Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: Day's End (01/01/14)
TITLE: The Commission
By Patricia Herchenroether
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<i>Father, there aren't any left.</i>
As more and more people awoke and slumped out of their crumbling hovels, the noise grated on Prophet's nerves. In the old days, City sounds were high in decibels, but they were almost soothing compared to this cacophony. The background hum of traffic and conversations, church bells and choirs, children laughing and dogs barking were long gone. Prophet found today's noise unsettling and stressful.
<i>Be still and know I am God.</i>
The sun rose and blasted Earth with its radiation. Sunspots flared and exploded into the polluted atmosphere. There was no protection anywhere from the deadly dose of poison. The ozone layer was dissolving at an advanced rate. People were covered with pustules of cancer and the dead lay where they fell, adding to the stench and swarming with flies. Prophet didn't think he could finish his commission.
<i>I can do all things through Jesus.</i>
He crossed the cratered street to avoid a gang of brawlers. Turning a corner, he saw an old church still standing on the next block. Surely, if there were righteous people left, they would be in the Lord's house. Disappointment soon cast doubts, for the entire facade of the building was covered in lurid graffiti and unholy caricatures. The cross from the steeple was planted upside-down near the entrance.
<i>Oh, Father, what have they done?</i>
Rusty hinges screeched when Prophet opened the door to the sanctuary and stepped inside. As his eyes adjusted to the interior, he realized the outside destruction was duplicated within. Pews were broken into pieces and trash was strewn everywhere. Most of the stained-glass windows had gunshot holes in them, casting mysterious pinpoint light beams on ceiling, floors, and walls. Here, too, sprawled human and animal bodies in various stages of decomposition.
<i>God, there is no hope for these people; none are worthy of your grace.</i>
Lost in thoughts of despair, Prophet almost missed the sound. At first, it was only a low murmuring, somewhat like a breeze ruffling piles of fallen leaves. It seemed to be coming from the front of the chapel, and he cautiously moved in that direction. The sound increased in volume as he neared an open door near the pulpit. Voices. Many, many voices were speaking. Prophet felt fear crawl up his spine and he nearly turned to flee.
<i>I shall fear no evil, even in the shadow of the valley of death.</i>
Donning the Lord's armor, he went through the door and started down a flight of creaky stairs. The voices were much louder and Prophet realized the people were chanting. He walked down a narrow hallway and peered into a large room. At the same instance of his recognition, dozens of chanting people stood up and started singing the old hymn, "Amazing Grace." An overwhelming rush of gratitude brought Prophet to his knees.
<i>Yes, Prophet, your day is done and it's time for you to bring my beloved sheep home.</i>
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