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

TITLE: The Terror That Comes By Night
By Sandra Petersen


The screen door squeaked on its hinges before slamming shut. Angel willed herself to wake from her dreamless sleep. A fit of trembling shook her body, an involuntary response to familiar noises. She strained to hear.

Clutching the blankets around her neck, she opened her eyes wide. Her breath seemed to catch in her throat. Listening for the first footfall on the steps that led upstairs.

Something crashed to the floor. Glass, from the sound of it. Loud slurred curses followed. A door creaked open down the hallway. Angel pictured her mother belting the frayed blue checkered bathrobe about her waist. The vinyl soles of her mother’s mules slapped softly against the floor and faded.

Angel moaned in fear of what would happen next. Every Saturday night for as long as she could remember she awoke to the sound of the screen door and the voices of her mother and stepfather crescendoing in an impassioned duet of anger and frustration. It was only in the last year since she had begun to develop a young woman’s shape that the worst injustice started.

“No, Ben. Not tonight.” Angel heard her mother gasp out a terrified plea and her stepfather answer with an enraged growl. “Leave her alone. She’s only thirteen.”

Cowering now, uncontrollable shaking throughout her body, listening, listening. Grasping the covers so tightly that her fingers turned numb. The nightmare was coming and she could not prevent it.

And no one else would. In the last month, the attacks became more violent and Angel dropped clues about her ordeal. A creative writing course became her outlet, her hope for rescue. She thought her composition teacher, Mr. Minton, would question how a young girl like her knew so much about ‘those types’ of subjects. Her last short story received a high grade, but no comments. No questions.

No rescue from the terror that came in the night.

A dull thud from downstairs and the sound of feet clomping up the steps knotted Angel’s stomach. She silently repeated the Bible verse that gave her strength in the past:

The angel of the LORD encamps around those who fear him, and delivers them.

She tried to focus on the words, the words that would deaden her to the physical pain she must endure. The doorknob rattled and turned.

The angel of the LORD . . .

A hulking shadow fell across the bed. She faked sleep, willed her eyes not to peek, not to squeeze so tightly that he would know she was only pretending.

. . . encamps . . .

He fumbled with his belt buckle. That, and the sound of a zipper, brought panic to her throat. With great effort, she kept herself from bolting out of bed or making any movement at all.

. . . around those who fear him . . .

She heard the thump of his boots as he removed them. An odor of sweaty socks assailed her nose. His belt buckle clinked on the wood floor. Every muscle in her body tightened for the assault she knew was near. The covers lifted from her and she heard a small chuckle and his tongue as it wet his lips.

. . . and delivers them.

There was a loud thump, a sound like saltines being crushed by a rock, and the covers fell back onto Angel’s body. A heavy weight dropped onto her legs and slid off onto the floor.

She sat up and squinted into the semi-darkness. Kneeling beside the prone body of her husband, Angel’s mother raised her face toward the ceiling. She let out a sound halfway between a scream and a groan. The hairs on the back of Angel's neck prickled.


Her mother, clutching the cast iron frying pan in one hand and covering her mouth with the other, moaned again.


She dropped the pan and scooped her husband’s head into her lap. Crying and laughing at the same time, Angel’s mother rocked back and forth and stroked his face. Blood soaked her bathrobe.

“Momma? We have to get away,” Angel begged. She rose to her feet and began tossing clothes and possessions into a grocery bag, then stopped and tugged at her mother’s sleeve.

Her mother shook her head and closed her eyes. Tears cascaded down her hollow cheeks. “Don’t you understand? I can’t leave him. I love him too much. He loves me.” She leaned forward and kissed his forehead. “You go. And don’t you stop for nothing.”

That night, with the Lord going before her, Angel left home and never looked back.

The Scripture verse is Psalm 34:7 (RSV).

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This article has been read 1427 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Teri Wilson08/30/07
This gave me chills. Very well done. Blessings, Teri
Kristen Hester08/31/07
Oh my, oh my. I was there and I felt the fear. Your descriptions of the sounds and smells were so vivid and real. I was happy the mom stopped him and then so disappointed she stayed. WONDERFUL.
Loren T. Lowery08/31/07
Without doubt, I am sure, this was difficult to write, but I also expect it was a catharsis as well. And, as much as it serves to unburden it helps to enlighten. I applaud both your courage and talent in presenting this article. May it bless those in need to know they are not alone, that they should speak out, seeking help; because there are those that both understand and care. And finally, that they never lose hope because God does listen and hears their prayers.
Sherry Wendling08/31/07
I'm still quaking--can hardly type! You didn't waste words explaining, but rather you drew on my senses powerfully until I entered into Angel's experience. Then the precious mother, her life destroyed in the crush of two loves--a sick one and a divine one...God's promised deliverance and escape, yet at what a price! An unforgettable piece of craftsmanship and heart.
Lynda Schultz 08/31/07
This is so real that I am afraid that it WAS a real experience. If it was, God bless you for using the courage He gave you to tell it. Real or not, kukos for the excellent writing.
Verna Cole Mitchell 08/31/07
This superbly written piece brought me a deep sadness that any child should be exposed to such sordid treatment. Thanks be to God for His care and rescue of any such young victims. This story lingers in my heart.
Rhonda Clark08/31/07
This was a hard one to read. It does show how God blesses those who trust in His word.

Unfortunately, this happens more often than our shaded eyes know. God bless you and this piece.
Dianne Janak08/31/07
I am thanking God for the fact that these horrors are coming out to the light, and finally and sadly we are seeing what lurks behind closed doors in some places. I do agree if it was true, the writing of it is a part of the healing process and i thank God for that also. Bless you... Dianne
Janice Cartwright09/01/07
I cringed and shrank inside right along with Angel. It seems almost unthinkable that such as this should happen and yet it is REALITY in our fallen world. Only our great and awesome God can bring good out of such loathsome acts. And yet He does it, time after time. Amazing writing and (perhaps) transparency.
Sharlyn Guthrie09/01/07
Okay, you made me cry. But I must admit I would like to use that frying pan on the mother as well...not to hurt her, mind you, just to knock some sense into her. You definitely made the scene come frighteningly alive.
valerie chambers09/01/07
WOW-How sad but true that those around the victim did not pick up the clues.How wonderful we have a savior that does
Joanne Sher 09/02/07
I'm still shaking. This is so scarily vivid and terrifying. This must have been excruciatingly painful to write. WOW.
Dee Yoder 09/02/07
Oh, I get so mad at this kind of abuse! It's hard for me to understand how her Mom could be aware of even the FIRST abuse, and not leave with her daughter right then, but I know it happens just this way in real life. Gripping story and excellent writing.
Ann FitzHenry09/03/07
Wow, amazing. Excellent writing.
Jan Ackerson 09/03/07
Yikes! Powerful, powerful writing, and you didn't take the easy way out by giving us a repentant father...just raw, painful truth. Wonderful and terrible at the same time, just as it should be. One of my favorites.
Laurie Glass 09/03/07
Wow! Excellent writing - bringing the reader right into the experience with your descriptions. Great job on a sensitive topic. Raw and realistic. This story blows me away.
Jacquelyn Horne09/03/07
Oh, what a tragic experience. I cringe at the thought. This was well told. Good job.
Sheri Gordon09/04/07
Wow. I have goosebumps after reading this. Extremely chilling. Very powerful writing. You put us in the bedroom -- and it was very terrifying.
Dara Sorensen09/04/07
Wow--truly terrifying. Such a well-written piece, I am still trembling.
Pam Carlson-Hetland09/05/07
Tears still in my eyes. So very real. Your gift as a writer shines. Such an incredibly sad story.
LaNaye Perkins09/05/07
Your story touched me deeply. You did a fantastic job writing this one!
Julie Ruspoli09/05/07
This was very well written. I'm glad the mother finally stopped him. Emotions keep me from saying more.
Betty Castleberry09/05/07
Tough subject to write about, but you did, and did it very well, too. Great description, great piece.
George Parler 09/05/07
Very intense writing to say the least. Made me want to pick up the frying pan and take up where Momma left off. Your writing conveys strong emotions well. Good job.
Sheri Gordon09/07/07
Congratulations on your much deserved EC. This is really good writing.