It causes all,
both small and
both rich and
to be marked
on the right hand
Time: During the Fourth
Year of the Tribulation.
Place: A medical clinic
in San Antonio, Texas.
(In the last story, 'The Gate Code', Laurie is horrified to find that she cannot get into her subdivision, or even her
garage....even her house. All electronic systems have been recoded to 6-6-6; only people who have made the decision to have a microchip, containing those numbers, implanted in their arm or forehead, are free to move about their business as usual. At present time, Laurie is living with her boyfriend,
Stuart, who has already had the chip implanted and is enabling her, at least for a short time, to put off having the implantation done. But time is drawing short; the government's Security Management Agency has employed thousands of locksmiths to go around the country taking out all the old-fashioned key-locks of houses and installing standardized 'reader-screens' on every house door. The 'modernization' of everyone's door
cost 500 dollars (tax deductable). If citizens wanted to have it done for free, they could pick up the reader-screen kit at their local Home Depot, or Walmart (75 dollars, tax-deductable). Before long rebellious citizens, like Laurie, will be unable to even get into their house, or apartment, or condominium, or hotel room, or the gym, or .......even the public bathroom of any restaurant or business establishment.
In the next six months, all cars being inspected
would have to undergo a 'modernization', also. Soon, no one
would be able to get into their car without the 'secondary
security code', as well as their car key.
Time is drawing very near, indeed.
"Excuse me? Where
do I GO.......?"
The man with the small
bandage on his forehead
looked up at Laurie,
and just nodded toward
a large doorway down the
hall. Not saying a word,
the man turned and continued on his way.
Laurie grimaced; her slim fingertips felt damp.
Stuart had told her it was nothing: just a small
pinch and then a slight cold feeling under the
skin...and then it was done.
"It's like getting a FLU
SHOT!" Stuart had said.
Only it wasn't flu season.
But the way things were
now, Laurie had to wait
till Stuart was done with
work and meet his car
off the freeway, so that
she could follow him into
their gated community, and
parking garage of their townhouse.
And, people weren't being neighborly anymore
and just letting their 'rebellious' neighbors in.
This 'chip problem' was becoming a hard bone
of contention between Stuart and Laurie, who
had been together for several years, now. The
way Stuart saw it, Laurie's procrastination was destroying their good relationship, and nice lifestyle. Before long, Stuart would have to do all the shopping; regular credit cards and cash were still being allowed at the grocery stores......but only for a short 'grace' period, to allow everybody time to get their chips implanted.
Laurie!" Stuart had said,
with his usual impatience.
"It's NOTHING! Just
a SHOT! A NEEDLE! It's
got some kind of STUFF
in it .....that forms into
some kind of PLASTIC
under the skin! That's
ALL! I DUNNO how it
WORKS! I'm not a
DOCTOR! It's just this
little MATERIAL that
SOLIDIFIES, or something! It becomes
a CHIP! Look, we all
gotta HAVE it, now! It's
just like a flu.. shot! You
might as well GO!"
And, then yesterday Laurie hadn't been able
to go to work. She had put her hand up to open
the huge glass door of her company's office building, and found that the door was locked. Standing there, helplessly, Laurie watched as everyone else could open the door as long as they were 'cleared' by a tiny camera-screen hanging over the steel door frame, like a huge green fly with one large black eye.
With cold sweat dripping down her back under her
silk blouse, and her heart pounding like a drum, Laurie finally had turned and walked back to her car: red-faced with embarrassment. She had called in sick, from her cell phone
in the car: promising her boss that she would be 'back to normal' the following Monday, and would do some work from home.
And so, here she was early this morning: more
than ready to get the horrible thing over with...
and back to her life. Laurie took a deep breath, and walked up to the reception desk.
"I'm here for the........SHOT."
The office assistant, wearing
a professional-looking blue smock,
looked up from her
computer screen, and
held out a small clear plastic
clipboard with forms and
a small pamphlet, and a fresh
pen attached. A tiny silver charm
bracelet dangled delicately
from the girl's small left wrist.
"HERE.......just fill these
forms out. I'll need your
driver's license and insurance card."
Laurie set her bulging
leather purse on the
counter to get her wallet.
She was just reaching for it when the
receptionist's voice stopped her: it was
youthfully high, and light, and professional.
"Oh. You'll have to remove THAT...
Laurie looked up: puzzled.
The receptionist, a young pretty girl with shoulder
length straight blond hair, just smiled.
Her voice was light and sweet. She smelled delicately
of some sort of summery cologne: it smelled
like a rainstorm on a summer's afternoon.
"You'll have to take THAT
The receptionist smiled again, and pointed two fingers
to her own slim neck: patting it lightly. A tiny beige-
colored mole was high up on the left side of her neck. Her
nails were rounded off nicely, and were polished a lightly frosted blush color.
"It's.....em....in the PAMPHLET."
Laurie squinted at the
girl, and then down at her own cotton blouse.
The girl, still smiling
sweetly, pointed again
at her neck. The girl
was extremely pretty,
with lovely long hair
and a heart-shaped face;
she couldn't have been
more than 20. And yet
there was something old
about her eyes....as if
the light had gone out
from them many years,
before: long before she
Her eyes were like dark, cavernous holes. They were a lovely shade of hazel, and yet inexplicably they were almost black:
as if the pupil-part had enlarged and taken over the hazel-part.
The pretty girl smiled more deeply, showing two precious little dimples on either side of her porcelin-clear face.
You can't be wearing anything like THAT,
while you're getting the
The office assistant, whose
name tag said that she
was 'Marci', gave a lovely
little shrug of her petite
Marci smiled again; her
lovely young lips were
full, and lightly touched
with rose-colored lip
Laurie gave a little laugh and shook her head: looking down at
her blouse again. She
gently reached up, and
touched her beautifully
to her own neck.
It was the tiny little gold
necklace that had belonged to her grandmother.
It was a Cross.