The Hero In Me

Standard

Everyone has an inner hero; that imaginary version of yourself, you wish you could be 24 hours a day. Your avatar, if you will. Some people see themselves as righteous Superman. Others see themselves donning the black cape and cowl of the anti-heroic Batman. Still, others see themselves as the witty Spiderman. Heck, some folks envision themselves as the president of the United States.

I tend to lean toward a fantasy fictional character of my own design. My inner hero is vertically challenged, but has the heart of a lion coupled with a fighter’s spirit. Despite his brash demeanor, he is genuinely concerned with the overall positive outcome of a challenge. My hero thrives under pressure and rarely remains idle for a moment. He’s no one you’ve ever heard of before, because I made him myself. He is Chasmi the dwarf warrior.

Chasmi represents the hero I wish I could be, in any situation where courage needs to be second nature. Despite his short size—I mean c’mon; he is a dwarf, after all—he embodies the fortitude of The Man of Steel, with the attitude of the Dark Knight. A descendent from the clans of Ironforge, Chasmi has a deep rooted connection to the dwarven ways of his ancestors. That connection is the very source of his strength, as he constantly seeks to honor his ancestors by his heroic deeds and sense of justice. The lil guy wields dual swords (Truth & Justice) to cut through all obstacles blocking his path. He’s truly fearless.

In reality, my courage is not so obvious. My humanity and flesh more times than not, tend to stutter my sense of heroism. But, every now and again, the Chasmi in me shows up, and I manage to attack a challenge ferociously. Oh, that I might be able to muster that courage at all times, especially where defending the Lord comes into play.

You know what? Sometimes, I think to myself, “What would Chas do in this situation?” Call it childish if you want. Some of my biggest accomplishments were made considering what the little hero inside of me would do in my current situation. So, if you learn anything from this random-thought piece, learn to listen to the hero inside of you, when it comes to facing your fears.

CHAPTER 3 – The Deep Blue Darkness

Standard

“Paraclete’s Promise: The Fantastic Fantasies Of Timothy” has received great feedback from many people who have read through it! Still, I want this story–and the message within–to reach out far and wide. My hope and prayer is, sharing chapters 1,2 and 3 will leave you wanting more. The book is available on Amazon, Barnes&Noble, Apple, and Xulon Press Bookstore. Enjoy the tale, friends.


The Deep Blue Darkness

“I am with you, Tim. I’ll be right beside you, through and through. I promise,” someone whispered.

The blue light seemed to fade into a hazy, ominous darkness. There was a chill in the air. The open space of the box didn’t feel so confining anymore.

“Tim,” a voice rang in his left ear, startling him. “Is everything okay in there, buddy?  My equipment suddenly went dark and I lost my bearings for a second. When I came out, the pod lights were switched off. Did you fall asleep again?”

Tim jerked, dropping a hard-cover book onto the floor. It struck, with a heavy metallic sound. He instinctively reached for and depressed a tiny red button on a device tucked snug inside his ear. As he did so, recollection petrified his movement.

What the heck’s a com-link, and why do I know how to use it? he thought.

“Tim are you there,” said the voice over the com-link speaker.

“Ah, yeah…Jonah. I copy. Everything’s alright up here. I must’ve blinked for a second. Sorry about that.”

Who is Jonah, he wondered, as he released the button. There was a split second of static interference, before Jonah’s voice streamed through the receiver speaker.

“You’d better not be up there sleeping! Keep watch so that you don’t fall into trouble. I’m headed back into the cave to resume the search.”

Pressing the red button again, Tim responded, “Copy that, Jonah; headed back in.”

Tim slowly leaned back in his captain’s chair, allowing his eyes to adjust to the limited blue light of his surroundings. As he listened to the squeak of the soft leather and the hiss of the chair’s hydraulic cylinder, his finger stroked the tiny com-link and marveled at what his eyes began to register. He was no longer inside the box.

An enormous cluster panel of buttons, control switches, knobs and gadgets of all sorts stood before him. His legs seemed to be drawn underneath the panel, as if he were seated at a table. Two leather-clad steering wheels extended out of the control panel: one directly in front of him and another off to his right. Beyond the control panel, and enveloping the area, the space seemed to be made of a see-through glass or metal. He could see through the walls, floor, and ceiling.

“Wow,” he whispered. “That’s not see-through glass. Those are screens; monitors, everywhere.  What is this place?”

Tim gently pushed away from the panel, freeing his legs. The chair’s stainless steel wheels whispered as they rolled out from underneath the control deck. He shuffled his boot clad feet across the smooth floor, tracking a slow, 360-degree spin. The apparently seamless monitors provided a crystal clear view of blue darkness around, above, and below the room. Miscellaneous beeps and flashes of multicolored dim strobes resonated from surrounding instrument panels that seemed to float in empty space. The deep blue beyond the panels was scary, but exciting at the same time. There were strange creatures mulling about outside the room.

“No, not flying,” he whispered. “They’re swimming. I’m underwater. Those are fish I see.”

They were indeed. Strange fish, with wobbly stalks pointing out from the tops of their oblong heads, swam around in groups. At the tip of the stalks, he could see small illuminated bulbs dangling in front of huge, dull gray eyes. Tim recalled a Discovery Channel program on deep sea life, remembering that certain species of fish thrived deep in the ocean where normal fish could never survive.

“I’m at the bottom of the ocean. This is amazing!”

Tim flipped a toggle-switch on the control panel, next to the steering wheel. The ocean lit up a bright yellow as overhead lighting attached somewhere to the roof of the pod exploded into a brilliant display. Schools of weird fish scrambled. Glancing into the floor monitors underneath his feet, he watched a huge spotted leopard-shark swim gracefully through the beam of light shining from the pod’s undercarriage lighting. Reaching toward his left ear again, Tim depressed the red button on the com-link.

“Hey Jonah,” he said. “You might want to keep an eye out for the big guy, just south of home base. He’s not too shy of foreigners.”

There was a static crackle in his left ear and then, “Roger that buddy. Soon as he’s out of the area, I’m heading in, Roger?”

That means Okey-dokey, Tim thought. “Roger that.”

As Tim sat, slowly taking in the overwhelming sights and sounds of his immediate surroundings, he barely registered a distance voice somewhere deep within the recesses of his mind. It spoke as a tiny whisper, but quickly exploded into a booming voice resounding in his heart.

Adventure is everywhere. Yours has just begun.

Tim doubled over in the chair, gripping his head with both hands. His mind suddenly flooded with images; memories of a life and events he hadn’t seen before this moment. It was as if his brain had begun to download a large cache of information. Tim clamped his eyes shut, and saw a ceremony fast forward in his mind.

Here was Jonah, silhouetted, standing beside him, shaking the hand of the president of the United States of America. The much taller president had to stoop down to one knee, as he pinned a large metal of commendation onto Jonah’s crisp blue uniform. As the president stood, 9-year-old Jonah looked up toward his smiling face and snapped off a professional salute. The president looked down at him and flashed a quick salute of his own, then turned toward Tim to salute him as well.

“On behalf of a grateful nation, I would like to recognize these two young brave explorers as national heroes,” the president said as he spoke into a podium microphone. “Godspeed, young sirs. May your journey to the deepest parts of the Bermuda Triangle prove to be successful in solving the world’s energy crisis.”

Behind his closed eyes, Tim saw a bright flash of white light, as the memory of the ceremony was replaced. He was now standing on the deck of the S.S. Jolly Roger, looking up into the clear blue sky over the ocean. To his right, he heard Jonah running through a last minute checklist of supplies already stored inside the mini pod submarine the two of them were about to board. The same pod he found himself in now.

“Any last requests before we get this expedition started, buddy?” Jonah had asked.

“Nope. I’m as ready as I can be. I’m just taking in one last look at the sun before we go under for a few days.” Tim had replied.

His mind blacked out; the memories vanishing just as quickly as they began. As Tim slowly opened his eyes, he saw the book lying against the floor monitors. It was his old Fire Bible, but the book seemed twice as thick as he remembered and was encased in a protective metal shell. Tim picked the book up, and set it on top of the control panel, off to his left. He focused on the instrument panel of the pod, and remembered where he was and what he was doing here. He punched a few numbers on a key pad cluster, and glanced toward his left. The monitor wall next to him zoomed in 500X normal magnification. Tim could now see subterranean mountains beyond the pod. To the left, he could make out a hole in the side of the underwater mountain that climbed over the pod.

“That’s the cave Jonah’s in. He’s searching for the treasure box of the last pirates of Camoon. That’s what we’re down here looking for. That treasure could be an energy source, and we’re the only team in the whole world able to find it.”

To the right of the pod, Tim could see nothing, but dark blue.

“That’s the open ocean. That leads the way out.”

Looking up through the ceiling monitors, Tim smiled at the darkness above the pod’s roof. There was nothing, but the bright yellow glow of the lights. He could see microscopic things floating in the path of the beams. Static sounded over the com-link.

“Hey Tim, you might want to jump into your suit and come down here. You’re not gonna believe what I just found!”

Tim spun his chair, leaped out and jogged four steps toward the monitor-covered door of the pod’s control room. The door automatically retracted into the wall as he approached. Once through the door, he sprinted toward the back of the pod. He was not surprised to find this section of the mini pod a dull metallic gray, as he ran down the narrow hallway. Storage cabinets, a small two-person sleeping quarter, and a tiny kitchenette lined the left side of the pod. To his right, he ran past an engine compartment that banged and clanked with the inner workings of the pod’s propulsion system. A bank of gauges and smaller television monitors lined the wall, beyond the engine compartment. Mini 60W light bulbs ran the length of the ceiling, every 30 feet. The hallway was damp and cool, but the air was fresh, as he ran toward the pod’s armory in the tail-end of the craft. He pressed the red button on the com-link.

“Talk to me Jonah, whatcha got?”

“The jackpot I think! This thing is…wait…wait a minute.”

Tim stopped in front of a locker, pressing his hand against his ear. He held his breath and waited for Jonah to continue.

“Wait. Something’s down here; something big.”

Static sounded over the com-link. Tim pressed the red button again, as he looked through the monitors and stared off toward the distant mountain side.

“Jonah? J-Man come back, I didn’t catch that last part. You said something’s down there?”

No answer. Tim fought panic, as a few seconds of silence became one minute of dead air space.

“Jonah, are you there, buddy?” A cold shiver began to climb his back as he again waited for some answer from Jonah. Tim stood staring at the monitor. His hand gripped tight around the zoom toggle wheel. A dull ache began to throb in his forearm. Suddenly, static pierced the silence.

“Up!”

More static.

“It’s coming your way; Buckle up!” Jonah screamed into the com-link. Tim’s heartbeat kicked into high speed and his body suddenly chilled over. He pressed the red button on the com-link again.

“Jonah, what was that? I didn’t hear your message, Jonah. Please repeat!”

“Tim can you hear me! It must have seen the lights!” More static, and then, “Strap in and shut off the lights! It’s headed your way!”

“Oh no,” Tim whispered. He turned and darted back toward the control room. Suddenly, there was a loud bump from the front end of the pod. Tim lost his footing as the weight of the under-sea vehicle shifted under his feet. His face slammed into a locker and he crumpled to the floor.

Static filled his left ear just as alarms began to wail all around him. Pulsing red lights flashed in unison with the alarms.

“Tim, I repeat: the beast has left the cave, and is headed your way. You have to shut down the pod lights!”

Tim shook the stars from his vision and shot a glance toward the front of the pod.  He had to get to the light switch before that…thing…circled back again. He jumped to his feet, still feeling the effects of the blow, and centered himself. Pressing the red button on the com-link, he bolted for the front of the pod and yelled into the com-link’s mini speaker.

“Roger that, Jonah! I’m on my way up front! What is that thing?”

“Thank the Lord, you’re okay. I don’t know what it is. I didn’t get a good look at it, from the cave.”

The crash had strewn equipment all over the pod. Tim jumped and evaded loose boxes on the floor and sparking cables, hanging from the ceiling as he ran. Just as he made it back into the control room, he took a flying leap and landed, chest first, onto the control panel. His right hand thumbed the toggle switch to the off position as he collided with the controls. The lights on the roof and below the belly of the pod died instantly.

At first there was a wave of bubbles and a shove of water as the force of the creature’s abrupt stop shoved the pod back gently. When the bubbles cleared, Tim found himself staring at a thing that looked, oddly enough, like a gigantic Blue crocodile with no appendages. The creature waded slowly and effortlessly in front of the pod as if waiting for something to happen. Its eyes, one on each side of its head, seemed to glow a bright yellow in the darkness of the ocean. Tim saw jagged, horns protruding from the monster’s snout, traveling back and over its head.

He lay still across the control panel, convinced that the monster could somehow see him through the thick quadruple-reinforced steel shell of the pod. Static shrieked in his left ear, sending a chill up his spine.

Jonah whispered, as if he were in hiding. “Don’t touch anything, Tim. It’s staring right at the outer hull of the control room. Are you good?”

“Jonah, I wanna go home right now,” Tim whispered.

“I think it knows you’re in there,” Jonah said.

Tim remained motionless as the crocodile-thing slowly moved toward the right side of the pod. It swam close, almost touching the metal hull with its snakelike body slithering through the ocean. His eyes, trained on the monster, paced the creature as it circled around the back end of the pod. He saw that the horns across its head grew increasingly larger as they drew across its back, until the tail itself was nothing more than a huge sharp horn. Tim slowly inched his way off of the control panel and stood on shaky feet. Watching the floor monitors, he saw the creature swim underneath toward the front end again.

Radio static sounded over the com-link in Tim’s left ear.

“Mother of pearl, that’s a big sucker.” Jonah whispered. “I guess now we know why no one’s ever returned with Camoon’s treasure. Are you okay up there?”

“Fine; I don’t think it sees me, but don’t want to make any sudden moves yet.”

The creature circled the pod again in the same pattern as before, and centered toward the front again. Its mouth opened wide, revealing a double row of sharp points on the top and bottom. Despite the darkness of the deep blue sea, the monster’s teeth seemed to glow a magnificent yellow, just like its eyes. A wave of terror gripped Tim, as he suddenly imagined the monster ripping through the metal walls of the pod with those teeth. The creature’s yellow forked tongue appeared from the black abyss of its open mouth and began jerking fiercely.Tim pressed the com-link button on his ear piece.

“It’s trying to lure me out,” he whispered. “It does know I’m inside.”

The mouth snapped shut, as one of the weird light-bulb stick fish swam too close to the jerking tongue. The creature moved with lightning speed for its size. It made an about-face and disappeared into the darkness of the open ocean.

The Walking Dead

Standard

The Walking Dead 

Marc patiently sat, watching Grace fidget with a single strand of dry hair for the hundredth time. Forty minutes had past, since she first stepped to the vanity. A sympathetic smile curled the edges of his lips.

“Sweetheart-”he started.

“Shush! Don’t you say a word!” Grace combed her fingers through lack-luster, moisture-starved locks. “I can’t do a thing with this mop, today! Honey, I don’t think I’m ready. Maybe we should wait until next week.”

Marc, watched as flakes of brown ash rained down Grace’s shoulders and settled into a neat little pile around her feet. Dust encircled her head, as she turned away from the living room vanity. He gathered she was entertaining second thoughts.

“No, you look beautiful, sweetheart. Remember, your appearance isn’t what’s important, there. Mine should be the only opinion that counts, right?”

Grace’s pupil-less eyes gazed at the floor, as she twiddled her fingers around the hem of her dusty black silk dress. A black teardrop rolled down her cracked brown cheek, trailing ash as it dangled from her chin. Marc crossed the living room and wrapped an arm around her waist. Pulling her close enough to inhale her putrid breath, he lifted her chin.

“Hey, do you hear me? You look beautiful. You are beautiful…to me.”

“Oh Marc, they’re all going to judge me the moment I walk into that place! How can you stand to be seen with me?”

Grace buried her face into Marc’s brilliant golden shirt. She felt his strong arms embrace her; fire seemed to ignite her skin where his arms touched. Despite the burn, the heat was soothing. Once again, she found herself amazed at their differences, but thankful for his presence in her life; such as it was.

“For better or for worse, remember?” Marc squeezed Grace, filling her fragile, decaying body with all the love he could muster. “You never quit. Even if something or someone changes, you never quit, babe.”

Grace suddenly tore away from Marc’s embrace, crossing the living room toward the bay window overlooking the downtown square. Ash trailed along the dirty white carpet, as her dress sashayed against the exfoliating skin of her legs. Grace folded her arms, absently scratching at a dry patch as she stared through the window toward the street, three stories below. Outside, ‘normals’ and ‘brighties’ milled about. She was suddenly reminded of just how different she and Marc were, once again.

“Honestly Marc, I don’t know why you even stay with me. I’m sure you could find yourself a nice brighty to shack up with. You people seem to keep to yourselves anyway. Why waste your time? Don’t your friends badger you about your normal wife?”

“Stop it, Grace. That’s the enemy playing his double-minded game on you right now. You know I don’t want anyone else, but you.” Marc slid behind Grace. He gently massaged her frigid shoulders. “Besides, I would never force you to do this sweetheart. You know that. But I can’t lie to you; it’s a better life. Honey, look at me.”

Grace slowly spun around and stared into her husband’s dazzling golden-brown eyes; those unnerving, yet peaceful eyes. His gentle smile was filled with warmth that called out to something deep within her soul; something she didn’t understand. His touch burned her shoulders, but the heat radiated a weird pleasure within her bones. Grace began to cry, staring into his radiant face.

“Sweetheart, I will wait for you, for as long as it takes,” Marc said, “but I pray that you make the decision before it’s too late. I know how afraid you must be. I get it; I was there once, remember? But I found out, fear was only keeping me from experiencing true life. Look out the window. There.”

Grace and Marc looked toward the corner of Sodom and Gomorrah, where a normal couple were crossing the street, approaching a bright couple. As the bright couple approached, Grace saw the man, dressed in a brilliant golden-fleece jacket, raise a hand of salutation toward the normal man. The normal couple, seemly appalled by the gesture, jerked out of reach, and scurried to the other side of the crossing. A hint of embarrassment stabbed at Grace’s heart, while Marc only shook his head.

“Did you see that? Fear of life. Sure, I get some folks who heckle me about our unique relationship. But the hecklers look like you: normal.”

“But that’s impossible,” Grace said. “I thought that only brighties worked on staff, with you?”

“Well, there’s the punch line, isn’t it? Once upon a time, they were bright. In their minds, they believe they are still bright. It is possible to lose the luster of life.”

Grace pondered this, for a moment. “How is it possible for…someone like you, to become normal again? Listen to me. I say that as if it’s actually a bad thing!”

“The bright can lose sight of what true life is all about, honey. The moment the luster becomes a badge of achievement, it tarnishes. The luster of true life was never meant to be flaunted as an idol, but that’s exactly what some people make of it. That’s why normal folk fear the luster. A few bad apples really can spoil the bunch, or at least the appearance of the bunch.”

Grace shrank under the weight of some invisible force. Her shoulders slumped. Marc pulled her tight against himself, to steady her.

“Marc…I’m so tired of being afraid of…of you; of your kind. I love you, but I’m afraid of what you are. I’m tired of the aches and pains in my skin and bones. I’m tired of being angry all the time. Sometimes…death just seems like a viable option to this.”

Marc squeezed his wife gently. His warm lips pecked the frozen nape of her neck.

“Sweetheart, you’re already walking in death. Come into life. For better or for worse, remember? Come to life, with me.”

Pride broke within Grace and she sobbed. As Marc held her close, hot tears rolled down his glowing brown cheeks. A fizz and puff of ashen smoke rose from Grace’s breast as Marc’s tears dripped onto her cold flesh, sending a shockwave of painful pleasure coursing through her body.

“Marc I want to, but I don’t know how to start. Please, help me. I can’t do this on my own.”

“You won’t have to, sweetheart. That’s the enemy taunting you again. He knows you’re ready to make the decision that will change everything for you. But, I’m with you. I’ll always be with you. I’ll never leave you, sweetheart. Steady now. Breathe with me.”

Grace drew in several short gasps, as the last of her sobs subsided. She felt the heat of her husband’s body rest against her; felt the warmth of his arms wrapped around her cold shoulders; smelled the overpowering sweet scent of his breath against her face. She slowly began to match his breathing, in and out. Slow. So very slow. Soon, they were in rhythm together.

“Are you ready, sweetheart?” Marc whispered.

“Yes. Take me, now.”

The walk down Sodom was slow and deliberate. Grace was conscious of every set of eyes watching them stroll hand in hand along the gray concrete. Brighties smiled and spoke greetings in passing. Normals, on the hand, avoided Marc and Grace completely. In the few instances when normals were encountered, she heard whispered curses in passing, tempting her to respond in kind. Oh, if not for the temperance of her husband. Several times, she looked to Marc, to find him smiling as they walked. What was he so happy for? All the time! This perpetual happiness of his was down-right maddening! But, then she reminded herself that today was the day, she’d chosen to find out personally. No more fighting it.

The sky was cloud free and clear blue-gray. Nice weather, she thought. Grace glanced at the gray-brownstone Condominiums across the street. She noticed the disproportionate number of normals to brighties leisurely walking the blocks. But that wasn’t really right at all. No. The brighties were leisure, while the normals seemed to be perturbed.

“Hmm.”

“What’s that, sweetheart?” Marc asked.

“You all don’t seem to be too pressed to get anywhere fast, do you?” Grace said with a smile.

“If we’re moving too slow for you, we can pick up the pace. I’m so excited, I could run!”

“No, no. That won’t be necessary,” Grace said. “Honey, can I ask you a question?”

“Sure, go for it.”

“How do you see me? What I mean to say is, color-wise.” Grace searched for the words, barely aware of the burning in her intertwined fingers, resting inside her husband’s hand.

“You’re beautiful, period. What does it-”

“No honey, seriously. You’ve been here before. You know what I’m asking, even though I can’t articulate it. You know why the brighties constantly smile at us when we walk by. Please, tell me how you see me.”

Marc sighed, still smiling. His hand gripped her fingers tighter.

“How about this,” Marc said, sweeping a hand across the skyline. “You see all of this in color no doubt. The sky is blue; the buildings over there are brownstones; there’s Mrs. Jenkins at the fruit stand in a red blouse picking through a bunch of bananas.”

“Yes. Nothing out of the ordinary to me.”

“That’s because you don’t understand truth yet. Your eyes see everything in a shade of gray. It’s not just gray; it’s like a milky film or a fog you see through. The colors of the world come to your vision as an afterthought. Sort of a subtle hint to the gray, rather than the vibrant shades I see.”

Grace slumped, overcome by another wave of shame.

“When you look at other unbelievers-”

“Just call me normal Marc, please.”

“Fine. When you look into the eyes of other normals, you see the gray of their pupils. Tell me, honestly, have you ever seen a normal person with colored pupils? Brown eyes; blue; green; have you ever noticed a shade other than gray, in the eyes of another normal person?”

The thought had never occurred to Grace. Faced with it now, she shook her head, reluctantly agreeing with him.

“No you haven’t. Honey, from my vantage, the normal have no pupils. Your eyes are completely white. You’re missing the light of truth in your eyes.”

Grace’s hand slipped out of Marc’s. He stood there, a few steps ahead, allowing her to engage the moment. Silently, he said a prayer for his wife, as he remembered the feeling of confusion she must now be dealing with.

Grace stood still, staring into her own hands. She lightly brushed her right index finger across her left palm and watched a thin wisp of ash float into the air; brown ash. Glancing up and down the street, she watched normals hustle and bustle. Some were close enough for her to see their pupils. Not a single colored pair of eyes. Different shades of gray, yes. But, not one pair of normal colored pupils, returned her gaze.

“And what of my skin, Marc?” She looked to her husband. Black tears had begun to run down her cheeks again. “What does my skin look like to you?”

Marc stepped to Grace, but she recoiled.

“Sweetheart, you are…and will always be…beautiful to me.”

Grace’s face contoured in anguish. “Stop saying that! Just tell me the truth! What do I look like in your eyes?”

He inhaled deeply, and nodded. “Your skin is brown, like mine. But you do not reflect any sunlight. If it makes any sense to you, I’ll explain it this way: You look as though you have a perpetual layer of cracking mud all over your body. It is smooth to my touch, but cold. Beneath your decaying flesh, I can see the beauty of your Spirit. I see who you really are underneath the surface, Grace.”

She stood before him, horrified. Marc knew how deeply his words cut. But, now was the time for the truth to be completely known. For so long, he had filtered his words; careful in his choices. He never wanted to turn her away from the knowledge of the truth. He knew how crucial this moment was. This was the time when the enemy would come against Grace in full force. For the sake of her salvation, he had to tell her everything.

“To your eyes, I glow like some sort of specter. No matter what color my clothing actually is, you only see a golden shade, honey. It’s uncomfortable for you to look into my eyes, because your decaying mind cannot comprehend the light within me. My touch burns the surface of your skin, but causes a flutter in your heart.”

He reached out and grabbed her shoulders, pulling her closer to him. Grace gasped, as Marc drilled her with a fierce stare. His eyes penetrated her soul. She was simultaneously gripped with a fear of the unknown, and a heat inside her heart unlike any she had ever felt before. Marc had never looked at her this way.

“Marc,” she whimpered, “I’m scared. I’m afraid it’ll hurt me. I’m afraid it will all be too much for me to take, and my heart will burst. I’ll die, Marc.”

“That’s exactly what the enemy wants you to think, my love. Feel my warmth, Grace. Hear my voice. Look at me. Am I dead to you?”

“No. You’re…” she forced herself to hold his frightening gaze, as she searched for the words. “You’re not dead. You’re…beautiful. Marc, you’re beautiful. I want what you have. I want to be beautiful, for you. Why can’t I make up my mind to do this? Why do I continue to struggle?”

“It’s the life you want, vying for control over death, sweetheart; confusion within you.”

“I don’t want it anymore. I’m sure of it.”

“Then let’s go!”

He grabbed her hand and they took flight. Grace ran with a vigor Marc had never seen before. She practically dragged him up the street, toward the church four blocks away.

As they ran, Grace noticed brighties cheering them on. How did they know? It was as if they were cheering specifically for her.

“Run Grace,” Mr. Matinez yelled from his hot dog kiosk across the street. “Don’t stop until you’ve found life!”

Her knees screamed in protest. Her elbow-pain spiked with every stride, but Grace smiled wider with every step. Marc panted as he ran behind her; too slow. She wretched her hand free of his and picked up speed. She ran for life, despite her body’s objections.

“Run honey, run! I’m right behind you! Run, Grace!”

She ran harder than she ever had. Her lungs froze with icy-fire. Her vision swam, in a weird hazy fog. Her breath was shallow. Still she pushed harder. Normals scattered out of her way, as if she were inflicted with a contagious plague. Brighties whooped and hollered on both sides of the street as she strode toward the church, now two blocks ahead. Everything was a blur. She heard shouts of encouragement, screams of terror and anger. Grace never broke stride.

Marc stopped to catch his breath and fished his cell phone from his pocket. He quickly punched speed dial number 3, on the keypad.

“Pastor, it’s me. She’s headed your way, outrunning me! This won’t wait for ceremony. You’ll have to be ready for her.”

“Praise God!” Paster Martin shouted. “I’ll get the team ready. Shall we wait for you, brother?”

Marc was winded. He caught a glimpse of Grace weaving through pedestrians. “No! Don’t wait for me! I’ll get there in God’s time.”

“As fast as you can, brother.”

Marc punched the SEND button, then stuffed the phone back into his black trousers pocket. He looked up into the sky and said a prayer.

“What are you waiting for, Marcus,” Mrs. Walters called out from the flower shop, front door. “Get over here quickly, and take this bouquet for Grace.”

Marc laughed, as he jogged over to the shop.

“She outran me, Marry. Did you see that? My honey ran toward life!”

“I saw it, my dear boy! Today is truly a blessed day. Now hurry, or you’ll miss her salvation!”

Marc grabbed the bouquet of colorful roses, kissed Mrs. Walters on the cheek, and sprinted after his wife.

Grace burst through the church foyer doors, to find a crowd of brighties standing before her, smiling. Her eyes locked with Pastor Martin’s just as her legs gave way. She stumbled into his arms, exhausted and aching. Black tears streamed her cheeks, and she could hardly find the wind to speak.

“Pastor, I…I-”

“It’s alright child, I know. I know! Grace, are you ready to accept the gift of life, God offers freely to you?”

Grace howled in broken submission. “I can’t walk, Pastor. Please, where is Marc? Where is my husband?”

“He’s on his way, Grace. He instructed me to help you along, upon your arrival. Would you like to wait for him, dear sister?”

Dear sister. The term sounded foreign to her ears, but rang true in her heart. As Pastor Martin slung her right arm around his neck, another brighty, Mrs. Jefferson, draped Grace’s left arm around her neck. Together, the three slowly made their way down the main isle of the church, toward a large stage. A congregation of brighties followed behind, spouting prayers and praises to God. At the top of the stage, she saw a large see-through tank filled completely with golden water. Grace was overwhelmed. She couldn’t find her voice. At the bottom of the stage, Pastor Martin stopped.

“Grace, are you sure you want this, daughter? To come into life is a free gift that must be chosen; never forced.”

Grace nodded. “Marcus. Where-”

From the back of the church came a horrendous crash, through the foyer doors.

“Grace! I’m here sweetheart! I’m here!”

Cheers erupted throughout the church. Grace was suddenly aware of dozens of people inside the sanctuary. She felt the strong arms of her husband wrap around her waist and lift her feet from the carpeted floor. Marc’s sweet and warm breath pressed into her right ear.

“I’m here, sweetheart,” Marc whispered. “I’m here. I’m so proud of you. Are you ready?”

Grace stared into his wet eyes. She was beyond exhaustion, and only managed a limp nod and a soft smile.

“Marcus,” Pastor Martin called, “please carry your bride to the baptism tank.”

Marc carried Grace up the flight of six steps, onto the large stage overlooking the sanctuary filling up with onlookers. He turned to face the congregating crowd and was surprised to see a few normal faces cautiously observing from the back of the sanctuary.

“Brothers and sisters,” Pastor Martin’s amplified voice rang out through the church’s sound system, “today…is a glorious day. Today, our Lord welcomes another lost soul into His kingdom. Today, sister Grace has accepted the call of Jesus, quite spiritedly I might add.”

The congregation erupted in cheers and laughter. Grace smiled up at her husband.

“Beautiful for you,” she whispered.

“No, not for me. For you, sweetheart.” Marc whispered. He carried Grace toward three steps ascending to the lip of the tank.

Grace looked at the water. Its shimmering surface seemed to call out to her, inviting her to swim. Living waters, she thought. Suddenly, she shed the last remnants of fear, realizing this was her destiny all along. She was born to swim in the waters of life. Her lips stretched into a wide grin as Marc ascended the steps. Behind Marc, she could barely hear Pastor Martin address her over the cheering crowd. It was the water. It whispered directly into her heart, come into me, Grace. Join me, my sweet.

Marc stepped into the tank and descended the three steps to the bottom, shoes, trousers and all. The moment the water touched Grace’s bare feet, he felt his wife shudder. She clamored for his neck, holding him close.

“It’s okay, sweetheart. I have you.”

The water rose to just above his waistline, submerging Grace’s legs and back. She shook, as if freezing, but held a smile across her face. Marc remembered the sensation of heat and pleasure. And then, he noticed the water.

“Oh my Lord.”

Pastor  Martin placed a hand on Grace’s shaky forehead, and yelled over the crowd. “Sister Grace, I baptize you in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.” Nodding at Marc, Pastor Martin gently pushed Grace’s head under the golden water.

The first thing Marc noticed was the golden water changing black, as if Grace’s skin had been coated in ink. Next he saw a thin mist rise from the water, where her skin actually came into contact. Before he could fully interpret what was happening, Pastor Martin nodded his way, and Marc completely submerged Grace’s body under water. There was a bright flash, accompanied by a puff of golden smoke hovering over the darkening water. Marc lost the weight of Grace in his arms. She simply wasn’t there anymore! The congregation gasped collectively, before falling silent.

“Pastor! What in God’s name-”

“Quickly Marcus, out of the tank, brother.”

“My wife! Where-”

“Out of the water, brother!”

Marc reluctantly tread up the tank’s inner steps, and vaulted the lip, completely soaked from torso to shoes. He stared into the water, now as black as nightfall. The golden puff of smoke hovering over the water’s surface seemed to increase in density, taking on the shape of a cloud. Marc looked to Pastor Martin, who stood nearby with hands raised in praise. Marc looked back to the cloud now descending over the water. The second it touched the water, it transformed into a golden rain, splashing into the tank, leaving a golden pool surrounded by the black oily water.

In one instant, Grace felt the shock of the golden water burning and soothing her feet, legs and back. Then, she was under. Quiet. No sound from the congregation; no Marc; no Pastor Martin. In fact, her arms and legs seemed to dangle freely as if floating in a deep ocean. Her whole body floated in darkness.

I love you, Grace. Thank you for coming to me. Breathe my gift of life, daughter.

In the next instant, tiled flooring made contact with her feet. Slowly, she pushed up, immediately aware of no pain in any of her joints. As she broke the surface of the water, her vision took on a new sense. Vibrant light shown down on her from overhead fixtures, in differing hues of lavender, raspberry and cobalt. The stage’s carpet texture seemed to jump out at her, in alternating patterns of red and black swath. Pastor Martin rushed toward Grace carrying a billowy royal blue choir robe. A black stripe, blacker than any darkness she had ever seen, straddled the left arm of the robe. Pastor Martin’s face, no longer blazed a fiery golden peach, but glowed a magnificent tanned apricot. She heard the congregation burst into celebration.

“My goodness, child,” Pastor Martin said, stepping into the tank. “Cover yourself with this. You’re as naked as the day you were born!”

Grace was oblivious to the Pastor’s commentary, awe-stricken by her new heightened senses. Everything smelled different, from the Pastor’s cologne to the pastries outside the main sanctuary. She felt the soft fabric of the robe drape over her shoulders; a surprising tickle against her bare skin. As she slowly walked toward the inner steps, she saw him, and her breath caught. Marc was gorgeous.

At first glance, Marc couldn’t believe the miraculous sight of the golden cloud exploding into raindrops, just before collecting like an oil spill on the surface of fresh water. He knew God was capable of anything, but he’d never seen such a site. He blinked, and panic set in momentarily. Where was Grace? Where was his wife? Had something gone horribly wrong? Was she past the point of salvation?

“Pastor, where is my-”

The second glance toward the murky water caught a glimpse of beautiful raven-silky hair slowly rising from the tank. The hair split at the crown exposing a butterscotch-colored forehead; raven eyebrows; hazel eyes; pouty lips slightly split, revealing pearly white teeth. Grace. She was stunning.

“Oh my…”

Marc dropped to one knee, unable to move. Even when Grace stood high enough out of the water, exposing her beautiful breasts, he couldn’t move toward her. He was overcome by emotion. Marc was barely aware of Pastor Martin racing past him, carrying a choir robe. The congregation had exploded into boisterous celebration, but Marc could only see his beautiful bride, and hear the beating of his own heart.

I love you Marcus. Thank you for bringing her to me. Breathe my gift of life anew, son.

Hot tears rolled down Marc’s cheeks, as he struggled to regain strength to stand, tall for his bride.

“Thank you, Lord,” he whispered. “I love you. Thank you for saving my wife.”

Grace raced across the stage, and leapt toward Marc, just as he regained a foot hold. His salty tears mingled with her own, as she smothered him in kisses. She could hardly believe how handsome her husband was; how brave he had been, in sticking by her side for so long; how blessed she was to have him in life, now.

“I can see you, Marc. You’re absolutely beautiful, honey; inside and out. I’ll never leave you.”

“Welcome to the land of the living, sweetheart. You’re more beautiful now, than ever before. I will never leave you, either.”

Marc glanced through the partially opened robe, and smiled wide, secretly thanking God again. Grace held her husband close, allowing his prying eyes to drink in her new-found beauty. She was suddenly aware of claps, whistles and cheers rising from the congregation. Tonight, they would explore their new life together, as one.

“Thank you God, for your gift of life,” she whispered into his ear.

Pastor Martin wrapped his arms around the young couple, shifting them toward the front of the stage. Grace modestly closed the blue robe around her naked body, then waved toward the congregation.

“Brothers and sisters of Living Water Resurrection, please join me in formally welcoming Grace Zoe Adams, into her new life.”

The congregation celebrated, while Grace cried joyful tears.

Sleep Deprivation

Standard

Hi. It’s late here in Michigan, but I’m in my writer’s closet. Sleep’s just gonna have to wait. So, I drew two interesting story topics from a pot tonight: “An Insomniac” and “What was that sound?” I’m supposed to combine these two into a fiction tale between 100 and 300 words. So here’s what I just came up with. I call it,

Sleep Deprivation

Bill glanced up at the black and white face of the time-checker. The big stick was pointing up, while the little stick dangled down toward the direction Teddy called ‘right’. Teddy noticed his companion staring and sashayed over.

“Just after 4AM,” Teddy purred.

“What is he still doing up?” Bill growled.

“I don’t know. He drank the entire bottle of sleep-aid, but it didn’t have any effect on him.”

A sudden crash made the duo jerk with a start. Bill yelped and Teddy cringed.

Caleb stood twitching, as he picked random shards of broken glass from the kitchen sink. Bill saw his black and white checkered pajamas fluttered against his increased heart rate.

“He’s in bad shape, dog,” Teddy purred. “I think that stuff’s got him wired. It’s bad enough he hasn’t slept in two days.”

“Yeah, maybe he just needs a good scratch.” Bill whimpered.

“A good-what are you talking about?” Teddy purred. His hazel eyes narrowed at Bill.

“He’s got a bad case of fleas!” Bill howled.

The duo rolled around the kitchen floor; a strange sight if ever there was one.

Caleb froze; glass shards from the broken ice-cappuccino jar still in hand. He shot a look at his dog and cat rolling around the kitchen floor as if racked by uncontrollable laughter.

“What the heck was that sound,” Caleb whispered. “Hey! You two can’t speak, so who’s laughing in here?”

“Check the cat,” Bill said. “I’d never laugh at you.”

Caleb shrieked until he collapsed to the floor, unconscious.

“Nice going, dog,” Teddy said. “You just killed our human.”

“At least he’s not twitching anymore.”

Excerpt-The Beast Bellow

Standard

Hi friends. 10 years ago, I wrote a story about a little boy and his large adventure. I’m seriously thinking of revamping the tale and throwing it out into the open to see if it generates any interest. Today, I’d like to share an excerpt from the original story. It has been revised (I have a greater grasp on writing technique than I did ten years ago). I’m seriously looking for any feedback on this, so feel free to comment or email me with any advice, you may offer. I hope you enjoy.

 

“Wait. Something’s down here; something big.”

Static sounded over the com-link. TJ pressed the red button, as he looked through the monitors off toward the distant undersea mountain side.

“Mike? Mike come back, I didn’t catch that last transmission. You said something’s down there?”

No answer. TJ fought panic, as a few seconds of silence became one minute of dead air space.

“Mike, are you there, buddy?” A cold shiver began to climb his back as he again waited for some answer from Mike. TJ stood staring at the monitor. His hand gripped tight around the zoom toggle wheel. A dull ache began to throb in his forearm. Suddenly, static pierced the silence.

“Up!”

More static.

“It’s coming your way; Buckle up!” Mike screamed into the com-link.  TJ felt his heart jump into high speed and his body suddenly chilled over.  He pressed the red button on the com-link again.

“Mike, what was that? I didn’t hear your message, Mike.  Please repeat!  Mike!”

“TJ can you hear me?! That thing’s headed for the cave entrance!  It must have seen the lights!”  More static, and then, “Strap in and shut off the lights! It’s headed your way!”

“Oh no,” TJ whispered. He turned and darted back toward the control room. Suddenly, there was a loud bump from the front end of the pod. TJ lost his footing as the weight of the under-sea vehicle shifted under his feet. His face slammed into a locker and he crumpled to the floor.

Static filled his left ear just as alarms began to wail all around him. Pulsing red lights flashed in unison with the alarms.

“TJ, I repeat: the beast has left the cave, and is headed your way. You have to shut down the pod lights!”

TJ shook the stars from his vision and shot a glance toward the front of the pod.  He had to get to the light switch before that…thing…circled back again. He jumped to his feet, still feeling the effects of the blow, and centered himself.  Pressing the red button on the com-link, he bolted for the front of the pod and yelled into the com-link’s mini speaker.

“Roger that, Mike!  I’m on my way up front!  What is that thing?”

“Thank the Lord, you’re okay. I don’t know what it is. I didn’t get a good look at it, from the cave.”

The crash had strewn equipment all over the pod. TJ jumped and evaded loose boxes on the floor and sparking cables, hanging from the ceiling as he ran. Just as he made it back into the control room, TJ took a flying leap and landed, chest first, onto the control pane. His right hand thumbed the toggle switch to the off position as he collided with the controls. The lights on the roof and below the belly of the pod died instantly.

At first there was a wave of bubbles and a shove of water as the force of the creature’s abrupt stop shoved the pod back gently. When the bubbles cleared, TJ found himself staring at a thing that looked, oddly enough, like a gigantic Blue crocodile with no appendages. The creature waded slowly and effortlessly in front of the pod as if waiting for something to happen. Its eyes, one on each side of its head, seemed to glow a bright yellow in the darkness of the ocean. TJ saw jagged, horns protruding from the monster’s snout, traveling back and over its head.

He lay still across the control panel, convinced that the monster could somehow see him through the thick quadruple-reinforced steel shell of the pod. Static shrieked in his left ear, sending a chill up his spine.

Mike whispered, as if he were in hiding. “Don’t touch anything, TJ. It’s staring right at the outer hull of the control room. Are you good?”

“Mike, I wanna go home right now,” TJ whispered.

“I think it knows you’re in there,” Mike said.

TJ remained motionless as the gigantic crocodile-thing slowly began to move to the right of the pod.  It swam close, almost touching the metal hull with its snakelike body slithering through the ocean.  His eyes, trained on the monster, paced the creature as it circled around the back end of the pod. He saw that the horns across the head grew increasingly larger as they drew across its back, until the tail itself was nothing more than a huge sharp horn.  TJ slowly inched his way off of the control panel and stood on shaky feet. Watching the floor monitors, he saw the creature swim underneath toward the front end again.

Radio static sounded over the com-link in TJ’s left ear.

“Mother of pearl, that’s a big sucker.” Mike whispered.  “I guess now we know why no one’s ever returned with Camoon’s treasure. Are you okay up there?”

“Fine; I don’t think it sees me, but don’t want to make any sudden moves yet.”

The creature circled the pod again in the same pattern as before, and centered toward the front again. Its mouth opened wide, revealing a double row of sharp points on the top and bottom. Despite the darkness of the deep blue sea, the monster’s teeth seemed to glow a magnificent yellow, just like its eyes. A wave of terror gripped TJ, as he suddenly imagined the monster ripping through the metal walls of the pod with those teeth.  The creature’s yellow forked tongue appeared from the black nowhere of its open mouth and began jerking fiercely. TJ pressed the com-link button on his ear piece.

“It’s trying to lure me out,” he whispered. “It does know I’m inside.”

The mouth snapped shut, as one of the weird light-bulb stick fish swam too close to the jerking tongue. The creature moved with lightning speed for its size. It made an about-face and disappeared into the darkness of the open ocean.

 

 

Light the Fire, Babe

Standard
One day, Panic and Mayhem decided to take the day off. Hey, even the chaos-couple need time to recharge their batteries, every once in awhile. After carefully searching for the perfect picnic location, the duo finally settled on a secluded and manicured lawn that just so happened to belong to a church.
“Are we really gonna do our barbeque/cookout right here, P? I thought we were vacationing today?” Mayhem scanned the area, grimacing at the pristine pine shrubs, and the delicately blooming geraniums. “Humph,” she touted, “I don’t want to be here surrounded by all this…this…order, and…yuck…beautification.”
“C’mon May,” Panic said, “Have I ever let you down, babe? Just you wait. Once we get the fire stoked, I believe we’re gonna have one heck of a celebration going on here.”
No sooner had the words been spoken, did luck roll a pair of sevens. Panic and Mayhem glanced toward the parking lot, at the sound of an SUV rolling to a halt. A casually dressed, forty-something year-old man hopped out of the driver’s seat. As the door shut, he gazed into the tinted window to replace an unkempt strand of hair. Next, he grit his teeth, presumably checking for food particles. The man smiled and winked at his reflection before walking toward the fence separating the parking lot from the sanctuary yard. Panic and Mayhem exchanged dastardly grins.
“This may be fun after all, P.”
“Yep, here comes our raw meat. Sick him, May.”
The stranger stepped toward Mayhem with an outstretched hand and a false smile plastered across his face. Mayhem knew deep down, this guy simply wanted to know just who the heck these two trespassers were.
“Well howdy, friends!” The stranger bellowed. “I’m deacon Jameson Johnson. Pleasure to meet you miss…”
“May…Hemister. My friends call me May, deacon. This is my fiancée, Pan.”
“Pan. Well I must say young man, it’s a rather…unusual name,” the deacon said.
“Yes well, my parents came from…the…uh…old country. Pleasure to meet you as well, deacon.” Panic moved in and clasped the deacon’s hand. In a split second, he read the innermost desires, hidden fantasies, and secret fears of the deacon. Panic flashed a wicked grin and winked at Mayhem. The deacon flinched but maintained his smiled.
“Wow, that’s some hand shake you’ve got there, young fella. Sooo…what brings you folks to the church this fine afternoon?”
“Well deacon…” Mayhem started.
As she spoke, Panic mentally ran through his checklist of the deacon’s secret fears, and quickly found the chink in his armor: the SUV. It seemed the good deacon secretly and blatantly disregarded the Old Testament first commandment.
“Got it, May. Light the fire, babe.”
“Excuse me for a moment, deacon.” May stepped to the side and snapped her fingers.
“Fire? Are we having a cookout I was unaware of,” the deacon asked Panic.
“Quite the contrary, deacon. In fact, you’re our guest of…” Panic suddenly mimicked a look of surprised awe. He gazed into the sky above the deacon’s head. “My word! What on earth is that?” He yelled, pointing to the sky above.
Deacon Johnson followed Panic’s bewildered gaze, just in time to see a blazing object falling from the sky toward…
“My new truck!” Deacon John yelped.
A meteorite, the size of a soccer ball, smashed through the roof of the shiny SUV. The bulky truck exploded in a violent flash of twisted metal and burst into flames. Mayhem howled in laughter. Deacon Johnson was frozen in shock, staring at the flaming monstrosity. Panic crept behind the deacon, and gently blew onto his right ear lobe. The elder man screamed in terror.
“My truck! Oh my Lord, my beautiful truck! Ahhh! What was that?! Look at my truck!”
The deacon ran in circles, screaming at the top of his lungs. Mayhem snapped her fingers again, and a bonfire pit materialized out of thin air.
“Fire’s ready, hun,” she whispered to Panic.
“Hey deacon, relax. I’m sure your God has everything well in hand,” Panic chided.
Deacon Johnson spouted obscenities at Panic, before cursing God for destroying his new truck.
“Now that’s exactly what I wanted to hear,” Panic said. He snapped his fingers, and deacon Johnson collapsed onto the lawn; dead of a heart attack.
The bonfire suddenly plumed as the deacon’s wretched soul jumped from his lifeless body and landed in the fire pit. Panic wrapped his arms around Mayhem’s waist as the two watched the fire burn.
“Good meat,” Panic said.
“Yep, didn’t take much to tenderize it,” Mayhem said.
So, what’s the moral of the story, you ask? Simple: be careful what you covet.

Into the Night

Standard
“Max, you’re drunk.”
No I’m not. I’m just a lil’ bit relaxed is all.
“Mmm…no, you’re officially plastered. Isn’t that the term you kids use today?”
Okay, I have to agree with you. I’m pretty smashed. Must’ve been that last beer what tipped me over the edge.
“How do you feel?”
What kinda stupid question is that? We just agreed I’m hammered. Ain’t cha got no sense?
“Come on. Don’t talk to me that way. You’re smarter than that.”
Whatever, kill joy. Why do you keep following me around, anyway? Don’t you have something else to do besides bother me, while I’m celebrating?
“Oh? What exactly are we celebrating, Max?”
Ha HA! Didn’t you hear? Today I lost my job. It was dumb anyway. Getting’ up at four inna mornin’ and working ‘til only YOU knew when, everyday? No thanks. Construction’s not for me anymore. I got better plans for my life.
“Ah, I see. So we’re celebrating your liberation from the confining conditions of the workforce establishment.”
Hey that was awesome! Let me find a pen so I can *hickup* write that down.
“Max, you haven’t spent any real time with me in quite awhile. I just thought I’d let you know I’m still around. I’m still here for you.”
Yeah? Well thanks, but I think I’ve…*hick*…got everything hell in wand, thank you very much. Feel free to go spread your message around to somebody else. I’m sure you can find a hobo layin’ around somewhere.
 “Come on, don’t act this way. Remember…I know you.”
You don’t know a thing about me, buddy! If you know so much about me, then why’d you put me here? Look at my life! It’s a friggin’ wreck! You know so much about me, then how come you couldn’t give me money all the times I ever needed it? Where were you when my parents kicked me outta the house? Where was your mercy today, when they gave me the pink slip? You don’t know a thing about me!
“I was there, Max. Throughout every trial, and every bad decision you’ve ever made, I’ve been with you. Despite your hatred and disdain for me, I refuse to give up on you. You see, I have high expectations for your life, Max. You can’t see your path yet, but I want you to trust in me. Your life is so precious. I will not leave you to fend alone.”
You don’t get it do you? I don’t believe in you! I never did! That’s why I stopped going to church. You don’t exist!
“And yet, here you stand talking to me. I know your desires, Max. That’s why I follow you. I know what you’re searching for. But you won’t find it at the bottom of that bottle. I want you, but you have to want me.”
I hate you.
“I love you.”
I’m not worth loving. My own parents disowned me. Why should I believe you love me?
“Because I keep my promises. Think about this: right now while you’re celebrating at the top of this bridge, who else is here with you?”
No one. That doesn’t prove anything. If you really want me, and you don’t want me to jump, you gotta prove it. Show me one of your mira…*hick*…mirror…one of your special signs!
“…one of your special signs!” Max yelled into the cool darkness of the clear night sky. He chucked the empty glass bottle and watched it tumble. Moonlight glinted across the glass before he saw the splash 70 feet below. The moment of truth had come.
“Where’s your miracle, God? Your time’s up.”
Max closed his eyes as he prepared to let go of the bridge guardrail. In the distance behind him, the night air carried the sound of a church bell ringing in the 12 o’clock hour. But something else floated on the air; something closer. Max opened his eyes and turned around to find a young boy, no more than five years old, standing before him, sniffling. Max climbed from the guardrail and knelt down before the sobbing boy.
“What are you doing out here, kid?”
“I’m lost. I can’t find my home,” the little boy blubbered.
“How did you get here?”
“I don’t know. I just want my Daddy,” the little boy cried.
Max sighed. Okay God, you win. “Let’s go find your way back home little buddy.”
He took the child’s hand and walked into the night, away from the bridge.