And the Heavens Shall Fall - Tentative Release Date September 2012 (For Sure!)
When an earthquake flattens New York City, the devastation is phenomenal and loss of life beyond comprehension. The world is in shock.
More than that, it is the first sign.
The chosen few can see it.
A firefighter, newspaperman, thief, engineer, bride and a priest are all strangers across the country thrown together. All of them believe it is the beginning of the end. Together they work diligently to try to save humanity and stop the inevitable.
But is it already too late?
For thousands of years it has been predicted. The prophesy has begun.
The mountains will crumble … and the Heavens shall fall.
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Harry Albright hadn’t seen the confusion of a newsroom in many years. The pandemonium, the rush, the adrenaline pumping. Of course, that was the reason Harry left his position as Editor in Chief at the Atlanta Times. He had taken pride in that position because he was the first black man to hold the prestigious ‘top dog’ spot. Harry worked hard to get that job, moving from a mere grunt of a journalist to the down-to-earth, frightening, and sometimes sarcastic man who ran it all. For nearly twenty years, he held that job until his blood pressure grew out of control. Seeking a quiet, peaceful editor’s position, he got what he needed when he applied and got the post at the Allentown Review.
However, it wasn’t until all the phones were ringing off the hook, with no one to answer but him, that he realized how much he missed it. Hanging up a phone on a far away desk, he scurried his lanky body across the office to answer the phone on his own desk. He was quick and agile for a man of sixty years. Though he was far from the fitness king, Harry truly believed his mind kept him young - that and his four children.
Bending as he reached for the phone, he pulled up his black trousers as they nearly slipped off him, and probably would have if he wasn’t still be wearing his pajama bottoms underneath. Harry was a hot mess.
“Yeah, Albright speaking.” Harry rolled his eyes as he plopped into his desk chair. “Yes, Rob.” He reached for a cigarette as he listened. “You did? Handwritten?” Harry broke a slight smile. “Well, did you fax it?” A pause. “Fax, Rob. Yes. I don’t have anyone here, I don’t do that electronic mail stuff. You know that. Email, whatever. Fine. Stay on the line while I pull it up.” Swirling his index finger around the hold button, Harry pressed it then answered the other ringing line. “Albright speaking.” He spoke while opening his computer. “Oh, June,” he said to his wife. “Let me call you back.”
Focused only on his computer, Harry located the message. It was from a young man who had applied for a position with the paper the previous week, the young journalist who lived in Easton, Pennsylvania, the one Harry said didn’t have enough experience then sent on his way. Yet, Easton wasn’t that far from New York City, so Harry changed his mind quickly about the young man. At three-thirty in the morning, Harry called and told him, ‘you want your chance, cover that quake’. Now Harry sat, his reading glasses perched across the bridge of his nose, reading the words of the overzealous newcomer.
“What is this?” Harry spoke aloud, then picked up the phone. “Rob. What is this?” Harry shook his head and lit his cigarette. “Let me read your words and you tell me what is wrong with this? ‘The Statue of Liberty, like a jilted lover’s heart, lay broken in two in the New York Bay. While Ellis Island lay lost beneath the now raging and debris filled waters. Buried and gone like so many hopes and dreams that many once brought there.’”
He paused to listen to the reporter ramble. “Yes, I know it’s descriptive. But this isn’t fiction! I want you to rework this immediately . . . never mind, I will.” Harry reached to hang up but stopped. “Hey Rob, I need an estimated body count as soon as you can get one. I know they aren’t talking numbers but . . .” Harry’s hand dropped. “You’re kidding? One third? Rumored or confirmed? Well, confirm that, damn it. Then chase me a human-interest story. Thanks.” Again, he tried to hang up and halted. “Oh, and Rob. Thanks. Good job.”
As he hung up the phone, Harry adjusted his hands on the keyboard. “Let’s see what I can do to you. You have to be out for the afternoon edition. I can . . .” Another ring of the phone. “Albright speaking.” He nodded his head as if the person calling could see. “Excellent, Melissa, just what I wanted to hear. Get me those pictures as soon as possible. Thanks. And uh, good job.” Harry reached over blindly, hanging up the phone.
“Harry,” the soft, yet annoyed woman’s voice called from the door to his office.
Harry stopped clicking his fingers and looked up. “June.” He slightly smiled. “What on earth are you doing here?”
“You didn’t call me back.” She walked further in and set down two cups of coffee. “I was concerned.”
“Aw June, I’m busy. I have phones ringing off the hook. I have three stories I have to . . .” Harry smiled brightly and stood. “June.” His demeanor changed. “Could you work on this for me? Take out some of the flowery things this boy has written in here?”
“Oh, Harry, it’s been years since I . . .”
“Knock yourself out.” Harry winked and pulled out the chair for her. “I’ll just go and use another computer. Sit down.” He patted the leather chair, grabbed his coffee, and kissed his wife on the cheek as she scooted to his desk. “Thanks, Sweetheart.”
“Harry, I came to check on you, not work. I’m worried about you. You were so ill last night. Did that quake shake it from you or something, or are you still sick?”
“June,” Harry smiled. “I feel great. My blood is pumping, I’m ready to go. Maybe it did rattle that migraine from me. I don’t know. But I’ll tell you.” Harry pointed his finger then grabbed his cigarette from the ashtray. “Whatever the reason, I’m not arguing. This is big, June. Huge.” He spoke with excitement. “An earthquake in Manhattan? What are the chances? Do you remember years ago, when the scientist said it could happen. Do you remember that, June?”
“Well, here it is.” Harry nodded. “It’s here. My people say it’s gone. Completely flattened. Nine points on the Richter scale they’re guessing. Nine points, June. Not even L.A. could withstand that and they’re built for earthquakes.”
June watched her husband pace as he spoke enthusiastically. “Harry, this isn’t good news, you know that?”
“No. But it is big news. An earthquake in Manhattan.” Harry moved to the door, snapping his fingers and turning back. “What did I tell you when we felt that vibration this morning? I told you it wasn’t some big truck going down our street. A big truck.” Harry chuckled at that thought. “It was felt as far north as Albany and as far south as Washington D.C. How about that? And . . . not only Manhattan, but the Bronx, Brooklyn and Jersey City . . .” He swung out his arm, “Gone. At least one-third of those areas completely flattened. And forget about ever going back there to see the statue of Liberty. She’s . . . how did Rob put it, broken in two like a heart. Something like that.” Harry shook his head. “And I’m a busy man, June. I have work to do. Can you not keep me talking to you? Thank you.” Harry, cigarette in one hand, coffee in the other, bolted to the door, sliding in a stop before he left. “Oh, and can you pick up the phone for me, please? Thanks.” Quickly, without any further delay, he moved into the next area.
June was left completely baffled, head spinning in confusion and sitting in front of a computer. But June was used to the way her husband rambled and acted. That was just Harry.
Not a spot of Jude’s face wasn’t covered in dirt. Even though it was bitterly cold, he broke a sweat, smearing the soot. He worked relentlessly over a mound of debris that used to be a neighboring apartment building. His one hand held tightly to the little fingers that extended from the destruction, while his other hand removed large blocks of concrete, grunting with every toss of stone. “Almost there,” he spoke. A few more pieces and Jude saw the metal doorway. It had protected the child he fought to free. It trapped yet shielded the child from the falling debris. Releasing the tiny hand, Jude used his strength to carefully move the door. There lay a small boy; Jude estimated him to be about four years old. He was clad in his Batman pajamas, bloodied, crying, scared, and yet alive. “I have you.” Jude reached down into the safety pocket and carefully lifted the child. The moment he lifted the boy the child adjusted his body and wrapped his arms tightly around Jude. “It’s okay,” Jude spoke soothingly, cradling the child and carrying him to the Army tents set up a block away.
“I have another one, Major James,” Jude told the uniformed doctor who worked on a woman. “It’s a child.”
The older doctor, covered with blood, turned to Jude, his expression dropped. “Is he alive?”
“Yes. I think he’s fine. Just scared. His arm is broken.”
Major James gave a slight smile. “Could you take him to Lieutenant Crawford over there?” The doctor pointed. “He’ll take care of him.”
“Yes, Sir.” Jude, still holding tightly to the boy, edged by the doctor as he made his way through the maze of cots.
The Major watched the tall man dressed in his firefighter’s coat and boots walk past him, and then he then noticed his legs, the dirty long john underwear the only thing covering them. “Son,” Major James called out. “Son.”
Jude laid the boy on the table, lifting his eyes to the call. He walked back over to the Major. “Yes?”
Major James had seen Jude when he arrived two hours earlier. He had watched the fireman bring in four people, but this was the first time he really looked at Jude. Bending down slightly, Major James lifted the bottom of the jacket to make sure that he wasn’t wearing only long john underwear. He then undid the top button of Jude’s jacket and looked enough to see only Jude’s bare chest. “Son, where are your clothes?”
“I, uh . . . I only got out with my boots, coat and underwear.”
“How are you feeling, Son?” Major James asked.
“Feeling strong enough to continue helping?”
“Yes, Sir, I do. As a matter of fact . . .”
“Wanna stay strong enough to continue to help?” the Major continued in his questioning.
“Sir?” Jude scratched his head.
“If you continue to work in this weather without any clothes, you’ll be down with these people and no good to us. Got that?”
“Yes, Sir.” Jude turned and headed from the tent.
“Son, where are you going?” Major James asked.
“To go back out and help.”
“Not without clothes, you don’t. Take five minutes and go over to the supply truck.” Major James indicated. “Tell them to give you some clothes and head gear.”
“But I have to . . .”
“Now, Fireman. Take five minutes now,” the Major ordered.
A little intimidated by the stern military man, Jude agreed and headed toward the parked truck. Leaving the tent and stepping out into the destruction, the reality hit him. He hadn’t noticed earlier because he was so busy, but he noticed now. He looked for it, the brilliant and breathtaking skyline of New York City, a sight he had seen every waking moment since he moved to Brooklyn. A sight he took for granted. And now . . . a sight that was no longer there.