Second Coming: Chapter 5
The aftermath of the strange, yet familiar individual’s arrival could only be described as divinely chaotic. The crowd, shoved back among themselves, had fallen to their knees. Some appeared frozen in fear or disbelief, others held their hands in prayer, children weeping, and others holding their hearts and crossing their chests.
The figure found his footing upon the ground and began up the steps in a hallowed swaying motion. None of the volunteers nor the staff attempted to do a thing as he approached. His tender gaze wandered over the lot of us before he came before Joseph himself. The Pastor fell to his knees and took the man’s hands, kissing them.
The wail of a lone siren in the distance pulled me out of my stupor. “Joseph-” I jumped toward him, the camera gear still resting heavily on my shoulder. “It would be the best if we get out of here. Now.”
The Pastor looked up to me, first his eyes wide, then judging, then properly cognizant. “Right, let us go.” He muttered, standing. “Yes, look at the people, his holiness is… too much for their unprepared souls.”
Sharon and Hank and Jess, as well as some of the volunteers, and finally the Mayor suddenly realized their roll. Steven ran up the stairs behind me, breathing hard with the heavy tripod bouncing up the steps. The main group managed to shuffle their way out the rear of the plaza with the strange figure in tow while Steven and I haphazardly packed away the camera gear. With our arms full, we managed to return to my car as the mob of attendees began to realize what had and was happening. More sirens began to close in on us as we finally pulled away.
“What the hell was that?” Steven said, shaking in the passenger’s seat.
“I’m not sure the word ‘hell’ fits for this situation…” I said, clinging to the steering wheel as I rounded out of the parking spot.
“I mean, you saw what I saw, right? And you were still recording, I hope?”
“Don’t put that kind of pressure on me,” I shrugged, focusing more on my side mirrors. “You’ll have to check the camera yourself.”
Steven strained against his seatbelt. “If the feds or whatever don’t take it first. You know they’re gonna be here for… whatever that thing… that man was.”
“We both saw the same thing.” I huffed. “You know what I believe in, and I know you believe even less than that, so…”
“So…?” He sat back up, drumming his fingers on the armrest.
“Well, first thing is to head to the office and make sure those guys aren’t losing their minds.”
Steven grunted. “Not anymore than usual.”
Inside the parking lot of the campaign office, the white rented van that had taken from from the plaza was nicely parked in the spot next to the door. I pulled in next to it. Though the window, the office interior seemed strangely peaceful, and following suit, Steven and I carefully pried open the door and allowed ourselves inside. In a silent ring of people stood encircling the strange individual, who took their hands on by one to look deeply into their eyes.
Joseph glanced up at us both. “Terrence and friend, please join us.”
I caught a skeptical glance on Steven’s face as he crossed his arms over his chest. I moved forward and took the spot that had opened for me between Joseph and his daughter. The man approached, his hands outward, ready to take mine. “Terrence Jackson,” He said, his voice soft and reassuring. “Joseph Cummings has told me as well of your faith put forward for his campaign for leader of this land.”
I felt my arms go stiff out of reflex as the man took my wrists in his grasp. I looked into his eyes warily, but only saw warmth. “What should I call you?” I asked.
“You must know his identity already, Terrence.” Joseph preached, his grip also coming to lay upon my arm. I looked away from the man and to the Pastor. “And he has recognized the need for his word to spread across the country, no longer simply through my voice alone.”
“That is correct.” Said the man. “From my place, I have seen endless conflict, war, distrust, suffering across this land. It was time.”
“It was time.” Joseph repeated. His wife and the others nodded in unison, looking to me. “I will still trust you as my campaign manager, of course, Terrence, but we also have a second voice with which to speak in unison.”
“Young fellow.” The man spoke suddenly over my shoulder, peering to Steven, still standing stiffly. “Will you not accept my blessing as well?”
Steven frowned and back off, pushing out the door. I pulled my hands away from the man’s grip. “Joseph, will you speak with me- in private?”
Joseph looked to the man, then to me. “Let’s. What do you wish to speak of?”
I bit my lip and walked to Joseph’s office, shutting the door after he made his way in. Through the tall side window, I caught sight of the man grasping hands with the others still about the circle before I spoke again to Joseph. “It would be best if we… keep his identity to ourselves for the time being.”
Joseph frowned. “His divinity is something to share with the world, Terrence.”
“If we flood the office with people searching for divinity… or salvation, or whatever people want… the campaign will never go anywhere.” I declared, peering out to the parking lot.
Joseph sighed. “True.”
“All those people at the plaza… they’re going to be wondering, talking… going to the news. No doubt they’ll have gotten some cell-phone footage. The reporters there today will be showing what they recorded on TV this evening, if not earlier, too.”
“You are worried.”
Joseph huffed. “As you advised, we’ll still be taking this one day at a time.”
“The media doesn’t work one day at a time.” I shook my head. “Especially when footage hits the national news. We should… we have to prepare a set of official statement to go by when we receive any questions from the news. That man can be in the background, but we must know more about him before we…”
Joseph slapped the top of his desk with a loud smack. “That man? That is no ordinary man, Terrence. I beg of you, earnestly, to only speak of him in the manner fitting.”
I felt my heart start to pound, but I kept my calm. “You speak of him as if you already know who he is.”
The pastor had turned back to the crucifix behind his desk. “I have dedicated my life to knowing him and all he has done. Speak his name, Terrence.”
My lips trembled, preparing to say the words. “Jesus Christ-”
“-Is who you suppose he is.”
“And who else would you suppose to suddenly descend from the heavens in a ray of light?”
I shook my head. “Perhaps nobody else.” I took a breath, then leaned to the interior window again. The man was at my desk, studying the screen of my computer and keyboard. “By any means, Joseph… we need to take the next week… maybe even month or so… very carefully. The address here is public record, so I think we should lock up for the day, get the lights off, just in case someone… not right comes by.”
Joseph tugged on his tie. “That’s wise.”
I looked to the parking lot once again. “I’d like to return home… get Steven’s camera equipment out of the hot car. I’ll talk to him about the footage we got today.”
With a twist of the door handle, I was out of the office, then out of the main doors, and back inside my car. Without a second look inside, I was pulling out and on the way back to my apartment.
Later that afternoon, I was called by Steven into his room and before the computer screens. “Have a look at this Ter.” He said, scrubbing through the familiar footage. “All of mine was overexposed to hell, but… check yours. Aren’t you glad I told you how to close down the aperture?”
The footage was a washed-out view of Joseph’s back at the podium, but as the video progressed and the light rose to a blinding incandescence, something appeared from the blinding glow, enhanced by the software; an amorphous dark shape just at the source of the light.
“It’s hard to tell, but something is there. What do you think it is?” Steven asked.
“Something I don’t think I’m ready for…”