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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Patience (08/21/08)

TITLE: Broken Hour Glass
By Ruth Neilson


The wind was out of the east and as it blew through the tall grass, he made his movement. He had to be careful not to go any further at any one time than the grass stalks would bend. Remaining hidden is critical.

The Ruling Council had to be stopped.

Robert blinked as he carefully pulled his slim frame forward. He knew that patience was the key in this situation. There was no need to rush into his death--the fact he was here now was enough to sign his death warrant. Too many of his friends and family had decided to sign their own death warrant by declaring that they believed in an ancient religion. Robert had enough.

Carefully, he took a deep breath and waited for the next breeze. The voice of one of his missing friends echoed through his mind.

"I realized something today," Sue muttered, wrapping her slim fingers around her coffee mug.

"What's that?" He asked, narrowing his dark eyes as he gazed at his co-worker.

"I can't pretend to be who I'm not any longer. I've registered with the religious council."

The wind picked up again and Robert held his breath as he slowly itched forward. Only after he had settled again did he allow himself to release his breath. Sweat trickled down his face until it dripped off his nose.

His source said that the Ruling Council would sit down to their evening meal at 1800 hours.

Carefully, he glanced at his watch and nodded once. 1630. Plenty of time still to make it within sniping range. Robert knew that the field was less an acre long, and with the wind blowing at its current pace, it was just a matter of not being in a hurry.

"Sue, that means that..."

"I know, I'll be arrested, interrogated, possibly used as slave labor, and eventually killed, but that's okay."

Robert edged himself closer to the warm but imposing building. He could now see into the formal dinning room. It was just a matter of time; Robert looked at his watch again and nodded.

1745. Robert had fifteen minutes to spare...only fifteen minutes to calm his heart and breathing down and to be prepared.

There was no time for errors here.


With carefully practiced movements, Robert set up, making sure that the silencer was in place. The carefully selected ammunition was in the cartridge, locked and loaded.

It was now truly a waiting game.


A familiar form stepped in front of the window and Robert felt his concentration slip for a moment. It was Sue.

Here...he could free her...if Robert went now...

NO! Patience! Everything must go according to the plan. A man struck Sue's face and Robert flinched, as if he felt the impact himself. It was a matter of time.

He rested his finger against the trigger, watching and waiting. His watch slowly clicked closer to the chosen hour. Robert took several deep breaths, gazing through his scope.

The targets were entering the room. It had to be precise. Robert knew that as soon as the first target fell, he would have few precious seconds to finish his task.

The watch face clicked from 1759 to 1800 and on cue, the first target entered into his line of sight. Robert inhaled and carefully squeezed the trigger, breathing a prayer to whatever God existed that it found its mark.

He smiled grimly as the bullet found its mark and chaos erupted in the room. He found his next target and rapidly squeezed the trigger. So much was riding on this moment in history.

He spotted his final target, focused for one last time, before squeezing the trigger. He heard an unfamiliar click as he felt the cold metal of a barrel against his neck, but smiled. His patience had paid off as the final target slumped to the floor.

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Shirley McClay 08/28/08
Very unsettling.. I was a bit confused at times... but if anything, it added to the unsettled feeling which I believe is what you were going for. The point of the story isn't spelled out and that left me hanging a bit.. but reading through it again.. I think it is a warning of what may yet be to come? And I am struck with who really had the true patience... Sue...patient to the very end.

All in all.. very powerful. I will have this story in my mind for days.
Chely Roach08/31/08
Wow, I love the suspense of this piece. Haunting. Love it:)
Jan Ackerson 08/31/08
This is a real thought-provoker! I assume Robert's not a Christian, but he sympathizes with Christians...still--we're asked to sympathize with his acts of murder (even though he's "taking out" persecuters of Christians)...LOTS to think about, and beautifully written!
Verna Cole Mitchell 08/31/08
Your story is wonderfully suspenseful.
Dee Yoder 08/31/08
Great characterization of the MC, but I sure wish I could read the rest of the story! Tell me what happens next-OK?!
Patricia Turner08/31/08
Quite a cliff-hanger! Since he said "whatever God" it's pretty clear he's not a Christian, but hope in the next installment(?) he becomes one. Maybe patient Sue? Great writing!
LaNaye Perkins08/31/08
Wow this was quite the brain tickler. I really liked the suspense and the though you provoke with it. Great writing!
LaNaye Perkins08/31/08
Sheeesh, spelling errors seem to be my 'thing' this week. I meant to say 'thought', not 'though'.
Leah Nichols 09/01/08
Very well-written piece....I'm very curious to know more about the story. Why is it called "Broken" Hour Glass? It's definitely a thought-provoker!
Catrina Bradley 09/01/08
Love the suspense, and there is lots of it! I wish I understood better who is on what side, and what the sides are, but I was engrossed all the way through.
Scott Sheets09/02/08
Very intriguing read! It took me a few paragraphs to capture the plot, but when I did I was eager to discover the conclusion. Nice job.
Joshua Janoski09/02/08
The suspense in this piece was incredible. I felt like there was more to the story than you were able to share, but what you have here is very good.

I too was a bit confused on the title and how it related to the story, but that didn't detract form the story itself.

Thank you for sharing this!