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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Fearful (08/23/07)

TITLE: A rustle of bones
By Gregory Kane


Philip stooped to enter, taking care not to brush his hair against the small animal skulls that hung from the lintel. It took several seconds for his eyes to adjust to the gloom, both physical and spiritual, that dominated the interior of the hut.

"Sit over there!" commanded the figure crouching in the middle of the room. His hair was wild and his face painted; he worn only a loincloth and a necklace made from beads and small bones. The dried mud floor had arcane symbols scratched into it.

Philip could see there werenít any chairs so he chose to squat. "My name is Philip," he said, embarrassed by the obvious tremble in his voice. "This is Pastor Makene. We have come to talk about ..."

"I know why you are here. The spirits told me!"

The manís voice reminded Philip of a witchís cackle from some ancient Shakespeare play.

"Moreover," he added, his voice dripping with malice, "the spirits tell me that your name is not Philip: it is 'fearful'. You have come here in the name of your church but inside your soul is screaming with terror."

And that, unfortunately, was perfectly true.


"You need to go and speak with him." Thatís what Philipís boss, Pastor Atkinson had said. "You have been put in charge of that village church so itís your responsibility to stand up for the Christians there."

"But youíre the missionary-in-charge," Philip retorted. "Iíve only been here four months. And Iíve never even spoken with a witchdoctor, let alone had to rebuke one."

"Philip, listen to me. I know youíre nervous, but there has to be a first time for everyone. The members of your church love you. They enjoy your ministry. They are prepared to follow you. But you have to be there for them when they need you. Having a powerful witchdoctor pronounce a curse on your elderís wife is not something you can just ignore."

"I know," the younger man agreed. "Itís just that this man isnít a charlatan. When old Mr Satoteke refused to pay for a charm, he cursed his cow and it died within hours. And people say that he has manifested the spirits of the dead before now. Maybe you should send someone with more experience?"

"Iíll tell you what. Iíll send Pastor Makene with you. But heís not to speak - thatís your job. Heíll just be there for moral support. And besides ..." The missionary paused, he flashed Philip a rascally smile, "If you do get turned into a toad, the pastor can always pick you up and bring you home."

"I... Iím not sure that..."

"The blood of Jesus, Philip. Just claim the blood Ė itís as simple as that. Now get out of here before Iím tempted to call down fire from Heaven!"


"Yes, I am nervous," Philip said, trying but failing to look the witchdoctor in the eye. "But I have been sent here to say that you simply cannot..."

That was as far as the message got. Philip opened his mouth to speak but the words would not come out. It was as if his tongue were turned to stone. In panic he looked at the witchdoctor but all he saw was the smug smile of easy victory.

"What were you going to say?" the man taunted, breaking out into a laugh that was as evil as it was humourless. "What is it that I am not allowed to do?"

Philip was poised to turn and flee. But then he felt an unusual sense of calm descend. Glancing at Pastor Makene, he saw that his lips were moving silently. It looked as if he were praying quietly in tongues. Philip turned once more to the sorcerer and found that his own tongue was instantly loosened.

"I tell you, by the power of the blood of Jesus, that you will not threaten any of my church members." The words were spoken with a force and authority that surprised Philip as much as everyone else.

"My people have left the old ways," he continued, "and I will not allow you to interfere any further in their affairs!"

"Get out!" hissed the withered, pathetic old man cowering in fear against the far wall of the hut. "You are upsetting the spirits."

Philip left, a quiet confidence in his step. "That wasnít too bad," he said to Pastor Makene.

"Not bad at all," he agreed, "- for a first time."

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This article has been read 960 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Jan Ackerson 08/31/07
I really like the structure, with the flashback in the middle. This was scary and powerful, and ultimately very satisfying. Great writing!
Rhonda Clark08/31/07
This is great. I could feel the emotions and see the hut. You did a great job.
Valora Otis08/31/07
I really enjoyed your writing. I too liked the flashback in the middle. Good against evil always works for me. Thanks!
Myrna Noyes08/31/07
Loved your title and opening sentences! They drew me right into your story, and your excellent writing kept me glued right to the very satisfying end! :) Great job!
Paula Friedrichsen08/31/07
I loved this article! Very exciting and engaging story telling.
Marilyn Schnepp 09/03/07
Terrific Title, and I loved the humor that popped up along the way. The "toad", the "fire from heaven", etc. Great story and written very well. Intriguing,interesting and enlightening bit of wisdom in this piece. I give it an A+ ...but sorry, I'm not the Judge. (smile)
Debbie Roome 09/03/07
This was really good. I liked your descriptions and the way the tension built. Having spent years in Africa, I know that witch doctors can be very intimidating but God is always greater!
Kristen Hester09/06/07
Oh, very, very good. My pastor encountered witch doctors on trip to Haiti. They indeed feared the name of JESUS. This is wonderful. A well deserved win for sure!
Lisa Holloway09/06/07
Very good writing--smooth, intense...and a hint of humor. Congratulations!
Sheri Gordon09/07/07
Congratulations on your much deserved EC. This is very good writing. I like the way you took a very powerful topic and presented it with both intensity and humor. Nice job.