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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Illustrate the meaning of “All that Glitters is Not Gold” (without using the actual phrase or literal example). (01/24/08)

TITLE: Last Train to Paradise
By James Dixon


Ali al Hussein thought of the reward that awaited him and prepared to take his last journey. His flat was stripped bare of everything of value for the sake of the striving Ummah- the family of Islam in Africa and the Middle East. Except for the Koran that was loving placed on a reading table along side a video addressed to the world and his family. Ali took comfort in a few verses before closing the door on his life and everything that had gone before.

Outside the city rushed noisily about ceaseless business goaded on by the neon adverts for Coke, Sanyo, McDonalds and other decadence peddled by the Western multinationals. He shuffled through fast-food wrappers that littered the street like the cast aside lives of those the exploited by the capitalists. The smell of the fat made him wish he had some breakfast for his churning stomach to work on. Ali decided these people looked like flesh with no soul. While he would soon be a soul free of flesh and enjoy more of a reward beyond what this world could ever yield. Ali pulled on his baseball cap and slung his back pack over his shoulder and as far as the CCTV cameras could see became Paul Smith once again.

Down the subway he went, down into what would be his crypt, swept along in a tide of grey suits and luggage. He squeezed past the news stands that displayed pictures of the latest battle between the Palestinians and their Zionist oppressors. There had been casualties, necessary sacrifice. They would be Sahed, and gain the reward for martyrs. The news papers concern was hollow, but Ali would be Sahid and give the papers a martyr’s witness that would make the hypocritical media propagandists pay genuine attention for once.

He queued to buy a ticket with cash. He had no credit card, for that was usury and the infidel’s way. He took out a ten pound note and extravagantly purchased a return ticket. The attendant barely gave a grunt of acknowledgement. Hussein paused to take a last look at the picture of his family. They would understand, call him blessed. Then he pushed through the concourse towards the ticket barrier. The barrier judged him worthy of passage to paradise. The turnstile granted passage with a clunk. The escalator descended to the platform. Conversely Ali al Hussien’s spirit soared like a prayer in anticipation of divine favour.

Three minutes were counted down on the overhead display as Ali negotiated his way to the centre of the platform. He wanted to pace and fret but the place was packed like the shrine at the Hajj. The train was preceded by a gust of fetid air and rumbled to a halt. The doors swished aside a released a wave of captives who seemed as eager to escape as though they were leaving hell. The backwash was equally as eager to take their places.

A mechanical voice said “Please stand clear of the doors”. The carriage held a brace of desirable targets. A businessman in a bespoke Italian suit perused the rose tinted pages of the financial times seeking the next opportunity for corporate plunder, a pair of Serbian migrant construction workers reeked of stale Vodka, a provocatively dressed woman with a multiethnic collection of children was having a dispute with her latest boyfriend on her mobile phone whilst a couple of men shamelessly embraced on the opposite seats. Best of all an orthodox Jew attempted to remain aloof and untainted by the man masticating on a bacon sandwich just inches away from his dangling phylacteries.

The train jolted, whined and began to heave it’s self through the bowls of London. Hussein waited till the train was rattling along at the optimum speed before removing his back pack. He rummaged through the pack with agitated hands to find the two detonation wires. Twisting the wires became the last lest of worthiness for guaranteed entry into paradise.

There was light. There was burning.


There is light. There is burning.

A voice says:
“How terrible it will be for those who say
that what is evil is good!
How terrible for those who say
that what is good is evil!
How terrible for those who say
that darkness is light
and light is darkness!
How terrible for those who say
that what is bitter is sweet
and what is sweet is bitter!”

There is no reward.

Quotation Isaiah 5:20 form NIV Readers Version.

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This article has been read 594 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Jan Ackerson 02/02/08
Oh my, this is powerful--that selection from Isaiah at the end really clinches it, doesn't it?

One small nitpick: "it's self" should be one word, unhyphenated--"itself".

It was amazing how you were able to bring us into this man's soul...a dark piece, very well done.
Hanne Moon 02/05/08
You did a great job relating your MC's thoughts and motivations. I loved the irony contained in your last paragraph. Need to be more careful with punctuation and spelling. Great read!
Karen Wilber02/05/08
You have written some wonderful descriptions here - the people leaving the underground trains, the various passengers' descriptions. I like that you ended it the way you did - we knew what was happening and you gave just enough clues to the final outcome. The Isaiah passage at the end is a great touch and you worked it in well with the repetition of phrase.

Red ink: a few spelling errors that spellcheck won't catch :-( "bowels" instead of "bowls". I usually see "backpack" written as one word.
Marita Thelander 02/05/08
WOW! Where do I start. YOu had some very good word imagery. Here's my favorite line.

"The doors swished aside a released a wave of captives who seemed as eager to escape as though they were leaving hell. The backwash was equally as eager to take their places."

I also liked the seen inside the subway car.

Red Ink: Do you have an edit buddy? There were a few minor errors another set of eyes would have caught for you.

Good job!
Joanney Uthe02/05/08
This drew me in and kept me right there with the MC. Wonderful description and a great passage at the end.
Dee Yoder 02/05/08
Powerful writing and an inside look at the mind of the TRUE infidel. The only red ink I suggest is a buddy to edit the little typos and errors that can sneak past our own eyes as writers. The style of your writing is very modern and edgy. Wonderful.
Helen Murray02/07/08
Truth is always powerful stuff. How are men so easily deceived? Writing with the bold spirit that Jesus gave us. Keep it up.
Lyn Churchyard02/07/08
Very, very well written. I was totally engrossed in the story. I could "see" everything as it happened.
Joanne Sher 02/07/08
Oh WOW. This is absolutely excellent - your descriptions are amazingly vivid and the cautionary tale is incredibly visual and real. I really, REALLY hope this places.
Linda Watson Owen02/07/08
Wow, and double WoW! You have a gift for storytelling that's evident here...and especially that super valuable skill for choosing the perfect ending! I would imagine that with a few corrections that have already been mentioned, this one would have soared in the placings! Great job!