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

TITLE: The World Before
By Rick Higginson


This has to be the worst day of my life. “Your great-grandfather wants you to go hiking with him,” Dad said. So now I’m following the old man on something of a walking torture, having to endure his rambling stories about “the world before.”

Yeah, I’ve heard the stories before, probably a million times. We all have. For as long as I can remember, Grandpa has been telling us about the environmental disaster and warning us, lest it happen again. I’m not sure I believe any of it.

Man, where does he get his energy? We’re tracking along something that barely qualifies as a game trail, and he hasn’t once stopped for a breather. The sun wasn’t even up when we left, and now it’s well on its way to setting. We even ate lunch while walking.

C’mon, Grandpa; slow down a little, will you? You’re gonna drop dead up here if you keep up this pace, and then everyone will think I killed you or something. As tempting as it is to shut you up by any means possible, I won’t go that far. You may be a crazy old geezer, but you’re still Dad’s grandfather.

Oh; here it comes. “Huge cities filled with people – all gone now.” The way he describes these places, they were almost too big to imagine, so why is there no trace of them now? I can’t picture that many people in the whole world, let alone all crowded together in one small area called a “city.” It doesn’t make sense, either, that they could have brought that kind of disaster on themselves. Our whole clan working together can’t manage to manipulate the weather for one nice day over another, let alone change the climate of the entire Earth.

“They wouldn’t listen,” he’s saying. “I tried to tell them how to save themselves, but they just thought I was a crazy old man.” Well, I guess that’s one thing that hasn’t changed from the world before, though if it was as long ago as he said, he should have been a crazy young man. Then again, I think Grandpa has always been old.

“Just a little farther, and you’ll see,” he says. See what, Grandpa? More mountain? Another meadow, or maybe a few million more trees? After the first thousand, they all look alike, you know.

He scrambles ahead, using his hiking staff and some rocks like a natural stairway, and disappears over the top of the slope. I hurry to catch up, mostly because I’m not sure I could find my way back if we get separated.

I make the crest and come out of the trees beside him, and stop. Grandpa may be crazy, but he’s led me to the biggest human construct I think I’ve ever seen. The wooden structure is immense, and I can think of only one way it could have gotten to this mountaintop. “Is that - ?” I ask.

“Come and see,” he tells me, and guides me towards it. I’m afraid; I’m not sure I want to get any closer to it, but he’s pushing me. He’s incredibly strong for such an old guy. I thought it was big from the distance, but the nearer we get, the larger it seems.

He takes me up beside it, and points to a door partway up the side. “See those marks? Those are scratch marks, where people clawed at the side trying to get in when it was too late.”

Standing here, I can hear their screams and cries and pleading. I would’ve been one of them, because I thought he was a crazy old man. This is what he’s talked about, all these years. It’s real. There really was a world before, and he’s been trying to improve the world after.

We walk around and ascend a large ramp. It’s old and dirty inside, but the floor is solid beneath our feet. “This is how we survived,” he says. “This is how everything alive today survived. Do you understand?”

“Yeah, Grandpa; I understand.”

“We’ll camp here tonight, and go back tomorrow. You need to warn those that come after us, so that this never happens again.”

“I will. I’ll make sure they know about you, Grandfather Noah.” I can see it now. Someday, I’m going to be the crazy old man, but it’s okay.

There really was a world before, and God ended it.

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This article has been read 763 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Maria Kana Santos05/22/09

Proverbs 17:6 Children's children are the crown of old men; and the glory of children are their fathers.

"...the beauty of old men is their gray hair."

Thank you for this piece you've written.

Emily Gibson05/23/09
Ah the callow superficiality of youth! You have taken a classic theme and plunked it into unexpected history. Well done!
Verna Cole Mitchell 05/23/09
Great story! I loved the strength of the old man...and how you got me at the end!
Patricia Herchenroether05/25/09
A very creative take on the Flood. I was thrown off about the weather change thing, but recognized the Ark reference. A really good story.
Bryan Ridenour05/25/09
Great bit of Biblical fiction. Great take on the topic. Well done!
Catrina Bradley 05/25/09
Great story! I love the twist - when the realization hit that this is a story of the past and not the future.
Mona Purvis05/25/09
Ooh, you got me. I thought we were in the future for awhile. This was very well done, indeed. loved it.
Joy Faire Stewart05/26/09
I enjoy stories with twist and turns, and this one delivered. Very creative writing on the topic.
Sharon Kane05/26/09
Well you sure fooled me here! I was convinced this tale was set in the future, and then when I realised it was Noah... So so cleverly done. And a powerful, though implied reminder of Jesus' words, "As in the days of Noah so shall it be at the coming of the Son of Man". The scratch marks on the ark were a poignant touch indeed. Excellent job!
Pamela Kliewer05/26/09
Whoa! What a great twist!! Love it!
Carol Slider 05/26/09
This story caught and held my attention from beginning to end--and I loved the surprise ending! Very well done.
Lyn Churchyard05/27/09
I must admit I was thinking future up until: He takes me up beside it, and points to a door partway up the side. “See those marks? Those are scratch marks, where people clawed at the side trying to get in when it was too late.” Then I realised who the great grandfather was.
As always, your story didn't disappoint.

Edmond Ng 05/28/09
I like the way you presented Noah's ark story from a different POV. You have successfully captured the feelings, the sense of immensity and awe, in beholding the enormous size of the ark, reflecting with revered understanding of the world before.
Rachel Rudd 05/28/09
Yeah, you got me, too! I was looking forward to hearing about what environmental disaster was going to happen in the future and what we could to do prevent it. :) This was so well done! Congratulations on the win!
Loren T. Lowery05/28/09
Not only did I love the way you told this story, but also the creative slant. Very engaging and a joy to read. Congratulations on your EC!
Leah Nichols 05/28/09
No doubt a winner! You had me going, and the scratch marks clued me in. Perfect touch - impeccable writing. Congrats on your win!
Lollie Hofer05/28/09
I lub me some good Biblical "fiction" laced within a Biblical event. Great job. I lub this story. Congratulations on your well-deserved recognition.
Charla Diehl 05/28/09
Congrats on this winning entry. What a creative way to bring an old testament story to life. Like everyone else, I too thought this was speaking of the future--nice twist.
Sonya Leigh06/01/09
Sorry my congratulations are so late this week...great job on the story and your placement!
Jan Ackerson 04/27/10
Rick, I'm going to feature this very imaginative story on the Front Page Showcase for the week of May 3. Look for it on the Faithwriters Home Page--and congratulations!