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TITLE: revised Mark of Jesus
By Michelle Fout

2nd draft. I have tightened up some of the paragraphs and edited out most of my mistakes...I hope.
I have also tried to clue the reader in to who the possessed man is in this piece. I want a little mystery around him because I do want The Master's entrance to be pronounced but I don't think I gave enough clues as one of you so correctly pointed out.
Thanks for your input.
Mark of Jesus
One Man.

He was scratched up in many places and ached all over. He could not remember a time he hadn’t been scratched, bruised or bleeding. His bodily pain was only a surface irritant compared to the inner turmoil tormenting him. The voices in his head were so many and so loud that he had ceased hearing his own voice long ago. The man doubted he had a voice and even if he did he would not have recognized it.

There was a small comfort that he clung to despite the pain. He was no longer in chains. He remembered the faces that brought the chains. There were so many of them swimming before his eyes as they over powered him by sheer number and placed the hateful metal things on his hands and feet. Once the faces distorted by torchlight disappeared and the darkness of the cave overtook his sight, power would begin to swell inside him. The pain and pressure would build to the point he feared his skin would split and his bones would snap from the intensity. The pressure came with such power that so far there had been no chains strong enough to bind him for long. It was an awful power that terrified him more than the chains, more than the darkest cave.

The voices summoned this power and the combined supernatural forces tore the fabric of his soul to shreds. If he had screamed it was lost to him in the midst of the inner wailings. The chains holding him snapped like brittle twigs and he ran. He ran from the darkness, ran from the screams echoing in the cave and mostly he ran from the legion of voices living inside.

Yes, he drew comfort from the small freedom he had this moment under the stars. This darkness held less fear. The stars became a focus for his eyes and seemed to speak to him above the horror happening within him. He knew he was a man. The face reflecting back at him in streams confirmed this. He saw hands at the end of arms and walked upright on legs that ended in feet but his humanity ended there. His arms and legs bore the scars and open seeping wounds of his inner hell. His voice carried no language as he lifted it to wail his torment to the open sky by day or to cry aloud for mercy to the stars at night. The only language he retained belonged to the denizen that possessed him.

Time no longer held meaning. If he recognized the movement of the sun and the shadows the meaning of it was lost. He understood time only as thirst and hunger and a myriad variations and degrees of pain. He had sat here among the rocks as starlight had given way to dawn and dawn to bright sky. His body was cramped and sore but what brought him up out of the pain was the silence.

The voices so linked with his pain and torment had stopped. His hands lifted to his sun burnt ears, trembling with a new fear. He lifted his eyes slowly from his focal point of the ground at his feet and tried to understand the scene before him. He was sitting amongst large rocks at the edge of a lake. Sandy soil mixed with larger stones led to the waters edge. He saw several small fishing boats coming into the beach and men climbing out of them. His vision narrowed to one man. He was not close enough to see features but he could tell that the inner voices were using his eyes to see that one man. If he was slow to recognize the silence he was shocked by the sudden return of noise. All the voices at once rose in a flood of rage and pain that far surpassed any he had yet experienced.

Whatever humanity was left to him surfaced to the top and like a drowning man kicking to the surface for a last gasp of life-giving air, he wailed his pain and flung himself off the rock. Fear now drove him harder and faster than any flight from dark caves and chains. His raspy breathing now lost from hearing but the pulsating beat of his heart almost drowned the voices. His eyes had never left the man. Just as he recognized the face he bore reflecting back at him from streams as his own, he recognized the cause of silence. Whoever that man in the boat was, he had brought silence to the voices.

He saw fear in the faces of the other boatmen as he fell on his knees in front of their master. He opened his mouth to cry out in whatever language the voices would allow. The master standing before him was still, not afraid, but watchful. The man saw the masters’ lips forming words that drove the hated voices to frantic levels of pain. The eyes gazing at him held the stars and as their eyes met the screaming inside unified from thousands to a single entity. He shouted from the pit of his stomach “What do you want with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? Swear to God that you won’t torture me!” Though the master spoke again the man was lost and losing the little ground he had left. The voices were so strong it felt like a moving of bodies inside bodies. He had the strangest sense of a woman heavy with child feeling the baby move and kick inside her, but it brought no feeling of protectiveness, the hands a woman would raise to her belly he raised to claw his face and pull his hair, anything to distract himself from his revulsion of the evil twisting inside him.

The voices unified again. They were compelled to answer the master. “Legion,” they said ‘for we are many.” The man now almost completely, irretrievably insane briefly felt their fear as they begged the master not to be sent away. His eyes were still locked with the masters’. The masters’ countenance held such intensity it was a physical touch. The master was somehow reaching inside his soul and finding him. He felt held. The drowning sensation was leaving or was it the voices? His view of the master was changing as he felt himself lifted up from his half-kneeling, half-crouching position on the ground. He was once more on his feet, hearing only the rasping intake of his own breath. He felt the master hands on his shoulders as their gaze into each others eyes continued and deepened. Again he heard a voice coming into his mind and soul and groaned in his fear. This voice was different though; instead of bringing pain and revulsion he was filled with peace. Vertigo and nausea left and the wild pounding of his heart slowed. What? What had the voice said? His eyes pleaded with the masters and this time he heard it. He recognized and understood this new language. “Be still and know that I am God.” It was the voice of the stars. He slumped forward the masters’ arms rose to receive him. Other faces now swam into view briefly as the masters’ men lowered him to the ground and his eyes closed.

When he awoke his eyes opened and focused on blue sky. For a moment he had no memory then images flooded his mind, flickering across the sky so quickly they left only the basest impression. He drew a long breath in and blinked slowly. A voice spoke to him and interrupted his reverie. The voice came from a source outside him, at first the words held no meaning that could bridge the wonderment he felt. Cautiously he closed his eyes and opened them again to the same blue sky. The voice spoke again. The man moved his face toward the source of sound. He saw the master first; beside him was another man perhaps a servant. The servant held out a cup to him and spoke. There! That was the voice. The servant repeated his question and this time the man understood him. Relief washed over him as he sat up, took the cup and drank the water. The master simply sat and looked at him, his face and posture spoke of patience and peace his eyes stared deeply into the man’s.

“What is you name?” asked the servant. The man sat still gazing at the master and searched inside. No voices now, none at all not even a whisper was left. It was incredible. The servant repeated his question. The man thought through the silence inside, finding open paths into memories that the voices had blocked so long ago. A name did he have one? Yes, he had a name and a family. A mother, brothers and a woman’s face flashed in front of him – a wife? No wife, but still a love. Other memories flooded his senses and he blinked back tears as his breath came in raggedly. The master had finally released him from his calming gaze. His head dropped and the sobs came. Tears fell on the hands holding a cup, empty and forgotten. He recognized the hands as his own and wondered at what he saw through the tears. The old gaping wounds drawn by stones and broken bits of pottery were gone. Only faint white lines spoke of their existence. He realized all of his pains were healed as well.

Movement and sound outside the camp intruded upon this dawning acknowledgement of healing. He looked up as men came running into the beachside camp from the direction of the sloping hills. He recognized the new faces from the memories of men that had overpowered him in dark caves. Their voices clanged like the chains with which they had bound him. He stood more slowly than the master and once again kept his eyes on this Bringer of Peace. He listened to their questions and watched the masters’ reaction. The servant spoke of the moments that must have occurred after the man had fainted. The servant explained how the master had cast out of this man, the servant now pointed at him, a legion of demons and drove them all into a heard of pigs. The pigs had launched themselves into the lake and drowned in response to this demonic intrusion. Fear reigned in each of the faces as they looked at him. He recognized in their eyes their own individual moments of recollection of dark, damp caves and hateful metal bands. He saw himself reflected in their eyes, an overlay of the man he was in the cave and what they saw now. It shook him almost as much as them. His gratefulness to the master replaced the fear that continued in them. They spoke to the servant and master, pleading with both to take this awesome power somewhere else. The servant looked angry but the master raised his hand for silence. He calmly dismissed their fear and surprisingly the men left drawing tightly together in their fear and casting many backward glances.

The man braced himself for the masters gaze cleared his throat and gathered courage to try to use a newly found voice and language. “Please Master let me go with you,” he begged. The master glanced at him, sparing him one brief look of compassion before turning silently to the boats he had so recently arrived in. The man followed, desperation filling his heart and again he begged as the master climbed back into the boat. The man plowed through the shallow water flinging words of faith and service at the master. At last the master turned and looked at him fully. Love shining from eyes so beautiful the man stopped silent in his tracks. He stood waiting for his masters’ words. “Go home to your family and tell them how much the Lord has done for you and how he has had mercy on you.”

For one brief moment the man felt intense grief. An unbearable longing to be able to gaze into those eyes forever stopped his heart in his throat. Then the master smiled and gave a shout of laughter that flooded his heart with unspeakable joy and he found the sound of laughter coming from deep inside him as well.

The servant was already pulling hard on the oars taking the master away. The master sat still in the boat and raised one hand in a farewell salute. The man rose his own still laughing and turned, splashing his way back to the shore. Yes, he would see the master again the laugher had driven that joyful knowledge deeply and truly through the core of his soul and yes, he would go home and tell his family of the mercy of his One True Lord and what God had done for him.
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