After a pathetic dinner of watery broth and spoiled potatoes on Tuesday evening, Jim stretched his tall frame and rolled his shoulders. Although his wrists were still zip cuffed in front of him, he could lift a spoon to his mouth and move his fingers slightly. Jim wasn’t sure how he would compensate for his bindings but he decided that he would not die without taking a few of these loathsome guards with him.
Suddenly, the guards began screaming obscenities, forcing prisoners to move to one side of the old store. Before long, prisoners were pushed into tight lines by the store’s entrance and given pieces of paper with the numbers ‘four, five, six, or seven’ written on them in Roman numerals. Jim looked down to find ‘VI’ on his paper. He wondered what being sixth meant. The imprisoned men scowled at the guards, women looked fearful, and children sniveled, clinging to their parents. Jim realized they were being prepared to move and watched for his chance to execute vengeance.
Large buses pulled up outside the store. The buses were similar to an old Greyhound Jim rode years ago when he traveled across country as a new recruit, except none of these buses contained seats. Prisoners were crammed into the buses by PeaceKeepers. Hot and crowded, the people felt like sardines wedged tightly into tin cans. While he wasn’t claustrophobic, Jim could imagine the distress, even terror, for someone fearing enclosed spaces. Each turn or bump in the road caused a sea of humanity packed into the buses to squeeze or fall onto one another.
After a seemingly endless drive, the vehicles stopped. Disembarking from the modified buses, prisoners were led into a large, open area fenced by concertina wire where armed guards and barking dogs patrolled the perimeter. A group of PeaceKeepers began to call for people to line up by their assigned numbers to be loaded into the railcars.
Suddenly panic broke out as prisoners begged and traded with others to get the same number as their friends and loved ones. Some families stayed together, but others were torn apart. Lines of captives were jammed so closely in the boxcars that everyone was forced to stand. Even sick and wounded prisoners stood or leaned against others because there was no room to sit.
Ugh, and I thought the bus ride to basic training was bad, Jim groaned.
Conditions in the cars were deplorable. The fetid smell of body odor mixed with blood and urine permeated the air, gagging Jim. Unlike many of the prisoners who simply gave up, Jim focused his hatred toward retaliation.
Sometime during the night, a pleasant sound interrupted Jim’s scheming. It was a song. One prisoner began to sing . . . and then another person started to sing. Soon everyone in the railcar, except Jim, sang. Bewildered, Jim looked around; he saw women, children and men singing a song of praise to God. People shifted their shoulders so they could reach their hands to heaven as they sang. Jim wondered how everyone knew this particular song, sing in such discomfort, and give praise to God who had so thoroughly forgotten them!
Praise for Of the Earth
“True supernatural power exists, not through wizardry and magic, but through the One who created all, knows all, and manifests himself to those who abide in him. Of the Earth tells the tale of true power in dark days and points to the One you can encounter, even now, who wields that power through those who are willing.”
—Monica Wipp, K-12 Educator
“Creative. Engaging. Thought-provoking. Cousins takes the reader on a journey that engages the senses and creates an accurate tension between the spirit world and the natural chaos of end-time events. This book challenges the reader to be sure of their foundation and the importance of being attentive to what is happening in the course of human events. The climax of this story brings each of us to a place of healthy reflection where we lean into the truth of God’s promises.”
—Andrew Templeton, Lead Pastor, Sweetwater First Assembly
About the Author
Kim Cousins is a retired academic advisor from the University of Minnesota Crookston. She is the author of Rule Keepers (2020) in Potato Soup Journal and Evolving Interactions in Higher Education Change (2011) in National Association of Student Affairs Professions. Kim lives on a farm in Tennessee with her husband, Woodie, and an amusing group of animals. Her family includes five children, eight grandchildren, and five great-grandchildren.