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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: End Times (02/27/14)

TITLE: The Mystery
By Lonnie Skinner


The Mystery

“What in the… Where am I?”

“Well, we seem to be in some kind of metal box, about six-by-six feet, best I can tell. Don't stand —”


“— up! It's only about 4 feet tall.”

“Who are you?”

“Guess I’m your roommate.”

"It's pitch black in here!"

"God says men prefer darkness to light because their deeds are evil. Evil people must prefer darkness for their enemies, too."

"This is a mistake! I'm not supposed to be here!"

“God has a purpose for everything.”

“Don’t tell me I’m stuck with a religious nut!”

“So, you’re not a believer?”

"Me? Yeah, I'm a believer. I believe in myself and the government. And I hate everything about you Christians. What’s your name?”

“Jeff Johnson.”

“Jeff John… You’re kidding. This is insane. Help! Somebody! Get me outta here! Why is this happening?”

“The Bible says more things like this will take place in the end times just before Christ returns.”

“End times! I don’t believe that junk. My Grandma thought Jesus was coming 50 years ago, but He didn’t. Nobody but idiots believe such nonsense.”

“Christ’s return will not be decided by popular vote. Even if nobody on earth believed Jesus is coming back, He will still come. He always keeps His promises.”

“Oh yeah, then why hasn’t He already come?”

“One reason. Because He loves mankind. The Bible makes that clear. It’s against God’s will for anybody to perish. But time is running out.”

“It’s cold in here.”

“Enjoy the temperature while you can. I hate to tell you this, but I’ve figured out where we are. We’re locked up in a furnace.”

“They’re going to cremate us? Alive? Help! Let me out of here!”

“I suppose it is an honor in a way. Remember the three Hebrews in Old Testament times who were thrown alive into a fiery furnace? Well, we seem to be two Americans in the End Times destined for the same fate.”

“What happened to those Hebrews?”

“The Lord was with them. They were rescued and didn’t get burned at all.”

“That’s a nice story, but don’t expect a fairy tale ending for us.”

“It’s no fairy tale. But I’m not really concerned about how I exit this earth. Rapture or death…either way I’ll soon be with Jesus. And you can be, too.”

“So you really believe we’re close to the end of time?”

“Well, it certainly seems to be the end of my time on this earth. Looks like the end of your time, too. But yes, Jesus could come at any minute now.”

“The last days, huh?”

“Oh, we’ve been in the last days for two thousand years. Now we’re in the last moments of the last days.”

“Look, I might as well be honest with you, Jeff Johnson. I know your name because I’m the one who turned you in.”


“Well…you’re actually the tenth fanatic I’ve nabbed. Guess you could call me a bounty hunter.”

“You did this for money?”

“And a lot more. I did my job well. That’s why you are here. But why in the world am I in this death-box?”

“Guess they figured you had finished your usefulness to them.”

“And maybe they decided that if I would betray my neighbors, I wouldn’t stay loyal to them either. With what I know now I’d say they may be right about that.”


“This would be a good time for you to turn to the Lord Jesus.”

“Don’t you understand? You’re gonna die because of me.”

“I can only die when God is ready to transfer me to Heaven. And that’s a good thing. Listen, God loves you. Jesus will save you if you ask Him.”

“Too late for that. God could never love me or save me now. I’m too bad.”

“Nobody is beyond the reach of God’s grace. If God forgave me for my sins, He can forgive you. Let me tell you. I —”

“Oh, no! Do you hear that? They’ve turned the burners on. Here come the flames—”

“Father help my friend now! And into Thy hands I commend my —”

“Oh, Lord Jesus, please have mercy on me, a sinner! Please save —”


Three officials had been listening to the recording in the warden’s office.

The warden spoke first. “That’s the entire transcript?”

“Yes, sir. Conclusive proof they were there to the end. No way they could have escaped.”

“Then where are their ashes? What happened to the bodies?”

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This article has been read 253 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Sharon Eastman03/06/14
You kept the mystery alive until its critical point. I liked how you used natural, believable dialogue to convey the end times and the rapture. It's also a sort of mystery as to whether they died or were raptured. What a horrible way to die; I'm sure they were raptured.
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 03/08/14
I loved this. I thought it was a brilliant take on the topic and though t was about the horrors of the end times, it still stood out as an out of the box story. (forgive the pun)

The only red ink I might offer would be to have a bit of narration instead of just dialog. For example: "Where an I?" The panic began to churn his stomach and he retched as the bile reached his mouth.
That;s not perfect, but will give the reader a chance to have more of a mental picture.

I loved the twist about the one guy turning the other in. I didn't see it coming and you picked the perfect moment to reveal it. The ending was brilliant as well. I think this is one of my favorites.
C D Swanson 03/08/14
Excellent job with this sobering and jarring story. Nicely done in delivery and content.

God Bless~
C D Swanson 03/13/14
Congrats! God bless~
Wendy B McLain 03/13/14
Congratulations Lonnie,

Very intriguing story.
LaVonne Wood 03/13/14
Mar  03/13/14
Congratulations to you!
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 03/14/14
Congratulations on ranking 1st in your level and 14 overall! The highest rankings can be found on the message boards.