Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Sightseeing (08/08/05)
TITLE: Up in Smoke
By Lois Jennison Tribble
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How quickly things change: less than two months ago the War was won and we crowned Dragon-Leader king. We all saw Him--Jesus hanging dead on the cross, with His followers routed in confusion. But then, like an exploding star, He burst forth from that tomb and now we can't contain Him. Who would believe it?
Dragon-Leader, ha! That's a hot one: nothing but a con, failing to deliver his promises. Now if I were in command...
How can we lose? God must be perfect--no slip-ups allowed. As for our side--if we can make God a liar just one time, keeping one prophecy from happening, snatching just one of His children from His hands--our side wins. All or nothing, that's the proposition. God's a fool setting up a game like that!
Dragon-Leader's a bungler to have failed again! How'd he ever persuade me to follow him? Prince of the Air, who's he kidding? Calls me nothing but a sightseer, but I'm no flunky! I wonder...I glance across at my co-pilot; can I trust him?
On High Alert, Scam and I patrol together, scanning the horizon. Suddenly a wind--a mighty rushing wind, shakes us to the core. "What was that?" Scam cries, and something tells me we've got trouble. Lightning blinds us momentarily, stabbing the earth below to ignite an inferno.
"Over there! Did you see the flames?" Sure enough, a ferocious wall erupts below us, and a surge of smoke assaults our eyes. We gag at the stench, an incense rising heavenward: prayers of the saints, scourge of the damned.
"Demon-1 to Control!"
"Control to Demon-1; come in Demon-1."
"Hot-spot here--got a live one, spreading rapidly in heavy fuel. Check the coordinates, J-12 at C-7. Mobilize! Mobilize! Conditions ripe for disaster, surging to Class C as we speak."
Since creation, there's nothing like it! In the span of minutes we are in a state of emergency and I can see the fire crowning as it consumes what had been our territory! How to squelch it? I try to shake the feeling, but the specter of doom clings to me like the retardant we use to douse His flames.
"What's Dragon-Leader waiting for?" I mutter, searching the area for signs of firefighters, helicopters, tankers, bombers, smoke-jumpers--ANYTHING! Instead, smoke inundates us--praise, thanksgiving, love, joy, peace--strangling us in its grip. Unable to bear it, we flee out of range.
"Have the consequences of management inaction occurred to you?" Scam asks, surveying the damage below us as the fire gains momentum.
Like he thinks I don't know? The effects of being at the center of a nuclear reactor core-meltdown seem trivial by comparison! Every flame a new believer--and there must be thousands--each with potential to start how many spotfires? "Demon-1 to Control!"
"Control to Demon-1, what's the status?"
"Top priority! Upgrade to Class F, and growing! Get a move-on, would you? This thing is out of control!" Below me, flames burn so brightly I am blinded by their light. Where is our opposition?
"Control to Demon-1. Return to Helibase to meet with Demon-Leader for debriefing and Tactical Analysis. Over and out."
"Demon-1 to Control: 10-4."
"Tactical analysis?" Scam scoffs. "Isn't that another term for cut-and-run?"
Yesterday our future looked so bright. Today? All our plans, up in smoke.
"Maybe if we come up with a strategy..." Scam suggests, eyeing me shrewdly.
"Perhaps," I surmise, catching his drift. "There's got to be a way. With all that praise, God is bound to bless them with some heavy rain."
"Yeah. And that ought to cool them off a bit, maybe quench them altogether or at least dilute the effect."
"You've got a point, Scam. Maybe if we bide our time, these new believers will just burn themselves out altogether."
"After all, they're completely dependent on God's fuel. If they think they can do it on their own..."
"That might be the best approach. If we forget the big picture and concentrate on each little flame...Perhaps we'll extinguish just one, and God will be trapped by His own game." Brave talk in the face of annihilation: but I have a sinking feeling the fires just ignited will burn forever.
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