Tag Archives: stories

The Midnight Road

Drive faster!

Rain lashed, wipers slashed, Cort plowed through the pouring rain, the demons of his past – both real and imagined – pursued him close behind.

Wind whistled, debris whirled into the road ahead of him, utility poles fell behind him. That’s how he knew they were still chasing him.

Stomach tied in knots, sweat pouring down his face.

A bump, thump, and the car died. The tension in Cort’s body ratcheted up another few notches.

Gotta run, gotta get away.

Then, They’re here!

He leaped from the car even before it could come to a complete stop. Left the road – that’s where they were – and dashed into the open field beside it.

Gotta hide. Oh, god! Can’t shake them. They’ll find me, anyway, his fevered mind screamed.

Shadows whipped about him, flittered, fluttered. Low hisses of eagerness issued from the assailing darkness.

Skin prickled; invisible claw briefly caressed the back of his neck and was gone. He ran harder.

Out of breath, out of time, out of options.

He screamed in fear and pain. Red ribbons slashed into his back.
Stumbled. Fell.

They were on him in an instant. Dozens of them. Tearing. Clawing. Ripping. He’d never had a chance to get away, even on the highway. Their claws had already been too deeply embedded.

Moonlight filtered through wind-driven clouds. And he was alone, then, as ever he had been.

But the damage was done, life leaking from his savaged body as it lay sprawled there in the moon-washed openness. ((Entry submitted to the “Midnight Road competition”:http://clarityofnight.blogspot.com/2006/06/midnight-road-short-fiction-contest.html at “The Clarity of Night”:http://clarityofnight.blogspot.com/.))

Endless Cycles

_Note: This story features some strong language and involves a sensitive topic that may prove uncomfortable for some. Please do not continue reading if you think you may be offended at the subject matter._

He just stood there, in the shower, letting the water pour over his head. He was so furious that he could hardly even see straight. Fists clenched tightly at his sides, teeth gritted together so hard they hurt. He was barely even aware of where he was, except that it was quiet in here, peaceful. Not that it mattered. The damage was already done.

It was always this way. Go days at a time doing the right thing. Then, a flash of temptation, a moment of weakness. A quick stroke, an euphoric release, and the deed is done. A brief moment of ecstasy and then – nothing. Just an empty hole inside his chest, a hollow- no, a numbness where his heart is supposed to be. For something that feels so good and is proclaimed by so many as the measurement of true happiness, it sure doesn’t bring much in the way of satisfaction.

The water poured over his bowed head, running into his eyes, stinging them. He was so angry with himself. He knew he shouldn’t be so weak, so undisciplined. It was the same sort of thing that he railed against other guys for doing. He hated it when men treated women like sex objects, like possessions to be used, abused, and then tossed away like so much garbage. It was disgusting and repulsive when he caught guys leering at girls as they walked down the street.

And here he was, essentially doing the same thing. He’d see a pretty girl and follow her with his eyes, checking out the shapliest parts of her body, imagining what he would be doing to her if he had her alone for a while. Then he’d see another guy doing the exact same thing with that twisted, almost psychotic, look in his eye, and he’d know exactly what that other guy was thinking because he was thinking it himself. He’d see that, and he’d be ashamed of himself for succumbing to the temptation to ogle. So, instead, he would go home, find something to look at in the privacy of his own home, and get himself off that way. Simply recognizing the problem wasn’t enough to purge it from his system. His body demanded satisfaction, and he was helpless to deny it that release. Still a problem, and probably a bigger one than staring at the girl on the street, but at least the pictures and movies weren’t _real_ girls. Or, it didn’t feel like they were. That was how he justified it to himself every time.

It was a habit, and a bad one, at that. Truthfully, it was more along the lines of an addiction. His mind certainly needed it, was hooked on it. His body _definitely_ told him when it had gone too long without that pleasant release. And it’s not like ignoring it indefinitely was an option. He’d tried that approach before and managed to go several weeks without giving in. Inevitably, though, he would cave and the resultant binge would be utterly contemptible. Not that allowing himself to buckle under pressure at more regular intervals was any better. It was, in actuality, worse since it was at those times where he was making no effort whatsoever at improvement. What was so aggravating was that he didn’t know how to break free of this endless cycle.

What he _did_ know was that he wanted to fuck something. That thought made him grimace. He _hated_ that word – loathed it, despised it. It was a crude and crass and completely disrespectful term. Yet, it was the most appropriate one for the way he felt. ‘Having sex’ and ‘making love’ both implied that he would keep _her_ best interests in mind, that he would be looking to satisfy her as much as she satisfied him. Not so, unfortunately. All he usually wanted to do was dominate her, use her to satisfy his own lusts and cravings, and then walk away without a single look back at what such an encounter might leave her feeling. He wanted all the pleasure of the act without any of the consequences, any of the inevitable relational connections that form, however tenuously, from such a rendezvous. So, as much as he hated the word, ‘fucking’ was really the _only_ right one for the situation. Fucking was what animals did, and in these moments he wanted nothing more than to _be_ an animal for a little while.

Of course, he loathed himself all the more for it. He knew he was like this, he knew he was _wrong_ to be like this, he knew he was weak for allowing his own temptations to rule over him like this. What made it worse was that he couldn’t even talk to anyone about it. His parents would be horrified and would likely shun him, his friends would look at him like he was some kind of freak (and he was; he knew it) and push him away, and his church would probably be the worst of them all, ostracisizing him by bringing him before the congregation for ‘church discipline’. They would think they meant well, but he would be treated like an unbeliever, like a leper, like a criminal. None of them would be able to admit that they, too, could fall prey to their own carnal desires, let alone that some of them already had. He couldn’t deal with that kind of anger and arrogance. So, he wouldn’t say anything. He would keep trying to change things on his own. It would continue to be a lonely fight – even God didn’t seem all that close anymore – but he knew of no other way.

The problem is that nothing would change. The inherent weakness would still be there, with nothing to shore it up. So the failure would continue, and he would continue to be miserable, always somewhere less than a man, always with marred integrity. The endless cycle would continue to be endless, and the slow process of destroying himself from the inside out would continue unbroken.

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* 77% of online visitors to adult content sites are male. Their average age is 41 and they have an annual income of $60,000. 46% are married.
_Forrester Research Report, 2001_

* In a Kinsey Institute survey, respondents were asked “Why do you use porn?”
72% said they used porn to masturbate/for physical release.
69% – to sexually arouse themselves and/or others.
54% – out of curiosity.
43% – “because I can fantasize about things I would not necessarily want in real life.”
38% – to distract myself.

* “Most girls who enter the porn industry do one video and quit. The experience is so painful, horrifying, embarrassing, humiliating for them that they never do it again.”
_Luke Ford, quoted by CBS News_

* In December of 2000, the National Coalition to Protect Children and Families surveyed 5 Christian Campuses to see how the next generation of believers was doing with sexual purity:
48% of males admitted to current porn use
68% of males said they intentionally viewed a sexually explicit site at the school

* A 1996 Promise Keepers survey at one of their stadium events revealed that over 50% of the men in attendance were involved with pornography within one week of attending the event.

* Out of 81 pastors surveyed (74 males 7 female), 98% had been exposed to porn; 43% intentionally accessed a sexually explicit website
_National Coalition survey of pastors. Seattle. April 2000. _

Statistics excerpted from “blazinggrace”:http://www.blazinggrace.org/pornstatistics.htm

This story was easy to write but exceptionally difficult to post publicly. Yet as these statistics can attest, the issue of pornography and sexual purity is a major problem even for Christian men. Very few men that I have met have _never_ been exposed to pornography, and we have all struggled with the daily onslaught of sensual images in our culture. It’s a battle for us to maintain our purity, and a great many Christian men fall into deep sin because of it. Yet, it is a quiet battle that is very private and hidden from most of our churches. It’s an uncomfortable topic, and so it either gets ignored completely or glossed over lightly with general admonitions about sexual purity.

My goal in writing this story is to provide a little bit of a perspective from the mind of a man who struggles with sexual purity and with the loneliness of the daily battle. It’s not an easy one, and we are a long way from tackling the issue as thoroughly and completely as we ought. Take heart, men, that you are not alone in your struggle and that it _is_ possible to gain freedom from this addiction. Seek out counseling and accountability and win back the freedom that we have in Christ and the victory from sin that He guarantees.

Two Lights

“The Two Lights competition”:http://clarityofnight.blogspot.com/2006/04/two-lights-short-fiction-contest.html is done, the “judging”:http://clarityofnight.blogspot.com/2006/04/winners-announcement-two-lights-short.html completed, and the entries all “indexed”:http://clarityofnight.blogspot.com/2006/04/two-lights-short-fiction-contest_27.html. The objective of the contest was to use the photograph displayed as the inspiration for a work of fiction with the limitation that the work be 250 words or less. A difficult challenge that forced all participants to be very creative, since 250 words is not a lot to work with for the development of a plot. It is, essentially, the lower limit for typical “flash fiction”:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flash_fiction.

Since I’m sure some of you probably did not click over to check the contest out (and I have had a few requests to share more of my fiction here), here’s my entry:

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“Choose the lamp on the left, see visions of the future. Choose the one on the right, taste of true madness for a spell.” The crone’s words burned in the girl’s mind like festering sores. She held her hands over the lamps but felt no heat from them, despite the frigid temperature of the small chamber. No shadows, nothing to indicate they even sat before her, despite what her eyes told her.

What kind of choice was this? Madness versus prophecy? The choice itself was madness.

Still, she plunged her hand into the light of the left-hand lamp and felt warmth from it at last as it gripped her arm and invaded her body. But then it grew bitterly cold as it wrenched her mind with visions of an impossibly terrible future. She screamed with the pain and terror of it and knew that this was far worse.

Her last thought before she succumbed to the black madness was, I should have chosen the other lamp.

* * *

Shuffling steps. A hunched figure in the shadows. The girl was half-curled in a fetal position, eyes wide and unseeing. She could have been dead, but for the tears streaming from her eyes and the trembling lower lip.

“Your problem, girl, is that you have no imagination, no ability to see the consequences of your choices. So very typical. Arrogance of youth.”

She spat and the rancid spittle slid down the girl’s cheek as the crone shuffled back into the shadows.

The Joy of Prayer

That night was the first in a long time that he had really prayed. Sure, he had offered up the periodic ‘desperation prayer,’ the kind of prayer that is only raised in an absolute emergency or when a screw-up is made and forgiveness is needed. But those are always the kind of prayers that don’t really mean anything, that ultimately only fall on deaf ears, and they are the kind that never actually help the individual uttering them because they don’t really mean much of anything.

But the encouragement received from a friend that night was enough to prompt him to struggle through a prayer again. It was a struggle only because it had been so long since his last heartfelt prayer. It was like talking to a friend you haven’t seen in a while, where time and distance have created a sort of awkwardness. In this case the source of the awkwardness was a bit of shame and guilt at having not talked for a while because there was really nothing that had prevented it, except for laziness and selfishness.

Yet, the prayer quickly dispelled the awkwardness. All was forgiven, and he felt the peace that assured him that the Father welcomed him back with loving, open arms. There was no judgment, no disapproval, just sincere eagerness to talk with His child again and joy at restored fellowship.

And oh, what joy! He had forgotten just how good it felt to talk to the Father about absolutely _everything_! He talked about his fears, his concerns, his insecurities. He asked for strength and help to overcome his weaknesses. He mused about his hopes and dreams and how he hoped that the Father would see fit to one day allow his dreams to be realized. The fellowship was sweet and over much too soon. The daily necessities proved distracting, yet he set to them with the assurance that the Father was still right there watching over him and protecting him.

As his day ended and he drifted off to sleep, he felt such peace that he wondered why he had stayed away for so long.

Potter

The master potter worked the wheel with his foot, furiously pumping the pedal and spinning the table as he molded and shaped the block of dark clay. He expert hands worked with practiced skill, dipping repeatedly into the bowl of water at his side as he kept the clay soft enough to shape. His concentration was absolute, and as he worked, the form of an elegant vessel began to appear. The potter’s fingers pushed on the spinning clay here, smoothed it there, using wooden tools as the final touch to spin intricate designs and patterns into the soft mud.

When he was finished, he fired the vessel in the furnace, subjecting it to intense heat so that it would be strong and would not crack easily, then placed it carefully on display next to his other works. The vessel served him well, but over time it began to shows signs of its use. The rim had chipped from repeated use, the fine patterns on the outside had begun to wear away, and slight stress fractures began to appear on the walls of the vessel. The master potter saw how this spoiled the rest of the display, so with the affection of an artist to his creation, he removed the vessel from the display and broke it into many pieces. He continued to grind the vessel until it was only dust, and with methodical patience, he reworked the clay dust with just the right amounts of water and temper to restore it to its former softened state. Excitement and joy danced across the potter’s face, visions of a far more beautiful vessel displayed in his mind, as he lifted the restored lump of clay to the wheel and reshaped it into a vessel that far surpassed it previous beauty and was a beautiful reflection of the person and character of the potter himself. No one who looked upon the new vessel could doubt that the potter had not shaped it, for the characteristics of the master craftsman were clear for all to see.