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

TITLE: Doomed Regret
By Loren T. Lowery


An early December plane crash claimed eight lives. Two of the victims, bonded only by shared fates, were buried the same day in the same cemetery. Here the similarities end. Their deaths began a journey where infinity is dwarfed, time no longer measured - joy or despair endless.

The December snow fell quietly. Night stole in on tiptoe, drawing lavender sheets over pearl gray hills, blanketing the day, shushing the noise, calling for sleep.

Black wrought iron, caste in the shape of spears, and tethered with kindred kind, boldly embroidered a patch of sacred lawn. Iron Gates standing as steely barriers to life’s finality, man’s mortality.

Drifting snow speckles brown dirt from the fresh graves, it melts and turns the warm earth dark - thawing like a spreading bruise, staining black.

No breath, not even the whisper of a wind confuses the silence here; indeed, sound stoically throws ups its arms to surrender to the cold blackening stillness. No noise, no stirring only quiet. Life laid to rest, death no longer denied.

Not here, between the Iron Gates, but there, yonder a bell peals. Four, five, six times, evening drawing nigh, lavender sheets, once cool to the fevered skin, melds with the blackening earth; a once past comfort turned foe in the frosting darkness.

A white moon appears on the night’s cloudless horizon, moving slowly as if awakened and pulled by the pealing bell’s fading sound. Moon shadows fall upon the pristine snow – outline of trees, gate, fence and headstones begin to move.

Impossible, graceful, silent movements, dipping, waggling, bobbing caressing the snow around their forms– their shadows dancing like puppets tied to a string from the moving light above them.

Beyond the Iron Gates, a noise is heard, quick, fast: thump, thump, thump. Feet descending on wooden steps connected to a white clapboard church. A man appears; he is running, jacket open and flying behind him as he darts up the road to the graveyard. “Rachel, Rachel,” he cries.

Behind him more distant but quickly looming, another sound. Its rhythmic cadence shakes the road with its thunderous approach. A Dark Figure, riding a dark horse emerges from shadows that seem to embrace them with intimate familiarity. In a gloom well past twilight, they appear almost as one.

The man races ahead of the Horseman, pushing the Iron Gates open with a clang that vibrates in the cold air. He runs to one of the graves, kneeling on the fresh earth. Hot tears mingle with snow dust. “God, I beseech you, hear my prayer.” Clutching a gold cross, he pounds his fist into the fresh soil, bruising the earth still more.

The relentless beat of the hooves draws closer, the noise suffocating, pilfering sense and sensibility. The black specter of the horse and its Rider suddenly halt at the gate. Their presence hangs large and overwhelming behind the man kneeling at the grave. The horse stomps it feet with impatient agitation. The man stretches his arms in a protective stance. “May the Lord grant us mercy in our deaths.”

He dares a glance at the Rider who eyes stare back as red embers of hate. The horse rears and neighs with a sound that splits the earth itself. Flames belch from its nostrils, sizzling the snow into a lake of red flames.

“That we might be united with Him in Christ in Heaven,” the man continues.

A wedge of brilliant, warm light breaks the ebony night, scalding it gold - down to the grave where the praying man kneels. The man looks up; his tears absorbing the color of the light and reflecting like liquid gold on his cheeks.

“Fear not,” a gentle voice instructs.

Seven bells peal out and a Perfect Peace embraces him as the light disappears, returning cold blackness to cold blackness; restoring the same, but for the red flames dancing across the lake of melted snow.

The horse rears again, disturbing the dirt from the adjacent, forsaken grave, causing it to crumble and avalanche down upon itself. A howling apparition arises from the mound; corrupt, tormented, putrid it floats to the outstretched hand of the Specter on horseback.

The man falls back in terror as he watches in awe as the apparition closes the Iron Gate and mounts behind the dark Rider. The ghost leans forward as if in hope to hear something the Rider says. Slowly he turns, infinite horror etched into his features, he stares at the Christian– in doomed regret.

The Rider laughs.

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Member Comments
Member Date
Verna Cole Mitchell 08/31/07
What powerfully poetic prose you have created. Your word choices are superb. Great job.
Rhonda Clark08/31/07
This is very interesting. I could feel myself in the graveyard and visualize all that happened.

Great work.
Joanne Sher 09/01/07
Wow - this is so visual it is absolutely tactile. Excellent word choices all around. Good stuff!
Laurie Walker09/03/07
I'm not exactly sure what this was all about, or why the airplane crash was mentioned other than to explain it taking place in a graveyard. That could have held together on it's own, however.

Now, this was so intensely, beautifully written I didn't much care that I couldn't comprehend everything that was going on. What an artist you are with words.
Myrna Noyes09/05/07
WOW! What a richness of words! Your descriptions are so awesome and place me right in the scene! My favorite line was, "Night stole in on tiptoe, drawing lavender sheets over pearl gray hills, blanketing the day, shushing the noise, calling for sleep."

The whole piece was full of emotion, tension, and yes, FEAR! :) Good job!
Sherrie Jackson09/05/07
I'm captivated by your story and its images, but I reeeeeeally don't know what it's about. Please share! In advance of knowing I'll say - awesome job. ;-)
Loren T. Lowery09/05/07
From some of the responses I see my article is a bit obscure and needs a disclaimer of sorts. It's about life after death. One of the deceased was a Christian and prayed for by her husband at her gravesite. He was distressed until a voice from heaven told him to "Fear Not"

The other deceased was not a Christian and did not have anyone praying for them. The Dark Rider (Satan) comes and claims his victim. His victim, as he mounts behind the Dark Rider who is on his horse, is holding out hope that maybe his "future in eternity" is not quite as bleak as it seems. However, the Dark Rider tells him differently and therefore his victim looks at the Christian in "Doomed Regret" causing the Dark Rider to laugh.

Sorry the story is so obtuse, but really, it made sense while I was writing it. But obviously I missed the mark.

Blessings, Loren
LaNaye Perkins09/05/07
I loved the way you painted this story with your words. I really liked the way you did this. Very unique and interesting in my opinion.
Dee Yoder 09/05/07
Oh wow, so awesome. Your message should send chills down the spine of anyone who hasn't made a decision for Christ! That last sentence is powerful and haunting. The descriptions in this entry are fantastic, and visual. You set such a somber, scary mood, too.
Cathy Kane09/06/07
I loved your story! And I "got it" from the beginning. Right up there with the masters like Peretti and Dekker. What a gift you have!
Linda Watson Owen09/12/07
Such a beautifully crafted combination of poetry and prose! Your ability to create mood is masterful indeed! A wonderful 'ride' through the emotion of fear!