Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: ROAD TRIP (vacation) (07/02/15)
TITLE: For Pete's Sake
By Zacharia Fox
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“When I was your age, I carried messages barefoot, uphill both ways. Head-Quarters spoils you with this technological fiddle faddle.” Ned’s grandpa shook his finger at the rear view mirror, as Ned pretended to be interested in the exit sign labeled ‘left arm’.
“Calm down, Dad,” Ned’s dad said. “We know, nobody resents progress more than you.”
“Progress? I grew that shrub, Pete, into a man! That’s progress.” Ned looked over the Central Nervous System, as his grandpa mumbled about the good-ol-days.
“How did Ned’s assignment become a family road trip?” Ned’s sister, Tootsie, complained as she thudded her head against the window.
Ned’s Grandpa glared over the rim of his glasses. “You’re an ‘action potential’ for Pete’s sake. Carrying messages over the CNS is all we do!”
“I never asked to be an action potential. Who wants to carry messages from Pete’s brain to his body anyways?” Tootsie glanced at her finger nails as she spoke.
“Tootsie, it’s an honor to carry electronic-messages,” said Ned’s dad.
“‘Electronic-messages’? Just call it email, Dad.” Tootsie rolled her eyes.
“It’s our claim to fame, for Pete’s sake!” barked Ned’s grandpa. “Discipline young lady. You want to be just like old Grandpa!”
Ned’s dad leaned forward and whispered, “Here comes the ‘Bodily Achievement’ bit again.”
“You see, I received the Bodily Achievement Medal. ‘Wake up Pete, it’s time for puberty!’ Haha, those were the days. Pete was a little stump, but I got him firing on all cylinders. Arm pit hair, pimples, squeaky voice, and a growth spurt to boot.” Ned’s grandpa stroked his mustache. “Those are the messages to carry! None this outdated code nonsense.”
“It’s important. I know it,” Ned defended.
“Balderdash. Code like that hasn’t been used since the Sunday School and flannel graph days. Pete’s a business man now. Never mind this old hat gibberish.”
“Dad, try to be supportive,” said Ned’s dad.
“Of course…” Ned’s grandpa looked out the window before mumbling, “Young whipper-snappers think they know everything now days.”
Ned sighed when he saw the sign labeled ‘Pete’s Heart’. He clicked the intercom. “Ned to Head Quarters. We’re exiting the spinal-chord. Requesting permission to proceed.”
“Permission granted. Proceed with caution.”
It grew darker and darker, and Ned tapped the breaks when the headlights revealed the heart. He felt a pat on his shoulder before he heard, “There’s a brave lad, Ned. Devotion to duty, now let’s get on with it.”
A smile tugged at the corners of Ned’s lips as he drove into the heart, and then that happy feeling was gone.
Pete’s heart wore the odorous rot of pride, the sulfurous fires of lust, barbs of jealousy, and fractures of insecurity.
“Behold, I stand at the door and knock.” Ned read the message aloud, before he said into the com, “Ned to Head Quarters.”
“We… choppy recept…” Static muffled the voice.
“Where was Pete the last time this code was used?”
“He… at church, fifteen years…”
“Can you play back the memory?” Ned looked at his hand-held.
A Sunday school room appeared on the screen. The teacher pointed to a flannel graph Jesus, knocking on a door. She said, “Behold, I stand at the door and knock.”
Ned coughed as he caught a whiff of pride and clicked the com. “Can you get me live feed on my hand-held?”
A fuzzy picture of a church stage came into view and a man was speaking. “God has put eternity in our hearts. Nothing can fill that place; not money, fame, friends, family, possessions, not anything in all the world but Jesus himself. He stands at the door of your heart and knocks. Would you let him come in and fill the eternal void?”
Ned was rereading the message, when he felt a gentle touch on his shoulder. His grandpa smiled through watery eyes. “Do it lad. For Pete’s sake, deliver the message.”
Ned swallowed hard and tossed the message deep into the heart. Then, Pete stood, walked to the stage and collapsed on the alter.
“Forgive me, Jesus!” Pete cried.
Ned looked around as a wind swept through Pete’s heart. When it settled, the odors of pride had been replaced by a sweet floral aroma.
They all stood in wonder until Tootsie said, “Can we do this again next year?”
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