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Nocturne’s Reaping® : Dirge

Chapter 19

Jack didn’t want to upset Nora by telling her what his life used to be like. It wasn’t her fault that for some people life on Colony 52 was always dire. He knew it would upset her, so what was the point in bringing it up? Did it bother him that she hadn’t thought much about the reasons why some people were living under the streets? Nora had been reared in the area, so it seemed normal to her on some level. Jack figured she just assumed it was a choice they had made. Besides, it wasn’t as though she had made it that way, nor was there anything she could do to change it. Truthfully, while he was horribly concerned about her, he admired the way Nora hadn’t insisted everyone else deserved to be at the Institute more than she did.

But it wasn’t the first time he had been impressed by Nora. The day when he first saw her had moved him greatly. There was this girl reaching out to him, not out of pity but out of some sort of connection they seemed to have between them. It had been a very bad day for Jack. He had just learned that the small scrap of property that he, his parents, and his many brothers and sisters had occupied was being taken away from them. On a regular basis there was upheaval in the power structure below the pavement. Still, for over two years they’d had a period of stability, which had left them with a false sense of security. Then, circumstances changed again. The new leader apparently wanted more space for himself, so everyone else was pushed farther and farther down into the depths. Jack’s life at that time was barely tolerable. He couldn’t imagine being pushed farther away from the sky. It felt almost like being buried.

Therefore, Jack ran away from his family out of frustration. In his young mind, he could avoid the move by hiding from his parents. Maybe it would cause his parents to finally stand up and complain. It was childish; he realized that later. It wasn’t as though his parents were to blame. There was nothing they could do other than just survive. After awhile, Jack found he had had enough sulking. He climbed off the grimy pipe he was sitting on and headed back to the site of his family’s former hovel.

Only instead of two angry parents there waiting for him, there were only rumpled cardboard and the remains of their personal possessions. Jack’s brow furrowed, and he gasped. To his left, he could see more groups of people coming with belongings in his direction. Jack knew at that moment he had no choice but to descend into the bowels of the sewer system in search of his family. The route to his family’s location ended up being indirect; there were winding paths in the bowels of the underground, which brought him toward the surface more than once. It was during this wandering that he ran into Nora for the first time.

No, he couldn’t fault Nora for not knowing. Truth be told, even Jack wasn’t aware of how the whole ordeal began. Why had the government allowed some people to live like that? Perhaps, awhile ago the choice of some desperate people had been to seek shelter in the depths. Then, somewhere along the way, the shelter started to become viewed either as a problem the rest of the colony didn’t want to deal with or something those underground actually wanted. Either way, at some point, those people and their offspring were forced to stay there. So, instead of a sanctuary, it became a prison. And those underground went from being seen as willing to adapt to a problem, which the entire colony had, to being seen as the problem.

The social atmosphere, henceforth, began to change, and what little space was actually present down below was soon eaten up. Those few times the underground populace caught sight of a “land dweller” they could tell the attitude toward them had changed — had become hostile. It was almost as though these underground human beings weren’t human beings at all. It was almost as though they were like an overpopulation of rats — filthy, disease-carrying rats, which were taking up space and resources.

Perhaps, they had become a reminder that things weren’t going so well on Colony 52. The colony had started out as an outpost between two other systems, a place to refuel when the fuel capacities of star cruisers had been lower. The fuel capacity grew over time until it became quite efficient. This development was wonderful for the rest of the colonies but disastrous for Colony 52. The outside visitors almost stopped coming altogether.

Then, many years later, the nebula reapers made an appearance as they wafted through the cosmos. Fortunately, the energy field designed to prevent meteoric collisions with the colony trapped the nebula reapers before they could prey upon the residents of Colony 52. But they were there just a breath away — looming — stuck in a device, which was never meant to last forever.

It didn’t help that few were willing to deal with Colony 52 at all at that point. Only necessity could drive people to face the looming threat of the nebula reapers, and now Colony 52 was no longer a necessary stop. The only way the government could get anyone to transport people and things even on a limited scale to and from Colony 52 was by enforcing existing ironclad shipping contracts. The results, however, were largely a failure. Most of the star cruisers took a large portion of Colony 52’s interplanetary currency and failed to deliver any supplies. The government of Colony 52 did get its revenge on these ships, however. And it used its pre-existing relationship with the Security Force to do so. It had the Security Force track down the rogue ships. The crews of the rogue ships were then sent to prison colonies.

The government did organize a transport program of its own. They used the threat of the Security Force to keep the crews loyal, so that they would return to Colony 52 with the purchased cargo. The government, therefore, managed to trade for meager amounts of supplies from that point on. Yet, it was obviously an insufficient undertaking. Unfortunately, the citizenry didn’t want to expand a program that would use so much of the scant resources the colony had left without providing an adequate return on the investment. And the populace seemed even more against relocation of select individuals. If they weren’t all allowed to leave, no resident should be permitted to go. So, everything was left at a standstill in terms of a useful plan; but the resentment — that was still growing.

While the nebula reapers were out of the direct line of vision of the land dwellers, the people of the underground communities were visible — if you bothered to look for them. They became the symbol of the problems facing the planet, an embodiment of the helplessness they all felt. The “undergrounders” were taking up resources that were needed to contain the nebula reapers. They were accused of overpopulating a planet, which could scarcely afford to waste any more of its precious resources on them.

The tension caused weird theories to emerge. One such theory was that the nebula reapers would have moved on with minimal loss of life if they hadn’t been contained. Unfortunately, now, because of the cage, the nebula reapers were motivated to destroy them all. Jack always found that one to be an odd thought growing up. After all, how could anyone possibly know that? Yet, most of the feelings people had about the ever-present threat were bizarre and destructive. The way he was perceived — the way he was blamed — weighed on Jack when he was small. He remembered asking his mother why. Had the undergrounders caused death to come? His mother, a wise woman, would smile and say death had existed a lot longer than Jack and the others had. Jack had wished he had her perspective, but he looked at the world through the personal eyes of a child. It hurt; that was all he knew then. But Nora managed to change his viewpoint on himself that day. There was a little piece of determination that grew from that encounter. He realized he was fully a person. He knew that before; he was told it many times to be honest. But the environment he’d lived in and the way he’d been treated because of it had taken its toll. After meeting Nora, he had begun to really feel it was true.

Jack was able to find his family after much searching. For their family, starting over in a worse position was difficult. There was little room. The noise was the hardest thing to take. Every time people talked, the sound would echo. But it was the situation that was the problem, Jack’s mother would remind him, not any one person. She kept that positive attitude even when an illness spread through the lower depths. Eventually, it would cost Jack his entire family. Jack often wondered why he alone survived. He had this haunting thought that his family had been intentionally exposed to the pathogen while he had been separated from them.

Not long after that, with the emptying of certain areas of the city, there was a relaxing of the guard around the tunnel dwellers. At first, those underground only emerged at night … then they ascended in the day. Eventually, they began to claim a little territory of their own in the older part of town. Yet, it was only when a large number of the land dwellers began to move away to other parts of the city that the tension eased. Unfortunately, Jack didn’t see Nora after that one time, and he figured she’d left with the others. He knew he’d always be grateful to her even if he never saw her again. Then, one day, he did see her, and he felt that same way he had that first time. Unfortunately, that was the same day that this horrendous, odd, and inexplicable situation began.

This situation wasn’t entirely a shock to Jack, yet it had never happened before. Jack felt partially responsible in regard to Nora for encouraging her to stand her ground on that roof. Maybe they could have gotten off the roof together. It would have been a risk; she could have fallen. But now, if he had that moment back, he would have taken the chance. If they had made it, they might have both been better off. Given the way things had turned out, it seemed obvious that he should have gone for it. If only he could go back to that moment and change things … if only … But there was no point in his dwelling on that. Nora was still alive; that was what Jack had to focus on. And he had no intention of letting her down.

Jack knew it would be difficult to get a meeting with one of the mayors. He, therefore, decided it would be best to try to meet with the one from his district. That way, he wouldn’t have to waste time proving who he was and why he was there. Jack skulked along the streets. He wished he could get a taxi to take him there in order to save time, but he couldn’t take that kind of a risk. He also couldn’t risk being seen running through the streets as though someone were chasing him. Jack tried to remind himself that it was night, and it seemed unlikely Nora would be sent out at night. Then again, could Jack really assume anything? What if location were the most important consideration? If the only known window of time were at night, would they postpone? Jack quickened his pace.

When he finally made it to the mayor’s section of the underground, he was forced to wait. It probably didn’t help that he was out of breath, wet, and disheveled. For a moment, Jack worried that the mayor’s attendants were going to lead the mayor out the back to avoid him. Fortunately, this mayor was not easily intimidated and wasn’t about to gain the reputation of being that way. As soon as his last meeting was over, he sent directly for Jack.

“Have a seat, young man.” the mayor directed. “Well, they say your name is Jack Callahan. Now that I see you up close, I believe I’ve seen you around here. Although, I believe that was years ago.”

“My family and I were relocated.” Jack replied.

It took some effort for Jack to avoid having bitterness in his voice. He knew that wouldn’t help.

“Yes, it’s unfortunate that space is a commodity. Of course, it helps that we’ve made strides in moving toward the surface. I stay around here to look after the others.”

More than likely he was afraid of being arrested. After all, no one from the surface was supposed to receive direction from an undergrounder. It was considered enough of a risk to the government of the colony that citizen undergrounders were moving to the surface and trying to blend in. If the government suspected someone in the underground leadership was actually behind the relocation, that person wouldn’t be free for long.

“Yeah … well, do you keep track of those people?” Jack asked him. “The ones who went to the surface?”

The mayor raised an eyebrow. Jack could tell by the man’s expression that he was aware that something was going on.

“I’ve come from the place they were taken.” Jack told him. “They’re being used against the nebula reapers. Some have already died.”

The mayor shifted uncomfortably. For a moment, Jack grew concerned that the mayor was in on it. Jack began to look around for a means of escape in case that turned out to be true. Even so, Jack couldn’t imagine being able to get back into that compound to help Nora without some kind of assistance.

“Is that so?” the mayor inquired. He leaned back in his chair.

“You may have seen all the debris that fell before. The government probably explained it some other way, but if you don’t believe me it shouldn’t be hard for you to check it all out …” Jack started.

“It’s not that.” the mayor insisted. “We’ve actually been aware something was happening for a while. So, you say you know where the people went?”

“Yes.” Jack told himself not to count on this man. Jack knew the mayors to sit on their hands while other people suffered — assuming they didn’t cause the suffering to begin with. But Jack had to try to find help for the others. Nora would expect him to try. However, saving Nora would mainly be up to him. He doubted he would be able to compel these men into action too quickly — if at all. No, the most Jack could hope for was to get them stirred up. Whoever was in charge of procuring people for the Administration might be distracted by the unease and make motions to quell it. That kind of distraction was exactly what Jack needed. If it could draw some of the guards from the Institute away, that would help him with his plan.

“There is an installation south of here. They were taken there. They’re training them to pilot planes to fight the nebula reapers. The last group of recruits all died.”

There was a look of indifference that crossed the mayor’s face. Maybe the mayor had the same viewpoint on the people from the underground that the Administration did; maybe he also viewed them as expendable.

“How do you know they were from here?” the mayor finally spoke up.

“Where else?” Jack responded with disdain. “Listen, I think we both know it’s true. And at the rate they’re going, they’ll probably have cleared out everyone here soon enough.”

That got him. Jack could see the mayor flinch.

“Well, I’ve got some people I need to talk to about this situation … if you’ll excuse me.” the mayor dismissed Jack.

Jack and the mayor stood. Then, the mayor called for some of his men. Jack stepped backward and slipped out the door. He went back into the dark spaces as the mayor’s men scurried in.

Copyright © Jennifer Alice Chandler 2016

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Nocturne’s Reaping® : Dirge

Chapter 18

Nora was shaking by the time she returned to her room. And when the door was shut behind her, she wept upon the bed. Jack was gone. Moments after she let him go this last time, she half expected time to just stop — the book to end — the screen to go dark … But she was still there, and time was moving imperceptibly forward, trapping her in a nightmare. Waiting to die … waiting to die badly.

Nora curled up on her bed. The only action she could think to take now was to pray for the others: her parents, her brother, and Jack. Maybe somehow it wasn’t too late for them.

Nora could feel herself slipping away; though, if she had been honest with herself it had been happening by degrees for a long while now. Internally, she was vacillating between panic and numbness. She tried not to think about it, for when she did the panic would set in. She was afraid it would overcome her if she let it out. But she couldn’t get enough distance from all of this. She couldn’t feel as though she was her own person; she couldn’t get past the feeling of helplessness — it was crippling her. She rocked back and forth … back and forth.

 

***

Things were accelerating faster the closer it got to the end. In the early morning hours, the recruits were summoned back to the auditorium and were kept there for hours straight. Eventually, the instructors began repeating the same information, drilling it into their heads. At least this repetition meant that Nora could tune them out. It was harder to tune out the pilot training, which occurred in shifts later.

“What was that?” the instructor demanded. “You?!”

He slammed his fist next to Nora’s head. Nora looked at him in a daze. It was true that her mind had wandered off, and that she had had to overcorrect in order to avoid the ground. Still, it wasn’t intentional … it was just.

“Are you trying to kill us?!”

Nora looked straight ahead. Now that was ironic! Of the two of them, it seemed she was the one destined to die. But how dare she put his precious life at risk! Forget what they were doing to her — what they were all doing to her. Nora mustered what little energy she had left to glare at him.

“I’ll try again.” she suddenly relented.

“So, what, you can finish the deed?” he demanded. “You’re not the only one who’s done this. If you’re going to try to kill yourself, do it on your own time.”

Nora wondered what he meant by that. Did the pilot know something about that plane crash, or did he just suspect? Nora shook a little inside. Somehow, it made a difference to her. It was one thing to suspect something, quite another to know it. Nora looked down. It was so sad to think of the state of mind of those people if it turned out to be true.

“I don’t want to die.” Nora asserted.

“You could have fooled me …” the pilot trailed off.

In the mirror to her right, she could see him nervously rub his legs with his hands.

“Listen, we still have time left in our session, and I’m supposed to prepare you … You know, this plan is your best chance for survival. If you train well, you could live …”

“Don’t.” Nora said lowly while looking downward.

“Don’t what?”

Nora turned and looked at him directly.

“Don’t try to appease your conscience.” she told him.

It was Nora’s own small way to rebel. For the most part, she still felt helpless to make any real changes to the way things were. Even as she uttered those words, she could tell her voice sounded tired, almost defeated. There was so little of her left it seemed. Then, an awkward silence ensued between the two of them as they stared at each other. Nora blinked first.

“I’ll try again.” she repeated resignedly.

“Good. Do that.”

 

***

 

 

Nora walked back alone to the dorm. That would be the last training session until … The latter part of the pilot-training session, after she found her focus again, actually went fairly well. It went so well, in fact, that Nora could tell that the pilot had indeed let himself off the hook in regard to his responsibility to her and the other recruits. He had done all he could in his mind. What happened to her now was up to her.

“Yeah right.” Nora thought.

It was all within her control; that was how they rationalized it. So what that it wasn’t true; they found a way to live with themselves. And they’d be alive to wake the next morning in their own beds.

The wind cut through Nora that day, and the sky, lit only by the Institute’s bright lights, was overcast. Maybe the clouds meant that today wasn’t going to be the day. Then again, maybe they were just planning to get the rain out of the way, so that they could send them off soon. It didn’t matter, Nora told herself. It was inevitable anyway. Today, tomorrow, next week — time was ticking down, and it wouldn’t get any better. She was going to die. Nora braced herself against the wind and continued on.

Hours later, it was a bright, sunny morning. Nora awoke to the light penetrating her eyelids. She wasn’t surprised when the loud speaker crackled awake from just outside her room. This was the day.

 

***

 

 

Jack knew he had to escape. It was the only way to rescue Nora. Now, he could afford to take the risks he hadn’t felt comfortable taking that fateful day he and Nora were abducted. He could now risk his life without risking hers in order to save her. Still, he wondered whether he would be given the opportunity to escape his current captors. Jack knew his indecisiveness in regard to when to try to break free could cripple him if he let it. His instinct was to try to leave as soon as possible. After all, any moment could be his last. They could turn around right then and shoot him in the head. On the other hand, if he tried to break loose and failed it would most likely be over at that point anyway.

Eventually, they pulled alongside a large building on the outskirts of the city. It was a plain, three-story building. It was sort of worn-down, and it resembled a box. Jack looked around him as they led him inside. He spied what appeared to be a sewer grate in the middle of a nearby side street; it stuck in his mind. Getting underground seemed like the best plan, but how would he manage it?

Fortunately for Jack, they wanted answers from him. What was even better was the fact that the interrogator hadn’t arrived yet. Therefore, Jack was left — still cuffed — in a room alone. One of the things Jack had learned as a child was how to break free from handcuffs. Jack waited a little while just in case someone was watching him. He couldn’t afford to wait too long, or he’d miss his chance. Jack figured they wouldn’t need an interrogator if they were just going to casually ask him questions. And after they decided they’d gotten as much from him as they could … well, he probably wouldn’t have long to live after that.

Jack began looking around for something to pick the lock of the handcuffs with. His eyes spied a nail, which was sticking out of one of the legs of the table. Jack turned himself around. He grasped the nail with his fingers and began to wiggle it. Luckily, the wood was old, so the nail began to give way. The thin nail was a good size for what Jack was attempting. It was as though it was meant to be. Perhaps, Nora was praying for him. Under the circumstances, that might be the only thing that could make the difference. Jack finally freed himself from the tight-fitting cuffs around his wrists. Since there was no way out of the room aside from the one door, that door would have to be his avenue of escape.

When Jack tried the knob, it wouldn’t turn. There was obviously a lock on the knob. Jack figured that lock should be pretty easy for him to overcome. He hoped that lock was all there was preventing his escape. Jack hadn’t heard anything such as a latch being shut on the other side of the door. Yet, if there were, escape would be nearly impossible. The noise it would require to free the door would certainly draw the attention of any guards. Jack set to work on the lock. It seemed to be taking quite a bit of time, but in actuality it wasn’t taking long at all. Then, suddenly, the knob seemed to give way.

Jack turned the knob slowly until it would move no more. He then pushed on the door with equal care. There was a slight catch. He held his breath. Seconds later, it gave. Jack slid it open carefully. He could hear voices to his left, but fortunately no one was in sight. Jack’s first thought was heading toward the building’s entrance. But there was another possibility. If he made it to the basement or a garage, there might be access to the sewers. The fact that there was no one in the hall probably meant that the obvious exits were being guarded from the outside. Maybe it was a long shot that there would be access to the underground from the depths of this building. However, Jack figured it was his best chance not to be caught. If he had to, he’d try the front entrance. He knew he’d do whatever he had to do. But, in the meantime, he chose to turn toward the right and look for some stairs heading downward. Fortunately, on the other side of an old rusty door, he found them.

The stairwell was very dimly lit, but Jack could still tell that it was rickety. Jack forced himself to carefully shut the door; then, he went to the stairs. He tested the wood with his foot; it seemed stable enough. Even so, he figured he’d have to be careful proceeding. Otherwise, he would be risking the possibility of having the whole structure come down. Not only would that most likely injure him severely, it would also create a lot of noise. Fortunately, he doubted the squeak, which emanated when he merely placed his foot on a step, would be loud enough to draw the attention of anyone who might be on the main floor. And if there were someone down below, chances were that person would be aware of Jack’s presence soon enough — if he or she weren’t aware already.

Jack could hear water dripping as he made his way down the stairs; an odor of must filled the air. The walls began to transition from wood to stone as Jack progressed. At the bottom of the stairs, Jack noticed there was a landing then another door. As he approached the door, he could tell that it was latched. Fortunately, it only took a little bit of effort for him to force that door open; it was barely holding itself together. In fact, it took so little force to budge it that Jack had to grab the door frame with his hand to stop it from swinging all the way open. The room on the other side was dark. It took a moment for Jack’s eyes to adjust to what little light he could get to stream into the room from the staircase.

Jack didn’t have a flashlight or any other light source, and at this point there was no way to get one. He searched the wall inside the room with his hand and found no light switch. Finally, he decided to just go in. He felt the floor with his foot — scraping it along the bottom, searching for some sort of grate or manhole cover as he made his way forward.

Jack held his breath briefly. Then, with his next step he could hear it — the faint clang of his foot landing upon a metal disk. He bent down and recognized the familiar form of a sewer grate — a shape he’d known all his life. Jack was quick to begin work trying to loosen the rarely-moved plate. Eventually, the familiar smell from the bowels of the streets wafted upward. It had been awhile since he’d been down there. As Jack braced himself for the journey underground, he heard the sounds of a commotion above him.

Jack believed that once he was able to get down into the sewers that no one would be able to find him.

“So, there’s nothing else to do really,” he said.

He took a breath. Then, he started to climb down. Once his feet hit the wet ground, he took off running in the direction he believed he should go. Still, Jack hadn’t counted on the guards sending dogs after him. Fortunately, he had a head start, and the water, which streamed through the tunnels, was able to confuse the scent. Originally, Jack had thought to exit at the grate he’d seen on the street; but since they had discovered his escape so quickly, he figured it would be too much of a risk. He just didn’t have the time and distance to start climbing right away. He had to lose them first. Fortunately, Jack was able to stay far enough ahead of his pursuers that they never saw him. Instead, the dogs’ barks were only a persistent echo down the many passages. Finally, Jack heard the sounds of the city above him. The sounds weren’t very loud, so he concluded he wasn’t right under a crowd of people. That was a good thing. Jack concluded this was as good a place as any to climb up. After all, the longer Jack was down in the sewers, with the only light the dim one streaming through the grates from the streetlights above, the more likely he was to take a wrong turn down a dead end and be caught by the dogs.

Jack leapt and grabbed hold of a thin ladder, which led to the surface. He then made quick use of it. As he lifted the sewer cover’s lid, he found he was at the end of a dark alley. He slipped through the opening and quickly replaced the cover. He then stalked off into the streets. He was glad to find there was a slight sprinkling of rain in the air. Not only would it help hide the smell of the sewers on him, it also meant that Nora would probably not be sent out this night. The Administration liked clear skies. But Jack knew he was on borrowed time. Nora was slipping through his fingers. Jack might live, but he couldn’t imagine letting Nora die. He didn’t know how he could live with that.

While most of the underground tunnels were familiar to him, this part of the surface was not. Yet, heading in almost any direction would get him to the outskirts of town, which encircled the city and where he and most of the other recruits had lived. That area would be the best place to escape detection. There was also something else he felt compelled to do: warn the people who were left in the underground that they were being hunted. Perhaps, one of the leaders might even care enough about those who were already taken to plan some sort of a raid on the Institute. Jack had his doubts, but he had to try. Even so, he wasn’t planning on spending much time trying to convince anyone; Nora was his priority now.

Copyright © Jennifer Alice Chandler 2016

Psalm 30

A Psalm and Song at the dedication of the house of David.

 

I will extol Thee, O LORD; for Thou hast lifted me up, and hast not made my foes to rejoice over me.

O LORD my God, I cried unto Thee, and Thou hast healed me.

O LORD, Thou hast brought up my soul from the grave: Thou hast kept me alive, that I should not go down to the pit.

Sing unto the LORD, O ye saints of His, and give thanks at the remembrance of His holiness.

For His anger endureth but a moment; in His favour is life: weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning.

And in my prosperity I said, I shall never be moved.

LORD, by Thy favour Thou hast made my mountain to stand strong: Thou didst hide Thy face, and I was troubled.

I cried to Thee, O LORD; and unto the LORD I made supplication.

What profit is there in my blood, when I go down to the pit? Shall the dust praise Thee? shall it declare Thy truth?

Hear, O LORD, and have mercy upon me: LORD, be Thou my helper.

Thou hast turned for me my mourning into dancing: Thou hast put off my sackcloth, and girded me with gladness;

To the end that my glory may sing praise to Thee, and not be silent. O LORD my God, I will give thanks unto Thee for ever.

Zechariah 14

Behold, the day of the LORD cometh, and thy spoil shall be divided in the midst of thee.

For I will gather all nations against Jerusalem to battle; and the city shall be taken, and the houses rifled, and the women ravished; and half of the city shall go forth into captivity, and the residue of the people shall not be cut off from the city.

Then shall the LORD go forth, and fight against those nations, as when He fought in the day of battle.

And His feet shall stand in that day upon the Mount of Olives, which is before Jerusalem on the east, and the Mount of Olives shall cleave in the midst thereof toward the east and toward the west, and there shall be a very great valley; and half of the mountain shall remove toward the north, and half of it toward the south.

And ye shall flee to the valley of the mountains [Or, My mountains]; for the valley of the mountains shall reach unto Azal: yea, ye shall flee, like as ye fled from before the earthquake in the days of Uzziah king of Judah: and the LORD my God shall come, and all the saints with Thee.

And it shall come to pass in that day, that the light shall not be clear, nor dark:

But it shall be one day which shall be known to the LORD, not day, nor night: but it shall come to pass, that at evening time it shall be light.

And it shall be in that day, that living waters shall go out from Jerusalem; half of them toward the former [Or, eastern] sea, and half of them toward the hinder sea: in summer and in winter shall it be.

And the LORD shall be king over all the earth: in that day shall there be one LORD, and His name one.

All the land shall be turned as a plain from Geba to Rimmon south of Jerusalem: and it shall be lifted up, and inhabited in her place, from Benjamin’s Gate unto the place of the First Gate, unto the Corner Gate, and from the Tower of Hananeel unto the king’s winepresses.

And men shall dwell in it, and there shall be no more utter destruction; but Jerusalem shall be [Or, shall abide] safely inhabited.

And this shall be the plague wherewith the LORD will smite all the people that have fought against Jerusalem; Their flesh shall consume away while they stand upon their feet, and their eyes shall consume away in their holes, and their tongue shall consume away in their mouth.

And it shall come to pass in that day, that a great tumult from the LORD shall be among them; and they shall lay hold every one on the hand of his neighbour, and his hand shall rise up against the hand of his neighbour.

And Judah also shall fight at [Or, against] Jerusalem; and the wealth of all the heathen round about shall be gathered together, gold, and silver, and apparel, and great abundance.

And so shall be the plague of the horse, of the mule, of the camel, and of the ass, and of all the beasts that shall be in these tents, as this plague.

And it shall come to pass, that every one that is left of all the nations which came against Jerusalem shall even go up from year to year to worship the King, the LORD of hosts, and to keep the Feast of Tabernacles.

And it shall be, that whoso will not come up of all the families of the earth unto Jerusalem to worship the King, the LORD of hosts, even upon them shall be no rain.

And if the family of Egypt go not up, and come not, that have no rain; there shall be the plague, wherewith the LORD will smite the heathen that come not up to keep the Feast of Tabernacles.

This shall be the punishment [Or, sin] of Egypt, and the punishment of all nations that come not up to keep the Feast of Tabernacles.

In that day shall there be upon the bells [Or, bridles] of the horses, “HOLINESS UNTO THE LORD”; and the pots in the LORD’s house shall be like the bowls before the altar.

Yea, every pot in Jerusalem and in Judah shall be holiness unto the LORD of hosts: and all they that sacrifice shall come and take of them, and seethe therein: and in that day there shall be no more the Canaanite in the house of the LORD of hosts (Zechariah 14: 1-21).

Zechariah 13

“In that day there shall be a fountain opened to the house of David and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem for sin and for uncleanness.

“And it shall come to pass in that day,” saith the LORD of hosts, “that I will cut off the names of the idols out of the land, and they shall no more be remembered and also I will cause the prophets and the unclean spirit to pass out of the land.

“And it shall come to pass, that when any shall yet prophesy, then his father and his mother that begat him shall say unto him, ‘Thou shalt not live; for thou speakest lies in the name of the LORD’: and his father and his mother that begat him shall thrust him through when he prophesieth.

“And it shall come to pass in that day, that the prophets shall be ashamed every one of his vision, when he hath prophesied; neither shall they wear a rough garment to deceive:

“But he shall say, ‘I am no prophet, I am an husbandman; for man taught me to keep cattle from my youth.’

“And one shall say unto him, ‘What are these wounds in thine hands?’ Then he shall answer, ‘Those with which I was wounded in the house of my friends.’

“Awake, O sword, against My Shepherd, and against the man that is My Fellow,” saith the LORD of hosts: “smite the Shepherd, and the sheep shall be scattered: and I will turn Mine hand upon the little ones.

“And it shall come to pass, that in all the land,” saith the LORD, “two parts therein shall be cut off and die; but the third shall be left therein.

“And I will bring the third part through the fire, and will refine them as silver is refined, and will try them as gold is tried: they shall call on My name, and I will hear them: I will say, ‘It is My people’: and they shall say, ‘The LORD is my God.’ ” (Zechariah 13: 1-9)

Zechariah 12

The burden of the word of the LORD for Israel, saith the LORD, which stretcheth forth the heavens, and layeth the foundation of the earth, and formeth the spirit of man within him.

“Behold, I will make Jerusalem a cup of trembling unto all the people round about, when they shall be in the siege both against Judah and against Jerusalem.

“And in that day will I make Jerusalem a burdensome stone for all people: all that burden themselves with it shall be cut in pieces, though all the people of the earth be gathered together against it.

“In that day,” saith the LORD, “I will smite every horse with astonishment, and his rider with madness: and I will open Mine eyes upon the house of Judah, and will smite every horse of the people with blindness.

“And the governors of Judah shall say in their heart, ‘The inhabitants of Jerusalem shall be my strength in the LORD of hosts their God.’

“In that day will I make the governors of Judah like an hearth of fire among the wood, and like a torch of fire in a sheaf; and they shall devour all the people round about, on the right hand and on the left: and Jerusalem shall be inhabited again in her own place, even in Jerusalem.

“The LORD also shall save the tents of Judah first, that the glory of the house of David and the glory of the inhabitants of Jerusalem do not magnify themselves against Judah.

“In that day shall the LORD defend the inhabitants of Jerusalem; and he that is feeble among them at that day shall be as David; and the house of David shall be as God, as the angel of the LORD before them.

“And it shall come to pass in that day, that I will seek to destroy all the nations that come against Jerusalem.

“And I will pour upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the Spirit of grace and of supplications: and they shall look upon Me whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for Him, as one mourneth for his only son, and shall be in bitterness for Him, as one that is in bitterness for his firstborn.

“In that day shall there be a great mourning in Jerusalem, as the mourning of Hadadrimmon in the valley of Megiddon.

“And the land shall mourn, every family apart; the family of the house of David apart, and their wives apart; the family of the house of Nathan apart, and their wives apart;

“The family of the house of Levi apart, and their wives apart; the family of Shimei [Or, of Simeon, as LXX] apart, and their wives apart;

“All the families that remain, every family apart, and their wives apart.” (Zechariah 12: 1-14)

Zechariah 11

Open thy doors, O Lebanon, that the fire may devour thy cedars.

Howl, fir tree; for the cedar is fallen; because the mighty [Or, gallants] are spoiled: howl, O ye oaks of Bashan; for the forest of the vintage [Or, the defenced forest] is come down.

There is a voice of the howling of the shepherds; for their glory is spoiled: a voice of the roaring of young lions; for the pride of Jordan is spoiled.

Thus saith the LORD my God; “Feed the flock of the slaughter;

“Whose possessors slay them, and hold themselves not guilty: and they that sell them say, ‘Blessed be the LORD; for I am rich’: and their own shepherds pity them not.

“For I will no more pity the inhabitants of the land,” saith the LORD: “but, lo, I will deliver the men every one into his neighbour’s hand, and into the hand of his king: and they shall smite the land, and out of their hand I will not deliver them.

And I will feed the flock of slaughter, even you, O poor of the flock. And I took unto me two staves; the one I called Beauty, and the other I called Bands; and I fed the flock.

Three shepherds also I cut off in one month; and my soul loathed them, and their soul also abhorred me.

Then said I, I will not feed you: that that dieth, let it die; and that that is to be cut off, let it be cut off; and let the rest eat every one the flesh of another.

And I took my staff, even Beauty, and cut it asunder, that I might break my covenant which I had made with all the people.

And it was broken in that day: and so the poor of the flock that waited upon me knew that it was the word of the LORD.

And I said unto them, If ye think good, give me my price; and if not, forbear. So they weighed for my price thirty pieces of silver.

And the LORD said unto me, “Cast it unto the potter: a goodly price that I was prised at of them.” And I took the thirty pieces of silver, and cast them to the potter in the house of the LORD.

Then I cut asunder mine other staff, even Bands [Or, Binders], that I might break the brotherhood between Judah and Israel.

And the LORD said unto me, “Take unto thee yet the instruments of a foolish shepherd.

“For, lo, I will raise up a shepherd in the land, which shall not visit those that be cut off, neither shall seek the young one, nor heal that that is broken, nor feed that that standeth still: but he shall eat the flesh of the fat, and tear their claws in pieces.

“Woe to the idol shepherd that leaveth the flock! the sword shall be upon his arm, and upon his right eye: his arm shall be cleaned dried up, and his right eye shall be utterly darkened.” (Zechariah 11: 1-17)