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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Soul (07/13/06)

TITLE: Vultures of Guilt
By Stephanie Bullard


Darkness. Pressing in around me. A blackness that transcends any mortal ideas of such a color, or lack thereof. It is deeper. Darker. Stronger. It clasps me with icy fingers of nothingness; clawing into me with fleshless bones, searching for a heart that is missing. A void deep within me. A void all around.

A hot wind swirls around me, scouring me with a heat that sears the lungs, melts flesh from bone. I scream in agony, but no sound comes from lungs exploding with fire, lips peeled back like blistering paint in an inferno. I burn, but still exist. My body licked with flames that will not consume. A living burning bush, though life seems far away. A distant memory.

I stumble through the living void, tendrils of death reaching for me, curling around my limbs, pulling me into the despair that makes up the depth of their nonexistence.

The putrid smell of rot clogs my nostrils. I choke on the acrid reek of decomposition as I trip over the decaying corpse of unrecognized dreams. They’re dead. Neglected. Forgotten.

Vultures of guilt and despondency circle, drawn by the odor of my sullied honor. Their sharp beaks tear into the rancid carcass of my hopes and visions, spilled out and laid bare to the world. I am nothing, the world cannot see me, only the shell of an empty being.

A hiss fills my mind and floods my veins. A gurgle of twisted pleasure. A brilliant Angel of Light, beautifully horrible, his dark light casting garish shadows across the void. The nothingness pales in comparison.

He is king here.

This is his domain.

Welcome to Hell.

Welcome to my soul.

I raise a feeble hand in resistance as he moves with deliberate slowness to consume me. I am his, possessed by his evils and lies, owned by his lust for humanity. He has claimed me, by my own choice. My will has crumbled, collapsed into desolate submission to the one who would lay claim to every wretched creature. I am the most wretched.

“You are precious to me.”

A new Voice. Unknown, yet so familiar it shakes me to my core.

“No.” I whisper.

“I love you.”

I move closer to the Evil one.

“You cannot.”

A shaft of clean, pure light floods the darkness, illuminating every corner of my most abject person. I fall to my knees in humiliation. I cannot bear to look at Him. My horrors spilled out before His wounded feet.

“I am not worthy.”

“That is why I am here. I will free you from yourself. All you need do is ask.”

I tremble with fear and desire. I long for His embrace, for His life to bring new meaning to my own living death.

“Yes.” I whisper. Then shout it with tears streaming down my vagabond face.

He holds His hands out, blood pouring over me, cooling the flames that rack my body. The screams have changed now. They are no longer mine. They are the Evil ones’; he has lost his hold on another soul and must slink back to the rank depths where he will steep in his rot until another wretch crosses his path.

My gaze is fixed on the One who has transformed the darkness that was my being into a new vessel, pure and ready to contain the fresh life He has offered.

This is His kingdom now.

Welcome to my soul.

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This article has been read 907 times
Member Comments
Member Date
terri tiffany07/20/06
terrific verb use and descriptive language. I like how you broke it up where you did.
Lisa Vest07/20/06
Excellent use of words to paint such a vivid picture of a soul bound for hell. I actually thought this was a soul already in hell (if you wrote it that way, it would be a superb evangelistic piece). I was glad to see how you showed a soul transformed and redeemed. I love happy endings! Great writing.
david grant07/21/06
Vivid and well told. Great job!
David Story07/27/06
Well done. Congratulations!
Trina Courtenay07/27/06
Congratulations Stephanie!
Debora Dyess07/31/06
You really got after it with that word paintbrush! You had too many incredible lines to name them al--beautiful, awful descriptions of Hell (either literally or figuratively, as you used to describe the soul without Christ). I thought you'd have the poor narrator choose evil for a minute--view herself as too unworthy and fling herself into the concept of herself she could see most clearly...happens too often in real life, I'm afraid.
Wonderful piece, although I'm not sure you shouldn't have placed a bit higher!
:) Debora