Ten blocks and twelve clothing stores after the intention of some quick window-shopping, Kaylee grabbed Sandra’s arm. “Hey, I’m starving. Let’s eat here.”
Sandra looked up skeptically to the bar’s neon sign. “You sure?”
“Yeah! I hear they have great burgers.”
Before Sandra could refuse, Kaylee pulled her into the dimly lit bar and grill. Sandra chocked on the cigarette smoke and cringed at the loud music. “I don’t really like this.”
“Oh, here’s a table.” Kaylee hadn’t even heard her friend’s words.
After the two girls were seated, Sandra ventured several glances around the room. Chills ran down her spine as she saw a man who looked half-dead. She tried to focus on something else, but her eyes came to rest on a woman with tears streaming silently down her face.
Sandra desperately looked to the bar, only to see the bartender somehow managing to clean a shot glass while shackles adorned his wrists.
“Helloooo…” Kaylee waved a hand in front of Sandra’s face. “What are you eating?”
Sandra suddenly realized that the waitress was standing at their table. “Um, I…haven’t decided.” She fumbled with the menu, trying not to notice the chains that hung from the waitress’ shoulders and cascaded onto the floor. “I…I think I need some fresh air.”
“Sandra!” Kaylee followed her back out into the sunshine. “What is wrong with you?!”
Sandra took several deep breaths to calm herself. “I saw them again…”
“The crazy people?”
“They’re not crazy! They’re…hurt. Chained. Dead. I don’t know. Didn’t you see them?”
Kaylee looked at her friend sympathetically. “No. I saw nothing out of the ordinary. All I wanted was a cheeseburger.”
Sandra threw up her arms. “My vision is screwed up and all you can think about is food!”
“I think you should talk to Doctor Hughes.”
“He’s your shrink!”
Kaylee scowled. “He’s a doctor. Maybe he’ll know why you’re seeing things.”
“I’m not seeing things. They’re real!” Tears sprang into Sandra’s eyes. “Why won’t anyone believe me? I’ve been seeing these horrible things for three years now. I can’t take it anymore!”
Kaylee sighed, showing her impatience. “I tried to tell you it’s that nutty church. This all started after you got involved with that…that Bible study and started talking about God all the time.” She pointed toward the center of town. “Just go to Doctor Hughes and get some meds to clear up whatever it is that’s making you see things.”
Sandra felt a whole new wave of sorrow. “But…but I love church…and God too.”
“Oh, quit!” Kaylee raised her voice. “Don’t start preaching instead of admitting you have a problem. You always use your religion as some excuse, and I won’t be tricked into it, lest I start seeing weirdoes in handcuffs too!”
Sandra shuddered as a heavy chain appeared around Kaylee’s neck. It twisted and writhed until it had enveloped Kaylee’s throat, threatening to choke her to death. “K-K-Kaylee!” New tears surged down Sandra’s cheeks. “This can’t be happening! Don’t let the chains kill you!”
“Come on!” Kaylee felt herself over, trying to show Sandra she was in no danger. “I’m fine!”
“No you’re not.” Sandra shook her head, and turned to flee, desperate for relief.
“Calm down, Sandra.” Pastor John’s deep voice soothed Sandra’s shaking body as he guided her into a chair. “It happened again, didn’t it?”
Sandra nodded, and blew her nose. “Yes. But it was worse this time. I saw Kaylee in trouble too.”
Pastor John took a seat behind his desk and sighed. “You know why this is happening.”
“But…I don’t want to believe it. There can’t be that many condemned people.”
“Sandra, you know when you gave your life to Christ that you received new eyes. Your vision is different now. You’re seeing things in a whole new way.”
“It hurts,” Sandra sniffed.
“I know.” Pastor John nodded. “It’s not supposed to feel good.”
“How do I cure myself?”
“You can’t.” Pastor John smiled gently. “The only thing you can do is give those suffering souls the Key to ending their sorrow. The Key to unlock those chains that their sins and rejection of the Truth have created.” He rested a hand on his worn Bible. “Give them new vision, Sandra. Help them see God’s love.”
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