If you are new to the SDS Challenge, a little background.
Three writers will each write one story a month going down the list of deadly sins. The stories can be anywhere from 666 words to 6,666 words in length, although those numbers are not set in stone. If ambitious, the writers will provide accompanying graphics. These stories will not be anonymous because some writers may want to use the same characters for each story and write a series — or book — encompassing all seven sins. Finally, interpretation of the titular sin is up to the writer. Meaning, each ‘sin’ can take multiple forms.
The Fourth set of stories cover the sin of Wrath. This is the offering by Gary Broxson.
Disclaimer: The writing challenge has no restrictions and the stories will likely span a wide gamut of genres. The majority of the stories fall in the PG-rating range with a few perhaps pushing into the soft R-rating. Some readers might find a few of the stories disturbing because of the topics, language, and/or plot points, and if so, stop reading and move on.
Hell Hath No Wrath
Copyright 2021 — R. G. Broxson
(5,360 words – approx. reading time: about 20 minutes based on 265 WPM)
I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End…
“It’s a blue cross, Padget. You are going to be a dad.” She still called him by his last name even after four years of marriage.
“And,” Captain Alan Padget palmed her flat tummy, bending his knee and kissing her belly button, “you are going to be an amazing mom.”
The lovers embraced in the narrow hallway with the crappy carpet just outside the bathroom. Alan smiled a slightly larger smile than did his wife, Captain Carrie LaBrawl.
“You planned this,” she whispered into his ear.
“Water board me, or subject me to kinky sex tortures; I’m yours, but I will never tell…”
Carrie pounced on Alan and placed her hand over his mouth. “My West Point instructor told me on day one, never trust an MI Officer. Military Intelligence is an oxymoron.” Carrie straddled Alan, looked deeply into her husband’s eyes. “Did you know? Did you plan this? You have to tell me; I outrank you.”
“By six frick’n weeks! That doesn’t mean Jack do-do.” Alan, a large, powerful man, stood up; Carrie slid off his lap. “You made me salute you about six thousand times during that hell month and a half.” Alan rendered a palm-out, left-handed Benny Hill salute to his laughing lady. “And somehow our marriage survived.” He kissed her nose and patted her ass.
“Answer me, Captain. I will not be seduced…again.” Carrie put her forehead to his. Eyes locked.
Alan fell back on his Military Intelligence training. He tried on his best Tom Cruise voice, Top Gun: “I could tell you…” he broke. “Well, you know the rest.” He had felt a sudden chill and he really wasn’t good at false bravado unless it was psyching out a linebacker on the grid iron. Bad quote, stupid quote, he thought. He recalled learning in MI school at Fort Huachuca in Arizona, that it actually derived from an old Russian maxim: Two people can keep a secret if one of them is dead. Certainly not something he wanted to share with his wife.
“No, dear. I’m just a junior Captain; the brass doesn’t tell me anything important. I know nothing about nothing. I occasionally get to brief a fairly accurate PowerPoint weather forecast to my superiors. Take an umbrella today,” he winked. “But mostly, darling, I wallow in the so-called bliss of ignorance.”
“Your 4187 deployment orders arrived this morning,” I signed for them since I was already here, you know, throwing up in the bathroom.” Carrie absently wiped her mouth with the back of her wrist.
“You are deploying to Afghanistan. You are leaving me. And now,” Carrie caressed her belly, “You are leaving us. Worst of all, I can’t go with you. Coincidence?”
“Take my baby!” a woman wrapped in rags thrusted a bundle of similarly colored rags toward CPT Alan Padget.
“Ne!” he shook his head left and right, in case his Dari translation was unclear. Padgett motioned her along toward the main gate with the sweep of his M-4. But he thought Yes, when he pictured Carrie, half naked, cradling her bump before he deployed. Kabul airport was teeming with desperate contractors, civilians, political refugees, and those stubborn souls that simply preferred keeping their heads affixed to their bodies. But CPT Padget’s orders were clear. Move them along; observe and report. If you see or smell anything hinky, sound the alarm; we’ll send in the jarheads.
A crush of ragged refugees pinched, pushed, and plodded their way toward the hulking C-17 that taxied to a stop. It looked anachronistic; a 21st century time machine set in a first century wasteland. The out-of-time natives waved cards and papers of all colors, sizes, and validity. Many had been waiting with families in tow for 16, 20 hours on the asphalt griddle of tarmac.
The heat was oppressive, but 120-degree days in this part of hell were balmy to its indigenous. The worst part, for all, was the wait. There was a process; or so they were all assured. No one person in the military or the administration, however, seemed to be able to explain the actual procedure. It just kind of happened. Some were allowed on; some were denied. The extreme heat and long hours finally got to CPT Padget and his thoughts began to take random runways of their own: you can’t spell denied without died.
There she was again, the raggedy woman with the raggedy baby. She had been denied at every gate, waving the bundled babe like a train ticket. The woman now looked not only desperate this time, but very, very afraid. Although mentally drained, CPT Padget started to put the pieces together. The frantic woman was too old to be the mother, he concluded, and now she seemed to handle the bundle more like an object than a child.
CPT Padget motioned the old woman closer and got a better view of her covered baby. The red cloak that had swaddled the baby from the bottom was now wrapped over its face. The newborn, in the heat of the moment, had been flipped upside down in the tumult. Padget realized now that she wanted to give this baby back to Allah, and that her Afghan handlers would be happy to tally as many infidels as they could take out. Cursing himself for breaking every promise he had made to Carrie, CPT Alan Padget pushed his way into the unwashed masses.
He got to the ragged woman just as she reached the steps of the C-17. “Give it to me,” he said. She happily complied and disappeared into the crowd. Padget felt the metal buzzing beneath the cloth. He knew. He knew. “Omaha! Omaha!” he shouted into his headset. His days on the field with the Army Black Knights squad took over. He tucked the bundle like a football and lowered his Kevlar. CPT Padget zigged and zagged through the masses. He stiff-armed goat herders and diplomats. He plowed through frail and frightened people, pushing toward the north end of the runway, where their numbers had thinned.
Just as CPT Padget broke through the throng of Afghanis and Marines, he saw a sign—Fuel Depot. “Shit!” he said, and dodged east towards Mecca for no rational reason. He ran like the devil himself nipped at his heels and his only salvation was a touchdown. East was the direction that Muslims faced five times a day, to pray. Perhaps one of those relentless prayers would now be their salvation—it was, but not his. He saw the man with the phone and he knew, at once, they would share a destiny.
The terrorist was no more than a boy. He dressed in the typical garb commonly called Shalwar Kamees, a combo of baggy pants and casual vest. But that wasn’t all. A T-shirt shown out from the unbuttoned vest. The ubiquitous Michael Jordan flying from half-court silhouette peeked out. Padget had a moment to realize that Nike had reached every civilization on planet earth. Even the uncivilized.
Despite the FUBAR moment, CPT Padget stuck to the game plan. He could envision the end zone and his future—his wife, his son. But there was a tackler between himself and the goal line. God have mercy on his soul.
The Afghani boy saw the soldier charging him, cradling the decoy baby bomb. He had orders to make the call, to press the phone number when he thought it would be most effective, most deadly. The Mulahs told him that this small act would ensure his station in heaven and would provide the 72 virgins that were also promised. They just didn’t say it would be now. He almost pressed the numbers when the woman got near the steps of the aircraft. But then he lost sight of her. As an awkward and horny teenager, he chose to welcome martyrdom. His Shalwar Kamees sported an erection as he fiddled with the phone.
CPT Padget saw the boy pushing buttons frantically on a cell phone. He knew how these things worked. Thankfully the boy was tens of yards away from the masses surrounding the airlift. This was personal. Padget exploded toward the target, running like a man with nothing to lose and everything to gain. Ten yards, the boy pushed buttons; eight yards, the boy scowled, realizing that he had missed a number; five seconds, he retried the phone number. He seemed to get it right. He looked up at Paget, only yards away.
Padget leaped. “Hot potato! Hot Potato!” he screamed into his mike. “Get down!” As an afterthought, he whispered, “Sorry, Carrie. I lied to you. There’s no coming back from this.”
Signals bounced and pinged off satellites…towers relayed waves. It took a few almost awkward seconds. The eyes of both tackler and tackled, predator and prey, were wide open—they saw their shared future clearly as the signal connected with the baby bomb.
The explosion shook the earth. A miniature mushroom cloud magically manifested on the unoccupied length of tarmac, like an unexpected dust devil, It was a semi-safe distance from the herd of Afghanis and their handlers huddled around volatile aircraft; no one else was hurt. When nothing else exploded, they returned to practical matters. This was the life of an Afghani and the intrepid Soldiers and Marines that swore to protect and defend.
When the remains were eventually retrieved and returned by the Army’s Mortuary Affairs team, they provided a positive pregnancy test dipstick with a blue cross and a pair of ID tags and beaded chain with CPT Alan August CPT Padget’s name, social security number, blood type, and religious preference punched into the aluminum oval. He preferred the Christian version of God to Allah, but realized in the end that they were really none in the same. There was also an envelope in his foot locker with the words “If you are reading this…” hand printed on the cover. The note inside outlined his never ending love for Carrie and their unborn son. And a P.S.: I must confess; I switched your birth control pills with Tick Tacks—minty fresh. Perhaps you and Junior will laugh about it someday. I wish I could have been there. Love, Padget.
An Army Chaplain and his assistant parked in front of the red brick base housing. By then, Carrie already knew. The rear detachment grapevine was way too often ahead in these matters. Instead of waiting for the notorious knock, Carrie charged out the door and met the nondescript sedan in the driveway, their driveway, with an aluminum softball bat—it was his, Carrie thought, Padget’s Blue Bomber softball bat that he kept behind the door for protection and for late inning homers on the company league. He was the one that needed protection and late inning luck, she thought, not her. She started with the headlights, cratered the hood, and then smashed the windshield. It was so fleetingly satisfying, but she would never again experience real and complete satisfaction.
Both officers rolled out of the Chaplain vehicle and stood aside as Carrie reduced it to a crumpled beer can. When Chaplain Sheila Jansen crouched, ready to take on the assailant, Senior Chaplain Stanton threw out an arm. “Just let her get it out, Sheila. This is six months of therapy in six minutes.”
The softball bat clanged onto the concrete carport. Carrie wrapped her arms around her abdomen as both knees buckled. She cursed, she cried, she calmed. “I’m sorry,” she stammered to the chaplains. “It’s been a…really bad day.”
Chaplains Jansen and Stanton knelt and embraced Carrie in the driveway. Neighbors, hearing the commotion, streamed from near and far and joined in the Guinness-book size hug-a-thon. Loud and raw prayers were lifted up from that circle of support to assist Sister Carrie through these dark times. Hushed and silent prayers thanked the Lord for sparing them this plight. Oh, but for the grace of God…they imagined.
A month passed and Carrie slowly began to return to the routines of life—getting up, eating breakfast, dressing for work… then sitting on her ass in her little apartment for the rest of the day. She had not been cleared to return to work. She called the chaplain’s office, every hour on the hour, leaving messages, imploring them to sign off on her mental health screening. If she didn’t get back to work, she told them, she really would go crazy.
The baby, the only real part of Padgett she still possessed, was growing rapidly. Occasionally, she even felt movement, like a struggle in her womb. She supposed it was normal, having never experienced motherhood. Her doctor, however, looked concerned when she mentioned it. “Too soon for that type of activity,” he looked at her abdomen… “Let’s do some tests.”
The doorbell buzzed annoyingly. “Oh, it’s you again,” Carrie remarked, opening the front door. “Who died this time, Mr. Reaper, or should I call you Grim? I feel we are on a first name basis by now.”
“Captain LeBrawl,” replied Chaplain Stanton, “please turn off Judge Judy so we can talk.”
“Where’s your sidekick?” Carrie asked. It came out more like sideshtick. She set a half full glass of Chardonnay on the coffee table.
She doesn’t know I’m here, Carrie, if I may. Chaplain Jansen and I have…. let’s just say, differing viewpoints when it comes to a few key theological doctrines and I didn’t think she was best suited for your particular case,” he said.
“I thought all you Chaplains preached from the same military manual. What ‘differing viewpoint’ do you have with your partner?”
“If you must know, Carrie, Chaplain Jansen, is quite a by-the-book Roman Catholic and I’m…I’m an atheist.” He paused and considered. “And I’m gay.” He twisted into a quirky smile, perhaps one reserved for this particular confession. It was only then that she noticed his perfect hair and manicured nails.
Carrie’s mouth dropped. “You’re shitting me,” she finally said, looking around for candid cameras that might be recording this twisted turn of events. Chaplain Stanton remained solemn
“Really?” He shook his head in the affirmative.
Carried laughed to herself, covering her mouth with her hand. “So,” she giggled uncontrollably, “You are a…”
“Go ahead, Carrie. Get it out if it makes you feel better.”
“You are a gaythiest!” she blurted. They both laughed at themselves.
“Your recruiter must have had balls of brass.” Carried snorted in laughter for the first time since before.
“That was another time, my dear. Back then they couldn’t ask and we seldom told. Now, they just don’t give a shit. They need bodies. My Army recruiter knew the loopholes and the hoops. My degrees and certifications were sufficient, though my intentions were suspect. Believe it or not, deity allegiance holds small sway in our profession; we are more a blend of psychiatrist and social worker. We are there to catch you when you fall, Carrie, so that you can get back up and get back into the fray. That’s all. We can’t get you to heaven.”
“So, if you’re not religious, what do you believe—big picture?”
“Fair question,” Stanton sighed and glanced upward. “I don’t believe in a benevolent or wrathful God, per se. If I had to choose a faith, and there are hundreds; I’d choose Buddhism. Yes, there is a fiery end, but there is also a newness of life, a rebirth. New Gods, new worlds, a fresh start.”
“I like it,” Carrie said. “I wish I believed in something. I only have my Sunday school horror stories and a few parables to work with.”
“I’ve read your file Carrie; I know that you are not currently affiliated with any religious doctrine. I personally don’t approve of chaplains that use religion as therapy and attempt to replace natural processes of grief and pain with placating platitudes and preposterous promises.”
“OK, Chaplain, I hear You, but what can you do to get Me reinstated?”
“Buck up, Carrie.” He looked her in the eye. “Here’s the cold, hard truth. They are not going to reinstate you. Your psychological profile is pinging off the chart—you will never fly an Apache again. Every indicator in your last psych eval set off fire alarms.” Chaplain Stanton paused to let her think about her current self. Then he dug in. “Did you know that on the average, 22 soldiers or vets commit suicide every day?”
“Suicide, me?” She made the disgusted face. “No. I… I’m not suicidal,” she laughed dryly, sounding more like a cough, but her eyes darted, revealing the truth. “My…my baby,” she seemed to remember, “I have something to live for.”
“Carrie; only cold truth here. We know about the gynecologist’s report, about the tumor, the procedure.” Tears streamed down Carrie’s face.
Chaplain Stanton opened his arms and she found solace in the pocket of his shoulder, the same place he nuzzled the butt of his M-4 when he went to the rifle range. “No! No! No!” she broke down beating on his decorated chest. “It’s not fair. It’s not fucking fair!”
“The doctor thinks,” Carrie sob-talked, “that the trauma from losing Alan may have triggered some hormone or something. The tumor was aggressive, it attacked my baby. Consumed him in my womb. I could feel the struggle, the Jihad, they call it. By the time they got him out, it was too late. The only part of Alan I had left was gone. Probably in a medical waste dumpster now.” She backed away from the chaplain, “Tell me, Chaplain, what kind of God does this? Kills and steals my husband and now our baby?”
“Here’s where the manual, as you called it, states that I should reply with platitudes: God works in mysterious ways, or he has a plan that we simply don’t understand.” Stanton picked up a bottle of Jack Daniels on the kitchen counter. He twisted the cap and pulled back a long drink. Without acknowledging his faux pas, he continued. “But I think you and I can agree that no benevolent deity would so profoundly seek to destroy lives and families so to fit any sort of planned plan. What plan? If that is the truly the case, then I must simply state that this is a stupid plan.”
“So what were you going to do with those pills?” Chaplain Stanton’s eyes went back to the kitchen counter where the half-empty bottle of whiskey towered over an amber prescription bottle.
“I took them, all of them,” she confessed. “Oxycodone, for the pain. But the pain isn’t here,” she palmed her deflated abdomen. “It’s here,” hand over heart, she looked like a student pledging allegiance to the flag.
Chaplain Stanton dialed 911 on his cell. He got a busy tone. He dialed the lifesaving numbers again, and a recorded voice informed him that all operators were busy. This city is going to hell, he thought. During the endless wait, Carrie’s eyes rolled up and she slumped down onto the floor. Stanton hoisted her onto the couch and carefully watched as her breathing slowed, then stopped. Chaplain Stanton, trained in CPR, pinched her nose, tilted her head, and began breathing for Carrie.
Carrie awoke. But it wasn’t her apartment or a hospital bed. It was heaven, the heaven of her youth, her Sunday school days, before she became jaded and angry. She checked herself as women and warriors do when put into awkward situations; she was still wearing the dress blues she had on when she had swallowed the pills and slammed half a bottle of Jack. She had spit-shined her jump boots to a high gloss, worry-circling Kiwi polish onto the tips until they mirrored her life-weary reflection. Despite the urgency of her demise, Carrie wanted to be remembered, maybe even somehow respected, even when they found her cold corpse, having shit itself, crumpled and curled up on the crappy carpet she never got around to replacing.
Heaven was as advertised: bright, beautiful, peaceful and well… heavenly. Without actually walking, Carrie found herself gliding toward a gate, or was it an amazing wall…it was The Gate, and Carrie was being propelled on a golden people mover. As the off ramp dissipated, Carrie fell into a winding, switchback queue, reminiscent of TSA at any post 9/11 airport.
Every walk-of-life Jane and John Doe patiently awaited their turn. They were dressed in their death garb: military and first responder uniforms—full gear; rear-revealing hospital gowns of the Covid crowd, still wearing masks to their graves. Regular heart-attack-at-the-office attire and several twenty-somethings drugged-out derelicts dressed only in shorts and flip-flops. Carrie had seen this slice of humanity on a show called COPs, the one with the Bad Boys theme song.
A singed and steaming fireman stepped past Peter in full turn-out gear into the Pearly Gates. A Wall Street financier stepped up with Armani and an aneurism—one eye was looking east while the other looked west. In front of Carrie, a woman in a hospital gown shuffled gingerly, bowlegged. The baby was half in, half out. She had died in child birth; she and her baby had died together, Carrie surmised—perhaps Mississippi residents, she surmised some more. Although dead, there were hopeful, resigned smiles curled around the corners of the dead’s mouths. They were shiny, happy people, Carrie thought, just happy to be here.
Carrie took notice of the situation, the people, the procedures. She thought it strange that her heavenly peers were dressed as they had died, as had she. The dress blues uniform she wore stood out among the variety of common dress.
The line, however, moved quickly toward an ancient bearded man she somehow expected.
It was Carrie’s version of St Peter. Peter, the gate keeper, smiled with pearly white teeth and avuncular eyes as she neared; the gate behind him creaked open. “Wait,” Carrie said. “I’m looking for someone.” Patient St Peter did not seem surprised by the request, and the great book on his podium parted. “Padget, Alan August Padget.” She enunciated each syllable. St Peter flipped a few pages and ran a gnarled finger down columns of names. He looked back up at her, offered a chagrin smile and a shrug, and then shook his head. “Sorry,” was all he said.
“What the fuck do you mean!?” Carrie raged. “He’s got to be here. He’s a goddamn hero. They named a fucking gym after him, for Chrissakes.” Peter opened his robe and drew out a sword; he held it in front of Carrie in admonition. Still she stepped forward. With a flick of his Peter’s wrist, flames engulfed the blade. Carrie backed down. “Sorry, Obi-Wan, but I really need your help.” The flame vanished as did the sword.
St Peter just shook his head and clicked a remote button that opened the gate for her. Squeaking like an angry seagull, the Pearly Gates hinged open behind Saint Peter. Carrie was drawn in; she dropped to her knees. The opulent vista was everything she had ever been taught in Sunday school and a dash of what she’d imagined as she and her college girlfriends had considered eternity after an extensive philosophy course with that old geezer, Professor Hunt. She gave the old guy some credit now, he had made them think, really think, about existentialism and immortality.
The light inside the gate was irresistible, even for the confused Carrie. She stepped ahead but found herself stationary. The harder she pushed toward the light, the more she felt herself slipping backward. Now she was being dragged back. In an instant, she flashed past St Peter and the throngs of people awaiting entrance.
She felt warm lips on hers. “Padget,” she moaned.
“Carrie, it’s me, Chaplain Stanton! I need you to breathe.”
She inhaled deeply, and opened her eyes.
Chaplain Stanton, visibly shaken and out of breath, loomed over her. “You’re a pretty good kisser,” she mumbled. “For a gaythiest.” They both smiled.
Following a pot of coffee and a brisk walk up and down the hallway, Carrie and her savior settled back down on the couch. “I want you to tell me everything you witnessed, Carrie. Don’t leave anything out.”
Chaplain Stanton looked like a front-row school boy as she told him everything she had witnessed.
“He had a flaming sword? Are you shitting me?” The chaplain looked incredulous. “Amazing Grace!” he exclaimed, when she told him how she was snatched back from the Pearly Gates.
“Could have been a drug-induced hallucination,” he half whispered to himself. “Her brain was low on oxygen,” he considered aloud.
“Hey, I’m right here,” she poked him in the chest. “I saw what I saw.”
“Yes, I’m sorry. I do that some times. Another reason I would have made a horrible hetero.”
“Chaplain, help me understand. Why…” she almost started sobbing but held her chin up, “why wouldn’t Padget…Alan, be in heaven?”
“I can’t know for sure, you understand, but if I had to guess, I’d say it’s because he broke the sixth commandment.”
She looked at him, waiting.
“You know; Thou shalt not kill.”
“Kill, but he was a soldier. He was trying to protect the lives of hundreds. The only person he killed was a goat-fucking rag head.” She started to get angry again.
“Easy, now. I didn’t write the book. I just try to interpret it. And I’ve got to say, it would take a helluva lawyer to get around that short, sweet commandment. There are no clauses attached for war, accidents, or even self-defense.”
Carry shook her head; her face was brick red with anger. “Ok, then what about me? I tried to kill myself, but I was ushered to the front of the line. How do you explain that?”
“It is true that the Catholic Church puts a premium on life and several popes have decreed that suicide is a damnable offense. But, those dictates were done mostly during the dark ages when people lived unimaginably horrible lives. The church realized that it was losing too many tithers and tax payers that were actively looking forward to the preached and promised serenity of the ‘other side.’
“So, suicide is not a commandment?”
“No, Carrie. If it were, then every time one took to strong drink, or smoked a cigarette, or drove too fast, he would be potentially hastening his demise. We kill ourselves slowly every day. It’s just a matter of time.”
“So that was just some church bullshit?”
“I’m afraid so. The dead can vote, but they don’t tithe,” he chuckled at his own bleak humor.
Carried considered all this for several moments. “You’ve got to help me get back.”
“Get back, where?”
“Help me get back to heaven.”
“I should report you,” Chaplain Stanton huffed. “This is the most ridiculous, crazy, outrageous plan I’ve ever heard.”
“Chaplain, you and I have been through a lot together. I consider you a friend and a brother-in-arms. You and I both know how this ends. I am going to be another statistic for your sermon. Just call me number 23. I can do this with you or without you. But I beg you to help me make a difference. I know it’s crazy, but I honestly think I might be able to change this super-fucked-up world, hopefully for the better.”
“If there is a God,” Chaplain Stanton looked up, “forgive me.”
“If there is a God,” Carried added, “get ready. I’m coming for you.”
Chaplain Stanton looked at the young woman. She was now in soldier mode, wearing maternity combat fatigues and a pistol belt. He placed a duffle bag onto her kitchen table and began taking out items. “I think we have everything we need.”
Chaplain Stanton poured a shot of whiskey into a short glass. He raised it to Carrie and tossed it back. She took the bottle and turned it up. “It worked before,” she said, wiping her mouth. The chaplain handed her several pills wrapped in tissue.
“I feel like Doctor Kevorkian,” he muttered.
“No matter what happens…,” Carrie soothed him, but then couldn’t think of anything to say. She just squeezed his hand.
Soon the lights dimmed and Carrie felt that familiar tug. She was again moving along the golden escalator, along with dozens of others.
Again, she was branched off into St Peter’s line; she noticed this time that others peeled off and went to different lines, perhaps leading to a variety of different heavens or hells, depending upon individual faiths and beliefs.
Carrie stepped up as her turn came. Saint Peter recognized her and reached for his sword, but with a joking smile. Carrie held out her palms and shook her head. “They still call me Earslayer up here, you know,” Peter winked. When he noticed the bulging belly, he pressed the remote and Carrie entered. She heard the old gatekeeper whisper, “Good luck.”
Inside, Carrie was nearly overwhelmed with the beauty and splendor of heaven. Somehow she knew, however, that none of this could be actually appreciated until she was transformed. The procession continued to march forward and Carrie followed the endless stream.
As Carrie got closer to the throne, she could see what was happening ahead. One-by-one, each believer would step up to the magnificent monarch and touch the hem of his flowing robes. The Lord, himself, did not seem to know or care that his garments were being fondled. To Carrie, he appeared to be either asleep or dead, expressionless and still in the prominent chair.
The robes, His robes, seemed to be transformative. When touched, the believer would brighten and glow, their clothes and exterior features would vanish and only the soul would remain. It spun and swirled, and zipped away to another plane or part of heaven, perhaps to reap its eternal rewards.
Carrie glanced around. There was no security or avenging angels, just a beleaguered deity making good on promises made in another era. She looked upon his visage and almost felt sorry for him. But his underlying arrogance and ignorance of his consequences rekindled her wrath. He was responsible; He would pay.
A large man that had experienced some sort of industrial accident stepped forward with his head tucked in the crook of his arm. He reached blindly with the other arm for the transformative robes until he brailed at the hem. Like the others, he was made whole of spirit and whisked off to his singular eternity.
Carrie stepped up to the throne; she did not demure. She crouched like a panther and launched herself high onto the curtain of God’s robes. Nothing; no change. She did not transform. Her fury, however, was reborn as she climbed over His knees and stood legs apart on his lap. “Hey!” she shouted. “Wake up!” With both hands she tugged at his snow-white beard. He snorted and His eyes opened, glazed, attempting to focus on the woman in front of him.
Carrie tried to remember the speech she had prepared, but his piercing eyes already knew what she wanted to say. “You took my heart, when you took my husband.” She began to unbuckle the pistol belt she wore around her swollen belly. “I haven’t transformed like the others, as you can see. How could I; you stole my soul when you killed my baby, our baby, still in my womb.” Carry ran her hands lovingly over her enlarged belly. Then her anger flared again.
“Somebody has got to stop you!” She unbuttoned the fatigue jacket and opened it. Around her waist were several slender blocks of C4, pilfered from the EOD arms room.
God’s eyes sparkled, perhaps for the first time since creation. His arms lifted from the throne’s armrest and God smiled through the wizened beard. “Welcome,” he boomed to all that could hear, “my good and faithful servant. I’ve been waiting for you for a long time.” He pulled Carrie and her payload to his bosom.
In the beginning, God created (recreated) the heavens and the earth…and they were good.
Here are the links to the other two stories:
Wrath Will Cost You (Parole) <<link
Writer: E. J. D’Alise
Word count: 2,785 words – approx. reading time: about 11 minutes based on 265 WPM
Liar, Liar <<link
Writer: Perry Broxson
Word count: 8,820 words – approx. reading time: about 33 minutes based on 265 WPM
If you’ve read all the stories and care to cast a vote, here’s the link to the Poll:
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