Monday, January 12, 2015

A no-kill Rapture

[Originally posted at Right Behind, in 2010]

He didn't want to be having this conversation again. He tried to ignore her. He had something more important to do anyway. In theory clearing the memory card was the easiest thing in the world, put it in the reader, hook the reader to the computer, and tell it to transfer the files, and forget about it. In practice the only part of the process that worked properly was the memory card. If he didn't hold the reader perfectly still, which was nearly impossible in a moving car, the connection would break, and he'd need to tell it to move the files all over again. That might not be so bad, if not for the fact that the laptop's battery was shot and telling him it only had 15 minutes of power left. Given that it would shut down automatically when it got to seven minutes left, which never seemed right to him, it was critically important that he hold the reader steady.

Which was hard when she was saying things that made him so angry his hands shook. Couldn't they spend a day without talking about religion? He was clearing space on the memory card so they could take a thousand pictures of them having fun climbing a mountain. Wasn't that enough? Why did theology have to come into things?

Finally he couldn't take it anymore. “You think I deserve to go to Hell?” He didn't mean to say it that loudly and harshly, and for a moment he felt bad. But not enough to stop focusing on the computer and card reader.

“No, but...”

And he was fully angry again. It was silly and self centered to think of it that way, and most of the time he would have recognized it as such, but at the moment it felt like a personal affront. She knew how much he hated people stopping mid thought like that. He had always said that if you didn't know what you were going to say you should take a moment to figure it out before you start talking. She knew that.

He gave her what he thought was a reasonable amount of time. And then more time. Nothing. “What?! But, what?” Nothing. He turned to her.

“Shit!” He didn't have time to think about how it was possible for her to be gone, how she got out, or why he didn't hear the door. He didn't have time to think about the way his computer went flying as his entire body lurched forward and his hand shot towards the wheel. Only one thing mattered: Getting control of the car.

When he turned his attention to the road he found there was no road. The car wasn't going down the interstate at seventy miles per hour. It was parked. In what appeared to be a Walmart parking lot. He didn't understand. Had be blacked out? He picked the computer up off the ground, 14 minutes of battery left, the clock had the same time, it was still on the same file.

No time had passed. Where was she? Where was the interstate?

Where was he?


Kelly was getting ready to lunge for the same hold that had made her fall off the wall twice before. This time it would work, this time she would grab it right and it'd be an easy climb the rest of the way to the top. This would be the day. She just had to go.

Which was a lot harder than it seemed. She knew the rope would hold her, she knew Jen was a great belayer. She'd been caught without problem a thousand times before. But the part of her that knew those things wasn't the part that was keeping her short of breath and making the chalk sweat off her hands.

She closed her eyes to collect her thought. Then everything changed. She wasn't holding onto the wall anymore. She was standing on solid ground. She opened her eyes. She would have been standing next to Jen, if not for the fact that Jen had disappeared.


Michael was looking out the window at the fields below. He loved watching the scenery go by and wondering what was happening down on the ground and today was perfect, not a cloud between him and the view. Then suddenly everything changed. He said, “Jesus,” but it didn't seem like enough an expletive. The fields suddenly came up to the window and the engine had stopped.

The plane tilted to the left until the wingtip hit the ground. They were in a random cornfield. He later learned that the pilot, copilot, and nine of the passengers had disappeared.


The ambulance wasn't hers. The shift wasn't hers. The supplies laid out on the ground in front of her weren't hers. But the people on the ground were hurt, that made them patients. And she was the only one around who could help, that made them hers.

The explosion had apparently happened mere minutes before she was transported to the scene. No one remembered how they were pulled clear of the wreckage, nor could they explain where the ambulance came from.

It didn't matter. There was healing to be done, the tools were at hand, and the fact that they didn't actually belong to her wasn't going to stop her from using them.


He'd been watching Elizabeth Warren give a lecture, on tv, then suddenly he wasn't. His response was, he thought, understandable, “Where the hell am I?”

The only answer he got was warnings from the equipment monitoring the patient's vital signs. Explanations could wait, there was a surgery in progress. That he was qualified to complete the procedure couldn't have been a coincidence. Somehow, whatever made his predecessor, Doctor Mary Jacobs, disappear decided to replace her with him.

Perhaps she had been needed elsewhere, what little he had seen of her work indicated she was better than he was. Being magically transported wasn't what bothered him later. Nor was it the look in the eyes of woman who, shell shocked, told him that half an hour earlier she'd been 8 months pregnant, though he knew it should be, or if not that the sobbing he heard as he walked passed the maternity ward, infant care, and the children's wing.

What bothered him was that there hadn't been any time for learning on the job. The time it took him to find out what needed to be done the patient should have died. Instead all signs pointed to a full recovery. It was impossible. As if someone had hit the pause button until he got up to speed.

When he had lunch he found several others with similar impossible stories. One told of how he'd been so drunk he needed both hands on the wall to move, and then suddenly found himself sober in the place he was needed most. Another of being transported to the ideal place to catch and treat a man who had a heart attack after witnessing an entire school bus disappear.


She had to divide her attention between the road and the mirror. She wished she didn't have to spend so much on the mirror, but there was bullying going on and she was determined to stop it. Maybe she couldn't stop it everywhere, but she could make sure it didn't happen here. Not on her school bus.

Then, the children were gone. All of them. She didn't think about the fact that the bus had been in motion. She didn't think about what would happen if she let it choose its own way down the hill. She didn't think at all. She stood up and looked at the empty seats.

She called the names of the best students. Then the worst. Then she called every student whose name she knew. There was no response, and no sign of any of them, but it was impossible. Unthinkable. They couldn't simply be gone.

It would be much later that she realized that somehow the school bus had parked itself by the school, though she was nowhere near there when it happened.


Flying Pony wasn't a pony and she couldn't fly, but what she could do was jump and she was good at the steeplechase. Just as she was about to launch herself over a loon themed jump something changed on her back.

The weight of her rider was gone. She turned to look and then remembered the jump. She remembered it too late. She tensed, but never hit it.

She was alone in a field. Her rider, the jump, the course, the audience, the competition, everything was gone. All she could see was open field. She didn't ponder the question. She was a horse surrounded by tasty looking grass. She started to eat.


One moment there were six cheerleaders forming a pyramid. The next there were four cheerleaders all safely on the ground.


The tugboat didn't notice its entire crew disappear. It didn't notice that it was no longer in a crowded harbor, or that it's engine had been turned off.

A set of high definition cameras that a documentary crew had set up in hopes of seeing the Loch Ness monster recorded the tug's sudden appearance. The monster did not show up.



    I can't even imagine trying to deal with something like that happening. It's so far outside the realm of what seems possible to me that I have nothing to hold on to.

    Good job.