Monday, November 26, 2012

The 13: Fall by Robbie Cheuvront and Erik Reed

It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old...or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!



Today's Wild Card author is:


and the book:

Barbour Books (September 1, 2012)

***Special thanks to Sharon Farnell for sending me a review copy.***

ABOUT THE AUTHORS:

Robbie Cheuvront is the worship/associate pastor and an elder of The Journey Church in Lebanon, TN, and cofounder of C&R Ministries with Erik Reed.  He is also a songwriter and formerly tour with BNA recording artists, Lonestar who is best known for their crossover smash, “Amazed”, which was #1 on Billboard Magazine’s Hot 100. The band also won 1999 ACM’s Single of the Year” for “Amazed” as well as ACM’s Song of the Year award. Robbie is married to Tiffany and has two children, Cason and Hadyn, and is currently pursuing a theology degree.

Visit the author's website.

Erik Reed is the lead pastor and an elder of The Journey Church in Lebanon, TN.  He graduated from Western Kentucky University with a BA in Religion Studies.  He also graduated with his MDiv from Southern Seminary.  Erik is married to Katrina, with two children, Kaleb and Kaleigh.


SHORT BOOK DESCRIPTION:

When former black ops specialist turned CIA operative Jonathan Keene is summoned to the White House, he’s not sure what to expect. And neither does FBI agent Megan Taylor.  Together they learn they’ll be working with a former military chaplain Boz Hamilton to track down a man claiming to bear a message from God about the imminent downfall of the United States. As the three of them traverse the country and the globe in search of the Prophet, they’re led deeper down a path of deception and dead ends. Suddenly they’re called to join a battle against an enemy no one saw coming.  As the US is pushed into a situation it hasn’t seen since its inception, a conflict awaits that will test the foundations of the country…and force Keene to face a past and faith he’d rather leave buried. Can Keene—and America—survive?


Product Details:
List Price: $12.99
Paperback: 320 pages
Publisher: Barbour Books (September 1, 2012)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1616267690
ISBN-13: 978-1616267698



AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:


THE CLOCK ON THE WALL TICKED DOWN THE SECONDS
AS HE STARED INTO THE CAMERA.

This was it. In a matter of minutes, his life would change. Everyone’s life
would change.
He rehearsed his lines, though he knew them by heart. There would be
no teleprompter. There would be no script. There would only be him. And
the camera, of course. And the person who would receive this message.
A small television sat off to the side, monitoring the feed. He could see
his image staring back at him. He watched as the second hand ticked off
the final seconds. Tick. Tick. And then it was time.
The red light above the lens flicked on. With the remote in his hand,
he zoomed in and watched the monitor. This was it. No turning back.
He closed his eyes for a moment and took a deep breath and let it out
again. His heart was pounding through his chest. He opened his eyes and
set his jaw firm. And then he began.
“Good evening, Mr. President. I am the Prophet. And I have been
commanded to give you a message.”






Prologue
H i d a l g o C o u n t y S h e r i f f ’ s D e p a r t m e n t
E d i n b u r g , Te x a s , J u l y 2 , 2 0 2 5 ; 1 0 : 3 0 a . m .


Becky Sayers looked at the discolored, flat-screen plasma TV and silently
cursed her boss. “You’d think in this world of technology, we could find a
TV that wasn’t made before I was born,” she mumbled to no one. “I mean,
this thing’s not even in 3-D.” A rerun of Everybody Loves Raymond was
playing—the one in which Raymond fakes going to the doctor so he can
play golf. She’d seen it at least four times, but it was one of her favorites.


She pushed back from her desk and stretched her legs. The switchboard
had been quiet most of the afternoon. A few drunk-and-disorderlies and a
domestic dispute. The holiday weekend usually meant a boring few days
at the Hidalgo County Sheriff’s Department. But even though Hidalgo
County seemed like half a world away from Washington, DC, the impact of
the last two weeks’ events were being felt. It seemed that everyone was waiting
to see what would happen next.


The green light flashed on her board. She placed the earpiece in
her ear and said, “Thank you for calling the Hidalgo County Sheriff ’s
Department. This is Becky. . . .”


The caller made her complaint and hung up abruptly. Her neighbors
were setting off illegal fireworks; could a deputy come by and take care of it?
All of south Texas had experienced a horrible drought these last few months.
The governor had issued a decree, suspending all fireworks throughout the
entire state. Residents weren’t happy, but they understood. Brushfires this
time of year were common and could lead to damage in the billions of dollars.


Becky keyed her microphone. “Roy, this is Becky. I need you to go out
to Ms. Dobson’s farm, out on Highway 83. Neighbor kids are shootin’ off
sparklers or something.”
She waited for the grumpy complaint that was sure to come. Roy
hated dealing with neighborly disputes. He always tried to pawn them off
on one of the other deputies.
Nothing.
  “Roy, this is Becky—come in.”
Nothing.
“Roy! I ain’t playing! Pick up that radio or else!”
Still nothing.
She switched over to another channel. She couldn’t figure why one
of her deputies would switch channels, but she was starting to get a little
worried. Roy was dependable, if nothing else. He’d never not answered a
call while he was out in the field.
“Roy, this is Becky. You change channels on me to try and get some
R and R?”
Nothing.
Now she was getting worried. She switched the channel back. “Clay,
this is dispatch. Check in—over.”
Nothing.
“Marcus, check in—over.”
Nothing.
She walked down the hall and found her boss, told him what was
going on, and waited for a response. He told her not to worry. It was probably
just weather related. “Probably a sunspot or something, messin’ with
the radios,” he said. “Try again in a few minutes.”
Back at her desk, she waited, watching the end of the show. As the
credits rolled she picked up her microphone. After five minutes of going
through the motions again, she decided this was no sunspot.
She grabbed the phone and called the Cameron County Sheriff ’s
office—the next county over. She told them what was going on and asked
if they were having any trouble. Gina, the dispatcher over there, said none
of her deputies had checked in or returned back to HQ either.
Becky hung up and called Star, Zapata, and Webb Counties. All three
reported the same goings-on. At that point, she dismissed paranoia and
called the state police. She was told that they, too, had a few officers who
weren’t responding, but all of the state police vehicles were equipped with
GPS and were being located as they spoke. The young man at state police
HQ offered to send a few officers her way to check on her deputies as well.
She thanked him and told him where her deputies were last known to be.


July 4, 2025; 12:00 p.m.
Becky stood in front of her fourth TV camera in the last hour and told
her story again. This time it was Fox. NBC and CBS had already been by.


The mysterious disappearance of her deputies two days ago was making
national news. Several sheriff ’s deputies, border patrol agents, and state
and local police officers had all turned up dead, all across the border towns
in Texas. Over the last two days, New Mexico and Arizona had reported
similar tragedies.
Becky was one of the first to discover the disappearances across the
border, therefore she was a hot commodity with the news anchors.
The pretty, blond reporter smiled and nodded as Becky told her story.
She opened her mouth—Becky figured she was about to ask another
question—and then slapped her hand over her left earbud. Her smiled
faded and gave way to a look of disbelief, shock, then horror. Tears filled
her eyes and her face turned ashen. Her arm dropped to her side, taking
the microphone with it.
“What’s wrong?” Becky had never seen a television personality act like
this.
The reporter turned to her, eyes wide. She moved her mouth but
nothing came out.
Becky grabbed the woman by her shoulders and shook her. “Hey,
what’s wrong?”
The reporter looked at Becky blankly and said, “Bomb. . . They’re all
dead.” Her knees gave out, and she slumped to the hard, dry ground.
Becky ran back inside to the flat-screen TV.


Hidalgo County, Texas
July 4, 2025; 11:30 a.m.
Jonathan Keene pulled his car off the road onto the dirt path, according
to the directions he’d been given. After a mile, he came to the fork in the
road. Up ahead, on the left, there stood the house.
He parked the car, got out, and surveyed the area. Nothing. No sign
of anyone. The house was a typical single-family home. It needed a coat
of paint, and the railing on the front porch had seen better days. The lawn
was unkempt, but a somewhat new-looking satellite dish sat mounted on
the corner of the roof.
Walking into the house, he noticed the reflection of light coming
from the hillside off to his left. He waited ten minutes. Then, as per his
instructions, he left through the back door and walked slowly up the hill
toward the reflection.
Once at the top, he got to his knees, placed his hands behind his head,
and interlocked his fingers. This was the unsettling part. Out in the open.
No cover. The sun blazing in his eyes. The wind blowing dust everywhere.
It was hard to see anything past twenty feet. He did feel better, though,
knowing that strapped to his back, under his loose shirt, was his Glock
9mm. It lay inches from his fingertips.
After nothing for five minutes, he heard the faint hum of motorcycle
engines. Within seconds he was surrounded by a half dozen, armed
Mexicans. One, covered with tattoos and a scar across his left cheek,
moved toward him. According to the description he’d been given, this was
his informant.
“Hola,” the young man said. “Welcome to Mexico.”
Though the walk uphill had been a short one, Keene knew that in
doing so, he’d illegally crossed the invisible border into the gangbanger’s
country.
“Gracias.” Keene shifted uncomfortably and squinted upward. “You
must be Hector.”
“Do I need to search you?”
“Not unless you want to find the nine mil I got strapped to my back,”
Keene said.
Hector laughed. “Stand up.”
“So what’s so important that you need to talk to the CIA?”
“Follow me.” Hector began walking down the hill toward the house.
Keene followed the men back into the house, thankful to be back on
sovereign US soil.
“I know what happened to those sheriff ’s deputies,” Hector said.
“Yeah, so. Call the police.”
“Nah, CIA, la policía don’t want none of this.”
“None of what?”
“That’s a nice watch. Where was that made? China?”
“Yeah,” Keene said. “What’s that have to do with anything?”
“Lots of stuff in your country made by China.”
“Yeah, so?”
“Funny thing. In the last two months, I been seeing lots of Chinese
people ’round here.”
“Maybe they like the food.”
“Maybe,” Hector answered. “But these Chinese been coming in
droves. In big military trucks. From down south.”
“Interesting.” Keene gave this some thought.
“You want to know what’s really interesting?”
Keene shrugged.
  “These Chinese, they got guns.”
“So?”
“And tanks. And airplanes.”
“What?”
“You heard me. They got an army down here. They been bringing it
up here to the border for the last two months.”
“Impossible. We would’ve known about it,” Keene said. This guy was
unnerving him.
“You wanna know what happened to your cops? About three hundred
Chinese foot soldiers, with automatic weapons, crossed your border and
took them out. I got boys all up and down the border saying they see it,
man. Now, I don’t know what’s up with a hundred thousand Chinese
being in my—”
“What did you say? How many?”
“From what I hear, about a hundred thousand.”
Keene’s jaw went slack. There was no way a hundred thousand Chinese
soldiers were living across the border without the United States knowing
about it. Something was wrong.
“You look like you seen a ghost.”
“Why are you telling me this? Why now? Why not two months ago?”
“ ’Cause two months ago, I couldn’ta cared less. You Americans don’t
know what goes on down here. You come to your vacation spots and get
treated like kings. Then you go back home and don’t care what happens
to the rest of us. Well, guess what? These Chinese start showing up and
doing nice things for our communities. Nobody says anything ’cause they
like it. Then, without warning, they start taking over. And our policía don’t
care. They getting paid off. Next thing I know, I start seeing guns, tanks,
and fighter planes. And then they come into town and line up five men
and shoot them in the head. They say, anyone talks or tries to do anything,
they kill the whole town.”
“This is—this is ridiculous!” Keene said. “I don’t know what your
game is, but this isn’t funny. You could get into a lot of trouble—”
“I ain’t playin’!” Hector shouted angrily. “They kill my little brother,
man! And something bad is about to happen! I’m telling you as a favor.”
He hung his head and wiped his eyes. “I don’t know why your government
don’t know about this, CIA, but I’m telling you. Someone had to mess up
big to miss this.”
Keene stood there dumbfounded. There was no way this could be
true. An entire army couldn’t march on the United States’ border and not
be detected. He had to call Jennings. He reached for his phone and felt the
buzz against his leg. He looked at the display. Funny, he thought.
“I was just getting ready to call you,” he spoke into the mouthpiece.
“Get back here immediately,” his boss, Kevin Jennings, ordered.
“Yeah, about that,” Keene said, “I think I need to stay here awhile.
I need to check something out.”
“No, you need to get back here immediately. Turn on the TV.”
“What’s happened?”
“Just do it!” came the reply.
Keene pushed past the group of men and pushed the button on the
television sitting on a makeshift stand. It only took a few moments for him
and the others to see what was happening.
Every channel had interrupted programming, now covering the
breaking news. Plumes of black smoke rose into the sky from devastated
buildings. Bridges and highways melted into a pile of searing red metal.
Ash and debris covered the entire landscape. Cars were turned over and
blown to bits. Then the camera changed. A new city. Same result. Then
another. Then another. Finally the images ended. The cameras returned
to the news station. A disheveled-looking man in blue jeans and a sweater
sat in front of the camera. He opened his mouth and said the words that
would change the course of history.
“Ladies and gentlemen, less than ten minutes ago, the entire West
Coast of the United States of America was attacked. It appears to be a
nuclear strike. Every major city from San Diego to Seattle. The death toll
has to be in the millions. . . .”



Chapter 1
Two Weeks Earlier
The man sat in front of the small camera, rehearsing what he was about to
say. Behind him, the wall was dotted with computer monitors, all displaying
different news websites, with the screens zoomed in showing today’s
date. A bead of sweat rolled down the side of his cheek as he bit into his
lower lip, trying to calm himself. He was moments away from doing something
that couldn’t be undone.
He’d wrestled with himself the last three days, knowing what would
happen if he didn’t do as he was instructed. He’d cried out in desperation,
begging that he wouldn’t have to be the one. He’d even tried to bargain his
way out of it. But it was no use. This would be done. If not him then someone
else. But no. It was his charge. Given to him with explicit instructions.
He would be obedient and do as he was instructed.
The clock on the wall ticked down the seconds as he stared into
the camera. This was it. In a matter of minutes, his life would change.
Everyone’s life would change.
He rehearsed his lines, though he knew them by heart. There would be
no teleprompter. There would be no script. There would only be him. And
the camera, of course. And the person who would receive this message.
A small television sat off to the side, monitoring the feed. He could
see his image staring back at him. He watched as the second hand ticked
off the final seconds. Tick. Tick. And then it was time.
The red light above the lens flicked on. With the remote in his hand,
he zoomed in and watched the monitor. This was it. No turning back.
He closed his eyes for a moment and took a deep breath and let it out
again. His heart was pounding through his chest. He opened his eyes and
set his jaw firm. And then he began.
“Good evening, Mr. President. I am the Prophet. And I have been
commanded to give you a message.”


Chapter 2
The sun had begun to set over Washington, DC, as the streets bustled
with the commuters going home from work. Slivering rays of light pierced
their way through the buildings, making way for the cool early summer
breeze that wound its way off the Potomac and into the city streets. Soon
the breeze would give way to the hot midsummer. Soon you would be able
to see, as well as feel, the heat wafting up from the pavement, making DC
inhabitants wistful for the pleasantries of June.
The president was just a few minutes away from giving his highly anticipated
speech on health-care reform. Rarely did a president call together both
chambers of Congress for the purpose of an address to the nation outside of
the State of the Union address. But since President Calvin Grant had taken
office, it had been one of his major priorities to put an end to all of the
infighting with the health-care industry once and for all. This speech was
to be the exclamation point at the end of a three-year, grueling bipartisan
reform effort. Though it was no secret that the president had been working
on the new policy, details of it were. The only thing that had been leaked
so far had been the fact that President Grant had successfully achieved what
none of his three predecessors could, a comprehensive bill with regulation
that all parties agreed upon. Outside of that, not even a hint of what was
to come had been available, which had every news anchor and pundit both
frustrated and in anticipation.
The news anchors outside the Capitol seemed to be in deep conversation
with their cameras, floating their ideas and predictions of what was to
come. And then, as if being led by a conductor, they all nodded in unison,
each to his respective camera, signifying the president’s speech was about
to begin.
Inside the chamber of the House of Representatives, significant leaders,
from both parties, lined the aisleway, hoping to get a photo opportunity
with President Grant as he passed by. The room, as was typical for this
sort of event, was a cacophony of noise as everyone continued conversations
and settled in. Finally the outer doors to the House chamber swung
open, and the sergeant at arms entered. Immediately the room quieted, as
if someone flipped a switch. Then came the announcement.
“Mr. Speaker, the president of the United States!”
As was traditional, the room was again flooded with noise as the members
of the Senate and House, along with everyone else in attendance,
stood and applauded as the president slowly made his way to the floor of
the chamber, shaking hands, signing autographs, and posing for pictures
along the way. Finally, with the business of being sociable behind him,
President Grant held his hands up to quiet the almost eight-minute opening
ovation.
Only a few moments later and the speech was in full swing, and the
president had wasted no time in commanding the attention of the entire
nation. So far, the speech had lived up to its expectations. With the news
of his wife being diagnosed with cancer only a few weeks earlier, he was
expected to deliver a stunning blow to the health-care reformers. And with
the content of the speech being perhaps the closest-kept secret in all of
Washington, the entire room, as well as the rest of the country waited
on bated breath to hear what the president had to say. That and the fact
that President Grant was thought of as perhaps one of the most beloved
presidents in recent history, it was a sure bet that this address would go on
record as being one of the most viewed events in all of television history,
not just presidential history.
Homes all across the country were tuning in to hear what the president
would say. Ratings were already pouring in from all over the country.
Indeed, this was already a record-setting event. Within the first ten minutes,
the reports were already surpassing the collective quarterly ratings.
President Calvin Grant had the nation waiting on bated breath for his
next thought.
The speech was just over forty-five minutes when, just as promised,
President Grant landed his final blow. The news was simple. He had already
been working with members of Congress and had the support needed to
change the health-care system. His plan would strip away the potential for
many of the frivolous lawsuits that plagued the industry. New law was being
introduced to allow Americans unprecedented access to good health insurance.
And there were major stipulations being put on the insurance companies,
regulating how they underwrote policies and collected revenue. No
longer would there be massive abuses, deterioration of services, and rising
costs. The message was simple. There was about to be a complete overhaul
of the American medical system. An overhaul that would eliminate the
government-run policies of previous administrations and give the medical
field back to the private sector, but with some “seat belts,” as President Grant
liked to call it.
The speech ended in thunderous applause. And though there had
been some lines drawn previously in the speech between parties, the final
five minutes brought both sides of the chamber to their feet in rousing
cheers.
After the speech, President Grant made his way through the chamber,
once again pausing for photos and signing autographs. He tried to be as
pleasant as he could, but there were bigger things on his mind right now.
Tess, his wife, was at home, lying in bed. He wanted nothing more than to
get home and see how she felt.
After another fifteen minutes of meet-and-greet obligations, he finally
excused himself, reminding everyone where he really needed to be right
now. He asked the Secret Service agent in charge of his detail to make
ready the motorcade. He wanted to leave in the next few minutes.
The drive back to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue was quiet. He waved to
the guard as the car passed through the security entrance. Once inside, he
headed straight upstairs to the private residence.
Tess was lying in bed and greeted him with a huge smile.
“You were amazing, Calvin. I’m so proud of you.”
“Nah,” he brushed it off. “Just a bunch of no-good politicians trying
to make things worse is all we are!”
“I wish I could’ve been there.”
“Me, too, Tess,” he said, sitting down on the edge of the bed. He took
her hand in his and kissed it gently. “I love you.”
“I love you, too,” she said.
“I’ll leave you to rest,” he said, standing back up. “Besides, I’m going
to go surf the net and see all the good stuff they’re saying about me!” He
winked.
Tess smiled back at him and said, “Don’t stay up too late. You need
your rest.”
“Look who’s talking.”
He left her to sleep and stepped into his private office. He sat down and
turned on the monitor to wake up the computer. In just a few moments,
the desktop came alive. He opened a browser window and typed in his
search. Already, there were over twenty-five thousand results for his speech.
He was looking down the list when he heard a ding. His private e-mail.
He assumed it was one of his staff, congratulating him on a successful
speech. He decided to check it because, well, he thought at least one
positive response would be nice before he started sifting through all the
negative ones.
Opening the mail server he saw the new message. There was no
subject. There was no return address. He didn’t think much of it, so he
double-clicked the icon and watched it open. It was a video. And it definitely
wasn’t from one of his staff. But he was afraid that he knew who this
was. And what this was about. He had heard from this man before. Just
not like this. How did you get into my private e-mail? he thought. He stared
at the still image of the man on the screen. Should he call for Agent Green?
Should he just step away from the computer and not touch anything? No,
he decided. He wanted to see it. He pushed Play.
The man sat still on a stool and stared into the camera. A bead of sweat
rolled down his forehead and clung to the top of the bandana that covered
every inch of his face below the eyes. He wore a plain, long-sleeved, white
T-shirt and blue jeans. His shoes were everyday work boots. All in all, a
very nondescript, average-looking man—with the exception of the face, of
course. Behind him stood a white wall with what appeared to be computer
monitors with websites showing today’s date.
A few seconds, which might as well have been hours, passed as the
strange man closed his eyes and took a deep breath. As he opened his eyes
again, he began to speak.
“Good evening, Mr. President. I am the Prophet. And I have been
commanded to give you a message.”
The man swallowed hard and then continued, “I am a servant of the
Lord Most High. And I have been instructed to warn you. Since the days
of our forefathers, the United States has become a prosperous nation,
strong in her defenses. She has done great moral things in the name of
peace and freedom. She has been an open door for those who are in search
of something greater. And she has brought stability to the world.”
The man blinked hard and wiped the sweat from his brow.
“But,” he continued, “‘I have this against you,’ says the Lord. ‘That
you have abandoned the love you had at first.’
“Therefore, thus says the Lord, ‘Behold, the day of the Lord comes,
cruel, with wrath and fierce anger, to make the land a desolation and to
destroy its sinners from it. For the stars of the heavens and their constellations
will not give their light; the sun will be dark at its rising, and the
moon will not shed its light. I will punish the world for its evil, and the
wicked for their iniquity; I will put an end to the pomp of the arrogant,
and lay low the pompous pride of the ruthless. I will make people more
rare than fine gold, and mankind than the gold of Ophir. Therefore I will
make the heavens tremble, and the earth will be shaken out of its place, at
the wrath of the Lord of hosts in the day of his fierce anger. Behold, my
anger and my wrath will be poured out on this place, upon man and beast,
upon the trees of the field and the fruit of the ground; it will burn and not
be quenched.’
“Yet fourteen days, and the United States shall be overthrown!”

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