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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Beach (07/04/05)

TITLE: If Jonah Came Today
By Melanie Kerr


Merrylands Clinic stood on the outskirts of the city. The original red stone house with its great yawning windows had been demolished and replaced with an anonymous looking white building, hugging the ground, two floors high with neat lines to fit its clean and clinical purpose.

What his wife called plant music, comforting and soothing oozed out of speakers, as John Scoulder shifted awkwardly in a pink armchair.

"Detective Scoulder?" A rather small man touched him tentatively on his shoulder. A dark mass of hair exploded from the top of his head in an unruly riot of curls. "I am Dr Sutherland. I understand you would like to ask our patient a few questions."

John disentangled himself from the chair and stood up. "We have already pieced together most of the events of this morning. We just need to confirm a few things."

"I am not sure if Mr Jonah is going to be of much help. He has been through a particularly traumatic experience and is quite delusional. He is under sedation…perhaps in a few days."

"Traumatic experience" was one way of putting it, thought John. Being swallowed by a whale, spending three days floating around in its gastric juices before finally being spewed up on the beach certainly qualifies as a traumatic experience. The presence of the whale in the area had been in the news over the last few days. Marine biologists spewed out theories of a combination of war sea temperatures, the ideal composition of surface algae and the unusual tides in that area of the coastline enticing the huge mammal so close to land. Cameras had been on hand to record Mr Jonah actually being vomited on to the beach, in glorious techni-colour.

John had heard from the ambulance team about Mr Jonah's delusions. He had been demanding to speak to someone in authority. He had a warning to deliver. God was going to destroy the city because of its extreme wickedness. He certainly cut a frightening figure, with his wild talk and the remnants of whale vomit clinging to his hair and beard.

"We need to know if Mr Jonah is serious about someone destroying the city. We have done a background check on his identity. He has links with the Middle East, although we can't tie him in with known terrorist organisations. Has he specified…?

"Detective Scoulder, Mr Jonah says that God is going to destroy the city, not some right wing extreme paramilitary organisation." Dr Sutherland used a tone of his voice that John often reserved for his children, the patient and longsuffering tone that suggests one is dealing with a simpler mind. "In my experience, an event such as the one Mr Jonah has lived through often ignites a person's faith in a higher being. Having come close to death, and realising how little control they exert over events, they create a God in their imagination who is in control. It is a defence mechanism."

"You don't believe in God I take it?" asked John.

"You mean that you do?" A raised eyebrow in his direction made John feel uncomfortable.

John's wife went to church every week, and although he had never seen the need to attend, he respected her beliefs. He loved that his wife sang as she did the housework, prayed with their children at night and always had a kind word to say about people.

As he stood beside a man who had argued away the existence of God so logically, John felt sadness well up in him. Is this how far we have come as a nation? That if a man says that God spoke to him, he must be bundled up and taken to the nearest mental health clinic and sedated, especially when he arrives by way of a whale's vomit.

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This article has been read 2397 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Shari Armstrong 07/11/05
A very entertaining telling, and probably exactly how it would have happened today.
Kyle Chezum07/11/05
This is great! What a creative idea, and all too true. I would have changed the title, though, and called it something else rather than just outright telling us what the story was about. Even so, good job!
dub W07/11/05
Read it twice. Well done creative approach.
Linda Germain 07/11/05
I like this. You could make a whole book out of the premise. Well done.
Nina Phillips07/12/05
That is exactly the way I think it would go too. How cool! I think this is an excellent story for today. God bless ya, littlelight
Val Clark07/13/05
Creative take on the Joah story. Sad but true conclusion about where a prophet like Jonah would end up today.
Suzanne R07/14/05
What a lovely story! I especially like the police officer's observations of his wife's faith. It beautifully illustrated that passage about the husband being saved by his wife's quiet faith. A nice contrast to Jonah's very vocal declaration of God's message. Well done!
Beth Muehlhausen07/14/05
This is soooo good! I never could have done it! I appreciate your ability to do a modern-day "take" on this classic story.
Maxx .07/15/05
First off, I liked the concept and the article. Very good scene, good movement, polished prose. BUT I'm going to be a bit picky to make a point about word choice. Here is a line: "comforting and soothing oozed out of speakers". Oozed here is quite the opposite of comforting and soothing so a better word could have been used to really complete the thought. Wafted, floated, danced, glistened, etc, etc. Here is a second line: "A dark mass of hair exploded from the top of his head in an unruly riot of curls." Exploded is a strong action word that overpowers the concept of unruly hair. Here you might want to tone it down just a touch. perhaps "A dark mass of hair seemed to have exploded..." or "hair was whipped as if by an egg beater" something just a bit softer. And some alliteration: "...before finally being spewed up on the beach certainly qualifies as a traumatic experience. The presence of the whale in the area had been in the news over the last few days. Marine biologists spewed out theories..." Be careful to not spew in two successive sentences. It breaks the rythm and flow. You have much talent and will go quite far!
Amy Michelle Wiley 07/16/05
This was great! It seemed a little unfinished, but I enjoyed it and point well made.
Sandra Renee Hicks 04/26/12
Hi Melanie -

Thank you.

I really enjoyed this. Certainly, it engaged.

Yes, indeed, I truly enjoyed your twist on the Jonah account.