No wonder the sun is so bright, he thought. It must be past eight! He rolled over to nudge his wife Marana, but was surprised to find her side of the bed empty. Why hadn’t she awakened him if she knew he’d overslept?
His confusion was interrupted by the nagging birr that was still intruding through the cracked bedroom door. Muddled with sleepy questions, Jordan made his way down the stairs. The dull hum had now reached a high-pitched whir as he rounded the corner to the kitchen.
“Marana,” he called ahead. “What’s that noise? Why didn’t you get me up? What time is it?”
There was no reply except for the irritating drone which was easily identified as the blender on the countertop. Sitting next to it was the lidless can of SLIMSHAKE, which Marana had taken to having for breakfast, as both a means of dieting and squeezing a meal into her hectic morning rush. Instinctively, Jordan pushed the OFF button on the blender, snapped the plastic lid on the can, and reached up to push the open cabinet door which was awaiting the replacement of the SLIMSHAKE. At the same time he felt an uncomfortable pressure on the bottom of his shoeless left foot, and bending down to investigate, he saw the offender was one of the snaps on Marana’s housecoat which lay, along with her yellow-rose pajamas, on the floor. Totally puzzled, he lifted them to his face as if to absorb the familiar smell that was Marana.
Where was she? Why were her clothes on the kitchen floor? Why had she left the blender running? Why hadn’t she awakened him?
His puzzlement gave way to little fingers of fear which crept up from his stomach into his throat as he thought about the possibility of something awful happening to her or maybe one of the children. The children! Dropping the night clothes, he skipped up the stairs two at a time to the kids’ rooms, barely stopping to fling open the first door.
“Sarah!” he cried as he stumbled over Winnie the Pooh who had spent the night on the floor. Sunbeams poured through the pink slatted blinds and fell in golden pools upon an empty bed. There was no golden-haired child to reflect their light. Lying in her place was the nightgown she had donned the night before. It was her favorite with hearts and ruffles and “Daddy’s Girl” screened across the front. Grabbing it up, Jordan raced down the hall to the nursery where little Joshua slept in his crib.
This time he expected it. The empty bed. Silently, he picked up the fuzzy sleeper. Though soft and baby sweet, it was lifeless and empty. The dreadful silence was chased away by the welcome ringing of the phone, and Jordan eagerly dashed to the bedroom extension, still clutching Sarah and Josh’s clothes. Confident that it was Marana with an explanation of the morning’s unsettling events, he answered expectantly, “Marana, where are you?”
“That’s exactly what I’d like to know!” the voice on the other end mocked. Jordan recognized the caller as Amelia who was one of the attendants at the daycare center where Marana worked.
“Amelia, isn’t Marana there? ... And the kids?” he asked, trying to ignore the obvious.
“No, that’s why I’m calling,” Amelia replied. “What time did she leave?”
“I don’t know,” Jordan answered. “I’m not sure she’s coming in today,” he added weakly.
“Marana always calls if she is not coming in,” Amelia answered in a somewhat irritated voice. “She knows what a hardship it is when we are short on help, and two others haven’t come in either.”
Sensing that something was amiss when there was no reply from Jordan, Amelia continued in a more concerned manner: “I’m sure she’s on her way. I’ll have her call the moment she walks in.”
It was then that Jordan half-consciously twirled the wand on the window blind, revealing the view of the front lawn and driveway. There it sat where she always parked. Marana’s car. His car was in its usual spot on the left. “Thanks,” Jordan replied hurriedly and slammed the phone down, missing its cradle. Once again he zipped down the stairs and ran through the house room by room caling out, “Marana! Sarah! Josh!” A search of the basement, which included the kids’ play room and the laundry, yielded nothing. Marana’s iPod and ear phones were perched on the laundry table. She always listened to her special music while folding clothes. It helped to make the boredom of this chore pass quickly. Jordan picked up the iPod and put the earphones on, touching the REWIND button instead of PLAY, and started upstairs. Reaching the top of the stairs, he pulled off the still mute earphones, and passing through the family room, tossed them along with the iPod onto the sofa.
It was now evident that Marana and the kids were not in the house, and a thorough check of their small yard and utility shed offered no further clues as to their whereabouts. Even Marana’s bike still occupied its crowded corner. Most of the nearby neighbors’ houses possessed empty driveways as their occupants had already left for work, but Jordan nevertheless knocked on a few doors in hope that Marana and the kids might be there. Either no one was home, or no one had seen or heard from them. Oddly, some seemed to be missing loved ones too, but Jordan was too distraught to give it his attention.
Deciding to trace her usual route to work, Jordan hopped into Marana’s car instead of his own. Somehow it was reassuring just to be in her seat. Not wanting to overlook any signs of his family, he tried not to hurry, although his anxiety was growing as he approached the intersection where his residential street crossed a main artery into the city. There were at least ten cars ahead of him when Jordan was forced to stop. This was quite unusual for this quiet street, especially for midmorning. It was anything but quiet today, however, as horns were blaring from every direction, along with the shrill of sirens.
There must be a fire! Jordan figured to himself. “THAT’S IT!” he said aloud with relief. “Marana must’ve taken the kids to see the fire engines,” he laughed, thinking of how they delighted little Josh. He pushed the radio on, searching for the news report that would confirm his theory. A flood of excited reports flowed from the radio as he switched from station to station. There were frenzied accounts of all sorts of fires, traffic accidents, and even an alleged plane crash, all of which were claimed to have occurred around the same time, about six that morning. There were further unconfirmed reports of what seemed to be simultaneous vanishings of drivers and passengers from vehicles, causing accidents and traffic pile-ups everywhere. In a desperate attempt to find a less hysterical summation of what was happening around him, Jordan punched the buttons over and over, cutting such phrases as “innumerable disappear—” and “Around six this morning thousands appeared to have van…”
Frantically, he leaped from the car and began running back to the house. Marana’s house. Sarah’s house. Josh’s house.
He had to believe that they would be there! It was the only way to quell the increasing panic that filled his belly and spilled into his chest with painful urgency as unthinkable answers formed in his mind. Answers based on what he had long considered to be fictional human fantasy were now coming together, born out of futile conversations with Marana, and even from amusing little stories from Sarah. They had all seem so far-fetched but harmless enough.
He bounded across the lawn and through the door he had left open in his rush. The house remained eerily silent and empty. Jordan knew there was no point in searching the house again. They were not there!
Sinking in defeat onto the sofa, he flicked the remote to the television. Like the radio, its airwaves were saturated with unrelenting reports of that morning’s momentous events, coupled with endless video feed of divers accidents and emergencies. It was the same with every flick of the remote, and as he paused on CNN, for the first time he was hit with the reality that these vanishings and subsequent catastrophes were global!
In disbelief Jordan rocked back and forth, head in hands. “NO!” he wailed over and over. As his arms dropped to his side, his hand brushed up against Marana’s earphones that he had discarded earlier. In an effort to escape the harsh realities unfolding around him, Jordan slapped them on and pressed PLAY on the touchpad. With flawless harmony, a crescendo of voices penetrated his inner ear … “Someday… I’m going to be… caught up to meet the Lord… I want to be r-e-a-d-y when He comes…” “…Maranatha” (1Corinthians 16:22): “Our Lord will come.”