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The Night Cometh Wins Award for Best Anthology Book

Last updated on June 3, 2024

The Night Cometh First Place Anthology CIPA Award

Enjoy this short story from the collection: “Where I Come From …”

Romans 1:18 (NKJV)

For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness…

 

“Where I come from, men are boys, and women are girls,” Frank said to his college-age son.

Dane slumped back in the living room chair. He glanced over at his mother, her eyes wet with tears. What could he say to ease the suffering of his parents upon learning that he was gay?

“Will you still love me?” Dane asked. “Or will you ostracize me like some Christian parents do when their children embrace a different lifestyle?”

His father and mother exchanged glances.

“We will always love you,” his mother replied, “but this is hard for us to accept.”

Dane’s father added, “What’s more concerning to us is you have rejected Jesus as your Lord and Savior.”

The son’s defenses shot up, and his face turned beet red. He did not want to hear anything about Jesus. He’d listened to enough Christians blast gays and lesbians and others like him. He could not embrace a God who would send people to hell. What kind of a God would do that?

“Dad, if you love me, you will accept me as I am. If God is love—I mean, he made me this way, and I know he loves me. If your love is real, then I hope you will, too. Otherwise, what good is Christianity if it permits you to hate certain groups of people? Isn’t that hypocritical?”

Not able to handle any more of the conversation, Dane’s mother got up and left the room. Dane winced. He knew this wouldn’t be easy for them, but it was more painful than he imagined. He had projected unspoken messages about his gayness, but they didn’t pick up on the cues. Or perhaps it was easier to ignore the subtle hints.

Father and son painfully eyed each other, a bond close to breaking. Dane was their only child, and if they had dreams of becoming grandparents, he had stripped them of that—and probably other aspirations that he would never know. Those hopes would be nothing more than fantasies buried deep in their psyche.

He had hidden behind a “straight” façade for too long, pretending to be a man when he felt like a woman. All his close friends were women. He didn’t relate to men in the way other guys did. Could his father accept him the way he was? Dane expected they’d come around eventually and understand his world.

He stood to leave. “I guess I’ll head back to the dorm.” He couldn’t think of anything else to say to comfort his parents except to give them time to accept that their only child was gay.

Dane’s father walked him to the door. Placing his hand on his son’s shoulder, he said, “It’s not that you’re gay that upsets me the most. You’ve rejected Jesus, and only Jesus can heal you.”

Dane knew he wouldn’t win this argument. To bring the conversation to a close, he said, “If God is real, pray that he will reveal himself to me in a way that’s so supernatural that I can’t deny he’s talking to me.”

Frank replied, “Okay.”

Dane scoffed. “That will be the day,” and he started to leave.

“Wait.” His father uttered a quick prayer at the door. “Dear Father, please honor Dane’s request. In Jesus’ name.”

Dane laughed uneasily. “Well, you didn’t have to take me literally, but that’s fine.” He slipped out of his dad’s embrace and headed down the front steps. “Tell Mom I love her.”

“I will,” Frank said. “Drive safely. And remember, there’s power in the name of Jesus.”

The boy got into his car and turned on the ignition. He slowly backed out of the driveway and sped off—but his destination was not what he anticipated.

*

Dane reached over and pressed the console button to turn on the DVD, but nothing happened. It was dark, and he didn’t want to attempt to figure it out while driving, so he switched to the radio, but all he heard was static. “Odd.” He ran a quick scan—nothing. He didn’t see the option to connect to his phone. He must have disconnected the blue tooth.

Irritated, he focused on the road—it was only a few minutes to the dorm anyway. He pulled onto a dark two-lane alley that served as a cut-through when he was in a hurry. Why did the street seem so dark tonight?

Unexpectedly, the car slipped into neutral. The engine quit, and he had no power. When the car’s forward momentum stopped, he found himself sitting in the middle of the road. He looked out the window. Why was it so dang dark? An EMP attack went through his head; is this what one would be like if it happened?

He reached into his back pocket to pull out his phone, but it wasn’t there. He remembered reading a text message at his parent’s house and laying the phone on the table. No wonder the blue tooth didn’t connect. He would have to return because he needed his phone for school.

He attempted to restart his car but to no avail. Panic formed as he sat in the middle of the dark road. Even the emergency flashers didn’t work.

He opened the door and stepped onto the street. He had no flashlight, no headlights, and no phone. He wasn’t even sure where he was. He had taken this shortcut dozens of times but didn’t see any houses to clue him in. Was it just dark, or was something else going on?

He had emergency road service but needed a phone to call for help. After locking the car, he started walking. At this late hour, the road would have little traffic, so hopefully, no one would ram his vehicle.

He must have walked a mile when he came to a house with an inside light burning. As he approached, he hesitated. It appeared to be the house that was open on Halloween every year—the famous haunted house. People came from miles around to experience the haunted house extravaganza. He didn’t think anyone occupied it, but the light inside indicated otherwise.

Dane had never been to the extravaganza—too spooky for him. While he didn’t believe in Jesus, neither did he mess around in the occult. No drugs, no boos, no pornography—well, maybe just a tiny bit to satisfy his curiosity, but according to the holy book, Dane considered himself a pretty decent guy. He saw no reason to engage in the “cult of Jesus.” He was a good person. According to his parent’s definition, he was at odds with God’s holy book, but his parents were wrong.

Dane referenced numerous Scriptures in the Bible to support his position that Jesus loved everybody. A God of love would never send anybody to hell. So he took great care not to think about that place. Despite his parents’ concerns, God would not send him there.

His father said where he came from, men were boys and women were girls, but the Bible didn’t say that. How old-fashioned his parents were.

Dane’s thoughts returned to the present. Should he approach the haunted house? Perhaps a family lived there now. Why keep walking if someone could help him? He just needed to borrow a phone.

He crept up to the house quietly as the darkness whispered to him. Leaves rustled in the wind, and tree branches scraped against the eaves. He imagined a bat or some night creature lunging at him, and he hurried to reach the front porch. He knocked. Nobody answered. So he knocked again—nothing.

He glanced through the window, and the light was still burning. Someone must be inside. Curious, he turned the door handle. To his surprise, the door was unlocked. He pushed it forward and poked his head in to see. The light emanated from an adjacent room—the only light for miles. Darkness enveloped the rest of the house. Suppose someone was in there holding a gun. He was breaking into someone’s home.

“Hello,” Dane shouted. “Anyone here?”

Nobody appeared. “How could someone not hear me?” Dane bemoaned.

Gathering all the courage he could muster, he tiptoed through the dark entryway into what he perceived to be the living room. He would have to go around the corner to reach the lit room. When he eased around the protruding wall, he saw the light. Aghast, a burning flame swept toward him, and the blaze pulled him into a dark, swirling vortex hidden in the fire. He descended into unending nothingness.

* * *

Dane hated the feeling of falling, and he screamed at the top of his lungs. His voice reverberated off walls that sounded like he was in a tunnel. With eyes clenched, his life passed before him—the good, the bad, and the ugly. Convinced he would die, he was shocked to see how much of his life was sinful. Now it was too late to do anything about it.

Amazingly, he didn’t die when he landed, and while the fall didn’t kill him, he feared a heart attack might. He could hardly catch his breath as he lay on the damp, cavernous bottom,

Dane leaned over and vomited. What he wouldn’t give for water in the intense heat. Exhausted, he pulled himself up to his feet, and as his eyes adjusted, he saw fires burning. The screams of desperate voices filled his ears, and an overwhelming sulfuric smell made him nauseous again.

“Get me out of here,” a voice cried.

Somebody must have heard something. He wasn’t about to rescue anyone. He wanted to get away, but how could he? Looking ahead and glancing behind and even above him, everything reflected in multiple directions, as if a prism had trapped him in legions of dimensions.

Despite his reluctance, he edged closer to the fire, and overwhelming heat scorched his skin. Vaguely, he could make out images of bodies in the flickering flames spewing out vulgarities and cursing God.

Dane didn’t want to think about where he was, but he couldn’t deny it—he was in hell, but he wasn’t dead—or was he?

Walking along the edge of the burning embers, he noticed the fire did not consume the bodies. Then he saw some chained spirits. The ugly, vile creatures were quite tall, taller than humans. Who were they?

When the entities in the fire saw Dane, they cried out, “Save us from the wrath of God!”

Petrified, Dane ran aimlessly, but his surroundings never changed. What he saw only added to his terror. He came upon revulsive creatures with tentacles reaching out to grab him.

As he avoided the body snatchers, he noticed the bodies were males in the burning flames. They swayed in the inferno, seductively trying to lure him hither. Unintentionally, he locked eyes with one. The attraction was so strong he couldn’t peel away. He felt trapped and defenseless as a seducing, evil spirit held on to him like glue.

Despite Dane’s attempt to disengage, he couldn’t. He felt his little strength, including his will to live, being sucked out of him. At the last second, Dane cried out, “Jesus!”

shining cross, blessed be nothing

 

Immediately, the trance broke, and Dane collapsed onto scampering giant roaches looking for food. With angelic help, he jumped to his feet. Overcome with dread of being sucked into the fire again, he shouted once more, “Jesus!”

The college student found himself standing beside his car at the exact spot where he had left it. He saw houses along the road—buildings that weren’t there before, and streetlights lit the road. He leaned against his car and sobbed. “Thank you, Jesus. Forgive me.”

For the first time, he realized that choosing a lifestyle forbidden in the Bible was like choosing death over life. Without repentance, his payment would be an earlier death than normal and eternal separation from God.

The attraction to a gay lifestyle over, Dane recognized it for what it was, a strong delusion. Perhaps he wasn’t tempted by power, fame, or money, but sin enticed everybody, and the devil used this sin to blind him to God’s truth.

Now he wanted to start over. He would read his Bible and find a church. First, he would retrieve his phone at his parent’s house.

Dane unlocked his car and climbed in. To his amazement, the car started. “Thank you, Jesus,” and he took off. Not only did he want to share with his parents that God had answered his challenge, but he also wanted to hear more about where his father came from—where men were boys and women were girls.1

1 Reedsyprompts. Submitted to Contest #164 in response to: Start your story with a character saying “Where I come from…”  http://blog.reedsy.com/creative-writing-prompts/author/lorilyn-roberts/

“Where I Come From” is a short story in the multi-award-winning anthology book The Night Cometh: 20 Fantastical Short Stories About Heaven, Hell, Life, Death, and Eternity. To learn more, visit this page on my website:

To purchase from Amazon, click here.

Published inPraise for Lorilyn's BooksThe Night ComethThe Night Cometh: 20 Fantastical Short Stories

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