Things moved quickly. Local law enforcement and National Guard troops were to go door to door. The goal was to make a clean sweep of the threats and those not in the system. Some of those arrested were waiting in their homes with guns, ready to defend themselves and their property. Others were quietly awaiting their arrest and gave themselves over without a fight. Others ran. Some had holed up and had been avoiding being seen in public in the last few months. The government had means of detection, and bit by bit, they zeroed in on such groups.
The churchgoers who were obedient to the new laws told on the ones who were being rebellious. Family members reported on each other for the good of all, or so they thought. Everyone in the system was devoted to keeping everyone safe. They dedicated themselves to peace and unity. Joshua didn’t understand how they couldn’t see that the Christians hauled off weren’t dangerous. The only way they were divisive was by believing the truth; they wouldn’t create their version of the truth to match whatever was popular.
Joshua was wrong about one thing. The Christians were the most dangerous of all, those who believed God’s Word and wouldn’t let go of it. They were the only ones that had any power to stop the plans of Satan. He was finally overcoming them.
Joshua’s Bible study group had continued to meet in the exact location every day, even though they knew the risk of being reported. When the TNT finally exploded into their meeting, Pastor Jonathan was nowhere to be found. They hadn’t even seen him since he requested a sabbatical and disappeared on his congregation. He had been trying to hide from the reminders of his failures. In the end, he could only think of one way to do that permanently and submitted to his fate instead of submitting to God.
The police rounded up Peter and the others without a fight, but Abigail was not among them. Mrs. Ford had fallen that afternoon. And while she was up and moving and was sure she was okay, she asked Abigail to stay home that evening to help her since she was pretty sore. Those at the Bible study that night were put into a van and driven to a warehouse of some sort. The doors were chained shut except at the one entrance. They were stripped of their personal belongings. Second chances weren’t offered. No one was being released.
They spent the night there on the floor with the rest of the rounded-up rebels. Port-a-potties lined one wall, and every time one of their doors opened, and the smell wafted out, it added to the awfulness of the whole situation. They were given nothing to eat or drink in the morning, and nothing was told them as they sat around. When two school busses arrived for them, they were told only to get on.
They all figured they were being sent to one of the camps. Busses dropped them in an abandoned area. They were packed onto a train and sent on a slow trip to the middle of nowhere so more people could be loaded onto the train.
The train was like the warehouse, bare and uncomfortable. They sat on the floor of the boxcars. As the ride dragged on, they realized why they had been given bathrooms but no food or drink.
When they finally arrived at the camps, everyone was processed, one at a time, each giving his name and birthdate, as well as social security and phone numbers. While in line, Peter prayed for courage, not freedom. The guards ushered those already in the system further inside the encampment if they weren’t putting up a fight. They promised a better experience to the rest if they submitted to the scan, saying there was a less welcoming camp for those who refused.
Though many were sure of their decision, some still did receive the scan, receiving an automatic threat label. Too fearful of the unknown to be shipped off, they had visions of holocaust camps in their minds and were not about to live or die that way. The dissidents were shipped off the next day, piling into the train cars emptied of the new day’s arrivals. As the train pulled off toward the unknown, Peter had at least some idea of what was waiting at the other end. And it didn’t matter. Peter knew the end was the beginning.