Hi, Reader Friends and New Subscribers. We hope you enjoy David Telbat’s new short story today—”Holdout Hallway,” an End Times scenario.
by D.I. Telbat
Ex-accountant Harold Griswold unchained the top lock on his door, then paused to listen for footsteps in the hallway outside his apartment. It seemed quiet, at least from what he could hear over the nightly gunfire outside.
Gritting his teeth against the trembling, Harold slid back the bolt on the second lock, then waited again. If someone was in the hallway waiting for him to open the door, then he was about to die. He had no weapon with which to fight back. The other tenants in the building were either dead, or they were hiding out like he was, never making a sound that he could hear.
Glass shattered behind him as a bullet came through the cardboard-covered window. Harold fell flat on the floor and squeezed his eyes tightly shut. How could America have gone so bad so quickly? Or maybe America had already been this bad and now everyone was just acting out what had been in their hearts.
Where was God in all this violence? There seemed to be no hope left. All who were left in the city seemed to have become murderers, taking whatever they wanted with no care for others.
Finally outside his apartment, Harold gagged against the stench in the hallway. The sewage system hadn’t worked for days. Or maybe it was the stench of evil. It was suffocating.
He flicked on his flashlight and shined it left and right. Trash lined the walls. The path that had been down the center of the hall the week before, was now gone, crowded by more recent plastic bags. It was evidence that others were still alive. Rats tore at the bags, and a snarling dog competed with the rats.
“Harold!” a voice whispered from down the hall. Harold shined his light into the face of a woman, only her head visible from her doorway. “Are you going out? I thought you were dead!”
“Quiet, or we’re both done!” He stepped over trash, moving to Cindy Shortly’s doorway. She’d once been a wealthy citizen, like Harold, but now she and he were like everyone else—malnourished, afraid, hunted, hiding . . .
“Take me with you, Harold.” The thin white hand of a woman he’d once thought attractive reached out toward him, but then she quickly withdrew it. “No, I guess I’m too afraid to go!”
“Keep your voice down, Cindy! I’m just going up to the roof.” He turned off his flashlight to save the batteries. “I have a hose attached to a tank on the roof for rainwater. At least, I had a hose. But I’m not getting any water, so I have to check the tank. It might just be plugged.”
“Water? You have water?” She visibly swallowed, maybe imagining drinking fresh water again. “Harold, you have to help me. I have lots of food. Maybe we could trade?”
“We need more than food and water now.” He checked the dark hallway. There were no lights; they seemed to still be safe. “I’ve been studying my Bible. I found some answers to all this.”
“The Bible?” She didn’t scoff as he expected her to do. The old Cindy would’ve scoffed. Maybe the desperation was opening her heart. That’s what fear had done for him. “Do you know what’s happening?”
“The end, near as I can tell.” Harold took a deep breath. Was this part of God’s plan for him? To take in someone else? Cindy probably wouldn’t survive the next seven years without him. He might not, either. “Maybe we should pool our resources. When they run out, we can leave the city. I know a route.”
“I . . . can’t, Harold. I’m not alone.”
“How many are with you?”
Harold didn’t like the idea of others hearing about his fresh water source on the roof. On most days, there was enough for him to drink and wash things, if he was careful.
“Just a kid I took in two weeks ago. He’s about ten, but he hasn’t spoken. His parents probably vanished like the rest of them. Or they were killed. Anyway, he’s alone.”
“Okay. We can move into my apartment. It’s already set up. Can you do that quietly?”
“Sure, I think so. What are you going to do?”
“Go to the roof. I’ll fix the hose and come back down.” He turned his flashlight on. “It’s only going to get worse, you know.”
“That’s what your Bible tells you?”
“When you come back downstairs, if we’re quiet, can you read it to us?”
Harold smiled for the first time in weeks. This meeting was definitely of God.
“Okay. I’ll read it for all of us.”
COMING UP: Join us next time for a Special Forces Christian post titled “Adventure of Being Selfless.” And for the following post, join us for another short story by David Telbat, “Purchased by a Galilean-Twice.”