In Islamic eschatology, the return of Isa (Jesus) from the Fourth Heaven will be one of the great signs at the end of the age, after the “Antichrist” is released and before Gog and Magog are released. At the first writing of this piece, I had not put God into the picture at all, but on retrospect, I wondered how a Sufi Muslim would interpret the signs of the times. I found it fitting and wonderful to incorporate this idea into the short story. The idea of the story stands by itself, as a funny telling of one experience. I wrote it around eight years ago, and have edited it two or three times since then, and I believe it’s getting better with each edit. With the incorporation of the new additions into the story, I hope to give it some flexibility in end-time prophecy. Not that I agree with Sufism, but I hope to have a larger net for the preaching of the good news of the Messiah. If it comes about through the exploration of eschatology, then so be it. I hope you enjoy it for what it is… I promise you, that no matter your eschatology, it’s going to be a unique experience when YHVH pours out His wrath at the end of days.
An Island at the End of Time
“Hello.” He said, the dark wind whipping his black cloak behind him as the rough sea sprayed foam on her dress.
“Hello.” She said in return.
The sky was red, as it always was. The days had been growing darker and darker as more and more stars had fallen from the sky. It was the last few days of earth and everyone knew it.
She had responded to his post on Facebook Marketplace. An ad for an end of the world companion. The world, as everyone had known it, had not collapsed as it did in most movies. The power was still on and things had progressed as they normally did when the world was not ending. People had gone to work. People had gone to church. They had done things as they always had before the announcement.
It was almost surreal.
He had expected things to fall into ruin quickly but even he had gone to work as normal. He was just like everyone else it seemed. Except for the cosplay.
Well not really cosplay. Not in the sense that he was living out a Japanese animation. But as he stood on the shoreline now, he did have on a chainmail hauberk and a lion’s helm underneath his upholstery fabric cloak. There he was standing next to the sea, next to a maiden in a jade green satin dress.
“Do you do this often?” He asked her, laughing.
“No, there’s a first time for everything.” She responded, almost sighing.
“Oh.” he said. “I guess the stars really changed everything.”
“Yes. Something like that.” She said. “Here, take my hand. Let’s walk for a while.”
He took her hand in his, a small delicate thing. He looked at her face. He had not really understood that it was beautiful when he had first seen her online, but now, from a profile, he noticed that she was. She was very lovely indeed. Her small features reminded him of a sunset, pleasing to place your eyes on.
“Watch out for the rocks.” She cautioned him as he almost tripped on one and fell into the sea. He had nearly escaped placing his foot on a very unstable rock. This part of the beach was mostly sand, but there were large and small outcroppings of black metamorphic rock here and there. In the distance, a pheasant called.
The volcanic island had been active in the sense that only geologists say. The last eruption had been 423 years ago. It was just another island in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. The only inhabitant here was him and now her, and the pilot – who was scheduled to leave after refueling.
The island that was now his had been something of a fluke to own. A Sheikh of an affluent Arab country had sold it to him for 1/100th of a Bitcoin. The Sheikh had flown him out to the island and given him a tour, then the keys and codes and then left him there, taking all of the employees with him to Medina. Since he had already been to Medina recently, he felt good about staying on the island. Allah would forgive him. And, as a Sufi, he had felt that the island would be a more peaceful place to meet the end. At least, until the return of Isa, which he hoped would be after the fornication with the girl… So that he could ask forgiveness.
The fact that the world was ending had everything to do with the ownership of the island and his immediate wealth. It had been a nice change, but lonely. When the big announcement had been made about the imminent death the world four years ago, life had … Well…
It didn’t matter. What mattered now was the girl.
“What is your name at least?” He asked her for the first time in real life.
“I’ve told you all that you need to know. The main thing you need to remember is that I have agreed to come here and by you.”
“Well, and the fact that you had… how did you put it… ‘Nothing else really going on’?”
She laughed. It was a bell. Delicate, like her hands.
“Sure,” he said. Resigning himself to her ways.
The walk was the same one he took every day. Around the beach, then stopping by the river and back. The north part of the island was the only part that had any beach at all. It was here that there was a stream that met the ocean. It was dammed and controlled and the main water processing plant was directly on top of the artesian opening, but from here, for the feng shui of it all, it was raw and natural.
There had been steps built into the mountainside that led up the way into the plateau that was under the house. The house faced north, and the view to the sea was uninhibited. From the house, looking down, you could see the gardens directly below them, the airstrip and maintenance hangar to the east and the pier and docks to the west. Behind the house, to the south, was the small island road that made a circular route around the back.
The Sheikh had been generous and kind to him. His father and he had known each other from business dealings in Egypt, and it was a blessing to have such a wealthy benefactor. He had left several jet skis, a medium sized fishing boat and a small Jeepney. Though it would not matter, there was also food and provisions enough to last another twenty years.
The complex, which was the house, and several out-buildings, ran entirely on solar power. God knows there was enough sunshine here to power a thousand more homes just like this one.
Nothing else mattered besides the house now, the woman now, and the death just a few days away.
They ate a light lunch. Salmon and quiche with a spinach and dandelion salad. She said it was fine and then they changed into bathing suits. The garden had a full sized pool, and she said that she would like to swim a little before the evening. Which was fine. He could use a dip too.
“No.” She said. “I would like to swim alone, if you do not mind.”
He said that he didn’t mind and that he would await her in the living room. She agreed.
The living room was a great room that adjoined the entire house together. The ceiling could be removed if you wanted to let in the outdoor weather. In the middle of the room was a large Melaleuca tree that had its first branches above the roof-line. The left and right partitions of the roof would close together around the tree. A large rubber collar enclosed the tree, half-circle on each side of the partition. The Sheikh had a tap installed on the tree that gathered the essential oils, and had lectured him on its proper usage for over an hour. He had never tried to get any oil from the tree… What was the point of living longer when they were all going to die?
The library was stocked with a great selection of American PBS shows. The complete 1979 – 1989 This Old House, Nova, POV and many others. He had asked the Sheikh about the “This Old House” collection. “Bob Villa or nothing!” was the Sheikh’s angry reply. Currently in the laserdisc was Washington Week in Review, Week one and two, August 1978. He had become immediately addicted to the show and watched it as much as he could. Paul Duke had been a better change than Robert MacNeil, but he was no Max Kampelman. The laserdisc set had been massive. Everything from 1980 on was on Blu-ray and you could hold five episodes per disc, not two.
He had heard the airplane take off when she was swimming. He should probably check to see if the pilot had turned off the AV-gas pump. It was the only responsible thing to do anyway. What fun would the island be if it was on fire?
He walked out the side garden path on his way down to the airstrip. “I’m going out to check the airstrip!” he called out to her.
“Alright!” She called back.
It wasn’t far, maybe a quarter of a mile down the path. She hadn’t brought much with her when she had arrived. The pilot had dropped the bags off on the little trolley and asked where to pump up. He didn’t want to stay for food. This was only a favor for a friend. His last trip, the pilot had said. Now he was gone.
When she had arrived almost two hours ago, there had been no words. Only the moving of the bags and the walk down to the beach and the small conversation in between. The pilot had indeed put up the pump and locked it down and placed the key back where it belonged. Good guy, this pilot… There was a lock on it, but there was no need really for security on the island. You would be able to hear a plane landing and the security fence was very high and electrified at the top, so nothing other than the pheasants could get over.
Pheasants. Brown and blue and bright red and gold. They were everywhere and they always seemed to make plenty of noise. They were beautiful but they never shut up. He had trapped and eaten several of them during his first few weeks here, so now they stayed away from the compound. He didn’t mind the other birds, the Lyrebirds. They were hilarious and sometimes he would stay out with them, teaching them new songs to impress their ladies. They didn’t get too close to the house during the daytime, but at night, would shelter up on the roof coop. Their only predator was the third import to the island by the Sheikh – the Margay.
Margays are the smallest species of Leopard on the earth. Populating most of South America, they are one of the only (if not the only) species of New World Cat to live only in trees and not come down to the ground. A cat who never sets paws on the ground. What a thing! Interestingly enough, they are also capable of mimicking the voices of other animals. So, not only did a song taught to the Lyrebirds get repeated, often enough, it would be learned by the Margay as well. Often at night, they call. Snippets of Nuserat Fateh Ali Khan or Ozzy Osborne or The Beatles would waft through the salty air. The cats hunted the Lyrebirds with the songs that the Sheikh and his boys must have taught them. The Margay are the only reason that he locks the doors.
She is done with her swim when he returns to the house, she is waiting in the living room, hair wrapped in a towel, nothing else on.
“I was thinking of doing this now, to see if it works.” She said. “If we do not like it, we do not have to do it again. If we do like it, we will be happy we did not wait long.” The wraparound white leather couch complimented her still damp skin perfectly. She lay down on the seat, draped her left leg over the back-rest and her right leg on the floor. Looking at him sideways she asked: “Well? What do you think?”
He thought it was just fine. Every bit of her was shaved and pretty. She smelled like sun-drenched tangerines and when he entered her, it was heavenly.
Thirty minutes later, she allowed him to kiss her tenderly on the cheek. They showered together in the rain room and then he made them supper. Penn’ with chicken and broccoli in a light alfredo sauce. Applesauce cake for dessert. Then more lovemaking. This time however, she was not so casual. She led him by the hand into the master bedroom and they took their time. Whipped cream and strawberries. Plenty of kissing. Mouth, hands, legs, everywhere. It was sunset when they were done. She sighed and told him that she was glad she had responded to the ad.
He had run the ad in every town in North America. She had responded from Omaha, Nebraska and they had begun their conversation. It had been nervous at first, but the more he told her about the place, the more she had fallen in love with it. “Newerwoman5” was the name she had given herself in the conversations. They had one face-to-face phone call and they had sealed the deal then. The only thing left was to fly her out.
He got up from the bed, thought about showering again, but, as it was late, he showed her how to lock down the house.
“But what do we have any fear from?” She had asked him.
“The cats.” Was all he had said, as he showed her each door.
After the stars had fallen, things had become really strange. There had been public announcements about this leader and that leader… It didn’t really matter, out here on the island… At least the sea wasn’t red any more, that was a relief.
“Here and here.” He clicked the locks down with the electronic keypad. The interface was like a small computer, located in the hallway just before the living room. The living room ceiling and adjoining doors clicked and buzzed with an audible clack that was very reassuring. You could get to the kitchen around the living room by the adjoining hallway, but he always locked everything anyway. It just felt safer.
“The cats… They only hunt at night?” She asked.
“Well yes.” He said. “And they only hunt the birds.”
“That’s relieving.” She said. “So, why lock the doors at all?” She asked, hand on his arm.
“Just a precaution.” He said. Inside he wondered if it was more than that.
The next morning, they ate again – A simple breakfast of figs and cereals. He wants to show her the island. They dress medieval again. She has the perfect dress complete with a hennin (the “dunce cap” hat). It is sky blue and has long sheaves of blue ribbon down the sides. He loves it and tells her so.
“Glad you think so.” She says, and takes his arm as they walk out to the garage to get the Jeepney.
Just then, a male Lyrebird hops on the dias and spreads his back tail and begins to sing.
They are laughing because it’s chirping “Angel in the Centerfold” by J Geils.
“Wow! I think I skated to that song as a kid.” She laughs.
“Would you like to see where the Lyrebirds sleep? I need to go check their cages.”
“Well yes. I suppose I would.” She replied.
It is on the roof of the garage where the Sheikh kept the Lyrebird cages. Row after row of perfect coops. Designed to where the birds could get in but the margays could not. The only drawback was that he had to let them out every morning.
There is blood and feathers everywhere by the outside steps to the coops. Her foot scrapes the gravel.
“Gross!” she says. “Is it like this every morning?”
“No. The cats must have gotten in over the fence.” He gripped her arm. “Stay here.” he says and walks up the steps to the roof.
”Holy shit!” He exclaims and she is on the roof in seconds behind him. Every cage is ripped open and mangled bodies are everywhere. Blood and grizzle are on the ground in buckets. Here, there was a severed Lyrebird, snapped in two. In another spot, an entire wing, ripped savagely out of the body. It was a complete massacre. There was not a spot on the roof where there was not blood. She vomited.
At the sound of her convulsions, they heard a wet mewing. In the far corner of the rooftop a margay lay, dying. Its low dark mew was sickening and when it did not mew, it wheezed.
“Stay here,” he said.
“Not a chance.” she said, gripping his arm harder than before.
Although it seemed a bit foolish, he did have a dagger on his belt. It was just for show, mind you, but it made him feel better holding it. He pulled it out and held it in his left hand while they gingerly walked around most of the mess to the cat. When he was three feet away, he stomped the ground and yelled “HA!” to see if he could get any response from the cat. Nothing.
The docile animal wheezed and mewed again.
“Reeeeeeeooooooooo” it said, lowly. How had it become wounded? From the side it looked unharmed, which is why he thought maybe it was just playing at being dead.
For all intents and purposes, a margay looks exactly like a Jaguar’s kitten. A miniature version of the larger cat. They circled around the other side of the cat and he nudged it with his boot. Nothing. Then he rolled it over. Blood everywhere, but where was the wound?
There was no wound. Quick, like a housecat on a hardwood floor, the Margay scrambled up on all fours, dancing on the tile. Rising on its legs, arching moans and meowls erupted above them in the Melaleuca tree that towered above their head. Their hearts were in their mouths as they slowly looked up to behold the tree above them, full of all the margays from all over the island. There must have been a hundred. They had come in all around him as they were focused on the body below. Her hands gripped his arm, tighter than before.
Veterinarians will tell you that during the full moon, the animal hospitals see a rise in cat and dog accidents and pet related injuries up to thirty percent. Lions, usually nocturnal animals, will begin to hunt during the day when the moon is full. The more the moon’s pull on an animal, the more insane they will come. Many deny this, but the evidence remains solid. Even if this idea is completely false, it could only give credence to the actions of the cats.
Now, with a third of the stars remaining in the sky, the moon was brighter than ever, it was twice the size, and it was blood red. Now, at 7:45 in the morning, it was almost as bright as the sun. Maybe Isa was coming today.
He hugged her tightly, staring into the tree.
“Susan.” she said.
“W-what?” he managed to say, looking at her briefly, then back up to the tree.
“I never told you my name.” she said.
“Nice to have met you Susan. I’m Mohammad.”
It was the last thing that either of them ever said.
Pauly Hart is a public speaker, actor, painter, singer, poet, and story-teller. His main focus today is writing. His latest works have involved novellas in the vein of “Classical Horror” from the Christ-centered world-view. The Horror story is the story where the character has to survive until the end. What better chance for survival than in Christ? Pauly writes not for the churchy types, but for those who would pick up a Stephen King book, giving them an alternative to the spirits. Pauly writes so that the Holy Spirit will have room made for him in modern day literature. He runs several websites all bent on leaving the mind of the atheist awash with the glory of heaven. You can find him at PaulyHart.com