Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Start (01/16/06)
TITLE: A Good Start (i)
By Stephen Rice
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"You can't prove it--not any of it," Norm replied.
"At the level you're talking about, no one can prove anything. Absolute certainty is spiritual, so it comes after the decision. You know it's true--or you would if you'd let yourself."
The two entered the break room, and most of their co-workers went out as they came in.
"You see?" John said. "This whole argument is running everyone off. I'm not going to be your sparring partner anymore. You either face up to what you know, or you can go cower by yourself."
"And how brave are you? You're just a religious nut. Everyone knows it."
"I've faced God. That's more than you've done."
Just then the door banged open, and a small group of masked men rushed inside. "We are looking for the chief of maintenance and his assistant," one of them called, his hand on something that bulged inside his coat pocket. "Norm Harper and John Campbell."
"I'm the one you want," John said.
"What are you doing?" Norm hissed.
"Giving you a second chance," John whispered back. "You aren't ready, but I am. Choose fast, though: I can't buy much time."
The leader of the group walked up to John. "You are Harper?"
"I'm the one you want. Leave these people alone, and we can discuss whatever you came for."
The leader pointed the bulge in his coat at Norm. "And who are you? Another hero?"
"No, I'm a coward. Maybe a liar, too." Norm looked John in the eye. "A good example beats a million arguments. I'll be ready too. I know the way." With that, he knelt down and began to pray quietly.
The leader looked at him, clearly amazed. John said, "There is a better way than the one you're following. I can lead you to it."
The man shook his head and removed his mask. "I knew it: you're both crazy."
"Tyrone?" John asked. "What are you doing?"
The mechanic laughed nervously. "Me and the boys just wanted to see what you'd do with a real religious nut. But you're weirder than we thought."
John looked over to see Norm stand. "Back to being an agnostic, Norm?"
"No, your example was real, and so was what I just did. You were right: I guess I just needed a shove."
"No hard feelings, though, right?" Tyrone asked. "I mean, we all figured the preacher, here, would run off screaming, and you'd laugh with us."
"Well, it didn't work," Norm said. "Maybe if you do, I'll ignore this."
Tyrone turned sheepishly away. Then he paused and looked at John. "I bet we gave you a good start, though," he said.
John glanced over at his new brother and smiled. "You gave Norm a better one."
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