Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Fearful (08/23/07)
TITLE: The Smoke of Their Torment
By Myrna Noyes
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Startling images of scarlet beasts, heads covered with horns sharp as fangs, leered at her, causing her to shiver under the covers. Shocking scenes of murderous earthquakes, raging fires, red rivers flowing sticky with blood, hail the size and weight of daddy’s bowling ball, and flashing lightning rose before her fear-filled eyes. She beheld humanity, even children like herself, covered with raw, oozing sores from head to foot, flesh seared black by the hostile, burning sun. They cried out for relief, but received none. The world was then plunged into darkness so deep that light was nowhere to be found. The deafening thunder, the pitiful cries of man and beast, the agonized groaning of the very earth itself crowded her senses.
“I don’t think I like you, God! Why are you going to do this to us? You must not love us very much, after all!” Her own whispered words frightened her.
<I>God is not good. He doesn’t act like a Father should at all. He won’t even listen to our prayers for protection when those awful days come.</I>
Phrases from the church meetings they had been attending recently came back to haunt her: “A time of trouble on earth as has never been seen before,” “The Last Days,” “The End Times,” “Persecution and torture of the Saints,” “The Mark of the Beast.” They echoed over and over in her tormented brain.
Her world had seemed safe and secure until Mama had been invited to a “Revelation Seminar,” at a local theater. It seemed the speakers were trying to scare people into loving God. It didn’t make any sense to her, but Mama was fascinated by the prophetic interpretations, confusing end time charts, and the vivid, alarming slides of demons and destruction on the big screen up front. The speaker soberly explained how their particular denomination was the only true one, the faithful remnant spoken of in Scripture.
<I>The preacher said our own families, maybe even grandpa and grandma, will tell the police where we’re hiding in forests or caves, so they can throw us in jail. Soldiers will beat us up, our neighbors will chase us with guns and knives. People from other churches don’t really love Jesus, and they will hate us, too. No one can be trusted.</I>
Daddy didn’t believe in God, and he didn’t go to the meetings. He was not happy with what Mama was telling him when she got home each evening. Daddy yelled at Mama and told her it was all foolishness, but Mama kept on going anyway.
Therese didn’t want to belong to “The Remnant,” but she didn’t want to belong to the Beast either and end up in the lake of fire.
With hissing hideousness, words snaked their way into her thoughts, “There is no hope for you. No matter which side you’re on, you die, you die, you die! God will not help you. He will stand off in heaven and watch you fall to the ground, bruised and bloodied. You can never be good enough to live in heaven anyway. God would not want you there.”
She covered her ears, but the horrifying threats would not cease. She shut her eyes tight, but the dreadful dragon with all the power of hell within him still mocked her and gloated over her.
In desperation, she pushed back the blankets and stood up. With trembling legs, she tiptoed into the living room where Mama sat on the couch.
Mama looked surprised and not very pleased to see her, but the little girl blurted out the words, before Mama could say anything. “Is tonight when they will come and drag us away from our home? Is it, Mama?”
“Therese, what on earth are you talking about? Don’t be so silly. Get back in bed this minute and go to sleep.”
Her feet dragged as she walked back down the hall. <I>If only I could have a night light, maybe the scary things would go away.</I>
With reluctance, she crawled back under the covers, and her fears crawled right in with her.
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