The first step outside the doors was a shock to her senses. Terror and ecstasy raced along her nerves in a torrent that almost registered as pain. The escape thus far had been simple – too simple considering the six months of torment she had endured at the hands of the World Unification Enterprise.
Sharon Antioch pressed herself against the wall of the building, breathing words that had been her constant companion since WUE had taken over. “Jesus, keep me safe.”
He had. Despite the beatings, the ridicule, the coercion, the shame of her capture, He had saved her from execution and given her this chance of escape.
A taxi turned down the street as she edged away from the building’s entrance. There weren’t many old-style yellow taxis operational these days – this had to be the one she had been told to wait for. Sharon grasped the hood of the windbreaker she wore over her gray prisoner’s garb, using it to shield her face and hide the scraggily shorn hair that marked her as a WUE-convicted “terrorist.” The taxi slowed at the corner, the driver peering at her through the open passenger side window.
She’s fearful. She’ll do no good in the Underground now. Don’t hesitate.
“In or out, lady?” The driver called as she haltingly walked forward.
She flinched at the harsh tone, an instinct born of months of abuse. There was no time to react to the flash of panic that clenched her heart – if she wanted to be free, this was the moment. She quickened her pace and pulled open the back door.
“Vox clamantis in deserto,” she said breathlessly as she scooted into seat. It was a safe code the underground fellowship had used since its global organization and her final step to freedom. Once her rescuer responded, she could breathe easily.
Don’t commit. I can’t do it now- just wait.
“I don’t even know what language that is, lady. Where d’you want to go?”
The shock of terror actually jerked her muscles that time. Sharon fumbled for the door handle, babbling incoherent apologies. She was far too important of a prisoner for any but a Christ-follower to risk helping. Her right foot hit the pavement just as she saw three men coming down the WUE steps.
The door slammed shut. Sharon leaned back against the seat, a film of sweat rising on her skin. She wouldn’t live if this failed. “Drive,” she gasped, raising a shaking hand to adjust the hood. “J-Just drive two blocks down and stop. Please.”
“Whatever,” the driver responded, flicking on the turn signal.
“Jesus, keep me safe.” The words rolled off her lips as the taxi jolted forward. Her body curled inward as her mind raced. She had once orchestrated these escapes. What would she have done six months ago? Fragmented thoughts slammed against nerve endings, sending sparks of panic throughout her body. There wasn’t much time to adapt.
She’s running scared. She’s not the leader she once was. It’s not my fault I do this.
The driver’s voice sounded odd. Sharon raised her eyes to the rearview mirror. He was staring at her with the calculating look of a hunter regarding his prey. To speak the name of Jesus was crime enough for him to turn her in. Fear whispered she should evade, give herself a chance. She opened her mouth, then paused. The words she chose could mean her death – something she had prayed for in the days of captivity when her life was used as an agent of terror for other Christ-followers.
Sharon swallowed hard and pushed back the hood, making her decision.
I can’t be taken in. She is weak. She was captured once. Remember what they said.
“I am a Christ-follower. My name is Sharon and I pray God to you will be merciful and let me escape.”
The driver’s face blanched. He had not expected the confession. Sharon pressed onward, peace seeping into muscles that had not fully relaxed since her capture.
“I was to meet a taxi on this street. I mistook you for the driver. If you will just take me to the far side of the WUE…”
The taxi eased to a stop at the curb. Sharon paused, praying desperately as the driver turned.
His face was a mask of regret. “Parate viam Domini.”
The words registered with a resonating pain in her chest.
“They said betraying you would save hundreds. What was I to do?”
But how can I?
Vox clamantis in deserto – A voice crying in the desert
Parate viam Domini – Prepare the way of the Lord
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