01. Lift Off A5

The Plains of Ammon, Israel

834 BC

Elijah kept an arm around Milkah and reached for a group hug with their children. “Love you guys. Listen for the voice of the Lord.” His chin trembled. “And take good care of your mother.”

Elijah’s oldest pulled his mother close. “We’ve got Mom. But stay with us.”

Clouds piled high above Jerusalem, while the sky over the plains remained an open dome of blue pastel.

Thunder cracked from the mountains of Ammon.

Elijah snugged Milkah closer, and big brother Nathan reached his arms around them both.

The sky growled.

Over the mountains, a speck rose, the size of a fly. The growl grew to a roar, and the fly became a sparrow. Then a hawk.

“Get down.” Nathan pulled them to their knees.

The hawk became a team of blazing red horses screaming through the sky, tails flapping like orange flames. They swooped so low, their wake tossed Elijah and Milkah into the grass.

The horses trailed a flaming path across the river and disappeared with their chariot of fire into a bank of puffy white clouds.

A low, hollow shriek rose as a funnel cloud snaked in from the far side of the plains.

The Lord had said, ‘Tell your family goodbye.’

Elijah shivered and rubbed his arms. “Your mercies are great, Lord, but I’m scared. Take good care of Milkah.” The funnel edged closer.

Milkah gripped Elijah in a desperate hug.

The shriek reduced to a hum, and the funnel plucked Elijah without ruffling Milkah’s sleeve.

The whirlwind spun under Elijah’s feet. The hum grew to a high pitch. He rose with the whirlwind and stood steady with both palms pressed against his cheeks.

Nathan called, “Little brother!”

Milkah swayed and moved into their son’s embrace.

As the whirlwind settled Elijah into the chariot, he braced himself against the rail. Where were the flames? He jerked back and bumped against the driver. “’Scuse me, sir.”

“No need to fear the rail, son. This contraption only looks like fire to those on the ground.” The voice filled the chariot and spilled into the sky. A gnarled hand held the reins, and a familiar pattern of scars decorated the forearm.

Elijah turned.

Tubal. A bushy white beard surrounded the blacksmith’s familiar sunny smile.

“Tubes! What are you…? How does this…?”

“Plenty of time for that. Aren’t you forgetting the robe?” Tubal tipped his head toward the ground. “I’ll drop us in close.”

The chariot dipped.

Elijah leaned over the side. Milkah stood squeezed in among their sons. She splayed her fingers over her mouth. How had the funnel stolen him yet left his family untouched?

“Can they…?”

“Not now. I opened our cover while we picked you up. But closed it again.”

Elijah shook his head. “What’s that about the robe?”

“Your replacement down there thinks he needs yours to part the water.” Tubal handed him a robe. “I brought a spare.”

Elijah stared open-mouthed at the blacksmith.

“Your family needs a dry path to the other side.”

As he gawked at Tubal, Elijah changed robes, tipped the old one over the side, and watched it float down to Elisha.

“Nice drop.” A voice came from behind him.

Elijah whirled.

Gaddi the grocer winked his one droopy eye. “We volunteered to drive your chariot.”

“If you can call this wagon a chariot.” Peleg the potter sat beside Gaddi in the back seat.

The chariot rose. The Great Sea glistened on the horizon. Clouds floated past.

Elijah raised a hand and shielded his eyes from the sun. He blushed. “I was a child. Shouldn’t have spoken such harsh words to you older men.” When Elijah delivered Tishbe wine to these men in Jabesh, at times he had spouted off about sacrificing babies or the Asherah brothels.

“Your father turned you loose on us.” Peleg wiped his powerful hands on his robe. “We needed a child’s perspective.”

Gaddi opened his eye wide. “I mocked you. Asked if your donkeys could make it rain. But I never forgot the blood you showed me on the ankle of the little girl.”

“Thank you.” Elijah let out a long breath. “You … how do you get around in this thing?”

Tubal turned to the horses. “We’ll see. I’m kind of new at this. Hang on while I move us to the Messenger’si time.ii He took a fresh grip on the reins.iii The chariot tilted,iv and the horses swished their tails.

“Feel that?” Tubal said. “We can show you the Messenger scroll now.”

“What about Milkah?” At a gust of wind, Elijah clapped a hand over his scarf. “Where are you going?”

Tubal glanced at the ground. “Jerusalem.”


The robe floated down to Elisha – 2 Kings 2:14

iMessenger – Capitalize or not? When and why?
iiTry not using Time Slot.


The messenger


John the Baptist

iiiTubal steers to Messenger.
ivshuddered rocked shifted moved bumped sagged lifted lurched tilted ***tilted hard? Deep?***

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