Monday, December 15, 2003

Tough times for President Fitzhugh 

End of State
A thrilling new political series based on the best-selling Left Behind series by Tim LaHaye and Jerry B. Jenkins
Here at the White House, the theory most widely held seemed to be that terrorists had developed a new and shocking weapon—one that could vaporize victims at random. The United States had been engaged in a self-declared "war on terrorism" for some time now, and the stakes had continued to escalate as a handful of Middle Eastern governments had toppled. Though most of the world's leaders supported the position of the United States, they were hesitant to offer that support publicly. Difficult economic circumstances at home, sparked in large part by rapidly increasing oil prices from the OPEC nations affected most severely by the continuing conflict, made foreign involvement unpopular in most of the European and Asian nations. Even onetime close allies of the U.S. had been reserved in recent years.

It wasn't difficult to believe that one of the nations with access to billions in oil money, a vast array of weapons from the former Soviet Union, and the help of several former Soviet scientists and military strategists could have developed a weapon devastating enough to vaporize a large portion of the population.

Brad, however, had another theory, a theory that had him literally shivering as he waited, agonized, for some kind of word from his wife. Every call that came into the Sit Room announcing the disappearance of another world leader or major figure or personal friend of someone seated at the table twisted his gut into knots. His head throbbed, and he was gripping his pen so hard his fingertips were numb.

Had the disappearances been limited to the U.S., the terrorism theory might have been believable. The American people were certainly terrorized by what was going on. While the U.S. had experienced a greater number of disappearances than many other nations, there were reports of entire communities wiped out by the disaster. In China, nearly ten thousand suspected dissidents, all members of the rapidly growing evangelical movement, were missing. South America had experienced devastating losses, while many European and Middle Eastern nations remained relatively untouched.

As it became apparent that the disappearances were worldwide, Brad began to suspect that he knew what had really happened. The pieces of the puzzle were falling slowly together into a frightening image. In his mind, he could hear the echoes of Sunday mornings spent in his mother's church in his South Carolina hometown.

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