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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Before and After (05/14/09)

TITLE: Day of the Storm God
By Carol Slider


Long before the blood-red dawn, I rise and call my maidens. They braid my hair, entwining it with gold and precious stones, and paint my face, carefully tracing the contours of lip, brow and eye.

This is the day of the Storm God.

When the chief prophet comes to me at first light, I am ready, robed in the purple silk of my people—the royal Sidonians. The great priest performs his humble obeisance, his forehead touching the polished tile at my feet.

“Rise,” I say. “Today, we are all servants of the same lord.”

I let him stand before me, face to face. He is tall and well-favored, worthy of the trust I have placed in him. Before the day is done, he will have his reward: my coffers and my bedchamber.

“I will not fail you, O Queen, nor will the great god we serve,” he says.

Gratified, I reply:

“Today, all Israel will know that Ba’al commands the storms. And this sorcerer, this slave-prophet, who calls himself a servant of the impotent Yahweh...”

“He will die by my sword, O Queen, when Ba’al’s fire consumes his altar and Ba’al’s rain laves our parched lands.”

When the prophet has gone, I send all others away and enter the sacred chamber behind the scarlet veil. In the cloud of incense that smolders before the image of my lord, I dance for him, slow and sinuous. Often he has come to me as a lover, and I long for his embrace. But I sense his absence, and I know he journeys now toward Kishon. I hold out my hands, bidding him go, and conquer.

“And then come back to me,” I whisper, bending low before the image. “I will be waiting.”

* * *

The time of the evening sacrifice has long passed. I do not doubt, I do not doubt... but why so long? My lord must have a purpose, else he should have vanquished the slave-god long ago. What power does this Elijah possess?

And then I hear a rumble of thunder, and know Ba’al has triumphed. I go to the balcony and revel in the heavy air and the dark, gathering clouds. The chief prophet will come to me now, bearing the head of the false priest. I watch the road, until I see him...

Yes, he is riding—but who runs before him like the tempest, crying in a loud voice as he comes? Is that not Elijah? My fingers curl, nails digging deep into the palms. Slay him, slay him now! Why have you let him escape?

But it is not the priest who rides. It is the King, the Hebrew I enslaved with my eyes. My lip curls. He bids to give me the news first, then; and as the first drops of rain fall at my feet, I find I am not displeased. He has played the weak fool too often, yet he is my husband; and if he slays Elijah before my eyes and gives me the news I seek, I will reward him.

They reach the gates of the city. The Hebrew prophet is shouting, and the people are around him, echoing his words...

It cannot be.

I withdraw into my chamber, my heart burning, anger tearing at my throat.

Ahab comes to me. Does he mourn or does he gloat? For he says,

“Ba’al’s altar is consumed by Jehovah’s fire; Ba’al’s priests and prophets are dead by the word of Elijah. I would send no courier to bring you these tidings, for I knew that any other would die for it.”

I send him away like a slave, and call for the messenger at the door. The fire is in my veins now; nothing but vengeance can quench it.

“Find Elijah, and give him this message...”

My messenger flees to pronounce the death sentence upon the Hebrew sorcerer. I go into the sacred chamber and fall on my face before Ba’al.

Do you not feel my rage, my lord? Do you not burn as I burn, hate as I hate?

I reach out my hands and touch him—but the image is cold and dead, my lover absent.

And over the sounds of wind and rain, over the mournful howls of the dogs in the courtyard, I hear the hateful cry of this fickle people:

The Lord, he is God! The Lord Jehovah commands the storm!

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This article has been read 1188 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Verna Cole Mitchell 05/23/09
This is powerfully written, a brilliant retelling of the "losing" side.
Patricia Herchenroether05/24/09
This powerful message kept me spellbound. Good introspection of the idol-worshipping priestess.
Joanne Sher 05/25/09
Incredibly vivid and an excellent execution of POV. So powerful.
Sharon Kane05/25/09
Spectacular writing! You brought out just what a witch Jezebel really was. Now I understand why Elijah ran for his life.
Pat Guy 05/25/09
Absolutely Wow! And a sigh for a fantastic read. Wow ...
Mona Purvis05/25/09
Your writing made me hold my breath and wait although I could guess the outcome. Very well written.
Joy Faire Stewart05/26/09
I'm in awe of the writing, and the hint of what was to come at the end...perfect.
Eliza Evans 05/26/09
OUTSTANDING!!Deeelicious...through and through!! Yes! Writing can be delicious. You bet. :)

Thanks so much for sharing, Carol! Awesome...as usual!

Lyn Churchyard05/27/09
Love it!
Eliza Evans 05/28/09
I am sooo proud and happy for you, Carol!!
Gorgeous, GORGEOUS writing. Just a pleasure and privilege to read.

And personally... for me?... it just feels really good to be right!! :D :P

Huge Congrats, Girl!

Glynis Becker05/28/09
Riveting! Beautiful retelling of an intense moment in history. Congratulations...you definitely deserve your win!
Janice Fitzpatrick05/28/09
Very well done! I agree, I relaly like the way you've given a twist to this piece, looking back. I was wondering who the great grandfather was at first, someone I had read about?:0) Then it hit me. Oh, this is good! Nice MC voice!!!Congrats on the win hon!!God bless!!!
Gregory Kane05/28/09
Congratulations indeed. An awesome piece of writing. I so like to see Bible stories so powerfully brought to life
Lollie Hofer05/28/09
You brought this Biblical event to life. I could see, feel, touch and hear the story as it unfolded. Congratulations on your well-deserved recognition.
Loren T. Lowery05/28/09
It's easy to see why this placed so highly. I liked not only the story but the unusual way you used your dialogue tags/introductions. It made for a powerful, but restrained presentation. Congratulations on your EC!
Catrina Bradley 05/28/09
Oh my! Wonderful! When I realized what word she was waiting for, I couldn't help but grin knowing what word she would receive. Phenomenal writing - congrats on 1st place. This story is well deserving of the honor.
Charla Diehl 05/28/09
Congratulations on taking first place with this strong retelling of a familiar Bible story. This grabbed me immediately and your writing carried me through to the end. Great job.
Judy Meyers05/29/09
Wish we could all write like this...how many first places are there?
Sonya Leigh06/01/09
Hi, Carol, sorry this is so late...I just loved your story this week. You DEFINITELY have a fan in me, my FW friend. Great Job!