Emerging from the Rubble 

Chapter 4

“The men will be back soon,” said Sylvia, looking at the sky. The light was just beginning to fade. Some of the other women were finishing the preparation of food on the other side of the courtyard.


“When they come back, they are always so exhausted. They eat and then they usually want some sort of distraction. That’s when we take turns up there…”


Sylvia glanced upwards towards the top floor of the block.


“Owl will put you on the rota soon,” she said, without emotion. Sylvia seemed determined to be matter of fact about the fact that the women were being forced into sexual slavery.


Harmony got up and signalled to Anne that she wanted to talk. They found the quietest part of the courtyard.


“How do we deal with this?” sighed Harmony, not directly asking Anne.


Anne shook her head at the horror of what could happen.


“Jesus told us that God had had to give everyone the desire to procreate and the desire to protect themselves and their community,” Anne explained.


“Yeah, I mean, that’s how we make babies,” mused Harmony.


“I wonder what role sex will play in the future?” Anne pondered. “I feel we are here to suppress these violent desires and encourage everyone to realise that they can live a different way.”


“Sex can be so beautiful,” answered Harmony, “But only when there is consent, respect, commitment – not like this. Not when it’s forced. That’s rape.”


The two women sat in prayerful thought for several minutes.




After the evening meal, a tense atmosphere descended on the camp. Anne and Harmony were now reunited with Yan and Thomas.


“Do you remember when we first met?” Thomas asked Anne. “Do you remember how we explained the cost of being a disciple, and what it means to live in Agape love?”


Anne nodded with a soft smile.


“All that Jesus showed us, all he taught, it’s as true now as it ever was, but now it is more possible to live that way,” Thomas continued.


“What happened to your face, Yan?” asked Harmony. “You have dried blood all over your shirt and in your nose?”


“We refused to take people from the next town,” said Yan. “Owl could not control his anger and beat me, but the pain stopped almost immediately. My body does not hurt or ache, though there are signs of wounding.”


Yan was impressed with his resurrected body’s ability to heal so quickly.


“They may beat us, and we know we may suffer temporarily, but we are here in the humble power of Agape love. We can be sure hearts will change in time.”


The conversation was broken by Anne suddenly becoming aware that two women were being escorted up the stairs.


“What is it?” asked Yan.


“Those women are on the rota tonight. They are to give their bodies to some of the men. I’m told it happens most days. Harmony, we must do something.”


“Do you want us to come too?” asked Thomas.


“No, we will call you if we need you,” said Anne. They tentatively followed the other women up the stairs.


As Harmony and Anne reached the top floor corridor, they realised that only one door was shut. Approaching the door, they could hear the sound of two men talking.


Harmony reached out and knocked on the door. The voices inside became quiet. Harmony knocked once more and waited. Suddenly the door was opened and there stood an older man with his belt undone. Behind him stood another man who looked confused at the interruption.


“Yes?” said the man bluntly.


Harmony smiled and asked, “Can we come in?”


“Why, is it buy one get one free tonight?” laughed the man.


“Buying something means it is worth something, right?” said Harmony. “Yet you don’t pay for this. These ladies are here out of pure duress.”


The man pulled his belt out from his trousers and folded it in half in his hands, to form a weapon.


Before he could speak or do anything, Harmony continued.


“Did you ever know your mother? Did you have a sister? A wife? A daughter?”


The man became still and lowered the belt.


“I see kindness in you,” said Harmony delicately.


Suddenly the man behind him strode forward and pushed Harmony out of the door.


“What? You want to stay and watch?” he growled at Anne.


Anne looked over at the women, who were both extremely anxious and agitated. One of them shook her head rapidly, as if to plead with Anne to leave them alone.


“We’ve all lost loved ones,” Anne said looking at both men in turn. “I am no different. My husband is dead. I know we get lonely. Is my friend right? Is there kindness in you?”


The first man lunged at Anne with his belt, but Anne instinctively moved out of the way. It was only a matter of centimetres, but it was enough to avoid the assailant’s intention.


Anne looked at the man.


“Kindness,” she said simply. She turned, exited the room, and joined Harmony.


The door was slammed shut. As Anne and Harmony began heading toward the stairs, the door opened again, and the second man pushed past the friends.


“You bitches have ruined my night!” he spat at them.


Anne grabbed Harmony’s hand and pulled her back toward the room.


On re-entering the room, they found the other man sat on a bed frame, tears rolling down his face. The belt lay on the floor and the two women were in the far corner, huddled together and unsure what to do.


Harmony looked at them, “It’s ok. You can go.”


The women gingerly walked past the crying man and went on their way.


Harmony turned to the man and he looked up at her.


“My wife. My beautiful daughters,” he sobbed.


The following two hours was spent by his side as the two friends listened to his story of loss and pain.


“They call him Rabbit,” reported Anne to Thomas and Yan as the friends met up later that night in their room.


“Because he had so many children,” added Harmony. “Some of them are dead, but some may be alive in a different part of the city. Their mother died early in the fighting that happened here after the great migration.”


“People are so frequently judged without their full story being understood,” reflected Thomas. “All he needed was to be reminded of his true humanity, and he could see what he was doing was wrong. We must remember this.”



A few days later Sylvia approached Anne. “You seem to understand what has happened to the world. Can you explain why there has been so much devastation, so many deaths?”


Anne thought for a while, “What or who do you think is responsible?” she asked.


Sylvia replied, “If I believed in God, I would blame him. They told us in Sunday School that he was an all-caring father who would always protect us. Life has been so shit since then that that lie has been resolutely nailed.”


Anne gently replied, “I understand your feelings”.


“You don’t believe in God either then?” replied Sylvia, looking up at Anne.


“It depends on what you mean by ‘God’. I believe in a father who doesn’t dictate what we do. I don’t believe in a puppet-master God. I would say God was not responsible. We were. Humankind had been abusing the planet for so long that all the mechanisms that were in place to keep the environment healthy and balanced for us were overwhelmed. Eventually the temperatures rose, the ice melted, some earthquakes and volcanoes were triggered, and you know the result.”


“So your God couldn’t stop all this?” said Sylvia indignantly.


“God could have stopped a lot of things, had he had enough friends listening to his voice. The global devastation has been enormous, but from these ashes a better environment can now be created. Before all this happened the economies and governments of all the countries in the world were failing. They had all become corrupt, benefitting a few, at the expense of the many. A tiny number of people were becoming extremely wealthy while the vast majority were struggling, a good many in refugee camps. However hard people of good will tried to correct these imbalances, the forces of the powerful were always able to overcome their efforts.


“I believe that God is incredibly sad that so many have suffered, and that many are still suffering. But the new environment means that everyone is starting now with nothing. Everyone is more or less equal to everyone else. The chance to build a much better society for all is open to us, if we take this opportunity.”


“I hope you are right,” said Sylvia. “Currently all I can see is suffering and hardship ahead.”