the sanctuary

The man in the cloak didn’t rush me. He waited as I hesitated.

I looked up at him. “Are you sure it will be safe?”

He nodded. “Yes. It will be safe, child.”

I took another step, and he turned, leading on.

The winding road of before had led to this dark tunnel. It scared me. There was a lot of… dark things out there. Behind me. All around me. Probably waiting for me. And they seemed to all want to hurt me. Control me. Change me.

The man in the cloak had promised me a haven from it all.

I pulled my own torn and threadbare cloak tighter around me. Not that it could really help. The wind blew right through it. And it failed to serve as even the weakest sort of armor and protection when I was attacked.

The man in the cloak had saved me the last time. So now I was walking behind him. Slow step, after slow step. Hesitating every other, just because I was so afraid that this place would be no different. There had been others who promised me a place of rest, and security. But it hadn’t worked out.

The man in the cloak stopped. We had reached a dead end.

“No… No…” I stepped away from him. “You lied.”

“Shhh. No, child. I have not. Just have a little faith in me.”

Faith. Easy word to say. Hard to actually… have.

The man in the cloak ran his hand over the stone wall. Pressed a certain spot. The ground shook as the wall fell away into the ground. A secret passage.

My breath quickened, and I could hear each heartbeat in my ears. What would be on the other side?

The man in the cloak stepped through, and then turned, waved for me to follow.

Eyes down, watching my feet, I carefully stepped over the rock door in the ground, and into the light on the other side of the tunnel.

The man in the cloak reached down and raised my head, and pointed all around.

And in that moment, I was breathless. This place was real.

He knelt down beside me.

“There will be hard times, and good times. Happy times, and times that make you cry. Times you feel like hating it all, but times that make the love just seem to gush out. It won’t be easy. Nothing is easy. But the hardship is worth going through. Welcome to the sanctuary.”

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“For Sale. Baby shoes. Never worn.”

“For Sale. Baby shoes. Never worn.”

The end.

Entire story.

By Earnest Hemingway.

Does it stir emotion in you? Or if not, can you at least understand how it could, and how potentially powerful it is?

I’ve seen several discussions on this story, and many people come up with “good” versions for it. Like it was just something they found in a room in the house they bought. It’s usually very random things. And usually very pitiful. Almost desperate, in a manner of speaking

And why is that?

Because we all know what it means. We all understand what is being portrayed to us. There is no good version. The intent, the truth, behind the story is clear.

This short six word story can really teach writers how to approach readers and their emotions. “For Sale. Baby shoes. Never worn.”….. What does that conjure up for you? I have trouble even thinking about it, because quite frankly, it just makes me really sad.

Those baby shoes were never worn, not because there wasn’t a baby… but because the baby didn’t need them. And we all know the baby didn’t need them because they were the wrong size, or they had another pair. We just know that isn’t it.

A baby, whether you are comfortable around them, holding them, or not, a baby is just something people have deep empathy for. We were all babies once. So we all have a soft spot for an infant. Those of humanity that we consider absolute monsters past hope of redemption are those who DON’T have that empathetic spot for children, and the innocent.

This short short story doesn’t make me cry. But it gets really close actually. Closer, the more I think about it. It doesn’t tug on the heart strings; it downright JERKS.

What can we take away from it?

That something happy. Something innocent. The future. Take that away. And it stirs emotions people didn’t even know they had. A dream. A child. Anything. You don’t need to tell someone (a reader, or a friend) that this is important. Whether it is to them or not, they just know it is. They can feel it. A sense. And you take that away… it’s powerful.

In fiction, you better have a good reason to do it. Don’t just cause pain for the sake of pain. (which is a subject I may go into later… to explain what I mean)

In real life… It all does happen for a reason. You might not see it now. But there is a purpose. And yes it hurts. I’m not saying it doesn’t, and won’t hurt, now, or any less later. But it will work out. And if you’re a Christian, than you have so many promises from God, that He will take care of you. And He never changes, and never breaks a promise. So you know it will work out. And there is no need to fear.

“For Sale. Baby shoes. Never worn.”

It’s a story worth remembering.

Six word story

Got this from a friend… and thought it was definitely worth sharing.

—-

Ernest Hemingway, one of the greatest authors of American literature, was sitting in his favorite pub with several author friends. He offered them a bet, saying he could write a story in six words that had a beginning, middle, end and an emotional impact.

Skeptical but curious, his friends each laid fifty dollars on the table.

Hemingway scribbled for a few moments on a table napkin, then passed it around; one by one each of his friends grew silent.

“For Sale. Baby shoes. Never worn.”

—-
lots to take from that…
Might share my thoughts later.

The Last Breath

THE LAST BREATH

 

Lifeless. Not a spark in his eye. Not a movement of his face or body. I bit my lip. God, why?

“Open the door.” I was tired of looking through a one-sided window. Looking at monitors.

“Ma’am, he’s contaminated, if you go in there you’ll–”

“Open the door.” I said again.

The doctor sighed. “Alright. Just remember: you’re putting your own life at risk here.”

I glanced through the window at the man lying on the cot. “I’m already dying, Doctor.”

The door slid open and I stepped through. The white featureless walls glowed with ambient light. Tucked into one corner was the cot. On it, my fiancé. Aidan. I walked across the small room, my shoes making a quiet clicking sound on the cold floor. I knelt beside the cot and touched his hand. It was cold.

I leaned forward and kissed his fingers. Pressed them against my cheek. Held his hand until I fell asleep.

 

 

A high pitched beep woke me up. A computer screen by the door was flashing. I blinked. My eyes focused.

Are you ready to leave?

“I’m not leaving.”

The screen blanked.

Flashed.

Why?

“Because, Doctor, he is the most important thing in my life.”

He’s going to die. Move on.

I ignored the screen, the window. I gently lifted Aidan and sat down at the head of the cot. I held him close, letting his body rest on my lap, but I held his head to my chest. I closed my eyes. All I could see was him running around. Laughing. Smiling. I trembled, my body shaking. It hurt so much. But I couldn’t get away from the memories.

Tears stung my eyes as I gently nuzzled his hair. It smelled like cinnamon. It always smelled liked cinnamon.

Cinnamon. He loved cinnamon. He smelled like it. He even tasted like it.

I squeezed my eyes shut. That first kiss…

 

 

A knock at the glass. They had turned the polarization off.

“Yvonne. Please. Come out of there before you catch the virus. You might have it already, but… come out before its too late.” The doctor was standing with two men in black suits.

I looked away and stroked Aidan’s face. Caressed his lips with my fingers.

“I’m not going anywhere.” I whispered. “I’ll stay here forever. Until you go, my love. When you go… I… go.”

“Yvonne.”

“But not until then.” I looked up and glared at the doctor. “Not until then.”

The window glazed over again, becoming white, just like the walls.

I rocked slowly back and forth. Sang softly his favorite song.

“Stars shine bright… this night… don’t know how… or when…”

The doctor. The suits. No one. None of them could ever understand. They would never feel the ache that crashed against my heart, wave after wave. Agony. Helplessness.

Why Aidan? Why him?

I tried took a deep, though quivering, breath.

Over six billion people in the world. And the one dying right now… is the only one I have ever loved.

“But here we are… never should have been… but who cares… not me… and I pray not you…”

I looked into Aidan’s eyes. They never closed. I had closed them once. But they had slowly opened again. Stayed open.

Lifeless.

There was nothing in his eyes. Nothing.

The ache in my heart reminded me of how much used to be there.

I placed my hand on his chest. I could feel his heartbeat. Barely. Each time his heart beat, it seemed that it was a fraction longer before the next each time.

 

 

It had stopped. His heart. I lay still, my head resting against his chest. No.

No.

No.

No.

Beat.

Beat, heart. Beat.

My own heart beat faster. But it hurt. It felt like it was caving in. Like my chest was constricting, crushing it.

“No.” I whispered, tears flowing out from under my closed eyelids.

I sat up. No longer did his chest rise and fall with each labored breath.

No more did his heart beat, ever so slow, but still ever so much alive.

His eyes were closed.

I stood. Staggered to the door. I was weak. I didn’t know how long it had been. Several days at least, since I forced the doctor to let me in. Several days since Aidan had said he had a headache.

I slumped against the wall by the door. “He’s gone.” I whispered.

The door slid open.

The doctor grabbed me. He wore a contamination suit. So did the nurses who were heading for Aidan’s body.

They had a stretcher.

I knew what they would do. I had to stop them. I couldn’t let them burn his body, destroy his ashes with some chemical. I had to stop them.

I struggled against the doctor’s grip, trying to jump forward, to run. But I couldn’t.

“No! You can’t do that to him!”

A prick. I looked down at my arm. A needle. I followed it up to the syringe. To the hand. To the doctor.

And passed out.

 

 

 

Nyctophobia

Nyctophobia

 

 

He couldn’t swallow. It felt like his heart was choking him. He wrapped his arms over his head, hands curled into fists, squeezed so tight his fingernails dug into his palms, cutting through the skin. The blood came fast as first, but it slowed to a steady drip.

The rustle of feathers. He screamed. Not the angel. Not the angel. Anything but the evil angel.

It loved the dark. It ruled the dark.

The dark hated him. The dark hurt him.

A single feather brushed across his back.

He screamed.

“AHHHHHHHH!”

 

——

 

The Professor turned away from the conference screen.

“Alright.” He took off his glasses and rubbed his eyes. “You’ve convinced me. You’re completely demented, Grayle.”

Jackson Grayle grinned. “Thank you, Professor.”

The Professor glanced back at the still frame of Subject 135. The frozen face was not a mask of terror, though some might call it that. But it wasn’t a mask. The Professor could tell that. It was pure terror. A true phobia.

Subject 135 had died after that night. The only cause of death that the medical team could offer was death by fear.

“You’ve also convinced me that Project Evil Angel worked.”

Jackson nodded, a small smile on his lips.

“But I want to ask you one thing.”

“Yes, Professor?”

He leaned back in his chair and looked hard at Grayle. “Why an angel?”

The Professor didn’t like the glint in Jackson Grayle’s eyes as he replied. It was too cheerful. Too innocent.

“Because angels are the guardians. And when the guardians turn on the helpless, well. Terror will ensue. And no better time for terror than the night.”

Short story – Where Angels Dare To Tread

A short story I wrote today. More of a snippet story really.

————————————————————————————————

Adarel trembled. His wings shook. He was weak. Too weak.

He raises his head and looked above. “Almighty One, I pray, grant me Your grace.”

The demonlord circled him. “He will not hear. He was abandoned you, angel. You remained faithful to Him, and he abandons you. That is His way. But it is not too late; the Prince of Darkness is merciful – join us.”

Adarel used his sword to push himself off the ground. “I will forever stay true to the Almighty God.”

The demon threw back his head and laughed. “If all of those that are His faithful are as weak as you, than I know not why the Dragon should not assault and take the Heavens by force.” His red eyes glowed with an eldritch light. Hate and lust shone from them.

A gentle breeze blew over Adarel, and he felt strength flow into him as if it were a soothing stream.

“You can never win. Even against one as weak as I.”

The demon hoisted his great axe aloft. “Yet I have already defeated you. You have tread where you should not have. There are no Believers here to give you strength with their prayers. This is our land, a land consumed in darkness. You will fall here, Faithful of the Most High.”

“You will be banished into outer darkness for all eternity, here, Fallen of the Dragon.”

The demonlord roared in anger and leaped forward, his wings flaring, rushing down upon the lone angelic warrior.

But Adarel was no longer weak.

The demon was wrong.

There were Believers. And they were praying.

His sword glowed with holy light as he deflected the first blow of the new assault.

“I have tread where none should have.” He pressed forward, turning his defense into assault. “For you can never see all, as the Almighty sees.”

The demon howled in pain as Adarel’s sword cut into the flesh of his leg.

“I have tread where no angel dares, for there are Believers here. And I have brought them Word from He who sits on the Throne.”

The fallen threw himself forward attacking with all his might, desperate. But the prayers of the righteous had strengthened Adarel. The grace of the Most High guided him. He would deliver his message to the Beloved Bride, and this demon could not stop the Will of the Father from being carried out.

He raises his voice and praised the Father as he delivered the final blow.

“I am a Messenger of the Almighty God, and I shall tread where no other dares.”