Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: OPEN UP A CAN OF WORMS (08/22/19)
TITLE: Firmly Secured
By Rachel Burkum
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Thayne didn’t move from the porch, and folded his arms as he looked down at the demon with disdain. “This is my post. Or hadn’t you noticed?”
Demi rattled his ebony wings uncomfortably. “No matter. I’m not going to miss these fireworks tonight. So let me by.”
“Fireworks?” Thayne cocked his head. “What did you do to Peyton?”
“I didn’t harm one single hair on her head.” Demi spread out his talons as if proving he held no tricks. “Actually all I had to do today was sit back and watch. It was brilliant.”
The armor-clad warrior’s frown deepened. “This family is strong in their faith. Why don’t you slither back to your cave and leave them be?”
Demi’s tail swished back and forth on the well-manicured lawn. “Tell you what. Let me stay, and I promise not to interfere.”
“You expect me to believe the promise of the likes of you?”
Demi shrugged. “Suit yourself. But if you really believe their faith is that strong, you won’t care if I stick around.”
Thayne’s eyes narrowed. After a moment’s consideration, he drew in his wings and stepped to the side. “After you.”
Demi cackled with delight as he skipped up the steps. “Oh, this is gonna be so much fun!”
The little family was sitting at the kitchen table. Teenage Peyton was the only child of Matt and Helen, and as such, under heavy scrutiny. At least that’s how it felt. Especially tonight. She stared at her plate and pushed a pea around with her fork until it was buried in the mound of mashed potatoes that was quickly growing cold.
“Baby, you feeling alright?” Her mother reached over to feel her forehead, but Peyton evaded it.
“I’m fine. It was just… a long day.”
It was her father’s turn to stare at her like leopard hunting prey. “How was school?”
The long pause made Demi jump up and down. “Oooh, here it comes!”
Thayne threw him a dim look. “What are you talking about?”
“Shh! Shh! Quiet. When she tells them what happened today, the explosion is going to be stupendous!”
Thayne leaned against the doorframe, now just a little concerned. Not much could shake this family, but the sniveling minion was awfully convinced.
Peyton squirmed in her seat. She could feel her face growing hot, but it wasn’t a fever. “I, um… It was… Well I guess it…”
Demi could hardly contain his excitement. “Just tell them!” He clicked his talons together in anticipation. “They’re gonna be so mad. They’re gonna scream and yell, then she’ll get angry, she’ll disrespect them, they’ll ground her, she’ll get angry at You-Know-Who, she’ll refuse to go to church, her parents will get depressed, they’ll doubt You-Know-Who, and-”
“Seriously!” Thayne threatened to draw his sword. “Now I’m the one trying to listen.”
Demi clamped his mouth shut just in time.
“I skipped school. And… I went to that party… with Jason…”
Demi fist pumped in victory. There it was. The confession that would make this home erupt in blissful chaos. Her parents absolutely loathed that arrogant boy.
They sat in stunned silence until Matt slid his hand across the table to rest on Peyton’s. “Thank you for telling us.”
A tear trickled down her cheek.
“We’re going to talk this through,” her mother encouraged. “Right now. But first, are you okay?”
“What? No, no, no!” Demi scrambled to the table, forgetting his promise. “What are you doing?” He waved a hand in front of Matt’s face. “Yell! Tell her what a terrible daughter she was!”
“We love you no matter what,” Matt encouraged.
“Hey!” Demi shook Helen’s shoulders. “Tell her how stupid she was!”
Helen ran a loving hand through Peyton’s hair. “We’re going to figure this out.”
“No!” Demi wailed. “Stop it, all of you!”
Thayne had stepped forward, and now towered over him. “Get out. Now. This is the Lord’s family, not yours, and you have no place here.”
Suddenly finding a sword against his throat, Demi slinked back towards the door, trembling at the warrior’s superior might. “This isn’t over.”
“Oh, I think it is. And tell your lowly master that the Lord Almighty reigns in this house. No matter how many of you come and taunt these children, they are safe. They are secure.”
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