Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Write in the MYSTERY genre (04/05/07)
TITLE: A Silver Watch On a Chain
By Jan Ross
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The engine groaned as the train slowly gained speed. Passengers were pressing against the windows as they saw their loved ones gradually disappear in the distance. They didn’t know what lie ahead would change their lives forever.
Though many new passengers were picked up along the way, one stood out from the crowd. He was an unusual man—he carried himself with authority yet he never spoke a word. Dressed in all black except for his pristine white shirt, he walked tirelessly up and down the aisles as if he were governing every move on the train. His silver pocket watch glistened as an occasional ray of sunlight filtered through the windows. He checked it often as if he might miss an important appointment.
Several hours passed as the train neared its final destination. An eerie hush settled on the passengers while this mysterious figure of a man walked up and down the aisles, over and over again. No one moved or made a sound. Only total silence except the stranger’s rhythmic footsteps.
Time passed as if each minute was carefully guarded by this man. Suddenly, without hesitation, he reached overhead and pulled the brake cable. The metal wheels began screeching on the tracks. The smell of hot metal permeated the passenger car as the train came to a sudden halt. Then, for the first time, he spoke…
“Hurry! Everyone up and out, now!”
Feeling imminent danger and alarm, a few men hurried to the door, jumped down to the ground, and began helping the women and children quickly disembark. The man in black hurried the process from behind, often checking his watch. The engineer and conductor ran to him; there was a hurried but hushed discussion marked with great urgency.
As soon as everyone was off the train, the man in black jumped down and began to walk quickly. Without a word, everyone followed—no one objected to his strange behavior. No one had any idea what was happening, they just sensed they were being led away from harm into safety.
Suddenly the most horrible sound—another train came from out of nowhere and slammed head-on into their train. Immediately the trains burst into flames as iron wrangled with iron, metal against metal, with explosions and smoke everywhere—the place where they had just been sitting.
Startled babies began to wail. Screaming children clung to their mothers’ legs. Every eye was fastened on the horrific spectacle with disbelief. That should have been them—they would have all perished in the flames had it not been for the mysterious stranger.
One by one the passengers began to speak. How could this man have known? Was he the one who caused the crash? Did he have a warning from someone? Where did he come from? Who was he?
Eager to question him, a few of the men pressed through the small crowd to approach this stranger. He was no where to be found.
“Spread out, men, we’ve got to find him!”
The men began looking everywhere but to no avail. The mystery man was gone. No sign of him anywhere. No footprints. No grass bent from the weight of his body. No trail to follow. No scent left behind. No evidence he was ever there among them. All they had was the memory of a man dressed in black carrying a silver watch on a chain.
Quickly, the people decided to walk to a town off in the distance. Suddenly, a child noticed something glimmering in the grass. It was the stranger’s watch.
As the people gathered around, one of the men picked it up and opened it. Inside was an inscription: “There is an appointed time for everything. And there is a time for every thing under heaven.”
As they gave thanks to the Lord for sparing their lives, the engineer opened a piece of paper handed to him by the stranger. Unfolding it with shaking hands, his voice quivered as he read the words inscribed by the stranger: “Now is the time of God’s favor, now is the day of salvation.”
Every knee bowed in awe. Men, women, and children knew they had seen a miracle.
Because of their bold witness as recorded generations ago, many have found salvation.
2 Corinthians 6:2
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