Read an Excerpt
ThresholdAre His Supernatural Gifts the Work of God ... or Satan?
By Bill Myers
ZondervanCopyright © 2003 Zondervan
All right reserved.
Chapter OneBrandon hated it. How many years had they been pulling these stupid pranks? Three? Four? Ever since they were seniors in high school. Sure, it was fun back then, back when they were kids. But now it was getting old. Real old.
But not for Frank. Frank thrived on it.
Brandon stood alone, inside the giant trophy case. With a roll of gray duct tape in hand he carefully worked his way past the cups, plaques, signed bats, tournament balls, pennants, group photos, silver plates, silver bowls, and other awards on display. Bethel Lake Country Club prided itself on its members' athletic prowess. And if you couldn't tell it by their arrogance, you could see it in the new trophy room they were about to dedicate-a room complete with this enormous, dust-proof trophy case that covered nearly the entire front wall.
Frank was right about one thing. Pride and pretension like this couldn't go unrewarded. They owed it to their people. They owed it to the Townies.
Brandon tossed back his long, dark hair and knelt. He yanked off a sizable strip of duct tape and ran it along the seam, right where the clear Plexiglas wall of the tro-phy case met the floor. He carefully sealed it so no water would leak through.
Meanwhile, behind the back wall of the case, Del gave the Black and Decker drill the workout of its life as it moaned and groaned in his incapable hands.
"You're pushing too hard," Frank's voice whispered from behind the wall.
"No way," Del's voice answered.
Brandon glanced over his shoulder at the back of the case; the thick cherry wood bulged under Del's pressure. There was more moaning and groaning from the drill until the head of the bit popped through the wood, followed by the rest of the shank.
Then the drill stopped. Then started again. Then stopped. It was jammed.
Another start. Another stop.
Hoping to loosen it, Del began to wiggle the drill back and forth.
"Stop!" Frank's voice whispered. "You're going to break it, you're going to break the"
Too late. The bit had broken off in the wall. In the adjacent room, Tom Henderson, a twenty-one- year-old Aryan dream, complete with blonde hair and blue eyes, listened to a pompous master of ceremonies delivering another pompous speech. Tom stood with the forty or fifty other firm-bodied club members as the emcee continued his jibes at the locals:
"... can well remember when we first entered these events seven, eight years back. Why, no one ever gave a thought to Bethel Lake-unless, of course, they found themselves downwind of the hog farms."
Henderson and the crowd chuckled condescendingly. They always chuckled condescendingly when it came to Bethel Lake-at least the Bethel Lake that existed before they had moved in and started taking over. The old Bethel Lake of corn farmers and hog raisers, along with the usual variety of hicks and poor-as-dirt mobile-home owners who prided themselves on being called Townies.
But now things were changing. Henderson could see it every time he came back home from college. Cornfields were giving way to golf courses; three-quarter-ton pickups with gun racks were being replaced by four-wheeler yuppie mobiles. There was even talk of remodeling the bowling alley and turning it into a megabookstore with espresso bar.
In the past five years, the sleepy, Indiana farm community located just off Highway 30 between Fort Wayne and South Bend had come to life. And now it was growing faster than they could slap up townhouses and condos. Part of this was due to Orion Computech, a new computer manufacturer with a workforce of over eleven hundred and counting. Already the Chamber of Commerce was flirting with aspirations of becoming the Midwest's Silicon Valley. Besides Orion, there was the Diamond Cellular Corporation, Lasher Electronics-and, of course, Moran Research Institute.
Part think tank, part psychic research lab, the only thing more imaginative than the Institute's research were the rumors about that research. The latest had them housing extraterrestrials and breeding them with humans so we'd sweep the next Olympics. Henderson shook his head in amusement. The Townies may be ignorant, but you couldn't fault them for their lack of imagination. The truth was, no one really knew exactly what went on behind the Institute's low-lying, modernistic architecture, but the Townie rumor mills never lacked for grist.
The emcee continued to drone on as Henderson glanced at his watch. His father, a vice president at Orion, had moved here against Tom's wishes when the boy was a senior in high school. Now, home for the summer from Ball State, Henderson had to admit that the town was changing almost enough to make living in it bearable.
In the trophy case, Brandon heard Del asking from behind the wall, "What do I do now?"
"Tap it out," Frank's voice sighed. "Tap it out and get that hose in. We don't got much time."
Brandon heard the sound of something heavy, probably the drill itself, hitting the bit three, four, five times. Finally, it popped out of the hole and fell with a dull thud. He turned to see the bit rolling to a stop just a few feet from his knees.
"Bran," Frank called quietly, "aren't you finished yet?"
Brandon didn't bother answering. He smoothed the last of the tape against the Plexiglas and rose to his feet. As he crossed to the back of the case, he saw a garden hose being shoved through the newly drilled hole.
Things were right on schedule.
He stooped, opened the small door, and stepped out of the rear of the trophy case to join his partners. Frank, the leader of the three-man hit squad, was good-looking, volatile, and athletic enough to be a club member-if it hadn't been for his genealogy. He was a third-generation Townie. Del, on the other hand, wore Coke-bottle glasses and on a good day could almost stretch himself to a height of five-three.
Brandon turned to the trophy case door and ripped off one last strip of tape to seal it as Frank and Del quickly followed the hose down the hall toward the kitchen faucet.
Twenty more minutes passed before the emcee finally started winding down. Henderson sighed in relief. Earlier, he'd spotted a couple of beauties at the far end of the room, and he was hoping to introduce himself. But if the old duffer rambled on much longer, they might slip away without the pleasure of making his company.
"In short," the emcee concluded, "I can't think of a more fitting way to open the new trophy room than with the addition of the Beckman Memorial Tennis Cup."
He turned to the paneled doors behind him and, with a modest flair, slid them open.
The lights came up, and before the members stood their new trophy room. Dark cherry paneling, rich emerald carpet, paisley print chairs scattered around end tables that supported brass lamps with green china shades. And at the far wall stood the focal piece of the room: a massive Plexiglas trophy case-six feet high and eighteen feet long. Inside, near the top and center of the case, was a vacant space waiting to receive the most recent addition-a large silver trophy bowl that sat on the lectern in front of the case.
The emcee approached the lectern as the crowd moved in and settled down. "Peter? Reggie?" he called. "I think it's only proper that you two do the honors."
The group broke into polite applause as a couple of jocks, the winners of the trophy, broke from their dates and came forward. Henderson knew the guys. Even liked them. In fact, they'd spent more than one summer night cruising in his Firebird, putting down the brews. The applause increased as they arrived and held the bowl over their heads.
Meanwhile, the emcee turned to open the trophy case doors. At first they seemed stuck. Either his key wasn't working, or the doors were jammed, or ...
Henderson was the first to spot it: the trail of tiny air bubbles rising to the surface of the case. For a moment he was confused. What on earth were air bubbles doing ...? Then the horror registered. He started to call out, to push his way through the crowd. But he was too late.
With one last tug, the emcee opened the doors.
Water roared out of the case, knocking him to the ground. Club members screamed and scrambled back as the water poured into the room. Some lost their balance, slipping and falling.
Across the room, through the oval window of the kitchen door, Frank and Del watched in delight. They were laughing so hard they could barely catch their breath-until Reggie, one of the fallen, rose to his feet, looked around, sputtering and coughing, and caught a glimpse of them. Frank and Del saw his eyes widen. They saw his trembling finger point. And they saw his mouth open as he cried out a single word:
Frank and Del ducked from the window, but they were too late. The announcement had been made, their location spotted. Now club members slipped and sloshed toward them with a vengeance.
Brandon was standing farther back in the kitchen, checking out the contents of the stainless-steel freezers, when Frank and Del raced past and grabbed him, yelling, "Come on, come on!"
They flung open a hallway door and started down the corridor. When they rounded the first corner, they discovered most of the club members heading directly for them.
They doubled back.
Even now, running as fast as his little legs could carry him, Del couldn't resist firing off a few jabs. "'I know this place,' Frank says. 'Like the back of my hand,' he says."
"Hey," Frank shot back. "How'd I know they were going to remodel?"
They rounded another corner, then another. At last they spotted an unlikely looking door. "In here!" Frank shouted as he threw it open.
Brandon and Del followed. The door slammed behind them with a foreboding boom. Suddenly they found themselves in total darkness.
"Oh, Frank?" Del's voice echoed.
"Hold on ..."
"Relax, there's gotta be a light here somewh-"
Suddenly the overheads came on and the boys winced at the four brilliant white walls surrounding them.
Del squinted. "A racquetball court? You led us into a racquetball court!"
Before Frank could answer, the door opened and an attractive woman with amber, shoulder-length hair stood in the opening. She was a few years older than they were. But Frank, who made it a policy to recognize any and all of the local beauties, stepped forward. "Hi," he ventured. "Uh, Sarah, isn't it?"
She simply looked at him.
He tried to smile.
So did Del.
It was a joint failure.
"Anybody in there?" a man's voice shouted from down the hall.
The woman stood silent. Still looking. Still deciding.
"Sarah?" the voice repeated.
Finally she turned and called back. "Nobody worth mentioning."
"Be careful," another voice warned as the group headed down the other hall.
Sarah didn't answer and waited for the footsteps to fade. Then, without a word, she opened the door wider and stepped back for them to exit.
Frank and Del exchanged glances, then quickly scurried past.
"Thanks, Sarah," Frank offered. Then, to further express his gratitude, he continued, "You're lookin' real good."
She ignored him and turned to Brandon.
For the briefest second their eyes locked. And for the briefest second Brandon couldn't look away. He sensed that she couldn't, either. There was a moment, a connection. He knew he should say something. Something cool, something witty. But he wasn't much good at talking to pretty women. Lately, he wasn't much good at talking to anybody. Instead, he gave a slight nod of thanks, moved past her, and headed down the hall.
The parking lot of Bethel Country Club was cut out of the side of a large hill. There was only one exit: along the bottom of the hill and down the private, tree-lined drive. Already several of the men, including Henderson and his buddies, along with a handful of women, had gathered along that drive. They stood just a few yards past the parking lot, forming a roadblock. Waiting. Watching.
"Just a matter of time," one of the men said.
"You phone the police?" a lithe blonde asked.
"Yeah, right," another scoffed. Others in the group voiced similar scorn. They knew the police didn't encourage these pranks. But they also knew they didn't discourage them either. Like the kids, most of the police were Townies. Their attitude was simple: If these outsiders wanted to come barging into Bethel Lake uninvited, that was their business. But there were certain customs to be followed, certain dues to be paid-and if that included this type of occasional, low-grade harassment, then so be it. It was just normal social interaction.
A pair of headlights suddenly appeared as a half-ton pickup slid around the corner of the parking lot.
"There they are!"
It accelerated toward them.
"Hold your ground," the first man shouted. "They wouldn't dare try to-look out!"
Some leaped to the side of the road, others scrambled up the dirt embankment as the truck roared past.
Inside the cab of the pickup Frank yelled, "Eee-haaa!" as the last of the human roadblocks hit the bushes. "We did it, boys!" he shouted. "We did it!"
Del's voice was a little less sure as he glanced back for casualties. "This is insane!"
Excerpted from Threshold by Bill Myers Copyright © 2003 by Zondervan
Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.