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The following is an excerpt from the beginning of the book. To read the full novel, visit this page here.

When the dust had settled and everyone had been accounted for, our Organization began providing us with the details we needed to take our first steps into the New World.

         Atlanta, the city I had lived in during the decade leading up to Armageddon, was mostly ruins. What hadn’t burned to the ground was hardly fit to live in; and besides, no one was eager to stay in a crumbling city that reeked of death and decay. The suburbs that rubbed shoulders with the city hub, on the other hand, were mostly in livable condition, and many of our friends ‘upgraded’ to these areas, usually moving in with groups (and in some cases whole congregations) of other Witnesses.   

         The passing of the Old World, however, brought a sense of adventure for those who weren’t ready to settle, including many who’d previously been in full time service. Theirs was the idea that The world was so big and so full of possibility, and Why the rush to settle? After all, the Organization had put out a call for volunteers who were willing to travel.

         For a guy like me, who had always wanted to be a part of the action (but was too busy), this was the perfect opportunity. I had no sales quota to fret over, no family responsibilities, no mortgage on a house I could barely pay for. I was ready to go. The Resurrection was decades off, we’d been told, and I wanted some sort of legacy to pass on to my family when I saw them again.

         So I grabbed my old hiking backpack from what remained of our attic, stuffed it with a few essentials, and headed to the local recruiting area, a sprawling Wal-Mart parking lot not far from my neighborhood. There were still a dozen or so parked cars in various spaces. Cars from before the Great Day. Cars that would never be driven again.

         At the far end of the parking lot, next to the Home & Gardening sign, a small throng of volunteers had gathered. Many had already helped themselves to folding cots and camping chairs from inside the store and were sitting in the shade of the carport, waiting. A folding table had been set up in the entrance to the store, with several brothers working busily behind it.

         At exactly 10 o’clock, one of the brothers, whom I recognized from a nearby congregation, stood up with a bullhorn. 

         “Brothers and sisters, could we please have you attention. In the next few minutes we’ll be going over a few items and if you could all gather around we can answer your questions and get you all signed up.” The bullhorn clicked off and the friends shuffled towards the table.

         A few minutes passed. There were over a hundred of us there waiting in a knot of anticipation.

         “Ok, first of all, congratulations. You have all made it through the Great Tribulation, meaning that you are the Great Crowd. We all had to face a lot to be here today, and the brothers want to express how happy we are to see all of your faces.”

         A thunderous round of cheering and applause shot through the crowd. It was a kind of release, making all that noise, a way to express the many emotions that had been roiling inside us. Excitement. Relief. Joy. Trepidation?

         “Of course, Jehovah has given us work to do, and through his Organization, he’s directing that work one step at a time. Now, it’s still very early, so we don’t have all the details; however, we do know that the Organization has formed several new Regional Committees to spearhead the cleanup work. You probably all heard about this through the letter that was read in your congregation meeting two weeks ago, but just as a refresher, we now have a Regional Salvaging Committee, a Regional Demolition Committee, and a Regional Transit Committee.

         “The RSC is in charge of collecting as many usable goods as possible from homes, stores, shopping malls, warehouses, and so forth. These goods will be catalogued and stored for everyone’s use until we can get production underway for our own goods. The RDC will be in charge of the heavy cleanup, meaning wrecking balls, bulldozers, and explosives...” A few chuckles of approval rippled through the crowd around me. “The RTC will be in charge of communications and shipping logistics, meaning lots of travel between cities carrying goods and mail and so on.”

         ”Now, we don’t know how long each of these crews will be out there, and we’re only asking for as much as you’re willing to give. If you want to volunteer for a year, five years, ten, it’s completely up to you. Of course, if you decide not to sign up, you’ll be involved in more or less the same work anyway, but it’ll be a little less specialized, more local cleanup. The RC’s are going to be on the move constantly. If you stick with one of the crews, there’s a good chance you’ll get to travel to other cities and possibly, down the line, even other countries.“ There was a nudge on the brother’s shoulder and he pulled back for a moment while someone whispered in his ear.

         ”Oh, sorry, not countries. Other regions,“ the brother said with a smirk. ”Any questions?“

         Several dozen hands poked up above the sea of heads.

         ”Can families sign up?“ Asked a brother who held a small child in his arms.    

         ”The direction from the branch is that ‘mature young ones who are capable of strenuous physical labor’ are welcome to join with their families. If a child is eighteen or older, he can join independent of his parents. If it’s a young child, though, it’s probably best to wait until the child is a little older. Like I said, there will be plenty of local work to do...“

         The brother with the child nodded and withdrew quietly from the crowd. I heard his son say, ”Daddy, are we going home now?“ as they walked away.

         ”Any age restrictions for the elderly?“ Asked a white haired sister in jeans and work boots. Her hands were on her hips and she had a serious look.

         ”Nothing here about that. We’re all getting younger, after all.“ The sister nodded, satisfied.

         ”What about tools? My house is gone, I have nothing,“ said another voice.

         ”Not a problem. Tools will be provided by the committees you are assigned to. All you need is a couple changes of clothes. Anyone else?“

         ”Any word yet on the Resurrection?“ It was an elderly brother. He was wringing a baseball cap in his knobby hands.

         ”I’m sorry, brother, but we have no information on that yet.“

         The questions were endless, but if anyone was feeling impatient, they didn’t show it. Rather, the crowd seemed to be paying rapt attention, not wanting to miss a detail. Finally, the brother with the bullhorn said, ”All right, if you’ll now please line up and fill out some papers, we can get you assigned.“

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