Written by one of Jehovah’s Witnesses
DAY ONE AFTER ARMAGEDDON
It seems ages since we last heard the gunshots and screams. Today has been really quiet. The last few weeks have been sheer terror. Total anarchy, everyone turning on each other. Not so the brothers – we all looked after each other, later on we had to flee and hide wherever we could.
Bill and I have been on our own for a few days, we went looking for food for a group of Witnesses we were with, but later on we got separated from them.
We managed to find some tins of food in a burnt out farmhouse yesterday but when we heard gunshots we decided to hide here for the night. In the distance we saw people running for their lives, the look of terror of their faces is a sight I will never forget. But since the morning it has been so quiet!
All morning the birds were singing and the sun was shining. We could see smoke rising high in the sky from fires in distant cities, but other than that it was totally peaceful today. At lunchtime Bill and I decided it was safe enough to look for the others. Everywhere we looked we saw dead bodies; some people slumped at the steering wheels of their cars, and some even with their cars still running.
Could it all be over?
After an hour of walking we found another family from our congregation, they were so happy to see us. They had not seen any sign of disturbance all day either.
As we walked on we came closer to the city. We decided to walk to the site of the Kingdom Hall. The whole city was deserted, what a mess! Houses were on fire, crashed cars, some with dead people still in them. We zig-zagged all over the road dodging wrecks, bodies and some looters that were laying dead next to the things they had looted. Some of the things that used to very valuable, like sacks of money and valuable jewelry laying on the road, but we did not even bother picking these valueless things up. Bodies laying where they had fallen. Churches totally looted, some burnt out; some of the priests that had apparently been able to avoid prison when the government banned religion, seemed to have died trying to stop the mobs.
We spotted a group of people walking in the distance. They were people we did not know. They looked like witnesses to us and they were looking at us the same way. We walked over to meet them and asked them where they were going. They said they were looking for fellow believers who were Jehovah’s Witnesses. Once we found out we were all Witnesses, we all hugged.
It turned out that they were from a neighboring congregation. They told us that everyone they met so far this day were witnesses too. We now were getting more certain by the hour that Armageddon had passed. It is hard to describe our excitement! Now we just had to see if our Kingdom hall was still standing. We all run down the road whooping with excitement.
When we came to the hall we had such a huge shock.. There were so many people there. The place was all boarded up, and obscene graffiti had been sprayed all over it. Brothers and sisters were already cleaning it up and removing the boards from the windows. A brother was already mowing the lawn, and a First-Aid tent had been set up. One of the sisters from the neighboring congregation said it reminded her of the day they built the hall in a “quick build” weekend. None of us expected everything to be organized so quickly!
As we were marveling at the scene, someone tapped me on the shoulder. It was our Presiding Overseer (PO). He was so pleased to see us. He gave all of us the biggest hug we ever had. I will long remember this day, when I cried so many happy tears until I ran out of tears. Then he told us he was organizing volunteers and asked us if we had any special useful skills we might volunteer. I was a cook in the old system. That seems funny now; we use to always talk about the new system. Jim, one of the brothers in our group was a truck driver. Our PO told us to register at the volunteer department at the literature counter of the hall.
Walking in the hall was such a shock. Even though the place had been vandalized, brothers and sisters were already cleaning it and had started setting up various departments in there. Well I must say they were TRYING to clean up, because every now and again we heard excited shrieks and saw people hugging each other sobbing and crying and laughing all at the same time as they found friends that made it.
Two brothers laughed and laughed and laughed when they saw each other. Bystanders asked one of them why he was laughing so much, and when he composed himself he said “I never thought HE would make it!” The other brother was not offended. He laughed even more and later, when he also had composed himself, said: “And I think YOU were the least likely to make it here.” Neither was offended, they were just glad to be there and they hugged each other with tears streaming down their faces.
Others were somewhat disappointed some of their love ones did not make it, but soon were swept up in the euphoria of this great day, and were smiling with everyone else.
Every now and again people came running towards the hall jumping for joy, shouting “We made it! We made it! We really are in the new system!” and went running around shaking everyone hands and hugging all comers.
In among all the excitement Jim and I registered with a brother entering all names in a laptop. We wondered where he had found that, and even how he had managed to charge it up, but we were too exited to ask. He told us all names were being registered so we would know who survived. Jim asked about his mother who he had not seen for weeks. The brother entered the name and told him she was already registered and was working in the First-Aid tent and… (Jim did not hear the rest of this sentence as he was running off like an Olympic sprinter to the First-Aid tent)
Later when Jim came back we were both assigned to collect food from the neighborhood and to salvage any supplies we could. So we walked away from the hall into the deserted streets and found a big pickup truck standing in the middle of an intersection. A big burly man lay dead across the front of it, a woman lay dead next to it, we wondered briefly if she was the man’s wife. We moved the bodies to the side of the road and started the pickup truck; it started straight away. The fuel tank was half full so we decided we would use it for our search.
Brother Jim reached into the glove box and found a handful of CD’s. They were all rap and heavy metal so he walked to a rubbish bin and threw them away. It seemed quite funny doing that now, we did not expect the city garbage trucks anytime soon, but then again we were not going to litter the new system!
Wow! It seems so funny saying that still. The new system! And we are standing in it. Wow!
We had just driven barely a kilometer when a police car came chasing after us with sirens blaring and lights flashing! Jim was shocked and pulled over immediately, like he had always done in the past, but out of the police car jumps Terry – one of our ministerial servants, his wife Mary and their excited young son Tim who had gone for his first ride ever in a police car.
Terry excitedly told us of how he had found this car on a country road deserted with its engine still running. The policeman was laying on the road, it looked like he had been shot, but Terry thought the car would save his family a long walk. We suggested that he should drive to the kingdom hall and register, but that he would not be needed to keep order.
As Terry was getting back into the car a voice came on the police radio “Hello, can anybody hear us?” Terry answered the call and found out the voice was from a brother in a neighboring town that had found a police car. They reported that everywhere the brothers were convinced Armageddon had passed. There were scenes of jubilation with people dancing, leaping for joy and crying tears of joy everywhere, the brother on the radio said.
We jumped back into the truck and went from house to house collecting food out of kitchen cupboards, and restaurants until the truck was loaded. At one of the houses Jim came running back to the truck nearly doubling up with laughter. He shouted that I had to come and have a look. I followed him and there was a sign on the door “NO JEHOVAH’S WITNESSES PLEASE!” We peeled the sign off and stuck it in our pockets to show the brothers at the hall, and then walked in laughing shouting “Hello, we are Jehovah’s witnesses and we calling at homes in the neighborhood!” It seemed a little sad to us that witnessing had finished as we knew it back in the old system. (Boy it seems funny writing this. Back in the old system).. But then we wondered what Jehovah had in store when the resurrected ones start coming back!
It was dark when we came back to the kingdom hall. The whole town was in darkness, but we could see the Kingdom Hall from several kilometers away. Obviously, someone had found generators and the whole site was lit up like the quick builds we used to have in the old system.
One of the brothers in our congregation used to set-up the sound systems for the quick build halls and he had set-up a sound system. Brothers and sisters were serving meals and while we were eating an announcement came over the sound system, “Brothers and sisters we just had word from the governing body, Armageddon is over, everyone that is here has survived the war Armageddon.” A huge cheer went up, brothers and sisters danced, hugged cheered and celebrated. Then one of the Italian brothers started singing song 212, “We thank you Jehovah!” in Italian. We all recognized the tune and all joined in!
We made a huge bonfire many joined in singing kingdom songs. Yes we sang the “victory song”! Two brothers had dragged the piano out of the hall and everyone was singing with such fervor, it brought tears to our eyes. There was a crowd of hundreds singing like the Levites in the back of our song books singing in full voice with feeling and pride to be serving this great wonderful God, our God Jehovah
I will hear the words of song 171 ringing in my ears for all eternity. A VICTORY SONG! We won, and Satan had lost the great war. Sing to Jehovah, for he has become highly exalted. Happy we are to be living today. To our God Jehovah and his Messiah, thanks we render all day long. To them alone we look for salvation, grand will be our victory song.
Well, the Big A is over and I survived. I made my way down to the Kingdom Hall this morning. By the end of the day most of the congregation had gathered at the Hall. Some brothers and sisters are still missing, Ed Thorn, our presiding overseer, told us that those who were missing should have spent more time in field service.
Brother Thorn called a special meeting this morning. He announced that he and the other elders would now be assuming full authority over our new community until contact was reestablished with headquarters. All decisions regarding community regulations, living arrangements, work assignments, and other matters would be at the sole discretion of the elders.
Sam Greene objected to this dictatorial policy until Thorn pulled out a letter from the Society dated several months ago which stated that, after Armageddon, the local body of elders would be responsible for all decisions until otherwise directed by the Society. Sam voiced no further objections. The rest of us also accepted the new arrangement.
The first new rule was not long in coming – all brothers and sisters were required to report to the Kingdom Hall at 8:00 every morning to receive work assignments and other instructions.
Brother Thorn has assigned me to the burial detail. It seems that most of us single brothers have been assigned this unpleasant duty. The dead bodies are already starting to get to me. It sickens me to watch the birds and other animals scavenge the corpses. I actually saw a raven pluck out an eyeball today. Disgusting! Rob Johnson got a bulldozer running and has begun to dig a large common grave. My job is to go around collecting bodies and load them into the back of a pickup truck.
We had our first judicial hearing today. Larry and Sue Winters had moved into the McRae mansion in what was once the exclusive Cypress Oaks subdivision. The problem was that Sister Thorn had already had her eye on the place and, as wife of the presiding overseer; she figured that she should have first choice. Brother Thorn told Brother and Sister Winter that they had no right to claim anything without approval of the elders. They were ordered to get out of the house by nightfall. The Winters were very disappointed but they agreed to move out.
At the morning meeting, the Thorns announced that they would be moving into the McRae place. The Winters were livid, but they didn’t say anything. It was also announced that the surrounding estate homes had been assigned to the other elders. Position has privilege, even in the New World .
Some of the brothers have started calling the area “Elder Hill.” It was also announced that anyone wanting to appropriate a home must first file a request with the elders. I have decided to stay in my own house. It doesn’t seem right to move into someone else’s home, even if they were worldly. It makes me sad when I go into someone’s house and see the family pictures and personal belongings. Most of the others don’t feel this way, it doesn’t bother them to loot the dead.
The elders announced a new meeting schedule at the morning meeting. On Sunday, we will still have the public talk followed by a study of old Watchtower articles until we get new magazines. On Tuesday night, we will have a congregational book study. The Service Meeting has been canceled (no need for it anymore) along with the Ministry School . They have been replaced by an instructional session to be held on Friday night. This new meeting will instruct us on how to conduct ourselves in the New World Society. The best thing, of course is no more field service!
This burial work is taking a heavy toll on me. I can’t help but feel saddened at the waste of so much human life. Why couldn’t Jehovah have found a way to save more people? The children are the worst, I can’t stand to see their little bodies anymore. I don’t think I’ll report for work tomorrow.
I didn’t go to work today. Ed Thorn came by later in the morning and asked me why I wasn’t at work. I told him I didn’t feel well. He told me to get to work, that everyone feels well all the time in the New World . He also told me that depression, and mental anxiety were things of the past. Of course, he doesn’t have to bury the bodies.
It’s been two weeks now. I really miss things like electricity and running water. I wonder if we’ll ever get those things working again. Rob Johnson and I borrowed a generator from the Hall last night and hooked it up to my television and VCR. We had a great time watching some “Star Trek” videos and a tape of last year’s Super bowl. I really miss television.
At the morning meeting, Brother Thorn publicly reprimanded Rob and I for watching television. The elders have decided that, henceforth, watching videos is prohibited since we do not want our new paradise to be contaminated by the old world. Thorn speculated that one day we might have “theocratic television” from the Society. The Watchtower Channel? Spare me.
Still no word from the Society. We have spoken to representatives from surrounding congregations but the elders are not allowing anyone to travel. Carol Woods wanted to visit her sister in the next county to see if she made it through okay, but Brother Thorn told her to stay put and be patient. After all, she would have plenty of time to see her sister later. I think that was a cruel thing to say.
We finally finished most other the burial work. I am so relieved. The scavenger birds are still hanging around. I have grown to hate the sight of the fat, disgusting creatures. One of the things attacked me today. I guess they have acquired a taste for human flesh.
Many other brothers and sisters are getting sick of being bossed around by the elders. They run things like an old South plantation, we are the slaves, and they are the overseers. I have been reassigned to work on the communal farm. It is hard work, but it beats the burial detail. Sam Greene is organizing a committee to speak to the elders about some of the complaints that we all have.
The elders found out about Sam Green’s attempted “rebellion.” At the morning meeting, he was publicly reprimanded and told to pray for a humble spirit. No one is to speak to him until he has shown proper repentance. I can’t believe that we are dis-fellowshipping people in the New World
Today a messenger finally arrived from the Society. Wade Peters, a young Bethelite, arrived on horseback. He told us that the Society has moved all headquarters staff to Patterson after the destruction of New York City . We also received the first post-Armageddon Watchtower (now issued quarterly).
Many of us had hoped that it would contain information allowing us more personal freedom but we were disappointed to read that we were to keep following the instructions of the local elders until further notice. He also gave the elders a copy of a new procedure manual (titled ORGANIZATION FOR THE NEW WORLD) but none of us were allowed to see it.
My best friend got married today in a shotgun wedding! Rob and Sally Kennedy were discovered together while engaged in a heavy kissing session. After a judicial meeting, Brother Thorn announced that they were now married, without a ceremony or anything! Rob objected strenuously, explaining that he and Sally had not had sex. Brother Thorn, however, declared that the decision was in keeping with the new elder procedure manual. Sally seems happy enough but Rob is in a state of shock. I remember he once told me that he thought that she was as dumb as a box of rocks. Now he is married to her forever. I’ll have to remember to keep my hands in my pockets when I date any sisters.
The newlyweds are not getting along. There has been a lot of gossip about their horrible spats. Rob confided to me today that he went to the elders in an attempt to get the marriage annulled. They told him that according to the Society’s new procedure manual, no divorces or annulment would be allowed for any reason. In addition, all marriages now have to be approved by the local body of elders.
Sam Greene was reinstated today. He is still unhappy, but keeps his thoughts to himself now.
We are all in a state of shock! Rob committed suicide today. I guess the idea of spending eternity with Sally was not acceptable to him. The elders refused to let us hold a funeral service. I volunteered to bury my friend. Brother Thorn instructed me to bury him in the common grave where we had put the worldly persons. No one came to the grave side, not even his widow. I said a prayer for my friend. I will miss Rob greatly.
Life is becoming miserable for many of us. The elders keep placing new rules on us every day. We are told we must lead holy lives of service and submission. No dissent or discussion is allowed. It seems like we had more freedom before Armageddon. I never though I would be nostalgic about the old world.
I can’t take it here anymore. I am going to travel to my brother’s place, about a hundred miles from here. Traveling on foot I think I can make it in about five days. I wish I could get gasoline for my car. I’ll have to sneak out since the elders still aren’t giving anyone permission to travel. I have stored some food and plan to leave tonight after the curfew. I hope my brother is still alive, maybe he will know if Mom and Dad are okay.
I made it out-of-town today. I wonder if they miss me yet? The destruction in the countryside is incredible. How will we ever rebuild everything? I’ve seen quite a few skeletons already. I guess there is still a lot of burial work to do before we build a paradise.
I ran into a group of brothers from Westview congregation. I was detained at gunpoint! Brother Thorn had gotten word to them to be on the outlook for me. I am furious. Why can’t I visit my brother?
Ed Thorn and two ministerial servants arrived today to escort me back “home.” They were all carrying guns.
After my attempted escape and several other disciplinary problems involving other brothers, the elders have now set up a gun-toting police force. I was, of course, disfellowshipped at the morning meeting. I have been assigned to latrine duty.
I was instructed to report to the Kingdom Hall after work for “additional instruction.” I saw Sam Greene and a couple of other “troublemaker’s” there. We were subjected to an hour of “re-indoctrination,” mostly the usual crap about maintaining a servants spirit and not to think too much of ourselves. We were told to come back next week for more of the same.
I blew up today at the re-indoctrination meeting. I told Ed Thorn that I was sick of him acting like a theocratic Hitler. I also told him that I was leaving the community and that he better not try to stop me. My mistake. Thorn called his police force in and had me arrested. I am being detained under armed guard in a makeshift jail cell in the Kingdom Hall basement.
My judicial hearing is scheduled for tomorrow. Sam Greene came by to see me. When the guards were out of ear shot, he told me that his efforts to contact the Society about the local elders had done no good. He had been told by the Society to keep quiet and obey the elders without question. Sam is very depressed about this and about my situation.
My judicial hearing was held today. Ed Thorn acted as lead prosecutor. I, of course had no defense counsel and could call no witnesses. After the hearing which was held in secret, I was judged guilty of being an unrepentant apostate. I was solemnly informed that according to the Society’s instructions (as contained in “ORGANIZATION FOR THE NEW WORLD”) the punishment for apostasy is death by stoning. My execution is scheduled for tomorrow.
Well, this is the end. Later today, I will be led out for my execution by stoning. I would rather be shot in the back of the head, but the Society obviously feels that stoning provides a better object lesson. If I get a chance I will throw one of the rocks back at Ed Thorn. The funny thing is that I don’t really feel so bad about my impending demise. This New World Society is not my idea of a paradise and I don’t want to live with these people for all eternity. From paradise lost to paradise regained to paradise lost again.
Everyone turned out for my stoning, even the kids. Ed Thorn solemnly pronounced my death sentence and then quoted scripture telling everyone to “not to let their eye feel sorry.” No one did. My only regret is that they tied my hands behind my back so that I couldn’t return any of their rocks with interest. Not very sporting. The last thing I saw before the lights went out was a sickening smirk on Thorn’s face. Then I woke up. In Heaven. And there was St. Peter. “Welcome to Paradise , my child” he said as he gently took my hand. Confused, I said “But I thought paradise was back on Earth with the Witnesses.” “No,” explained St. Peter, “That was Hell.”