Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: Encouragement (among believers) (11/08/07)
- TITLE: Thwarted
By Rachel Burkum
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Discord shuffled closer to get a better look, pulling back the curtain with a gleaming talon. “What? What happened?”
“Remember when Susan’s father died last week?” Neglect grinned, showing his yellowed teeth. “I said she wouldn’t last long on her own.”
“But who is she with?”
“That weakling, Michaela, who calls herself a Christian. I’ve been working on her for a while now. It won’t be long until her soul will be added to our collection.” Another laugh escaped Neglect’s lips. “All Susan needed was a little uplifting word, but I’ve got Michaela so well-trained now that she couldn’t even muster up a pat to the arm.”
Discord’s eyes danced with evil delight. “How long until Susan falls?”
“Soon…very soon. Look - there she goes. She’s headed to church.”
“Well, she won’t find any help there.”
“Of course not.” Neglect casually sharpened a claw on the stone wall, sending sparks scattering along the floor. “No one there will interfere. That little church is so dead, I haven’t even checked on them in weeks.”
A sudden force sent Neglect hurling through the air, slamming him against the far wall. “You despicable creature!”
Discord sank into the corner as Lucifer’s voice shook the entire room.
Neglect pulled himself to his feet, trembling with fear. “B-but, I-”
“You, nothing!” Fire blazed in Lucifer’s eyes as he stepped closer to his demon. “No church goes unwatched. Ever!”
“Yes, yes, Master, I just knew that-”
“All you know is how to be lazy, you ignorant being.” Lucifer threw back the ragged curtain to view the scene for himself. Smoke twisted through the dense air as he breathed, ire dripping from his words. “Now get down there and watch her! This is one soul I refuse to lose.”
Neglect slinked onto the ledge and peered down on his target. “All she’s doing is-”
A backhanded slap launched the demon into foggy oblivion. “And don’t come back without her!”
Susan made her way down the candle-lit aisle, feeling the very presence of loneliness. Falling to her knees, she wept, her heart torn into a million pieces. Her despair was so great, that even God’s comfort seemed out of reach. There was nowhere to go. No one to talk to. No one to help lift this awful weight.
Neglect leaned against the darkened wall in disgust. He reached out to manipulate a candle’s flame, knowing good and well that his time here was wasted. No one was here except Susan.
A slight noise at the back of the church startled him. What was this? Michaela?
Thinking quickly, Neglect interfered, speaking softly in Michaela’s ear to remind her that this was no place for her to be. Susan was fine. Being here just created awkwardness. It wasn’t worth the time. It was foolish.
To his horror, Michaela didn’t stop.
“No…no!” Neglect danced in front of her, trying to push her back. “You’re not supposed to be here!” A bone-chilling growl reminded him that his own freedom was on the line. “Go back, go back…please!” He raised his claw to strike her, but horror was suddenly injected into his veins as Michaela’s protector was revealed. “You!”
The Heavenly Warrior drew a threatening sword. “Back off, Neglect. You’re not wanted here.”
“But, but…Michaela will do no good! Susan is as good as mine, you know that.”
“You’ve foolishly underestimated us once again. Be gone!”
Having no choice, Neglect drew his wings around himself and slithered back into the shadows.
Michaela knelt down next to her friend, laying an arm across her shoulders. “I’m so sorry, Susan. Please…let me help carry your burden. I want to know what I can do to help.”
“No!” The cold, hard chains wrapped around Neglect’s neck, restraining him in the dungeon’s cell. “I’ll go back! I’ll fix it!”
Lucifer’s glare cut like knives. “You don’t seem to realize the importance of suppressing Christians from lifting up one another. One supportive word is all it takes to ruin a lifetime of our work. You have failed me. Michaela and Susan are both lost, thanks to you.”
Neglect’s glowing eyes widened as his Master turned. “No, don’t leave me here! No!”
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