As foretold by ancient prophets, an apocalypse destroyed Earth during the twenty-first century. But two thousand years later Elyon set upon the earth a new Adam. This time, however, he gave humanity an advantage. What was once unseen became seen. It was good and it was called...Green.
But the evil Teeleh bided his time in a Black Forest. Then, when least expected, a twenty-four year old named Thomas Hunter fell asleep in our world and woke up in that future Black Forest. A gateway was opened for Teeleh to ravage the land. Devastated by the ruin, Thomas Hunter and his Circle swore to fight the dark scourge until their dying death.
That was then. Now the Circle has lost all hope. And Samuel, Thomas Hunter's cherished son, has turned his back on his father and is aligning dark forces to wage the final war. Thomas is crushedbut determined to rescue the Circle and his son even if he has to cross two worlds to do so.
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THE LAST STAND
By Ted Dekker
Thomas NelsonCopyright © 2009 Ted Dekker
All rights reserved.
THOMAS HUNTER stood next to his wife, Chelise, facing the shallow canyon lined by three thousand of Elyon's lovers, who'd drowned in the red lakes to rid their bodies of the scabbing disease that covered the skin of all Horde.
The reenactment of the Great Wedding had taken an hour, and the final salute, which would usher the Gathering into a wild night of celebration, was upon them.
As was customary, both he and Chelise were dressed in white, because Elyon would come in white. She with lilies in her hair and a long, flowing gown spun from silk; he in a bleached tunic, dyed red around the collar to remind them of the blood that had paid for this wedding.
This was their great romance, and there could not possibly be a dry eye in the valley.
Six maidens also in white faced Chelise and Thomas on their knees and sang the Great Wedding's song. Their sweet, yearning voices filled the valley as they cried the refrain in melodic unison, faces bright with an eager desperation.
You are Beautiful ... so Beautiful ... Beautiful ... Beautiful ...
The drums lifted the cry to a crescendo. Milus, one of the older children, had recounted their history earlier in the night to thundering applause. Now Thomas retraced from his own vantage all that had brought them here.
Ten years ago, most of these people had been Horde, enslaved by Teeleh's disease. The rest were Forest Dwellers who had kept the disease at bay by washing in Elyon's lakes once every day as he'd directed.
Then the Horde, led by Qurong, had invaded the forests and defiled the lakes. All had succumbed to the scabbing disease, which deceived the mind and cracked the skin.
But Elyon made a new way to defeat the evil disease: Any Horde simply had to drown in one of the red pools, and the disease would be washed away, never to return. Those who chose to drown and find new life were called albinos by the Horde, because their skin, whether dark or light, was smooth.
The albinos formed a Circle of trust and followed their leader, Thomas of Hunter.
The Horde, however, divided into two races: Purebred Horde, who'd always had the scabbing disease, and half-breeds, who'd been Forest Dwellers but turned Horde after Qurong's invasion of the forests. The full-breed Horde despised and persecuted the half-breeds because they'd once been Forest Dwellers.
Eram, a half-breed, had fled Qurong's persecution and welcomed all half-breeds to join him in the deep northern desert, where they thrived as Horde and enemies of Qurong. Nearly half a million, rumor had it.
They called the faction who followed Eram Eramites, remnants of the faithful who were as diseased as any other Scab. All suffered from the sickly, smelly disease that covered the skin and clouded the mind.
Thomas glanced at his bride. To look at Chelise's smooth, bronzed jaw now ... her bright emerald eyes had once been gray. Her long blonde hair had once been tangled dreadlocks smothered in morst paste to fight the stench of the scabbing disease.
Chelise, who'd given birth to one of his three children, was a vision of perfect beauty. And in so many ways they were all perfectly beautiful, as Elyon was beautiful. Beautiful, Beautiful, Beautiful.
They had all once denied Elyon, their maker, their lover, the author of the Great Romance. Now they were the Circle, roughly twelve thousand who lived in nomadic tribes, fugitives from the Horde hunters who sought their deaths.
Three thousand had come together northwest of Qurongi City in a remote, shallow canyon called Paradose. They did this every year to express their solidarity and celebrate their passion for Elyon.
The Gathering, they called it. This year four Gatherings would take place near four forests, one north, one south, one east, one west. The danger of all twelve thousand crossing the desert from where they had scattered and coming to one location was simply too great.
Thomas scanned the three thousand strewn along the rocks and on the earth in a huge semicircle before him. After three days of late nights and long days filled with laughter and dancing and innumerable embraces of affection, they now stared at him in wide-eyed silence.
A large bonfire raged to his left, casting shifting shadows over their intent gazes. To his right, the red pool glistened, black in the night, one of seventy-seven they'd found throughout the land. Cliffs surrounded the hidden canyon, broken only by two gaps wide enough for four horses abreast. Guards lined the tops of the cliffs, keeping a keen eye on the desert beyond for any sign of Horde.
How many times over the past ten years had members of the Circle been found and slaughtered wholesale? Too many to count. But they had learned well, gone deep, tracked the Horde's movements, become invisible in the desert canyons. So invisible that the Scabs now often referred to the Circle as ghosts.
But Thomas now knew that the greatest danger no longer came from the Horde.
Treachery was brewing inside the Circle.
A horse snorted from the corrals around the bend behind Thomas. The fire popped and crackled as hungry flames lapped at the shimmering waves of heat they chased into the cool night air. The breathing of several thousand bodies steadied in the magic of the maiden's song.
Still no sign of his elder son, Samuel.
An echo followed the last note, and silence fell upon the Gathering as the maidens backed slowly into the crowd. Thomas lifted his gray chalice, filled to the brim with Elyon's red healing waters from the pool.
As one, the followers of Elyon lifted their chalices out to him, level with their steady gazes. The Salute. Their eyes held his, some defiant in their determination to stay true, many wet with tears of gratitude for the great sacrifice that had first turned the pools red.
The leaders stood to his left. Mikil and Jamous, her husband, side by side, goblets raised, staring forward, waiting for Thomas. Suzan, one of the many colored albinos, and her lover, Johan, who had been a mighty warrior—was a mighty warrior—gripped each other's hands and watched Thomas.
Marie, his daughter from his first wife, who was now with Elyon, stood next to his youngest child, Jake, who was five years old one month ago. Where had all the years gone? The last time he'd taken a breath, Marie had been sixteen; now she was twenty-five. A hundred boys would have wed her years ago if Thomas hadn't been so stuffy, as she put it. At eighteen Marie had lost interest in boys and taken up scouting with Samuel. Her betrothal to Vadal, the dark-skinned man next to her, had occurred only after she abandoned her old passions.
Samuel, on the other hand, still pursued his, with enough eagerness to keep Thomas pacing late into the night on occasion.
And still, no sign of the boy. He'd been gone for a day.
The Circle waited, and he let the moment stretch to the snapping point. A presence here warmed the back of his neck with anticipation. They couldn't see him, hadn't seen him for many years, but Elyon was near.
Elyon—as the boy, as the warrior, as the lion, the lamb, the giver of life and the lover of all. Their Great Romance was for him. He'd given his life for them, and they for him.
They all wore the symbol that represented their own history, a medallion or a tattoo shaped like a circle, with an outer ring in green to signify the beginning, the life of Elyon. Then a black circle to remember evil's crushing blow. Two straps of red crossed the black circle, the death that brought life in the red waters.
And at the center, a white circle, for it was prophesied that Elyon would come again on a white horse and rescue his bride from the dragon Teeleh, who pursued her day and night.
Soon, Thomas thought. Elyon had to come soon. If he did not, they would fall apart. They'd been wandering in the desert for ten years, like lost Israelites without a home. At celebrations like this, surrounded by song and dance, they all knew the truth. But when the singing was over ... how quickly they could forget.
Still he held them, three minutes now, and not a man, woman, or child over the age of two spoke. Even the infants seemed to understand that they had reached the climax of the three-day celebration. Later they would feast on the fifty boar they'd slaughtered and set over fires at the back of the canyon. They would dance and sing and boast of all things worthy and some not.
But they all knew that every pleasure they tasted, every hope that filled their chests, every moment of peace and love rested firmly on the meaning behind the words that Thomas would now speak.
His low voice flooded the canyon with an assurance that brought a tremble to their limbs.
"Lovers of Elyon who have drowned in the lakes and been given life, this is our hope, our passion, our only true reason to live."
"It is as he says," Chelise said in a light voice choked with emotion.
Together the three thousand responded, "He speaks the truth." Their soft voices rumbled through the valley.
They knew Elyon by many names: the Creator, who'd fashioned them; the Warrior, who'd once rescued them; the Giver of gifts, who gave them the fruit that healed and sustained them. But they'd agreed to simply call him Elyon several years earlier, when a heretic from a southern tribe began to teach that Thomas himself was their savior.
Thomas spoke with more intensity. "He has rescued us. He has wooed us. He has lavished us with more pleasures than we can contain in this life."
"It is as he says," Chelise said.
The people's reply washed over Thomas like a wave, gaining volume. "He speaks the truth."
"Now we wait for the return of our king, the prince warrior who loved us while we were yet Horde."
"It is as he says!"
"He speaks the truth!"
"Our lives are his, born in his waters, made pure by the very blood we now raise to the sky!" Thomas thundered each word.
And Chelise cried her agreement. "It is as he says!"
"He speaks the truth." Their voices spilled over the canyon walls for any within a mile on this still night to hear.
"Remember Elyon, brothers and sisters of the Circle! Live for him! Ready the bride, make a celebration ready, for he is among us!"
"It is as he says!"
The volume rose to a crushing roar. "He speaks the truth."
"I speak the truth."
"He speaks the truth!"
"I speak the truth!"
"He speaks the truth!"
"Drink to remember. To the Great Romance. To Elyon!"
This time their response was whispered in utmost reverence, as if each syllable was something as precious as the red water in their hands.
Thomas closed his eyes, brought the chalice to his lips, tilted it back, and let the cool water flow into his mouth. The red liquid swirled around his tongue then seeped down his throat, leaving a lingering copper taste. He let the gentle effects of the first few drops warm his belly for a second, then swallowed deep, flooding his mouth and throat with the healing waters.
They weren't nearly as strong as the green lake waters that had once flowed with Elyon's presence. And they didn't contain the same medicinal qualities of the fruit that hung from the trees around the pools, but they lifted spirits and brought simple pleasure.
He took three full gulps of the precious water, allowing some to spill down his chin, then pulled the chalice away, cleared his throat with one final swallow, and gasped at the night sky.
As one, the Circle pulled their goblets from their mouths like parched warriors satisfied by sweet ale, and roared at the night sky.
And with that cry, the spirit of celebration was released. Thomas turned to Chelise, drew her to him with his free arm, and kissed her wet lips. A thousand voices cried their approval, chased by undulating calls from the unwed maidens and their hopeful suitors. Chelise's laughter filled his mouth as he spun back to the crowd, goblet still raised.
He pulled her forward, so all could see his bride. "Is there anyone here who would dare not love as Elyon has loved us all? Can anyone not remember the disease that covered their flesh?" Thomas looked at Chelise and spoke his poetic offering around a subtle grin that undoubtedly failed to properly express his love for this woman.
"What beauty, what pleasure, what intoxicating love he has given me for my own ashes. In place of the stench that once filled my very own nostrils he has given me this fragrance. A princess whom I can serve. She numbs my mind with dizzying pictures of exquisite beauty."
They all knew he was speaking of Chelise, who had been the princess of the Horde, Qurong's very own daughter. Now she was the bride of Elyon, Thomas's lover, the bearer of his youngest son, who stared up at them with wonder next to Marie.
"He speaks the truth," Johan said, grinning. He took a pull from his goblet and dipped his head.
"He speaks the truth," they returned, followed by more calls and rounds of drinks.
Johan, too, had been Horde not so long ago, charged with killing hundreds—thousands by the time it was all over—of Elyon's followers.
Thomas thrust his goblet toward the Gathering, unmindful of the liquid that splashed out; there were seventy-seven pools filled with the red waters, and not one had ever showed any sign of going dry.
"To the Horde."
"To the Horde!"
And they drank again, flooding themselves with the intoxicating waters in a start to what promised to be a night of serious, unrestricted celebration.
"Aye, Father." The male voice came from behind and to his right. The husky, unmistakable sound of Samuel. "To the Horde."
Thomas lowered his chalice and turned to see his son perched atop his horse, drilling him with his bright green eyes. He rode low in the pale stallion's saddle and moved with the horse as if he'd been bred and born on the beast. His dark hair fell to his shoulders, blown by a hard ride. Sweat had mixed with the red mud that he and those of his band applied to their cheekbones; streaks etched his darkened face and neck. His leather chest guard was open, allowing the night air to cool his bared chest, still glistening in the moonlight.
He had his mother's nose and eyes.
A stab of pride sliced through Thomas's heart. Samuel might have gone astray, but this image of his boy could have been him fifteen years ago.
The stallion's clip-clopping hooves echoed as it stepped into the firelight, followed by three, then five, then nine warriors who'd taken up arms with Samuel. All were dressed in the same battle dress of the Forest Guard, largely abandoned since the Circle had laid down arms eleven years ago. Only the guards and scouts wore the protective leathers to ward off arrows and blades.
But Samuel ... no amount of reason seemed to jar good sense into his thick skull.
His son stilled his horse with a gentle tug on its reins. His followers stopped behind him in a loose formation that left them with no weak flank, standard Guard protocol by his own orders. Samuel and his band moved with the ease of seasoned warriors.
A few catcalls from different points in the crowd raised praise for the man who scanned them without a hint of acknowledgment.
"Hear, Samuel! Elyon's strength, boy!" A pause. "Keep the boogers in their stink hole, Samuel!"
This remark was a departure from general sentiment, though not as distant from the heart of the Circle as it once had been. Thomas was all too aware of the rumblings among many clans.
"Nice of you to join us, Samuel," Thomas said, tipping his chalice in the boy's direction.
His son looked directly at Chelise, dipped his head, then looked back at the three thousand gathered in the natural amphitheater. "To the Horde," he called.
"To the Horde." But only half took up the cry. The rest, like Thomas, heard the bite in Samuel's voice.
"To the stinking, bloody Horde who butcher our children and spread their filthy disease through our forests!" Samuel cried, voice now bitter with mockery.
Only a few took him up. "Stinking, bloody Horde."
"Our friends, the Horde, have sent their apologies for taking the life of our own three days ago. They have sent us all a gift to express their remorse, and I have brought it to our Gathering."
Samuel stuck his hand out, palm up. A dark object sailed forward, lobbed by Petrus, son of Jeremiah, and Samuel snatched it out of the air as if it were a water bag needing to be refilled. He tossed it onto the ground. The object bounced once and rolled to stop where firelight illuminated the fine details of their prize.
Excerpted from GREEN by Ted Dekker. Copyright © 2009 Ted Dekker. Excerpted by permission of Thomas Nelson.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Green is book zero in Ted Dekker's "The Circle" series, Green actually being the fourth installment of the series. The idea is that a reader should be able to pick up the series at any point, and follow through all four books, thus the title of the series"The Circle". I found green to interesting, and as I got into it, I discovered some familiarity although I have not read any of the other three books from the series. Dekker has cleverly tied this series in with another series of his, the Paradise novels. I had read the book "Showdown" from that series a few years ago. As I said I did find Green to be interesting as a story and the series interesting from a conceptual standpoint. However, whether it was unfamiliarity with the other titles or not understanding the whole of how all these titles intertwine, or a combination of all of the above I found it difficult at times to keep up and understand. I constantly felt I was missing something that would not be found within the pages I was reading, yet not curious enough to sort it out by going through the other titles that are related to Green. Maybe if I had started at a true beginning point it would have been different.
I totally geeked out when I received this book in the mail. Not because I had read any of Ted Dekker's book previously in the past or due to even a marginal interest in Christian Fiction books. No, I geeked out because earlier in the year a friend of mine told me about the Circle Series books. He said that "the books twist you and turn you and flip you and by the end you are not completely sure what happened except that you're loving Jesus more." His word is an authority for me when it comes to literature. So needless to say, I geeked out. I found the book available and asked my literature guru friend whether I should start or end with Green. His answer was a definitive "End with it, dude." So I ordered the rest of the books, read them and then moved onto this book. The series is truly phenomenal and Green was a great read. Quick Summary: Green is a story of love, betrayal, and sweeping reversals set within the apocalypse. I believe that the series could not have ended any better or any more seamlessly then it did with Green. I would recommend this book to anyone who had read the previous books in the series or wanted a good read that would "twist you and turn you and flip you and by the end you are not completely sure what happened except that you're loving Jesus more."
The first book I ever read by Ted Dekker was Black - the first book in his circle trilogy and, even more so, the beginning of a unique universe where the future mingles with the past and where evil and goodness meet. When I discovered that Dekker would be writing a fourth book directly related to the Circle Trilogy, I was anxious for its release. The ending to White (the last in the trilogy) was a satisfying conclusion, but at the same time I was left wanting more. Along the way, Deker dropped hints in his other books suggesting that life went on for Thomas Hunter, the book's protagonist. Green did not totally disappoint. The story starts off slow in my opinion. However, Dekker states that all of his books can be read in any order. When one considers that this may be the first book one reads of Thomas Hunter, then I suppose the start does a nice job of presenting characters and back story. For those already immersed in the history, it may not get off to the quick start you're hoping for. The story is full of the actions sequences and world (or is it time) hopping that were staples in the previous novels. Dekker also does a nice job of answering questions that we left hanging at the conclusion of White. What became of both the worlds? Did Justin ever return? What became of the Forest Guard and their battle against the Horde? In which world did Thomas really belong? I know many people who were on the fence about this book and I can understand why. While this book is well written and full of that Dekker-esque mystery, it just lacked something. As I mentioned, I've found that those who have already been through the trilogy as well as the other related books (Showdown, House, Skin, The Lost Books, Sinner, Saint, etc) did not enjoy this book as much as the others. The ending, while great and something I definitely didn't see coming, left something to be desired. Especially when compared to White's conclusion - there were questions yes...but it really stemmed from a desire of wanting the story to continue. I believe if I had read Green before any of the other books, I would have felt differently. I'd rate this book 3/5 for returning Circle fans and 4/5 for newcomers.
Green is a fantasy novel, created as an allegory to parallel the realities of right and wrong. At first sight, the novel's preface, written by the author Ted Dekker, purports that the quality of this fantasy is comparable to C.S. Lewis' Narnia series and J.R.R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings. However, Green fails to elicit the profound symbolism and dynamic resolution that both Narnia and The Lord of the Rings contain. The story Green begins in a new world that God created after the apocalypse, and it begins to unfold as Thomas Hunter, the leader of the Circle, and the Circle - the "chosen" people - delight in their Great Romance at a ceremonial celebration of their faith. As beautiful as that description of faith is, the story begins a downward spiral of dark themes beyond this initial attribute. Thomas and the Circle have been given a command from God to love their neighbors at all costs, which leads them to flee their enemies, the Horde, who are warriors out for blood. The plot stirs as Samuel, Thomas Hunter's son, begins to rebel against this command, and leads a group to battle the forces of evil amongst them. Thomas Hunter then initiates a battle between the Horde and evil leaders, who are consumed with blood. At this point, I was forcing myself to read this Christian fiction, as the layers of grotesque blood sacrifices from the evil powers sent this novel flying over the fence into the land of weird for me. A dual experience then comes into play, as the antagonist characters, Janae and Billy, who were living in present day 2010, find a way to enter the future, the new world, and join the forces of evil to plot against the Circle, and mainly, their leader, Thomas, as the Circle holds out in hope that God will deliver them from evil. I would not recommend this book at all, but if you are in the market for Christian allegories/fantasy, I would instead recommend making room in your library for C.S. Lewis and Tolkien, as the author, at least in endeavor, tried to replicate those classics.
Green is supposed to serve as either the start to your adventure in The Circle series or the conclusion of your journey through the novels. For myself (having not read any of the others and reading this first), I found certain characters and plot lines which were key to the base story not developed enough. I felt somewhat lost in much of the book, because I sensed that I only partly knew what was going on. Of course knowing that it is a series and much of that would (or should) be explained in the other three novels, doesn't make it any less frustrating while you're actually reading. I understand the interest in fantasy books written from a Christian perspective, but personally I found a lot of the book quite dark, and at times disturbing. The preface of the book, touches on previous books written where good and evil duke it out in a mythical sense, like Aslan's and Frodo's tales. Green slides very much to the side of the Hobbit's book in its telling, quite unlike the more mild nature of the land within the Wardrobe's story. All that being said, if you are a fantasy buff, interested in the battle of good, evil and human nature, can read about people partaking in blood drinking and other less than glorifying ritutals all without making your stomach queasy, you may want to read Green, Book 0 in The Circle Series. Myself, I'm not itching to read Black at the moment (the next book), there are plenty of other books on my list I'll pick up first.
"Green" is the fourth book in the series, after "Black," "Red," and "White," and is referred to as both the beginning and the end of the series. Since I haven't read the first three books, I found this book very hard to get into because Dekker often refers to the previous books (and other books he wrote). I was lost right from the start because the author seems to assume the readers are familiar with the other books, and due to this, there was a lack of character development in "Green." This story is set in a future world, where evil is evident. The book was well-written, and if you liked the first three books in the Circle Trilogy, this will probably work for you. Dekker does a good job of weaving together the stories from several different books, but I don't think he should assume the readers are familiar with all his books. "Green" wasn't for me, because it was hard to follow as a first-time Dekker reader. I didn't care for the vampires, and it was a bit too violent for my taste. I will consider reading the other three books and trying to make sense of it all after that, but my first impression of Dekker's writing was not great. I am a Thomas Nelson book reviewer. http://brb.thomasnelson.com/
Yoohoo! Anyone here??
Well, admittedly, for me it wasn't as thrilling as ride as the the previous ones - "Black", "Red", White", but the ending just blew me away: I did not expect it at all. Maybe I should have by the title but it was totally wierd for me. I said to myself, "That Dekker is s punk!" (with utmost respect for Dekker). I couldn't believe the ending and I'm not gonna give it away. If anyone is planning to read the "Circle" series, I cannot more strongly recommend that he read "Green" last (the others can be read in any order). Dekker continues to faithfully mess with my head.
With the Circle Series, Dekker has created a different twist on a post-apocalypse tale. In the Terminator films, robots come back from the future to prevent certain events from taking place. Thomas Hunter falls asleep in our world only to awaken in the future after Elyon has created a new world. He struggles to deal with this shift in reality as he move back and forth in time to overcome challenges in both worlds. Though it is touted as "Book 0: The Beginning and the End", I do not recommend reading it before the others in the series (Black, Red, & White). While En Media Res is an effective literary tool, I think too much is missing to jump in at this point in the series; it certainly fits better as a #4 and, through its unique nature, a #0 simultaneously, as the subtitle implies. The plot moves quickly keeping the reader engaged. This installment in the series has some unique elements that may intrigue readers of other genres.
Thomas Hunter has saved Earth from a deadly virus and fended off the Horde. Thomas no longer dreams, but this does not mean there are not events happening in the Earth world that will gravely impact Thomas' forest world. Though unaware of the coming events on Earth, Thomas suspects there is a war fast approaching. His beloved son has created turmoil and unrest throughout the Forest people. Thomas must find a way to bring his people together again and save not only his son but the future of the F...more Thomas Hunter has saved Earth from a deadly virus and fended off the Horde. Thomas no longer dreams, but this does not mean there are not events happening in the Earth world that will gravely impact Thomas' forest world. Though unaware of the coming events on Earth, Thomas suspects there is a war fast approaching. His beloved son has created turmoil and unrest throughout the Forest people. Thomas must find a way to bring his people together again and save not only his son but the future of the Forest. With multiple betrayals, this task will be the ultimate challenge.Ted Dekker does it again. His final chapter in the Circle series will have the reader turning pages long into the night. The suspense enthralls the reader to continue the journey through unsuspecting turns and astonishing twists. There are a few new characters introduced while other absent characters return. Green is not only the sequel to the series but the prequel as well. In addition, Dekker does a fabulous job of weaving in connecting series' such as The Paradise series and The Lost Books series. It was a fabulous end, or beginning depending on how you view it, to a most-engaging series. I highly recommend this book.
Back from the hospital?
Ted Dekker is a genius the way he wrote these books is just amazing when people say there's something missing it's because you HAVE to read them all to fully understand it. No one will ever be able to perfect this kind of writing as Dekker has in the circle series.
These books are amazing. I first listened to Black on audio and fell in love. The imagination, and thought he put into this series is like none other. If you want to understand you should read the other 3. If you read Green first, think of it like watching a movie that brings you backwards as you go..... i.e 2 years ago.... after the teaser of present time.