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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: The USA (01/08/09)

TITLE: The Descendants
By Steve Fitschen


The headline read, “Michael Newdow, Self-avowed Atheist, Sues to Prevent President-elect Obama from Saying ‘So help me God’ During Inauguration.”


“Thou puttest me in this contraption yet again merely these words to read, O Tormentor?”

“Why callest thou me Tormentor?”

“Thou comest to me with some magic, some work of the Deluder, Satan. Thou art indeed his demon.”

“Thou knowest not, John Winthrop, whether I be demon or angel or man.”

“I confess it. But answer thou mine question.”

“Yea, John Winthrop. I have put thee in this contraption to read these words.”


“Hast thou not said this Massachusetts Bay Colony shall be a city on a hill?”

“Yea, I admonished mine brethren thusly: ‘For we must consider that we shall be a city upon a hill. The eyes of all people are upon us, so that if we shall deal falsely with our God in this work we have undertaken, and so cause Him to withdraw His present help from us, we shall be made a story and a byword through the world.’”

“And understandest thou what thou hast experienced?”

“Yea. By some sorcery, O Tormentor, thou canst make us to be now in one year, now in another. ’Tis devilry!”

“But understandest thou what thou hast seen?”

“Somewhat only, Tormentor.”

“I will tell thee. This Colony was followed by many others. This colony and those others rebelled against thy Sovereign.”

“I know no Colonies save those here in the north, Plymouth; New Haven; Rhode Island and Providence Plantations; and the like; and in the south, Virginia, and Maryland. Yet there be Swedes and Dutchmen and Frechmen upon this seaboard, too. Yet thou hast shown me a war of Revolution, only British Colonies against their King. Be it true?”

“Yea. I have shown thee enough to understand that these colonies became the United States of America.

“And John Winthrop, methinks thou objectest not to mine contraption, so much as thou doest protest. Methinks rather thou objectest to part of what thou seest. Thou seemest right pleased many times upon our journey and spakest not of ‘devilry.’

“I have shown thee many inaugurations. Thou likest it right well when their presidents said, “So help me God.” But now thou seest this man Michael Newdow in mine devise and thou criest ‘devilery.’

“Thou madest no such cry, John Winthrop, when thou sawest their President John Adams declare, ‘Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.’

“And when thou saw the man Alexis de Toqueville write, ‘The Americans combine the notions of religion and liberty so intimately in their minds, that it is impossible to make them conceive of one without the other,’ thou criest not ‘devilry.’ And when thou sawest the man G.K. Chesterton write, ‘America is the country with the soul of a church,’ again thou criest not ‘devilry.’

“And thou wert right pleased when thou sawest another of their presidents, Ronald Reagan, quote thine words and say America is a city on a hill. Then spakest thou not of ‘devilry.’

“Nay, John Withrop, ’tis only when thou seest what thou wantest not to see that thou criest ‘devilry.’”

“But Tormentor, thou hast shown me things thou oughtest not to have shown me. Thou hast shown me that mother in that room.”

“John Winthrop, thou needest to understand that these people—the descendants of your children’s children’s children—began to kill their children in their mother’s wombs and then, as I have shown thee, to kill them at the very moment of birth.”

“I don’t believe you, Tomentor. 'Tis a lie. And thou oughtest not to have shown me those men having unnatural relations with other men under the open sky while scores, nay, hundreds watched. Again, 'tis a lie.”

“Nay, John Winthrop, ’tis no lie.”

“How can these be truth?”

“I cannot tell thee, John Winthrop. I be but demon or angel or man. Askest thou thy God. Perchance He will tell thee.”

“Where takest thou me now, Tomentor?”

“I takest thee to a year beyond the year thou last sawest.”

“Tell me, Tormentor, will I see worse things still? Is there no hope; will not the descendants of mine children’s children’s children have repented? Will America be a story and a by word through the world? Or will she be a city on a hill?”

“I will not tell thee, John Winthrop. Enter again mine device and thou wilt know.”

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Member Comments
Member Date
Jan Ackerson 01/15/09
Interesting premise--colonial sci-fi! I had to read it a second time to be clear on what whas happening and who was speaking, and some of the King James language was just a tad off--BUT--this is wildly creative, and fascinating, and a superb cautionary tale. Excellent!
Linda Germain 01/15/09
Amazingly creative and well done! Wonderful job. I loved it.
Karlene Jacobsen01/17/09
This is a great work. I'd like to "see" who is talking though. Some description maybe? Otherwise an A+.
Mary McLeary01/21/09
An excellent way to make your readers think and peak their interest. Good idea.
Charla Diehl 01/23/09
Good story once I got past all the old English words. This put me in mind of "A Christmas Carol" towards the end when the MC was able to see the past and present--but not the future. Congrats on your win.