The Departed by Kristy CooperPublication Date: July 6, 2016
What if someone tried to fake the rapture?When hundreds of thousands of people disappear in the middle of the night, including sixteen-year-old Gwen's best friend Lana, no one knows why. Some believe they were taken in the rapture, while others are convinced that it can't be true. Doomsday prophecies abound that involve horrifying tales of plague, famine, earthquakes, and more.At first, Gwen doesn't know what to think. While she is busy mourning Lana, many people around her are getting taken in by the cultish True Believers Temple, including Gwen's dad and her friend Mindy. It is clear that more and more people are going to be pressured to join this church, as it starts taking over the media and the government, gaining zealous followers all over the world.Then Gwen starts receiving emails from Lana. She claims to have been forced into hiding with thousands of others in an underground compound. Gwen is convinced the emails are real and the only other person who also believes her is Isaiah, her moody crush. Together they resolve to find out where everyone is hiding and help set Lana free.
The first strange thing that happened was that my best friend Lana didn’t text me back that morning. This is the kind of statement that makes adults roll their eyes, and at first I didn’t think anything of it either. We usually exchanged about twenty-plus messages every morning before we got to school. I figured that she may have just gotten in trouble and her parents had taken her phone away, which happened pretty often. One time they took her phone away because she had been caught texting during a church service. Another time they took it away just because her lip gloss looked too “lipsticky”—whatever that means. They were super strict like that.
The next weird thing that happened was when I came down to the kitchen for breakfast and found my mom completely absorbed in her tablet. This was only weird because she had a rule about anyone using devices during “family time,” which the ten minutes it took me to eat breakfast were supposed to constitute.
Normally, she would immediately put it down when I came into the room in order for me not to think she was being a hypocrite. Instead she continued her concentrated scowl in the glow of her tablet’s screen, despite the fact that I had already poured my cereal and was sitting across from her at the table.
“Ahem,” I finally said with my eyebrows raised.
Mom looked up at me sheepishly. “Sorry about that, Gwen,” she said, putting her tablet down. “What do you have planned for today?” I figured whatever she was looking at must not have been that important if she didn’t think it was worth mentioning.
“The usual. You know, going to school and stuff.” I knew how much my mom hated vague answers to specific questions. She prided herself on having open communication with her teenager.
“Okay, I deserved that.”
I smiled. “I think Lana is in trouble again,” I offered.
“What else is new?” she laughed.
“She hasn’t replied to me yet all morning.”
“Holy rollers can be such buzzkills. Aren’t you lucky to have cool parents that are not punishing you all the time?”
“Yeah, you guys are so cool . . .” I said, rolling my eyes. I considered that maybe I should find some friends whose parents were obviously cooler so my mom didn’t let it get into her head that she is such a “cool” parent. “There’s totally nothing cooler than parents who point out how cool they are all the time.”
“Well, if we don’t point it out, you might forget,” my dad said as he walked into the kitchen. “What’s going on this morning?”
“Lana hasn’t texted Gwen back yet this morning. So obviously something catastrophic has happened,” Mom answered.
“You know, she could just be in the shower or something?” Dad pointed out. “Or do you guys bring your phones in the shower now too?”
“Yeah, it’s been like a half hour. No one showers that long.”
“Well, I would if I didn’t have to go to work every morning.”
“Great story, Dad . . .” I said and took another bite of my cereal.
Kristy Cooper found herself often contemplating unusual what-if scenarios and knew it was time to start writing them down. She worked as a librarian for years and is now busy raising small children and writing YA novels. Stay up to date with her books at kristycooper.com.