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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Melody (08/24/06)

TITLE: Set Free at Kionawah
By Debbie Sickler


Tormented screams from beyond the darkness pierce the night, awakening me from a restless sleep. I throw my hands to my ears. Guttural moans only the Holy Spirit could interpret wrench themselves from my throat as I attempt to pray for us all.

Silence once more fills the night; my father is dead. Mother begins wailing as loudly as his pleading cries only moments ago. I long to go to her, to comfort her; chains about my ankles refuse...

The sliding door is forced open. Blinding streaks of moonlight flood our dank cell. I cower and tremble as my mother is ripped from her chains and forced into the night. I will not see her again. Soon, new cries fill the sky. I can do little but wait for the monster’s return.

Foreknowledge of ones death is a surreal sensation. Time all at once stands still and fast forwards. How long have they been keeping us here? Days? Weeks? The only marking of the true passage of time, is witnessing our numbers dwindle. We are only four now.

I wish I could say that we will all die as martyrs should. Stoic. Peaceful. Ready to meet our Creator. But we are not ready to die. My father cried out not for his own soul, but for the souls he came to Kionawah to save. My mother’s anguish was not for the torturing of her own flesh, but for the lives of the sick she wished to serve.

The assassin enters, chooses his next plaything. Uncle Thoh stares into my eyes as he is dragged out to meet the fate of the others before him. “Remember all your father has taught you, Rachinta. Be strong in our Lord.” His comment earns him a wicked blow to his head. I turn away.

Uncle Thoh is not taken far. I hear whips cracking before shredding his flesh. The sound transports me to the hill of Golgotha. I imagine the stripes that Christ willingly took for us and am awed. Uncle’s voice calling out to his Lord with his last breath returns me to my cell. Sleep of despair overwhelms me...

Large hands wrap around my arms. I kick madly. I beg. I cry. It doesn’t matter. His heart is stone, his ears deaf. I enter the morning light.

In the dimness, I see my parents. First, I pass my father, barely recognizable other than the tattered remains of a shirt bought for him as a gift. Then I spot Mother’s bare remains and fear the worst.

The monster guised as a man binds my wrists to a fence post. He slashes the clothing from my body. I shiver in the cool morning air. The gush of water blasted from a hose shocks me. I sputter and cough.

“Deny this god of yours and you will be spared.”

I silently refuse, praying for a quick end and strength to endure. I close my eyes and his words fade into a blur. I do not recognize the sounds my own voice utters as I involuntarily react to his hateful actions. My eyes turn to the sky; the world grows dim…

Heavenly hosts singing hallelujahs rouse me as they worship the Most High. Their words envelope me in peace and indescribable joy. Gone is the darkness and sorrow felt at Kionawah. I feel no more pain, no sorrow, no fear. Nothing, but the overwhelming glory of Heaven and its Master. With the sound of their praise, I realize I am free. I join in, singing the most beautiful melody of all time, a song of love to my God, my beloved Savior.

* Inspired by the numerous true accounts of Christians suffering for their faith all over the world.

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This article has been read 1013 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Rebecca Livermore08/31/06
This gave me chills! Beautiful! Thanks so much for reminding all of us of our suffering brothers and sisters around the world!
Sharlyn Guthrie08/31/06
Your story is well-crafted and powerful! Writing from the prospective of one about to die, and then translated into life was very effective!
Cassie Memmer08/31/06
This has got to be one of your best! I loved the names, the set up, the pain, the glorious end. Very well done!
Edy T Johnson 09/04/06
How you can write like this, absolutely revolting terror and utter Heavenly bliss, all inside one short story, is awesome. You know how to make words do your bidding.
Teri Wilson09/04/06
This took my breath away. As difficult as the first part is to read, the ending is incredibly beautiful and moving. Congratulations on a job very well done! Only one nitpicky comment - I think "Ones" should be "one's" in the first sentence of the fourth paragraph. BRAVO!
Brenda Craig09/05/06
Your vivid, descriptive language showing the horror of darkness and the beauty of His light in a surrendered soul grabbed my senses in a profound way. Absolutely amazing!!!
Shari Armstrong 09/05/06
Very powerful - makes you wonder if each of us would be able to stay strong in our faith if faced with that choice -I pray that we all are.
Valora Otis09/05/06
I thought that I was very familiar with the words, "strength to endure." But your story gave the words deep soulful meaning. I agree, BRAVO!
Joanne Sher 09/05/06
Wow - this is so vivid, so frightening, so tactile. This moved me to tears. Amazingly wonderful and wonderfully amazing!
Allison Egley 09/05/06
Wow. This was very well written. As others have said, as hard as it was to read, the ending made it all worth it.
Jan Ackerson 09/05/06
Powerful writing, great title. Good job, indeed!
Ann FitzHenry09/05/06
Fabulous and inspiring! This is a very vivid and emotional piece. Great work describing the scene and the emotions. I was curious where "melody" was going to fit in, but you included it nicely at the end. Great job!
Sue Dent09/05/06
Well . . . that was intense!! Excellent job!
Jeffrey Snell09/06/06
Riveting, disturbing and a great reminder of reality.
Joanne Malley09/06/06
Chilling account of the horrors some face at the hands of evil. Great writing. I'm holding you responsible for any future nightmares! LOL :)
Teri Wilson09/07/06
Congrats Debbie on a well-deserved win.
Suzanne R09/07/06
I totally hated reading this and felt physically sick as I read it ... but that is a huge compliment to the author. You've brought to light something which is and has been so horrible and yet so real throughout the centuries. Thank goodness you finished with such hope ... although my stomach is still in my throat....

Well done, and congratulations on a well deserved win.
Stacey LaMontagne09/07/06
I agree with all that. I am still wiping tears away. Awesome job! I would never even attempt something like this. You did it so well. You have a wonderful gift.
Sharlyn Guthrie09/07/06
Congratulations! I just knew this heart-render was a winner!
Val Clark09/08/06
A tough read, no doubt a tougher story to write, thanks for persevering with it. This line I thought was particularly good: 'Time all at once stands still and fast forwards.' yeggy