Everyone is looking for meaning in their life. The Antichrist is no exception.
It is a hot night, the air thick and wet and full of biting things as the one they will call the Great Beast speeds over a cracked and ancient highway, headed south. He cuts through the weedy back country of the Eastern Shore on his way to a mid-sized city known as Virginia Beach, VA. His mind crawls with visions of a great battle... of burning storefronts... of corpses swinging from high lampposts along desolate streets. He is listening to Maroon 5.
Virginia Beach is his destination because the area is filled with Christian evangelicals, New Age believers, and several large military bases. It is headquarters to Pat Robertson, the television preacher who declared just after 9/11 that America was entering "the antechamber to terror." The city is home to thousands of people who expect that any day, any moment they will vanish in a flash, caught up in the Rapture, leaving the rest of us to fight out Armageddon. It also contains people who believe we are on the cusp of a great spiritual revolution and think that the city is a vortex of mystical energy. And it houses thousands more who work on aircraft carriers, cruisers, and attack jets, or staff the nation's spy agencies and special operations groups. Virginia Beach is absolutely packed with people who believe, for one reason or another, that the end is coming very soon. Many of them actually hope for this end. Some of them have detailed plans.
Such a lovely, sunny place. Full of such vicious dreams. And the Antichrist, humming along with Adam Levine in a rented Audi, is on his way for a visit. Like everyone in that town, he hopes the Apocalypse will give him something to do.
He passes a chicken plant. The terrible smell of death makes him wince, and suddenly he knows he has to stop the car in a nearby field. He opens the trunk and gathers together his pile of literature -- the holy books of half a dozen faiths and feel-good mystical paperbacks like Das Energi, The Prophet, and I'm Okay You're Okay. Just beyond the tree line, he checks again to be sure he's hidden by the dark, lank trees of the Chesapeake peninsula. Then he soaks the books in gasoline from a small canister. He lights fire to the books, closes his eyes, and mutters ancient words.
At once he senses he's being watched. Something dead and not-dead shambles into view from the shadows. Its mouth hangs open. Its eyes are black and vacant. It wheezes -- a heavy, wet sound -- as it watches the fire and the man who started it. This is to be the Antichrist's helper, fount of forbidden knowledge from the blazing hells. The thing's name is Donald Shimoda.
Yes, that Donald Shimoda.
(Photo by Morten Dreier. Licensing information here.)