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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Fearful (08/23/07)

TITLE: The Atheist
By Chong Shipei


He sat, alone, in his room. The room was locked. The curtain was drawn, and the windows were tightly secured.
His house was free from the presence of another human being.
He was determined to shut himself up from everyone.
He must be careful. The success of his act depended on the fact that no one knew anything about it.
His wife and children, especially, must be kept away from the secret for as long as possible.
He had taken precautions to ensure that they knew nothing about his decision. It would be months after he completed his task before they would find up about it.
That was his plans. His plans always worked. He was a careful man, a man of plans.

The pistol was loaded. It should be a quick one. Just a pull of a trigger. Just once. And it would be over. He should vanish into nothingness. God is a myth invented by fearful men to convince themselves that their pathetic lives were worth more than just some random products of chance. Strong man like him had no such need for an entity that existed only in the head of those who were afraid of death.

"I will do this like a man," he said to himself. He took a deep breath, and pointed the tip of the pistol at his own head.

What if... He existed?

No, it could not be the case. He had given his entire life to disproving His existence. It must not be the case.

"You are running away," a small gentle voice spoke into his ears. He hesitated.
"I am not," he replied.
"Yes, you are," the voice replied to him.
I must be going mad, the man thought to himself.
"I am running away from nothing." He replied. His voice was steady.
"You are running away from me." The voice was firm.
"Running away from you? You do not even exist. Why will I run away from someone that doesn’t exist?” He laughed.
"You know the answer," the voice said, calmly. "You do not like the idea of being made by me. You do not want to be accountable to someone for your actions in life. And most importantly, you are fearful.”
"Fearful? Ha, are you joking? The fearful ones are those who believe in you!”
"No, they are the brave ones. But you, though you deem yourself to be intelligent and brave, is the real foolish coward.”
"What am I fearful of? Tell me, oh my imaginary friend, what am I afraid of?" The man sneered.
"Admitting you are wrong." The answer was straight forward. It stunned the man into a long period of silence.
“I am famous in the University for being the moral and intelligent atheist. I cannot tell them now that you exist. They will all laugh at me.” The man pleaded. His voice was still calm, but his fingers began to tremble, slightly. "I am in debt, more debt than my family can ever pay off. My investment in the stock market has backfired. I am left with a wife and three children and I can no longer provide for them. It is the end for me.”
The man waited for the voice to respond, but it did not respond. The man waited for a long moment. There was no voice. Only silence.
The man laughed. What a fool I had been, to think He is real. He turned his attention back to the pistol that he pointed towards his head.
"A choice," the irritating voice spoke.” I give you and everyone a choice. You can choose to swallow your pride and bravely confront the ruins you had brought into your own life with my help. Or you can be a coward, and choose to run away from me forever.”
"Oh, shut up," the man shouted to no one in particular. His voice was trembling, now. The man was in anguish. He was no longer certain about his absolute belief in the non-existence of the being that fearful people chose to worship as God. Time slowed its pace to a stop, while the fingers of the atheist continued to tremble. The atheist struggled in the stillness whether to pull the trigger or to confront the people who used to respect his belief in the non-existence of God.

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Member Comments
Member Date
julie wood08/30/07
A powerful, thought-provoking story, beautifully written. The terse style with its sentence-long paragraphs really fits its mood, conveying tension, inner conflict, and anxiety. I could feel with the main character!

In sentence 3, the word "away" should replace "up" in front of "from everyone." In 6, "out" should replace "up" in front of "before they found..." The sentence beginning with "Strong man" should read either "A strong man" or else "Strong men," and it should be "heads of those," not "head." Also,the opening sentences and the dialogue ones would be easier to read with line spaces in between them.

Terrific dialogue, by the way, between the main character and God! Wonderful insights. The title also sparked my curiosity. Great job!
Helen Murray08/31/07
'bravely confront the ruins you had brought into your own life with my help.' Watch the grammar. It sounds like God helped ruin his life, but you mean, I believe, that God would help him to confront the ruins.
Good imaginative writing overall though. Fear of being wrong can be paralysing, and you certainly left us with this impression.
christine bastow08/31/07
This story of failure is quite common, sadly in todays family and the storyline line is interesting. Well done. chris x
Rhonda Clark08/31/07
This is a great dialog between a non-believer and God. It's like I can hear God having this conversation with almost everyone.

Good work.
Mark Bell09/03/07
Interesting counterpoint of the strong man being ready to commit suicide. Nice opening. Great dialog as well, by the way. A few grammar problems have been commented on already. My comment on those lines is a bit more "picky", I suppose. Remember to double break the lines between paragraphs. They all seemed to kind of run together. it made some of the conversation run together and I got lost in which voice was which.
Myrna Noyes09/04/07
Very well-written conversation between the atheist and God! The ending left me "hanging," but it also left me thinking about the choices God gives us. Good story! :)
Lisa Holloway09/13/07
This is interesting and insightful. We can be so afraid of looking like fools that we miss out on what is true, real, and redemptive. Well done!