Life As We Knew It

By Lela Markham

Sci-Fi, Action & adventure

Paperback, eBook

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3 mins

Kingdom Come

“It's not the end of the world at all," he said. "It's only the end for us.” Nevil Shute, On the Beach.
She stood before the safe, one hand beckoning, the other holding the cloth-wrapped bundle. Her face hid behind the veil, but her large dark eyes were sad and angry. Shane slid up the wall, bracing himself in the corner, scrubbing tears from his stinging eyes with the heels of his hands. Time had come.
It had been years since he’d thought about God, let alone prayed. His heart had been certain that there was no god. Yet a verse floated up from some long-forgotten Sunday School.
… your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.
“This is my kingdom come,” Shane whispered. “What I earned on earth and in heaven.”
Her eyes demanded his obedience and his legs complied. The locked safe was no deterrent as he knew the combination. Guns on the right, clips on the left. The 9mm felt light in his hand. Unloaded! He always unloaded when he came home from a trip. The clip slid easily home and the gun felt right. Heavy. Final.
She stood to his left as she had that night, clutching the bundle to her chest. Shane raised the gun as if to fire at her, but then turned it, put the barrel up under his chin, deep in the curve of his jaw and pulled the trigger.
CLICK! The sound echoed through the room like a shot, but far quieter.
Not bang? Shane felt the blood coating his hands as he stared at the gun, bewildered why his life hadn’t just ended. He hadn’t primed the first round. Racking the slide, he heard the round slip into the chamber.
If you’re going to do it, do it right! Don’t risk flinching, blowing your face off and living.
That voice was not his or hers, but whoever he was had a point. Shane stared at the barrel, tongue working at the thought of putting it in his mouth. Her eyes bored into his soul while blood stuck his fingers together. She wanted this.
“This is my kingdom come,” Shane whispered again. When you serve Satan, you reap the whirlwind. He raised the gun and opened his mouth to receive the barrel. He hesitated a heartbeat as the taste of carbon and gun oil filled his senses. Every instinct said not to slip his finger into the trigger guard. Do it!
“We are … we are … the youth of the nation! We are … we are … the youth of the nation!”
The cell phone echoed out of the safe, the long unheard ring tone jarring Shane from head to toe. He flinched, dropped the gun, covered his head as he watched it drop. It hit the threadbare carpet, bounced then slid toward the bed.
Shane stared at the cell phone – a cheap LG that he hadn’t touched, hadn’t powered up, in years. After the despised ring tone cycled three times, the phone went silent. With shaking hands, Shane picked it up. Jacob. A moment later the cell vibrated to say a text was coming through. Shane stared at the message.
I’m praying for you! GPJ
The screen went black, like you’d expect from a discharged cell. What the hell? Somewhere on the other side of the house, someone began banging on the front door. Shane looked down at his hands. The blood was gone. He stared around his bedroom, recognized it as his bedroom. Not Ramah. She was gone. She’d never been here. I’m freaking losing my mind!
The banging became more insistent. You could come back from Mirastan, but you brought it with you. He swept up the gun and headed for the front door, demanding to know who it was disturbing the peace at 3 in the morning...
“Abri la puerto, hermano,” Mike replied. Shane unbolted the door while calculating the odds of Mike appearing at his door now or of Grandpa Jacob calling him on a discharged cell now.
“Where have you been, amigo?” Mike demanded, entering without being asked, filling the space with his large, active presence. “You’re not answering your phone, your email. BW is freaking out! What’s going on, Ric?”
Shane’s hand shook so hard the gun rattled against the wood as he set it on the coffee table before sinking onto the couch. Mike blathered on for some time. Tight friend that he was, he wouldn’t have been Shane’s first choice to share this with. Big, loud, and aggressive, Mike was not a deep thinker. But he was here and Shane reached for the lifeline before it slipped away.
“I think I’m losing my mind,” he croaked, teeth chattering with adrenaline.
Mike paused in his Spanglish monologue to frown at him, perplexed.
“What’s that supposed to mean?”
“For starters, I had that in my mouth when you started banging on the door.”
Mike stared at him for a long minute, looking like he didn’t understand what Shane had just said, but when Shane reached for the gun, he picked it up, cleared the slide and thumbed the safety.
“Okay, man. We’re just going to keep this away from you for a while. It’s going to be okay.”
She moved in the door of the bedroom, but Shane knew Mike’s presence would keep her back and for now, he would live.



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