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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: The Reader (04/15/10)

TITLE: Beware of the Evil That Lurks
By Kimberly Russell


She tumbled through the doorway and promptly tripped over the throw rug with a curse. What idiot had left THAT there?

Flopping down on the couch with a giggle, she frowned at the clock. The ticking echoed through the room as her head started to pound along with it. Fog enveloped her as she decided that maybe that last drink hadn't been such a good idea after all...


Jezelle stirred with a moan that disturbed the cat parked on her chest. He stared at her stonily, indicating that it was way past breakfast time and she best get a move on.

Her head continued drumming, complicated by the stiffness that accompanied a night sprawled on the couch. Why on earth couldn't someone invent a sofa that was comfortable enough to sleep on? Surely she wasn't the only person on earth that came home from a night of partying and ended up not making it to the bedroom. She hoisted herself up and clattered to the kitchen, deciding that coffee was definitely in order. A pot or two and she'd be feeling better in no time. Soon the coffeemaker gurgled and rich java heaven emanated while Jezelle quickly put the cat out of his misery.

She settled into an easy chair, cup in hand, when she realized what day it was: Sunday. And she was going to miss church again. Drat. Oh well, there was always next week...

Her mind wandered around while she tried to piece the events of the previous evening into a complete picture instead of a frustrating puzzle. The details were a little murky but for the most part, it was a good time. At least she thought so until the caffeine began to take hold and reality interlocked with her conscience.

"Oh my gosh! What have I done?"

Scenes flashed from the night before along with the horrifying realization that, once again, she had put herself in a compromising situation. Shame swept through as details avalanched. Relentless snapshots tortured, the particulars bringing a humiliating flame to her cheeks. She hadn't intended for it to happen again-especially after last weekend. The firm resolve to curtail her behavior hadn't taken long to crumble.

Jezelle began to weep, knowing something had to give. She couldn't go on this way. God must be so disappointed but not nearly as disgusted as she was with herself. Maybe it wasn't too late. A glance at the clock told her that if she hurried, she could still make the church service. Maybe someone would have time to talk...and help her find a way out of this mess.

She raced to the shower, scrubbing vigorously in hopes of washing away the filth that had invaded her life but soon the steamy water's calming affect relaxed her enough to open the door of rationalization.

Maybe she was overreacting. After all, she was a good person, never actually hurting anybody and besides that, she was just having fun. Surely God didn't expect her to live like a nun, did He?

Distracted into justifying her actions, Jezelle never noticed the inky shadow that slid over the shower curtain. No did she pay any attention as the serpent whispered in to curl around his unsuspecting victim. Cunning and crafty, he choked out any intention of repentance, slipping venomous evil into ears eager for an easy way out. The winding caress became a chokehold until she was completely engulfed and soon things didn't seem quite so bad. She never made it to church, urgency gone by the wayside.


With a shudder, Maria snapped the book shut and flipped off the light. She should know better than to read something creepy before going to sleep but the story of Jazelle had held her spellbound.

It's fiction-don't be getting all paranoid. You know God loves you, flaws and all. He doesn't judge us that harshly and He certainly doesn't expect us to be perfect. All that stuff about sin and repentance? You just need to remember that He forgives you, even when you do stuff wrong. He doesn't actually punish us and Satan's just a theory. You behave yourself most of the time and besides that, there are a whole lot of other people doing worse than you.

Maria snuggled under the comforter and was just drifting off to sleep when she felt the covers stir. Figuring the cat was restless, she relaxed, unaware of the viper that coiled nearby.

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This article has been read 632 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Beth LaBuff 04/23/10
Powerful words (BOTH stories) and heart-breaking too! You drew me in with your words! Excellent work!
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 04/25/10
Wow! Wow! Wow! I've heard it said that one of Satan's greatest tricks is to convince people he is not real. Your story certainly showed this to be true. Again I say Wow!
Gerald Shuler 04/25/10
I can imagine this story as a modern Alfred Hitchcock or maybe even Twilight Zone. Very well written.
Lyn Churchyard04/28/10
Terrific job with the suspense. You've done a great job bringing the book your MC was reading into reality in her life.
Excellent lesson in this. Well done.
harvestgal Ndaguba04/28/10
Wow and ouch. Good story, Awesome message. Loved it. We can never justify sin but must repent and turn from it.
Loren T. Lowery04/28/10
Great message, well told. At first I wasn't too sure why the article seemed totally written in italicized form, but then, near the end, it made complete sense. I especially liked that you included the Biblical truth of God's love and forgiveness - something to help us all through those valleys of darkness and despair.
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 04/28/10
I decided to read this again, now that I'm out of the hospital and not on as much medications. It's still a wow, wow, wow! You wrote a truly amazing and powerful story this week.
Carole Robishaw 04/28/10
Really good. I like the story within the story.
Angela M. Baker-Bridge04/29/10
Congratulations on placing with a electrifying story! At first I too was confused by the italics but eventually realized what you were trying to do. Still not sure they were necessary as the story is strong on its own. Well done.
Beth LaBuff 04/29/10
Kathryn, super congrats on your "highly commended" award!
Sara Harricharan 04/29/10
Ooooh, good one! Love the twist at the end and congrats on your HC! ^_^
Carol Penhorwood 04/29/10
Very deserving of this award! A lesson to us all!