Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: The Family Reunion (06/05/08)
TITLE: Fatal Attractions
By Marlene Bonney
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Candy was thrashing about, trying to get some air in the stifling heat, as if their fatal car crash was only the beginning of something worse. Bill was beyond that and still, attempting to conserve the quickly dissipating coolness he had left in his body. Their faces, no longer masks of their emotions, were grotesquely stamped with utter terror.
They didn’t recognize us at first, their eyes trying to adjust to the different layers of darkness. But even then, we had to reintroduce ourselves, our appearances so altered from our last meeting. Notwithstanding, we did not rejoice in their attendance at our gathering, but accepted it as part and parcel of our family’s chosen fate.
“Whoosh!” The engulfing flames ignited within them, the usual beginning of the initiation process. And, as normal, the new members tried to fight the fires bursting from their pores, to no avail.
Years ago, our parents and some others of our family had tried to warn us away from this place, but we knew it really didn’t exist, except in their minds. Now, I had a constant, futile wish to beg their forgiveness for doubting them, but such contact was impossible, forbidden.
I sadly watched as Candy sobbed and wailed, unable to help her, even if I wanted to, as I drowned in my own groans.
“Hail, hail, the gang’s all here,” I mumbled, dismally, while our other relatives formed a ring around the newcomers.
We had no energy or desire to throw a welcome party like we would have done in our previous life, accompanied by booze and carousing; no desire to celebrate this, anyhow.
Bill was prostrate at my feet, begging for relief and release from constant death. By this time, scores of others were floating around our circle, as if to prove that misery loves company. Burning embers, all of us, blackened or bronzed from the eternal smoke, it was a wonder we could be distinguished one from the other.
I felt the mitigating justice of it all, my rising rage from the pit of my stomach threatening to spill out on the ground to add yet another layer of brimstone beneath our charred feet. And I gritted my teeth in the familiar moan of despair. Candy, along with my brothers and cousins, aunts and uncles and other relatives I knew to be mine but did not recognize down here, joined their groans to the mix.
Because it would never end.
Then, HE was there amongst us, lashing his fiery nail-studded ships upon us, ashes from our pain-racked bodies creating a shroud of raining ashes much like pillow-fight feathers, except they were black instead of white. But then, everything here was black, off-black, light black, medium black, smoky black, gray-black, and there was even black-black. The minions, grotesque and snarling, swirled everywhere at once. Lucifer himself, like a demented maestro, directed our chorus to a frenzied crescendo.
But all of this unendurable agony was as nothing in comparison to the condition of our sold souls. Candy and Bill fruitlessly begged him for mercy, and ultimately made the gravest, costliest sin of all here.
THEY CRIED OUT FOR GOD.
A curtain opened above us and we were forced to watch, much like a movie, the winners celebrating in heaven, as joyful as we were miserable, loving and being loved. And, for the millionth time, we longed to dip our fingers in the flowing, unquenchable waters there. But an insurmountable and unbreakable gulf separated us, and God was silent. We continued to watch, transfixed, as the white-robed family rejoiced with joy and laughter, welcoming another brother into their midst. And we saw our parents there, celebrating with our sister, Doris, and her children.
“Why, oh why, didn’t we listen?” we chanted with unrelenting remorse.
The curtain abruptly closed. Wretched, we cowered, as Satan continued berating us for our weakness, promising future benefits that would never materialize, deception and lies and evil being his trademarks.
The same scenario played out billions and billions of times and would continue forever, our incessant screams spilling into the earth’s inner core, where they occasionally were released amidst the spew of volcanoes, rolling over the rivers of lava.
And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire. Revelation 20:15
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