This is the second half of my short story that needs critiqued. If you haven't read the first part please go to Critique Me!, my last post, and read it. When you are finished and you believe you've got some advice to polish up this story then please comment or email me. Whether you have advice or not just give me an opinion about the story. Thanks in advance.
Wilderness World-part 2
“Man shall not live by bread alone but by every word of God. That’s what Jesus said to Satan when he was being tempted in the wilderness. That’s the reason we need to know as much of the Bible as is possible. It is the food that feeds our soul. It makes our spirit strong. It’s our defense, our offense, and even how we learn to make sense of everything in life. No wonder the enemy wants to destroy or else distort it anyway he can.” Denny spoke solemnly as he gazed across the group of teen boys sitting at the long wooden table in the ministry cabin.
The stone fireplace in the corner of the room crackled loudly as he continued speaking. “In Luke 4:4 “but by every word of God” has been entirely omitted from many major versions. There are many more examples of where words have been taken away or sometimes added to the Bible by wicked men who have no fear of God. And as you should remember from your memory verses, Revelations 22 warns that they will have plagues added to them and their names will not be found in the book of life.” Standing up from his chair, Denny said to Ross, “Now brother would you lead us in the closing prayer.”
On the last evening of camp Philip came up to Denny as he was organizing some visual aids for the service. Looking down at the table the youth stared at various items including a hammer and a plastic sword. “Hey what’s these things for?” We going to build something tonight?”
“No Son. These are examples of how God’s Word is described. The bottom line is that the Bible is our greatest weapon against Satan and against sin. And so we really need to learn how to use it to defeat them.” Denny patted Philip on the back as two other boys entered the cabin.
“Hey guys. I hope you all are going to take back good memories of this week. You three seemed to have made friends easily.”
Philip shared a spontaneous high five with his new African American friends Mack and Jamal “They are cool. Kinda like me.”
Jamal and Denny laughed. Then Mack said, “Yea you two are the brothers I always wanted instead of the sorry older brother I got.”
“Yea and you are the kinda dad I wish I had,” Philip spoke in an unusually quiet tone of voice.
A lump formed in Denny’s throat before he dropped his eyes in an attempt to control his emotions. Then he replied, “Thanks Son. That means a lot to me.”
Three days later, Denny, Ross ,and the boys stood together on the porch of the cabin when suddenly they spotted Raj running toward them with an anxious expression on his bronze face. After reaching the two men, he said breathlessly, “I think we’ve got trouble. I just came from our camp sight and I saw an orange glow in the sky and a lot of smoke about a half mile toward the front of the park. It was more than what would be normally seen around here. I believe it’s a forest fire. And it’s most likely headed in our direction.”
“That’s the only road out of the park and it’s going to be dark soon. Ross please get the boys inside and contact the forest ranger. He may be able to give us some information about what’s going on. Raj and I will run back to the camp and gather up as much of our supplies as possible. When we get back we’ll have to access the situation better and make some plans.”
The television newscaster announced solemnly, “The origin of the forest fire in Jefferson Park is still a mystery along with the disappearance of two men who have yet to be found. It has now been one month since the enormous fire burned 200 acres of forest land and claimed the life of forest ranger Joshua Rose. The two missing men, Denny Willis and Rajeed Neese, were part of a Wilderness Learning Ministry group for troubled teens. None of the twelve boys who were camping with them at the time were injured from the fire.”
Glenda wiped her tear filled eyes with a tissue once again and turned off the TV. “Mom I don’t know how much more I can take of this. What am I going to do without Denny? Alyssa keeps asking where he is and when he’s coming home. Every time I call the police they can’t tell me anything new. And I have no answers for her.”
As her daughter sat down on the couch next to her, Joanne Martin said, “Honey, I can only imagine how hard it is for you. But God isn’t in the dark. He knows exactly where Denny and Raj are. You just have to have faith and patience. What I don’t understand is why they can’t track them the way they seem to be able to do for other people who go missing. That’s supposed to be the sole purpose for universal implants.”
“I know. I don’t understand it myself. It shouldn’t have taken this long. I talked to Raj’s brother this morning and he wants to talk to me. He wouldn’t tell me over the phone but he wants to come here tomorrow.” At that instant the cell phone on the coffee table rang.
“I’m sorry to come over so late Glenda but it just feels safer this way. So I’m just going to get straight to the point,” Chandra said nervously. “When I told you that day at the doctor’s office that Keith was different I wasn’t exaggerating. I began to notice little changes in him before but he seemed to turn into a whole other person once he got that publishing position.” The young woman began shaking her head with a perplexed look in her eyes. “He told me that there was going to be a new Bible published soon, endorsed by the government. But it couldn’t be called a “Holy” Bible.”
“That’s an odd coincidence. Denny’s been working on a software program that analyzes and criticizes the new Bible versions,” Joanne interjected.
“That’s not the worst of it. Once this version is published all other Bibles of any kind will be illegal. They’ve already got procedures in place to have them confiscated and destroyed!” Suddenly both mother and daughter gasped in unison.
The next morning Glenda, Joanne and baby Aiden sat at the kitchen table eating breakfast when there was a knock at the door. Answering it, Glenda greeted a tall dark skinned man and led him to the kitchen to sit down.” Mom this is Marcus, Raj’s brother.” Gesturing toward her mother, she said,” This is my wonderful mom, Joanne. She’s been right by my side through it all.”
“I’m glad to meet you Marcus. I wish it was under better circumstances though. You look a lot like your brother.”
“Yes better circumstances would be nice. God knows in this day and time that can be a rare occasion.” Then the dark eyed man looked straight at Glenda as she handed a baby bottle to her whining baby who was squirming in his high chair. “But I think I have some hope to give you today. You see, I had a very unusual dream last night and I never remember my dreams. But this one was very vivid. I saw Raj and your husband on television as they talked to a reporter about their ordeal during and after the forest fire. They were not injured and perfectly healthy. And I believe they will be found soon.”
“O God I’m so confused. I don’t know what to believe,” Glenda deliberated to herself while tucking her sleepy daughter into bed that night. Something’s wrong but what is it? The dream I had was completely contradictory to his. What does it all mean?” Then she walked into the living room and sat down next to her mother who was reading the Bible.
Looking up at her daughter, she said, “It’s so hard to believe that I am living in the day when our Bibles are going to be taken away from us here in the United States. But I guess it shouldn’t have come as such a great surprise since God’s Word has been watered down by so many so called ministers and by all the corrupted versions too. I was wondering if we should’ve told Marcus about Chandra’s visit to us. There are so many people that should be warned about it.”
“Mom I know it’s something that God’s people need to hear about but I think we should be very careful who we confide in. And Marcus is one person I’m feeling uneasy about.”
“Why honey? I don’t understand. What about the dream he had? Surely that was from God.”
Glenda pondered quietly, “I had a dream too. It was the night before. And in my dream I received a package in the mail. When I opened it, I just remember crying as I read a letter. It was from Denny. I can’t remember what it said though…except that he’d see me again one day when I got home.”
Keith Shaffer unlocked the door to his condominium. Next he entered it cautiously and methodically searched each room. Then he returned to the living room and lay back on his white l-shaped sofa with connecting recliners at either end. “Why do they think I know anything about where any discs or copies might be? After all I told them about Denny and that Wilderness Camping trip. But I never thought it’d come to that,” he thought out loud. “Well there’s no turning back now anyway. Chandra’s already gone too.”
Two weeks later..
“Brother Ray, Glenda asked me to call you. Could you come over for another visit tomorrow? She really needs to see you. “
“I can come around lunch if that’s alright. Has there been a new development with Denny and Raj’s disappearance?”
“No, not yet. There’s something else she wants to discuss with you. It is very important.”
“Do you remember your verse for the day Alyssa?” her mother asked after she arrived home from school.
“Yes I know it. ‘Draw nigh to God and he will draw nigh to you. ’ That means get close to Him by talking with Him and obeying His Word every day.”
“Honey I’m so proud of you!” Her grandmother reached down and hugged her small granddaughter.
“In Sunday School Mommy taught all us kids about the book of Acts last Sunday. She said that faith without action isn’t any good. We have to show our faith in God by our actions.”
“You have a smart mommy there. When your daddy comes home I’m going to tell him how smart you are too.”
“When’s he gonna come back?”
Glenda gave her mother a disapproving look and answered, “Jesus knows baby. We all miss him.”
Around noon on the following day, Ray McCoy sat at the Willis dining table eating a chicken salad sandwich with Glenda and her mother. “Would you like another glass of tea Pastor?”
“No thank you Sis Joanne. I’ve had plenty. So what is it you wanted to talk to me about Glenda?”
“Did you hear about Keith’s former fiancée Chandra? That she died in a car wreck recently?”
“Yes my wife said she saw it in the paper. I haven’t seen Keith in a long time but I did meet Chandra a few times when she visited the church.”
“Well what I have to tell you is something Chandra revealed to us. She didn’t want it to get out that the information came from her. To tell the truth, I think she was scared. She said she’d only told a few people that she’d trusted.” Glenda paused and sighed heavily. Then she continued, “Keith had told her that the government had endorsed a bible version. And…there are already plans in the works to take all our bibles away and destroy them. Then their bible will be the only one available for churches or individuals to read.”
Appearing stunned, Ray replied, “It’s finally happening. The New World Council is achieving one of its most important goals. The One World Religion is closer than anyone can imagine.” Looking directly at Glenda, he said intently, “And you believe that Chandra’s death was no accident. Am I right?”
“Yes. I’m also wondering about Denny and Raj’s disappearance. It’s been six weeks. Why can’t they find them? They have the ability to track them anywhere they might be.”
“You’re right. It is rare today to hear about people missing for very long. But why would the government be after them other than the obvious of being believers of the true gospel of Jesus Christ?”
“Denny was preparing to nationally promote a software program that would teach about the distortion and heresies in the versions that’s already out there. Denny believed that one day they would use these various ungodly bible versions to create an amalgamation that would become the handbook, more or less, for the antichrist or false prophet.”
“Thanks for the prayer Brother Ray,” Glenda said thirty minutes later as she walked him to the front door. ”By the way, do you know Raj’s brother, Marcus?”
“Marcus” he repeated and paused, taking her hand into his own. “Listen to me please. Don’t have anything to do with that man. He is evil to the core. Raj has told me several times that his brother cannot be trusted. Not many people know but he is a lawyer for the city. Stay away from him!
”Mommy, Nana got a package for you while you were gone to the store!” Alyssa skipped excitedly toward her mother once she spotted her entering through the doorway of the kitchen.
After placing her grocery bags on the counter, she anxiously asked, “Where is it Mom?”
Joanne opened a cabinet door above her, retrieved a small square cardboard parcel and handed it to her daughter. “Were you expecting something special?”
“Mom please watch Alyssa and Aiden a little longer until I come back out.” Glenda gingerly carried the package as she walked into her bedroom and shut the door behind her. Her hands shook causing her to fumble at opening it. Not wanting to tear up the box, she slowly pulled off the mailing tape. As soon as it was opened she began to weep uncontrollably. “It is true. I didn’t want to believe it but it is true!”
“Thank you for coming Philip,” Glenda told the teenager standing beside her at the graveside . “This is the first time I’ve been here since the funeral. “
Without replying, Philip knelt down at the tombstone surrounded by early summer grass and small wildflowers. He read the inscription loudly, “FOR ALL FLESH IS AS GRASS, AND ALL THE GLORY OF MAN AS THE FLOWER OF GRASS. THE GRASS WITHERETH, AND THE FLOWER THEREOF FALLETH AWAY. BUT THE WORD OF THE LORD ENDURETH FOREVER.”
A moment later, he rose up and stared at her with large soulful eyes. “The last thing I ever said to him was that I wish he’d been my dad. Do you really think they killed him and Raj because of that software?”
“Yes I do. They didn’t want anything getting in the way of their “New Bible”. The information he had on the disc and flash drive was way more than I knew… until I received it in the mail that day. He’d left it for safe keeping with a trusted friend and asked for it to be sent to me if something happened to him. Keith never saw the private demo and yet he still believed it was a threat to their future plans. My husband wanted to make sure that the underground network of Wilderness Road Missionaries would be organized and ready to move once the order was made to destroy everyone’s Bibles.”
“From everything they’re saying on the news that will probably happen soon. Even my mom is getting scared because of it. She’s been asking me questions about what I learned since going through the bible studies in the youth program.”
“That’s why I asked you here today Philip. Denny told me in the letter that you had the heart of a fisherman. He wrote a letter for you too. ”
He hesitantly took the envelope from her extended hand and then stared at his name written on the outside of it. “He wrote this to me? Looking up at Glenda, he asked in a hoarse voice, “Why?”
“You’re the son he taught how to fish just before he had to go away. Also a brother in the Lord. So it’s promised that you and I will be able to see him again. Probably one day soon.”