Welcome to Angel Airlines. No need to buckle. You are quite safe. Try to enjoy your flight, which will be over in less time than it took to offer this greeting.

Try to imagine that you are a survivor in a remote forest. You and a companion have been surviving for weeks. Now you are tired and dirty. No, you are exhausted and filthy. Plus, you have suddenly found yourself alone. A little less than an hour ago, there had been the shout of an archangel, like a roaring trumpet, and the clouds of heaven opened wide, through which Christ and an army of angels came into view. A moment later your friend was gone. She had talked about such a thing happening. You remember her calling it a “rapture.”

You laughed it off whenever she mentioned it. You said you would believe it when you see it. Well, now you have seen it and think maybe you are ready to believe, although you are still in a bit of shock and haven’t moved since it happened. Suddenly your attention is brought to bear on a deep rumbling. It feels like it is coming from under your feet, deep within the earth. You sense that it is the pre-cursor to a giant earthquake, and you are right. But you have no energy left to run and look for a safe place; besides, you happened to bug-out near the border of Yellowstone National Park, which you know to be a supervolcano just waiting for an excuse to unleash many centuries of pent of energy, and there is nowhere to escape it, not for you.

You feel angry but instead of shouting you feel like you might start to cry. Then, the next thing you realize there is an angel standing next to you, and suddenly you feel safe, like everything is going to be okay, and you are right. Your feet are no longer touching the ground as you are floating alongside the angel and gaining altitude. It seems odd that at this moment you would recall reading Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, (written by Roald Dahl), and you especially recall the part where Charlie and Willie Wonka break through the roof of the chocolate factory in a flying glass elevator. ‘O for a piece of chocolate’ you think. It has been one of your many cravings through much of your survival experience.

Instead of looking down on a factory and a town, you see the forest, and in the distance you see the red glow of lava just before it erupts miles into the sky in a giant mass of molten rock and black smoke and ash. The trees below you quiver and fall like dominoes as the shock wave of the cataclysmic eruption spreads outward for many miles. Somehow, miraculously, you barely even feel a breeze.

You know that you are not being raptured, for the angel told you so when you asked a moment ago. The angel said that tens of thousands like yourself—people who did not bow in worship to a man or take the mark of the beast—that they were being spared the effects of plague seven. Your companion had explained some of the plagues as they were happening, and you recall her mentioning a great global earthquake and something else—‘What was it? O yeah, massive, deadly hailstones.’ Obviously, the earthquake part of the plague was already happening. Naturally, as a wildlife biologist, your thoughts come to bear on the animals. So, you ask the angel, “What about the animals? Are they safe too?”

The angel assures you that many creatures are also under protection. “In fact” says the angel, “I will show you, for there is somewhere else I need to go.” Suddenly, in an instant, in less time than you can sneeze, you are in completely different surroundings. You are standing in a flat field of grass in a giant circle about 200 yards in diameter. It is quickly filling up with people and animals. Angels are coming and going so fast with their charges that it takes a moment to get accustomed to the visual stimulation of things appearing from out of thin air. Along the outer perimeter of the circle you can see four large angels standing, as if on the four main points of the compass. Above them are four more angels hovering as it were on the secondary points of the compass. They all have their arms and wings outstretched as if to form a protective dome, which will soon come in handy when the hailstones begin to fall, each one weighing one-hundred pounds, give or take.

As if the day had not produced enough surprises, you happen to notice some very uncommon behavior: that a pack of wolves is quietly sitting calmly not twenty feet from a flock of seemingly indifferent bighorn sheep; that a pair of mountain lions are ignoring a bison calf as it plays innocently nearby; that right next to you there is a fox, under whose paws a mouse is walking in casual circles. It is like all of the animal kingdom has forgotten the food chain and has declared a truce.

About the only thing that would surprise you at this point is if the german shepherd, the boxer, the pointer, and the retriever just about 50 feet to your left started playing poker and smoking cigars. As you muse on such a silly notion, the angel who brought you here is once again by your side; and with the angel there is a young child, a boy of about four years of age. The angel puts the child’s hand in yours and before you can say anything is gone again. Now you do start to cry, although it is a subdued cry, and you manage to smile at the boy, who happens to look up and smile back. My name is “Charlotte” you say.

“Charlie,” says the boy, “but you can call me Chuck.”

You are really not quite sure what to make of the situation, but as the circle has become full of creatures great and small and more than a few people besides yourself, there is a sudden quiet and stillness. Everyone’s attention seems turned to the skies and the ground outside of the circle, the protective circle, the blessed, Thank-You-God circle. The silence does not last long. The ground outside takes a serious pounding from the giant hailstones. It looks like a war zone; all of civilization does. Contrary to these images, however, you feel at great peace.

After the storm passes you watch the giant balls of ice slowly melt, staring emotionless, but your trance is broken when every animal and person within the circle is transported simultaneously, in an instant, to a nearby town. The local grocery store draws you and them like a magnet picking up iron filings. Once inside the badly damaged supermarket, you do not waste any time finding some Rocky Road Ice Cream. Chuck is happy to eat some ice-cream sandwiches. It makes perfect sense to go for the frozen goods first. There is no more power in town, no more power anywhere, and nobody feels too motivated at the moment to find a generator and get it running.

Once the people satisfy some of their immediate cravings, they all decide to fill coolers with whatever ice can be found and fill them with the best stuff. Everything else that will spoil goes into piles in the parking lot.

While you and Chuck sit on the crushed hood of a car in the parking lot enjoying a bath of wet-wipes and watching the wolves chew on some semi-frozen corn-dogs, the angel once more appears by your side. “You must be wondering what the story is with Chuck,” the angel says. “Well, Chuck’s parents took the mark of the beast, and as Chuck was not old enough to be a part of that curse, he was yet confined within the eye of the storm of the chaos of that society. But now that society is no more than ashes. You will not find a single one of them. You and your fellow-survivors will not have to bury a single one of them, for they are literally ashes.”

And before the angel can ask if you would like to take care of Chuck as your own, you already know the answer, for you have always wanted children but never took the time from your career to make it happen. And even though it seems like there is much more than ever to learn about the animal kingdom, the wild side of it seems to have taken such a turn that you do not see any reason why Chuck could not be at your side learning with you.

“Speaking of ashes,” you say to the angel, “I saw enough ash go into the sky earlier today to spark a new ice-age.”

“You won’t have to worry about that at all,” says the angel. “We took care of that issue already, along with many other issues.” You speak for a while longer as the angel explains some things and lays out some suggestions for you and your fellow-survivors to consider.

“Will I ever see you again?” you ask the angel.

“If ever you or Chuck are in need of Angel Airlines, I will be there.”

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