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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Retreat (as in quiet time away) (08/01/05)

TITLE: The Cabin
By Craig Frizzell


Darkness settled over the valley like a blanket, as if it had weight and substance. As the last light of day faded away, Jake made another round of the cabin, foraging through drawers looking for batteries for the flashlight. It didn’t take long; the cabin was small, with one bedroom, and a larger room that served as a combination living/dining/kitchen area. For the hundredth time, Jake cursed his brother for not having the random assortment of batteries that was a staple of kitchen drawers everywhere, and then he cursed himself for not being prepared and bringing fresh batteries along. His feelings of unease grew in step with the lengthening shadows.

The weekend had started well enough. Jake had been pleasantly surprised when Rachel agreed to his proposal for a family getaway at Eddie’s hunting cabin on the river. Jake and Eddie were estranged, and hadn’t spoken to one another in over twenty years. They both knew there was little chance of actually running into Eddie up here. He hadn’t used the place in years, and it had fallen into disrepair. In fact, this was Jake’s motivation for coming. He was ready to mend the rift between them, and he planned to fix up the cabin in hopes of soothing his brother’s ill feelings toward him.

Earlier in the afternoon, a storm had begun to brew. Weather reports had suggested it could get nasty, so Jake had sent Rachel and the kids back into town to wait it out. The storm did seem to gather strength for awhile. The power in the cabin went off. But then, just before dusk, the wind and rain stopped. The storm didn’t move out, or die away; it just wasn’t anymore. That was when Jake’s uneasiness began.

Now, the blanket of darkness closed in on him, pressed down on him. Although he knew the windows were open, no outside light penetrated the cabin. Giving up on the battery search, Jake tried to light a candle. Even though the air was unnaturally still, the flame guttered and died as if it was fighting a stiff breeze. Jake considered his options. With no transportation, and no telephone reception this far from civilization, he really didn’t have any. He settled down to wait out the night.

With no activity to keep him occupied, Jake began to focus on the darkness and the silence. There were no sounds now, as if the nightlife in the forest had ceased to exist. Then Jake heard (felt?) a faint hum, an undercurrent of power that seemed to be moving toward the cabin. The hum grew stronger, and as it did Jake’s uneasiness turned to fear.

Suddenly, with enough force to knock Jake to the floor, the source of the hum was in the cabin. Unseen hands lifted him off the floor, and threw him into the wall. Photographs fell to the floor, their glass frames shattering. Then the hands were upon him again. Jake struck out into the darkness, and was amazed when his blows made contact, and actually seemed to gain him some ground. This presence was obviously not human, and although Jake sensed that it could end his life in an instant, it apparently had other intentions.

After what felt like hours, Jake seemed to have gained the advantage, if the fact that he was no longer being pummeled into the walls could be called an advantage. Then, he felt white-hot pain shooting through his leg, from his hip to his foot. He collapsed onto the floor, writhing in agony.

“Who are you?” Jake shouted into the darkness.

“That is not the question. Look into yourself. Who are you?”

Although he heard no voice, the question pierced his heart, and the answers flooded out. He thought of his life and its flaws, of his mistakes too numerous to count. He thought about how he had gotten to where he was. He was wealthy, but at what expense? He had schemed against his brother. He had taken advantage of his father. He had used others when it was necessary, all to get ahead.

The cold sweat from the pain in his leg mixed with salty tears that streamed down his face.

“I am not an honorable man.”

“You are a child of God. He has a plan for you. He will use you in spite of your flaws, if you will only let him.”

The first light of day broke through the darkness, bathing Jake in a feeling of peace.

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This article has been read 623 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Karen Ward08/09/05
What an interesting version of Jacob wrestling with God! I am always in awe of people who can adapt Biblical stories, well done.
Anthony Tophoney08/09/05
Well written and creative take on the topic too! The line "His feelings of unease grew in step with the lengthening shadows" really hooked me. Nice work!
Beth Muehlhausen08/09/05
Gripping! It was a surprise, but a relief, to discover "peace" at the end of the wrestling match. :-)
Debra Brand08/10/05
Good re-tell of an old, old story. Great work!
Joanne Malley08/10/05
Very nicely done! I enjoyed your storytelling. :)
Sally Hanan08/10/05
Cleverly done and great descriptions.
Lynda Lee Schab 08/11/05
Nicely retold to suit modern times. Clever and creative take on "retreat." Well done!
Blessings, Lynda
Melanie Kerr 08/11/05
I didn't recognise the story until quite near the end. You had me gripped throughout! Well done!
Jan Ackerson 08/11/05
Very, very good. Added understanding to an old story by telling it from a new perspective. Well done!
Shari Armstrong 08/11/05
This was very unique -well written.
janet rubin08/11/05
Very cool! You are a good story-teller.
Suzanne R08/12/05
Wow. Well done! I didn't realize what I was reading until near the end too, but it all made sense when I realized. Again ... wow.
Julianne Jones08/13/05
Wow! I was so caught up in the story and the mounting tension that I too didn't recognise the story until almost the end. A masterful adaptation of a well-known Bible story and a creative approach to the topic. Well done.
Maxx .08/13/05
I think this is a top 8 candidate. Well told "remake" of the old story. Excellent. But, I think it could have used one more rewrite. There were just a few slips. Little things, minor things that together detracted from the finished product. For example: Jake was thrown into the wall more than once. When we talk we say thrown into the wall" and our voice inflection says that we meant thrown against the wall.... not into it. When we read the words, however, the inflection isn't there to help. So, some will read thrown into the wall and for a brief instant will visualize a person inside of a wall. They'll eventually figure it out and move on, but it's that initial visual that's most important so we want to make it as smooth as possible. There were a few things like that troughout. Again, top 8 material here... just throwing in my 2 cents and it may not be worth that much!
Amy Michelle Wiley 08/13/05
I'm glad I read the others comments, because I hadn't quite realized the total meaning of the story. Now that I understand it, :-) I say, 'awesome!' Well written. You really did well in portraying the oppressive fear and other feelings.
darlene hight08/15/05
His feelings of unease grew in step with the lengthening shadows.

I loved every word! Especially, loved that line. This is the best retell of that story that I have ever read. definitely a contender in my opinion.