Those Who Stayed

For one teenage boy, what started as a trip to the local Christian bookstore on Christmas eve turns into a deadly ultimatum by a mad gunman; “Deny Jesus and live or stand for him and be shot.” The choice is not so simple.

A short story, part of Christmas off the Beaten Path.

The Cosplay Ball

Twelve year old, Jordy Schmuler, just promised new girl, Alice Redding, he’d change the middle school fall formal into a Cosplay Dance. But to do that, Jordy will have to find his voice and rally the school to dethrone the popular kids and end their reign of bullying. But at what cost? What will Jordy do when the pops are now the ones being bullied?

Subtle Deception

I have met Satan. The Devil. Beelzebub. Evil incarnate.

Yes, that Satan. And, no, I’m not talking about some figment of my imagination. I didn’t wake from a hazy dream or experience a surreal fantasy. It wasn’t a doped-up hallucination or mind-bending optical illusion.

It was real. My ears still pulse from the voltage radiated through the room. His sulfur breath has left a putrid taste in the back of my throat. And I am plagued by the burning sensation in my chest as he spoke my name.

It was him. He didn’t have red pointy ears or wield a black pitchfork, but I knew – the moment he smiled. Though his wide mouth and large lips were open, speaking words of encouragement, his eyes exposed the truth. They were lifeless, filled only with hatred and horror.

Feet set apart, arms folded in front of me, I stood before him in both terror and assurance.  In awe and revulsion.

He strutted towards me and leaned to whisper in my ear. Wielding his eloquent tongue, he cracked my fragile confidence. His proposal hadn’t changed much since he met with a man from Nazareth over two thousand years ago. He tried to offer me what wasn’t his to give, what wasn’t mine to submit. My life.

It’s okay if you don’t believe me. Not many people do. But, it happened. Right here in Rockford, Illinois.

Most of you know what’s been happening in Rockford lately: tales of death, treachery, and corruption – your typical media darlings. Those who are ignorant of the  news reports splashed everywhere for the last year, and are curious enough to challenge me, can fire up Google. I have not changed the names to protect the innocent or the guilty. You might even have heard my name, Luke Andrew Dawson.

And this is my story of events leading up to my encounter with the Prince of Darkness, and the subsequent ruin of one of the most famous political and spiritual leaders of our time.

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