By John F. Zurn

Uriel Fox often wandered through any number of forests between his visits to civilization. An expert explorer, he might spend several weeks in areas near the highway before returning to the open road. He almost never lost his way or encountered any situation he couldn’t manage. However, once in the middle of autumn, Uriel hiked so far into the woods, he couldn’t discover the path back to the highway. He tried walking in several directions, but he couldn’t remember if he had been traveling out of the forest or deeper within it. Finally, Uriel found a fast moving stream, bent down for a drink, and then sat against a giant oak. Before long, he drifted off to sleep.

By the time Uriel woke up, he began to realize the difficulty of his situation. He was clearly lost and all he could think to do was to follow the stream in the hope of the current leading him to some town or settlement. But even as he sat staring at the stream, he had the good fortune of glimpsing at a young boy. Quickly assuming the boy might know a way out of the forest; Uriel hurried to his feet, left all his gear behind, and chased the boy through a thicket of sumac and spruce saplings. After a long chase, the boy effortlessly climbed a gigantic hill and disappeared behind an eight foot fence.

Uriel realized that following the boy inside might be his only chance to find the trail to the highway, so he pushed open the fence gate, and was soon surrounded by six adults who seemed to be members of some isolated community. A tall gaunt man in his forties spoke first, “Who are you, and how did you find your way to our village?”

Uriel felt nervous about the questions, but he answered honestly. “My name is Uriel Fox, and I was alone until I observed the boy running away from me.”

The boy standing behind the men tried to explain his behavior, but another adult with balding hair and a stern expression interrupted him. “Be still, Franklin! You know wandering by the stream is forbidden. Now get back to work.”

For a few moments, Uriel’s anxiety descended into panic concerning these people. However, before long, he felt somewhat reassured when the leader extended his hand and said, “My name is Jefferson, and this is our community called Twilight. No one reaches here by accident. Uriel if you are here, it is because it is your destiny to be here. Now go to the kitchen with Hamilton, get something to eat, and then rest. We’ll talk later. You’re not alone anymore.”

Hamilton, a younger member of the group, led Uriel to the kitchen without uttering a word and then left. While waiting for Jefferson, Uriel surveyed the community and noticed about a dozen buildings including housing units, a tiny store, and a workshop. At the center of the settlement a small but beautifully built chapel stood as the central focus of Twilight.

There also existed about forty children and adults. They demonstrated a seriousness of purpose that appeared to be far more disciplined than other communities where Uriel had visited. Uriel later approached Jefferson, still at the fence, and said, “Thanks for helping me, Jefferson. I really felt lost in the woods for the last couple of days.”

Jefferson’s response seemed unexpected, “Uriel. I want to invite you to live this us here at Twilight. We’re going home soon, and I believe you are meant to travel with us.”

“Where is home?” Uriel asked not really understanding the question.

“The world is coming to an end soon,” Jefferson replied simply. “Our community of Twilight will leave this world just before it is destroyed.”

 “How do you know all this,” Uriel asked in disbelief and with a returning sense of nervousness.

 “Tonight, you will meet our prophet, Adam, and he will explain everything to you in more detail. However, you are also welcome to leave here if you wish.”

Uriel felt a sense of great curiosity overwhelming him. “No, I’d like to stay,” he replied. “Tell me more about Twilight.”

Jefferson continued. “Our community is superior to other places on earth because we have been successful, while other places have failed. Our existence has given us self-confidence and a sense of purpose for our lives. Instead of facing countless problems, we have overcome our doubts and selfishness. Now, we are truly important because we have the prophecies of Adam.”

“But how did you all find each other?” Uriel wanted to know.

“Adam found us,” Jefferson replied. “You will meet him in a few hours. For now wait patiently by the chapel.”

Uriel waited good-naturedly for the meeting at the chapel, but he also took the opportunity to introduce himself to many members of Twilight, and by doing so, he learned many interesting facts. For example, according to Ruth, the group had been together for about a year. The community group members came mostly from homeless shelters, persuaded by Adam to leave their humiliating lives. When Adam approached each lost soul, he explained his mission. However, while talking with Uriel, Ruth seemed reluctant to discuss more about the group’s purpose until Adam had the chance to speak at the chapel that night.

Finally, in the evening, Adam called the Twilight community to worship, and soon everyone was seated in the rustic benches arranged in a semicircle. Adam began speaking in a strong confident voice. “Welcome all. Since we have a new member with us this evening, I will repeat the message given to me by the Divine One. As most of you already know, two years ago, during the full moon, the Lord appeared to me in the sky in the form of an eagle. The Lord’s voice, unmistakably clear and commanding, expressed to me that the end of the world was about to occur. He instructed me to find individuals who were abandoned by society and gather them together.

“At first, I ignored God’s message, but the voice continued every day. He told me the world had become an evil, selfish place and he wouldn’t tolerate it much longer. Then I finally saw the very same eagle fly up to our hill and perch there for hours. Again, the Lord repeated his message, but then he also asked for us to wait here on this noble hill, and he would take us home.”

Adam finished sharing his prophetic experiences, and the small community around him sat quietly in awe of their leader. He appeared to be charismatic and compassionate, and Uriel understood the group’s fascination with him. Uriel also comprehended that the members of Twilight appeared to be far better off now because they had a sense of dignity and self-worth that homeless shelters couldn’t provide. Nevertheless, Uriel felt certain that the end of the world would not be arriving any time soon.

After the service, Uriel began to ask Ruth and her friend, Eva, about their ideas concerning the end of the world. Their response sounded shocking. Eva seemed to believe that if the world didn’t come to an end, they would simply wait while the prophesy revealed itself in more detail. Ruth, however, seemed even more provocative in her answer. “If we aren’t taken, we will throwaway all our food and fast, so God will still take us. But, Mr. Uriel, God will not desert us in our hour of deepest hope and faith.”

Uriel concluded that the group he had so recently stumbled upon were believers in some kind of doomsday prophesy, and although they believed the world would be destroyed at the next full moon, the community of Twilight thought they were being taken to heaven. Because of Ruth’s revelation, Uriel decided to remain with the little community and help them if he could.

At this point Uriel assumed that getting to know as many members of the community as possible might help him reach out to them. Perhaps when it was time for the prophesy to be fulfilled, Uriel might be able to help them face their disappointment.

Initially, he found Franklin, the boy in the valley, and asked him why he had been standing by the stream earlier. The boy seemed shy at first but then responded, “I was running away. My parents are very strict about me remaining close to the others.”

“Do you believe a day of reckoning is coming soon?” asked Uriel.

“Yes,” Franklin answered surprisingly. “But I don’t want to go.”

“Why?”  Uriel asked more specifically. “If the rest of the world is gone, why remain behind?”

“I believe some of the world will be saved,” Franklin asserted.

Uriel nodded his head in silent encouragement. “So you think the world will only be partially destroyed?”

Franklin agreed and Uriel decided to excuse himself from the conversation because the boy seemed ill at ease. He began to seriously consider Adam’s doomsday prophesy. It seemed certain that the earth had been ravaged before by floods, meteors and glaciers; however, it truly seemed unlikely that Adam or any other mortal could predict the world’s demise.

Nevertheless, Uriel Fox rightly assumed that the village of Twilight would soon be in need of his assistance and encouragement. He decided to stay on until the full moon appeared. Uriel continued helping the group by working in the kitchen, gathering firewood, and he even deepened his relationship with Adam, the prophet.

Since the community needed to travel great distances for water and firewood, Uriel often accompanied various group members, so he could talk together with them. Over the next week, everyone started to enjoy Uriel’s company, and they began to trust him enough to discuss their plans for the end of the world. They discussed how limited their existence had been before Adam rescued them, and how they had fewer fears and obstacles now.

Before long, the time of the full moon drew near, and Twilight residents talked less and worked harder. They addressed every task as if it were divinely inspired. Uriel continued following the example of the group until the dawn of doomsday.

The sun rising ever higher in the sky was the sign for the entire Twilight group to retreat to the chapel. They sang, chanted, and prayed for hours with Adam encouraging them. This frenzy of spiritual fervor and awe inspiring sincerity lasted the entire day. Nobody ate or drank, and the children were required to fully participate.

It can only be imagined the group’s reaction when the full moon finally lit up the sky, and the world wasn’t shattered and the group didn’t disappear. Yet, everyone remained vigilant until the next morning. It soon became obvious that something felt wrong. Adam, apprehensive that the others in Twilight would blame him, attempted to rationalize the whole prophesy hoping he could save face and avoid retaliation.

They all agreed, however, that the group should go without food and water to prove their unshakeable devotion and steadfast courage. This radical penance soon took its toll on the bodies and minds of the community especially the children. Within three days, it seemed that the community’s misdirected devotion would lead to disaster.

Uriel understood it was now the time for him to act. He knew what he would say, but it would need to be said in the right context. He would need some unusual circumstance to occur that would allow the community to believe and trust him. Later that afternoon, he saw his opportunity.

Uriel called everyone to his side and pointed to a huge double rainbow that spread across the entire horizon. “You see,” he yelled enthusiastically. “All you citizens of of Twilight have been so religious and dedicated that you have rescued the world from its impending doom.”

Uriel Fox’s assertion felt like an implausible explanation to the community at first; however, it also allowed the people of Twilight to escape their self-imposed annihilation. Of course, Adam became the first to eagerly support Uriel’s interpretation of the double rainbow interpretation. “Our brother Uriel is right!” he declared. “The lower rainbow represents the destruction of the world, but the upper rainbow symbolizes our intervention on behalf of the world. I believe Uriel Fox is prophet too!”

Now the community of Twilight latched on to Uriel’s explanation. They all returned to the chapel and began singing joyously and praising each other for their superior moral fiber and perseverance. This euphoria, tempered with relief that their beliefs had been vindicated or at least validated made them feel powerful.

Uriel felt rather proud of himself because he not only saved the town, but he also did it without them even really understanding his subterfuge. He decided to depart quickly during the night so the others wouldn’t attempt to persuade him to stay. That day, however, another problem surfaced. In the chapel, several community members began asking Adam about the end of the world again. Their feelings of relief now became a source of renewed superiority and self-importance. They thought about reinterpreting the double rainbow as a sign of the postponement of doomsday and not a cancellation of the event.

Adam, the prophet, immediately addressed their questions and prophesized the details of doomsday all over again. It would occur in two years on the last full moon of the year. As might be expected, before long, the entire community drew spiritual comfort from Adam’s superstitious tendencies and gentle persuasion.

Uriel now gave up completely on Twilight and that very night he disappeared into the woods. But it turned out he had someone following him. The young Franklin had been watching Uriel closely for days, knowing Uriel would eventually leave Twilight.

 “Franklin,” Uriel said sternly. “You can’t follow me.”

 “I won’t,” Franklin said. “I just need your help so I can find the highway. Then I’ll be on my way.”

At first, Uriel didn’t respond, but then he said, “If we find the highway, then you must travel on your own. I guess you figured out the part of the world that will be destroyed is Twilight.”

The boy replied, “Yes and I don’t want to be there when it happens.”

Uriel smiled and shook his head, “Then we better find the highway.”

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