A red haze covered the evening sky as the sun set over the mountains. The air was cool, and it was starting to get dark. Jeremiah had just gotten home from the mines, another hard day at work, and it was good to get home to his wife and two sons. His wife, Janine, had just served him a heaping plate of brisket, potatoes, and corn – a hearty meal for an overworked man. Everyone sat down at the table, and Jeremiah led them in saying Grace. God always came first in this household; Jeremiah did a good job in leading his family in the ways of the Lord. He was a good husband and father – a leader, a provider, and a protector. But there are just some things that no man can protect against.
The wind howled from outside, pounding away at the windows and doors like an angry mob trying to get in. A storm was brewing, a big one. The family, now finished with their dinner, moved into the family room to read from the Good Book. They huddled close together as the wind outside grew more violent. Tonight’s passage was from Revelation. Jeremiah read about the seventh seal being broken, and the seven angels that stood before God. The passage went on to talk about hail and fire mingled with blood, and a third of the sea turning into blood, concluding with a great star burning as a lamp as it fell from heaven. The star’s name was Wormwood. Jeremiah was cut short as they all heard a giant splash in the distance, and then the ground shook. The brave husband and father ran outside to see what had happened. He saw some smoke rising above the trees about a mile off inside the woods where the lake was. Curious, he decided to investigate. But just as he started to step towards the woods, rain poured down heavy from the red sky. The sky grew ever darker, but still kept its red hue. Lightning crashed, and thunder roared. Then the rain grew cold and hard, and to Jeremiah’s surprise – for it was spring – the rain turned into hail. The hail fell harder and harder as Jeremiah ran inside his house, slammed the door behind him, and rushed to his wife and kids.
Wet from the storm, Jeremiah decided to clean up. Janine and the boys stayed in the family room and huddled by the fire. Upstairs, Jeremiah undressed and drew a bath. The water in the tub warmed his cold body. He lay back and ran his fingers through his hair, which was still wet from the rain and hail. It was strange, but the rainwater on his hand was red, and it had a distinct scent. Even stranger, the water in the tub began to feel thick, and that distinct scent grew stronger. It was blood. Jeremiah jumped from the tub, his body soaked in the crimson liquid. More and more blood filled the bath as a red stream flowed from the faucet. He tried to turn it shut, but it would not budge. Wiping off as much blood as he could with a towel, Jeremiah threw on some clothes and ran downstairs. As he entered the family room, his wife and kids still huddled tight by the fire, the lights went out and so did the flames. It was dark and cold in the house, growing more so each second. The wind howled louder outside and banged the walls ferociously, shaking its very foundation. The family felt as if their whole world was coming to an end. Jeremiah held his wife and children tight to him, and he prayed over them, shouting out Bible verses to abate the Wrath of God. He was a good man, and they were a good family. They deserved a better end than this. They deserved peace. The storm raged on outside as trees uprooted, and lightning hit the ground. The walls seemed as if they would collapse at any moment. A loud inhuman scream bellowed from outside. The scream was a mixture of anger and pain and sounded to come from some vicious bloodthirsty beast. Jeremiah just kept praying, asking God for mercy and protection – for he could offer none. The windows around them shattered, and the door before them splintered open. Lightning crashed to give shape to a demon standing in the doorway. With arms raised and fists clenched, the creature roared with might, drowning out the thunder that boomed from the heavens.
At that instant, Jeremiah recited Psalm 116, “The ropes of death encircled me… But upon the name of Jehovah I proceeded to call… Jehovah is gracious and righteous… our God is one showing mercy.”
At that final word, the heavens seemed to open, and a bolt of lightning shot down and struck the beast, causing its cry to become even more ghastly and terrifying. Though the demon was not destroyed from the direct hit, it was injured and ran off into the woods.
The day after, when the storm had quieted and the spring sky was blue again, Jeremiah went into the woods. He walked to the lake where he had seen the smoke coming from the night before. The entire area around the lake was charred. Confused by the destruction all around, he bent down by the lake. The water smelled funny, so he scooped some up into his palms and brought it to his nose. He took a sip. The water was bitter. At that moment, Jeremiah noticed something growing from the ground amid the charred greenery. He plucked one of the sprouting leaves. It smelled much like the water and had the same bitter taste. It was artemisia absinthium, more commonly known as Wormwood. Jeremiah did not know this. He only knew that a great pain had seized his entire body, and he hunched over and collapsed to the ground. He was dead. Whatever had fallen into the water the night before had poisoned it. This was just one of many woes to come. Wormwood had fallen from the sky.