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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: Write in the MYSTERY genre (04/05/07)

TITLE: The Moving
By Marc Smith


“It’s happened again…” Ralph whispered, dropping his broom and running out the church door.

Jessica Patterson, the wife of Pastor Patterson, had just settled into her morning routine with a newspaper and a hot cup of coffee at her dining room table when a frantic knocking came from her door. With a small sigh of displeasure, she slowly rose from the table. Who could be disturbing her peace at this inconvenient hour? Her wildest imagination would not have prepared her for the conversation to follow.

Opening the front door revealed a short, awkward looking man in his late eighties. He wore tight curly hair, a pair of small spectacles, and dirty, brown overalls. He was hunched a bit but was trying his best to look past Jessica to peer inside the house. His urgency made Jessica very nervous.

“Mr. Arkwell, you look like you’ve seen a ghost. Are you okay?”

“It mived, it mauved…,” clearing his throat and huffing in frustration, he yelled, “It moved!” Ralph’s drawn, wrinkled face was more pale than usual, and the trembling in his hands was not due to his age. He stammered and stumbled as he continued. “First this side, then that, now up top…oh my…I am very careful about putting it away…oh yes yes…very careful about that. Then people getting hurt… this one, then that one…and now…NOW…oh dear… this terrible…ter-ri-ble...”

“Mr. Arkwell!” Jessica interrupted. “You are going to have to slow down, or I’m never going to be able to understand you. What moved? What are you talking about?”

“The crucifix,” he replied quickly. “Pastor Paterson. Is he….uh….ok?”

“As a matter of fact, he is not doing very well. He is quite sick. How did you know?” she asked.

“It was the crucifix,” Ralph whispered.

Ralph had worked as the building/grounds caretaker for the Episcopal Church for nearly 30 years now. Everyone in Riverton knew of his wild stories about the unusual findings he came across during his duties at the church. However, today Jessica wondered if there wasn’t something to his story.

“It tells me who is injured or sick,” he continued. “I am very careful about putting the crucifix back on the shelf after the Sunday service is finished. Pastor puts it on the stand next to him as he greets the people leaving, then I put it on the shelf. But the past three Saturday mornings, when I go in to straighten the sanctuary for the Saturday evening service, it has been in different places, each a clue to who was ill in the church. First it was at the piano when Mrs. Jenkins broke her leg. Last week it was at the organ when Mrs. Cathy had that bad case of pneumonia. Now, this morning, it was at the pulpit, so I ran over here to see for myself, and sure enough Pastor Patterson is very ill.”

“That is very odd indeed, but I am sure there is an explanation for it,” Jessica confirmed.

“Yes, it is God revealing things to me. Good day, Mrs. Patterson.”

The next Saturday, Mr. Patterson planned to sleep at the church, determined to see a glimpse of God working His miracle. Around nine o’clock, Ralph, who was lying on the front pew for the night, heard the front door latch lift and the hinges creak as the large, wooden door opened. A soft glow intruded the moonlit darkness of the sanctuary as the clopping of large boots crept closer to where Ralph lay. He pulled his blanket to his chin and attempted to quiet his rapidly intensifying breath. The footsteps drew closer and closer until the candle hovered right above Ralph’s head.

“Mr. Arkwell?”

“Pastor Grimes?” Ralph inquired.

The assistant pastor stood at the end of the pew holding a small candlestick and the church’s crucifix.

“You have been moving the crucifix!” Ralph exclaimed

“Oh, yes, I’m sorry. Admittedly, I am still a bit afraid of the dark, so I like to keep it with me for comfort,” Pastor Grimes smiled sheepishly. “I’m coming in to go over what I need to do for tomorrow’s service. I have been covering for people the past three weeks. First for Mrs. Jenkins, then Mrs. Cathy, now preaching for Pastor Patterson the past two weeks. I guess it gets late and I forget to put it back. I am terribly sorry. What are you doing here?”

“Going home,” Ralph said somberly.

And with blanket over shoulder and head hung low, he did just that.

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This article has been read 662 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Jacquelyn Horne04/12/07
Very cute! A well-done article. A humorous solving of a mystery.
Brenda Welc04/12/07
Good story!
Good job, I like the way it ended.
Henry Clemmons04/14/07
I liked this one.
Jeanie Pinkston04/16/07
I really enjoyed your mystery! Well written with an interesting plot, good suspense, and neat conclusion. Way to go!
Catrina Bradley 04/17/07
Great writing! Good job with Ralph's dialog especially - you really brought out his fear. One thing that confused me - when Mr. Patterson decided to spend the night in the church. Is that Ralph or the Pastor? I really enjoyed this mystery. :)
Esther Gellert04/17/07
I really enjoyed this story. It held me all through as I wondered how the crucifix was moved, and then it finished with a good laugh. Thankyou and well done.
Rita Garcia04/18/07
Interesting mystery! Really enjoyed your writing! Great job!
Sara Harricharan 04/18/07
Great mystery! This is your first entry? WOW! Amazing stuff, I really love the characters and it was quite fun to join Mr. Arkwell in the stakeout. ^_^
Cheri Hardaway 04/18/07
I believe you are suited for the mystery genre! And this doesn't read like a "first entry." You are a great writer! Good work, and many blessings, Cheri
Julie Arduini04/18/07
This is one solid, strong piece of writing and yes, mystery suits you. You won't be in beginners long. Great work.
Joanne Sher 04/18/07
Great detail and a fun story too. I was definitely intrigued throughout.
Loren T. Lowery04/18/07
You have good command of words, dialogue and sceene setting. You move the reader along at a nice pace and hold our interest. I sense you won't be in level one for long. Great Job and keep developing your talent for writing.
Verna Cole Mitchell 04/18/07
This is an excellent mystery--really carried the reader along. I like your conclusion.
Shari Armstrong 04/19/07
Loved the characters, some great suspense tied up with humor. Good pace. Keep up the good work! (sorry, I really didn't see anything major jump out at me that needed work lol)