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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Billboard/Poster/Sign (any or all) (12/02/10)

TITLE: Angels Unaware?
By Author Unknown
12/08/10


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The car coughed on its last breath of vaporized gasoline.

“You couldn’t hold out a little longer?” I banged my head against the wheel. “Of all the places,” I muttered.

I unbuckled my seat belt and zipped up my coat. The car’s thermometer read twenty degrees. A shiver scuttled down my spine.

I flipped open my cell phone. Lovely, dead battery.

I grabbed my flashlight, pulled my hat down over my ears, and got out. The door slammed harder than I’d intended.

The roads were plowed, but the snow was still thick on the sides of the road.

Sticking out from the drifts, were four wooden signs. They were spaced so that drivers could take in the message, one phrase at a time. My car stopped right between “Sin is the cause” and “Christ is the cure”.

They were all scrawled in the same sloppiness, as if the message was too urgent for good penmanship.

I rolled my eyes at the signs, and then tramped over to the driveway. I regretted my decision to wear sling-back heels. More so, I regretted not taking the boots my roommate Julie offered me before I left.

I can’t let Scott see me in those clodhoppers yet, not until we’re married.

Everything from my calves down was numb when I reached the door. A bulb overhead emitted a faint heat that warmed my face. I uncrossed an arm to knock on the door.

I stamped my feet about a dozen times before I decided no one was home, and turned to walk back down the driveway. That’s when the door opened.

In the doorway, stood a slight girl, not more than seventeen, in a conservative blue dress and covering.

“Can I help you?”

“Yes, I hope so.” I said. “My car is out of gas. It conked out right at the end of your driveway. Do you have a phone I could use?” Idiot, she probably doesn’t have a phone. “Or, um, do you know someone that could help?”

She nodded and let me inside. It was warm, dark, and smelled of kerosene.

She led me to the end of a hallway. “The phone is in here,” she said.

“Thank you,” I said, surprised. I sat down on the chair next to the telephone and dialed Scott’s number.

I unzipped my coat while it rang.

“Scott? It’s Kelsey. Can you come pick me up? My car died. No gas.”

The girl came back in the room while I gave him directions. She carried a steaming mug in her hands.

“You looked cold.” She started to smile but stopped as her eyes caught sight of my low-cut dress. “I thought you could use some hot tea.”

I hung up the phone, and pulled my coat closer. “Thank you.” I said, taking the tea. “That was sweet of you, and thank you for letting me in to use the phone.” I didn’t even know her name. When I talked to Scott, I told him to look for the place with the signs. Guilt warmed my cheeks.

“I’m sorry. I haven’t asked your name. Mine’s Kelsey.” I extended my hand.

She took it lightly, too lightly. I could hardly feel it.

“Bethany,” she said, bowing her head slightly. “Please excuse me," she said before she walked out of the room.

I wandered around while I waited for Scott.

“What are you doing here?” A man’s voice startled me. An older man, in plain clothes, stood across from me.

I couldn’t tell if he was surprised or angry.

“Bethany let me in,” I stammered. “My car broke down. She let me use the phone.”

His face went as white as the snow outside. “Bethany’s dead. She’s been gone twenty years.”

Now my complexion matched his. My skin prickled.

Mr. Miller told me what happened to Bethany, while I waited for Scott. He told me how she lost her way after Rumschpringe. It’s when he posted the signs. She died when the car she was riding in flipped over. Right between “sin is the cause” and “Christ is the cure”. She and the driver were drunk.

***

I slid into the passenger seat, dazed.

Scott looked over at me with his hand paused on the ignition. “Wanna stop at my place first?”

His intention sent a wave of shame through me. “No, I can’t do this anymore. You’d better take me home.”

My eyes glimpsed a sign on the other side of the road; it said, “Repent.”


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This article has been read 445 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Rachel Phelps12/10/10
Excellent story and concept. Loved the signs. I felt as if the story of Bethany could have been spaced out a bit more and given more impact. Great writing.
Caitlyn Meissner12/10/10
Very interesting story with a great message. Good job!
Connie Dixon12/10/10
Wow, this took a twist I wasn't expecting. The further I read, the more intense the writing. Good job!
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 12/10/10
This was exciting and I really enjoyed reading it. You did a great job with a setting that was inviting and spooky at the same time.

The red ink the girl being a ghost was a little expected but I liked that she died between the signs. The other red ink if she was celebrating the Amish running around years would there have been a phone and would she know how to use it or where it was to show your MC

Those are just little details that might make more sense in the light of the day. I am tired while reading this so it's possible my brain is a tad loggy.

I really liked the setting of the story. I felt spooked right from the beginning. I also liked how she knew it was pride that her feet were cold. You had a lot of little messages like that throughout the story. You did a great job with this one.
Joanne Sher 12/11/10
LOVE the end of this - and all the understated stuff. You imply SO much more than you tell - and that takes a LOT of talent.

I was also curious about the phone, and her being a ghost. Both kinda threw me.

Enjoyed the read! Welcome back :)
Anita van der Elst12/12/10
A good read. My only red ink would be that without being somewhat familiar with the plain people environment, a reader could be confused by some of the details or just totally miss them.
Catrina Bradley 12/15/10
Oh, awesome story, and so well written. It may be an "old" premise, but you approached it well, and you took me by surprise. I especially like the ending.
Lollie Hofer 12/15/10
Wowzers and then some. This was well-written, great mc's voice, superb ending. Even the impact of where her car stalled between the two signs said so much. Incredibly well done.