"Those who refuse the mark will be sent to population control," the words on the screen seemed to mock Scott. "There will be no exceptions."
Scott was angry. "How could everything have gone so sour in just a few months?" he wondered. He used to be able to confer with Rod Adams whenever it was necessary. Now he had to be satisfied to "talk" to the computer.
He arranged to talk to his wife in privacy. Michelle appeared in the screen. Her golden hair resembled a halo. Her blue eyes accented her dignified but sincere charm. "Hello, Darling," se said. She had truly become a model wife. But now their very existence together was being threatened.
"Scott, you know that I will always love you no matter what happens, but no true Christian can accept the mark because it means absolute loyalty to Adams and denial of belief in Christ. It would be idolatry for a true Christian to do that."
"Michelle, that's crazy!" Scott objected.
He continued, "Listen Michelle, my objection has been overruled. You're going to have to accept the registration mark. That's all there is to it!" After what seemed like a very long silence, Michelle continued, carefully choosing her words.
You're going to have to accept the registration mark.
"The Messengers have been saying that the next thing Adams will do is to require people to worship him."
"That's absurd!" Scott roared. "Anyway, you don't have to change what you believe inside, just conform a little so we can survive together."
"You told me yourself about the truth test you have to pass to get the mark," she replied.
Scott knew she was right. In frustration he pleaded, "Try to be sensible Michelle! It's suicide not to be registered! And forget that stuff about idolatry. Rod Adams isn't God!"
Michelle began to cry. "Oh, Scott, I don't care what happens to me, but I can't bear the thought of you standing against Christ instead of with Him."
Under the image of Michelle, the screen read, "Chief standing by for teleconference with directors." Scott told Michelle they could discuss it full Thursday.
Certain sections of the area were now beach-side resort complexes for the few people who were still privileged enough to enjoy time for relaxation. The quietness of the area and the clear, sunny climate provided the setting a man in Scott's position needed to unwind.
He could remember when Los Angeles was a bustling smoggy city of industry and commerce.
He quickly confirmed their plans to have a family holiday at their Los Angeles resort, then said good-bye. He could remember when Los Angeles was a bustling smoggy city of industry and commerce. The war and disasters of the recent years, and, worst of all, the earthquake, had reduced the megalopolis to a cross between a ghost town and a forty mile long dump.
Scott nodded to his secretary and the faces of three men appeared on his screen. First was the North American Chief of Staff, Dr. Alvin Newlin, then came the Director of Defense, Norman Thoey, and finally, Randall Thompson, who was Director of Economic Affairs.
Dr. Newlin spoke. "Rod Adams had summoned us to a special celebration in Jerusalem day after tomorrow. We'll have to leave at nine tomorrow morning."
"I can't really afford the time," protested Thompson. "This registration is an immense job for my department."
The tiny transponder, which would be placed under the skin, would replace all credit cards, checking accounts, money and social security numbers. It was indeed a big task for the Department of Economic Affairs to prepare for the changeover.
"It didn't sound like we have a choice, Randy. You'd better let your assistant take over here." The Chief concluded, "See you men at the Airport at nine!"
Before leaving, Scott asked his secretary to be sure that his son David would be at the retreat on Thursday. "Nancy," he added, "I would like you and Brian there on Friday."
The next day, as they descended to the new travel port south of Jerusalem, Scott caught a glimpse of the Temple. This was the first time since the earthquake that he had seen this area. He could hardly believe that such a magnificent structure had come into being so quickly.
It was because Adams had been very generous with the tiny nation that they had been able to accomplish the seemingly impossible feat of erecting this lavish place of worship. In the golden reflection of the setting sun, the New Temple seemed to shine with a radiance of its own.
The New Temple seemed to shine with a radiance of its own.
By the time the group of Chiefs and Directors had reached their hotel it was dark. In his room he plugged his computer into the data port and called up "The Jerusalem Post." He was startled by the headline message: "TREATY BROKEN BY ADAMS." Two trains of thought wrestled for attention in Scott's mind as he began to read the article. Primarily he was shocked at the suddenness of the action dissolving the promised treaty with the small but important nation of Israel. He wondered what, if anything, it had to do with the planned activities of the next day. His second line of thought centered in the boldness of the news papers in Israel. His own department would have kept a news item like that silent in North America. But he realized that Israel was till one of the free nations of the world.
An uneasy sleep finally closed around Scott as he tried to ignore his frustration about his family and his concern about the events of the next day.
Early the next morning Scott Wilson and the other dignitaries were escorted through a disturbed crowd to the Temple where they were lined up in the Holy Place in spite of the strenuous objection of the priests. Telecommunication equipment, which had never been allowed in the Temple before, was trained on a massive covered statue. All the world was able to view the apparently miraculous appearance of Malcomb Evans, "The Prophet" in front of the veiled form.
"Peace and blessing to you, my children, all over the world. Today we present to you the most sacred gift ever given to humanity – this holy figure of Nimrod the Almighty!"
The figure opened its eyes and began to speak.
With that, the covering of the statue burst into a purple flame and disappeared, exposing a huge exact replica of Rod Adams himself. It looked so real that Scott could hardly believe it was a fabrication. Then the incredible happened. The figure opened its eyes and began to speak.
"Beginning today, all the people of the Earth shall worship Nimrod, who is their God, and they shall worship his image in Jerusalem. All who worship him shall receive his mark in the Registration next Monday. All who willfully refuse to worship him shall die. You may now bow before his image."
Scott looked around him frantically as he recalled the words of his wife, "The Messengers say that the next move Adams will make will be to require people to worship him." Scott hoped that this was just a nightmare brought on by Michelle's fanatical warning. Then he heard the image say, "Bow down or die!" All over the audience people began to kneel.
Scott bowed reluctantly. Those who still stood in defiance of the beastly statue were exterminated by a lethal flash of light which emanated from a wand in The Prophet's hand.
When the crowd of "converts was dismissed, Scott rushed to his hotel room to prepare for departure from Jerusalem. He was still hoping that the whole event was a bad dream, but little by little he came to realize that he had actually witnessed what his mind was unwilling to accept.