“Here is a live satellite image of Hurricane Maera,” newscaster Tim Milloud said. “You can see how huge it is as it approaches the Florida peninsula. This monster is pushing the limits of what it means to be a Category 5 storm.”
“It certainly is, Tim,” said his colleague, Ellora Colonomous. “Hurricane Maera has shredded the Caribbean and the death toll is expected to be nothing short of horrific. The evacuation of Florida and all of America’s southern coastal regions is still ongoing and many people say they are headed as far inland as Iowa to try to escape Maera’s wrath.”
“We’ve still got a crew in Miami,” Milloud said. “Let’s go to Arlin Armon for a live report. Arlin?”
“Tim, the winds are getting awfully brisk even though Maera is still 200 miles out to sea. You can see how choppy the waves are, and just look at that black horizon.”
The cameraman obediently pointed first at the waves and then got a long shot of raging darkness heading toward the shore.
Then the picture changed. The darkness gave way to increasing light — a pure, golden light that began at the surface of the ocean and slowly spread upward.
“I – I don’t know what’s happening, Tim,” Armon said.
“Arlin, keep your view coming. We’re going to also show the amazing thing we’re seeing on the live satellite image. The hurricane is disappearing even as we watch.”
Televisions around the world showed the unlikely pairing of dazzling light over the ocean and the satellite’s view of the hurricane disappearing from left to right. Within moments, both the beautiful light and the deadly storm were gone.
Humanity paused for several moments to gape and wonder. Then it collected itself and got back to business.
Those who were religiously inclined filled the churches to overflowing with prayers and songs of thanksgiving. “Surely God was at work when He spared our nation from the storm,” was a common theme.
Others weren’t so sure. “If it was a holy miracle, why did God let the storm destroy nearly everything and everyone in the Caribbean? Why would He do that? Why would he protect just the United States?”
There were, of course, perfectly good answers to that and the argument began to boil.
Various governments and quasi-governments accused the United States, or at least the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, of perpetrating a fraud on the people of the world. The Great Satan had tested a new weapon on the innocent people of the Caribbean nations and lied about a hurricane. The United States’ own tinfoil-hat brigade seized on this and linked it back to the faked moon landing and at least one presidential assassination. Italy changed governments three times in two days debating the issue.
On the other side of the coin, four Pacific Rim nations charged that the U.S. had a hurricane-stopping machine and demanded the technology be shared with other at-risk nations.
Sundry ersatz messiahs rose up and claimed credit for saving the coastline and set up Web sites and toll-free numbers where the faithful and grateful could give money.
Economists and moneyed magnates complained vociferously about the costs of the needless evacuation and preparations made for a superhurricane that didn’t happen. Who was going to pay for it all?
Aside from the insurance companies, the only truly happy people were the Las Vegas oddsmakers; they cleaned up because no one had bet on the hurricane vanishing.
Above it all, the Supreme Being sat on a cloud and shook His head.
“I give in and provide them an unambiguous, no-nonsense miracle,” God lamented, “and still there is arguing and divisiveness and disbelief.”
A few sympathetic pats landed on the Almighty’s shoulder.
“I know just how you feel, Big Guy. That was the story of my life: I didn’t get no respect,” the angel Rodney said.