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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Sharp (03/07/13)

TITLE: A Broken Vessel
By Graham Insley


Sobs shook Travis as he fell into his car. With trembling hands he turned the ignition key and the car jerked as he pulled out of the hospital parking lot.

“Whisky.” It was nothing more than a whisper in Travis’ mind a few minutes later as he drove by a bottle shop. “Come on, no one could blame you for one small soothing drink”

“Are you okay, mister?”

“Yeah, just a little shook up is all. Give us a bottle of JD will you?”

At home, Travis’ shaking hands filled a glass with the silky, amber liquid. Unable to even take a sip, he dropped onto a kitchen chair; his head falling into his hands and his tears drenching the table.

Fifteen years Sheila had been his wife. They had drank and fought for the first eight of those years. For the last seven they had worshiped, sang praises and rejoiced in their new found faith; sober and never touching a drop. In the last six months he saw her waste away to a thin, frail frame as cancer ravaged her body.

Tonight she lost the fight and the band around Travis’ throat threatened to choke the very life out of him. The pain in his heart, sharp and intense, felt like a scalpel cutting it into little pieces.

“No one could blame you, Travis. At a time like this a man needs a drink.” The whispers came again; subtle, cajoling and offering an escape. The fumes from the glass added to the temptation as a dark spiritual hand fanned them towards his nose.

For Deathstrike, the demon whispering in Travis’ ear, the room suddenly brightened and his mood darkened. With lightening speed his curved, razor sharp sword was in his hands, swinging in a full circle straight out from his body. Any angel within ten feet should simply have been cut in two.

Eli ducked beneath the killing swipe. Two quick steps, a one hundred and eighty degree pivot and he ended up facing the ugly demon he opposed. But their positions were now reversed and Eli stood at Travis’ side.

“You need to leave this saint alone, Deathstrike, and I’m here to make sure you do”

Eli kept one eye on the curved sword as he blew over the top of the whiskey glass; dispelling the tempting fumes. “Don’t throw it all away now, Travis. Sheila wouldn’t want that.”

“Back off, you angelic fool; I have a right to be here. When this idiot pulled the cork out of the bottle, he also pulled out the stops of restraint that protected him from me.”

“Wrong! Until he drinks from that glass he has not yet surrendered. And he has a right to struggle for his faith without your meddling.”

A very brief moment, the smallest respite from the agony torturing his soul, was all it took for Travis’ mind to suddenly become crystal clear and sharper than the pain ripping him apart. He saw it clearly now.

“Father, I don’t want to throw away the last seven years, dishonoring all You did for us. Give me strength and I will stand for You and Sheila through this.”
With that, Travis emptied both the glass and the rest of the bottle down the sink.

Eli smiled as he looked at the sharp pieces of the shattered bottle in the rubbish.

“Out of their sharpest pain comes their greatest victory, Deathstrike. Think about that before you inflict more of your torment on the true saints of God.”

(red ink welcome)

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This article has been read 296 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 03/14/13
I really liked this story. You did a great job of showing the inner turmoil.

I did notice some missing punctuation in some of the dialog. You do a great job of showing, but every once in a while I'd stumble over a sentence like this:
“Whisky.” It was nothing more than a whisper in Travis’ mind a few minutes later as he drove by a bottle shop.
I might consider switching it around just a bit: A few minutes later, as he drove by a bottle shop, he heard a raspy whisper from the recesses of his mind. "Whiskey." He shook his head in a futile effort to rid himself of the taunting voice. "Come on, one sip..."

Overall, I think you did a fantastic job with this story. It has a great start, a powerful message, intriguing characters, and heart--everything you need for a fantastic story.
C D Swanson 03/14/13
This had it all. This was compelling, moving, intense, and interesting at once.

Nicely done.

God bless~
Vince Martella03/15/13
I liked this a lot. I've always been a fan of Frank Peretti and C.S. Lewis style spiritual battle stories. Very creative. You might want to use italics for internal dialogue rather than quotation marks. You can find that process here:
or at FAQ in the Forums (very bottom)Overall, your story kept me riveted. Except, I wanted to see Deathstrike oblitterated! Fine job. Hope this places well. Keep on writing!
Richard Hicks03/19/13
Wow. This story was very riveting, and held my attention from the very first sentence. Very well done. I like these kind of stories, I look forward to reading more of your writings.
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 03/22/13
Congratulations on your HC and for ranking 29 overall!
Bea Edwards 03/23/13
Both captivating and moving!
You did a marvelous job portraying the struggle those of us in recovery have won with the Spirit's help.
"Put on the Lord Jesus and make no provision for the flesh" Romans 13:14
was and will remain my lifetime mantra.
Well done and congratulations on placing 26th overall.
If you persevere I believe you will continue to move up in the ranks right to the top.
Alicia Renkema04/11/13
This was excellent! There were a few missing periods and one sentence fragment when you were talking about the length of time your MC and Sheila had been married, but it held my attention all the way through. Even more important than that was the scriptural lesson that we all as believers have angels assigned by the Father Himself to protect us. He is so good! I dated an alcoholic once for 9 months and know how poisonous addiction to alcohol can be. My Jesus and a special Al-anon group at the time were life-savers for me. Thank you for this important story. May God continue to bless you as you write for Him. Congrats on your HC and placing 29 over all!