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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Write something in the YOUNG ADULT or TEEN genre (06/07/07)

TITLE: Prison Again.
By Val Clark


Ness pulled out of the blazing sun into the narrow alleyway. He scuffed at the dust with the toe of his sandal for several minutes before finally looking at the house across the road.

Tegu stood guard at the gate. Even after an absence of five years Ness could still feel the thump of Tegu’s meaty fists against his flesh. Hear cruel words hissed into his ears. ‘Useless boy. Master’s gonna send you back to the slave market. It’ll be the galleys. Dead in a week you’ll be.’ Ness had run away. A twelve year old boy would be lucky to last a day on one of those ships.

The shadows were long before, head down, Ness finally approached Tegu. Ness licked his lips I don’t deserve to be treated well, Lord. He felt for the leather pouch that hung from his belt. But please let this letter soften my old master’s heart.

‘I’ve, I’ve got a message for the master.’

With a painful tug, Tegu pulled Ness’s head up. ‘Well, well, who have we here? Messy Nessy, come crawling back.’

Ness turned away from his hate-filled stare.

‘A letter….’

‘Who’d trust a runaway slave with anything valuable?’

Ness squared his shoulders. ‘It was….’

‘Enough of your lies.’ Tegu dragged Ness through the gate. ‘Guard! Throw this lying thief into the cells!’

Ness hunkered down in the damp dirty straw and sighed. That went well. He leant against the moist wall. He was used to prison cells. He’d met the man who now called him ‘son’ in one. He had been shown the Way and entrusted with a letter. Five days walk and I’m back in a cell. Ness slipped off a sandal and massaged his toes.


Ness was awake immediately. Moonlight filled the cell.

‘The door.’

He slipped his sandal back on and walked quietly over to the door.

‘Nessy, my friend. A little bird told me you’d returned.’

Ness peered through the bars. ‘Abe? Is that you?’

Seconds later Abe had unlocked the door and was thumping Ness on the back. ‘It’s good to see you, but what an idiot you are to come here.’ He tugged at Ness’s tunic. ‘Follow me and I’ll get you out.’

Ness held back. ‘I can’t. I have a message for your master.’

‘He may have gone religious but I don’t see him forgiving a thieving slave.’ He grinned and ran a finger across his throat. ‘Now, I have in my possession a few interesting things that have been, shall we say, forgotten about.’ He passed Ness a heavy, roughly woven bag. ‘I’ll help you escape and you can get a good price for that stuff. Come on.’ Abe led him out of the cells and into a narrow passageway.


‘Shh, you idiot. Do you want to alert the guards?’

From behind them a guard called, ‘Halt! Who goes there?’

‘Too late. Sorry, my friend.’ Abe whispered as he spun Ness around to face the guard. ‘Well met. I just found him trying to escape. He has a bag of the master’s treasures in his hand.’

Strong arms grasped Ness. Before he could contradict Abe he was being dragged along passage after passage. His yelped as his shins banged into stone steps. Finally his captor stopped before a great, brass studded, wooden door. The guard knocked and they were admitted.

Ness was thrown to his knees before a vast candle-lit table. All things work together for good for those who follow Jesus. Please work this for good Master of the Universe.

The guard emptied the bag on the floor in front of Ness. ‘Abe caught this thief, master.’

‘Clever, Abe.’ The master looked up from a parchment. ‘Come stand in front of me, both of you.’ When Abe and Ness had obeyed him he surveyed them gravely. ‘Onesimus.’

‘Onesimus! Is it really you?’

‘Quiet, Abe.’

‘Yes, Master Philemon, it is I, Onesimus, your slave. I was wrong to run away. I’m sorry for what I stole and will repay you if it takes all my life.’

‘Your pouch?’

Ness placed it on the table. ‘It contains a letter from the Apostle Paul. I met him in Ephesus. We were in prison together.’

After what seemed like an age Philemon laid the letter aside. ‘Paul said you are no longer useless, but useful?’

Ness nodded.

‘Then please return those items to my treasury.’

‘Thank you, master.’

Abe’s attempt at a swift exit was halted by Philemon’s quite voice. ‘Abe, please explain.’

(Very loosely based on the book of Philemon.)

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This article has been read 1038 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Dee Yoder 06/14/07
You caught and held my interest right away and through to the end. Good writing.
Janice Cartwright06/15/07
Until I read the word "tunic" I imagined Ness a run-away in the slave-pocked US Confederate states. Even then there was no certainty until the familiar names, Onessimus and Philemon, were revealed at the end. This made them real characters rather than characatures carved in the stone of their culture. Slavery takes the same toll on humans in any age, and our Lord provides the same sweet succor. Very good writing!
Leigh MacKelvey06/15/07
this was so good! I can see a "teen" book with all kinds of biblical stories brought to life in intetesting and well written script like this!
Lynda Schultz 06/16/07
I suspected, but your "loosely based on" had me fooled. Great story, well written.
Joanne Sher 06/18/07
I caught on about halfway through - or started suspecting, anyway. It didn't stop me from becoming thoroughly engaged in this wonderful story. Excellent.
David Butler06/19/07
A masterful way of bringing the scriptural account to life. A satisfying conclusion. This would appeal to almost any age.
Edy T Johnson 06/19/07
Even though I don't usually care to read "fictionalized" accounts of Bible stories, this was so well done, you rather snuck up on me! I did recognize the "plot" early on, but had to keep reading to be sure I was right...and to see how you handled it all. I certainly did enjoy reading this story, regardless of my pre-conceived ideas (^-^)
Verna Cole Mitchell 06/20/07
I guessed pretty quickly what the story was about but was captivated by the excellent writing.
Kristen Hester06/20/07
Oh, I love this story. What a great way to get teens interested in the Bible. Wonderful.
Brenda Welc06/20/07
Thank you for making this story from the Bible come alive for me. Nicely done, truly inspired writing.
Sara Harricharan 06/20/07
Okay, you trick me! I didn't know this was going to turn into a story I knew! lol. Very well written, the nicknames are excellent and you made this all come to life like I've never read it before. It sounds like a book I could spend an afternoon reading to see what happens next. Good job.
Valora Otis09/16/07
Very well written, Yeggy! I enjoyed this a great deal. Hope you enter again very soon my friend.