A Violent Light by Jim Baton

 

About the Book

The Youth For Peace Fresh Start Initiative gathers ten Muslim and ten Christian youth from ten nations around the world to learn new paths to peace. But the camp staff have some highly unorthodox teaching techniques. And when one by one the youth start disappearing, some of them wonder if the staff might not have an entirely different agenda. Those left behind must work together to solve the mystery before they also disappear. Meanwhile, unbeknownst to them, the entire world is watching…

Jim’s third novel of the Peace Trilogy confronts American prejudice head-on. Pursuing world peace today will require a generation committed to a deeper level of trust and cooperation than ever before.

Book Excerpt

DAY 1

Chapter 1

Everything was pitch black.

Sari thought she’d opened her eyes, but maybe she hadn’t. She closed them—darkness; she opened them again—nothing changed.

Was she dreaming? The pounding pain in her head felt very real. She could feel the pillow under her neck. She was lying on a bed.

But where am I?

Her home in Indonesia was never this dark. Even when the electricity failed, which happened fairly often, eventually her eyes would adjust enough for her to stumble from her bedroom to the kitchen and light a candle. Or she used the flashlight in her cell phone to guide her.

Her cell phone! She always kept it on the floor next to her bed at night. She reached down over the edge of the bed and whacked her knuckles on—the floor?

Confused, she slowly ran her fingers along the edge of her bed, but the floor around her, which she’d expected to be much lower, was empty. She checked the other side of the bed and discovered it was the same. And her cell phone was nowhere to be found. Goosebumps rose up on her neck. Sari shuddered.

Sari’s brain was a dense fog, and it was hard to think. She rubbed her forehead, hands unseen, trying to focus on something, anything that made sense.

Where am I? Come on, remember!

Sari relaxed her head on the pillow again and closed her eyes, searching her memory.

The last time she had awakened was in her own bed in Banjarmasin. Her adopted father, Pak Abdullah, had touched her shoulder long before dawn. “Sari, let’s go,” she had heard him say.

Fuzzy recollections of hugging Pak Abdullah goodbye at the airport, taking Garuda Airlines to Jakarta, then meeting Ismail for the first time, another airplane ride to America, landing in Atlanta…

Atlanta! She remembered the huge airport, and her feeling of giddiness at her long-dreamed-of first trip overseas. She was gathering with young people from all over the world—ten Muslims and ten Christians attending a conference on peace. They climbed aboard a bus. A kind African young man with a rhyming name had helped her with her bag. Some of the faces and names floated through her consciousness. And a handsome American named Jack was directing them.

A wave of nausea washed over her and she had to change her focus to keep from retching. She rolled onto her side and pulled her knees toward her stomach. Her hip could feel the hard surface beneath what must be a thin mat. Was she sick? Was this a hospital? Was it a morgue? Everything was so deathly silent, except for the breathing.

Sari suddenly realized she was not alone. Panic stirred the nausea again and it was all she could do to hold back the bile in her throat. Who was out there? Her imagination called up fearful images from her past and she shuddered again.

When the nausea passed, she pushed the fog and the fear back as far as she could and told herself again: Remember!

About the Author

Jim Baton (pen name) has spent the last 20 years living in the Muslim world, where he’s been involved in a variety of peace and reconciliation activities including interfaith dialogue, training elementary through university students in peace principles, and bringing Christians and Muslims together to pray. His real name and photo can’t be displayed on this site to protect his identity from the extremist groups where he lives out his faith. Learn more at his website.

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