My God...What’s happening?
Steve put his head in his hands and shuddered.
The sentence had been harsh. Merciless even. The words of the judge had made him tremble.
Why did I get involved? What was I thinking?
Tears started to sting his eyes, but he fought them back. He had to stay calm. Later in the quiet of his cell he could vent his emotions. But not here. Not in front of all these people.
The judge shuffled some papers and coughed.
"The court is adjourned!'
The courtroom filled with noises and hushed conversations as people got up to leave.
Steve's court appointed lawyer looked at his watch and stuffed his papers in his bag.
Does he even care?
"Sorry," he mumbled. "We just didn't have much of a case. Talk to you later!" He gave Steve a sweaty handshake and turned to leave.
"It's time to go."
A prison guard stepped forward. Steve's legs felt like wax as he was led out of the courtroom. All the eyes of the public were on him as he stumbled by. Some gazed with pity; others with self-righteous anger.
All was lost. And for what? A kick? A thrill?
As if in a trance, he stepped into the van that would transport him to prison.
A slimy creature with dark, penetrating eyes leered as he listened to the report from his underling.
"It was easy. We deceived him in no time."
The superior lifted a scabby finger.
"Don’t start gloating yet. It’s not over!"
"I know…don't worry. No sweat. We'll drive him over the brink in no time."
The evil spirit bowed and disappeared in a cloud of darkness.
Jail was terrible. Remorse haunted Steve, his deed replaying in his mind like a bad movie. He just couldn't find rest.
This is not who I am…It's not who I want to be…Oh God!
He hated the nights especially. The unpleasant sounds and occasional cries from fellow prisoners cut straight through his heart.
I won't survive here much longer. I'll crack up.
But then he met Chris.
Chris was a fellow prisoner with a bad past. A very bad past. Much worse than his. But Chris had found God and that made him different.
At first it upset Steve. How dare he talk about God in a place like this? God wouldn't listen. God didn't care.
But Chris cared. He understood the pain---he had been there. He was patient and gentle. Steve, a tall man with a shaven head and arms full of tattoos, became his friend.
After awhile Steve started to listen to what Chris had to say. The gentle words that he spoke helped. Chris' soft spirit started to penetrate Steve's hardened and fearful heart. One day in the exercise yard, Steve couldn't hold back any longer.
"I want to know Jesus."
He fidgeted with his shirt cuffs. He had always been opposed to religion.
After all, wasn’t religion for losers? But he wanted it so much.
Together they kneeled and with tears in his eyes Steve asked the Savior to come into his life.
Joy flooded Steve’s heart. Gone was the darkness. Somehow the depression had lifted and instead of remorse there was hope.
Even the dreary prison walls seemed to shine with an ethereal glow.
The battle was won.
"He did what?"
The slimy creature of darkness raised his claws in anger. His fists formed into bony balls and the veins on his scabby face protruded.
"You allowed him to pray? And you didn’t interfere?" Yellow, sulphurous spit flew out of the demon's mouth and landed on the trembling creature before him.
"I am so sorry Master…So sorry. I was powerless.” He desperately wanted to run from those beady eyes that were staring at him with such disgust. “I did my best…the very best I could."
The quivering rogue buried his face in his claws and moaned, while a torrent of curses rained down on him.
“Your best, obviously, wasn’t good enough!”
Dark, depressing clouds floated up from somewhere below and both demons disappeared. But their curses, weeping and wailing could still be heard for a long time.
To them another battle had been lost.
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