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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.

Chapter 14

Sid paced around the room, cursing under his breath. “Let’s do it again,” he finally decided. “Murphy, access security data and open stored documents,” he ordered in an authoritative tone. They stood around the scanner, wrists over it for the third time.

“Unable to access security data and open stored documents,” Murphy said in its digital voice.

“Damn!” yelled Sid. “Why not? Murphy? Why?” The computer was quiet, as why was not a part of its comprehension. It did not have reasoning ability.

“Jerry!” Sid barked. “What is going on here?”

“I don’t know, Sly,” he began. “I could sit and troubleshoot some more.” They’d been in the computer room of Central Headquarters for over five hours now, trying to unlock the security codes.

“Maybe we should call it a day,” Shelby suggested. “We’ll come back tomorrow, rested, and try again.”

“We have no time!!” Sid yelled loudly. His face was red and his wrinkles tight. Shelby and Ed bickered.

Cynthia looked at Jerry, half hoping he would figure out the problem, while a part of her wished he wouldn’t. “Try again, Jerr,” she told him, trying to placate Sid.

“I’ve been trying my damndest to bypass the security screens, but we were too careful when we set it up. Even I can’t get past it,” said Jerry.

“I hired you for your expertise. You’re stupid and worthless!” Sid told Jerry. “And the rest of you–good for nothings, what good are you?!” He sneered at each of them in turn. Nobody dared to look Sid in the eye. They were silent.

“Be here at 6 a.m. sharp,” Sid finally said after two more hours of Jerry on the computer and the rest of them nervously sitting around waiting. Being dismissed, they left the room.

Arriving home, Jerry and Cynthia sat down on the green couch and swallowed their pellets. Jerry stared at the picture on the wall of Alexis as a newborn and the group of them gathered around.

“Did you ever think she’d betray us like this Cyn?” Jerry asked his wife.

“Lexy!” Cynthia exclaimed. At that moment she knew, her daughter was the reason the security program would not open. “Jerry,” she began, against her will. “If Alexis was there the day we sealed the security programs, does she need to be there to open them?”

***

The morning sun rose in the air, though Sid, Jerry, Cynthia, Shelby, and Ed had no idea how beautiful it was. They were in the computer room in Central Headquarters again. It was 7 a.m. The group picture from the Roberts’ wall was lying on the table near the computer.

“011520307,” Sid announced.

Seconds later, Alexis’ face and information appeared on the big monitor in front of them. “Modify CHIP status,” Sid told Murphy.

“CHIP status currently disengaged,” responded Murphy.

“Reactivate CHIP 011520307,” said Sid. The room was silent except for the humming of the computer.

“CHIP reactivated. 11520307 activated,” said Murphy.

“Good,” said Sid. “Terminate status modification program,” he ordered. “Locate CHIP 11520307,” Sid directed. “Now, we wait.”

“Sly, I’ve got the choppers fueled and waiting–we’ll get her as soon as she’s detected by the CHIP,” Gus told him in a nasally voice.

They all sat in front of the huge screen looking at a map of the world. “Any second now,” Jerry said. With bated breath, the five sat and stared at the screen. At 9 a.m., they were still there.

“I don’t understand it,” said Jerry.

“This has never happened,” Sid said impatiently. “Usually it just takes a few minutes.”

“We just need to be patient,” Ed said.

“Don’t talk to me like a Sunday School teacher!” Sid yelled at him. They argued heatedly.

“Look!” Shelby interrupted the men. “There.” She pointed to the map.

“Where in the…” Jerry began. A red blinking light in the middle of the ocean flashed on and off, revealing Alexis’ location.

“She’s somewhere in the South Pacific. How did she end up out there?” Sid asked.

“Something crazy’s going on and I bet that ole man was in on it. He didn’t tell us anything, but I bet he knew,” Ed said.

The wives looked on. They were all aware of the fate of the poor man. “What can we do? He was in the way. An obstacle,” shrugged Shelby, trying to reassure herself and Cynthia.

Return to Paradise, Part II: Chapter 11

11

“She didn’t tell me anything, really,” insisted Isabella in a pleading tone. Beads of sweat glistened against her dark skin.

Sid completed his tenth lap around the room, his shoes tapping in the silence. He walked to Isabella, who was sitting, hands in her lap, knees together on the hard metal chair. Sid knelt in front of her and looked at her face. “You have information. You will tell me what you know about this book,” he said menacingly. He had used the same words with Trevor and Dan just hours earlier. Both boys denied any knowledge but had both broken down and cried from Sid’s intense accusations. Isabella, too, started crying. She was obviously scared to death.

“Sid–” Cynthia started, having pity on the girl. “She doesn’t know anything; leave her alone.” Gus turned his head slowly toward Cynthia. His anger seemed to lash at her from his eyes.

“That will be all Cynthia,” he said evenly. “Start talking!” he yelled loudly in Isabella’s face.

“I don’t know! I swear!” Isabella was shaking.

“Come on Sly…” Shelby tried to intervene.

“Silence! Gus, escort the women out,” Sid demanded. Gus instantly stood up and ushered Cynthia and Shelby to the door. The only sound was Isabella’s sniffling, trying to hold back sobs.

“Murphy, activate deceit detector,” Sid spoke to his computer.

“Activated,” Murphy answered seconds later.

“Gus, scan the girl.” Gus roughly pulled Isabella out of her seat and placed her wrist on the scanner. “What have you heard about Alexis Roberts’ writing or book?” he asked Isabella sharply.

“I don’t know,” said the frightened girl, whose 5’10” frame seemed dwarfed by her surroundings. The computer flashed red.

“Murphy doesn’t lie!” Sid informed her. “If you don’t tell me what you know right now, I’ll put you in prison for life!” Sid barked at her heartlessly. Ed and Jerry held their breath, while Gus stood at attention, already relishing the prospect of taking Isabella to his personal kingdom.

“Okay,” sobbed Isabella. Ed whirled around, surprised at the breakthrough. Jerry, Gus, Ed and Sid looked at her intently, waiting.

“Go on,” Jerry urged her.

“I think I remember she said something about meeting a man, years ago.”

“Where!?” Sid interrogated.

“Somewhere in the country, her parents took her, a meeting. Oh, please don’t hurt her,” Isabella pleaded.

“It’s Graybeard!” Gus interjected, excitedly.

“Gotta be,” said Ed.

“Coastline,” Sid said. “Go get him.”

“On it,” Gus answered. He left the room in a flash, intent on his hunt.

“It’s time,” Sid announced to Ed Blitz and Jerry Roberts. “Wipe out the opposition. Let’s sound frequencies worldwide. We need every life under control. We’ve been too relaxed. If there are people out there, let’s get rid of them.”

“Time to step it up a few notches,” said Jerry.

“Let’s do it now,” Ed agreed.

 

Return to Paradise, Part II: Chapter 7

7

They ate a delicious dinner of prawns sauteed in garlic and lilikoi, purple sweet potatoes and zucchini from the garden. Someone handed her a coconut full of orange liquid, squeezed from an orange ball that Lexy had watched Vicky pick off a nearby tree. “Mmmm,” somebody said.

“Great dinner everybody who helped,” thanked Kenny. There were several nods of agreement. The silence as people ate gave testimony to the delicious food. Lexy was one of the last ones to finish eating, as she was unfamiliar with the textures and foods, and she chewed more cautiously and slowly than the others.

Colette and Hannah got up and started cleaning up the kitchen area. Every family took turns with the chores, so nothing was ever too much for anyone to handle.

Alexis watched while Ken and Justin put out the fire. “How was your food?” Alivea Malia asked her, sitting down next to her on a tree stump.

“Really good!” answered Alexis, meaning it, although she’d taken her time and had been a little reluctant to eat all of the different foods. “It’s a lot different than pellets,” she told Alivea Malia.

Vicky shook her head. “I can’t believe people survive on them,” she said. “Why would they do that?”

“It’s easy,” Lexy answered immediately, as she cautiously tasted the orange-colored juice.

“But not as nutritious or tasty,” said Joshua, or was it Simon? Lexy couldn’t tell the twins apart yet. “From what I’ve been told,” he added.

“People had to eat pellets because everybody started getting sick from the food they cooked. It was mad cow disease, salmonella, and crazy viruses developed from eating meat of animals fed a certain type of genetically engineered food, which contained hormones that somehow caused a virus that was resistant to all medication and antibiotics. It got really scary and became too risky to eat any food, as it was all genetically modified in some way. So… here come these pellets made of food ground up into powder and pressed into capsules. The powder was sterilized to kill any virus and probably any vitamins too. It became the safer way to eat. And then the only way,” Judd explained in a windfull.

“Thank God my parents brought me here to live!” joked Ronnie.

“You wouldn’t be living if Mom and Dad hadn’t brought you here,” said a slender woman with shoulder-length dark hair.

“Why not?” Alexis asked her.

“Because,” Jenna answered, “when my mom got pregnant with Ronnie, they had population control. Each family could only have one child and mom wasn’t about to give up Ronnie, and right when she found out she was pregnant, she met John and Kira.” She paused. Alexis was waiting for her to go on. She looked puzzled. “So J.J., you know, John Justus, the pastor, and Kira were searching for a place to live peacefully, because martial law was being enacted everywhere in the fight against terrorism.”

“Then J.J. had this dream,” Ronnie added. “Hey J.J!” he called to the man with the big brown eyes, who kept his hair short. “Can you come over here?”

J.J. walked over. “Hi!” he smiled.

“We were just telling Alexis about your dream,” Jenna told him.

“The dream, yes,” J.J. began. “Psalms 91:1–I know it by heart now. While I slept, God showed me a Bible and it was open to Psalms 91:1. In the dream, I gave the Bible to my wife, Kira, who showed it to some friends. Every time I saw the Bible, it was open to this page. Psalms 91:1 was on the top. A pregnant lady with a little girl on her lap was crying. Then her daughter gave her a Bible, and of course,” he paused for dramatic effect, “it was opened to Psalms 91:1. So when I woke up I reached for my Bible and read the verse. It says,

‘He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High shall remain stable and fixed under the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, He is my Refuge and my Fortress, my God; on Him I lean and rely, and in Him I confidently trust!’

I knew I had to find the ‘secret place.’ I didn’t really understand what the dream meant, exactly. But I prayed about it.”

“The next day we met Gina and Paul,” said Kira who had sat down next to J.J.

“Gina and Paul are Ronnie’s and my parents,” explained Jenna to Alexis.

“Oh,” she said, nodding her head, hoping to hear more.

“And Gina was pregnant,” J.J. remembered. “It hit me really hard when I was introduced to them. She just showed up in my church out of the blue. I knew she was the pregnant woman I had dreamt about. And when I saw her little girl come out of Sunday school, it was confirmed to me that she was the woman in my dream.”

“This was about 2014 or so,” said Kira. “Population control had just been enacted, and we had a few members of our church and from other places who were planning on having a second child despite the new law against it. When J.J. told me about his dream, I felt it was my mission to find a place where we could help these families live in peace with their children.”

“Noah and Suzanne Martin had just told us about Suzanne’s brother Wynn who lived in California and had found a map their father had hidden of the Pacific Ocean. He wanted to take a voyage out to sea and find an island he believed his father had told him stories about when he’d been a kid,” explained J.J. “It all seemed to be coming together, all of the pieces of the dream. Maybe the island was the secret place–my mind was racing and I felt like I was being led by the grace of God to this place.”

“We ended up meeting Wynn and his wife, Lauren, and about 20 other people from our church–let’s see, Ken and Colette Joyes, Suzanne and Noah Martin, Drew’s parents: Jake and Debbie Williams, Cathy Cress and her mom and dad–they live in another part of the island now–well, we all took the journey and Wynn was right, the island was here and here we are,” Kira explained. “Through Wynn, who went back and forth a lot at first, many of us you see here today were able to come to this place and be saved.”

“Like me,” said Alexis. “That’s amazing how you had that dream,” she said to J.J., thinking about her own vivid dreams she’d been having.

“I know,” he said. “God is powerful and he has a plan.” She smiled at him.

“Do you ever miss being there?” she asked.

“In Florida?” J.J. asked. “Not me. I have everything I need right here. My son, Isaiah, and Suraya, my daughter, he pointed toward them where they were sitting with two others about their age. “My wife, my friends, clean air, good water, sun and good food.”

“I just miss the people I left behind,” said Judd sadly.

“Who?” Lexy asked him.

“It’s a sad story. I’ll tell you someday,” he told her. She sat in the quiet night, thinking about the stories she had heard, also missing her mom, her friends and Dan, and even her dad. They were silent. Alexis gazed up at the stars, awed by their numbers. Juli pointed out a few constellations.

“That’s the Big Dipper,” Juli said, pointing at the sky. “It’s like a big spoon.”

“I see it!” cried Alexis excitedly.

“Here, look with these.” Judd handed her a heavy black object with two circles at either end.

“What is it?” she asked him.

“This is the tool for seeing the eyes of the world.” He took the binoculars from Alexis and held them to his eyes, pointing them at the dark sky. “I believe, Alexis, that these stars are the eyes of every person in the world, in a spiritual sense. I imagine I’m looking for a certain set of eyes. Did you ever get the feeling of connection, just by looking into someone’s eyes?” he asked her.

“Not really, and most people wear eye protection at home, so you never really see their eyes exactly,” she told him.

“It’s a knowing, an instinct deeper than words could decipher,” he said, pausing to look at her with his dimpled smile. “I’m babbling, sorry,” he said sheepishly.

“I’m interested, really!” Alexis urged him to continue.

“Here, your turn.” He handed her the binoculars again and helped her align her eyes through the eyepieces. “See?”

“Wow!” She was awestruck. The millions of stars mesmerized her with the sheer vastness of the sky. She was touched as if by something higher than herself. Alexis had no words to express her feelings. She gazed at the stars for a long time before giving the binoculars back to Judd.

“Here you go,” she said. “Thanks for letting me use them.” She noticed the letters ARA carved into the top of the box he placed the binoculars into.

“What’s ‘ARA’?” she asked him.

“It’s the initials of one I left behind,” he said sadly. Alexis nodded, sharing his pain, without words.

 

 

Return to Paradise: Part II: Chapter 6

6

“I remember when the shift became obvious, because everything turned computer-dependent,” a guy about 45, with brown hair was explaining. Alexis heard someone call him Drew.

“You couldn’t operate without them,” added Adam, brushing a long strand of blond hair off his face. Alexis was fascinated by everybody’s hair. She touched her own smooth head. She suddenly felt self-conscious, but nobody seemed to notice that she didn’t have hair. She turned her attention to a woman with long streaming blonde hair who was talking.

“Yes, government programs like food stamps that used to use paper coupons started using plastic cards that subtracted the food purchase from the total food stamps they were given. This allowed everything to be traced, because it was all recorded somewhere on the computer cash register and also on the card. Theoretically, someone could push a button and find out exactly what you were eating,” the pretty woman called Cathy was saying.

“And what certain types of people ate,” Drew threw in.

“No anonymity,” Cathy said, pursing her lips.

“And if the system was down, the cards wouldn’t work, and there was nothing anybody could do about it,” added Allan, a tall handsome man who sat down next to his wife, Cathy, as he joined the group. ‘You just wouldn’t be buying food that day. It was all electronic, so if it malfunctioned, people didn’t eat.” Alexis nodded politely, having never experienced the growing pains of phasing out currency that led up to the microchip system.

“It also cut out the small farmers who were previously selling their produce for food stamps because now they needed to buy a scanning device,” remembered Ronnie with a laugh.

“And all the grocery chains started issuing plastic club cards that gave you discounts when you used it. People laughed at me when I told them I didn’t like someone having a record of how much I spent on groceries and what I bought. All very strange,” said a woman who looked about 40 or so named Colette.

“Mmhmmm,” several people agreed with her.

“Get people slowly used to an idea until the cards totally replace cash–wouldn’t it be nice to just bring your card? Can’t lose it like cash because it has a pin number,” Colette continued, obviously bothered by the situation.

“And no check books!” Judd said gleefully.

“Those annoying check-writers!” Karen, a dark-haired woman with exotic features joked.

“Talking about the card’s convenience made it hard for consumers to refuse,” Judd explained, getting serious.

“All they needed was just their card that would automatically subtract the discounts, too,” said Cathy.

“Exactly,” Allan agreed. “The stores made it hard not to use the technology. Pretty soon, they just had you walking into the store, getting your groceries and walking out without waiting in line for a cashier. The card, and then the CHIP just automatically scanned when you left the store!”

“I know, that’s the way…” Lexy started to say, but nobody heard her over Alivea Malia’s louder voice.

“And people thought this was great. So convenient!” Alivea Malia, a pretty young woman, about 45 or so remembered, her eyes flashing at the notion.

“And around the same time, the microchip in pets idea really caught on. Nobody wanted to lose their pets, so inserting a finder was the perfect solution. And now look, first it was a choice, today, it’s mandatory,” said Drew.

“My friend even had a Teletrack alarm system that he paid hundreds of dollars for in case someone stole his Ford Explorer, the alarm company could easily track it through the system,” Gregg recalled.

“Yeah, if the crook didn’t unhook it first,” Allan teased.

“Yeah,” Jennifer said. “The main idea is the same–prey on their fears–sales work that way. People fear they’re getting old, and they’re getting gray hair, so they use color to hide it.” Alexis wanted to ask about gray hair, but was too shy to speak up, not wanting to draw attention to her own bare head. Someone apparently read her mind. A blond guy looked at her. She thought she remembered him saying he was Wynn’s son.

“In the city, people just shave their heads–nobody has hair–it takes away your individuality,” Simon explained to her.

“Mine just never grew,” Alexis softly told them, touching her head.

“It’s the frequency of the CHIP–it causes the hair not to grow,” explained Drew. “Yours will probably grow soon.” She smiled.

“It’s unnatural–the CHIP,” Colette proclaimed. “And so were face lifts, boob jobs and liposuction.”

“But people could make a lot of money if we thought we needed such things. It’s a mega-millionaire industry,” explained Judd, looking at her.

“Selling people on what they don’t really need by subtly convincing them that they do,” Cathy said.

“Like the CHIP, you started hearing talk like, ‘if you can protect your pet, why not your kids?’ Microchips in the kids would certainly cut out kidnapping–any parents’ worst fear,” Judd said, looking reflective.

Will chimed in. “People believed they needed it to protect their families…”

“And if it could be used for other things too,” Juli picked up the thought.

“Like shopping,” said Karen, massaging Drew’s shoulders.

“Yeah, and anything and everything else. No more paperwork, which was good because there were no trees left to make paper from. Now, just store all the information on the CHIP,” said Judd.

“A perfect solution to the extinction of trees,” joked Juli.

“All of a sudden we shifted from being identified by our social security numbers, then by the national ID card we all had to carry with us everywhere we went, or risk being arrested,” Will tiraded.

“To needing a microchip for ID!” Gregg finished for him. Several people nodded their heads.

“Talk about a computer-dependent society,” Will added. Lots of people nodded. Everybody was quiet for a few moments.

“I started questioning what could happen with this technology,” Judd remembered. “Side effects of having this foreign device implanted in your body. It ran on a lithium battery, which we found out could break down and cause quite a sore in your body.” He made a face.

“And it was too early to tell what other problems it could cause over time,” said Colette.

“And the potential for abuse. Things aren’t always what they seem. I decided I would never get a CHIP and neither would my kids,” said Jennifer, hugging Gabriel, who at 29 years old was still her baby. “I knew we had to move because I didn’t want to accept the CHIP.”

“Most people don’t realize it, but it’s all been prophesied,” said John Justus, his brown eyes sparkling. “Look at Revelations 13:16.” He turned in his Bible to the right page. His wife Kira, daughter Suraya and son Isaiah sat next to him, listening for the umpteenth time as he read:

“‘And he causeth all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bound 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.'”

J.J. looked at Alexis.

 “Wow! I can’t believe it says that!” said Victoria, looking at her mother for confirmation. Alivea Malia nodded.

“That’s in the Bible?” Alexis asked.

“It’s pretty explicit, huh?” J.J. said, looking at her with a smile.

“I’ll say,” Hannah spoke up.

“And it was written way before computers, yet warning of this time,” said Isaiah. “Right Dad?” J.J. nodded at him.

“It had to be inspired by God,” Cathy thought aloud. They were quiet again, remembering the old times. Alexis was slightly shocked, feeling very surreal and thinking this couldn’t possibly be happening to her. She looked around at all of these people, with hair on their heads and above their eyes. They were all so different from herself, but she felt at peace with them. She had a warm, full feeling in her chest. She remembered feeling like this a few times as a little kid when her mother and her laughed together as they ran around playing. She really liked it, but she felt like she should be doing something, and here, there was no school, no job–just beauty and rest. Judd Michael’s voice brought her out of her reverie. She looked at the dark-haired, gentle man. At 47, he was still very youthful and nice-looking.

“Microchips were supposed to save time, but they didn’t really speed things up like they said it would,” remembered Judd.

“Yeah, we just waited for different things. After people were scanned, it sometimes took a long time to get approvals,” said Will.

“You’d wait until the computer said it was okay to go,” David recalled.

“And how about when the computers went down?” Jennifer asked, leaning back against David’s lap.

“A mess!” Karen remembered.

“Nobody could buy anything. We just waited for the computer to come back,” David said. Allan nodded, as did others.

“And if you think that was a hassle, what about when the CHIPs malfunctioned? It took about a week to get a new one. If you weren’t stocked up on food, you’d be begging and borrowing groceries from everybody,” said Ken, a tall guy with a sweet smile.

“Unless you had a garden,” John V. said with conviction. He had been silent up until now, lightly strumming on his guitar.

“Foresight,” Allan put in.

There was silence as everybody thought about their conversation. They had gardens? Lexy thought. Where? She wanted to ask so many questions, but decided to wait as it had gotten so quiet, and she felt uncomfortable breaking the silence. John strummed his guitar a little louder. Lexy listened to the pretty sounds. They seemed to lift her mood, elevating her to a happier plane. They started singing.

“Cause we’re livin’ on the land-Foodland!”

The song was obviously an old favorite because everybody joined in singing the chorus. Alexis found herself humming and then singing with the rest of them. The words were easy to learn, and it was actually fun to sing!

“That made me hungry,” declared Ronnie as the song ended. People laughed. Jovial and rotund, Ronnie had the face of a cherub. He held what Vicky had said was a flute in his hand. “What’s for dinner?” Ronnie asked no one in particular.

Everybody laughed. Alexis didn’t get the joke. Ronnie crossed the circle to talk to her. “You’ll get to know me,” he told Alexis. “Eating makes me tired and sleeping makes me hungry, and so does singing,” he said, grinning at Lexy.

“And just about everything else!” Ken poked his head over her shoulder and smiled. Lexy returned his smile and nodded, overwhelmed by this preparation going on just to eat.

As people scurried to get water and gather guava branches to stoke the fire, Alexis found herself sitting alone with Vicky. Although she had only spent a few hours with her, she felt a connection. Victoria Rose, what a pretty name, Alexis thought. Vicky had a way of making her feel like she’d known her for a long time. And instinctively, she trusted her. When they talked earlier, Alexis had learned that she and Vicky were the same age, born just months apart. But Vicky had been born on the island because her mother, Alivea Malia, and uncle, Judd Michael, traveled there when her mother was pregnant. She had said something about her father being replaced by a clone. She had never known him, but her mother loved her enough for 10 fathers, Victoria Rose told Alexis.

Just then, Vicky looked up from her book, her light brown hair softly framing her face. She looked at Alexis expectantly as if she knew Alexis wanted to say something. She smiled. “How are you? I bet you’re exhausted, huh?”

Alexis nodded. “Yes, this is a big change. I haven’t ever really felt like this, but I’m somehow really awake. I was thinking about what someone said about damaged CHIPs. If they can get damaged and people couldn’t use them, maybe that’s what happened to my CHIP? When it wouldn’t fill up on the laser, or let me get food or get on the rail, maybe it’s broken?” she sort of pleaded.

Vicky’s heart went out to her. The poor girl didn’t want to accept she had been all but erased by her family. Turning off the CHIP made it so people couldn’t operate in society since it controlled everything: access to food (what they called food), transportation and communication. And then the high frequency soundings.

Eventually, if she somehow did survive a little while, the vibrations would’ve killed her as the CHIP screens out the high frequencies, but without the CHIP, the human body could not survive the attack. Vicky had learned all about the CHIP from her mother, Alivea Malia, who brought her to the island to protect her from it. But Vicky didn’t know if tonight was the time to enlighten Alexis. There would be time. Instead, she put her arm around Alexis’ shoulder. “Maybe you’re right. Anything’s possible. But whatever is the truth will be revealed in time. You can be sure of that because the Bible says so. Now, let’s go get some food,” she suggested. “I’m starving!”

 

 

 

 

Return, Part II: Chapter 2

“This is it, honey. Time to go.” She sat up and looked around. Where am I? she wondered.

Excitement filled her. Wynn and another man and a woman were scrambling around. Surveying the amount of bags and blankets scattered around the small room, Alexis guessed somebody was going on a monumental journey.

“Time is precious, Alexis,” said Wynn. “Why don’t you get up and meet my friends, your guides. Alexis Ryan Roberts, meet Will and Juli Waypet.” Alexis met the 6’1″ man named Will halfway across the tiny room. She raised her wrist to Will’s. He didn’t put his wrist to hers as was the usual way citizens recognized one another. Instead, he hugged her. Alexis stood back, shocked yet extremely comforted at the same time by the quick gesture. She smiled, looking at the light brown hair on his head. She almost wanted to touch it.

“Hello Alexis. We’ll be taking you to the island where you’ll be safe.” The island? thought Alexis. Is this really happening? Things were quickly changing, but she’d never heard anything about an island. What about my parents? she felt like asking.

“No worries, Alexis,” said Will. “You’re in good hands with us.” Gazing into his clear, blue eyes, Alexis was somehow assured that she was.

Juli finished stuffing containers of food into a big bag, zipped it up and came over to Alexis too. “Hi Alexis. I’m Juli. Very happy to meet you.”

“Thank you, you too. I mean, I am too,” answered Alexis, feeling calmed by her presence. Even in the dim room, Lexy could see the sparkle in Juli’s eyes.

“You can talk to me about anything that’s on your mind,” Juli told her when they were sitting alone together at the table, she with a cup of coffee and Lexy enjoying her new favorite drink–freshly squeezed orange juice. “I know you’re going through a lot, and I’m here for you. Okay?”

“Okay.” Alexis nodded and swallowed the lump forming in her throat. She had a lot of questions, but it felt better for her to just trust these people and let them take charge for awhile. Will walked over to the table.

“About ready, ladies?” Juli nodded, her blonde curls bouncing on her shoulders.

“Where’s the island?” Alexis managed to ask.

“It’s about 3,000 miles from here, in the middle of the ocean. And the sooner we can get out of here, the better,” Will told her gently.

“The sooner the better is right,” agreed Wynn, joining them. “Everything’s packed. You should be out of land’s sight before the sun rises,” he said briskly. “I better say goodbye now.” Alexis looked at Wynn.

“Goodbye? You’re not coming too? Don’t you want to go to the beautiful place you were talking about Wynn?”

“I do more than anything, honey, but I have work to do here first.” He paused, looking sad. “I’ll be along though, don’t worry. I’ll surprise you one day.” Will and Juli exchanged solemn glaces. Wynn held her hands and looked deeply into her eyes. “Be strong, have faith and trust in God.” With that, they joined hands and became silent. Each one was deep in thought, though conscious of their intertwined roles in each other’s lives. “Dear Heavenly Father, we deliver to your care, Alexis, who, along with Will and Juli, will add to the believers helping to share your love as living testimony to your spirit in the world. Watch over them, Father, on their journey and help us to create a world based on love rather than fear and hate. Our Father in Heaven, Hallowed be your name,” Will and Juli joined voices with Wynn: “Your kingdom come, Your will be done, on earth as it is in Heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one. For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.” They were quiet for a few moments, and Alexis felt a tingling sensation flood her body.

“I feel tingly,” Alexis told the group, breaking the silence.

Juli smiled. “That’s the anointing of the Holy Spirit. God is with us.” Grabbing the last backpack from the floor, Will climbed the ladder and motioned for the others to follow him up into the impending dawn. A short walk down the hill behind Wynn’s house led to a stream with a waiting canoe hidden in the tall green grass near the water’s edge. They were silent, communicating only with their eyes and hearts. Wynn gave Alexis a tight hug and slipped something into her hand. She turned and Juli helped her into the small vessel, which rocked gently as she sat down on the wooden bench. Will dipped the oar and expertly guided the boat into the river’s current. Juli and Lexy waved to Wynn, who stood beaming an eternal glow in the night’s darkness. Alexis watched as Wynn got smaller and smaller and then disappeared.

Night passed quickly. In what seemed like two hours, the canoe was approaching the river mouth. Thinking about the journey ahead, Alexis didn’t realize they were leaving the river’s calm until a wave spilled into the boat. She screamed.

“Stay calm!” Juli told her. “Just hold on!” Alexis held on and held her breath, watching Will guide them through the waves into the open ocean where he paddled them around a point and into a small cove where a larger boat was anchored. Arriving at the boat, Juli leapt from the canoe onto the front of the boat, and Will threw her a rope which she tied to the larger boat’s railing. She held out her hand for Alexis. Lexy stood up, unsteadily and, clutching Juli’s hand, took a big step onto the boat. Will handed them their backpacks and jumped on too. He took a knife from his pocket and cut the canoe free. They watched it escape out to sea. Alexis was more comfortable on the larger boat and she was grateful when Juli showed her a cabin filled with cushions where she could rest.

“Try to get some sleep. You’ll need all of your strength for this adventure,” Juli advised. Lying on the soft cushions in the cabin, Lexy stretched out and quickly fell asleep. Despite the circumstances, she didn’t feel scared, only confident and joyful. Instinctively, she knew she was heading toward a destiny that she had restlessly waited for throughout her lifetime. Her society was so cold. All people did was work to earn money to buy things or to pay for things they already had. As long as people kept consuming, everything was fine, but if they couldn’t have something, they’d work even more to get it. And there was always something new being invented that everybody had to have. So everyone kept busy earning and spending. Alexis wondered if there had to be more to life. She grew bored of things and so didn’t have the drive to work for objects. Instead, she asked questions that nobody could or would answer. Why can’t we go to other places? Why is there a New World Order? What are its plans and purposes? She was never satisfied with the answers, so she wrote down her suspicions, which she gleaned through listening to conversations–her parents’ and others they knew. While nobody had seen her writing, the penalty for the act itself was harsh and might even mean death for breaking the rules and ruffling the order in society. Maybe she would find some answers on the island.

Return to Paradise: Part II: The Island

 

“Oh that I had wings like a dove!

I would fly away and be at rest.

Indeed I would wander far off

And remain in the wilderness.”

–Psalms 55: 6-7

 

Part II

The Island

Not wanting to waste any time, Wynn woke Alexis at daybreak. “We’ve got a big day ahead of us,” Wynn told her while they drank a strong, dark-colored liquid he said was coffee and ate little round balls full of sweet juice called grapes.

“I don’t want to scare you Alexis, but I think you should know the truth. I believe you have a major role to play in it.”

Eyes wide, Alexis gazed steadily at Wynn, feeling the depth of the moment and bracing herself to hear the words that would lead her to her destiny. She had been waiting for these words her entire life. “Okay, I’m ready,” she said, meaning it with all of her being.

“Alexis,” began Wynn. “Our world has changed immensely in the past 20 years.” Alexis shivered. I’m 20. “In the beginning, the signs were subtle to those who vigilantly watched for them. For most millions of others, programmed already by the TV, there was no seeing what was happening. While Americans focused on sensationalized news like O.J. Simpson, secret, classified experiments in DNA, genetics and cloning were being conducted. Who knew? Certainly not the taxpayers who paid for the experiments. We were engrossed by Rodney King’s trials, Bill Clinton’s affair and impeachment trial, not to mention the announcement and introduction of the New World Order, which seemed to happen suddenly without anybody really understanding anything about it. Also, increased terrorism led to toleration, and even welcoming of increased governmental protection and control. There was always some big news happening to focus the nation on, gluing millions of people to their televisions for day by day updates to these situations.

“I don’t really know how it came about, but out of the blue one day, all of our pets were required to harbor an electronic tracking device, the microchip. People understood the need, however, because pets needed to be protected, and what a good idea to be able to track down a lost pet! And why not protect the kids too? Prevent kidnappings. Fear motivation. And then convenience became the big reason to use the microchip.”

“Soon, people were voluntarily getting microchips implanted so they wouldn’t have to carry the required identification and so they could be located anywhere.” Wynn paused and looked hard at Alexis. She nodded, remembering having read such information in the book Wynn had given her. She didn’t try to interrupt him, as she was eagerly waiting to hear more.

He went on. “Having a microchip implant became even more attractive to the masses when currency transactions became microchip-friendly. Rather than carry cash–paper money–you could add and subtract your income and expenses on an internal monitor located on the microchip. Soon it became hard to use cash, and those of us labeled “paranoid” who didn’t want to use the internal device for currency transactions, had a hard time shopping, then driving, and even operating in society. It was the same way with the social security number, which used to be voluntary and now is mandatory.”

“Within 15 years, most people in the United States and some of the other NWO countries wore a microchip.” He took a breath. Alexis blinked. She’d grown up in the “Digital Generation” and felt no fear about it. She knew no other reality and, in fact, recalled what a hassle it had been when she couldn’t refuel her CHIP when she was leaving the city.

Still waiting to hear the big news, she raised her eyebrows at Wynn, feeling the adrenaline surging through her body. “What’s wrong with people using technology? It’s definitely made my life easier. And everybody else’s.”

“Technology, my dear, is the way it’s worded, but it is a tool for a much larger, evil plan. Control. C-O-N-T-R-O-L. First control the individual, then the family, then institutions like churches and states, and finally the whole country–and it doesn’t stop until it’s worldwide and maybe even global–and then it’s too late and too big for anybody but God to end it. Do you even realize what you have never experienced in this world? Well, how could you? You can’t really miss what you never knew existed. God Alexis, I don’t know, maybe it’s already too late. People are content, or complacent; they wouldn’t break their chains if eternity opened the door and rolled out the red carpet,” he despaired.

Alexis thought about her dream, and the overwhelming happiness that had flooded her body briefly touched her again, as if tapping her on the shoulder and saying, “Wake up and remember.”

“Wait!” she said to Wynn. “I know what you’re saying. I wake up some nights and I feel like something’s missing from my life, some meaning, and I used to think I’m crazy, but well, do you think maybe I am missing something?” Without waiting for his answer, she went on. “And then the other night, I had this incredible dream and I think I heard a voice telling me to ‘walk by faith,’ yes, that’s what it was… Can you please tell me what I’m missing Wynn?” begged Alexis.

“I think you’re about to discover that for yourself, Alexis. You’re a peculiar one, for sure. Growing up in your environment, and you still feel the spirit. I can tell you there is hope, and that is what I have for you. There is still a place in this world where people laugh, sing and dance. They grow healthy food in the ground and eat around a campfire.”

“What’s a campfire?” she innocently asked.

“A magical, warm, friend-maker, family gatherer, Alexis. You’ll see. A spirit like yours will thrive learning about beauty, love and friendship. The world you’ve grown up in is in a dangerous time. This microchip ‘technology’ is also a receiver for information sent via computers and airwaves–it’s programming–what used to be called brainwashing, but scientists found computer programming is more reliable and permanent than brainwashing because with the computer chip in control, one’s own mind, feelings and thoughts can’t influence his actions. People are virtually run by computers. Computers, rather than their hearts, minds and souls virtually run their lives. You may not see it everyday, but if you looked, you’d see the atrocities being committed today. People used to travel around the world, meet new people, visit with friends, go to the beach and swim, climb mountains and hike… now all they do is work, and, even scarier–they like it! They’re consumed by the daily routine day in and day out in the same place. Today, people take virtual reality trips to take a “break.” Family? Food? Pop a capsule, who’s got time to chew? There’s work to be done. And still with all their hard work, just about everybody is pretty poor–who are they working for and why? Nobody knows!! What’s in it for them? Money, in a limited amount, but it can be cut off at a moment’s notice. What is the point of a life like this? Where is the joy? People don’t know, and what’s even sadder is they don’t care. They’ve forgotten there’s another reality, and that they have the choice to make decisions and change, or they used to. It’s gotten fairly dangerous in today’s times. But Alexis, don’t give up, because there is a place where people have escaped ‘technology’. They’ve maintained a more natural way of living. It’s been a battle, but it’s one worth living for. Alexis, your CHIP must’ve been turned off. You’ve been cut off from your society. That’s why you couldn’t get money and why nobody looked at or talked to you. They didn’t feel the computerized frequencies–which is how people maintain their connection–everyone else is as good as gone.”

“You’ve actually been blessed, ‘chosen’ to go back to the garden. You can live life, rather than exist in an ignorant hell of robots.”

Alexis blinked. She felt sick. Everything she had ever known was a lie. Her beliefs had been shattered in a few hours of insight. Her head was spinning with information and questions, but she also felt a slight weight lift because she knew it was time to break free from her burdens. A burning, anxious wave came over her, and then the world went black.

 

 

 

 

Return to Paradise: Chapter 14

14

He knew. He just didn’t know how far it had spread. He thought back to when people were protesting the CHIP. Developed by businessmen with an agenda, the implants were in high demand by some citizens of the New World Order (the public). The CHIP would streamline your life, the advertisers said: make theft impossible, money automated, children trackable–the benefits were countless! But not everybody was sold on the idea, including Mom and Dad–it hurt to think of them. Wynn’s parents were among the few individuals who spoke out about the perils of such a chip. “What if?” they’d protested, presenting all kinds of sordid possibilities that such a device could have. They and others of their opinion were silenced. Either they changed their mind after being educated about their false beliefs, or they were give a ticket for an airplane ride from which they never returned–it was rumored that they were all pushed from the airplanes. Wynn had taken shelter when he’d come home from school one day and found the curtains drawn in the kitchen.

The average person may not have noticed such a minor detail, but because of his upbringing, Wynn picked up on the subtle clue that something was not right immediately. His father, a farmer-turned-security guard, had foreseen some sort of disaster and had come up with the signal for danger. His father had coached the whole family, his mother, his sister Lynette and Wynn, that the closed curtains meant something was wrong. They had often made fun of his father, calling him paranoid; Wynn might have even thought his younger sister Lynnie was playing some sort of a joke on him, trying to scare him the day he saw the white kitchen curtains closed. But since he himself would never forget the beating from his father when, feeling mischievous, he’d jokingly closed the curtains on his mother, he knew this warning was for real. He’d run to the underground camp his father and uncle had built for “play.” They’d often advised him that he should go there in case he ever needed to be alone.

In case of what, he’d never asked his father. He somehow hoped he’d never need to know, though deep down he was sure he’d find out one day. He wished his parents were here with him now–though he did know they were in a happier place, and that someday he would join them again.

Lexy’s snoring brought him out of his reverie. He was pretty sure Alexis’ CHIP had been shut down. Otherwise, she would’ve been able to access food pellets, the lasers and monorails. It would also explain why nobody saw here. He knew the feeling. How he missed the days when you could walk down the street and smile at a stranger. Lexy’s existence seemed to have been deleted from society. Being the daughter of Jerry Roberts, she’d have to be extra careful. Surely, they wouldn’t keep her permanently shut off to perish on the city streets with the other outcasts. They’d have to come looking for her, and probably soon, before the next wave of frequency testing.

When people were kicked out of society, i.e., CHIPs inactivated, they were basically sentenced to death, as they could not get food from the machines, and only a handful of people ever made their way out to the countryside (what was left of it) to find the wild herbs and fruit that grew on the trees. Instead, they would try to steal or starve until they were wiped out by the high frequency vibrations that were sounded monthly to basically eliminate those survivors who managed to hang on long enough without their CHIP. Those with the CHIP were able to survive the high-pitched sound waves because the CHIP blocked out the high frequencies from its carrier. CHIP protesters had discovered that holding a piece of copper also blocked the high frequency waves, so they carried copper chips with them wherever they went.

Wynn looked at the floor, thinking about what to do. He wondered why Lexy was led to him. He believed he was meant to help her, seeing he had met her when she was only a little girl and here she was again, almost a grown woman. Was she the one that would make the difference–and was he destined to help her? Maybe they were brought together years ago by “accident” to prepare for this time.

He would help her, he decided, not that it was really a decision. There was never any question about if he would help her, only how he would do it. He hoped Lexy was up for the journey she must take–it would be a long, hard road, but it was their only chance for survival. He had a feeling it might be the world’s only chance, too.

Return to Paradise: Chapter 13

13

After walking for miles, though the time passed quickly, she started to see some familiar landmarks. The big, red barn, and she didn’t remember so many houses, but then just as she was feeling the first creeping of doubt, there it was–the barely noticeable path, hidden between two bushes. She started down the tree-lined paved walkway until it came to a clearing. She veered off to the left and stumbled down the hill, looking to see if anybody was watching, though she didn’t know why–nobody had been paying any attention to her anyway. Her heart was pounding in her ears. She recognized the green bush with the tiny orange and red flowers that Wynn had called Lantana. She crouched down and reached her hand under the bush, feeling for the handle on the small, square piece of plywood that blocked the entrance to Wynn’s home. She sighed heavily with relief. It was still there!! The handle! She lifted the door easily and lowered herself down the hole, her feet searching for the ladder in the dark.

Quiet blackness surrounded her. “Wynn?” she cried out softly. “It’s me–Alexis. Remember? I need help. I think I’m in trouble.” The silence that followed was sliceable and Alexis started to think maybe nobody was there, when she heard a tiny flicker and then saw a dim light appear in the far corner of the dark room.

Alexis stood frozen as she watched a huge figure loom out of the corner. She relaxed as she made out the visage of Wynn. Older, more lined and gray, and with a shaggier beard than she’d ever seen, was Wynn.

She ran to him and embraced him, burying her head in his chest. While surprised at his visitor and her intense emotions, Wynn comforted the ruffled girl. “Alexis Roberts. Little Lexy. What’s happened?”

“Oh Wynn,” she started, her voice shaking, “the writing, my parents… I didn’t know where else to go.” She choked on her tears, which turned to sobs.

“It’s okay, honey, let it out.” Wynn’s towering frame leaned over her 5’7″ body, and his hands gently soothed her smooth head. He wondered about her hair color. With her deep blue eyes, her hair could be any color, were it permitted to grow.

After she calmed down enough to talk, Alexis told him her trouble. Brows together, forehead wrinkled, the wise old man nodded, listening. He digested her story, remaining silent for several minutes. Then, still without a word, he handed her an apple, knowing she must be weak from hunger. Alexis wasn’t sure how to eat it until Wynn demonstrated. She followed his lead and bit into the crunchy fruit. Her taste buds delighted in the sweet juicyness of the round, red ball. Satiated after devouring the entire apple, Alexis sunk into Wynn’s lambskin-covered couch and drifted off to dreamland, leaving Wynn sitting by her side with his thoughts.

Return to Paradise: Chapter 11

11

Cynthia Roberts sat with her trusted friend, Amy Andrews, who tried to give her some comfort.

“I just had this feeling when she was growing up, Amy, that she was different,” explained Cynthia. “Deep down inside, I almost knew something like this would happen.”

“I know Cyn,” said Amy. “All mothers have those feelings.”

“But I knew it,” Cynthia insisted. “Remember when she was really little and you or I covered for her when she would be the only kid not lining up for drill practice? All the kids would get the message through the CHIP frequency, but Lexy would still be playing, totally unaffected. You’ve got to remember those times, Amy!”

“Yes, I admit I do. Between you and me, Cynthia, some of the younger children seem almost immune to CHIP’s functioning. I’ve seen it a few times. But we’ve always managed to keep Lexy sheltered from the consequences.”

“Somehow she slipped through the crack,” her mom mused. Her mind took her back 20 years to a time when her first husband, Michael, was alive. She remembered his own resistance to the CHIP system, a rebellion that led to his elimination from this world. When he voiced his dislike of the new system and demanded alternatives to CHIP-exclusive grocery stores, he never returned home. Ed Blitz himself had shown up at her door with the news of Michael’s car crash and instructions for her as well. They had never recovered Michael’s body, which was believed to have probably been burned up in the explosion or eaten by sharks in the deep waters at the base of the cliff his car had careened off of one dark, rainy night.

Blitz had been sympathetic, but businesslike. He’d come with orders; he’d told her that if she wanted to ensure her own well-being, she’d have to marry Jerry Roberts. Genetically altered, Roberts was sure to be loyal to CHIP’s cause, and there would be no chance of Cynthia getting out of line or expressing herself as Michael had.

What choice had she had? Though it was unspoken, she understood foul play was involved with her late husband’s death. She felt she had no choice but to go along with the game.

Alexis had shown up a month earlier than expected, and the love she had for her daughter helped ease Cynthia’s pain. Inside her, she knew Alexis was a very unique child. Different, which often made her mother uneasy about her future. As a young child, Alexis had asked questions about the sun and the moon and where they came from and who made them and where they went when we couldn’t see them. She’d often sat staring at the sky and the stars for a long time, as if they held the answers to the mystery she lived, while the other children seemed to never even notice them.

Find your answers, Lexy baby, Cynthia thought to her child, but she sat in fear and cried as Amy comforted her in her arms.