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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Where Angels Fear to Tread (not about the book) (09/08/11)

TITLE: In the Moments Before
By Glynis Becker


Dust clung like pollen to the sticky blood running down his face and back. But unlike pollen, this dirt bore little fruit. Though his ears still rang from the last blow, through it he clearly heard the voice of the crowd calling for him. For him. Hadn't he been one of them just a few weeks ago? He had been in the stands screaming for the blood, too. Even now, from this different vantage, he remembered the adrenaline, his heart racing, the excitement of the sport. He had enjoyed it, just like he knew the crowd was enjoying it now.

Gaius quietly murmured prayers through swollen lips. Lord, let Lydia know that I loved her. Protect and preserve my children. He was confident that the church would feed and clothe his family once he was gone, but who would play and laugh with his precious Phoebe? Who would teach Augustus how to hunt or teach him a trade? What about the child they had yet to see or name? Would he be a strong, healthy boy like they hoped? Would Lydia name him Gaius in memory of him? He would not cry. They would not see him weaken in these last moments. He knew when He decided to follow the Truth that this might be his end. And he certainly would not look back. How could he? He had no option but to go where His Lord led him. Even if it was a dark and fearful place. He remembered a Jewish song he'd been taught: "If I ascend to heaven, You are there; if I descend to Sheol, You are there." Yes, Lord, You are here. I believe.

A sharp kick to his leg made Gaius look up, as best he could through the blood and bruising. His lips continued to move as He prayed blessings over those he would never see again with these mortal eyes and as he prayed strength for himself.

"Go ahead and pray, Christian," the menacing voice was dark. "It won't do you any good. If it were up to me we'd crucify the lot of you, just like we did to Him. But the governor likes the sport. Passes the time until the real games begin."

Gaius did not answer. What could he say? He had always prayed that if this moment came, he would have the words to preach like Stephen had, but now that he was here, he found his throat dry and his voice silent. Would he die well? He could not--would not--give these men any satisfaction by begging for death, but, Lord, how much more was he expected to take?

One of the guards grabbed his arm, pulling him up where he stood, hunched over, holding his cramping stomach. "On your feet! It's your turn." Gaius shuffled his feet but could not keep up with the guards who began to drag him through the dirt to the arena's entrance. He involuntarily squinted at the bright light. How many days had he sat in that light-less cell? The noise of the crowd was louder now and mixed with the feral growls of chained dogs, slavering for blood.

He was thrown into the sunshine, heat bringing fresh pain to his open wounds. Gaius raised an arm to shield his eyes. This was the moment that defined his life, a moment even angels fear. How would he die?

"With faithfulness." The voice was quiet, but it sliced through the crowd's roar like a sword. He saw a figure standing before him, spotless in contrast to the dirt of the arena, light brighter than the sun surrounding him. A glance at the man's hands and Gaius knew it was Jesus.

Through parched lips cracked the words, "My Lord". Gaius fell to his knees.

"Do not be afraid. I am here."

He heard the dogs unleashed, And he saw nothing.

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This article has been read 563 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 09/15/11
This is a great story with suspense and the perfect conflict.

I'm not sure angels die but maybe they fear watching man die.

This was a good read and very well-written. I enjoyed it.
C D Swanson 09/17/11
Very interesting read. I enjoyed this entry. God bless~
Lillian Rhoades 09/17/11
Lots of visuals here. Loved how you interspersed the dialogue with the narrative. Great job of moving the reader from one sequence of events to the next, and on to a perfect ending. Did you mean to write "...,And..with a comma before the capital letter "A?"

Wonderful "showing," with this as one of my favorite... "Feral growls of chained dogs, slavering for blood." I could just see and hear it!

Well written - with no evidence of llth hour.
"llth hour"
Lillian Rhoades 09/17/11
Too bad we can't preview our comments.:-)... "11th hour."
Allison Egley 09/17/11
Oh, this is good! Sad, but good.

I wasn't sure, at first, whether this was supposed to be in the future or long ago, like the Colosseum, but it doesn't matter much.

Again, good job with this one.
Linda Goergen09/18/11
Very graphic and very powerful – well written story that personalized the mixture of agony and faith so many early Christians must have felt as they faced horrible deaths at the hands of the blood thirsty Romans. Makes me cringe, at how evil man can be to fellow man with Satan’s prodding!
Karen Pourbabaee 09/18/11
You effectively brought emotion, intensity, and hope into this well crafted story!
Noel Mitaxa 09/19/11
Absolutely brilliant for its depth and scope of imagery and for the strength of its promise - even in the MC's questions. At first I felt that I was privy to the thoughts of a converted gladiator, but the truth didn't weaken your story's impact.
Pamela Weeden09/20/11
I thought this was really strong! It is well written and powerful. I really liked the strength and vulnerability of the mc and you used questions well - they drew me in.
marcella franseen09/20/11
A very brutal story. Brutal, because it is all too true. Even in this day, there are Christians around the world who suffer for their faith in ways I cannot imagine. I well-written story that made me feel I was write there with the MC.
C D Swanson 09/22/11
Congratulations...Nice job. God bless~
Linda Goergen09/22/11
Congratulations Glynis on your well deserved win!
Patricia Protzman09/22/11
Congratulations on your win.
Karen Pourbabaee 09/22/11
Glad to see your excellent piece recognized at the top...congratulations!