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Previous Challenge Entry (EDITOR'S CHOICE)
Topic: Evangelism (11/01/07)

TITLE: Without a Word
By Sandra Petersen
~10th Place


The sidewalk transporter hummed soothingly, almost lulling me into a trance. Designed to move the vast workforce of the city from their residential barracks to their office cubicles and back again, the transporter eliminated the individual’s need to be aware of his surroundings. I was a new employee in one of the government document offices and still getting used to life in the city. My existence was routine, boring at best.

I guess that's why the sweet musical notes I heard that morning drew my attention.

“Did you hear that?” I wondered aloud to the person behind me.

The man shook his head as if exiting a daydream. He listened, then sniffed. “Just another renegade. They come out once in a while from their hiding places. The city militia won’t detain them unless they become a nuisance. I’d ignore it.” He looked past me, his eyes regaining their trance-like appearance.

The sidewalk continued to move forward. I craned my neck to the side to see past the unending line of people waiting to get off at their workplaces. The liquid tones increased in volume, soaring and dipping with painful beauty.

An outline of an office building loomed ahead. Soon I would step from the transporter onto the escalator pad that would carry me up into the heights of the building to my work cubicle. Just before my step off point, a swaying figure caught my gaze.

I couldn’t tell what sex the mysterious musician was under its loose ragged robes. As I neared, the figure raised a silver tube to its lips and played. Its cornflower blue eyes sought mine. The melody sounded strangely familiar, something I remembered from my infancy. But so many years had passed since I last heard it. Music was one of the casualties when the current national regime ascended to power.

I frowned. How did that song go? The musician nodded to me and stopped playing long enough to smile as I passed.

Do I need to tell you how fruitless my workday was? Every moment was devoted to trying to recall the words to the haunting song the renegade had played. When I left the office building that evening, I watched and listened for the musician. Within five minutes, I heard the telltale sounds and saw the ill-clad figure. Curiosity, a feeling I hadn’t felt for years, bubbled up within me.

“Hey,” I called as the transporter brought me closer to the renegade’s post. The robed figure gasped and tucked its flute into a satchel.

“Wait!” I cried as the figure limped off into an alleyway I hadn’t noticed before. I glanced at the people on either side of me, staring blankly ahead, and made my decision. I dashed down the alleyway after the musician.

Even though the renegade was only a few yards ahead of me I was breathing heavily before I was able to grasp the figure’s robe. I swung the musician around to face me. A woman with a wrinkled leathery face stared at me, fear magnified in her eyes.

“You were playing a song this morning when I passed you.”

She nodded and tried to pull away.

“The name of the song . . . what was it?”

She smiled wistfully. Pointing to her mouth, she shook her head. With her free hand, she reached into her bag and pulled out a folded page which she thrust toward me.

I am the last of the Hymn-Keepers. Long ago, the government of this land had my tongue removed so that I could not teach others the melodies and words that were entrusted to me.

Tears came to my eyes as I realized I might never know the name of the poignant familiar melody. The musician gently stroked my cheek and removed another paper from her bag. With trembling hand she gave it to me.

My heart sank within me as I stared at the sheet music I held.

“Amazing grace,” I read. “How sweet the sound.”

I stared at the words, then back at her.

“Why me?” I whispered.

She smiled, and the love in her gaze seemed to draw the sun from the sky to illuminate every dark place in that alleyway. Including my own heart.

“When can I begin to learn?”

With a tilt of her head, she bade me follow. How could I turn away? All thought of my previous life vanished as I chose to seek the amazing Giver of Grace.

Accept Jesus as Your Savior Right Now and be Certain of Eternal Life.

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Member Comments
Member Date
Verna Cole Mitchell 11/08/07
A wonderful sci-fi story for evangelism. I love the idea of "hymn-keepers."
Lynda Schultz 11/08/07
What a shocking twist! I like the "hymn-keeper" idea too, and that character was very believable. Good work.
Dee Yoder 11/13/07
Very good sci-fi story! I like the character and the message being sent out by the hymn-keeper. You really kept me involved in your story.
Sheri Gordon11/15/07
Congratulations on your EC. This is a very chilling story. Great job with the topic.
Pam Carlson-Hetland11/15/07
Again, Sandy, you absolutely amaze me! This is a wonderful story and it shows that no matter how dark the world can be--will be--God's light will break through. Congrats on your EC win. It is well deserved.
Therese Witkus11/15/07
The story is exquisite and so deep. The imagery is grand and the characters are wonderful. I didn't want it to end. Glad that the hymn is Amazing Grace. Congratulations on the EC!
Edy T Johnson 11/15/07
Although initially disappointed (I'm not a fan of sci-fi or "futuristic" scenarios), you captured my curiosity in spite of myself. Once caught up in the two characters, I could see this as not so far-fetched afterall. In fact, I'm sure in some parts of the world, this very encounter and similar details could be occuring right now. This is quite a thought-provoking piece, friend. I'm left thinking, how would I carry on in a world like the one you describe; how would we continue to "preach the Gospel, if necessary use words." Congratulations on keeping Pam company in the next book. I want an autographed copy (^&^)
Angela M. Baker-Bridge11/15/07
You've showed how the call of God transcends time, man's blunders, and ungodly peer pressure.