“Stop, you’ve got it all wrong!” Ash screamed as he was ushered down the steep hallway. His words echoed off the block walls. “They said I had more time.”
Silence hung on the hot air. If not for the sound of the second set of feet walking on the loose gravel floor, Ash would have thought he was alone. “Look, I know there must be some mistake. I’m a good man. I don’t deserve to be here. They said I could go home.” He glanced over his shoulder, trying to see his captor, but the dim lights provided dark shadows that hid the other man’s face.
Ash thought about the previous night, the lines pulling from the corner of the doctor’s eyes told Ash all he needed to know.
“Ash, the treatments worked. It’s time for you to go home, enjoy your life.”
“Are you sure, doc?”
“The tests all came back negative, you are disease free. I will want to see you for regular check ups, but you can live a long, happy life.”
Ash nodded and settled back into his pillow as he watched the doctor exit the room.
A loud clang of a steel on steel shot through the smoky air. Ash stopped, his feet welded to the floor. Sweat beaded across his forehead and evaporated before it could fall. “But sir,” his voice quivered. “I was successful, well liked, paid my taxes, gave to the poor, and helped my neighbors, what more could I do?”
Ash felt a hand strike his shoulder blade and he fell. The warm stones on the floor singed his skin, cutting through his bare hands and knees. “The doctor, he said I was cured. He told me I had more time.”
Ash coughed up warm goo as the last of his strength was consumed. He thought he heard his captor scoff, then felt a hand clamp down on his bicep. The pressure burned into his arm, searing pain ran through his body. He was pulled to his feet. A memory flashed in his mind.
A stranger had stopped by his room. Ash shook his head, trying to remember when. It seemed to have been just moments ago…
“Excuse me, is this Mr. Solomon’s room?”
Ash looked up from his book, “No, I’m Ash, but I’ve been here some time and don’t recall a Mr. Solomon.”
“Ahh, Ash. Do you have a moment?”
“Not really, I’m expected to be discharged any minute now.”
The stranger smiled and sat on the bedside chair. “He loves you.”
“OK… thanks, I think. Now I’ve…”
“He’s waiting to hear from you.”
“You must ask. You must repent.” Urgency flooded the stranger’s words. Leaning close to Ash, he continued, “Please, pray now.”
A chair was wheeled into the room. Ash stood and collected his things. “I’ve got to go. My chariot awaits. I’ll worry about that when I get home.” Ash sat in the chair, his belongings piled on his lap. “Thanks for the visit, Mr. …”
“You must pray, before it’s too late!”
“I have time.”
Ash was drug deeper into the dungeon. His shirt was scorched, his feet blackened, his shoes lost somewhere on the journey. His parched throat crackled when he spoke, “I thought I had more time, please. I was going to do it in the morning, I promise I was.”
Ash looked up and saw his captors red eyes, which burned right through his dilapidated body. “I repent. Jesus, where are you? I repent.”
Like the roar of the fire, the captor spoke, “You’re too late.”
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