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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: Sibling(s) (05/01/08)

TITLE: The Medal
By Peter Stone
05/04/08


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“The CD cases and discs are covered with scuff marks--these ain’t bootlegs--they’re the genuine article! Where’d you get them, Sis? They’re practically priceless!” I gasped as I examined the parcel’s contents.

Jessi squeezed my hand affectionately. “Happy Birthday, Bro. You are happy, right?”

I gave her one of those looks. “You think I’m faking this, Kiddo? I’ve been searching for these antiques for decades. And here you are, giving me not one, but all three twenty-first century Ayumi Hamasaki Cyber trance presents ayu trance albums!” I cocked my head mischievously to one side. “I want to hear them now--you think I can skip the presentation?”

“Come on, Mike, you’re a war hero. Go get your medal. Then we can jack into the net and pop these albums on continuous play until we’re all ‘tranced’ out.”

It was a struggle, but somehow I handed the discs back to my younger sister before standing to straighten my uniform.

Reality, however, took a right turn into the realm of hallucinatory dreams when the ayu trance 2 disc disintegrated into a cloud of microscopic dust--dust which of its own accord proceeded to envelope my sister’s exposed arm.

“Arrr…ungh…get them off me!” Jessi shrieked as her skin began absorbing the dust. It was like watching a mold spore’s explosion played backwards in slow motion.

Although I swatted frantically at the dust, this barely even impeded its progress. A moment later all traces of it were gone--assimilated by Jessi’s arm. She tried to grab me but collapsed, arching her back in agony while mouthing voiceless screams.

The door chimed.

The timing was too precise to be a coincidence.

“Open,” I snapped.

The door swished open to admit two corporate-types in black suits and mirror shades.

“What have you done to my sister?”

“Cooperate and we’ll remove the nanites. Don’t and we’ll let them replicate--inside her.”

“What do you want?”

The suit stepped forward. “The president pins a medal on your chest in two hours, Mister War Hero. Thanks to his orbital’s dampening field rendering our nanotech inactive, we can’t touch him. So you’re going to terminate him for us.”

Eight thousand orbitals had warred for seven centuries: millions had died. Not only did President Berenger broker the ceasefire, but he also kept the peace. Remove him, and the conflict would resume. Aghast, I looked at my sister.

“You have any idea of how much she loves you? She spent a decade’s wages buying those ‘albums’ from us. You just gonna let us waste her?”

I hung my head. Jessi, my sister, had been my best friend, my lifeline to sanity, for two centuries. “I’ll do it.”

“Of course you will. Now hold out your left hand.”

Another cloud of nanites descended upon my outstretched hand, which absorbed them in seconds. I watched, immobilised, dismayed, as the nanites opened my hand, rebuilt the bones inside into a fully functional needle gun that was undetectable by known security devices, and then closed up the wound. The nanites poured back out of me.

“When Berenger pins the medal to your chest, make a fist, aim it at him, and squeeze the hand.”




President Berenger was pinning a medal on my copilot’s chest. I was next.

I thought of my sister, contorted in agony, waiting for release. Her life was in my hand, literally. A lifetime’s memories flashed through my mind. Oh, the times we had spent together, the things we had seen. The support we had given to Berenger as he fought to end the chaos.

My face burned as guilt consumed me. Everything that so many had worked for, for so long, would collapse when I assassinated the only man whom could maintain the peace. The government would fall, chaos would ensue, arms traders would resume their lucrative business, and millions more would die as orbitals resumed open warfare--all because of me.

President Berenger was shaking my right hand while placing a medal on my chest.

Pulse roaring, I made a fist with my left hand and aimed it at his heart. One squeeze and it would be over. My sister would be safe, and the Orbital Coalition would collapse.

“Well done, Wing Commander Daniels,” said the President. Then, for my ears only, “Thanks, Mike--I could not have done it without you.”

“Forgive me, Sis,” I mouthed, lowering the hand.

A tear fell. My heart died.

“You okay, friend?” asked the President, about to move on.

“Emotional day, Sir.”


******

Nanite – microscopic robot
Orbital – short for ‘orbital habitat.’ A space station orbiting the Earth that serves as a permanent settlement

******

Matthew 10:28 (NIV) Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell.


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This article has been read 1117 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Joanne Sher 05/08/08
You did a good job of putting us in this world in the limited word count you had. It was familiar enough to not feel completely foreign, but "sci-fi" enough to work. I was wondering what he would do until the end. Good job with the suspense.
Phyllis Inniss 05/08/08
Sci-fi things are beyond my imagination, but I think you did a good job of showing the importance of duty and responsibility and their relevance to Bible teaching. Jesus asked who are my mother and brothers. Family relationships must come second to God.
Verna Cole Mitchell 05/10/08
You managed a moral and a message in your exciting scifi story.
Lyn Churchyard05/12/08
Exactly what we have come to expect from you Peter... another brilliant story. I loved every bit of this. I'd love to see this made into a full length story.
Well done, very well done indeed.
Mariane Holbrook05/12/08
Do you ever write anything mediocre? **grin** You're so good you could copy the phone book and still place first in Editor's Choice. It's a bit out of the box but who needs boxes? It's GREAT! (As usual!)
Jan Ackerson 05/12/08
WOW!!! I love it! And you were able to give us your whole sci-fi world by the richness of your "showing"--so hard to do in 750 words. Wonderful!
LauraLee Shaw05/12/08
Amazingly brilliant and clever as usual. Funny how accustomed I've become to using the word "brilliant" when describing your writing. Phenomenal piece of your imagination here.
Sally Hanan05/12/08
Short, sharp--excellent imagination and presentation.
Debbie Wistrom05/12/08
You kept us guessing, well done. Loved the scripture tie in.
Loved the sci-fi feel.
Joshua Janoski05/13/08
Your God given gift always shines in your writings. You are a master of sci-fi (and many other genres), and you left me wanting more of this story. I could picture this being a full blown novel. You masterfully sued all 750 words, but I still yearn for more.

Thank you for sharing your gift with all of us. What a blessing!
Joshua Janoski05/13/08
Whoops! Typo in my last comment. You masterfully "used" all 750 words not sued. LOL
Dee Yoder 05/13/08
Rich details in this story and great characterizations. I was not expecting that ending-you got me with that!
Sara Harricharan 05/14/08
What a sacrifice! Somehow, I think it's what his sister would've wanted. To watch the action though, the emotion and the struggle to 'do the right thing'. It was very real. You've certainly got a knack for this-great job! I loved it! ^_^
Betty Castleberry05/14/08
You had me wondering until the very end what was going to happen. This was a real nail biter. Kudos.
LaNaye Perkins05/15/08
I loved this sci-fi thriller. Great writing!
LauraLee Shaw05/15/08
Congratulations on 1st place overall!!!! I am so thrilled and happy for your many successes! ;)
Dianne Janak05/15/08
I have never been a sci-fi fan, but you had me with this story. I tried to guess what he would do at the end, and got it wrong. What an exciting story. I love how the enemy could not predict the outcome by the use of terror tactics. Great writing and CONGRATS!
Johnna Stein05/15/08
Not usually a fan of sci-fi, but you drew me in. Masterfully told in so few words. Chapeau!
Loren T. Lowery05/15/08
Certainly well deserved, Peter. Another great job - what an imagination and talent you have! Thank-you for sharing it in your writings. Loren
Karen Wilber 05/15/08
First rate sci-fi. I didn't even need the glossary at the end to follow the action. Liked your nanite descriptions. Congrats on EC.
Laury Hubrich 05/15/08
Congratulations, Peter! Great story! It is an honor to be in 2nd place next to you:)
Laury
Sheri Gordon05/15/08
Congratulations on your first place, Peter. I don't usually like sci-fi (mostly 'cause I don't 'get it'), but this is really good. And I 'got it.' :)

Very creative story for the topic.
Kristen Hester05/15/08
Congrats, Peter, on 1st place. Wow! This is an awesome entry. You are so talented and versatile. Blessings.
David Butler 05/16/08
I can see why you say that sci-fi is your favourite genre, but I've read your historical articles that had (to me) just as much impact. You're amazingly versatile and creative.
The word limit cramps it slightly, making me read it twice to get the full impact, so I can imagine how awesome it would be filled out a little. Ever considered writing an anthology of short sci-fi stories? You slay 'em, bro!