Authors: Gilbert L. Morris
Â© 1990, 1994 by
The Seven Sleepers
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To my grandchildren,
Dixie, Andrea, Zachary, and Laura
his is a story about a very ordinary boy named Josh Adams and a very strange adventure he had. Some of you may want to ask, “Is it a true story?” I can only say that a true story is not one that has happened but one that
happen. If you are the sort of person who finds “real” people, such as Zachary Taylor, more interesting than Robin Hood, you had better stop here and find a “true” history book.
osh Adams lived with his parents in a small brick house not far from a large city but close to the open countryside. For the first thirteen years of his lifeâup until about a year before the adventure beganâhe had led a happy life, enjoying his parents, his school, and his friends. But all at once he shot up until he was more than a head taller than any of his friends. He was, of course, quite clumsy, and several of his schoolmates made matters worse by calling him “Ichabod Crane” or just “Icky” for short.
His father noticed that Josh began to walk with a slouch that made him even more conspicuous. One day, he put his arm around Josh's thin shoulders and pointed at the collie puppy next door, all legs and falling over his own feet.
“That's you, Josh,” Mr. Adams said.
“Yeah,” Josh muttered grimly.
“And that's what you will be before too long.”
Josh stared at the perfectly shaped grown-up collie, then shook his head sadly. “Not in a million years. I'm just a clumsy jerk!” he said.
It was not only that he was clumsy and towered over his friends, though that seemed bad enough. But just when he felt most isolated from what he bitterly called normal people, Sarah came to live at the Adamses' house.
Josh had heard his family talk about some old college friends whose daughter might come for a visit, but when he came home from school one afternoon to find her already moved in, he was caught off guard.
He opened the door and found his mother standing there with a very pretty girl a little younger than himself.
“Josh, this is Sarah Collingwood. We've told you about her so often. Sarah, this is Josh.”
Now if Sarah had been a boy, or even if she had been tall and awkward, or if she had been plain, Josh would probably have taken the small hand she reached out to him, and he would have found a close friend, which he sorely needed. However, since Sarah was small, graceful, and quite pretty, Josh turned red and ignored the hand, muttering, “Hi ya,” under his breath.
“You know, Josh, we told you that Sarah might get to make a visit, but her parents have agreed that she can stay for the rest of the school year.”
Mrs. Adams hugged Sarah warmly. “It'll be so nice for me to have a girl in the house. Josh and his father hunt and fish together all the timeânow you and I can do things together.”
“I hope so, Mrs. Adams.” Sarah smiled. She had large brown eyes and very black hair.
Josh sneaked a glance and saw that she was slender. Her hands were so small that they made his own look like catchers' mitts.
“Josh, I want to discuss some business with your father. Sarah and I have been so busy talking that we haven't even gotten her things up to her room. Why don't you help her do that, and I'll be back soon to start supper.”
She gave Sarah another hug, then left them alone.
Josh looked everywhere but at Sarah. His thoughts were gloomy. He was thinking how Sarah would be just like the other girls at school who made fun of him and his appearance.
Now there were two things wrong with this. In the first place, the girls were not making fun of him. Instead, they were noticing that he was filling out and getting to be good-looking.
In the second place, Sarah did not disapprove of him. If Josh had had the courage to look at her, he would have seen a rather frightened young girl, uncertain at being in a strange place and very anxious to be liked by the young man before her. She had just passed out of the leggy, coltish stage that some girls go through and knew very well Josh's feelings of inadequacy.
“Josh,” she said shyly, “I hope you don't mind my coming to live here.”
Josh wanted to say that he was glad that she'd come, but he covered up his feeling by answering roughly, “Well, where are your folks? Why'd they send you here?”
Sarah said, “They're missionaries in Africa.”
“Missionaries! Your folks are preachers?”
Actually, Josh enjoyed going to church with his parents. However, he was afraid of being considered “soft,” so he affected the tough manner he had seen in others. “Well, don't go trying to preach at me!”
Sarah stiffened and said sharply, “Don't worry about that! I just wish I was home!”
“Why'd you come anyway?”
“My parents said it was because I needed a good schoolâbut it wasn't really that.” Her voice trembled slightly as she continued. “The real reason is that there's a revolution in Africa, and it's dangerous. I didn't want to come!”
Josh saw to his dismay that she was about to cry, and he
did the right thing. He
smiled, and he
told Sarah it was great to have her. He
assured her that they would be great friends and that her parents would be safe. And if he had done this, the following days would have been much more comfortable.
But Sarah was too pretty, and Josh was too afraid of girls.
He merely shrugged toughly. “I don't guess you have
to worry about your folks. Missionaries never get killed in revolutions.”
Instantly Sarah drew back and blinked away the tears.
Josh could have bitten his tongue, but it was too late.
From that moment, Sarah kept as far from him as possible. They ate at the same table and even walked to school together. But there was a wall between them that Josh could not break down. Sarah found new friends at school, and Josh felt even more sorry for himself, forgetting that he had closed the door on her.
â â â
It was almost a year after Sarah came that the adventure began. Josh was sound asleep one winter evening when he heard his name being called.
“Josh! Josh! Wake up!”
He sat up at once, shielding his eyes against the overhead light. He saw his father standing over him, his face pale and tense.
“What's the matter, Dad?” he cried in sudden fear.
“Son,” Mr. Adams said, “we've got to go to the silo. Get dressed quickly.”
Josh's father was a scientist who did some sort of secret work for the government. The silo had been part of an old underground missile base that had been made into a laboratory.
“What's wrong, Dad?” Josh asked as he started pulling on his clothes. “Is something wrong with Mom?”
“No, I'll explain on the way, Josh. I've given Sarah a call, but you go by and make sure she's up. Meet us in the car.” He rushed out of the room without another word.
Josh scrambled into his clothes, shaking from cold and fear. When he was dressed, he ran down the hall and knocked on Sarah's door.
She opened it at once. She was fully dressed too, and Josh saw that her eyes were large with fear.
“Hurry up,” Josh said. “My mom and dad are waiting for us in the car.”
“Do you know what's wrong?” Sarah whispered.
“No. Come on, let's hurry.”
“IâI think I know what it is,” she said. “I think something's wrong with my parents.”
Josh paused for a moment. He knew there had been a lot of trouble in the African nation where Sarah's parents were doing their missionary work.
“Well,” he said, “I don't think that's it. Why would we be going to the lab in the middle of the night for that?”
Quickly they scurried out of the house through the freezing cold and piled into the car where Josh's parents were waiting.
As soon as Josh slammed the door, Mr. Adams sent the car onto the highway so suddenly that the young people were thrown back against the rear of the seat. Josh had never known his father to drive like that before. Something had to be very wrong.
“Josh and Sarah,” Mr. Adams said quietly, “you might have guessed what's happened.”
“Is it something about my parents?” Sarah asked quickly.
“Well, Sarah, I just don't know about them, but we're
in danger now.”
Suddenly Josh knew what was happening. “It's a war, isn't it, Dad?”
“Yes, Josh, it is. There's been an attack on the East Coast, and reports are that the rest of the country will be bombed at any time. We have to get to the silo.”
Then he turned on the radio, and they heard the familiar voice of the president.
“â¦ indeed the most terrible crisis in the history of
mankind. I have declared a national emergency, and our armed forces are even now being deployed for our nation's defense. I must warn you, my fellow Americans, that not just our own country but the entire world stands on the brink of destruction tonight. I ask that you pray forâ”
Suddenly, the radio went dead. Mr. Adams could find no other station on the dial. The airways were quiet, and everyone in the car fell just as silent.
Soon they pulled up before the plain concrete building that contained the silo. They got out of the car just as the eastern sky was beginning to turn red.
“It's almost daylight,” Josh said.
Mr. Adams paused and looked at the sky. Then he said quietly, “That's not the sun.”
They moved quickly into the silo. Turning on the lights, Mr. Adams led the way down a winding staircase. As they descended into the earth, Josh had the feeling that he was being buried alive. He suspected that Sarah held the same thought.
Finally, they came to the foot of the stairs. After Mr. Adams unlocked a strange steel door, they entered the silo.
Josh had never been inside the silo. He had always thought it would be filled with huge banks of scientific equipment like the spaceships in movies. But all he saw was a small room and something that looked like a white coffin covered with clear plastic. Several tubes and cables were attached to a machine next to the wall. There was nothing else in the room except a small desk.
Josh and Sarah looked at the casketlike device.
for, Dad?” Josh asked with sudden fear.
“It's for you, Josh,” Mr. Adams said quietly.
” Josh asked. He felt Sarah moving closer until she touched him, and he knew that she was sharing his alarm.
Mr. Adams put his arm around his wife and looked at the two youngsters, his face deadly serious. “The world is ending tonightâfor a while, at least.”
Josh felt Sarah's small hand creep into his. He took her hand and held it tight.
“This war won't be like any that you've ever read about,” Mr. Adams said. “It will probably last only a day or twoâbut it will be so terrible that the world as we know it now will be gone forever.”
Suddenly, there was a rumble like distant thunder. They all looked up. Josh knew that anything they could hear so far under the earth through heavy concrete had to be something monstrous. He felt the concrete vibrate under his feet. Then there was a buzzing sound, and a red light went on over the door.
Mr. and Mrs. Adams looked at one another. Then Mrs. Adams put her arm around Sarah and said, “Sarah, it's time for you to go.”
“Go!” Sarah cried and held Josh's hand more tightly. “Go where? IâI want to stay with Josh.”
“You can't, child,” Mr. Adams said. “You see, this is what we've been working on ever since we saw that war was coming.” He put his hand on the plastic canopy. “You can call itâwellâcall it a âSleep Capsule,' for that's its purpose. You'll just go to sleep. Then, when it's safe, you'll be awakenedâsafe and alive.”
Josh's mother spoke gently to Sarah. “You see, there aren't two capsules in one place. This way, if something happens, some of the capsules will be sure to get through.”
“No one knows where the capsules are,” Mr. Adams said. “It's a closely guarded secret. But after you come out, there'll be a way to get all of you togetherâand start a better world!”
The buzzer sounded, and the red light flashed insistently.
“Come along, Sarah,” Mrs. Adams said. “I insisted on going with you to your location so you wouldn't be alone.”
She turned and held Josh in her arms tightly and said, “Good night, son. I love you very much.”
Josh's mother turned suddenly and moved to the desk. Opening a drawer, she took out a leather-bound book. She stroked the covers, then said, “Josh, for many years I've kept a journal. In it I've put down all the things I believe in.” She held it out to him, and there were tears in her eyes. “I want you to have it, son.”
Josh took the book and held it carefully. He'd seen his mother writing in her journal and knew that she prized it highly. “I'llâI'll keep it, Mom. And I'll read it too.”
Mrs. Adams suddenly threw her arms around him again, whispering, “Whatever happens, Josh, we'll meet again.”
Then she released him, and Josh's father opened the massive steel door. An officer in uniform was standing outside. Josh's mother pulled Sarah through the door, and, just as it swung closed, Josh caught one glimpse of Sarah's pale face.
With a catch in her voice, Sarah said, “Josh, IâI'll see you soon!”