Jerry Hirst (1943-2010) has been writing all his life, but these two works are his first public offerings. Hirst is a native Californian who has made his home in Utah for the last 40 plus years. His technical experience comes from twenty years as a business analyst and technical writer. Hirst served over 11 years in the military intelligence community. He also brings a lifetime of experience in the Mormon culture and has served in many leadership positions in the Church. Hirst’s first book, My View, is a collection of earlier talks, articles, and poems on gospel subjects. The second book, Sliding, is an exciting future vision novel of last days LDS fiction.
Famines have always been geographical. So have plagues.
The world wide calamities of today are a thoroughly modern phenomenon. Aids in Africa flashes around the world. A corn shortage in Iowa breeds hunger in South America. Bird flues are born on the winds faster than the flight of birds. Modern medicine conquers age old infirmities and then is baffled by an outbreak of salmonella. A pestilence of flies swarms in the face of pesticides. The more control we think we gain, the more the Lord displays his reach.
We didn’t get to wait as long as we would have liked. It came in the night as a thump and a grind. It wasn’t violent but it was wrenching. We woke in the middle of the straining, squeaking and grinding; rolled together onto the floor, and just hung on to each other. I said it sounded like a bulldozer was pushing on the corner of the house. Screeching, grating, popping and snapping. It could have been worse. Things were falling off the shelves and walls but not off the ceiling. . . .
Jill had gone into the face of this evil with a mixture of courage and naivete. She would be different. She could make a difference. She had never seen bloodshed except in surgery. She had never felt hate or violence. There were children to be saved and a testimony of Christ to be delivered. God bless her. She could have never anticipated the aftermath of nuclear devastation in Iran. I recall clearly the kitchen conversation the night before she left: “Just be valiant.” Julie counseled. “We are in the end of days. Only your faith and integrity matter anymore.”
Julie always had the clarity and apparently the courage.
“Mom you know I’m scared, but you know I know my trade and things being as they are, where else should I be?”
“They wouldn’t send you to Iran after all the radiation, would they?” I choked on my words when I realized that I had just vocalized her greatest fear. Even now I wish I could pull them back. Anyway, that killed the conversation. The next day she flew off into the blood and fire and vapors of smoke.
Last summer the devastating fires in California combined with severe fuel shortages and nationwide rationing of electricity had caused unprecedented restrictions. Of course, the inability of utilities to deliver water, or electricity, or other services where needed made everything far worse. Los Angeles County had outgrown its gridlock simply because there weren?t that many cars on the freeways anymore. Outrageous fuel costs already had everyone trying to stay home when the most severe brownouts started. Recreation was the first to suffer as theme parks and all entertainment endeavors like movie theaters were severely curtailed. All entertainment and even common social gatherings suffered.
Misinformation, stupidity, greed and self-preservation were overtaking the masses. Worse, there simply wasn?t enough water or water pressure to help fight and suppress the fires; and flames spread throughout hundreds of subdivisions and towns. Fire hoses ran dry and trucks ran out of gas. Refugees wandered the roads by the tens of thousands. Charitable operations had been overwhelmed and overrun. The supply of emergency food was devoured in a matter of weeks. The problem of several hundred thousand homeless was turning the main population centers like Los Angeles and San Francisco into burning, writhing ghettos with wailing and shouting, looting and shooting, and hiding and hoarding.
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