The old hardwood floors creaked menacingly with each contemptible step. Cursing, he crisscrossed down the narrow hallway avoiding the loose wood panels, whose sounds conspired to betray him.
Unable to hide his foul intention, the tall southerner smiled through teeth yellowed by years of cigar smoke. The tobacco odor mixed with “Southern Comfort” seeped under a familiar wooden door layered thick with coats of paint. Behind his eyes lurked an insidious presence and a heart tainted by years of predatory lust.
In the hallway mirror opposite him, a tall dark-headed stranger stood next to him. The thick dark beard was longer than his, but the oily hair and tattered Yankees cap mirrored his very likeness. Deep set eyes with “crow’s feet” and heavy eyebrows reflected his own image, closely. Cold black orbs stared back at him. Momentarily, the tall figure smiled revealing gapped yellow teeth. Smoke oozed between them. Turning, he disappeared into the man looking at the mirror.
Inhaling the demonic presence, he eased a gnarled hand toward the metal door knob. The latch disengaged with a sound too loud for his secretive tastes as he eased the door inward.
Stoically, an eleven year old girl stared up at the open ceiling rafters painted “princess pink” by her mother. Tears pooled onto the pillow.
Instantly, Sarah bolted from the bed. Reaching the toilet just in time, she mixed vomit with tears as another nightmare took its toll on her body.
Sipping a cup of tea at the kitchen table, Sarah stared at her brother-in-law, torment etched on her face. “The pain’s still there, Ben.”
Watery blue eyes gazed back at her. Inexplicably, Sarah felt safe with Ben.
Silently, he sipped his tea.
“Maybe an hour of sleep a night, Ben…it’s always the same nightmare.”
Setting his cup down, Ben eyed Sarah, sincerely.
To her, Ben could look into her soul. She’d known him when his first wife was dying of cancer. A widower for a decade before marrying her sister, Kelli, Sarah knew he’d been through hard times. Rumor had it that he’d attempted suicide after his parent’s death. He’d disappeared for several years and then one day Kelli brought him over. He seemed different. His eyes were bluer than she remembered and his demeanor: peaceful. She’d wondered what’d happened to him during his silent years, but never had the nerve to ask. Usually, his words were few and she respected him for that.
“Two failed marriages, Ben… a daughter who hates me… jobless again…can’t sleep….I’m losing my mind!”
Ben dropped his head, momentarily.
Shortly, Sarah snarled, “I hate him Ben; the wicked snake. If he was here, I’d kill him!”
“Would that help?” asked Ben gently.
“Yes!” shrieked Sarah bitingly. “I mean no…I mean…I don’t know.”
Closing her eyes, she rested her head back.
“It’s the nightmares…I just want to…”
“No!” stated Ben suddenly.
“What?” she queried.
“They’re not nightmares…they’re your reality. In your mind, its in real time, happening again and again,” stated Ben. “Sarah,” said Ben emphatically, “you’re imprisoned by your past.”
Sarah was paralyzed by the intensity in Ben’s eyes.
“Sarah, in those night hours…with the creaking floor… and the tobacco odor…”
“How’d you know?” asked Sarah astonished.
“Doesn’t matter. The point is your father had an ancient companion: a heinous spirit which, he passed on to you. Soon, others came along: Hatred; Shame; Humiliation; Self Degradation; Guilt; Hopelessness. Your attitudes and self talk have been orchestrated by these enemies. Thus, your choices have been tailor-made for them and now you find yourself in a mental dungeon. You couldn’t think differently or make better choices if your life depended on it…and it does.”
Astounded, Sarah stared at Ben.
Ben continued, “In your youth, you were carved up by spiritual darkness from your father. The wounds have never healed. You bleed deeply…especially at night when you’re alone in your room, just like when you were a child. A vile enemy has you chained in a prison of hatred, guilt and shame. These Sarah, are the works of the Devil, and “Jesus Christ came to destroy the works of the devil.”
Sarah’s floodgates opened; she drenched the table in tears. Truth poured into her like a rushing river. Hatred released its vice-grip on her mind. Disgrace was blasted into the darkness; hopelessness crushed beyond remedy.
Moments later, the Living God entered her soul and Sarah sang her way into the Kingdom.
“I will enter His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise.”
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