Sandra Foster of the New York News looked into her handheld mirror, applied a touch more lipstick, and, satisfied that she looked eye-catching and professional, glanced at who else was squeezing into the White House’s Press Briefing Room. The hall was full to capacity, but it wasn’t only reporters that were filling up all the available space; also present were scores of people who had travelled with their religious leaders to attend the extraordinary press conference.
Foster heard a scuffling sound and turned to see her old friend, Robert Thomas, of the London Express, pushing his way towards her. Thomas was in his late forties, always appeared to be slightly rumpled, and gave the appearance of everyone’s favourite uncle, a façade he had perfected over the years. Foster was a little younger, though no one knew her actual age, as she kept this a secret from employers and friends alike.
’Hi, Rob,’ gushed Foster a little too fulsomely, trying to hide her uncertainty. ’How are you doing?’
’Oh, fine, fine,’ replied Thomas, trying to keep his tone light. ’Anything further been said about… well… all of this?’ Foster shook her head. No one knew for certain what was going to be announced, though it was obviously tied in with the strange hints that had been skillfully leaked by the various world governments over the past few weeks. Hints on a spiritual journey to come. Hints that the righteous should prepare. Hints that the end time was approaching.
’Ah,’ said Thomas. ’Looks like something is happening now.’
Thomas and Foster looked as the president of the United States of America, Phillip Forlander, led the way onto the stage. Trotting just behind him like a nervous puppy out for its first walk was Gerald Weller, prime minister of Great Britain, determined as ever that he should be as close to the president as possible, while ensuring that he was noticeably ahead of the rest of the world’s leaders.
Also coming onto the stage were a number of people who, after several weeks of political spin, were well known to the Western media: Angelo Rossi, the Pope’s personal envoy; Doctor Reginald Barclay, the Archbishop of Canterbury; Abdalla Akil, the archbishop of the African Anglican Nations; Rabbi Max Goldstein of the American Judaic Trust, and Imam Muhammad Luqman of the Muslim Council of America. Also present was Pastor Lionel Ransom, head of the wealthiest evangelical church in the country, which included President Forlander amongst its fervent congregation.
Also with them were Sikhs, Buddhists, Hindus, and several others who were unidentifiable but were presumably representative of their various religions. It was astonishing to see so many faiths gathered in one place. It was even more astonishing to see that they weren’t fighting amongst themselves.
’Oh, God, the world’s religious leaders, can it really be true?’ breathed Foster in eagerness.
’It would explain why so many of their followers are crowded in here,’ observed Thomas, looking around at the scrum of people who had started to pray, chant, weep, and cheer as their respective spiritual leaders walked out onto the stage. These are interesting times, he thought apprehensively.
’Ladies, gentlemen,’ said the president, calling for order. ’Thank you all for attending on this most important day in history, this day that is history.’ The prime minister bristled; he had revealed the start of his speech to the president in strict confidence, and now the president had used it for himself. But it just showed the high esteem that he was held in by President Forlander, who, after all, hadn’t stolen any other delegate’s opening remarks. Weller flushed in pleasure at their ’special relationship.’
’Ladies and gentlemen,’ continued Forlander. ’We have called you all here today because we have found God!’