19 ReunitingMature

The Delegation from outside the City Building, headed through the dark, shivery cold tunnel. The Pastor and his niece were escorted by the Dave, Karen and Louise, who used the flashlights on their multi-taskers to illuminate the way. 

After the airlock's outer doors had slid shut, Pastor Luzak asked, "Is there no transportation?" 

Dave told him, "Not until we get back inside the City Building, sir. Until then we have to walk." 

That was when Charlene had cried out, "Oh my God!" and put her hand to her mouth. She pointed to the pile of skeletons lying on the ancient roadway. 

The three kids from the City Building laughed. 

Karen chuckled. "Welcome to the City of Manhattan Building, Miss Luzak." 

Back in Zabelton, Charlene had asked to come along with Pastor Luzak, on his expedition to the City of Manhattan Building, with Dave and Karen. 

She'd said, "If lots of people are gonna be coming out from the City Building, I'd like to see what they're really like. I know that Dave and Karen have been on their best behavior while they're out here with us, but I'd like to see what City Building People are really like, when they're inside the City Building." 

The Pastor asked Dave and Karen, "If Charlene does come along with us, just how safe will she be?" 

Dave said, "As long as she stays with me and Karen, she'll be as safe as we are; and Karen and I know how to handle things inside the City Building." 

Domnick then told his brother Henry, "Dave and Karen are two very responsible young people. I'm sure that as long as Charlene stays with them, and with me, things should be reasonably safe for her." 

Her father had cautiously agreed. 

Now they continued on their way through the long dark tunnel, with Charlene sobbing softly, while Dave, Karen and Louise tried not to snicker. 

The Pastor and Charlene both wore back packs; so did Dave and Karen. The Pastor and Charlene walked side by side. Karen and Dave went ahead of them, but Dave now walked with his arm around Louise. 

Louise asked, "So what was it like out there?" 

Karen said, "Oh it's beautiful, and abundant with life; but it does take a lot of getting used to." 

Dave added, "The Pastor saw that we had a place to stay, and there were a lot of good things to eat." 

Louise asked, "Do you mean non-human meat?" 

"Oh yes. All kinds of things to eat, both animals and vegetables; just like our ancestors did." 

Then Karen told her, "We also went fishing. I actually caught a fish. Believe it or not!" 

"That all sounds really great." Louise told them. "Was there anything that you didn't like?" 

Karen said, "Well, when we first arrived, everybody we met called us 'People from Hell'." 

Louise laughed. 

The Pastor said, "I put an end to that." 

Karen went on, "And there were very few people. It was hard to deal with. Then there were also a lot of wide open spaces. No walls or ceilings. It would have been very easy to get lost." 

Dave said, "For the first time in our lives, we were in a place where we knew that we weren't going to ever be killed. It's a place where everybody dies in bed from old age, believe that or not too." 

The Pastor asked, "How did you two feel about that?" 

Karen said, "It was just too strange. We just weren't sure how to deal with it." 

Then Louise changed the subject. "So what do people do out there for fun?" 

Dave told her, "Like Karen said, we did go fishing." 

"Do they have any kinds of recreational sports?" 

"Well," he told her, "we did watch a game on television. It was a team sport called 'Football'. 

"It actually took place outdoors in an open field, under a partly cloudy sky. Hardly anybody showed up. Just a few hundred people seated on bleachers. 

"There were two teams, with only 11 players on each side. They wore helmets and heavily padded uniforms. There was also a squad of scantily clad cheerleaders; one for each team. 

"Well the game is played by members of both teams, fighting back and forth across the open field. All they did was slam into each other, and knock each other to the ground. They were fighting to keep each other from carrying an elongated ball past a goal line." 

Karen added, "And they also had a brass band playing rousing tunes, while the cheerleaders chanted, and the fans did their own cheering in the bleachers." 

Louise said, "It sounds like some kind of combat game?" 

Karen told her, "Oh how we wished that it was. They didn't have any weapons, and nobody got killed. Then when the game ended, no cheerleader was hanged from either team's goalpost." 

"But if nobody died," Louise asked, "what was everybody cheering about?" 

"Yeah." Dave agreed, "It was kind of lame." 

Louise declared, "It sounds like a game for wussies." 

Then she asked, "Were there any other sports?" 

"Well," Karen told her, "There is one called 'Girls Volleyball." 

"Is that anything like volleyhead?" 

"Pretty much, except that they use a large ball, instead of a head." 

"Another game for wussies." 

Now Dave asked Louise, "So how have things been with you?" 

"Oh, we won the game against Yeshiva High last Sunday, by 15 kills. Some people thought it should be 14. You see, I got wounded during the Game. I thought I'd been killed, and so did everybody else; but obviously I wasn't." 

"Obviously." 

"And another thing, Dave. Mrs. Ramierez told me that my score in the College Entrance Exam was high enough to get me into any Jephthahn Religious College. 

Dave told her, "Oh, that's really great!" 

"I could also get myself qualified for a Jephthahn scholarship, and I wouldn't have to take any test." 

Karen asked, "No test?" 

"Well not a written one. I'd have to participate in a Jephthahn Combat Elimination Game; and survive a few rounds. It's the only chance I'm being offered." 
"Sounds good." Karen agreed. "I'd think I'd like to take that test myself." 

Pastor Luzak and his niece Charlene had been walking behind the three City Building kids, listening to all this. 

Charlene whispered in a whimpery voice, "Uncle Domnick?" 

He now spoke. "Karen, are you really serious about risking your life that way?" 

"I might be." She told him, "Combat Scholarship Girls who survive get paid good, along with triple rations."

He asked, "Do you remember what you told me, about what the Lord told you to choose?" 

"Yes Pastor. I remember. He said, '...Choose life, so that you and your children may live...'" 

"Then why are you thinking of choosing to risk death?" 

"I'm sorry Pastor Luzak. Out in Zabelton, choosing life was easy. Back here in the City Building, we don't always have that choice." 

"If you're not required to become a Combat Scholarship Girl, then you do have that choice." 

They continued on through the Tunnel. 

Charlene told her uncle, "You said you thought I'd be safe with them." 

That was when Pastor Domnick Luzak called out, with his voice echoing through the darkness, "In the Name of the Lord Jesus Christ, I ask God the Father Almighty, to send forth the Holy Spirit, and cast out the Devil before we arrive; so that no one will be harmed in any place where we are present; and that everyone there will be healthy and healed of all their afflictions; and that they will know the Way of the Lord, and follow Him. In the Name of the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen." 

They continued on their way through the ancient abandoned tunnel. 

After what seemed like and endless amount of time, surrounded by total darkness, they finally emerged from the tunnel. They were now surrounded by the dimly lit, gray walls of the City of Manhattan Building's Level Number 1. They quickly moved to the foot of the fire stairs. 

Dave spoke, "Up to now it's been easy. From here we've got to climb ten levels. Then we can finally get inside where people are." 

Now the exhausted clergyman spoke. "'Climb ten Levels? Listen. You're all teenagers, and in good shape. You can handle it. I'm 42 years old. It's not as easy for me! Aren't there any elevators around here at all?" 

"If we knew that there was," Dave told the man, "believe me, we'd be on it." 

"I know it's bad," Karen told him, "but it's temporary. Once we get up to Level 10, we'll enter the City Building, and everything'll be a lot easier from then on." 

Then all five of them began to climb. Domnick, Charlene, Dave and Karen, remained loaded down with their backpacks. They climbed a few flights. Then they came to a landing, where they stopped to rest for a minute or two. Then they went up a few more flights. Then they again stopped to rest for a minute or two. They continued on, climbing and resting; resting and climbing. They even stopped to rest while engulfed by the foul stench of the waste treatment facility. 

Finally they arrived at Level 10. The living sounds of the City Building came through the fire doors. Here they didn't stop to rest. 

Dave went over to one fire door, and put his hand on the knob, 

"Here we are, ladies and gentleman." He announced, "The City of Manhattan Building." 

Domnick now quoted, "'Behold,' says the Lord 'I stand at the door and knock. If anyone who hears my voice will open the door, I will come into him, and I will dine with him, and he with me.'" 

Dave asked the Pastor, "Will the Lord dine on what we dine on?" 

Then he opened the door. The kids from the City Building went through first. Then the Delegation of two, from Zabelton Pennsylvania, stepped out into whatever they would find. 

The End

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