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

TITLE: The Smoke of Their Torment
By Myrna Noyes


It was dark and still in the young girl’s bedroom, but she lay there fully awake. A plane rumbled in the sky overhead, and her little heart pounded. Was this the night the bombs would drop on her and her family? Therese waited in terror for the blows that would maim and kill. It was awful not knowing when or how they would come, but having no doubt of their inevitability.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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. If only I could have a night light, maybe the scary things would go away.

With reluctance, she crawled back under the covers, and her fears crawled right in with her.

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This article has been read 885 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Jan Ackerson 08/31/07
Oh dear, Mama really missed an opportunity there, didn't she? I'm glad, though, that you ended it this way rather than in a more predictable manner--an element of really good writing!
Rhonda Clark08/31/07
This is a scary piece. To think of what the world will be like, can be frightening even for adults. You pulled me into the child's world. Good work.
Pat Guy 09/03/07
Poor thing! How like a child! A good lesson to us parents on the perceptions our children might have about what they hear concerning the 'things of God.'

You did a great job on conveying this lesson. Very vivid writing about the imagination of a child - well done!
Dee Yoder 09/04/07
Well, this is a great story and it sure did capture my fears as a child, too, when I heard the same kinds of stories in church! It's hard for children to imagine a world so frightening and different from the one they know now. Great writing; I really like that last line.
Loren T. Lowery09/04/07
Brought back memories of my childhood, things people said, caught in my imagination and relentlessly gnawing away at my world. This is such a great lesson of how our words and actions can impact our youth. We have an obligation to the vulnerable and it should not be overlooked for one of the reasons you bring out so well in your article. Great job!
Laurie Walker09/04/07
I'm quite perterbed with the mother! ;) Not only for sending her daughter back to bed without offering any sort of comfort, but for taking her daughter to the meetings in the first place!

Magnificently done! I was hooked from beginning to end.
Kristen Hester09/05/07
You nailed Fearful! I remember watching end time movies at my main stream denomination church as a young teen. They did little more then frigthen me and made me want to avoid the subject. This was well written. Good job!
Leanna Roe09/05/07
What a story. I remember as a child hearing stories of the "Last Days" and I many times I felt just like Therese. Great story, well written...
Patty Wysong09/05/07
Definately a scarey topic for kids!! This was very real--right down to the mother, unfortunately. (thankfully, though, not all moms do that!!) Good job!
LaNaye Perkins09/05/07
Your story help me captive from beginning to end. I really was swept up in it. Well done!
LaNaye Perkins09/05/07
Good grief! I meant 'held' me captive! Sorry, loose nut behind my keyboard!
Pamela Kliewer09/05/07
Well done. Your story pulled me in and I felt the little girl's fear. The ending was a nice twist.
Cathy Kane09/06/07
"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."

To me, this was the most disturbing line in the story. To be introduced to the "left behind" fate so clearly and yet, still not want to embrace the Lord and become part of "the remnant." I know many people of all ages who are like this little girl and I just don't get it!

Rather than taking issue with the mother, I was more upset with the unbelieving father, whose attitude surely influenced his daughter's opinions about God and the message that was presented to her at church.

You vividly captured the topic here. Very well written and very thought provoking! Excellent job!
David Butler09/06/07
O Man! This stirred up a variety of emotions in me, opening up a personal can of worms.
I've also had problems with a lot of end-time teaching which seems to use scare tactics uncharacteristic of the message of the rest of Scripture. Yes, there will be terrible times ahead - especially for the disobedient. But God's church is going to rise victorious - and the gates of Hell shall not prevail against it. Am I a heretic? We can only wait and see.
But thanks for the courage you showed in bringing this to light. We need to stop and think soberly at times.
Gregory Kane09/11/07
This is a very brave entry – some Christians are fascinated with the end times to the exclusion of all else and this is a thoughtful analysis of some of the dangers. I particularly like the way that Jesus doesn’t even gets a mention. He’s there all the way through the book of Revelation but sadly he’s sometimes sidelined in the midst of all our charts and prophetic interpretations. No wonder the little girl is terrified when the source of love, faith and hope has been left out of the picture!