On Thursday morning, Rayford decided to check out the scene at Web Wonders for himself. He caught a train to Clapham Junction and walked from the station to where he knew the Web Wonders office to be. Police were still milling around the site, although most of the rubble had been cleared away. A handful of spectators were present too, discussing what had happened. Rayford moved closer, to see what information he could pick up.

 

The on-lookers knew less than he did about what was going on. But, shortly after he had entered the scene, Rayford noticed one member of the public talking animatedly to a policeman. He did not want to stare directly at them, but it appeared that both the police officer and the spectator had turned in his direction, and that the concerned citizen was pointing at him. Rayford decided to play it safe. He turned to walk away.

 

"Hey! You there! Stop where you are!" Obviously Rayford was being addressed, but with his back turned, he pretended not to hear, and he kept on walking. Just then two more policemen appeared in front of him. He was trapped.

 

He turned around, and leaning forward, pointed at himself innocently, while forming the words "Are you talking to me?" with his mouth.

 

"Yes, we're talking to you, stupid!" one of the policemen said as he grabbed Rayford roughly from behind.

 

He was dragged over closer to the informer, whom Rayford now recognised as Noah, a former member of the Tribe of Joseph. Noah had left the group in anger after a dispute a year earlier. He had declared at the time that the group was a cult and that its leaders were too authoritarian. Rayford had only seen Noah on an anonymous visit to Liverpool's distribution centre, where the man had been stationed. The centre had later been moved, and that was the last they had heard of, or from, Noah... until now.

 

"Yeah, that's him!" Noah said.

 

"What are you talking about?" Rayford asked, playing innocent.

 

"Do you have any identification?" the police officer asked.

 

"No, I'm afraid I don't," Rayford said honestly. He made a point of not carrying identification on himself, for just such an occasion as this. At least they would not be able to locate Irene and the others if they did not know where he lived.

 

"Do you know anything about the bombing of this building?" the police officer asked.

 

"Me? No," Rayford answered, genuinely surprised by the question. Why were they asking him about the bomb, when they were obviously the ones behind it?

 

"I'm going to have to take you down to the station for questioning," the police officer said.

 

"Am I being charged?" Rayford asked.

 

"Not unless you wanna be difficult."

 

"I don't understand. What would I know about whatever happened here?" he asked.

 

"Six people died when this building was bombed three nights ago. We have reason to believe that you know something about the bombing. Have you got something to hide?"

 

This was incredible. Did the authorities really believe that Rayford Strait had destroyed Web Wonders? Noah must have been brought in to watch for any believers to appear on the scene. And Rayford had walked straight into a trap.

 

There was so much that did not make sense. The police apparently did not have his address, which should have been on records at Web Wonders. And if there was another office elsewhere, they must not know about that either. Otherwise, they would have been able to access his files from there. Rayford himself was in big trouble, but at least the location of Neville and Mary's flat must not have been compromised.

 

"In the car, scumbag!" one of the policemen ordered, and he kneed Rayford in the back.

 

"Hey, take it easy!" he protested, as he fell to the ground and turned to rub his sore back.

 

"This isn't the movies, chum!" the policeman responded. "Just do as we tell you."

 

"NO!"

 

It happened again. But there had been no warning this time. Rayford did not even feel particularly angry. The word just came out of his mouth as he sat on the ground looking up.

 

As he spoke the word "No", a ball of fire reached out and enveloped all three police officers. This was far more serious than a flash of light and a few bruises on the victims, as had happened at Neville's.

 

Rayford could see that he was in big trouble if he didn't move quickly. As soon as the word was out of his mouth, he jumped up and ran. He was around the corner before the crowd realised what had happened, and even then they were not inclined to chase after a man who could breathe fire.

 

Two other policemen on the scene rushed to put out the flames on their partners, but it was too late. Three police officers had been killed by the mad bomber. Their partners did not want to be added to Rayford's list of victims; so they, too, did not pursue him. They phoned for help instead.

 

Rayford, in the meantime, had raced to the train station at Clapham Junction, and boarded a train back to Guildford. He was nervous all the way home, fearing that he may yet be being followed. He was also disturbed by what he had just done to the three police officers. And then there was the matter of the six people killed at Web Wonders. What was going on? Had he really played a part in their demise?

 

Subconsciously he knew part of the answer. He had known it for three and a half years now, although he had tried not to think about it. When others had tried to talk about it, he had always changed the subject.

 

"It's out of my hands," he would say. "I can't do it now, and so I'll just have to wait until I get to heaven for an explanation." He had been talking about the explosion that took place in Neville's living room three and a half years earlier.

 

The Bible taught that during the final three and a half years, there would be "Two Witnesses" who would be hunted by authorities around the world. These two prophets would have the ability to destroy their enemies through flames that come out of their mouths. Many people had aspired to be one of the Two Witnesses; but Rayford appeared to have the credentials that all of the others lacked. Three policemen were now dead on the streets of Clapham Junction as evidence of his authenticity.

 

When Rayford returned to the flat in Guildford, he brushed the others aside and went straight to the computer, where he sent a personal email to Chaim, marked "urgent". In it, he suggested that Chaim sever his links with his local service provider, and that he set up all of his mail to go through the Web Wonders connection.

 

With luck, the authorities had not yet located Chaim's server. If he cut his links in Australia, they would most likely not be able to trace him there. The two men would be putting all their eggs into one basket now, but it was a basket which had somehow been miraculously protected.

 

Either there was another Web Wonders office that had not been detected by the authorities, or else God had pulled some strings to set up an impenetrable website for the Twelve Tribes. Rayford was banking on the latter.

 

Then Rayford got to the real reason for his urgent email...

 

"I must know," he wrote, "whether you have had any experiences with fireworks happening when you speak. I mean literally. If you are who I think you are, you'll know what I'm talking about."

 

A few hours later, Rayford checked his mailbox again, and a reply was there.

 

"Yes, I have," it said. "So where do we go from here?"

 

Where do we go? thought Rayford. That was what he had been asking himself all week. But the list of questions was growing faster than any answers were coming in.

 

Nevertheless, if he and Chaim really were the Two Witnesses, then they were not likely to be captured immediately. According to the Bible, they had the best part of three and a half years left to make themselves heard around the world, and they may as well make the best of it.

 

The strange thing, as Rayford thought about it, was that so many people had aspired to play such a role (Mental hospitals were full of them.) and yet up close, the job of "endtime witness" had none of the glamour that others had so often associated with it. Already Rayford was being portrayed as a fire-breathing monster.

 

The scariest thing was that the description was so close to the truth.