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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Selfishness (02/14/05)

TITLE: Under the East River
By Maxx .


I tasted blood that wasn't mine and found it to be like cocaine ...

I became an addict.

The tunnel was black and smelled of mildew and rot. I had to drag the girl most of the distance. She wouldn't walk. My foot slipped into the gutter, mud sopped my shoes. I swore and shouldered open the rusted service door, pushing her inside.

She stumbled away from me until her back pressed against the opposite wall. The rats scurrying about her feet made her squirm to the corner.

"What? You don't like my place? Not as nice as your sorority?" I threw the breaker, lighting the bulb. Her eyes were wide with panic behind strands of blond hair.

She whimpered, helpless and pathetic. She reeked of fear. I owned her.

I bolted the door.

The overhead pipes were slick and black with moisture from the East River above. I ducked beneath them and stepped towards her. She turned away and slid to the floor in a cowering crouch, her torn jeans pressed against her cleavage. I leaned over her and yanked the tape from her mouth.

She screamed.

I shook the tape in her face. "Do you want me to put this back on? Do you?" She blinked and tears spilled down her cheeks like a torrent. "I didn't think so. Just the same, we'll leave your hands bound until you settle down." I felt power swell within me. "I'm your whole world right now. Nobody comes here. Nobody can hear you."

"Don't hurt me. Please. Please. Don't hurt me—" Her voice faltered.

I laughed. "I wouldn't put money on that; but maybe if you begged."

She rolled her head from me, her expression twisted and trembling, blood dripping from her torn lips. She spoke in a muttered jumble. "Oh God, oh God, oh God."

"God?" I watched the rodents stare from the drain holes in the floor. "You really think God's going to come down here to save you?" I waved my hand towards the graffiti streaked walls. "This is my temple. You'd be better off praying to me."

Her eyes tracked my smallest movement. I was everything.

"What are you going to do with me?"

I stood over her and leaned down, grabbing the hair on both sides of her head. I lifted until her eyes were inches from mine. "I take whatever I want and nobody can stop me." Flecks of my spittle peppered her face and mixed with her tears. "Are you afraid?"

She nodded in short spastic motions, her voice a constricted whisper. "Yes."

"Afraid to die?" I craved her broken submission.

"No. Not death." She inhaled and raised her chin.

Defiance? I opened my knife and held the blade to her throat. “Then what?”

She shuddered, her face pale and drained. "Just of what you'll do."

I slammed her against the wall and stepped away, kicking her legs as I moved. "Liar. Everyone's afraid to die."

She cried out on impact and crumpled in a heap. "No, I hope for more." Her breath was jagged and sharp. "There's more after this." She swallowed. "After you're done. There's more for me."

My fingers twitched and I forced them through my hair. A fire raged in my gut; the pulse in my neck pounded. "You think I don't know what you're talking about? I know more than you. I've seen your churches. You all believe that God is so powerful, that everything works for good, that you get to go to heaven when you're dead." I spit on the ground by her face. "Then how do you explain me? Did God tell you to walk home alone tonight? Did he plan for you to be here?"

She seemed unsure, confused.

“Answer me!”

She sat herself back up. "It'll work for good."

"I'm not part of any plan. I make the plans." I was overcome with hatred towards the girl. "What possible good will come of this?"

She raised her eyes to mine and held them there, a new softness replaced the terror. "God loves you." She spoke the words as if her entire life existed simply to utter them at that moment in time.

I fell backwards and crashed against the door. It felt like I had been hit. My vision clouded, then turned red. A grain of doubt had taken root. I pushed it aside and glared at the girl.

She closed her eyes and seemed at peace.

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This article has been read 5971 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Jamie Driggers02/21/05
An interesting, emotion provoking read. This man is definately self-absorbed and selfish!
aaron donley02/21/05
Extremely well written. Intense dialogue. Hands down one of the top three I've seen in this competition. Amazing.
Mandy Houk02/21/05
Man, you scare me. But since that was the point, I'd say "Hurrah!" Great imagery, tight dialog, not too preachy.

Christe McKittrick02/21/05
This was disturbing, but mesmerizing. He paints a dark picture only for it to be luminated with good in contrast. Excellent writing. Unlike anything you'll find here.
Dave Wagner02/22/05
Great word choices throughout. Very effective presentation. Unnerving, but hey, who says life isn't sprinkled liberally with horrors? Interesting that you chose to write it from the villians' perspective.

Good post, but if you don't mind, I don't think I'll be reading it over again...
Jeremy McNabb02/24/05
I absolutely love your style! It is very hard to for me to slip into a first person narrative, but not with Under the East River. Great job, hope you win!
donna robinson02/24/05
I've often wonder how I'd feel if I found myself in a bad situation. Would I hate the person? Could I maintain that God had a plan even for their life? Could I handle my fear and let God give me the peace? It was a hopping piece...
Jessica Schmit02/25/05
I want to know who wrote this piece! Amazing. Absolutely captivating, yet eerie at the same time. The imagination and detail are extraordinary and the different spin you put on this story, by having the first person as the villain. Wow. You have amazing talent. Also, I admire you’re ability to step out of the box. This is definitely not one of the “usual” pieces I read.
Donna J. Shepherd02/27/05
Scary, yet effective. Great dialogue.
Brandon Baldwin02/28/05
Nice imagery, after you are done reading you want to "shake" the evil off of your limbs... :D
Nina Phillips07/03/05
Maxx, this article was made fairly true to life and the world's consequencial natural horrors. It made me most aware of our immense need for Jesus in our lives whether we portray the villian or hero. Jesus reaches out to both for he is no respector of persons.
God bless,
Michelle Burkhardt07/04/05
Congratulations on your big win! Fantastic piece and well deserved.
Amy Michelle Wiley 07/04/05
I especially liked "She spoke the words as if her entire life existed simply to utter them at that moment in time." Good job and congrats on your win!
Tammy Johnson07/06/05
I'm studying ALL your writings - I want to write like this! So vivid, so spell-binding, marvelous!
Debbie OConnor07/06/05
A well worthy winner in every way. This story has power to change lives in its lines. The end is so strong! I, like Amy, particularly love the line where you say "She spoke the words as if her entire life existed simply to utter them at that moment in time."

And the last line is great too. She closed her eyes and seemed at peace. Perfect! :) Come what may.
Amy Verlennich07/13/05
Congratulations! This is a powerful story, and reminder, of "the other side" and how the Lord wants ALL of us, no matter what our past, or present, circumstances are. We all have a story... Thank you.
Tisha Martin 08/02/05
All I can say is "Wow." Very chilling and true. Loved how you brought in faith in Jesus Christ. Beautifully written - from a Christian perspective; descriptive, chilling and lurking - from a world's point of view. You kept me going till the end, holding on to every word.
Joanne Malley08/05/05
I've been meaning to formally congratulate you, Maxx. Your talent shines in every article or story you write. I love your ability to dig deep and describe everything with the perfect selection of words. You are a true wordsmith; a writer who brings every feeling forth with truth and clarity. Congratulations on your awesome win! Jo
Marie Gabbard08/11/05
Wow...what a writer. DEFINITELY not a feel good story, but most definitely a real THIS world story.

I commend you for having the "guts" to write a sad reality with a sermon of faith and hope enclosed.
Heather Sargent11/20/05
I know this post is much later than the rest, but I am new to this site and WOW! I am completely blown away by this story. This is the kind of writing that keeps me up late at night. Well done and congrats!!
Delores Baber01/11/06
Wow! I just came across this story. I've faced some devastaing circumstances lately and couldn't see how God could use these things. This story forced me to see [remember] that God can use any circumstance, even the most horrible, for His purpose. It has strengthed me at a time I have felt weak and helpless. Powerful!
Dara Sorensen02/03/06
Absolutely amazing! I finally decided to hunt this down after seeing it many times as the winning piece. A chilling story, powerful to the end!
Amanda D'costa02/21/06
First of all, Maxx, congratulations to you. You are a gifted writer. Jesus has great plans for you... and He loves you very much. He always has and always will.

It's a pleasure reding your work. This is very artistically worded and captures the attention of the reader. Good work.
Amanda D'costa02/21/06
First of all, Maxx, congratulations to you. You are a gifted writer. Jesus has great plans for you... and He loves you very much. He always has and always will.

It's a pleasure reading your work. This is very artistically worded and captures the attention of the reader. Good work.
Caitlynn Lowe02/27/06
Wow...That was really intense. Very creepy, also, but it was wonderfully written.
Patricia Charlton03/15/06
Maxx, Your piece inspires my soul to learn the craft of gifted writing. The character building, the plot, the suspense, all work towards challenging this writer. How do you write with such clarity? In someone life this is a true event. Now, you have given that person courage to trust Christ in that situation. Keep inspiring the newbies.
Claudette Wood03/20/06
Maxx, I would rate your work among those of my favorite authors--Frank Peretti and Ted Dekker. I hope you are considering being published. I would most definitely buy your stuff. It doesn't hide the true evil in the world, but the Light of the Lord also shines through your writing.

I'm not an expert at writing, but I'm an expert reader! And I would buy any book you decide to have published.
Brook Phelps04/09/06
Wow. What a story. I saw it unfold as you presented it before me. Congratulations on your win and I hope it leads to much success. Best wishes.
Doug Jenkins04/10/06
Maxx, Being new here at FW, I have just now read your winning story. It is worthy indeed of its accolades. It was more than worth the time to look it up and read. Great job!! Doug
Jessica Schmit05/15/06
This is one of those pieces that a reader doesn't ever forget. I remember the first time I read this. My first thought was "What sucidal teen wrote this." It gave me chills and I hated it. But it drew me in. I read it again and again and again. I read this piece so many times and have read it many times throughout the past year. It's a masterpiece. It's no wonder it won the best of the best. I find it ironic that you never placed once, then you landed first and the best of the best award. How bizarre! Like I've said before, you write so out of the box, that people are drawn to you. I can't write like you, I've tried and realize that my style and my gift is extremely different from yours and yet, it still works for me. But because I can't write like you to save my life, I appreciate it even more.

I left a comment on this one before. Over a year ago. What I said then, I still think today. Congrats Maxx. I hope you use this gift full time. I read quite a bit, and you're better than most of the authors I saturate my mind with. (And no, I don't read romance! LOL)
Jessica Schmit05/15/06
By the way, someone compared you to Peretti and Dekker and as someone who has read almost all thier work, you're better. You have more talent and are more precise with your writing. Use it Maxx!
Marjorie Patton03/08/10
I have just joined FaithWriters and just this minute read your article. Wow! God's love is powerful, huh?! And you captured the essence of it!
Marjorie Patton