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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Fragrance (10/24/05)

TITLE: Abaddon’s Market (Based on 1 Peter 5:8)
By Benjamin Stephens


Abaddon’s Market (Based on 1 Peter 5:8)

I was twenty-one when I stumbled into Natasburg. I say stumbled because it was not my planned destination. I shudder to recall the events, but I must never go back.

The year was 1948 and I was heading south with my best girl, Becky, to attend the wedding of a friend. We stopped for fuel at The Move-Along Filling Station when my life changed in multiple ways.

The attendant was spraying my window and wiping the grime away when I smelled a memory. It was an incredibly powerful fragrant banquet. In my mind I was suddenly at my grandmothers eating roast beef, potatoes, carrots and sweet corn. The fragrance even held the hint of the lavender soap Grandma always used.

“Do you smell that?” I asked Becky.

She dutifully sniffed the air before replying, “It smells like Aunt Lorraine’s homemade fudge.” This caused me no end of confusion. “Can we go get some?” she asked.

“Sir,” I called to the attendant, “where is that wonderful smell coming from?”

“Oh sir, you really should just get back on the road and keep going,” the attendant advised.

“But that wonderful fragrance,” Becky called, “I am working up an appetite just smelling it.”

“Please, sir, if you could just point us in the right direction,” I pleaded, my stomach knotting at the wonderful aroma.

The attendant was sad as he pointed south, “You’ll find the market at the end of Impious Street, but I promise you will not be satisfied. Please, sir, just drive away and try to forget you ever came to this city.”

“Nonsense! What could it hurt?” I asked as I drove away. In retrospect I believe the young man wept as we left.

When we found the market I couldn’t believe my eyes, the parking lot was full but the store itself was in a horrible state of disrepair. The roof sagged, the doors drooped on well used hinges and flaking paint caused the outside of the building to look garish. Yet, people kept coming, they literally ran from their vehicles to get inside.

Becky and I noticed the heavy clouds above and thought to escape the coming rain by making our way to the market. Once inside, the deluge began and we were grateful to be out of the squall. At once our senses were assaulted with such powerful memories of our past - all pleasant and comforting.

I found the roast beef while Becky sought out the fudge. Strangely, I am as certain today as I was then that I saw Grandma at the end of an aisle for just a brief moment. She had passed on seven years before. There was something unnatural about this place.

I wanted to leave when Becky gasped, “Do you smell that? It’s a scented candle from Germany that mother brought out only at Christmas. I haven’t breathed that fragrance since I left home. I need that candle.”

I noticed the racing of those within the store. They all smiled, some wept, each finding a memory in Abbadon’s Market.

Yet, there were others that appeared haggard and weary, a hallow gaze indicated a fatigue, yet they stayed.

The manager gazed my direction and locked eyes with me. It felt as if he were branding my very soul with his piercing gaze. “Take a deep breath friend,” he said, “can’t you smell it?”

Almost involuntarily I breathed and smelled the barbershop back home where dad would get his hair cut. I could hear Carl slapping the oil on his hands and rubbing the fragrant mixture on dad’s head.

The manager was laughing as I left to find the barber chair, although I was certain it, too, would vanish.

Time passed and I wanted to leave but a new fragrance would assail me and I would rush in search of a mirage. I knew something was amiss, but it was becoming more and more difficult to stop running even though I knew that what I would find would be an empty promise.

When I finally purposed to leave, Becky refused to come with me. She had traces of fudge around her lips and she held tightly to a candle, inhaling the remembered fragrance as I forced myself to leave.

If only I had taken the advice of a young man to just keep driving. Yet, all these years have passed and the memory is as fresh and frightening today as it was when I gazed into the eyes of Abbadon’s slaves.

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Member Comments
Member Date
Kathy Bruins10/31/05
I how you communicated the struggle of holding on to your past so tightly, that we can't go forward. Well done!
Sara Westhead10/31/05
Such a unique story! What was your inspiration?
Linda Watson Owen10/31/05
What a spell you wove! Such a creative take on this topic! Fascinating storytelling.
Nina Phillips10/31/05
Wow..this was chilling and unique. I liked it alot. Very intense descriptions, I felt I was there, wondering who would get out. Nice work! God bless ya, littlelight
Helga Doermer10/31/05
This is a story of scent. You describe the many fragrances and their emotional ties well.
Sally Hanan10/31/05
I love stories with double meanings. This one still has me thinking.
janet rubin11/01/05
creepy! It felt like a twilight zone episode. very cool, with spiritual implications.
Cassie Memmer11/01/05
I loved your story. Strong feelings are often attached to scents. Yep, need to stay on the straight and narrow and not get side tracked by the pull of flesh. I want to read more of your work.
Jan Ackerson 11/02/05
I liked "Impious Street" and "Natasburg." Very clever.
Joanne Malley11/03/05
After reading your story, memories of aromas from my own past came rushing by. They say our sense of smell is the most nostalgic. Great article; quite creative. :)
dub W11/03/05
Once again, some of these essays surpass the level of "advanced," this is one; so well done, multiple levels. Bravo.
Crista Darr11/03/05
Bravo indeed! Fantastic work, Ben.
Shari Armstrong 11/03/05
Wow -that was very well done.
Karen Ward11/04/05
Wow. It's so scary how we become bent on our own will. The way they ignored the advice to keep going out of town was so true to life.
My favourite line: "Yet, there were others that appeared haggard and weary, a hallow gaze indicated a fatigue, yet they stayed" Such truth in that.
:) Karen
Julianne Jones11/04/05
Masterful storytelling. I am envious of your talent! :) Powerful stuff. Well done.
Garnet Miller 11/05/05
Cool! How easily we humans are ensnared by things (past sins remembered, our lives before God, guilt) that quickly take the place of God if we aren't careful. Thanks for reminding me that even the most innocent of things like a smell could lead down the garden path of destruction. Great story:)
Val Clark11/06/05
Wonderful Ben, so hard to do allegory well. Great that your character learnt by his mistake and won't go down that path again. (sigh)
Deborah Porter 11/07/05
Ben, congratulations on your Highly Commended Award for Level 3. You also ranked in 10th place overall (out of 145 entries) - which is fantastic, because as you said, this was a different style for you. Well done! Love, Deb (Challenge Coordinator)
Lynda Lee Schab 03/02/06
Very, very different for you, Ben! I loved your creativity and the message you deliver. You made me really stop and think with this one. I'm sorry I missed reading it before but I'm glad I had the chance now. Exceptionally well-crafted. No wonder it came close to placing. :-)
Amy Michelle Wiley 03/05/06
This was wonderful!!! Well done.
Rachel Rudd 03/06/06
Wow! What storytelling...my curious mind wants to know, though, if there is some significance to the name Abaddon? or is it just made up?