Screams pierced the darkness, and the hair on Ellie’s arms stood up. She watched the scene unfolding on the big screen, through squinted eyes. Two teenaged girls stumbled over tree roots and dodged branches as they fled from a freakish, demon-like monster. What am I doing here, Lord?
The girls crouched behind a tree, whimpering. All was quiet. The eerie background music shifted to a soothing tune and the girls sighed with relief. Ellie did too. They’d escaped.
Without warning, the creature sprang at them. His eyes blazed red from sockets buried in a distorted face. His bony, claw-tipped fingers grabbed at the horrified teens. Ellie squeezed her eyes shut and tried to block out the sound.
Ellie’s friends giggled, but Ellie looked towards the exit. She felt a hand grabbing her arm and jumped.” Don’t do that!”
“Oh my gosh. Look how scared she is!” Callie turned to Marissa and snickered. “Maybe she wants to go watch the good little PG movie.”
Yes, I do. I’d love to see something nice and funny that wouldn’t give me nightmares. Ellie pressed her lips together, angry with her friends and herself.
Callie had invited Ellie and Marissa to the movies and a sleepover—something the trio had done many times. Callie’s mom dropped them off, believing the girls were seeing a comedy. They’d bought tickets and popcorn before heading in.
Callie and Marissa walked by the room where the movie they’d purchased tickets for was playing.
Ellie stopped. “Where are you guys going?”
The girls exchanged glances. “Just c’mon,” Marissa whispered. “We’re going to see that.” She pointed to a poster on the wall advertising the horror film, “Mutilation.”
Ellie’s heart thumped as she recalled the previews she’d seen on television. “That movie’s rated R. We aren’t even old enough.”
“Don’t be a baby. Let’s do something interesting for once.” Callie and Marissa slipped through the door, leaving Ellie alone. The theater door loomed before her, the “Enter” sign beckoning. She wanted to run to her comfortable home, but didn’t want to look foolish. In junior high, they’d enjoyed doing fun things—roller-skating, playing games or lying on the trampoline talking. Callie and Marissa weren’t Christians, but they’d respected Ellie’s beliefs.
Since high school had started, things were different. Callie and Marissa seemed too “cool” for the things they used to enjoy, and now they were pressuring Ellie to do things she didn’t want to do.
A security guard turned in Ellie’s direction. I’m sorry God. She opened the door and rushed in.
Ellie suffered through the remainder of the movie, the popcorn that usually tasted so good, untouched in her lap. When Callie’s mom came, Ellie asked for a ride home, saying she didn’t feel good. It wasn’t a lie—her queasy stomach continued to churn as she listened to the other girls tell Mrs. Thomas how “cute and funny” the movie had been.
At home, Ellie wriggled into pajamas and headed for the bathroom. Unseen eyes seemed to leer at her from the darkened bedrooms. She fumbled for the bathroom light switch, panicking when she didn’t find it immediately. She hurried through her face-washing and tooth-brushing, anxiety seizing her when soap momentarily blinded her.
In bed, the monster’s hideous face flashed before her. Oh God, I wish I’d never seen it. It was as if the movie were a patch of poison ivy she’d gotten into. Only instead of oozing, itchy sores, it was a rash of fear she couldn’t get rid of.
Ellie fell into a fitful sleep but was soon awakened by a nightmare. God, I know it’s my fault that I’m afraid. I never should have watched that movie. I let that stuff into my mind and now it’s stuck there.
Why did you watch it?
Ellie considered the question. I was afraid that Callie and Marissa would be mad.
Afraid? Of friends?
That did seem silly. Ellie grabbed her Bible and flipped to the concordance in search of verses about fear. She read First Timothy 1:7. “God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love...” This fear was definitely not of God. She turned to First John 4:18. “There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear.”
If Callie and Marissa loved her, they’d care about her feelings. Ellie prayed herself back to sleep, thanking God for being a friend who casts out fear.
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