow a magnetic line embedded in the road and usually ran on solar power or an electric grid. Once the vehicles went off the road, they were useless. They could not travel over the ground or rocks and leaves. Everyone had to put their supplies on their back or pull them on makeshift drags.
The climb up North Star Mountain, dragging supplies behind, was a tiring ordeal for the Christians. Even children helped out carrying containers of water and food. Several trips up and down the mountain had to be made to get all the supplies up to the high meadow where they would be camping and hoped to survive. No one dared complain about the work and the effort of going up and down the mountain with supplies. Everyone was still in shock that a comet would actually hit the earth. “How could this be?” they all asked themselves. Women, as well as men, carried their share of supplies up and down the mountain. The higher on the mountain, the safer they felt they would be when the flooding occurred. Many stopped and prayed on their knees while going up the mountain. Chaos reigned everywhere, but somehow, the task at hand kept things in order.
Once all the supplies were carried up the mountain, Pastor Swift asked everyone to assemble and pray together as a group. “If ever you prayed for something before, pray now with me for our survival and the survival of others around the world,” Pastor Swift said. “Lord, let us be mindful of thy protection in this time of danger and tragedy. Thank you; Lord, for saving us from drowning as millions of others have. If we are the chosen ones, oh Lord, then let it be. Guide over us and keep us all strong and bind us together in thy name, our Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.”
It took two days to move all their supplies to the high mountain meadow. Several people got injured in the process with ankle sprains and back problems. No one was an outstanding athlete, and exertion at eight thousand feet above sea level was too high with the thin oxygen. Pastor Swift reflected on the situation and wondered how God could allow this disaster to occur, especially to the “people of God.” On the flip side of the argument, he realized they could be back in Los Angles now and drowning from the ocean surge over the entire city in twenty-four hours. Flooding would occur to the depths of six thousand feet above sea level or one thousand fathoms below the sea.
They had little source of information except a ham radio that could only be transmitted by another ham radio operator, and they were rare. It was a scary prospect to hear that the earth would be flooding, especially in North America where they were located. Pastor Swift could only speculate what could happen in twenty-four hours and what damage a comet could do when it slammed into the earth. Pastor Swift sat down and took out his Bible and prayed. He did not know what else to do at the time. Perhaps this was all a dream. How would they ever survive beyond a month with the limited supplies they had and the lack of animals or plants to eat locally?
A ski slope was located nearby, which may have had some cabins or main lodge. It was September and the slope could be closed, but it might be worth a look to see if there was any supplies locked up that they could borrow or steal. If only the watch transmitter he had would work. It was like the old-fashioned cell phones but located in a chip buried under the skin on his arm. Everyone had one, but these were not working. Somehow, the transmitter must have flooded and short-circuited. Who knows what went wrong? Pastor Swift tried to collect and organize his thoughts on what to do next. He would have to rely on retired colonel Shepherd and his military experience to get everyone through this crisis. Was God testing their belief in God? Nothing seemed to make any sense. “What kind of damage could a comet do when it hit the earth?” he asked himself.
The first night, everyone slept out in the pasture because most of the shelters were not yet built. Even the tents weren’t put up yet because the priority was moving the supplies up the mountain and then trying to prepare a meal for forty people. In his dreams, Pastor Swift remembered the passage from the 23rd Psalm that he had preached about a day before, “The Lord is my shepherd, he maketh me to lie down in green pastures.” This is certainly strange; here they were, lying down in a green pasture, safe from the flooding of the entire earth, he thought to himself in his dream. It was just as if the 23rd Psalm was coming true. No, he must be over tired, he thought.
Suddenly, he awoke, startled by the hooting of an owl nearby in a tree. The sky was as clear as can be, and there were very few sounds in the night, except for the owl nearby. A few clouds passed overhead, blocking the view of the bright stars in the sky. Nothing else seemed to move in the dark night. Only a crescent moon shined overhead. Pastor Swift mused that when he would awake the next day, he and all his parishioners might be seeing their last day on earth. For this reason, it was difficult getting back to sleep. He looked at his children and wife sleeping and thought, “I am going to protect them as best I can. I pray that God will give me strength to survive this disaster.” Gradually, he fell asleep, hoping that the comet would miss the earth and all the scientists would be wrong. He slept very poorly that night, tossing and turning in his sleep.
When the sun rose the next morning, Pastor Swift reviewed the forty names of the people who attended the spiritual retreat at Lake Tahoe. First, there was retired colonel James Shepherd, age 65, and his wife, Elizabeth Shepherd, age 58; Judy Swift, age 44, the pastor’s wife, and Elizabeth Swift, age 15, his daughter; Rob Swift, age 10, Pastor Swift’s son; Mary Moon, a mechanical engineer, age 35, and her boyfriend, Bill Snedeker, age 36; Xiaolin Tan, age 49, a female corporate administrator for the World Corporation who came with her boyfriend, Professor Ken Mooney, who taught anthropology at UCLA; Marcus Green, age 27, a black African American, a computer expert; Judy Ann Walsh, Marcus’s girlfriend, age 25, a white office administrator; Billy Mandor, a sixteen-year-old kid who came along as a friend of Elizabeth Swift, the pastor’s daughter; Tim Dong Wo, age 31, a Korean with a PhD in philosophy from Harvard; and lastly, there was Steve Moss, age 38, an unemployed office manager.
It was hard to imagine, but Pastor Swift did not personally know the other twenty-five members of his congregation. He only knew them by their family names: the Condon family, Dillen family, Trumpe family, Treet family, Absolym family, Nealy family, Park family, Sun family, Lee family, Cho family, Rodriques family, and the Spencer family—all of which were married couples. It was a little embarrassing not to know everyone personally, but the comet cut short the spiritual retreat in which Pastor Swift had planned to get to know everyone on a first-name basis.