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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Eternity (03/10/11)

TITLE: Finders Reapers
By Nancy Bucca


Name's Ben Shalom, oldest son of my wine-making father who owns a budding vineyard on a very fertile hill. I promised to help him gather in the already overripe harvest nearly rotting on the vine. And I meant to. I really did. But after stumbling over that hidden cornerstone while having a hay day in the field - well let's just say I've wasted precious time.

Meanwhile my younger brother, "The Slacker," has been sweating all day trying to nail a job that - let's face it, he simply isn't cut out for. My bad.

I still remember Abba's exhortation pouring down my stubborn neck like oil down Aaron's beard.

Time is fleeting,
Do the math,
Save them from
The grapes of wrath.

"There's a regular cumulo-nimrod piling up over the back forty," he warned me, "riding the twister of a Captain Ahab. "You best make fast tracks before that old man grump-whacks you into changing your mind. The poison from his bitter herb word garden has sidetracked many a would-be harvester. Beware. Eternity's at stake. Remember your cousin Naboth."

"Sure," I said, "I'll be there." After following my heart a bit, I added under my breath, figuring no one would notice.

Time is fleeting,
Do the math,
Save them from
The grapes of wrath.

Five hours later, fed up with feeding pigs, I rushed towards the vineyard, stepping to the reproof of the dipping sun. "It's already the tenth hour. Two left to go. Once night falls, no man can work."

That's when I saw the scarecrow, swaying beneath the shadow of our wailing wall, its body bent like a crumpled leaf over a rusty sickle.

Spurred by cat-killing curiosity, I headed that direction, and, once there, reached out a furtive hand toward the rumpled sack cloth hiding what looked to be some sort of stick or shovel.

Suddenly, without any warning, the figure turned upon me, showing itself to be, not a scarecrow, but a wrinkled old man decked in filthy rags. He had a face like tattered burlap, a nose like a vulture's beak, and eyes as black as the bottomless pit. Upon his bony head perched a mantel whose flapping wings spread a fine black dust into the air. He looked like lukewarm death.

"Nice day for a drizzle," he said, spreading his smoking cloak about my shaking shoulders. I felt a certain gloomy comfort settle over me and began to feel just the slightest bit sorry for myself.

Time is fleeting,
Do the math,
Save them from the
Grapes of wrath.

Just then Abba turned the volume up. I could hear the screams of hell, and I told him so.

"Oh, they're just having fun," said the old man. "Hell is a regular roller coaster of a party."

"No, it's not," I protested. "It's a lake of unquenchable fire, with devils and worms and all sorts of gross stuff."

"Nonsense," sneered the old man, teeth rattling like dead man's bones inside a rotted chest. "Hell's not so bad. And even if it was, would the Master really condemn good people to it? Take the deceived head hunters, for example. They never murdered anyone. Or the devout Muslims bombing buildings for Allah's sake. They've hearts of gold. Or all the sincere Buddhists and Hindus laying their lives down for the sake of Nirvana? They're as unselfish as the day is long. Just following their hearts, like the good book says."

Time is fleeting,
Do the math,
Save them from the
Grapes of wrath.

Again I protested I must go.

"Ah, but what's your hurry?" asked he, swaying heavily to his left as he leaned upon his sickle. "God's sovereignty holds that few find the narrow path. He's a hard man, you see, who reaps where he has not sown and harvests where he has not scattered seed. Why not set your talent down and rest a spell? You deserve it."

Captain Ahab nearly lost me with those words. Sick of his bitter herbs, I told him, "Finders keepers, losers weepers."

Here I am now, Father, ready to work. Eternity is at stake.

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Member Comments
Member Date
Allison Egley 03/18/11
This is definitely creative.

I was a bit confused at times, but that may just be me. :)

I did catch the general gist of the story, though, and I liked it!
Laury Hubrich 03/20/11
Wow! Okay. This isn't an entry you can skim through and 'get it.' Definitely not. :) Excellent. I read it through twice and understood it better. Another read and I would understand it even better. Very very cleverly written.
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 03/23/11
The devil can really do a number on a person if we allow him only an inch to enter. I'm glad the MC listened to Abba in the end. Nice job complex but with an important message, its message might be different to each reader. That's a difficult thing to achieve.
Beth LaBuff 03/24/11
I catch shades of many Bible stories here, from the Prodigal Son (with feeding pigs) and the references to his father (Abba) to the story of King Ahab confiscating Naboth's vineyard (after the "bitter herb" lies accused him of cursing God). I love your "cumulo-nimrod." Congratulations on your Editor's Choice award!
Troy Manning03/24/11
Congrats again, Nancy! Nice job harvesting this medley from the Word garden. I liked your description of the tempter of our souls as a scarecrow--w/ a "bent body like a crumpled leaf on a rusty sickle".
Verna Cole Mitchell 03/26/11
Congratulations on your EC for truly creative writing.
Sydney Avey03/26/11
I like the vivid descriptions and sense of place in this story. Excellent dramatization of the eternal struggle.
Bonnie Bowden 04/06/11
Well thought out and creative piece of writing. I liked the scarecrow description also. Those short stanzas were well placed. Congratulations on your well deserved EC!