A8: Jesus: The True Chain-Breaker


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Bound” by Connor Tarter. CC BY-SA 2.0


A demon-possessed man in the time of Jesus wants freedom, but he cannot find it anywhere. No one wants to help him, and he lives in torment on a seaside wasteland. When he meets Jesus, his demons are frightened, and another demon-possessed man joins him. Both their demons plead with Jesus. Will Jesus heal both men? Will he choose one and leave the other, or will he in his justice and wrath send them both immediately to hell?


Author note: Although most of the gospels relate the story of one demon-possessed man, in Matthew it speaks of two men. It seems to me that most likely the other gospels just do not mention the other man, so I went ahead and made him one of my characters.


I am free, roaming. Even when they try to bind me, my demons tear the chains. I am too strong for other men. They can never get to me.

In a deeper and more real sense, though, I am bound. I have been bound for ever so long.

My demons . . . they torture me. They tear me to shreds in every way imaginable—spiritually, physically, emotionally, and mentally.

I am naked. I am a dead man, and I live in dead places, in desert catacombs. People say that I look like a monster, and every time I see my reflection, I cringe.

When I look down at my hands, I want to run. They are covered in blood, and so is my mind. I want to kill myself. I dare not. Half of me wants to die, but the other half, the half that is still human and not demon, knows that I will burn forever if I do not find some way out.

No one wants to help me. They are terrified of me. At least they don’t have to be me.

My demons laugh at me. It’s my fault, and I know it. I prayed for Baal to enter me as a child, and now he has.

Now I’m here, in this wasteland, lost forever when I could be found. I want to be found, but the spirits don’t.

I don’t know how old I am. It’s been like this for an eternity it feels, and I can hardly remember a time before I was a monster.

My head jerks. The demons feel some evil boding.

Next to me, on the other side of one of the great rocks in this seaside wasteland, I see another man stumbling forward. He looks like me. . . beaten and sick. I’ve seen him before, but I try to avoid him. He is one of the only other demon-possessed people I’ve ever seen.

My demons are not concerned with him though. There’s something else on their mind.

A sudden, terror-filled whining fills my head. They’ve been caught. Now I see what they’re afraid of. A boat has pulled by the seaside on the edge of the rocky terrain. A tall figure steps out, and the demons thrust my body to the ground so that I cannot look at the man’s face.

“What have you to do with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God?” they shout in unison.

I hear more shouting too, coming from the demons of the other man.

My heart beats faster. Our demons are afraid of this “Jesus,” and they say He is the Son of God. That must mean that he can free me. Maybe he will forgive, or else, maybe he will send me straightaway to hell, the place where I belong.

“I adjure you by God, do not torment me,” my demons yell, shaking me wildly.

My soul is pleading to be saved from this bondage I have lived with for so long, but everything coming out of my mouth is in fear of this man, not love. The demons still speak through me.

The other man is also yelling. Jesus turns his attention off of me and towards him. Will Jesus heal us both? What if he chooses the other man, and leaves me in this state of torment?

Jesus’ voice comes into focus. He’s saying something, but the demons only keep on shouting, hating him.

He’s saying, “Come out of the man, you unclean spirit!”

Just as I am naked in the eyes of everyone, so my soul feels naked in the eyes of this man. He’s calling to my spirits to leave. He wants me to be free.

I can see in my mind’s eye an image of the other man standing up, completely changed, and Jesus turning away. No. He’s still there. He’s not done.

The other man’s demons are still shrieking. They are not leaving.

“What is your name?” Jesus asks, turning his attention towards my demons.

“My name is Legion, for we are many,” I hear my voice growl.

Their grip is tightening on me. They do not want to lose hold, and they are dying of fright at the words of this man.

His voice speaks love to me, freedom. I’ll finally be free, but the demons don’t want to leave.

“Send us to the pigs; let us enter them,” they shout.

I do not know of what they speak. I know farmers come by here every once in a while, but I haven’t seen them yet today. I don’t care. Whatever pigs they’re talking about, I know that if they go into them then I’ll be free. Even pigs don’t deserve this, though, and I, of all people, certainly don’t deserve freedom.

“Come out of these man, you unclean spirit! Come out!” Jesus’ words echo through my being, and then. . .

I’m free! Finally, free!

A great weight is lifted off my shoulders, and I feel light flooding through me, the light of Jesus.

I run to the man, staring into his brown eyes. He beckons me closer, his hands outstretched. The other crazy man is running beside me, and he looks somehow different, new.

We collide, Jesus and two broken sinners, in the warmest, strongest, most releasing embrace I have ever felt, and I see myself. My hands are no longer bloody. I am no longer naked, and neither is the other man. We are clothed in white, holy robes.

No words are spoken, but I feel an insurmountable joy and closeness to Jesus, the man with flowing brown hair and a voice powerful enough to command evil spirits.

God! He is God, and I’m not despicable anymore because He, the real one. . . more real than my demons, loves me, the worst of sinners, with an unrelenting, unconditional love.

A7: The Watcher

A watcher of mankind returns to the Kingdom to find out why there is so much pain on Earth. He knows that the Lord must have some sort of reason, but he does not understand it. Will he be willing to trust even if he doesn’t understand? Will he see that God has a plan for everything He does and that God’s ways are higher even than that of a watcher?


The watcher drifted through the clouds, surveying the dying city. He wondered at the many demons walking below. Each one whispered lies through the street, and the people listened. The people were broken.

The watcher had already seen too much. He had been watching this place since his childhood, and things only got worse. People hated each other. They tried to use others to bolster their own self-fulfillment, and when they were not satisfied, they became easily angry. They wouldn’t listen to the watchers truths because they were too absorbed in the lies.

It was no wonder though. They made idols of others, and when those other people didn’t meet their standards, they were disillusioned. It had been that way for far too long.

The watcher felt tired of all the brokenness, and he wanted to go back to the Kingdom. He knew that the Lord would be able to explain all this brokenness. Though the watcher did not understand it himself, he trusted that the Lord was using it somehow. He needed to go see Him, to get answers. Then, he would be better equipped to invade the darkness with light.

It had been thousands of years since the watcher first came to this part, and now, he wished to return to the Kingdom. He wanted to understand more before he set out again.

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The watcher whispered a prayer and floated back up through the clouds. His hair glistened white, brighter than the sun.

After a few moments of drifting, the watcher found himself back in his room. Though he had not been here for thousands of years, he remembered it. Close by sat the bluish-green sphere from which the watcher had just exited: Earth.

The watcher opened his white door and walked outside into a corridor leading to the throne room.

Unlike earthly kings, one did not need permission or a prior appointment to meet with the Lord.

He was always listening, always watching. He knew when someone would be coming to see him about something.

The watcher walked through the corridor, praying and thinking as he walked.

During his time as a watcher, he had seen every type of evil imaginable from murder to adultery and everything in between. He had been sent to fight it.

He was only one of many watchers. He had only watched one city in all his time as a watcher, yet even there, every type of evil thrived and every type of good was destroyed. The enemy’s servants were many: some fallen angels and others broken humans that he had destroyed before.

Each soul was so precious, yet every soul was broken in some way. Some were worse than others. They had seen more evil and possibly participated in more. Even the faithful few were affected by the pain of the Earth.

The watchers did not like to talk to each other about what they saw. They did not want to learn any more about the darkness than they already knew.

The watcher reached the end of the corridor, and turned a corner into the Lord’s throne room.

He bowed as he entered.

The Lord sat on a throne of clear glass, which reflected a rainbow color similar to the reflection seen on a dewdrop in Earth. His hair was a burning white, fiercer than that of the watcher, and he wore a flowing garment that went down to his feet.

Peace be with you,” He told the watcher.

His words echoed through the throne room. The watcher was too enraptured by his presence to answer.

“Do not be afraid any longer, only believe,” the Lord continued. “The world is passing away, and also its lusts; but the one who does the will of God lives forever.”

Now, it was as if the watcher did not need his question answered anymore. The presence of the Lord was so strong that it was impossible not to trust Him.

The watcher knew that though he still might not understand the Lord’s reason for the pain and hurt, the Lord was right in all his ways. There was no questioning Him.

That was the beauty of it. God knew and understood so much more than any angel, even a watcher, could ever understand or know, and He was in control. He would conquer.

God loved the people, and He was all-powerful. Still, He let the pain remain.

Still, He let sin remain. Why did He let the people choose to defile Him?

There had to be a reason. The important thing was not knowing that reason but trusting that God knew.

God would bring beauty out of darkness. . . out of black, and at the end of time, God would conquer all the evil and bring everything to completion. The watcher had been called to help in this fight, and he had to trust that this battle brought God glory on the Earth.

A6: Stuck In a Body


Justin hates his seven-year-old sister, Katia, for having Downs Syndrome and for being a girl. She hates him as well. One day, when their parents are out of the house, Katia has trouble breathing and must go to the doctor. She knows that she has congenital heart disease and that the condition is life threatening. Will Justin have a change of heart for the better before she dies? Can Katia forgive her brother even if he does change?


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Love is in her smile” by Andreas-photography. CC BY-NC 2.0


She lay, crumpled on the couch, dejected and not wanting to move. She plugged her ears, but Justin was still screaming. He was still shouting at her…

“Why can’t you just be normal?”

Katia had heard the words too many times.

“Why couldn’t you have been a boy…a normal, healthy boy?”

“Come on, hit me,” Katia replied, still plugging her ears. “Want. . . you want me to die?”

“I don’t want you to die, dumbo,” Justin said, coldly. “I wish you were never born!”

The words pierced Katia’s heart. Though it had been like this for years, it still hurt.

Katia had been born seven years before, seemingly normal and healthy. Even then, Justin, her older brother by ten years, had been disappointed that she was not a boy, but ever since their parents had learned that Katia had Downs’ Syndrome, Justin hated her.

Katia could not lie. She hated him as well for every mean comment he had ever said.

A year later after Katia’s eighth birthday, things were the same. Justin was still teasing Katia and getting angry with her every time she broke one of his things or said hi to one of his friends. He liked to pretend she didn’t exist, and that hurt Katia the worst.

One time, Justin’s mistreatment of her got so bad that their mother had to talk to him.

“She’s your sister, and you better start acting like it, young man,” she said. “She has feelings, you know.”

Katia was grateful for that conversation, but it had no lasting effect. It seemed that Justin’s soul was just as black as his hair, his hate stronger than his muscular form. Nothing could change Justin’s heart of stone.

Katia stared at the soft carpet in front of her and wished she could drown in it. She was so tired of having to face Justin that she almost wanted to kill herself, but she didn’t have to.

Slowly, it had progressed. Katia did not know that it was this severe, but now, her lungs felt tight. The room felt grey and hazy, and Katia had to remind herself to breathe. She breathed. . . breathed with all her might and kept on breathing, but still she gasped for more.

She coughed. Her face turned blue. She was downstairs, all alone. Her parents were on a date, and Justin, who had been instructed to ‘babysit’ Katia, was now playing on his computer.

Katia stared. She did not know what to do, and her body felt cold… as cold as Justin’s heart.
She gasped for air, but it escaped her. She and her parents had known that she had congenital heart disease, yet they had not told Justin yet. Maybe they should have.

“Justin,” Katia gasped.

Her head hit the floor, and she was out.

Miraculously, Justin had heard her soft whisper, or maybe he had only gone downstairs to get something out of the basement refrigerator. Teenage guys were always hungry.

“Katia, you okay?” he whispered at the girl.

Her eyes were closed, her face blue, but her heart was still beating.

“You okay?” Justin shouted. “Don’t scare me like this, you little swine!”

Just as the words left his mouth, Justin wished he could retract them. He saw that Katia had not been trying to scare him. She was in fact in danger of her life.

When Katia’s eyes opened, she was in the hospital, still struggling to breathe but succeeding more often than not. Her brown hair was cold and sweaty.

Her parents were close by, standing near the door of the room, and someone was standing next to her bed, but Katia’s mind was still too blurred to know whom it was.

“Katia.”

She recognized the voice now as Justin’s and would have jerked up and shouted for him to leave if she had had the strength.

“Katia?”

His voice sounded less hostile than it usually did, but still, it reminded her of abusive words and other cold things, colder than her sweaty, brown hair.

“Katia, are you okay?”

“You care?” Katia asked.

“Yeah.”

“You love me, then?”

Realizing she could die any moment now, Katia grasped at acceptance.

Justin breathed, but he could not answer.

“You love me, bro?” Katia asked again. “You love me?”

She was desperate now.

“Yeah,” Justin responded. “Underneath all this coldness… I always have.”

His face looked contorted, as if he was trying not to cry.

“Please, Katia,” Justin begged. “Before you die, tell me you forgive me. I’ve been the worst brother, and you’ve never done anything to deserve it.”

“I’m an angel,” Katia smiled blissfully, unconcerned though she knew she was going to die.

“You are!” Justin agreed, looking weak. Weakness looked good on him Katia decided, though she had never seen him wear it before. He had always been strong… too strong.

“I forgive you,” Katia whispered.

She was glad she felt frail because if she hadn’t, she wouldn’t have been able to forgive. She would have still hated him, but somehow, death seemed too present a reality to let petty things, even huge petty things, get in the way of their reconciliation.

Justin clasped her hand in his, and his eyes were moist. He never cried. It wasn’t like him, but today just in time, he had learned to love. Just in time, he had learned to cry.

And with that, a seven-year-old girl slipped out of her body. An angel left the world.

A5: Living or the Present


Ruemin must decide weather to speak an ancient law, which will take away his people’s ability to go back in time and will consequently cause Ruemin to die at his own brother’s hands. Previously, he has escaped his brother only by going back in time. If he does not speak this law, though, judgment will come from his god, Vullé, and Ruemin’s “life shall be as death to him.”


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Ruemin squeezed his eyes shut and willed himself backwards, as his brother prepared to deliver the fatal blow once again. Ruemin’s muscles tensed. He remembered… remembered… remembered.

With a great effort, Ruemin opened his eyes to a familiar scene: his royal court.

He needed help. He needed a way to get out of this time loop, but every time he reached his death, he could not help but go back.

He did not want to die. He did not want to be killed, yet he knew it was useless just going back. In a few years, the experience would only be repeated again.

He had to talk to Gonthin. Ruemin was sure the old priest would know what to do.

“Bring me Gonthin the priest,” he ordered a servant. “I need to speak to him.”

The servant rushed out and called the priest in.

Ruemin was left to his thoughts and questions.

Was life really worth living like this? he wondered. Endlessly planning how not to die until he almost did die, and then just going back and doing it all over again?

Maybe one of these times, Pangen would not deliver the fatal blow.

Maybe one of these times, Ruemin could defeat his embittered brother or somehow change his mind, but even if Ruemin was not killed, he would eventually die of old age… unless he went back.

There was only one direction in life, and that was not forward.

Now, people of all statuses and ages could go back to previous times in their lives as long as they closed their eyes and remembered hard enough, but it had not always been that way.

Long, long ago, there had once been a time when even the priests did not know or care about going back.
They had been wiser then, but those days were gone. Not even the oldest could go back to the time before going back existed.

Priest Gonthin entered the room, interrupting Ruemin’s thoughts.

“I have found the ancient time law,” Gonthin said, after he walked towards the throne and kneeled. “It is the key to your problem.”

“And how will this law help me in my plight?” Ruemin asked.

“Look and see for yourself.”

The priest handed Ruemin a scroll, which read:

Any king or prince who speaks the words of this law shall bring the times and ages back to their previous alignments, and chronology shall be restored.

But he who reads this law and does not speak it shall bring judgment on the people. Though he may not die, his life shall be as death to him. Peace shall not be restored to him until he has spoken these words.

This is written. Vullé has spoken.

“What must I do, oh Gonthin?” Ruemin asked, unsure. “If I speak this law, we will relearn the ways of death, but oh how severe are the judgments of Vullé. If he says he will judge the people on my account, then he will, and already I am tired of going back. I wish for peace.”

“The choice is yours. It’s not for me to decide, but for you.”

Ruemin knew he should speak the words, and he knew that that would please Vullé, his god.

He also knew that if he chose to speak them, he would die. Most likely, Pangen would kill him. Everything would die without the ability to go back, to retrace previous steps. Everything would go wrong.

But Vullé would not want chronology if it would make everything go wrong. Ruemin knew he just needed to trust.

He knew that if it had been Gonthin’s choice, he would have spoken the words, so he chose likewise. He chose to follow what he knew was somehow right, even if it felt wrong.

“Any king or prince who speaks the words of this law shall bring the times and ages back to their previous alignments, and chronology shall be restored,” Ruemin began. “But he who reads this law and does not speak it shall bring judgment on the people.”

Even as he spoke, the kingdom began to fade… a distant memory.

“Though he may not die, his life shall be as death to him. Peace shall not be restored to him…”

A mountain came into view, the mountain where Ruemin had been nearly killed a million times before.

“…Until he has spoken these words. This is written.”

Ruemin stood on the mountaintop, waiting.

“Vullé has spoken.”

Pangen walked towards his brother and revealed a hidden dagger from inside his cloak.

“I read those words but did not speak them!” he shouted. “My life is as death, and so your death will be as life to me!”

Pangen thrust the blade at Ruemin’s heart once again, this time for the last time. Ruemin felt peace. He was drifting not to the past but to a better place. There would be no judgment, and Vullé was pleased.

A4: The Three Graces


After finding out that he impregnated her, Avery beats Grace, his girlfriend, and she runs away from him.

Grace’s pregnancy makes her crave lemonade, and when she passes a girl with a lemonade stand, they begin to talk. Coincidentally, she learns that the girl’s name, as well as her mother’s name, is also Grace, Grace White. This name brings back memories from the young ladies past when her foster mother’s name was Grace White.

Is it possible that this girl’s mother is the same woman that parented Grace when she was twelve, and if so, can they be reunited?


She ran from the man, hoping he had not already killed their baby.

Grace had had no idea how Avery would respond to the news of her pregnancy. She knew her boyfriend would not be happy, but she had dared to hope that he would at least understand. After all, it was his baby too.

She had been wrong though, and now, she writhed in pain from the beatings.

“You could have killed it!” she yelled. Her voice echoed through the street.


A few months later, in another part of town, a girl waited…and waited. Still, her lemonade jug was full, untouched. Still, her small piggybank was empty.

It seemed that no one wanted lemonade on this dark, cloudy day. No one wanted to give money for the community’s orphaned children. No one cared it seemed.

Even an old lady walking a small dog had passed by, not giving the girl another look.

Old people were supposed to be the generous ones, but today even they did not want lemonade.

The girl almost decided to stop. She was clearly getting nowhere.


As she was walking that day, Grace felt a craving come over her, one of many she had experienced during the pregnancy.

Lemonade. She needed lemonade. Not a grocery store’s lemonade, but real lemonade like Mrs. White used to make.

Grace turned onto the next street, and saw, with surprised joy, a lemonade stand.


After a long time, the girl decided to pack up her stuff and go back home. Her mother always told her that it wasn’t her success that counted, but her intentions.

Just when she was about to carry the lemonade inside though, a young woman passed by.

“Lemonade! Twenty-five-cents a cup,” the girl called. “It’s homemade!”

“That’s just what I was craving,” the woman said, as she dug into her purse. “Here you go!”

She handed the girl a dollar-bill.

“It’s only twenty-five-cents a cup,” the child said.

487076070_38f1fdf12a_oEmma’s Lemonade Stand” by Ben Radlinski. CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

“A dollar for refills,” the lady smiled.

The child looked at her oddly.

“What’s your name?” asked the girl.

“Grace,” the woman said.


“Hmmm?” the girl asked, thinking Grace was trying to get her attention.

“Grace.”

Grace repeated her name.

“My name’s Grace,” she said. “What’s yours?”

“My name’s Grace too,” the girl said, curiously. “Grace White, same as my aunt.”

“Grace White?”

Grace mulled over the name in her head.

She recognized it. At twelve years old, the young woman had gone to live with Mrs. Grace White, her third foster mother and the only nice one.

Mrs. White had wanted to adopt her, and they had seemed like a perfect match.

They both had the same first name, and Grace had never known any other woman who loved her like that. Then, Grace had been taken away. Mrs. White had had no choice.

Ever since then, Grace had never had a home so warm. She had never really felt loved again.

She had thought that Avery loved her, but he only wanted to use her. He wanted to be loved, but he didn’t know how to love back. He was just like Grace, fragmented and searching for acceptance.

“Ma’am,” the girl interrupted Grace’s thoughts.

“Yes?”

“Can I do anything for you?” she asked. “You look thoughtful.”

“Can I see your aunt?” Grace asked, hoping that possibly she could be the very same Mrs. White who had given Grace shelter those ten years before.

“Sure. Come inside.”

Grace helped the girl gather the cups and jug from off the table, and then the girl led her up the sidewalk to a small house.

Grace had not recognized the house when she had been walking, but now she realized that it was in fact the very same one she had lived in when she was a child.

“Aunty Grace, you’ve got a visitor,” the younger girl called when they got inside.

Her aunt came to the door and stared at the young, pregnant Grace.

“Grace?” her voice cracked, and a puddle of wet tears drowned her eyes. “What a surprise!”

The young mother reached out her arms and hugged Mrs. White, the lady who should have been her mother.

They had both wished for this day many times before, and now it was finally here. They were finally back together again.

A3: Fading

Dr. Fihtzu tries to breed a standard (super) human. Tye Greenfield, one of his breeding prospects in the Beauty Department, will either be selected to breed at fifteen or be killed. If he is selected, the other prospects from the Beauty Department will die.


Isaiah 40:6b-7: “All flesh is grass, and all its beauty is like the flower of the field. The grass withers, the flower fades when the breath of the Lord blows on it; surely the people are grass.”


Tye stared at the mirror and hated what he saw. Unlike most people though, he did not hate his image because he thought it was ugly. No. There was no hiding the truth. He was handsome, too handsome–handsome enough to live, enough to watch his friends die, to be the cause of their death.

Tye was tall and had blond hair, stunning blue eyes, strong arms, and a muscular chest. His picture had spread all over the Internet, and there wasn’t a girl or woman who didn’t want him. Tye didn’t want to be married though, not yet anyway. He was only fifteen, but he had already been forced to breed, twice, and it made him feel unclean.

It was no surprise though. He did live in the Breeding Hub, as he had come to call it, and now, just today, he had become a finalist in this destructive beauty pageant. Tomorrow the decision would be made.

It had all started three years ago, when Tye was only twelve. He had been taken away from his family and everyone he knew and loved. For what reason? Because he looked good; because while teenage girls thought most twelve-year-old boys were immature and still children, they did not think so of him. The number of teen girls who had had crushes on him when he left outnumbered those who had liked boys closer to their own ages.

And that was before he had been tall. His hair had been lighter too, but his eyes were still the piercing blue that gave him his nickname: Sky.

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That day, the government had taken him away without giving him a choice. They had enrolled him in Dr. Gerald Reimer’s breeding program. That had been before Dr. Reimer had changed his last name to Fihtzu, the name of his standard dog.

Dr. Fihtzu was a man of standards. He was a breeder, and for some reason, the government listened to him.
They too were men of standards.

Dr. Fihtzu had first become famous for his standard dog: a mix between the already much loved Shih Tzu and a collection of other types of dogs, including the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel and the Bulldog.

Five years after he had created this animal, the U.S. government banned the breeding of other dogs. Fihtzu was no longer a breed. Fihtzu and dog were merely synonyms now.

The consequence for breeding other dogs was only a fine though.

Now, with the support of the government, Dr. Fihtzu was attempting to create a standard human too.

The consequence for human sexual interactions outside this breed would be much higher.

The penalty: death.

Tye had been selected for his looks. Others for their creative minds or ability to learn. Still others for their athletic ability. And finally, some had been selected just for being nice. The logic was that nice people survived longer than others. No one would want to fight them.

Tomorrow, Dr. Fihtzu and a board of other judges would select one male and one female from each of the categories: beauty, smarts, athletic ability, and niceness.

The rest would be sent to a lab to be experimented on. All the experiments were life threatening, so the truth was, if Tye did not win for his looks, he would be killed.

The next day came. The judges looked over them quickly. Then, they were sent away to separate rooms while the judges thought and decided.

The real examination happened while they were away. Dr. Fihtzu had cameras everywhere. He had taken a million pictures and videos of them and watched their every move during the three years before. Now, he and the other judges would look over the top digital selections and choose the best male and female candidates for each category.

The hours ticked by. Tye waited in the room designated for the male candidates from the Beauty Department. He called his friend, John, over and gave him a warm embrace, knowing it would be their last day together. John was shorter than Tye. His eyes were dull in comparison to Tye’s and his muscles weak. Of course, anyone who only looked at John would consider him dashing, but when seen next to Tye, he had no hope.

“John, you’re going to die,” something caught in Tye’s voice as he spoke to his friend. “I’m going to kill you.”

In the world outside, people considered those who boasted about their looks mean and arrogant. Here, it was different. Everyone wanted to know the truth about how they looked. They did not want flattery. Flattery would only lead to death.

“John, I don’t want to live,” Tye wailed. “I don’t want to live…knowing that others died because of me! That you died.”

Dr. Fihtzu walked into the room.

“John Ace, Caleb Andrews, Emmitt Andrews, Jay Backer, Ryan Barnards…”

The list went on forever and ever. Tye wasn’t on it.

“You will be sent to our lab in Siberia. We appreciate your hard work and positive attitude, but we no longer need you here.”

The room went silent. Tye’s name had not been called.

Finally the doctor spoke again.

“I am glad to announce that our top male specimen in the Beauty Department is…Tye Greenfield!!! Please step forward.”

A nauseating smile colored his face.

Tye did not want to step forward. He did not want to be seen. He wanted to hide. He wished he had been born in another era, but he hadn’t. A test of looks had been presented to him, and he had passed.

Now, he was a murderer. Each of the friends he had made in this lonely place was about to die because of him.
“Please step forward!”

The scientist was growing impatient, but Tye could not make himself move.

The doctor beckoned him forward yet again. Again, Tye resisted until finally, the doctor forcefully walked towards Tye and carried him to the front of the room.

“Because of him, you are being sent to the lab in Siberia,” the man bellowed, pointing. He was not used to being defied. “I am not your enemy. He is.”

But the boys knew it was a lie.

A2: Modern Prodigal

Story description: Prodigal runs away from his home and father in order to reach Sparkle City, a city of supposed freedom.

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“Where are you headed?” the taxi driver asked me.

“I’m going to Sparkle City, sir,” I responded, a smile written on my face.

That name held so much meaning. Of course, I had never actually been there before, but from what I had heard, it sounded like a city of freedom, a city of fun. There, I could do what I wanted when I wanted to do it. No fear of Father looking over my shoulder, examining my every move.

“Did I hear you right? You said Sparkle City?” the taxi driver asked.

“Yes sir,” I responded.

“I wouldn’t go there if I were you. It’s a nasty place. It ruins a man.”

“Sorry sir, but there isn’t any stopping me now,” I responded.

As long as Father was out of the way, I was fully intent on getting there. Had I not asked Father for the inheritance money so I could pay to live there? Had I not run away from home for that very purpose? I had even boarded a plane to get here. No! This man could not stop me from going.

“Dude, I’ll drive you a mile from the city itself, but I won’t go any further. I was one of those men that it ruined,” the driver said.

“No problem. I’ve got legs. I can walk the rest of the way,” I told him.

In no less than a minute, the man stopped, and after paying him, I grabbed my backpack and got out of the car.

Sparkle City had other attractions as well, not just its freedom from rules. I had heard of Foolish Talk, a great comedian in the area. One of my friends had also informed me that Lust, my favorite music star, was touring these parts. If you paid enough extra, he had said, she would even let you backstage.

This would be a hoot. I had needed a vacation for far too long.

After walking for about an hour, I came across a building labeled: “Boastful Pride of Life Theater” just inside the city.

“What shows are they doing here?” I asked the man sitting at the ticket booth after I went inside.

“Right now they’re doing a magic show; I mean a real magic show. No tricks here. After that, Foolish Talk and Lust will be performing their potty humor routine. It’s hilarious. You wouldn’t want to miss it,” the man said, clearly trying to advertise.

“Boy, I’m lucky,” I responded. “They’re both one of the main reasons I came here. Imagine, just happening to come to a theater where they’re both performing. It’s ridiculous.”

“Actually, not really. They’re everywhere,” the man responded.

“So, how much does it cost to get in?”

“It only costs one-fourth of a soul. That is, if you only want to watch the show,” the man said. “It would have cost less if you had paid ahead of time, and there is another show in a week. You can wait till then.”

“Nah, I can’t wait. I’ve always wanted to meet Lust. She’s one of my favorite singers. Are there any tickets that could get me backstage?”

“There are, but they cost a lot more. A whole soul for just one ticket.”

Is it worth it? I asked myself, but there was really no question in my mind. I could do anything I wanted now. Maybe I would have to buy back soul money, but while the experience lasted, it would be wonderful. Father couldn’t stop me. He wasn’t here.

“I think it’s worth the price.”

I laid down my soul in front of the man. Immediately, he led me through a short corridor into a backstage entrance and told me to enjoy myself. He obviously did not want me to change my mind.

I smiled as I walked in, and who did I see smiling back? It was Lust herself. Foolish Talk was next to her, talking to someone else who had given his soul to get back here.

“Hello,” Lust whispered in my ear. “You’re one of the only ones brave enough to give your soul away, but don’t worry, it’ll be worth it.”

Her voice and light smile soothed me.

“You’re mine, now,” she whispered.

Her eyes bored into mine.

“You don’t need your father. You have me. I have your soul. It’s my slave…forever!”

It took me a while to realize what she had said. I was too concentrated on the calmness of her voice and the smoothness of her skin and dark brown hair. I breathed when I finally did realize it. Had I really given her my soul? What did she mean, “It’s my slave…forever!”

“I mean that from now on, you will live to serve me,” she remarked, as if reading my mind. “You will bow down to my every wish. You will call me mother and Foolish Talk father and worship us.”

“What does that mean, though?” I asked, desperate now.

“Look behind you,” Lust said.

There was a certain fear in her voice that I had not heard earlier, and as I turned around, I knew why. Father was standing right there. He was ready to save me if necessary.

“That is your first job,” she said, pointing. “Spit at him. Mock him. Smack him across the lips, and after you are done, find some food in one of the city dumpsters or just starve yourself. Let yourself die. Then, we will converse. You and I will join together and become one.”

“No…I can’t,” I told her, surprised by my own words.

“I thought you didn’t care about your father,” she said.

“I thought Sparkle City was different,” I retorted. “I thought I would be free.”

“Well, you’re not. You’re mine, and you will do what I say. You can do nothing to save yourself.”

“I can save him though,” Father confronted the woman.

“Not as long as I have his soul,” she responded.

“You cannot take him from us,” I heard Foolish Talk say. It was the first thing that I had heard come out of his mouth since I had entered the room.

“I will give anything.”

“Even your life?” Lust mocked.

I waited for him to say no, for him to leave me here. I waited for him to abandon me to Lust’s power. I knew I would end up her slave.

Father didn’t love me that much. He couldn’t. I certainly wouldn’t love me that much if I were him.

Hadn’t I run away from him? Hadn’t I wished he were dead and asked for the inheritance? Why had he given it to me? Why had he given me my soul when he knew I would only waste it?

I didn’t deserve love. I didn’t deserve anything. I deserved to die. I deserved to be a slave to my sin.

“I will even give my life. I will do anything to get him back.”

Had Father really said that? A tear hurtled down my face. Like never before in my life, I actually wanted to come back too.

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