>> Friday, August 2
Sara is our host for Friday Fiction today - you'll find links to some awesome (quick) reading on her Fiction Fusion blog.
Friday Fiction is BACK! I'm so excited! I don't have anything new to share, but I wanted to take part. This is an old (2009!) FaithWriters challenge entry I brushed off for today. A allegory, I guess you would call it. Thanks for reading! Comments of critique (or praise :) ) are welcome.
The dark squeezed Katie like a vice. Behind her, somewhere, an orchestra of wails and screeches created a symphony of terror that chased her onward. She didn’t know what horror was concealed in the inky murk, what could be making those sounds, but she knew she had to escape. Tethers of fear constricted her lungs, but her feet propelled her. Her arms scrabbled into the black air as she careened forward over the cobbled surface.
Her outstretched hands met a wall, and her frantic fingers traced the outline of a door.
The icy doorknob burned Katie’s clammy palm, but she gripped it like a life preserver nonetheless. Her sweaty hand slipped on the metal knob as twisted it, and she yanked the door open. 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 sweet, fresh air, then released it with a groan and a whimper. In and out. Again and again she filled, and emptied, her aching lungs. Behind her was blessed silence, her unseen tormenters banished by the light.
The door swung closed behind her.
When her eyes grew accustomed to the light and she was able to take in her surroundings, she sank to her knees and wailed.
This was where her nightmare flight through the dark had begun. She was back where she had started.
The room was circular and empty, save for the gleaming, throne-like structure in the center, and its occupant. The light permeated every corner leaving nary a shadow. She could see no source for the brilliance illuminating the burnished floor and opalescent walls; instead, 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 gasped at the intrusion into her thoughts. She sprang 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 said, turning and gestured toward the shimmering door she had just stumbled through. Light prismed off its bejeweled surface like a beacon, beguiling her, seducing her again to seek out what treasures it might conceal.
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 sudden clarity.
Do you truly want to return there? I say to you again, choose wisely. Take heed: things are not always as they outwardly 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?
She jerked her head up to look at Him, finally. “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. Evil chasing her through sunny, wide-open gateways and into darkness beyond, talons clawing into her, infecting her, with guilt, despair, melancholy. Hideous laughter echoing in her ears and her heart. And of herself, never stopping, never giving in, never giving up. And always returning for more.
“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 eyes and fell to the floor. “Make it stop!”
I am able to stop your visions for you, but only you can stop me from seeing them. Only you can.
Katie’s mind was next flooded with minutiae of 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 corporate position with a fancy-schmancy hotel because it came with a tidy salary and her own office, instead of following her dream to open a homeless shelter and soup kitchen.
Deep in her consciousness, Katie heard His words echo, 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 on the opposite side of the circle. This door’s frame was narrow, and peeling paint adorned its weathered boards. Its doorknob and hinges were rusted from disuse. Katie was sure she saw light flickering through the keyhole.
She turned to look again at her new friend. “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 looked back, for the first time, the Man was not seated on His throne. He was standing at her side, smiling.
"God rewrote the text of my life when I opened the book of my heart to his eyes." Psalm 18:24 (Msg)