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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Write in the ADVENTURE genre (05/24/07)

TITLE: The Martyr's Portal
By Birdie Courtright


Samara closed her eyes remembering the look of peace on James’ face as the sword met his flesh. Weak from the intense grief of the past week, her tears had long since run dry; replaced by the guttural moans that she dared believe would reach the ears of God. Rhoda placed a cup of warm tea on the floor next to her.

“Please…drink this. You have not eaten or taken any drink for days now. Your grief must not continue, or surely you will die along with him. Come, join the others and partake of the meal.”

The younger women carried Salome here, to Mary’s home to mourn her son—‘the son of thunder’. Forty four years had passed since Messiah’s resurrection. Who knew that this Passover would be marked with the blood of the first sons?

Ignoring the tea, Samara rose from the floor carefully. As long as she had breath within her, she would endure the agony of her aging joints to give herself in spirit to the brothers, interceding on their behalf, and now comforting the women who mourned so deeply. ‘This is my legacy in Christ’, she thought soberly, ‘to serve the mothers whose wombs have born the saints and martyrs; blessed are they who mourn, for they shall be comforted.’

Her whispered prayers continued as she made her way toward the main house to join the others in giving thanks to God for James, and those before him who were now seated with Christ—and for Peter shackled in Herod’s prison.

“Samara, my faithful friend—your presence here is a stream of blessing, for I know God hears the cries of your heart for our children.” Salome motioned for her to take her seat among the women.

Peace drifted over the room like a warm blanket, as the words tumbled through Mary’s lips, giving thanks for Salome’s sacrifice; the blood of her son that would cry up from the ground as Holy fire. Lifting her voice almost in song, she began to plead for the comfort of Peter. Around the room, voices began to ebb and flow in and around Mary’s melodic heart cry. The atmosphere thickened as each breath intertwined with that of another, until the room became one heart, one mind; one song. Inside Herod’s Prison, a portal opened from the heavenly realm.

“Arise, Peter!” A blinding shaft of light pierced his eyes. The soft punch to his bruised ribs brought an agonizing moment of pain. Silently the shackles opened and the chains slithered away like two metal snakes. Peter blinked hard, trying to comprehend what was happening.


“Quiet! Don’t speak—just get dressed and put your sandals on, wrap your cloak around you and follow me.”
Shrugging his shoulders, shaking his head and rubbing his eyes didn’t erase the vision. The cell was flooded with light, and despite the movement, the soldiers beside him never stirred. Peter suddenly realized that he and his companion were invisible.

‘It’s a dream…’ he reasoned as he fell into step behind his rescuer. Swiftly moving unnoticed past the cell guard, the two made their way down the passage toward the gate. Peter kept his eyes trained on the shadowy figure just inches ahead of him, anticipating a shout that would bring the guards in hot pursuit but it never came.

Peter anticipated the noise as his sandals met the cobblestone path leading to the gate ahead…there should have been a sound, but there wasn’t; he was somehow moving in a vacuum of utter silence. In slow motion the gate opened before them, like someone unseen had awaited their arrival. The guards stood at attention; statues frozen in time. It was surreal, as though they were moving in an entirely different dimension. Peter’s mind raced to make sense of it all as he entered the street beyond the prison gate.

Struggling to keep up, he followed the narrow lane into the city. By the time he reached the intersection, the light had vanished and the shadow along with it. He was free.

The thick haze dissipated as Peter entered the room. Calming the small crowd, with a quiet voice he quickly relayed the details of his escape.

“I must leave now. Please…tell James and the brothers of this great miracle!”

Samara held Salome tightly as Peter hastily made his way into the night. “Greater love has no man than this; that he lays down his life for his friend”, she whispered.
Acts 12

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Member Comments
Member Date
Rebecca Jones05/31/07
Such a vivid rendering!
Rebecca Jones05/31/07
Such a vivid rendering!
Pam Carlson-Hetland05/31/07
A familiar story brought vividly to life for a contemporary reader. So very well written!
Myrna Noyes06/04/07
Very nice retelling of this well-known Bible story! I especially liked the description of the women's prayer meeting and the lines "Around the room, voices began to ebb and flow in and around Mary’s melodic heart cry. The atmosphere thickened as each breath intertwined with that of another, until the room became one heart, one mind; one song." One time in particular I was in a prayer group where we experienced this very thing. Good job! :)
Julie Arduini06/04/07
This was nicely done, very compelling.
Sally Hanan06/08/07
Birdie, as a judge, you got high marks from me on this one. Great piece of writing!
Kate Grey06/09/07