Uh … sure, Maximus. It looks like you’re pleased with what I wrote.
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A Monster Saved Part 3 – by Alahna
The traveler groaned as he rolled to his back and pulled the handkerchief down away from his mouth. He stared up at the dripping cave ceiling and breathed deeply as he mentally assessed his injuries. He felt no broken bones or crushed ribs, his hands and wrists smarted while his head was spinning like a top, but it was all minor. He silently thanked God and slowly began to sit up.
Suddenly, a scurrying sound whispered from behind him. He whipped around, sending his vision spinning and his stomach lurching. Closing his eyes, he waited for the reeling to subside and gradually opened them. Without his lantern the cave was dark as twilight save for a tiny shaft of penetrating sunlight which revealed a mottled lump beside him, a huddled shape against the far wall, and a heap of cast off objects in the corner.
The traveler felt around for his knapsack and, locating the soft leather, pulled out a broken candle and lit it. The faint glow barely pierced the darkness a foot around him, but it was enough to recognize the glassy eye of a china doll lying in the nest of shredded blankets and clothing. He picked up the destroyed remains of the toy and stared at the scratched and broken face, pity rising in him for the once beautiful creation now reduced to ruin. Behind him the scratch and scurry which had alarmed him echoed again. He slowly turned and raised his candle high, willing it to illuminate deeper into the darkness.
The glow, as if directed by an invisible hand, alighted on the huddled shape he had seen earlier, but now it seemed to be breathing, its frame shaking and two eyes reflecting in the light. He inched toward it as if approaching a skittish animal, whispering in a soothing voice. “Don’t be afraid. I’m not going to hurt you.”
As he moved closer he recognized the shoulders and head of a person, a hood pulled over matted hair while grime and blood clung to a terrified face. He reached out his hand and brushed the shoulder. The creature shrank from him, but, surprisingly, it did not run. The traveler slowly backed up and motioned it to follow, “come. Step into the light. I won’t hurt you.”
Tentatively the creature crept forward and stood just outside the beam of light, hesitating. The traveler watched as it glanced between him and the light then over its shoulder at the concealing shadows. As if startled by what it saw in the darkness behind it, the creature faced him again, took a deep breath, and stepped into the shaft of sunlight.
~ Jeremiah 23:24 (Psalm 139:7-10, Hebrews 4:13, Jeremiah 16:17)
The creature held her breath as she watched the man take in her appearance. She looked down at her hands, the long fingers covered in dirt and slime, the nails elongated into black claws. The layers of clothing she wore covered her blistered body and misshapen legs, but it seemed like his gaze pierced even that meager protection. He stepped toward her, holding her gaze, watching to see if she would run, but the creature knew that she would rather face a thousand men than the monster she knew lurked in the shadows.
The man stood before her in the light, but it seemed that the gentle glow came from within him, the candle a weak flame compared to his inner beauty. He reached up and gently pulled the hood from her head, releasing the thinning white hair, a mark of her slow inner death. She stared at the ground, praying that he would stop, but gentle fingers rested under her chin and raised her eyes to his clear brown ones. He studied the burned and leprous-blistered face, the raw black lips and pale white eyes which stood out like letters on a page in the sunlight, and the flaming red scars/welts that crawled down the side of her cheek and onto her throat, disappearing into the layers of fabric.
Smiling sadly, the traveler brushed a coil of hair off of her forehead and spoke, “do not be afraid. I can save you and take you from here. You only have to trust me. Will you put your faith in me?”
Tears slid down her muddy cheek and the creature nodded, trusting this stranger with her whole black heart. The traveler smiled and bent forward, kissing her forehead. He stepped back and instantly, heat bloomed in her chest. The creature staggered forward into her knees and squeezed her eyes shut as the heat grew until it was a consuming flame, burning her from the inside out. She tried to scream, begging the pain to stop, but no sound escaped. Suddenly, an angry roar crashed against her ears and the cavern shook, spears of rock breaking loose from the ceiling as the creature fell into darkness.
Categories: Critique Group