In a secluded retirement enclave, north of Philly, a stoic figure sits at a console. His fingers dance across a virtual keyboard. He has no legitimate, social security number or fingerprints on file. Gray dominates his hair and beard, yet his pewter eyes sparkle; an intense radiance that commands immediate respect.
He began an abbreviated countdown.
His efforts to save the planet were now in motion. Within twenty-four hours two disciples would accompany him on a quest to enlighten. It was late January, 2004.
Snowflakes swirled around the pickup as it cut through the night. Behind the wheel, Bob Griffin concentrated on the road. In the passenger’s seat; Lisa Holmes continued to talk about their future.
A near record storm was finally winding down; after a weekend of ice, snow and below freezing temperatures in Eastern Pennsylvania’s Pocono Mountains. As they made their way back toward Philadelphia, the moon slid between wind driven clouds.
They were rolling east on a dark stretch of road.
Coming around a bend the steering wheel bucked, then spun out of Bob’s grasp.
His tarnished, red, 94 Dodge Ram, whom he affectionately called Molly, careened off the paved surface, plowed into a snow filled meadow; where it came to a stop. Before Bob and Lisa could react, a buzzing filled their ears and they lost consciousness.
“So far so good,” the stoic figure observed.
Bob squinted from a harsh brightness; accompanied by a far off drone. Maybe it’s only a spotlight and the noise is from a generator, he thought. So where am I? He turned from the glare and noticed Lisa standing beside him. She was wearing a one piece, shiny green and burgundy number, and her brass colored locks were gathered in a pony tail. He blinked. A moment earlier she wore jeans, a Sheep Skin Coat; her hair hung lose, falling past her shoulders.
“Hey Lis, you okay? Where are we?”
“How should I know, I’m scared. Can’t feel my body,” she complained. Bob searched his surroundings, but failed to determine any sense of distance. The whiteness dazzled his eyes. He couldn’t even tell what they were standing on.
“Do not be alarmed, Lisa, Robert!”
After Bob left the vestibule, he jogged down the steps and jumped in his truck. He turned down the heat, and then slipped Molly into gear. Circling back to the gatehouse he tried to piece together the facts.
“Okay, so what do we have here? I’m driving along the same road I’ve used plenty of times. We’re turning, and Molly,” he slapped the leather covered steering wheel to get the pickup’s attention, “pulls out of my control, hops over the curb and comes to rest in a field. That’s already strange. But no, that’s not even the bizarre part. At the same instant we’re transported somewhere else. Yes doctor, I said transported. Lisa and I are standing side by side. Not in the truck: not in a snowy field, somewhere else. An out of body experience: shared by both of us? And, oh yeah, let’s not forget the voice.”
“‘I am the Messenger.’ Give me a break!” Bob rolled out of the driveway as another thought surfaced.
“How did we get the same information? A shared delusion? I don’t think so.”
He cruised toward the city, questioning his sanity, and keeping under the speed limit. He wanted to tell his dad when he got home, but tell him what? He opted to wait, rather than come off half-cocked.
The Griffins, or what was left of them, lived in what is known as Northeast Philly. Their section, Castor Gardens was a budding ghetto, populated by a generous mix of Spanish, Asian and African Americans. Not very many Anglos were left in this neighborhood, yet the Griffin guys felt comfortable there. Bob’s father George, younger brother Jimmy, and a chocolate Lab named Mo comprised this struggling family. Bob’s mother Sandy was taken from them in a devastating automobile accident, some ten years ago. They say time heals all; no one told the Griffins.
George was a superb auto mechanic, who happened to be employed by Nicholas Holmes’ business partner, Herb Lerner. That is how Bob and Lisa met. Lerner BMW boasted a prolific sales department that kept George and his staff of mechanics quite busy. Jimmy, the youngest member of the family attended Father Judge High School. Unlike many of his peers he enjoyed reading, especially classic Sci-Fi, and he also invested his time on the Internet, honing impressive digital skills.
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