Harvey Champion -
An Ordinary Man with a Gift
The people on the street heard the sound of squealing tires and turned their heads to look as four black cars screeched to a stop in front of the hotel. Then the car doors flew open, a bevy of black suited men poured out of the vehicles and barreled into the lobby. One of them yanked his badge out of his coat pocket and shoved it into the frightened face of the clerk at the desk.
“Don’t touch that phone!” The agent barked. Then he jerked his head to toward one of his companions. “Watch him!” he commanded. Then the rest of them sprinted up the stairs.
The door burst open to room number eleven. A gun barrel was pointed into the room - at nothing. The agents poured inside, did a quick search, and then the one who was in charge punctuated the stale air with a curse.
“He’s not here!”
“Can’t be, not this one. He’s around here somewhere. Spilt up. Search the building. We’re not leaving until we’ve turned this place inside out.”
They emptied back into the hall. They’d only taken a few steps, when an explosion ripped down the corriodor like a fire burst from hell. Most of the men disappeared into the fireball except for one who was catapulted through the window at the end of the hall. The glass splintered like shrapnel and he swiftly disappeared over the sill. As he fell a cable that had been snapped free by the blast slapped across his chest. His hand grabbed it, and he was jerked upward and thrown back against the wall. He clung to it desperately as he swung out over the street far below. Flames belched out of the windows above him and he watched the fire lick at his life line.
Then he looked out at the gray sky above his head and screamed, “Harvey! How are you gonna get me out of this one?!”
Harvey sat back in his chair and stared at his computer and the words he had just written. “I don’t know, Dirk.” He said. “Hang in there
buddy. I’ll think of something.”
He got up and walked into the kitchen. His wife was scraping freshly baked cookies from the sheet onto a
“I think I made too many of these,” she said. “I don’t know where I’m going to store them.”
“The pockets in my cheeks!” Harvey answered his mouth watering as he extended his hand toward the bounty.
“They’re delicious,” she replied beaming, “and they’re good for you, too!”
His hand stopped in mid-air. “Oh, no.”
“Carob carrot crunchies! It’s a new recipe!”
“I hate carob.”
“You’ve never had it before. Try them. I’ll get you some milk."
“Not the soy stuff, Harriet. I want milk.”
He sat down at the table.
“I read on the internet that there’s something in milk that’s not good for your heart. I’m just trying to keep you healthy,” she said as she looked fondly at her somewhat paunchy, fifty-something, husband.
“You can’t believe everything you read on the internet, Harriet.”
She sighed and asked as she filled his glass,“How’s the novel coming?”
“Almost finished. Should be done in a day or two.”
“That’s wonderful, I’m so excited. You’ve been working on this for ages.”
She set the plate in front of him and he bit into a crunchy.
“Well, how do you like them?” she asked as she sat down beside him.
“I miss chocolate.”
“Oh, c’mon,” Harriet said wiping some crumbs from the corner of her mouth, “They're good for you.”
“Well, maybe.” He kept chewing and then his mind drifted off as usual back to agent Dirk Bogart dangling on the edge of oblivion.
“Do I kill him off or leave it open for a sequel?” He said out loud.
“Oh, you don’t want to do that. I like him.”
“Okay, we’ll shoot for a sequel.”
“I can’t wait,” she said.
“Well,” Harvey replied, as he wiped his hands on a napkin and took one last gulp of his milk, “I’d better get back to work, I’ve left him hanging. I just have to figure out how to save him.”
“Only God can do that,” Harriet giggled.
“He has to, I’m stumped.” Harvey said with a grin.
A few weeks later on a Monday morning, Harvey deposited a brown wrapped package addressed to a publisher in New York into the bin at the post office. They’d responded to his query letter. They’d said they were interested in a story about spies, government plots, and terrorism interlaced with a lot of natural disasters.
“Lord,” Harvey prayed as he left the post office, “this is Yours. You gave me the idea. If You want it to get out, then please bless it. Harriet and I need the money.”
Then he walked across the street and went into the health food store to surprise his wife with something he thought she might like.
Barely a month went by. Then Harvey came home from work one day and his wife nearly pitched herself into him the minute he stepped through the doorway.
“Harvey! I could hardly wait until you came home! You got a letter from the publisher. I didn’t want to open it until you got here!” she bubbled excitedly.
His heart sank. “It hasn’t been that long, Harriet. It takes these guys months to decide whether they want to publish something. If they wrote back this soon they probably rejected it.”
“Oh,” her face dropped with disappointment. She handed him the letter. He carefully tore it open and she watched him anxiously as he read it to himself. His face was not registering any emotion.
“What does it say?” she said, fearing that her husband had been right.
Then he looked back into the envelope. There was something else in there he hadn’t seen when he opened it. His wife watched in amazement as he withdrew a check.
“It’s an advance,” he said as he looked at it with the same numb expression he’d had when he read the letter. His eyes were filling up with tears as he finished, “for a lot of money.”
Harvey’s novel was entitled ‘Living on the Edge.’ The plot and many sub-plots dealt with ordinary people suddenly facing annihilation by a variety of unusual natural disasters, while the book’s main hero, secret agent Dirk Bogart, pursues an illusive terrorist all over the world.
The minute Harvey’s novel landed in the bookstores it began to sell. The reviews were unanimously favorable. The book made the New York Times best seller list almost instantly and it never left, breaking records for best seller longevity. The movie version that followed was a blockbuster, the biggest grossing film ever produced.
Harvey and Harriet Champion were overwhelmed.
“I thought it was good, but not that good,” He said to his wife one evening as they were discussing the movie while they sat in front of their fireplace sampling Harriett’s whole wheat sesame seed popovers.
They had sold their little house in the city and replaced it with a little house in the country. Harvey liked cozy places and even though he could afford anything he wanted, he preferred homey to opulent. He did install a gourmet kitchen for his wife, who was now free to pursue her dream of developing the ultimate health food energy bar.
By that time almost the entire world had been exposed to ‘Living on the Edge’ in some way. It was recommended reading in all the schools. People were even taking the time to memorize whole portions of it.
Then one day, around four in the afternoon in a little town in Idaho, the ground started shaking. At the same time a horrendous roar echoed through the streets. Windows shattered, people started screaming. Then something happened in that earthquake that only happens in the movies; the ground just outside the town split open. The fissure widened and kept widening as the rift traveled across the entire length and width of the city limits, tumbling whole buildings down into the abyss until everything that had been on the surface was gone; cars, motels, supermarkets, the strip mall, the people. Then almost as suddenly as it had opened, the earth gave a great
heave like a satisfied belch and closed up again, leaving only a rippled pattern of shifted soil on the surface. Looking at it, no one would have ever known that a town had been there at all.
When the account made the papers the headlines read, “Fiction Becomes Reality.” It was a reference to Harvey’s novel which detailed a fictional earthquake that swallowed a small town in Idaho.
The site of the real disaster was quickly descended upon by reporters. One of them, a young man by the name of Newton Newell, discovered something unusual about that little town.
He was interviewing the lone survivor, a cranky little man with a lisp who had been visiting his daughter who lived there. He’d decided to take a hike in the countryside and his life was spared.
Newton was struck by the man’s calmness and apparent lack of emotion about the whole thing.
“You don’t seem that upset,” Newton couldn’t help asking. “You’ve just lost your daughter.”
The man looked up at him with his steely hawk-like gaze. “I was tryin’ to convince her to leave,” he said. “Wouldn’t listen no matter what I said. The people in this town…” he hesitated. He looked Newton straight in the eyes, “They were all witches and warlocks straight out of hell, all of ‘em including my daughter. She wouldn’t give it up, no way. She wanted power she said. What power? Now where is she? She’s gone to hell for sure.”
“All of them were witches?” Newton asked incredulously.
“Satan worshippers every one, even the kids. My grandkids. Now they’re all gone, ain’t they?” His eyes began to tear up, briefly, then he jerked his head away. “I ain’t got no more to say.”
Newton wrote his report for the newspaper that employed him. He accurately described everything he’d seen. He wrote it all, except for his conversation with the cranky little man with the lisp.
Harvey was stunned. “It really happened,” he kept musing to himself. “A town actually was swallowed by an earthquake in Idaho; all those people killed, the whole population…”
He remembered the night he’d been given the story, most of it in a dream. He’d always wanted to become a writer, but he could never come up with anything unusual enough to warrant writing about. He was grateful to the Lord for giving him a creative storyline. Only he and Harriet knew where it originated.
At that point he had to assume the incident in Idaho was just a coincidence. “Has to be,” he thought. “That can happen, can’t it?”
Then several months later, a meteor, a small one, landed on a mountain in Colorado in the wintertime. The force of it split the peak in two sending tons of mud, rocks and snow down onto the city nestled in the foothills. In an instant the town was obliterated.
The event sent shock waves around the world, because almost everyone knew that Harvey had written a fictional account of a small meteor landing on a mountain in Colorado in the wintertime that wiped out another city off the face of the planet.
Harvey and Harriet were stunned.
Mr. Newell made a pilgrimage to Colorado. This time there were no survivors. He found out later from one of his sources in California, that this particular city was a major headquarters for pornography production, distribution and prostitution.
Newton diligently wrote his report. He didn’t feel it was necessary to mention what the town’s economy was based on; he didn’t think it was relevant to the story.
‘Living on the Edge’ was suddenly experiencing another surge of popularity as even more people began buying the book just to see what might happen next.
Harvey was distressed about the whole series of events. He didn’t mind the publicity that came with being a successful writer, but the press was descending on him again, this time to question his role as a prophet.
“I didn’t bargain for this, Lord,” Harvey said one night as he lay in the darkness next to his sleeping wife. “I don’t know what to tell them.”
Then in the stillness of the quiet, country night, he heard a Whisper in his soul. And the Whisper said, “Harvey, tell them the truth.”
Five o’clock in the morning, in a country on the coast of South America, the ground began to shake ominously, but it wasn’t an earthquake, not this time.
The people in the town nearby peered out their windows to look across the fields of crops where the rumbling was originating. They
watched in horror as a dark, shadowy mound began to pierce its way upward through the earth. The top of the mound was glowing. There was an ear splitting roar as a ball of fire exploded from the peak, as if a demon had regurgitated, vomiting its fiery spittle toward the town. The fireball landed in the center of it, instantly engulfing most of the building in flames. Then the lava began to flow, incinerating everything in its path, igniting trees and vegetation as it crept toward was left of the town.
It was written on page three hundred and ninety six; Harvey’s account of a city in South America consumed by a fire from a volcano that suddenly emerged from the ground without warning. Things like that only happened in science fiction.
Newton never made that trip to South America to cover the story for his paper. He’d already been there years before when he was working on a story about the drug industry in the city that no longer existed. He already knew what its economy was based on.
Newton asked his boss to give that one to somebody else. He wanted to fly to a small country town in Michigan instead. He had some questions that only Harvey Champion could answer.
Dirk Bogart had slithered along the outside wall of the house, his gun in hand. He waited by the door listening for any signs of life from within. He could hear muffled voices and feet shuffling toward the exit. The door opened and several men in turbans stepped out into the alley.
“Don’t move!” Dirk shouted. He leaped out in front of them, his gun pointed directly at the leader, the man he had been searching for all those years. Now the hunt had come to an end.
“You think you can threaten me?” the response came in broken English. The enemy was smiling confidently.
Dirk was wondering where his backup had disappeared to. Then something slammed him from behind knocking the pistol out of his hand. He stumbled sidewise, and then spun around. His fist landed on a jaw as the first man charged, and then fell. Immediately another took his place. In a moment Dirk was surrounded. One of them grabbed him from behind and an arm encircled his neck in a stranglehold of death. A dagger was removed from its sheath. The others were laughing now. As the grip tightened on his throat, Dirk looked up at the sky. At first they thought the expression of terror on his face had to do with his situation. Then they all turned and stared upward as a dark shadow suddenly swallowed the sky. The hold on his neck was instantly broken. All movement ceased as enemy stood with enemy looking upward, frozen in mutual horror…
Harvey stared at his computer screen. The long awaited sequel to his first epic was nearly finished. His publisher called him every day just to ask him how much longer it would be. The movie deal was already in place.
Like his first book, this one had also been given to him supernaturally; this time in a nightmare.
Up to that point the government hadn’t been paying all that much attention to the novelist with the prophetic pen. Then someone in the War Room began reading Harvey’s novel in earnest. The general was particularly interested in the way Harvey described Dirk Bogart’s investigation of an impending attack on a nuclear power plant. It was located on the East coast, but this incident did not give a clue as to which state the target was in, only that Dirk was a little too late in cracking the codes, and, well, the results were consistent with the rest of the novel.
One day while Harvey was taking a shower, Harriet, who was in the kitchen as usual cooking oatmeal for one of her experiments, peered out her window and noticed that a government helicopter was hovering above their front lawn. It slowly began its decent.
“Harvey,” she called, “Honey, there’s a helicopter landing on our front lawn. If they come to the door should we let them in?”
Harvey had heard the engine roar and was racing to dry himself and throw on his clothes.
There was a knock on the door just as Harvey entered the living room. His hair was still wet, trickling droplets across his forehead.
“It’s somebody from the government,” Harriet
told him, peering cautiously through the window blinds.
“I don’t know. They don’t travel to their audits in helicopters, do they? That’s a terrible waste of the taxpayer’s money, I think” Harriet replied.
There was another knock on the door. “We’d better answer it,” Harvey said reluctantly.
He opened the door and stared into a serious looking face that said simply, “The president requests your presence at the White House immediately, Mr. Champion.”
They ushered Harvey into a formal looking room with a long table in the center surrounded with chairs. As Harvey stood and waited for his audience with the leader of his country, he was reviewing in his mind what he would say. For some reason he was having a hard time organizing his thoughts. Then he heard a Still Small Voice whisper in his mind, “Don’t premeditate what you will say to these men, Harvey. Trust Me.”
Harvey thought that was good advice and he began to relax, just a door opened and a group of men entered. One of them was the president.
Harvey couldn’t help smiling at him, even though he didn’t vote for him.
The greeting was warm and cordial. Then they sat and Harvey waited for questions he hoped he could answer.
“Your book is quite remarkable, Mr. Champion,” The president began.
“Please, Mr. President, you can call me Harvey. Everybody does.”
“Okay, Harvey,” the president said, smiling. “We have noticed that the events described in your book, and some of them are quite extraordinary, have actually been happening in real life on a regular basis. We would like to know two things, basically. How did you acquire the idea for this book and can you give us any details regarding the power plant disaster. All the other events you described were very specific in their locations, except this one.”
Harvey’s mind suddenly went blank like a chalkboard. Then it was if an invisible hand began to write on it. Harvey began to read and speak the words he was watching in his mind. He spoke for about forty minutes without stopping as the men lining the table before him remained speechless. Contained within the eloquence of those words, was a detailed systematic explanation, a prophetic discourse on the how’s and whys from God’s perspective. From the mouth of this fifty- odd year old simple man, poured depths of wisdom that astounded his listeners to a degree that brought some of them to tears.
When he finally stopped speaking, the room remained encapsulated in silence for many moments. Then the president cleared his throat and tried to say something, anything, but the words would not leave his mouth.
Harvey was eventually politely dismissed and escorted back to the helicopter. The others remained cloistered around the table without speaking until one of the generals broke the silence.
“I think it might behoove us to take what we have just heard seriously gentlemen, as a precaution, mind you.”
The president looked at the man and asked tersely, “Then what do you suggest we can do to avert doomsday, my friend. If you have any ideas, I would really like to know what they might be.”
Harvey had returned to his house and his work. The newly completed manuscript sat on his desk all boxed and ready to be shipped to the publisher. He wasn’t racing to the post office with it and that surprised his wife.
“When are you going to mail it?” she asked him as he sat down at the kitchen table. She was bustling around the kitchen putting the finishing touches on one of her gourmet, healthy vegetarian meals.
“You know what it’s about,” he said.
“Yes,” she was a bit puzzled as she set a steaming plate of rice and sweet and sour tofu before him.
“Harriet, God has given us the end of the story. The world as we know it is going to be over very soon,” he said as he looked at his meal. “I want a steak and some chocolate.”
Newton had to do some digging to locate the reclusive author. He debated about whether he should try and schedule a formal appointment, or just show up on his doorstep. He didn’t want to risk being turned down on this one, so he opted for the latter. After all this wasn’t just business, he really needed to talk to him.
He rang the doorbell and waited. When it opened he looked into Harvey’s face and said, “My name is Newton Newell. I read your book and I need to talk to you. I have some questions that I need answers for….because I’m scared out of my wits.”
They sat in the living room drinking tea and watching the fire that was cheerfully blazing away in the fireplace. Newton was relaxing for the first time in many days. He genuinely liked Harvey and his wife. They’d made him feel at home right away.
“I have to be honest with you,” he said. “And please don’t be upset with me. I am a reporter, but getting a story is not why I’m here. I need some answers for myself, personally. Anything you say to me now won’t go beyond the walls of this room.”
“Okay, I’ll buy that,” Harvey replied.
“I’d been assigned to cover some of the disasters that happened in the wake of your book,” Newton continued. “In the course of my investigations I discovered a common denominator in every instance. Each town that has been destroyed was steeped in evil; witchcraft, pornography, drugs and prostitution. They were all centers for these things. There is a pattern here of evil being systematically destroyed. My question to you is; do you believe that there is an intelligence behind all of this? Is what we are seeing the result of Divine judgment? Harvey, is that what all of this is about?”
“Yes,” Harvey answered simply. “That’s what it’s about. I didn’t realize it myself, when it all started. Now I know beyond a doubt. People weren’t reading the Bible, but God knew they’d read a novel and they’d watch a movie. He’s trying to communicate with us anyway He can. Time is about to run out.”
“You are convinced of that?”
“Absolutely. There is something you need to understand up front here,” Harvey continued. “God loves us passionately. He sent His Son, Jesus Christ to pay the penalty for all our sin and rebellion so we could have eternal life with Him in heaven. But He is a holy and righteous God. He set this world to operate in a certain way according to the design and pattern He established. And it is designed to fail without Him. These disasters are being orchestrated to accomplish two things, I believe. He’s trying to get our attention. He wants ours eyes focused on heaven and not this life, for it’s all too brief anyway. And secondly, these catastrophes are desperate last minute attempts to get us all to do one thing.”
“And what’s that,” Newton asked.
Newton just looked at him as if the concept was something he had never heard before.
“Listen,” Harvey continued as he leaned forward staring at the young man intently. “You mentioned all those things that are so evil that they had to be destroyed. But you want to know what the real sin is in all of this? It’s the pride in the heart of a human being that keeps him from confessing to God that he’s sorry. For some people, and this is what really classifies them as evil, it’s impossible for them to say. And it doesn’t matter how upright they may appear to be, they’ll all gonna end up the same way, shut out of God’s presence forever.”
“That’s what hell is then, isn’t it?” Newton responded thoughtfully, “a future without hope.”
Harvey leaned back into his chair, “Exactly.”
Newton stared into his teacup as Harvey stood up and walked over to the living room window. He gazed out across the pattern of hills that were in the process of entertaining him with their brilliant array of fall colors.
“There is something else you should know, Newton, and I really don’t mind if you want to take this conversation off the record and make it public. I think it’s time.”
Harvey sighed and he began to speak slowly. “My novel, and the one I just finished, the sequel, were written for secular audiences; even though the material was given to me”…he paused then turned to look at Newton. “I’m going to let you in on a little secret. A lot of people ask me where I got the idea for my book. I’d tell ‘em something, whatever I could think of at the time. I never told them the story for my first book and the sequel was given to me in dreams. I now believe, they were prophetic messages from God, and the sequel, if it is to follow the same pattern as the first book is the punch line.”
“I don’t understand,” Newton responded.
“The sequel is about the end of this world as we know it,” Harvey replied. “It is a prelude to the second coming of Jesus Christ.”
Newton had begun to squirm in his seat. Then he set his cup down and stood up to face Harvey. He was almost trembling, as he spoke. “I have spent my whole life denying that there is a God. I prided myself on being the epitome of the sophisticated atheist. I can’t deny that there is something going on here that is beyond my concept… what I have conceived as truth, but I can’t comprehend of a God that is perceived as loving, who would at the same time allow all these horrible things to happen…”
“God is a God of love and mercy,” Harvey responded. “Yet, He is also a God of justice.
Mankind has basically told God to ‘bug off, we can do this ourselves without You.’ By your own admission you are one of those people,”
Newton lowered his gaze to the carpet.
“So God has given us the world we wanted with its resulting chaos. Sin draws disaster like a magnet. And hell is filled with people who cannot say, “I’m sorry.”
The super computers that the government used to do their thinking for them had been operating non –stop on a super secret assignment that was ordered immediately after Harvey Champion had left his audience with the president. The computer scientists that ran them had been programming and reprogramming, running the systems through every possible function in order to find the answer they so desperately needed.
In the meantime, Harvey’s long awaited sequel was delivered to this publisher. Shortly afterward Harvey received a letter informing him that the book and the film deal had been cancelled by order of the government. Harvey wasn’t surprised, and he was almost relieved. His part in all this was finished. He’d done what he had been ordained to do.
Harriet was disappointed. She’d been looking forward to another premier.
“C’mon,” he said to her after he broke the news. “I’m taking you out to dinner - a
steakhouse!” he stated with a gleam in his eyes.
The door to the oval office opened and a team of men all wearing wire rimmed glasses entered and the door was shut behind them. The president stood up and came around his desk to face them.
“Tell me, you’ve found something,” he said.
The group’s spokesman looked at his companions, and then turned his gaze back to the president. “Yes, we’ve cracked the code so to speak. The computer gave us the solution.”
“Thank God!” the president sighed with relief. Then he noticed the solemn expression on the man’s face and his own smile suddenly faded. “What’s the matter, what’s wrong?”
“The computer told us how to stop the disaster, Mr. President.”
“Then what is it, how do we stop the world from ending?”
“Did you hear the news this morning, sir? Another war has broken out. An embassy has been bombed. Several hundred innocent people were blown up waiting for a bus. There were many other reports of people being tortured and murdered. There were some kidnappings and robberies…”
“Why are you telling me all this?” the president retorted irritably.
“Because the solution we’ve been given is something we human beings haven’t been able to accomplish yet, sir.”
Then he handed him the computer print out, the result of hours of intense research and complicated mathematical calculations.
The president took it and it didn’t take him a long time to read. He stared at the message numbly as the sound of thunder began to reverberate in the sky above the White House.
“Love one another.”
copyright 2009 by H.D. Shively