Phyllis was the winner of our December 2011 Comment Contest. She received this custom Last Stand Chronicles short story as part of her prize from David Telbat. We thank her for allowing us to share it here with you. Enjoy!
A Last Stand Chronicle – Custom Fiction Short Story by D.I. Telbat
Phyllis sank lower in the car seat the instant she noticed that the Asian man in the dark coat had a gun. One minute, she had been praying for relief from her lupus flare-up, and the next minute, she was hiding from a gunman!
With caution, Phyllis peered over the window edge at the Belfast airport parking lot. Were there other gunmen lurking nearby? It was probable.
Her husband, Scott, was inside the airport waiting to safely pick up Michael McCaffery, the missionary who had escaped North Korea. But the disgraced Korean government had obviously sent agents to pick up McCaffery as well, with not such kind intentions, no doubt!
Phyllis was an avid reader and supporter of Christian operations worldwide, and no stranger to international intrigue. She had learned of McCaffery’s plight through the Voice of the Martyrs bulletins. When she had read that a supposed deceased missionary had escaped a Hamhung gulag after twenty-seven years, Phyllis knew she and Scott had to be on the ground when he arrived in Ireland, regardless of her age and intermittent debilitating condition. And regardless of the warnings of possible danger.
However, the complications of McCaffery’s arrival had been vast. In the wake of North Korean leader Kim Jong Il’s death, his dictator son was flexing his political and apparently his clandestine muscle.
In the midst of the upheaval, McCaffery had reached North Korea’s rocky coastline, stolen a small fishing vessel, and drifted on currents southward. A South Korean trawler had rescued the malnourished man. That was three weeks ago.
The gunman in the parking lot could mean only one thing—that they knew McCaffery had already arrived. Since Scott and the people from McCaffery’s supporting home church in Cork hadn’t come out with McCaffery yet, they must have somehow missed each other.
“I’m a long way from Tennessee,” fifty-six-year old Phyllis reminded herself aloud, as counsel to remain in the vehicle. “I have family, friends, and pets back in the States waiting for me—”
Shaking her head, Phyllis eased out of the car and gently closed the door, while crouching low. She shivered at the winter chill, wishing that she had remembered her wool cap. Too late now.
Keeping a row of cars between her and the gunman, Phyllis looked around for other
suspicious-looking men or McCaffery himself. A gaunt seventy-six-year-old Irishman couldn’t be that hard to spot, could he? She considered asking a nearby young man and his wife for help, but the danger of involving others was too high.
The gunman reached the end of the row and started back the other direction. Through a windshield, Phyllis spied his coat flap in the wind again. Yes, there it was. Some sort of semi-automatic firearm.
As uncomfortable as it was, Phyllis lowered herself to her hands and knees, then crawled to the bumper of a dark green Mercedes. From under the car, she watched the assassin’s feet pace past. She breathed a sigh of relief. He hadn’t seen her.
Climbing to her feet, she prayed for God’s direction and help. She needed Scott and the others now! But the dozen men and women from the Cork church were nowhere in sight. Things were all wrong!
Suddenly, Phyllis smiled and a peace swept over her—a peace she knew could only be from God. This was not all wrong; this was all right! While the others waited inside, she had decided to rest in the rented Fiat to ease the pressure on her inflamed joints. An accident? No. God had put her in the right place at the right time to witness the gunman on the prowl. Now, she had to seek God’s purpose even in seemingly negative circumstances.
There! Phyllis noticed a slightly hunched, slender man in a grey overcoat. His cheeks were sunken and his hair was cropped short. At the same instant, she identified another Korean-looking man hustling toward the old man. Pushing herself through her pain, Phyllis moved between two cars to reach McCaffery before the gunman did.
McCaffery appeared to be lost, or searching for someone. Phyllis had seen a picture of a young McCaffery before he had gone overseas. The closer she got, the more certain she was that it was indeed him.
She emerged from the row of cars ahead of the assassin, with the second man right behind him. Without stopping, Phyllis brushed against McCaffery and grabbed his thin arm in passing.
“Come with me, Mr. McCaffery. It’s not safe.”
Phyllis glanced over her shoulder. Both gunmen fell into step five paces behind them. Could she reach the airport entrance in time? Would the gunmen shoot their target in broad daylight? She prayed silently for the Lord’s protection, but if it was her time, that she would die worthy of Christ, and that Scott would somehow find comfort in God after she was gone. This was God’s work. Unexpected sacrifices sometimes had to be made.
A Bible verse instantly came to Phyllis’ mind. It reminded her that the ways of God were not based on coincidence. The Lord had a plan for her welfare and not for her disaster.
With this truth to give her courage, Phyllis stopped with confidence and turned to face the two gunmen. McCaffery tugged on her arm to continue, but Phyllis wouldn’t budge. Facing the killers may have been seen as insane, but Phyllis knew that it was faith in her Deliverer that gave her the strength.
The gunmen, stopping abruptly, were visibly shaken that she would so boldly challenge them. They looked at one another with uncertainty, then they glanced at the numerous people nearer the terminal entrance.
Phyllis slowly shook her head at them. No, they couldn’t have McCaffery, not this lowly servant who had served and suffered for so long. God wouldn’t let them have him.
Hesitating, the assassins were obviously unsure as to how to proceed with their orders. Neither did they open their mouths to discuss alternatives. And then, as if by some unspoken cue, the two men separated and entered the airport. In a moment, they were gone.
Before Phyllis could think of what to do next, with relief, she saw Scott and several of the church members exit the terminal. Waving, they pointed at her and McCaffery.
Just wait until they hear the whole story! Phyllis smiled to herself with a thankful heart.
“God always does this for me,” McCaffery said softly, tears in his eyes. “He always finds ways to take care of me. And this time He sent me an angel.”
Phyllis whispered her thanks heavenward. Evil had been averted this time, and some day it would be defeated permanently. But until then, Phyllis knew she and her husband couldn’t cease in their prayers and encouragement of others. God’s people, no matter their condition, were meant to stand together.
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