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Chapter 16

“Listen!” Everybody stopped talking and held their breaths, listening.

“Is that what I think it is?” Daniel asked. Alexis didn’t hear anything at first. She could sense the panic building around her.

“To the valley!” Gregg yelled, jumping up and knocking over his breakfast. People started scrambling to get up and make their way toward the valley trail.

“What’s going on?” Alexis asked Hannah.

“I don’t know,” Hannah answered, frightened. Then they heard it. A deafening roar in the distance was getting louder by the second.

“It’s a helicopter!” yelled Kira. “Come on, let’s run!” she called, grabbing Suraya’s hand and motioning to Alexis and Hannah to follow.

“Let’s go!” Hannah grabbed Alexis’ hand and pulled her towards the trail. They ran as fast as they could, following their friends.

“We’ve gotta get to the bamboo forest!” Josiah urged, coming up behind them. “Come on Alexis! Don’t look back, just run!” he told her. The helicopter buzzed right above their heads. “They can’t see us under all the trees; don’t worry,” he was saying.

“Shhh! No talking, just go,” Kenny told them. The last of the group, right behind Josiah, Alexis and Hannah, he huffed and puffed. Alexis was gasping for air, breathing hard, willing her legs to keep moving. The seconds stood still as her heart raced and her mind emptied of all thought besides reaching the bamboo forest. She was running so fast, she felt like she was flying.

An eternity later, huddled in the underground tunnel beneath the bamboo forest, Suzanne and Noah filled Alexis in. “Helicopters are used for search missions,” Noah explained.

“But Dad, what could they be searching for here?” Josiah wanted to know.

“It’s a question we’re all asking, Josi,” Noah answered him.

“Somehow, somebody found out about the island,” Suzanne whispered, shaking her head sadly.

“We’ve got to be quiet and wait ’em out,” said Gregg. “They’ll never find us in here.”

Immediately Alexis knew they had come for her. First Wynn, which she knew was her fault, and now… they were here. All because of her. Deep inside she had known the island could only last as a dream, fleeting and not forever. She put her head in her hands and cried.

Through her tears she heard Pastor J.J. saying, “‘For God gave us not a spirit of fearfulness, but of power and love and of a sound mind,'” he read, comforting and encouraging them.

Simon read next. “This is Isaiah 41:10. God tells us, ‘Do not fear, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you; yea, I will help you; yea, I will uphold you with the right hand of righteousness.'” They took turns reading scripture and ministering to one another for the rest of the day in the tunnel. They sang too, and then decided to sleep.

Forty-one people slept and waited in the cave-like tunnel for 24 more hours. Simon Cyrene sat next to his brother Joshua and his family, Amber Martin Cyrene and their daughter Aja.

Josiah Martin stayed near his sister, Amber, and his niece Aja and his mother and father, Suzanne and Noah Martin. Alexis smiled at Aja before falling asleep next to Suraya Justus. Isaiah Justus and J.J. and Kira were next to her.

Judd Michael Adahmson and John V. sat near the tunnel’s entrance, ever alert to any sound. Gregg Manuca and Ronnie Kalau stretched out next to them. Adam Grover and Daniel Cortis were next in the row. Ken and Colette Joyes cuddled with their children, Hannah and Justin.

Will and Juli Cortis Waypet slept near Alivea Malia Adahmson and Victoria Rose Adahmson. Cathy Cress Farl, Allan Farl and their son, Aaron, huddled together next to Jennifer and David Fuensi and their sons, Gabriel and Rafael. Drew Williams and his wife, Karen Satt Williams, were near their kids, Cyrus and Jazmin Williams.

Jenna Kalau, Alana Balta, Kailani Brown and Mira Cullen, who they’d nicknamed, “Miracle,” were also in the tunnel with this group. They had been visiting Jenna’s brother and their friends on the North Shore when the helicopter had forced them into hiding. They hoped the members of their own group on the South side of the island had found shelter too.

After a day and a half, Adam volunteered to go and check things out. He was back in about three hours, after checking the island thoroughly. He announced none too soon to those waiting in the dark for what seemed like a few years to go by, “They’ve cut down a lot of trees, just chopped down all the fruit trees I could see,” he reported. “And they tore up the gardens, trampled them. But I don’t see any sign of anybody on the island now.”

Alexis felt so guilty. “I’m so sorry,” she said. She couldn’t believe what was happening and she felt entirely responsible.

“We’ll replant and eat fish and prawn. Don’t worry,” said Judd, to her as much as to everybody else.

“I can’t say for sure, but I think they probably poisoned the water–the watercress is dying and there’s a strange tint to the water,” Gregg said after walking around the area for awhile.

“We better just eat from our supply for now then,” Ken decided for the group.

“Do you think they’re gone?” asked Victoria.

“Yes, but they’ll most likely be coming back with a full battalion. We’ve got something they want, obviously,” Ronnie said with a look at Alexis.

“I don’t know what to say, you guys, I….” began Alexis.

“Lexy, this isn’t your fault,” J.J. told her. “This was bound to happen sooner or later. It’s all a part of the plan. Listen, in Matthew 18:7, it says, ‘It must needs be that offenses come.’ The end is near, and we all just need to trust that the Lord will take care of us,” he told them.

They ate from their stored supplies of dried fish and bottled water they had saved for emergencies for about two weeks before the supplies started dwindling. The radishes they had replanted had already poked through the ground, as had some other crops, and they were rationing this precious food among them. Isaiah said a prayer before dinner one evening:

“‘When the poor and needy seek water, and there is none, and their tongue fails for thirst, I the Lord will hear them, I the God of Israel will not forsake them. I will open rivers in the high places, and fountains in the midst of the valleys: I will make the wilderness a pool of water, and the dry land springs of water.’ Thank you Lord, for your promises and provisions.”

“Amen,” they all said solemnly.

“Have faith,” said Noah. “God will provide.” And He did. Rain fell during that night, giving them fresh water. They got out of their beds and held out their tongues to catch the rain, delighting like little kids. They always had enough to eat, as fish from the ocean was abundant and pure. The next morning, Judd and Adam came running up to the kitchen with a bag full of coconuts.

“There’s about a hundred or so coconuts washed up on the beach!” he announced to the group. Josiah got a machete and set the coconut on the ground and swung at it, tearing at its hard covering. He then poked a hole in the top and drank the sweet juice. “Heaven,” he declared, passing it to Alexis. “Drink.”

“Mmmm… thank you God,” she said after drinking the sweet milk and handing the coconut to Hannah.

“Milk from Heaven,” Hannah said, handing it to Jazmin while more coconuts were opened and passed around. They all sat in a circle sipping coconut milk and singing together, as little children.

Later that day, the noisy helicopters returned, rudely intruding on the peaceful sunbathers lounging at the River Side Cafe. They scrambled up when they heard the helicopter and retreated to their meeting spot under the huge mango tree. Tired and low on energy, the weary group gathered together to pray. As the copters circled, the skies began to cloud up, and in minutes, a huge cloud covered the island, making visibility impossible from the air, and keeping the choppers from landing.

J.J. prayed and read from Isaiah, Chapter 40, verses 29 through 31: “‘He gives power to the faint; and to them that have no might he increases strength. Even the youths shall faint and be wary, and the young men shall utterly fall; But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles, and they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.'”

“Let’s get to the tunnel A-SAP!” hurried Judd. “They’ll be sending people down, I’m sure,” he said.

“Agreed. But we’ve got some time. With this cloud cover, they can’t land,” Gregg assured them. They started their hike toward the underground tunnel under the bamboo forest where they would never be found by someone who didn’t know where the entrance to the tunnel was.

Alexis was one of those people. Although she’d taken cover there before, she often got lost in the jungle. It was okay, because she wasn’t usually alone. She had been hiking upriver when she heard the helicopters roar. She ran as fast as she could into the jungle alongside the river and tried to listen for her friends, but she didn’t hear anything, but the noise of the enemy. I’m lost, she knew, her heart drumming in her chest. The sky darkened and she thought it was going to rain, as clouds thickly covered the air above her. She walked along quietly, listening for voices.

“Alexis.” She heard someone whispering her name. She whirled around, looking for the sound.

“Lexy, shhh…. over here,” Allan whispered, shaking a tree limb about five feet in front of her. She slowly made her way to the tree. Allan grabbed her foot from below where he stood under a rock ledge which dropped off abruptly in front of her. She lowered herself down the ledge and he helped her to the ground. They were in some kind of a cave.

“Where?” Alexis asked.

“Shhh.” Allan put his finger to his lips and signaled behind him. She looked into the shadows and saw Cathy lying on a soft fur blanket on the ground. She was holding a newborn baby in her arms and was draped in a green sarong.

“Cathy!” Alexis couldn’t believe it. “Your baby! Already?”

“She came a month early,” Cathy told her softly. “Her name is Alana.”

“She’s beautiful,” Alexis told her, marveling at the tiny new creation.

“Her name means ‘awakening,'” Allan told her. Before she could respond, Allan held up his hand, freezing and putting his finger to his lips.

There were as still as possible while they strained to hear. Leaves cracked above them. Then they heard voices.

“They’re around here somewhere.”

“We won’t leave until we find her.” Alexis recognized the gruff, gravelly voice of Gus, her parents’ boss’ righthand guy. Always around, watching. Cathy and Allan looked at each other intently. Cathy held her squirming newborn to her breast. The baby sucked noisily. The voices started to fade farther away, and then, Alana let out a wail.

“Waaahhhh!” she cried. This is enough, thought Alexis. These people have suffered long enough for me. As two men in camouflage suits ran towards the child’s cry, Alexis leapt from their hiding place in the cave and ran out into the open.

“Alexis!” Cathy cried. “Wait!” But it was too late. Alexis called to the men.

“Hey! Over here! Here I am, so come and get me!” she shouted bravely, waving her arms in the air. The men jumped down the ledge over the cave and ran towards her, roughly grabbing her arms and handcuffing them behind her back.

“It’s all over now, you guys. I’m not afraid,” she called out to the group she knew was hiding all around her. “The Lord is my shepherd, I will not fear what men can do to me.” Nobody moved. Cathy and Allan watched sadly from their hiding place as the two men stood with Alexis. Their heavy breathing could be heard in the silence of the still day. As they walked down the trail with Gus leading, Alexis in the middle and a stocky man with steel-colored eyes holding a gun behind her, Alexis heard Josiah.

“‘And they shall fight against thee, but they shall not prevail against thee; for I am with thee, saith the Lord, to deliver thee,'” she heard him saying loudly. “We… I love you Alexis!!” he shouted.

“If the Lord is for me, who shall be against me?” she declared as she was suddenly filled with a deep peace.

“Stop talking that nonsense,” the menacing steely eyed man ordered. She recognized Gus, but she didn’t know who this guy was.

“We’ve got her; we’re bringing her in,” Gus spoke into his handheld radio. “Let’s go,” he ordered, leading the way up the trail to the top of a steep hill where the helicopter sat waiting. She could hear the prayers of her family in the distance, and she was comforted by their words.

Joshua’s voice rang out clear and powerful. “Do not be dismayed or afraid; be strong and of good courage, for thus the Lord will do to all your enemies against whom you fight.”

She stumbled on the little rocks crumbling on the steep hill. “I can’t keep my balance with my hands behind my back,” she complained, almost falling.

“You’ve caused all kinds of trouble, little girl Lexy,” Felix, as she had heard Gus call him, sneered at her. “Just wait until we get you to headquarters,” he threatened, ignoring her complaint.

With boldness, Lexy answered him, remembering Hebrews 13:6. “The Lord is my helper. I will not fear what men shall do unto me.”

“What are you babbling about?” Gus mocked, turning around and pulling her by the arm into the helicopter. She sat down uncomfortably and Gus slid in beside her.

“I’m talking about the God that made the world and all the things in it. He gives life to all life and breath to all things. You should seek the Lord, for in Him we live, and move and have our being. Because there will come a day when He will judge the world in righteousness…”

She noticed the helicopter pilot had turned his head and was looking at her intently. “Yeah, yeah, okay. Be a good little prisoner now, okay?” shushed Gus. She was encouraged by the pilot’s look.

She continued, “He raised Jesus Christ, his son, from the dead, and it is through Jesus Christ that we can all be saved.”

“Shut her up!” demanded Gus. “Let’s get outta here!” The roar of the propeller was deafening and soon they were in the sky. Lexy, still handcuffed, was strapped in the seat and could barely make out Felix’s words.

“Let’s see what your Jesus Christ does with this one!” he yelled. The helicopter rocked as a huge explosion lit up the island below. Flames reached toward the helicopter, a giant bird barely escaping the ascending flames.

“NOOOOO!!!!” Alexis screamed, terrified and in disbelief of what she was witnessing. For that, she received a swift punch in the face, knocking her unconscious.

Return to Paradise: Part II: Chapter 5

5

Exhausted, Alexis sat cross-legged on the ground in a circle of unfamiliar but friendly faces and looked around at them, one by one. She watched a little girl she heard called Aja chase a cute little boy with brown hair around the circle made by the group. Her gaze rested on the man who was singing and playing a wooden thing with strings on it. He had long black hair and a face that smiled even while he sang. She listened to the words he sang.

When Father Sun has done his day,

Mother Earth she tucks him in.

Then Sister Moon comes out to play

and Brother Joy laughs on the wind.

Days of bliss on distant shores, 

Mother’s kiss from valleys pure,

so I kicked right back ’cause I knew,

yes I knew, I was right where I should be….

I was dreaming of the light

under Heaven’s eyes so bright,

and angels through the night,

they touched my cheek.

Waves roll to a soft and sandy beach

drifting my ideas within reach.

Words of love are what I longed to hear,

so Brother Joy whispered a secret in my ear.

He said, “Trust me brother, you’ll get yours, 

just have faith, look to the stars, 

so I kicked right back ’cause I knew,

yes I knew, I was right where I should be….

Dreams came true that magic night 

under Heaven’s candlelight,

and an angel through the night,

she kissed my cheek.

And I knew, yes I knew,

I was right where I should be.

Yeah I knew, yes I knew, 

I was right where I should be.

Gregg ended the song looking right at Alexis and she couldn’t let go of his gaze, nor did he look away. He gave a slight nod as if to confirm, yes, the song was for her. In those few moments she tuned out the conversations around her and didn’t even hear the next few songs as she lost herself in her thoughts. Can this really be happening? I’m not dreaming, she told herself. She stared into the fire in the center of the circle and was mesmerized, remembering Wynn’s words–“a friendship maker.” Friends. She thought about her best friend Isabella and wondered if she’d ever see her again. And Dan. And Mom and Dad. Had it been just a few days ago? It seemed like a lifetime ago. Amazing how your reality can change so drastically just by being in a different place. Tears welled in Alexis’ eyes as she thought about her mom. What was she doing now? She wished she could tell her she was okay. Her mom probably thought she was dead. If only she could be here too. But Alexis knew it wasn’t possible.

“Are you okay?” Juli sat down next to Alexis. The music had stopped and people were getting up and saying goodnight.

“Yeah, I’m just thinking about my parents. My mom probably thinks I’m dead. I wish I could tell her I’m here,” said Lexy.

“I know. When I first left home, about 7 years ago, I couldn’t tell anybody where I was going. I just told my mom and dad that we had to get away from the city because something was going to happen soon. They thought I was a nut. ‘Give us your address, Juli,’ they told me. I told them that where I was going there would be no address, and that they should come with me. Of course, they wouldn’t.” Juli’s eyes filled with tears.

“And you left anyway?” asked Alexis.

“Yep,” Juli nodded her head. “With Will. Some friends told me about Wynn. They said they wished they had the courage to try and see if the rumors of the island were true. I decided to try. And I’m glad I did. But I miss them so much, and I wish I could’ve convinced them to come too,” said Juli.

“And you haven’t seen them since?” asked Lexy, incredulous.

“Well, Will and I do the mainland shuttle, so I did manage to sneak over to our old house and see them. But I couldn’t talk to them–it would’ve been too risky. It’s hard, but I’d be dead too now if I’d have stayed.”

“Dead?”

Juli’s voice shook as she told her story. “They were killed during the riots. Chaos broke out about two years after we left. From what I heard, a bunch of guys in uniform just started knocking on doors and shooting people. Went on a rampage–that was before martial law was enacted. I guess my parents were some of the unlucky ones who were home.”

“That’s unbelievable. I can’t believe that could happen. I’m so sorry, Juli,” Alexis said, forgetting her own troubles.

“I’m sorry too,” Juli nodded. “I only wish I would’ve tried harder to convince them to come with me. I knew it was going to happen.”

“You did?”

“Of course. The end result of all the commotion was that people embraced the protection from the military on their streets. They had so much fear. They felt they needed the security and protection that the military offered, never questioning just who they were being protected from. Control through chaos. Because of all the chaos, martial law and its strict controls were welcomed.” She was quiet and then she added, “I do thank God we’re here though.”

“God?” Lexy shook her head. “How could a god let that kind of thing happen?” she asked.

“You can’t blame God, Lexy,” Juli told her. “There is evil in the world. We all know that, but God gave us free will to get away from it. I hate to say it, but if my parents had been vigilant, they would have seen that danger was imminent and that they should get away like some of us did. But most people are just too complacent and won’t use their eyes to see or their heads to understand that their lifestyle can’t last forever. Eyes that are blind, ears that can’t hear…”

“I don’t know, Juli. You’re pretty forgiving,” said Lexy, doubtfully.

“It’s called faith, Alexis. Faith and the knowledge that God will save his children and take care of us.”

“I hope so.”

“Why do you think you’re here?”

“Well, I don’t really think it’s because of faith, as I can’t say I knew God, or believe in one,” Lexy countered.

“Well, God knows you. In fact, he set it up that you would come to know him, just as you are.”

“What? Why would you say that?” Lexy looked at Juli.

“‘By grace are ye saved through faith, and that not of ourselves, it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone boast. He hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love. Having predestined us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will‘,” Juli read. “It’s in Ephesisans, Chapter 3. Want to hear more?” Lexy nodded, wondering if Juli knew what she was talking about. “Okay.” Juli turned the pages in her small book. “This is the Bible,” she said. “It’s God’s word and you’d be amazed if you sat down and read it sometime. Let’s see, okay, ‘in the dispensation of the fullness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ both which are in Heaven and which are on Earth, even in him. In who also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worked all things after the counsel of his own will… In whom ye also trusted after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in who also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that Holy Spirit of promise… The eyes of your understanding being enlightened, that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints.'”

“Interesting. Not that I really understand it,” said Lexy. “Something about your purpose. Who wrote it?”

“Paul, a student of Christ, actually wrote this part. Different people wrote other books in the Bible, and it was all inspired by God.”

“How do you know it’s not just made up stuff, Juli?”

“Well, Lexy, because a lot of it has come true and I also have faith. See, there’s an Old Testament and the New Testament. The Old Testament was written in a time before Jesus Christ was born. It starts with the beginning of the world, and it contains a lot of prophecies that came true by the time the New Testament was written.”

“Wow! I’ve always wondered about how the world started,” said Lexy.

“Here, take this. I have another one. Read it and learn,” said Juli, giving Lexy her Bible. “The New Testament was written after Jesus Christ was sent by God to save the sins of man and reunite people with God. ‘For God so loved the world that he sent his only begotten son.'”