The SST had just begun its long descent to Los Angeles, carrying Scott Wilson and three hundred other passengers from Brussels when the giant aircraft suddenly dipped and then corrected itself. Scott had flown in turbulent conditions enough to not be alarmed at first.
Then the familiar chime sounded and seat belt signs flashed. For some reason – he didn't know why – the passenger cabin suddenly looked different to him. The steward's voice demanded, "All passengers return to their seats at once."
For some reason – he didn't know why – the passenger cabin suddenly looked different to him.
Scott wondered why the man in the adjoining seat had not returned from the rest room. All he knew about his fellow-traveler was that he was an executive on his way to some sort of conference for Christian Leadership. Scott had avoided conversation with the man. The flight attendants were busy attending to passengers' questions, but Scott finally flagged one down and told her about the other passenger. "Do you think you should check the rest rooms?" he asked.
"The rest rooms have been cleared and locked, sir." She said.
"Well, where do you suppose he could be?"
"I don't know, sir, but he's not the only one." Her voice was normal, but Scott could see panic in her eyes. "There are several missing, including the captain."
"The captain?" Scott echoed. Is that why we jerked?"
"Yes, she admitted, "but the plane is under control now. Excuse me, sir."
Scott looked around in amazement. Now he knew what looked different. The once-full aircraft how had a sprinkling of empty seats. He looked at the belongings on the abandoned seat next to him. His gaze froze on the missing man's Bible. An unnamed fear attacked him as he remembered the pamphlet one of his son's friends had given him. Scott tried to remember what he had read before he threw the paper down in disgust. Something about millions of Christians suddenly disappearing some day? Scott had thought that was the most insane thing he had ever heard. It still seemed absurd. His logical mind assured him that whatever had happened on the plane had nothing to do with the fanatical ideas of David's friends. Scott began to think of other rational explanations for the event.
No amount of logical training could have prepared Scott for the mysterious confusion that greeted him in Los Angeles. It took two hours to get his baggage. The airport was crippled by a disappearance of employees. No one knew why.
He saw people weeping and frantically searching for their missing friends
Everywhere he looked he saw people weeping and frantically searching for their missing friends. Phone booths were jammed. Scott tried to use his cellular phone to ask someone in his office to come for him. The circuits were completely jammed.
Traffic in front of the airport was hopelessly knotted. Scott, laboring along with his suitcase, walked several blocks before he found an empty phone booth. After an exasperating wait for the dial tone, he phoned his office. "Nancy," he addressed his secretary, "Send someone out with a radio car to pick me up. I'm stranded at Sepulveda and Manchester."
Nancy asked him if he had heard about the strange things that had happened. He briefed her about the plane, then asked her what she had heard.
"Well, Mr. Biggs went into his office and never came back out. And Joe, the custodian, just disappeared right before our eyes! They both just vanished! Then one person after another got phone calls that someone in their family was hurt or missing. What does it all mean, Scott?"
Scott measured his tones carefully to disguise his own anxiety. "Don't worry, Nancy, I'm sure there's some sensible reason for all of this. Just get someone out here right away."
"O.K., Scott," Nancy said, and then quickly added, "Oh, I almost forgot! Your wife called too."
"She said she thinks your son David is missing!"
"Oh, really?" Scott asked calmly, concealing his fear. "Well, thank you, Nancy. Get that car out here quickly."
A half hour later, inching his way throughout the jammed traffic in a Board of Education car, Scott made two important phone calls.
The first was to Rod Adams in Brussels. Adams assured him that the same thing had happened everywhere, but that they had been expecting the event to take place. They thought it was somehow related to the increased activity of Unidentified Flying Objects. "It's happened before, you know, in the Bermuda Triangle.
They thought it was somehow related to the increased activity of Unidentified Flying Objects.
Scott interrogated Adams, "Why do you think so many of the missing people were Christian fanatics?
"Our records of past disappearances show that a higher percentage of people are taken who have a desire to escape this life anyway. The powers behind the UFOs can evidently sense that." Then he concluded, "Listen Scott, "I've got a lot to take care of. My staff is getting the information out to the media right now. As soon as the papers are out, we'll have it all explained so the people won't panic. Call me later. My people know to put you through anytime."
Scott was relieved, but he was still worried about David. Somehow it seemed even worse if Rod Adams was right. Could David be inside a UFO right now?
He called his home. Michelle told him that David had come home after all. "Well, so much for the Christian-going-to-Jesus theory," he thought as he asked to talk to David. "Where have you been, son?" he demanded.
"I've been looking for my Christian friends, Dad. See, I just decided I really want to accept Christ, but I wasn't sure how. I went to Danny's house, then Joe's, and Kevin's, but every one of them has just disappeared! Now I really believe, Dad. They've gone to be with Jesus just like they said!"
"David, you stay right there," Scott demanded. His short-lived relief that David was not missing was replaced with a stronger sense of disgust. "I can explain everything as soon as I get home."