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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Illustrate the meaning of "Make Hay While the Sun Shines" (without using the actual phrase or literal example). (03/06/08)

TITLE: Ticket Holders
By Brian Russell


The music beat through the walls and into the night. The tall buildings obscured the light from the moon and stars casting shadows across the alley.

Azazel’s blackened hand reached out to feel the vibrations. “There are many tonight.”

“I know.”

I stared into his yellow eyes. His hood covered most of his features, but those eyes can’t be hidden. I should know.

We’d been partners now for decades, maybe longer, and no matter how many times we were sent out this came up. How many to get?

I placed my hand on the wall. I could feel the beating music, but also the hearts. Those poor souls. I used to wonder if they knew what they were doing, but who would? With the consequences to pay, why take the risk? Even I know that.

But, questioning isn’t my job. Nor pitying. “Let’s get at least ten.”

Azazel’s eyes narrowed. “Ten? Such a waste of a dark night as this.”

“Ten is a modest tally.”

“And why should we be looking for modesty?”

He had me there. These people weren’t looking for modesty. Not in a place like this. These places, with their music blaring into the morning hours. People stumbling home to their families after fornicating with anything. They were buying their ticket to Hell. And we’re the ticket holders.

I pulled the blade out of its sheath. “Let’s go for a record. I feel a lot of rock-solid hearts in there. And their playing our tune.”

Azazel licked his sharp fangs. “Let us make him proud.”

We moved to the wall, but it was solid. We tried again. What was a place like this doing with protection?

Azazel darted to the corner of the building. “There’s a circle of people out front.”

“What are they doing?”

I shot up beside him and glared at the group of people praying. Why pray for these people? They have earned no redemption. There is no grace for them.

Suddenly, the music stopped. I stared at the building, then back to these people. What were they doing? Why were they here?

Azazel gazed at the dagger in his hand. “What do we do?”

A man stumbled out through the doors before I could answer. He dropped to his knees near the prayers. His hands reached for the sky and he looked to the heavens. “What have I done, Lord?”

I stepped back. “No, no, no.”

The man cried. “How long, oh Lord, will I stray from You?”

“We need to leave,” I said.

“Jesus, come into my life. Save me from myself, for I am unworthy of Your name.”

Azazel scrutinized the man. “He’s the owner. I was looking forward to him.”

I grabbed his arm. “Now. We need to go now.”

Azazel pulled away from me. I didn’t have time to waste, so I threw off my coat and flew up into the night sky. From the air, I could still see the huddle of people praying. I saw the bluish figures standing watch on the rooftop of the building. Ready to strike. I could still hear the man’s prayers, even from up high.

“Jesus, purge this place of everything unholy. Purge me of everything I have done and make me a new man in you.”

It’s too bad. I liked Azazel, and that was going to be a good haul.

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This article has been read 520 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Jan Ackerson 03/13/08
Great title, and your main character (I can't bring myself to call him a protagonist!) has a really compelling voice. Very well done.
Joanne Sher 03/15/08
Great voice and storytelling - and what an excellent title. Very well done.
Mo 03/15/08
Very well done.
Jason Swiney03/16/08
I enjoyed this story, it flowed well and it was a little different twist on the topic. Very good title as mentioned above. I was a little confused on what they were going to do with the knife, destroy the people or destroy their souls? It doesn't really matter, you made your point well in this one.
Sheri Gordon03/20/08
Congratulations on your 3rd place. Your writing is very good, and the story held my interest, but I was a bit confused by who was who, and exactly what was going on. It must just be me--I missed something.
Catrina Bradley 03/24/08
Fabulous! I love stories of angels and demons, and this is a good one. You've really illustrated the POWER of prayer and the name of Jesus. Great use of the topic, too. Congratulations! Your 3rd place is well deserved. Move on up to Advanced, friend!