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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Light and Dark (05/21/09)

TITLE: I Want to Know Why
By Steve Uppendahl


I’ve always wondered what it’s like on the other side, in the darkness. Don’t misunderstand me, I have no qualms about my work or why I do it. I believe we will win in the end, as the Word says. The temptations of the dark side hold no power over me. But, I do have questions. I want to know why.

My assigned has been struggling against the darkness for some time. He’s constantly tempted and often succumbs. He hasn’t completely abandoned the light yet. But, that time is rapidly approaching. I want to know why.

I’m not allowed to intervene in any of my charge’s decisions. Humans have the right of free will. We cannot alter or change those decisions in any way. But, I can inquire. My opportunity arises at night.

My charge has a weakness for pornography. It’s eroding his marriage, along with another relationship that has kept him in the light for so long. That light is dimming. I want to know why he would give up the light and all that comes with it, for the pain of darkness.

I’m forbidden to show myself to my assigned, but I can to his tormentor. He only arrives after sunset, at least for now. A few more setbacks and he’ll have a permanent residence. Then I’ll be forced to leave and given another assignment. His name is Corruptor and he’s very good at his job. I want to know why.

My charge is again giving in to darkness. He’s online. Corruptor is soon to follow. He’s had success after success lately. He’s close to victory and he knows it.

The scent of sulfur wafts through my nostrils. Thick, yellow fog, invisible to humans, rolls in. A high, cackling laughter emanates throughout the room. I nod, knowing Corruptor’s elaborate entrance well. The fog begins to swell outward, and suddenly he’s there.

Physically, he isn’t much. Brown-grey skin, rough and scarred, covers his body. Long, black, wet hair cascades from his pointed head to his waist. His red eyes are always glowering. Corruptor is constantly hunched over, making his height less than five feet. His back is humped to the point it’s almost even with his scalp. His talons are dirty and six inches long. A black, ancient belt stretches across his ample stomach. A short, well-used sword dangles from his left side.

Corruptor takes his standard position; left hand stroking circles over the head of my assigned, poisoning his thoughts. The talons of his right hand are tapping the base of his neck, as if playing the piano. I know better. Corruptor is controlling him physically, as well as mentally.

The demon knows I’m here. I’m always here. Corruptor also believes I can do nothing to stop him.

“Why do you that?”

He leaps to the far corner, sword drawn. “What do you want, Angel? I’ve got work to do.”

I nod and advance, my sword sheathed. “Yes, I know. I want to know why.”

Disgust furrows his brow, forming deep, black creases across his forehead. “It’s my job, Angel. It’s what I do.”

Corruptor tries to turn back to his work, but I’m not finished.

“I still don’t understand, Demon.”

He pinches the bridge of his pudgy nose, shakes his head. “How do idiots like you get to this station? Isn’t there a screening process? It’s my job to corrupt the lives and thinking of humans. For God’s sake, it’s my name.”

I smile at the irony. “So it is. What I don’t understand, Demon, is why you can’t let this man, and all others, choose darkness or light on their own. Let them decide what they want, without being manipulated.”

Corruptor smiles so broadly thin, clear slime drips down his chin. “What fun would that be? That’s what you holy folk never get. We enjoy what we do. It’s who we are. It’s why we choose darkness.”

“There! If you can choose, why can’t they?”

Corruptor shakes his head. “Because we’d lose.”

“You’ll lose either way. It’s been Written. Why not let the humans choose on their own merit?”

Corruptor is about to speak when the one light in the room, the computer monitor, vanishes. The demon’s eyes bulge in surprise when my assigned stands and leaves. From the next room, voices are low, but can still be understood.

“Honey, can we talk? I need help…”

Corruptor howls as a burst of brilliant light blinds him.

“Why did you do that?”

“It’s who we are.”

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This article has been read 612 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Laury Hubrich 05/29/09
Ooooh, glad the Corruptor didn't win this time. Nice job and so appropriate for this time.
Catrina Bradley 05/30/09
Very thought provoking. The part about the angel having to leave him disturbs me - God said He would never leave us, but I don't know if He said He'd remove his protection from evil. Like I said, thought provoking. It made me smile that the angel's distracting the demon with his questions made him leave his post. Great read!
Colin Swann06/03/09
Vivid writing - enough to scare the living day-light of you. Demon's designs can be defeated though. Thanks for sharing this serious piece.

Jan Ackerson 06/03/09
Atmospheric, compelling, suspenseful!
Stacy Wells 06/03/09
I liked this. I always like stories about the unseen battle. Reminds me of This Present Darkness and Piercing the Darkness. Very good.
Janice Fitzpatrick06/03/09
Whoa! Very well done! Intrguing and good dialogue. I like the voices. Great job!
Loren T. Lowery06/03/09
These "free will" questions are so complex and perplexing. The Corrupter almost made it sound like he was totally in charge and the Angel a mere, temporary nuisance. I think it would have been a fair question as well for the Angel to ask of the Corrupter, why does he do what he does...does man need to be tempted if he is already morally dark and doomed? I think the point about the Angel leaving forever is a good one as it leaves out possible redemption regardless of how far down in the pit man falls.This was a great atmospheric piece, the dialogue talking about the man in the 3rd person was super and believable.
Sara Harricharan 06/03/09
I SO wanted the angel to win. Glad that he did. This was great and your title makes perfect sense now. I liked this and the ending, that last line was PERFECT!!
Rachel Rudd 06/03/09
Your vivid descriptions showed exactly what you wanted us to see. The battle wasn't violent, but it was still a battle and the right side won. This is well-written all around!
Lollie Hofer06/03/09
This was a thought provoking story, lots to "chew on" later. Thoroughly enjoyed the intrigue. Excellent use of dialogue.
Patricia Herchenroether06/03/09
Very creative take on the angel/demon dialogue. I'm sooo glad you didn't make them into tiny beings on the man's shoulders! Great work.
Chely Roach06/03/09
Oooo, I really liked this! Great dialogue, and a deeply relevant subject to base this around. Well done!
Gregory Kane06/03/09
Excellent. Personally I like the way that you haven't tried to tie all the angelology together. Even Peretti's fictionalised confrontations are held together with yards and yards of poetic licence and supposition. I also found myself asking why the two beings were the way they were. And as such you engaged me as a reader at a deeper level than the simple narrative. Well done.