My offering for this week's Friday Fiction was a (very) recent FaithWriters challenge entry. The topic was "Light and Dark". I had no idea what to write about, so was perusing some writing tip and help websites. I read how to put your reader INTO your story, by making them FEEL their surroundings, invoking all of their senses, not just seeing and hearing. I decided to practice a bit and started typing out what it would feel like to be surrounded by dark. And I kept writing. "Chosen" was the result.
I had a few endings in mind, then the perfect one a TOTALLY different one, came to me while I was blogging. I was happily clickity-clackity-ing along on my keyboard, checking word-count every so often, but I got wrapped up in my character's predicament for too long and when I checked my words, I was bumping up against the limit. I looked at the last sentence I had typed, and thought to myself, "Huh, that's not bad." And THAT is how I came up with the ending many people commented on as being good. Well, I'm here to tell you, GOD is the One who is Good.
The dark squeezed Katie like a vice, and tethers of fear constricted her lungs. Somewhere behind her, an orchestra of wails and screeches created a symphony of terror that chased her onward. She didn’t know what horror concealed in the inky murk could be making those sounds, but she knew she had to escape. Her legs propelled her onward, and her arms scrabbled into the black as she stumbled forward over the uneven surface.
Her groping hands met resistance, and her fingers traced the outline of a door.
The icy doorknob burned Katie’s feverish palm. Her hand slipped on the metal as she twisted and yanked the door toward her. Blinding light flooded the passageway, and she threw her forearm across her eyes before lurching through the doorway. Her lungs were freed from their tethers, and she sucked in air then released it with a groan and a whimper. In and out, she filled and emptied her aching lungs. Behind her was silence, her unseen tormenters banished by the light. The door swung closed behind her.
As her eyes grew accustomed to the light, she sank to her knees and let out a wail. She was back where she started; this was where her nightmare flight through the dark had begun.
The room was circular and empty, save for the gleaming throne-like structure in the center. She could see no source for the brilliance illuminating the burnished floor and opalescent walls. The light permeated every corner leaving nary a shadow. Indeed, it seemed to be emanating from the one seated on the throne. The one who had sent her on her trek through that hellish tunnel.
No, I sent you not. You chose your own way.
Katie sprung to her feet and thrust a finger toward him. “You tricked me!”
How so? I simply gave you a choice. His kind eyes were clouded with sorrow.
“Some choice. Who wouldn’t have picked door number one?” She turned and gestured toward the shimmering door she had just stumbled through. Light prismed off its bejeweled surface like a beacon, beguiling her, seducing her to seek out what treasure might be concealed. Before Katie could take a step in answer to its siren call, His hand embraced her arm, filling her body with warmth and her mind with awareness.
Do you truly want to return there? I say to you again, choose wisely; things are not always as they appear.
Her chin fell to her chest and her eyes squinched closed.
Look at me, Katie, and listen closely. How many times have you chosen that way?
“How many times! What’re you…?”
This is not your first test.
“I don’t…” Her indignance was choked off by a surge of visions. Visions that didn’t make sense, but evoked familiar emotions...familiar fears. Visions of evil chasing her through wide-open gateways and into darkness beyond. Evil clawing into her, infecting her with guilt, despair, melancholy. Hideous laughter echoing in her ears and her heart. And herself, never stopping, never giving in, never giving up.
“I don’t remember…”
No, you remember those trials differently. You did not have my eyes, but now you see what I remember.
Katie pressed her palms to her head and fell to the floor. “Make it stop!”
I can stop the visions for you, but only you can stop me from seeing. Only you can.
Katie’s mind now saw recollections from her past: shunning the stuttering new girl in 7th grade in order to be popular; not stopping her 12th grade boyfriend when he said, “If you love me you will;” accepting the job at the mega corporation because it came with a huge salary and her own office, instead of following her heart’s desire to open a homeless shelter and soup kitchen.
Deep in her consciousness Katie heard his words again and again, like an unremembered memory tickling her mind.
I offer you a choice. Two doors. Choose wisely.
She turned and cast a longing gaze at the bejeweled door, then circled around to view its counterpart. This door’s frame was narrow and covered with peeling paint, its doorknob and hinges rusted from disuse.
“You said you’ll go with me?”
I’ll never leave you.
Katie took a faltering step toward the creaky old door, then another. When she turned, for the first time the man was not seated on the throne. He was standing at her side, smiling at her.
(c) Catrina Bradley 5/28/09
Thanks for reading today, and be sure to pop in and see my good friend Karlene at "Heart and Soul" for links to more short fiction!
"God rewrote the text of my life when I opened the book of my heart to his eyes."
Psalm 18:24 (Msg)