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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Discern (08/12/10)

By mick dawson


Rod Tierney no sooner descended the stairs of the “sly grog house,” when his usual drink was put on a nearby table. Faint blue-grey mist stung his eyes from a myriad of cigarettes. The Varisty Drag played as he sat down, the tune bashed out on a piano, banjo, trumpet and trombone combo with all the zeal he remembered when the Great War had ended. People dominated the dance floor, swinging their hips and kicking wildly. Something was different about tonight, bet he couldn’t define quite what it was.

A lot of the faces were strangers, but that wasn’t it. They were still young women from good homes who wanted to meet the criminal caste. There were the usual overly dressed two bit crime bosses with white spats and higher then normal hats. Apart from that, he recognised the binge drinkers who frequented the establishment after drinking hours. What did it matter? He was young, it was Friday night, 1929, and it was good to be alive.

He grabbed the drink at the same time putting his straw hat down on the table. A woman filled his peripheral vision, seating herself beside him. What was a woman of her class doing here, and more to the point, why did she sit with him? She took out a long filter and lit the cigarette on the end. It dabbed the corner of her full red lips as if it was an arrow, pointing to one of her better features. Her green eyes highlighted her pale, but perfect skin crowned at either side of her hat with wavy, blond hair.

“Hello.” He managed to blurt, barely able to stop himself staring.

“Hello Rod.”

How did she know his name? Perhaps one of the thugs had given it away.

“I know more than your name. My… employer says that someone asked you to make a choice recently.”

“What ch…?”

“Please don’t interrupt. You were approached by Christians from your local church and the boss fears that you are entertaining the thought of becoming one of them; why?”

He shook his head, stumped for words.

“Jesus is good and Satan is bad; things aren’t quite so black and white Rod. Take my friend over there in the corner.”

Only the slightest movement gave away that anything was in the shadows.

“The boss says that sometimes we need a bit of grey to see things more clearly.” She said, blowing smoke.

The blue wisp traversed the room. In its haze, the silhouette of a woman danced the Charleston, but the hands suddenly grew wickedly curved talons. Red eyes glowed for the briefest of moments, like embers in a dying fire, before the smoke dissipated.

The woman smirked at his shocked expression and blew a larger puff of smoke over the dance floor. More of the monstrosities revealed themselves briefly in the fog dancing to the music.

“What are they?”

“They were angels, but God is such a "black and white" God. He couldn’t see there was room for error in a lot of decisions. This was our punishment. To be thrown from Heaven because we made choices out of ignorance.”

“That’s just made up my mind.” He said, rising. “I will become a Christian. God is good and you are evil.”

He made it half way across the floor when she called after him.

“Your life won’t be any easier once you become a Christian Rod! Each time you have to make a hard decision about what is right or wrong; it will always be us who clouds your mind! You’ll never know the difference though, because being born into sin, you’ll want to please yourself… and each time you do, you’ll call it a “grey area” because that’s what the boss is telling you!”

“Not if I stick to the Bible!” He said defiantly, before heading toward the stairs.

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This article has been read 497 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 08/19/10
This was great. It had the feel of those old crime stories in the magazines. I was surprised to find where you were going, but I truly enjoyed the journey.
AnneRene' Capp08/19/10
Great atmosphere for hitting a home run about self justified "grey" areas! I liked the climate you painted in this.
Ruth Brown08/19/10
Interesting take on the topic. I really liked it.
Amanda Brogan08/23/10
Wow, I love the stunning word pictures! I, too, was surprised when the seductive woman and the dancers turned out to be demons, but I really like the analogy there. Sin tries to come across as appealing, but in the process it sometimes exposes itself. Thumbs up!
Brenda Rice 08/23/10
Very good writing. I could see her holding her long cigarette, blowing smoke across the room.
Caitlyn Meissner08/25/10
What an interesting idea. It reminded me a little of the Screwtape Letters. I'm glad your MC made the right choice. Good job!
Mona Purvis08/25/10
Your writing style is just great and it drew me into reading. I love the Mickey Spillane feel.
Work on when to start new paragraphs and punctuation. I would have loved to see the ending be a little more of a struggle for the MC.
This genre is a good one for you.

Melanie Kerr 08/26/10
That had a touch of Frank Perretti about it. I thought the arguments she presented, and her comments about the grey area of life was good. Well done.
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 08/30/10
Congratulations for placing in the top 15 of your level.