Apologies to my readers. ...here's the rest of the story...
“I don’t know. We’ve got to find a library.”
“Is there one downtown?”
“Yes. That’s the one I’m making for. But we’re going to park a long way from it. I’m not easy in my mind about this car. You know Blake took our tag down last night and they might have found him by now. We still don’t know what the book is doing in all this. We’ve been given hints, but what has been given to the people who think they’re living real lives?”
“I don’t know. Are we going to abandon the car?”
“I think so.”
“What will we do for transportation?”
“Look. Here’s the library. We’ll have to figure transportation out later.” He drove about a mile away from the library, parked the car in the local hospital’s parking lot. They left the car and started on their way back.
At first they walked in silence, but soon they began to talk as they walked by businesses and people passing them on the street. It seemed surreal to think these people were either living a delusion or were not real at all. None of the people looked any different than people of the real world.
Finally they arrived at the library. Just before they were about to mount the stairs to the door, Brandy grabbed Jonathan’s sleeve, then whispered, “I think we’re on the right track. Above the door, emblazoned in bronze and catching the afternoon sun were the words, “Ask and it shall be given to you, seek and you will find, knock and the door will be opened.”
“What does that mean? Who are we supposed to ask?”
“I don’t know. But I know a way to find out.”
They quickly entered the library and Brandy led the way to the desk, “Excuse me,” she asked a librarian, “Where do those words come from that are over the door?”
“That comes from Matthew 7:7 in the Bible. It’s quoting Jesus Christ. The builders of this library…”
“Thank you very much. Can you tell me where the Bibles are?”
“Yes, isle 3 over there. You will find it under Ancient Literature.”
Jonathan and Brandy lost no time in going to isle 3, and soon they found several Bibles with several translations.
Just as Brandy reached her hand up to take one of the Bibles, a tremendous earthquake shook the building. Books began to fall off the shelves and onto their heads.
“Under the table, quick!” Jonathan yelled, dragging Brandy with him. She made a lunge, grabbed the Bible and followed Jonathan’s lead. Both were shaken to their feet, and rolled beneath the table just as a bookshelf came crashing down. If they’d not been under the table they would have been crushed.
Finally the floor stopped shaking. Brandy and Jonathan were breathless. Brandy pulled the Bible out from under her, showing Jonathan who quickly gathered her up in his arms and kissed her impulsively.
Before she could be embarrassed by the kiss, they both saw the feet of several men at the front desk. They slunk out from beneath the table, and behind the bookshelf that was still leaning over. With Bible in hand they made for the emergency door.
“Won’t there be an alarm?” Brandy whispered.
“Yes. As soon as we leave the building we have to run. Didn’t I see a grove of trees behind the library?”
“Yes; but is it thick enough to hide us?”
“We have to chance it.”
“One, two, three,” he mouthed.
As soon as the latch was moved from position the appalling siren blared out the alarm, and Brandy and Jonathan ran for the trees as fast as they could without looking behind them or to either side. It was half a football field at least before the beginning of the trees. While they could hear the sharp explosion of gunfire behind them and feel the imagined shock of a bullet piercing their minds as readily as it would penetrate their back; they never actually heard bullets whine passed their ears.
They made it to the trees, but could hear the men behind them searching the woods.
“We've got to lose them before we can look in the Bible. Follow me closely.” Jonathan whispered close to her ear.
As it turned out, the woods were much more dense than they'd looked from the library. With Brandy close behind him, they doubled back and around where it sounded like the men were following. They took a sharp turn away from a path that wound through the trees and so headed west from the library.
It was about five in the afternoon and they'd not had any food since breakfast. Brandy's stomach growled loudly.
Jonathan stopped a moment, “yeah, me too. We will as soon as we can.”
They snaked their way through the woods for another thirty minutes. It was dark by the time they came out onto a residential street that had a church and several houses. Jonathan made for the church that had windows that were lit.
“This is an alternate reality. Do you think we can find help from a church?” Brandy asked while they stood for a moment outside the door.
“I don't know but we're going to have to try somewhere. I think we need to operate on the premise that the book wants a good story, so it's not going to interfere. So far we've been given clues to help us. Let's take the risk. We need something to eat, anyway.”
The church was a simple country Baptist church that the city had grown around. It had stained glass windows, a red roof and white walls in serious need of painting.
As they walked in, they noticed a young man with long hair playing what sounded like an old hymn on the piano. The door shut softly behind them. The pianist must have noticed the movement, because he stopped playing, and with a mischievous smile he greeted the couple.
“Hi! I'm Everette.” he said getting up from his piano and walking to them.
“Hello. I'm Jonathan, this is Brandy. Are you the pastor?” Jonathan asked while holding out his hand. The man shook it and shook Brandy's.
The young man laughed, “No. They just let me write music here sometimes. Is there something I can do for you? The pastor won't be back until tomorrow.”
About that time Jonathan's stomach growled.
“Well, there's one thing I can do. Hungry?”
“Kind of.” Brandy responded, cautiously, “but we're also looking for some information and we think it's in this.”
She showed the young musician the Bible she held.
“Well, I can tell you, you're asking a lot. That's the living sword there. You can't get more from any other book!”
Jonathan and Brandy looked at one another, “Yes, we were told we needed to look for the sword that lives. So, we're on the right track. We're kind of trapped.”
“I can tell you, that is the only key to freedom you'll ever find; but come back to the kitchen. The church had a pot luck today and there's still some food left.”
They followed Everette to the back of the church and in the small kitchen they found several buckets of chicken, potato salad and a couple of desserts.
“So, what is it you want to know?”
“It's kind of complicated.”
“The Bible is a complicated book.”
“Should we tell him?” Brandy asked as Jonathan hesitated.
“Yeah, I think we should....”
“But the book....”
“We're going to have to chance it.”
Jonathan looked the young man in the eye. “Do you believe in the supernatural?”
“Yes.” Everette smiled with a sparkle in his eye. To both Jonathan and Brandy it was like he had some secret he thought they'd enjoy. While it unsettled them, it didn't seem to them like he was going to spring something unpleasant on them.
“We're not from here...” Jonathan began with a little hesitation, but soon found himself telling the story easily. Everette had a way of making both he and Brandy feel completely at home as if he'd known them all their lives. When Jonathan came to his theory about the book helping them because it wanted a good story, he was surprised that Everette didn't act skeptical.
“It sounds crazy, I know,” Jonathan finished.
“Not if you've read this book.” Everette said, while placing his hand on the Bible and surprising the couple, “Would you believe that in this book, a donkey talks, people walk across a sea on dry land, and a man is raised from the dead?”
Brandy and Jonathan were unable to reply. Raised from the dead was a little hard to believe.
“But the most amazing thing,” Everette continued, “is that God loves us so much that Jesus died to pay for our sins. All the wrong things we have done, all of us have done were put on him and then he was killed because that is the penalty that was called for.”
“That's a little hard to believe. How could one man pay for everyone’s wrong actions?” Jonathan asked. He'd heard enough about Christianity to write it off. Brandy, on the other hand, knew. She'd chosen to walk a different way than her grandparents. She didn't say anything. She was beginning to have doubts about her choice.
“The only way one man could take our place is by living a perfect life; no mistakes. And then he would take all our mistakes on himself. We all need help from someone outside of our story, someone bigger than us. Jesus is that someone.”
“So what's the point anyway?” Jonathan asked, ignoring Everette’s comments. It was almost exactly what they’d talked about in the car last night.
“The whole point is that God the Father, who created us, wants to have a relationship with us. He wants to reestablish what he intended before the first man and woman ever decided to go their own way. He loves us all so much he'd die for us. And he did. Know what else? Because he lived his life in perfect submission to his and our Father, he came back to life and has made a way for us to be with him. There's no one else and nothing else that will bring us to God.”
Jonathan rose from the table, “Thanks for the dinner, but I think we've gone off track. It's crazy to think someone can come back to life. I can't see how the Bible can help us beat the book we're in. No one believes this stuff anymore. We're much too intelligent.”
“I believe it. Which sounds crazier, my story or yours?”
“Okay, but I would reconsider. If the book is evil like you think, it's going to take a stronger book to overcome it.”
“Goodbye. No offense, but I think this is a trick by the book. We're going to follow a different track.”
“Oh, one more thing to consider....” Jonathan and Brandy stopped and looked back toward Everette, “As far as I can see trusting in Jesus, who is the Word of God made flesh is your only way out. If you don't trust him to help you out of this, you'll be doomed to play this story out over and over again.”
Jonathan and Brandy both stopped and looked at Everette, “what do you mean?” she asked.
“Think about it. The book can be read over and over again and the end never changes. How long will you be stuck in the book only to live it out over and over again?”
“Thank you,” Jonathan took Brandy's hand. They walked out the door, but as they walked out, a bright light shown on them, blinding them.
“Halt!” someone they couldn't see commanded, “This is the police.”
Jonathan quickly grabbed Brandy, kissed her, whispered, “Run!” and took off from the side of the church.
Suddenly two shots were fired, finding their mark quickly. Brandy and Jonathan fell and did not move.
Soon they were surrounded by the police officers. One man bent down and searched for the pulse of Brandy first, and then Jonathan. He looked up at his supervisor, “They're both gone.”
Brandy couldn’t figure out what had just happened. The last thing she felt she remembered was that she was reading a book, but her circumstances now didn’t bear witness to that. Someone was coming into the room through the door with a small window that opened into a hallway. She saw a sudden bright flash, and a man walked into the dank room carrying a large manila folder. He was tall with dark, cold eyes. His hair was graying a little, and was cut very close to his skull. He wore a black suit with a clean white shirt and black tie.
“Brandy Watters. My name is Jonathan Wilson. We have quite an extensive dossier on you.”
“I don’t understand why I’m here….”
“Come now Miss. Watters. There’s no use denying it. We already know you’ve been involved in the Resistance against the state. …”suddenly Jonathan Wilson stopped, he dropped the dossier, scattering papers everywhere. Brandy saw all the color flush from his cheeks as he collapsed to his knees, holding his head.….