JERUSALEM—The international theological and sociopolitical communities reacted with shock Monday to the unexpected realization that, contrary to nearly 2,000 years of expectations concerning the new millennium, there is no seven-headed dragon rising in the East to enslave all of humanity.

Apocalypse Watch

"Despite the fact that these occurrences are clearly delineated in the prophetic Biblical writings of John of Patmos, we have no reports at this time of any seven-headed dragons, rapturous vanishings of the Elect, or armies of the Morningstar amassing under the leadership of the Antichrist and preparing to engage in final battle with the forces of righteousness," said Oxford University professor Dr. Thomas Lesser. "In fact, not only is there no seven-headed dragon, but there appears to be no evidence of dragons of any sort, seven-headed or not, in the East or anywhere else."

"To be honest, we can't make any sense of it," Lesser said. "This flies in the face of virtually everything we know about end-of-the-century world politics."

An artist's depiction of the inexplicably missing apocalyptic dragon.

According to Dr. Julian Nolan, founder of the Institute for Tribulation-Era Millennial Studies and an advisor to the U.S. State Department, the dragon absence is "mind-boggling." Speaking before the president and cabinet members at a special briefing this morning, Nolan said: "As difficult as this may be to comprehend, we face the very real possibility that much of the information contained in the Book of Revelations may not be as relevant to our modern era as previously believed."

Nevertheless, many experts remain convinced that the dragon's failure to materialize must have some reasonable explanation.

"Think about it," said Dartmouth College political-science chair Dr. Kent Finlayson. "A seven-headed dragon with ten horns whose arrival heralds the Age of Armageddon and the time of tribulation? Who, furthermore, will decree that all who swear allegiance to him be affixed with the Number of the Beast, which is 666? It just makes perfect sense. There must be some logical explanation as to why this beast hasn't surfaced to torment the earth. If we simply remain calm and avoid jumping to conclusions based on things we don't yet understand, I'm confident we'll find out why through research and clear-headed analysis."

Around the globe, top scholars are doing just that, attempting to locate the missing dragon or, at the very least, develop an acceptable theory to explain the demonic creature's mysterious delay in arriving. In addition, an international task force made up of intelligence agents from more than 150 countries and coordinated by the United Nations, is currently combing the globe for any evidence of the whereabouts of the dragon or his armies of Hell, which are reportedly "many multitudes" strong. Thus far, however, the search has yielded no leads.

A clue to finding out why the dragon has yet to manifest itself, some experts believe, may lie in the related question of why the earth has not also seen various other manifestations of ancient prophecy: seven seals, seven horns, seven lampposts, and so on. It is believed that once these non-materialized prophecies can be explained, the dragon's location may become more apparent.

According to Dr. Benjamin Fullmer of the prestigious Center for Armageddon-Era Historical Studies, when the dragon does appear, it should be easily identifiable.

"Our most reliable sources," Fullmer said, "tell us that this dragon, in addition to having seven heads and ten horns, will be covered with blasphemous names across its flanks. Additionally, there is expected to be a woman, described in leading journals as a whore, riding atop the scaly creature and holding a golden cup filled with abominable things. The exact nature of these abominable things remains unclear at this time, but we do know that the filth of her adulteries will constitute at least some of the abominable things in this cup."

"Therefore," Fullmer said, "anyone with any knowledge of the whereabouts of a golden cup filled at least partially with the filth of adulteries should contact the center immediately. It could provide us with a vital clue we need to resolve this enigma."

Fullmer added that this mysterious, dragon-riding whore may also be identifiable by an inscription on her forehead reading, "Mystery—Babylon The Great, The Mother of Prostitutes and the Abominations of the Earth." Fullmer said it is not known at this time to what this inscription might refer.

If no explanation can be found for the absence of the dragon, as well as the lack of trumpets and other turn-of-the-millennium prophetic phenomena, a major reassessment of the geotheopolitical landscape of the new millennium may be unavoidable.

"Though it seems virtually unthinkable, we may need to come up with some radically different ideas about what to expect on the global scene in the immediate future," said Biblical scholar Dr. Paul Tillich of the University of Chicago School of Divinity. "However strange it may seem, there appear to be some indications that these ancient texts may be less credible than hoped."

"There are some fringe elements, for example, who insist that these writings from Patmos are merely an allegory pertaining to a specific and localized political situation at some point during the reign of Nero, Domitian or Vespasian in the first century AD," Tillich said. "Now, I'm not saying we should fly off the handle and buy into something like that just yet—I mention it only as a particularly far-fetched example. My point is simply that something equally ridiculous-sounding may, in fact, be an unavoidable conclusion unless a seven-headed, ten-horned dragon manifests itself soon."