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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: Era (02/03/11)

TITLE: The Good Friend Bill
By Frank Heubner


Thomas opened the heavy cellar door. The Victorian house had slanted doors that flipped up and lead to the basement of the house. Every time he opened them he was reminded of the movie the Wizard of Oz, or maybe Alice in Wonderland. Either way, the cellar was a different world. Even though he wasn’t a tall guy, he had to duck to enter the musty basement. The joists to the house above him were warped and rotted with age. The floor was covered in a layer of dirt, the concrete lost under years of dust drifting down from the house. The stone and masonry walls bowed and slumped so badly that in the dim light they appeared to move like waves on the ocean.

Crossing to the center of the room Thomas found the pull cord for the single bare light bulb. With a satisfying tug on the string, a sixty watt bulb chased the shadows out of the small room with its pale yellow light. The light on, he went back to the door. He took a quick look around the yard to make sure none of the neighbors had seen him. Swinging the door over his head, he locked it from the inside.

He pulled the faded bed sheet sheet cover off the card table and folding chair he had set up near the light a couple of days before. As he sat in the cold chair he inventoried the items on the table. Several small notebooks. A ceramic coffee cup filled with pens. And, a Bible.

Two years ago, the President of the United States and passed the Good Friend Bill. A law that was promised to bring about a new era of peace and understanding between the peace loving left, the intolerant right, and people of all religions. Instead it had made Christians the target of hate crimes and persecution. Thomas had seen churches burned while firefighters watched. He had seen family after family forced to leave their homes as the vandalism and threats became too much for them to bear. Preachers were being arrested for speaking out. His pastor had been arrested the week before. His church had been torn down with bulldozers. Now his church was a basement, hidden in the ground. He was the lone parishioner

Opening the Bible with the faded red silk ribbon book mark attached to its spine, he read aloud to himself. Starting in Romans chapter 8 verse 35. “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? As it is written,
“For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.” No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Thomas paused, the stone walls soaking in the words as they floated in the room. In that silence Thomas heard a small sweet voice. “yes Lord, I am ready, give me courage.”
Feeling the low rumble of a large truck on the street outside, Thomas rose to his feet. Hearing a boot smash the lock on the front door, he knew his time was at hand. Dust fell on him as the men above stomped back and forth searching his house.
“Out here” a voice yelled from the yard.
The cellar door shook, the lock straining to keep the men out. Thomas dropped to his knees, placing his hands together in front of his chest.
A gun blast blew the lock from the rotted wood. The sound hit Thomas in a wave. Bowing his head, Thomas began to pray. “Lord, you have gone before me, I am not afraid.”

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Member Comments
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Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 02/10/11
What a thrilling yet totally totally terrifying story. You made Thomas feel so real. I pray this never happens, it's a terrifying future.
Mary Toll02/11/11
I liked how you brought in great details of this house, setting the tone for the climax of your story. And how the light of God's word can prepare us for things to come. Well done.
diana kay02/12/11
a great story...a somewhat enigmatic title... the story was atmospheric and grippingly told. It reminded me of the jews having to hid from the Nazis in German occupied countries and it was very clever indeed to bring this into ? America could have been just as easily England.
it should be a winner.... lets see
Bonnie Bowden 02/12/11
What times we are living in. It is sad to think we have come to this place of such intolerance. It's time we got down on our knees and pray.

This piece gave me a lot to think of.
Nancy Bucca02/15/11
Wow! This is really powerful, the sort of story that warns us to be prepared. Very realistic and a timely message.