The Ecphorizer

Take the Mark
Chancellor Roberts

Issue #62 (January 1987)

The Chaplain of my ship recently showed a couple of movies on the "last days" of human existence. The first movie, Thief in the Night, was made back in 1973. The second, Distant Thunder, was the sequel to

...'the mark,' a computer version of 666, imposed.

Thief in the Night and was made a few years later (late 70s). Both movies tell the story of how all the Christians are supposed to suddenly disappear from the face of the earth and how the Antichrist, a political genius, is supposed to set up a world government and an economic system where everyone wears a mark on their right hand or forehead. Without this mark, so the story goes, no one can buy, sell, or conduct [quoteright]any kind of transaction whatsoever.

In the first movie, our protagonist, Jennie, first hears about all this last days stuff in a teen center at a State Fair. Later, she has a dream about it all coming true. In the end, she goes to meet her two friends and is betrayed. In her efforts to get away, she is accidentally pushed over the dam where she met her two friends, the betrayers.

The second movie was similar to the first, except that it's no dream. She wakes up and sees her husband (who became a Christian in the first movie) gone and starts looking around. In the bathroom, she sees the electric razor lying in the sink, still running. In the background, the radio is telling about the disappearance of thousands, perhaps millions of people. She screams, believing her husband has disappeared. Then she goes next door, where the entire family is discovered missing. As time goes on, all the things that happened in her dream in the first movie — the world government, everything — start to take place.

Toward the middle of the film, the "mark", a computer version of 666 (or so the Christians claim), is imposed. Jennie, though not a Christian, refuses to take the mark and is on the run. She runs into some others who haven't taken the mark and stays with them. Eventually, one of them is converted as a result of coming into contact with one of the 144,000 young Jewish men who are out preaching Jesus' message. Near the end, they are caught and are put in a church to await execution. The government, in an act of mercy, gives them continued opportunities to take the mark, and in one last effort to get them to "join society," the executioners make each person watch the previous one get beheaded behind the church. A younger girl, who pretended to be a Christian, decides to take the mark. The movies ends with the girl, converted by one of the Jewish men, about to be beheaded and Jennie next in line screaming, "No! No!" There is a third movie to the series that we've not seen yet. Will she take the mark?

The reason I bring all this out is because I really have a difficult time accepting the idea that all this stuff is going to happen. I mean, it doesn't even make decent science fiction! How can anyone write this stuff, let alone believe it?

Now supposin' this were to happen (as I slip into a slight Southern drawl that pops in every now and then). Supposin' all these Christians were to suddenly disappear from the face of the earth and this guy sets up a world government and makes everyone wear this mark. Just supposin' all this were to happen.

First of all, here's how I picture it. All these people disappear (in reality most unlikely) without any warning or explanation (the Christians would argue that point). In an attempt to prevent the mass chaos that is beginnin' to take place, a high rankin' official from some country suggests that the UN get together for an emergency session. Durin' the session, the nations decide to set up a centralized world government until the "emergency" can be resolved. As time goes on, the leader and his associates decide that in order to monitor use of resources and ensure that there's enough for everyone, a system of identification is required that will make identification of citizens easier. It will also make it easy to keep track of citizen's activities.

The form of identification ain't all as difficult as we'd think. In an emergency situation, such as the one the biblical sci-fi story suggests, we might need some sort of mark branded on everybody. But gettin' back to reality, assignin' everybody a number and a card, kinda like a credit card, as soon as they become of age (or whatever age we decide), might just do the trick. This would help to consolidate resources and ensure that there's enough for those who choose to identify themselves as "world citizens" (ta hell with everybody else). This, along with a centralized world government, would keep things on an even keel (returning to the semi-east-coast non-accent with which I normally speak). Of course, everyone would have to set aside a few of their favorite freedoms, except for those in the non-free world who would actually gain some freedoms.

Buddy, I tell ya what.  If those Bible thumpers should end up bein' even partly right and the government says they want me to "take the mark," I'm gonna take it.  Let's face it, this is all there is, there ain't no more after this life.  Only the "chosen few" get to go to Texas when they die.  Everybody else has to go to New York City! 

Sailor CHANCELLOR ROBERTS got a taste for the watery life by growing up in Niagara Falls (the town, not the waterfall). He now hangs his hat in San Dego, CA. Roberts mentions knowledge of a third film in the series; there are actually four movies in what is known as the "Thief in the Night" series.  The other two are Image of the Beast and Prodigal Planet, and can be found using any search engine.

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