Miranda Kate’s Mid-Week Challenge : 2017/06/18

I studied the group of eight keys. “Antiques?”

Darien shook his head. “Nope.”

I picked up one of the keys. “What are these for?”

Darien smiled, “Those are the keys to souls.” He could tell by the way I fell silent and stared at the keys, I didn’t know what that meant. “You’re not in the physical world now. Stop thinking like you are.”

I put the key back, carefully. “The keys to souls?”

“Surprised?”

All I could do was nod.

“We all have them.” He reached in his pocket. “Here’s mine.” He pulled out a silver key. It looked like it belonged to the same set as the eight on the table. “Eventually, you’ll find yours.”

“There’s a key to my soul?”

Darien nodded. “There’s only one who doesn’t have a key.” I had a good idea who that could be. Darien could tell. He only smiled, and nodded.

“I have to ask, you know.”

“Go ahead. Ask. It’s the same question I asked millennia ago.” He nodded again.

“Why do we all have keys?”

Darien rested his hand on my shoulder. “Well. Now. There are some questions, it seems. For which there are no answers.”

He pulled me away from the table, and we continued walking through the garden. He’d called it, “The Garden of Eden.” I remembered his words, “It’s all true. All of it. Heaven. Hell. God, Satan. Jesus. The Resurrection.”

“So, the Christians had it right?”

I thought he’d been going to fall over from laughter when I said that. “I said it’s ALL true. ALL of it. That includes Mohamed, The Pope. The Imams.”

I’d kind of stood there, confused. “See. He,” Darien waved his arm in a big sweeping arch, “made it all. So, it’s all true.”

“So the Christians, and the Muslims?” I was still stuck on that concept.

“And the Pagans, and the Atheists, and the Jews…” Darien had listed more religions than I’d ever heard of. “… And all the others. All true.”

“But… “ I had been exceedingly confused.

“I know. Some of them are opposites. That’s because He changed His mind.”

As I thought of the words Darien had said that day, I found myself thinking out loud, “Perhaps He made the keys so he could turn off mistakes? You know. If He changes His mind.”

Darien paused. “You never really know, with Him.”

“Is that why Him and Satan went to war? Fighting over who controls the keys?”

Darien laughed again, “See? You’re still thinking like you’re in the physical world. Throw out the entire concept of good and evil, just and unjust, right and wrong. All of it.”

“How can I do that? There’s always good and evil, darkness and light.”

“If that’s true, tell me how many days and nights you’ve been here.”

I couldn’t.

“Tell me how long a day is.”

I couldn’t.

“Tell me which way is up, and which way is down.” Just for emphasis, he started walking upward, and instinctively, so did I. “And what is hot, and what is cold.”

“I get it, I get it.”

“No. You don’t get it. You understand the words, but it doesn’t make sense to you yet.” He grinned. “Give it time, and it will.”

“How long?”

“You ask me that here?”

Since then, I’ve learned more about the keys to souls. And while I haven’t found my key yet, I have encountered a few who have found theirs. And twice, I’ve seen a key used.

Have you ever seen an unlocked soul?

Until you have, you will never understand anything.

#AtoZ2016 : W Is For Wish

Little Tommy knelt beside his bed, to say his bedtime prayers. He did this on his own, his Mom and Dad didn’t tell him to, they didn’t make him. Tommy liked to talk to God, to thank God for his day.

“Dear God. Thank you for today. For all the fun I had playing that jewels game on Mom’s phone. That games a lot of fun.” He nodded, and rested his elbows on his bed. “I know I’m supposed to say thank you for the broccoli casserole Mom fixed for dinner tonight, but do I really have to? ‘Cause, you now. I don’t like broccoli. That stuff tastes nasty.”

Tommy looked up at the ceiling of his room, “Maybe you could redo broccoli, make it taste better, so all us kids would eat it?” He smiled. “But you don’t have to. You know more than me, I know. And maybe you made broccoli taste like that for a reason.”

He bowed his head once more, “Thank you for my Mom. Even though she has to punish me, and put me in time out sometimes. I know she’s just trying to teach me how to behave better. How to stay out of trouble.” Tommy looked at his ceiling once more, “But it’s so hard to always be good. And so easy to make mistakes. Why is that? I don’t know. I can’t figure it out. Maybe you could ‘splain it to me?” He smiled. “Yeah. I know. I’m only six. Maybe I’m not old enough to figure it out yet.”

He bowed his head again, “Thank you for my Dad. Even though he screams at me sometimes. Mom says it’s ‘cause he works hard all day, and needs a timeout when he gets home.” Tommy frowned, “I don’t understand that. I don’t know what that work thing he does is. And he won’t tell me. And Mom says I’ll find out soon enough, and to not rush it.” Tommy looked up at God again, “It sounds like work’s a bad thing, doesn’t it.” He nodded. “Maybe you didn’t make that.”

Once more, he bowed his head, “And God. Now I make my wish. But I’m smart, God. You know that. You made me that way. So I don’t wish for me.” He nodded, “Nope. I wish for everybody.”

Tommy closed his eyes, “Dear God, I wish people would stop yelling at each other. And stop fighting each other. And stop calling each other names. It’s like they’re trying to hurt each other.” He pressed his hands together. “And that’s wrong. Hurting each other’s bad.”

Tommy looked up toward heaven once more, “People should talk, not yell. They should build things, not fight. They should grow trees, pick up the garbage in the parks, play games together.” He closed his eyes and prayed, “I wish people would do that, God. I wish they’d stop hurting each other.”

He bowed his head once more, “In Jesus name, Amen.”

Then Little Tommy climbed into his bed, and pulled his covers over his head, and dreamed of a world where his wish came true.


It’s April 27th, and the A to Z Challenge for 2016 is in it’s last few days. Only 3 more letters to write stories for this month.

Please, go explore the A to Z Challenge, and the sites of others who are participating in this adventure.

#FlashFriday – Vol 3 – 5 : A Tale Of Pride – Joan

Jeanne d'Arc, 1876. Painting by Eugène Thirion. Public Domain.Joan sat on the rocks, watching the men who followed her prepare for another battle. By God’s will they would convert the unbelievers, or remove them from God’s Earth. This was her destiny, as spoken to her by the Archangel Michael.

Pride’s eyes gleamed. Joan was such a treasure. The way she believed his disguise, the words he whispered in her ear, the tasks he asked her to perform. “Your way is the only way, the way of God the Father,” he whispered the words once more. “Our Father in heaven, may your will be done.”

Joan’s eyes glazed as she thought, “God picked me to lead this fight.” Her right hand formed a fist before her chest. “I shall rid the world of unbelievers.” Her gaze swept over her followers, “No matter the cost.”

Pride laughed mightily, knowing the body count would rise so long as Joan survived, and performed the so-called will of God.

157 Words
@LurchMunster


I wrote this for Volume 3  Week 5 (Vol 3 – 5) of FlashFriday! Please, go read all the creatively shared stories in this week’s challenge.

Another Lie

I have grown tired of trying to understand people sitting in judgement of those around them. People declaring, “You are evil. You are a spawn of Satan. You are going to burn in eternity with him.”

My psychologist told me, “Don’t touch religion, Marcus. For religion is irrational, nonsensical, and something people only see the way they want to see it. They don’t understand anything else about it.”

But I am angry. I am angry from having lived within a lie for over 40 years. The lie that religion, the church, is tolerant, and forgiving, and welcomes all. The lie that religion seeks to save people from Satan, and themselves.

Religion destroys families. It drives children away from their parents. It drives husbands and wives apart. It drives brother and sister apart. Oh, I know. I know. I can hear people screaming the words now. “Jesus said those who follow him will have to leave behind their families!”

You know. I don’t even care where it says that in the four Gospels of the Holy Bible, King James Version anymore. Because it’s been taken out of context so long it has no meaning anymore. It has become an excuse. A reason. Something people use to justify being unforgiving, intolerant, and judgmental.

Too many parts of the Bible have become the same thing. An excuse.

What about the part of the Gospel where Jesus tells the story of the Good Samaritan? Remember that story? The story every child learns in church. About the Samaritan that helped the man by the roadside, when the Jewish people, including the pharisees, and priests, ignored him, and walked by. Because he wasn’t one of them. Remember that story?

What about the parts of the Gospel where Jesus worked on the Sabbath. Picking grain in the fields, so he and his disciples could eat. Remember that story?

What about Jesus eating with the evil, heartless tax collector, hated by everyone. Remember that story?

Why am I wasting my breath? Why am I beating my head against the concrete wall again? Why am I pointing out things, stories, and tales, everyone knows, and many can recite by heart? I already know no one that needs to hear, no one that needs to listen, no one that needs to read, will.

Every word I say will fall on two types of ears. Ears that already know. That already understand. That already see how things are. How the church has become. And those that won’t hear. Those that will declare me a demon, trying to divide God’s people. Trying to separate them from God. They will not accept, in any way, the words of a heathen sinner such as me.

This is why I have walked away from the church.

This is why I shall never return to the church.

To me, the church has lost its way. It has become what it was in the time of Jesus, and his disciples. So wrapped up in its traditions, its own ways, its own beliefs, it no longer functions. It has become a club for those with the same beliefs. The same understanding of the words of the Bible. It has become isolated from the world, because the people of the church have decided it must isolate itself from the world.

The church no longer functions at God intended.

So, I have walked away. I have sought people who understand how the church no longer functions. That see it, and its people, for the judgemental, isolated, frightened, biased, and closed-minded people they are.

And I find it hilarious how the people of the church believe they are the victims of prosecution at the hands of the people they declare are Satan’s children. How they cry “We are persecuted!” when they persecute everyone not belonging to their religion. How they scream, “We are not allowed to follow our beliefs publicly!” when they raise their hands, and scream, “They’re practicing their religion in public! And it’s infringing my rights!”

I have grown tired of the double standards the religion of my youth has embraced.

I would say I feel disappointed and saddened, that I have had to walk away. But the reality is I’m angry. For I see this same double standard embraced by every religion. Every social group. Every cultural group. I see the same hatred everywhere I look. The Christians hate the Gays. The Gays return the favor. The Republicans hate the Democrats. The Democrats, in turn, hate the Republicans. Men declare there is no war on women, and women declare there is no war on men. And vice versa. It never ends.

So I have walked away from the church. Not because I have given up on God. Not because I don’t believe Jesus died to forgive me for the sins I have committed in this life. No. I have walked away from the church to find the truth. A truth I know is no longer in the church.

I seek the path of Jesus. Not the path of the church. Not the path of politics. Not the path of money. Not the path of success. Not the path of fame, or glory. I see the path of Jesus.

And I can no longer find that in the church.

I have to find that by walking alone. Seeking the guidance of The Father, The Son, and the Holy Ghost. And finding others who have learned the same thing I have learned. That we have all forgotten the truth. That we are all lost. And need to find the grace, and forgiveness of God.

#DirtyGoggles : Dad Pushed Me Too Far

TITLE : Dad Pushed Me To Far
WORD COUNT : 624
AUTHOR NAME : Mark Ethridge
TWITTER HANDLE : @LurchMunster
CATEGORY : Dieselpunk
CONTENT LABEL : SFW


It was Friday night. Dad was late again. He was always late on Friday night. He was always drunk on Friday night.

Mom was sitting on the sofa, waiting for him to get home. She always waited. She always greeted him. She always dealt with him.

I checked the joints on the suit again. Made sure they were flexible enough. For safety, I added more grease to them. It wouldn’t do to have a joint freeze up when I needed it.

I closed my eyes, and remembered all the Saturday mornings when Dad slept in, Mom telling us to be quiet, and let him sleep. All the Saturday mornings I saw bruises on Mom’s arms and face. All the Saturday mornings something in the Living Room was missing. Another plate. Another picture. A lamp.

I remembered the Saturday mornings Mom wasn’t home. Dad was. And he told us to fix cold cereal. With milk. And he always made us drink orange juice. We used to ask him, “Where’s Mom?” until the Saturday morning my big sister asked, and Dad slapped her across the face. He busted her lips, and bruised her face.

After that, we stopped asking where Mom was. We knew. Mom was at the doctor’s. Or the hospital. We knew. Dad had hurt her.

One Friday night, Dad pushed me too far. He got home. I heard the sounds as he beat Mom. Then, I heard him come upstairs. He walked past my room, to Big Sis’s room. Then, he did things to my Big Sis. Anytime she screamed, I heard Dad slap her. She never told me what happened. I just know she never smiles anymore. And Dad goes to her room several times a week.

I sat in my room that night, and prayed to God. “God, make it stop! Make it stop!” That’s when God told me to build the suit. “You can make it stop. You can end this. You can protect your Mom. You can protect your sis.” I listened to God. He told me how to make the suit. It was hard. It took a long time. I had to mow a lot of yards. Do a lot of chores. Weed a lot of gardens. Babysit a lot of kids. But I finally got the suit made.

I tested it all Friday long. I didn’t go to school. I skipped. Mom was at work. Big Sis was at school. I made sure the suit worked. And that Friday night, I climbed into it, and turned it on. I listened to the small diesel motors run. I’d made sure I had plenty of fuel in the tank on my back. I walked to the front sidewalk, and I waited.

I’d learned the suit was called an exoskeleton. Made of cable, gears, and steel. Using it I’d learned I could pick up big things, like Dad, and throw them. I’d learned I could hit rock so hard I chipped it. I learned I could move faster too. Faster than anyone without a suit.

I was ready. Mom thought I was in bed. Asleep. Where I was supposed to be. Big Sis thought I was in my room hiding, and crying, and wishing Dad wouldn’t come home ever. Mom was on the sofa, trying not to cry. I heard her quietly talking to herself, “I have to protect my children. I have to protect my children.” I knew Big Sis was in her room, “Kill me God.” She said that a lot. “Kill me, and set me free.”

I waited. In my suit. On the front sidewalk to the house. I waited for Dad. He wouldn’t hurt Mom or Big Sis anymore. Ever. I’d see to that.


I wrote this for the #DirtyGoggles blog hop being hosted by Ruth Long, Steven Paul Watson, and Jenn. It’s my first attempt at anything Dieselpunk. Please, go read all the entries in the blog hop. There are some great writers out there.

#MidWeekBluesBuster : Week 11 – Carl Was Perfect

Doctor Zellor reviewed his notes on the patient, Carl Xylos. Carl was a nut. Carl was dangerous. Doctor Zellor leaned back in his office chair and remembered his last session with Carl.

“I told you I go to church, didn’t I?”

“Yes, Carl, you did.”

“I never told you why, did I.” Carl had made that a factual statement, not a question.

“No, Carl. You never have.”

Carl smiled. The same smile you see on someone who is so proud of having dissected their first frog, and found it fun, and want to dissect other things. Birds, snakes, cats, dogs, fish. Everything.

“Because God keeps me in line. He forgives me for my thoughts. My dreams.”

Doctor Zellor had played his part well that day, “What dreams, Carl? And why does God have to forgive you for having them?”

Through his smile, Carl spoke, “Because, Doctor. I have told God many times of my wish to help him cleanse the world of Lucifer’s minions. And God does not approve of how I would help.”

“And how would you help?”

Carl leaned forward in his chair. “Doctor. It’s really simple. I can’t cleanse the world. But I can help weed out Lucifer’s minions. One at a time.”

What came next made Doctor Zellor’s blood run cold. “It’s so simple, Doctor. You pretend you are their friend. You smile at them. You wave. You say hello. One day at a time, you draw them to you. You laugh at the jokes they tell. You agree with what they say. You pretend you are their friend.”

“One day at a time, Doctor, you inject yourself into their lives. You become someone they trust. Someone they depend on.”

Doctor Zellor was afraid to ask the next question. He was afraid how Carl would answer that question. But his employer needed to know the answer. “And then?”

Carl’s eyes had gleemed, their deep, dark green shining almost black. Doctor Zellor felt his throat constrict. “Doctor. Then you cleanse the world of their presence.” Carl didn’t wait for Doctor Zellor to ask another question. “You take them someplace. Alone. The two of you.” Carl stood up. “And as you walk with Lucifer’s minion, you reach inside your pocket,” Carl’s hand went into his pocket, “And you grasp the weapon God gave you. The knife of the Angel Gabriel. You close your eyes, and silently pray to God, ‘For you, Father. Please bless me for helping you in your conflict with evil.’” Carl looked up, toward God. “And then you shove the Knife of Gabriel into the eyes of Lucifer’s minion.”

Carl sat down. “But you can’t stop there. Lucifer’s minions are not so easily cleansed from the Earth. No. You have to find the crystal inside them. The crystal Lucifer puts there. The one that marks them as one of his followers.”

Carl made slicing motions, as if searching for something. “You dig through the body, searching. Searching.” He behaved as if he moved internal organs, skin, and ribs aside, digging through the body of the victim, searching for a crystal that didn’t exist.

Doctor Zellor asked, “And if you can’t find the crystal?”

Carl hung his head, in shame, and quietly whispered, “You go to Church on Sunday. And you pray. You ask God for forgiveness of your mistake. You ask in Jesus name.”

He looked at Doctor Zellor, “And God forgives you. He wipes you clean of your mistake. Of your sin. And sends you out into the world to try again.” Carl’s eyes shined brilliant green, “And you try again, to please God. To serve God.”

Doctor Zellor took a deep breath. Carl would do. It was time to make the phone call to his employer. He tapped the numbers on his smart phone, then waited for the answering machine to collect his message. “This is Z. I have a candidate for the program.” He ended the call.

Carl was exactly what his employer was looking for. Add a bit of training. A bit of guidance. And Carl would make the perfect weapon. The perfect agent to send on covert operations to remove his employer’s enemies.

Yes. Carl was perfect.

700 Words
@LurchMunster


Trying Jeff Tsuruoka‘s Mid-Week Blues-Buster flash fiction challenge again. Please, go read the other entries in the challenge.

#12DaysBop : Day 4 – Reborn Every Morning

It’s day 3 of Stacy Hoyt’s 12 Days Of Christmas Blog Hop. Today, the topic is rebirth. And perspective is everything.


Joey got ready for bed. He pulled his PJs on, then folded back the covers of his bed, and puffed up his pillows. Joey got down on his knees, held his hands together, closed his eyes, and bowed his head. Then he said his bedtime prayer.

“Now I lay me down to sleep.
I pray the Lord my soul to keep.
If I should die before I wake.
I pray the Lord my soul to take.
Amen.”

He looked up at heaven, and smiled. “Good night, God,” then he went to bed.

Every night, Joey wondered if he would wake up the next day. He wondered what would happen during that day. He might choke on something eating Breakfast. Or trip and fall head first down the stairs. The school bus could explode in a wreck, like in the movies, and everyone would burn to death.

He knew he would probably wake up and be OK. He wouldn’t choke on Breakfast. He wouldn’t trip on the stairs. The school bus wouldn’t be in a wreck and it wouldn’t explode. But it could.

So many things could happen. Things grown-ups never thought about. It was like grown-ups had forgotten how exciting life was. Of ignoring the possibilities. As he laid beneath the covers, nice and warm, he made a wish to God.

“Oh, God? Would you remind Mom and Dad how priceless life is? And before I go to sleep tonight, is it OK if I ask you to bring me back to life in the morning? Thank you, God.”

Joey went to sleep, knowing if he woke up in the morning it would be like being born again. “I wish grown-ups could remember that,” he thought, as he drifted off to sleep.


Please go enjoy the rest of the stories in the blog hop. There are some really gifted writers out there. It’s well worth reading their work. You can find the other entries here:

The 12 Days Of Christmas Blog Hop, Day 4 – Rebirth