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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