Monday, November 27, 2017

Chapter 35: Surprise Guests


The the following is the next exciting next chapter of the ongoing eBook:
Juggernaught: A Moast Unusual Bible Study.  If you just tuned in, start reading here!

The team camped out in the woods that night.  It was discussed whether they could find another town and secure lodging, but they were thoroughly enough lost that there was no guarantee of finding anything.   Worse still, the one thing they knew for sure was out there was whatever force had wasted an entire village -  presumably within seconds.  Not the type of thing you'd want to stumble into in the dark.

For that reason, they turned a direct ninety degrees from the road and the path of destruction, drove along an old logging road as far as the terrain would allow, and then hiked another five miles for good measure.

In later years, they'd be more likely to pursue the enemy all night rather than running and hiding.  Tonight, however, they were still very young... and very scared.

As an extra precaution they decided to set a watch.  Jack scooped up three dry pine needles from the forest floor.  Snapping them off to different lengths, he stuck them in a closed fist, tips lined up evenly.

After all had drawn, they held out their lot to compare in the flickering firelight.

Jack's was clearly the shortest.  "Blue watch." he declared, using the same Navy terminology that Ms McCready had used during training.  "Figures."

"I got white." said Wendell.

"Red!  Woohoo!" Misty cheered, having pulled the earliest watch.

She wasn't cheering long, however, when the boys retired and she found herself left alone with the strange sounds of the night.  These seemed all the more frightening, being in a foreign land and without even a sliver of moon to shed light on whatever made them.

"This European tour is turning out nothing like the brochure." she said aloud.

The sound of her voice startled some unseen something, which ran up a tree.  She decided not to speak again.

Despite jumping out of her skin every time an owl hoo'd, the time passed uneventfully.

Wendell, after much shaking and threats of personal torture, was roused at midnight and set to work.  Once the strange sounds of the night hit him, however, he was wide awake.  At first, he doubted that he could hear any approaching danger over the thud of his own heartbeat echoing in his ears.

As the night wore on, terror gradually gave way to boredom, and then boredom melted down into weariness. 

Despite Misty's unveiled threats that military watchmen who fall asleep on duty are executed, Wendell found himself drifting.

His head sagged.  His eyes drooped.  Rough bark rasped along his cheek.

Snap!

Like lightning he was awake and on his feet, pistol drawn and pointed at the inky void from which the sound had come.

He squinted hard into the darkness for a long time.  It proved too thoroughly black for even night-adjusted eyes to pierce.  No second sound ever came.  The silence rang in his ears as he strained against it for some clue.

He even tried to 'use your nose' as Michael Moast had taught them all.  He inhaled deeply.  Well, maybe Michael could have gotten something out of this, but all Wendell could smell was enough tangy pine needles to make snorting an air freshener seem tame.

Not even Micheal could smell anything over that.  he thought.

Well... maybe Michael wouldn't have camped here.  his mind argued back.

And then his eyebrows shot up and mumbled. "Michael wouldn't have camped here!"

A chill ran up his spine.  He glanced around.

They were on top of a hill.  The fire could be seen for miles.  Stupid.

The fire was made with green wood, and not enough air.  It was very smoky.  Stupid!

They hadn't concealed their abandoned truck, nor their footprints.  Stupid, stupid!

Now that he had completely freaked himself out, Wendell was in no mood for sleeping.

"Cappuccino?"

He spun and fired long before he registered it as a word. 

Boom!  Jack and Misty's nervous systems flew out of bed, dragging the rest of their bodies with them.  When they landed, Jack had his weapon cocked and pointed in both hands in perfect police officer form, where Misty reflexively dropped to a solid fighting stance.

If mind, reflex, and emotion were separate individuals, then the first member of the group finally got its lazy bones out of bed.

"Say,  what's going on here?"  asked Jack, now taking a good look at the scene.

Wendell stood facing a woman.  She held a dainty china coffee cup in one hand, and Wendell's upraised wrist in the other.  The drink and the recently-fired pistol in his hand each let off a spiraling tendril of smoke that drifted long and high into the night air.

"Irmingard..."  the sound trickled from Wendell's throat.

It really was her! 

She really did have coffee!

After a moment of staring like an idiot, Wendell realized that he'd started a sentence and never finished it.  He didn't know what to say until he saw the smoking gun.  "I could've killed you!"

"No you couldn't." said another voice from the far side of the campfire.

All heads turned.

None could make out where the voice was coming from.

Jack noticed it first.  One of the surrounding bushes seemed to have inexplicably moved itself closer to the fire during the night.  Not only that, but among its branches was one that was far too perfectly straight to be a product of nature.  It was the barrel of a rifle!  And with camouflage skills like that, there could be only one person holding onto the other end of it.

"Lola."  concluded Jack.

Wendell almost asked, 'How did you find us?', but then remembered his earlier argument with himself over their poor woodcraft skills.  Instead, he asked, "What happened?  How did you get away from the compound?"

"We should talk about that over coffee.  Aren't you going to ask me to sit down?"

Wendell stepped aside, and gestured toward the fire in a gentlemanly way.

"Thank you." she said, and moved to take her seat.

Looking up, Irmingard addressed the bush,  "Lola, I'm sure we're all very impressed, but we've seen it now.  Let it go, okay."

The bush grunted.  With a rustle of leaves, the elder Rabishaw sister popped from the foliage and made her way to the rest of the group.  They had a lot to discuss.


NEXT CHAPTER ... COMING SOON!


The preceding has been a chapter from Juggernaught: A Moast Unusual Bible Study
(Copyright 2016, Edmund Lloyd Fletcher.)

For more on this story, please visit its main page.

Also, don't forget to subscribe to the email list so you never miss a thing!

Monday, November 13, 2017

Chapter 34: Trailer Park


The the following is the next exciting next chapter of the ongoing eBook:
Juggernaught: A Moast Unusual Bible Study.  If you just tuned in, start reading here!

Row after row of trailers slid along, their reflection distorted against the sleek lines of the freshly-polished Mercedes SUV.  The woman inside wore darkly-tinted shades and a gauzey silk scarf.

She swung the wheel of the powerful machine around with an expert hand, and slid it into a narrow strip of driveway next to a gleaming red Ferrari.

The car was at strange odds with the faded teal trailer house next to it, but some people have their priorities straight in their own mind, whether they make sense to others or not.

Though a woman of a different social class, Melinda Moast didn't pass any judgment as her footsteps creaked up the wooden steps to the front door.  She reached out to press the doorbell, but her finger was snatched out of the air by a meaty paw.

"Don' wanna be touchin' that now, dearie."

Melinda looked down at the pudgy form of the old Bible Study (and Special Forces) veteran Ms McCready.  She must have heard the deck creaking.  In fact, it may even be the reason why she maintained a creaky deck.

"W-why not?"  Melinda asked, surprised in spite of her dealings with the strange Irishwoman.

"Just heard some ol' friends o' mine are in town.  Got 'er wired up to 110 volts in case they decide to try anythin'."

"Old friends?"  Melinda asked, her gaze fixed on the small silver button, imagining how bad it would have hurt to touch it.

"Guerrillas, mostly.  We helped put 'em in power, but they botched it and might blame us."  She hesitated.  Looking Melinda up and down she added, "Well, enough o' that.  No sense standin' out here on the porch, listnin' to an old woman go on about the good ole days.  Come on in.  I got a kettle on the stove and a scone with yer name on it."

Melinda took up the invitation and was soon seated on an old couch with a crocheted orange afghan, still trying to wrap her mind around how some kind of jungle warfare translated into 'the good ole days'.

She tried to bring up the reason for her visit, but her hostess wouldn't hear of it until tea and scones were served in proper fashion.

"Baked these mesself." she announced proudly as she offered a plate of raisin scones.  "T'aint as easy as field-strippin' an AK-47, but it's what old, retired people are s'posed to do."

Then she looked Melinda deep in the eye.  "I am still retired, right?"

Melinda tried to wave the insinuation away and gave a smile that didn't come off nearly as positive as she was trying for.  "Of course, of course."

Ms McCready raised an eyebrow.

In response, Melinda hastened to explain, "It's just that Michael is out of town and he needs help hunting down clues for this new kind of weapon somebody is building..."

The skeptical look remained.

"No, it's not what you think.  He wants me to join him in the project.  What we really need is somebody to check up on our new recruits while we're away.  They're in the middle of a cultural tour of Europe and, well, I got this message this morning..."

Melinda lifted the phone she already held.  A quick flick of her index finger started the recording, while her thumb held the [Vol +] until it reached a sufficient level.

"...should about do it."  came Jack's voice in the background.

"Hello?  Hello?" said Misty. "This is a message for Melinda Moast.  We tried Michael's phone first, but couldn't get through."

The trail end of the sentence was warped and disappeared in a burst of static.  It picked back up again a moment later.

"... to build his own private army, but we stopped him!  No we're in the middle of..."

More static.  Longer this time.

"... completely destroyed!  We're in way over our heads here.  Please send help."

An electrical sounding snap was heard and Jack shouted, but his cry of pain was cut off by the sound of a relay click and a dialtone.

"Well, go figure on that 'un..."  Ms McCready said.  She stood, and paced the floor, lost in thought.

As she passed a tacky full-length mirror she paused and looked at herself in it.  She shook her head at what she saw.

"You sure I'm still retired if'n I do this?" she asked.

Melinda nodded.  "Of course.  All it is is a little outing.  Fly out, see what they need, fly home.  You can be back to baking before Wednesday."

"Good.  I feel better about tha'." Ms McCready replied.

She reached up and pressed the corner of the mirror.  A magnetic catch released and the whole thing swung aside to reveal a small arsenal.

She snatched up one of her favorite semiautomatic rifles, squinted into the chamber with one eye, and then, satisfied, let it snap shut.

Now it was Melinda's turn to be apprehensive.



The preceding has been a chapter from Juggernaught: A Moast Unusual Bible Study
(Copyright 2016, Edmund Lloyd Fletcher.)

For more on this story, please visit its main page.

Also, don't forget to subscribe to the email list so you never miss a thing!

Thursday, November 9, 2017

NaNoWriMo 2017 - Official announcement

Some of you may be already in on this, and thank you, but others might not have heard yet.

I decided last minute to participate in this year's NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month).

If you are involved as well and want to be "buddies", here's a link to my account:
https://nanowrimo.org/participants/edmund-lloyd-fletcher

Since this wasn't accounted for the Moast Unusual series plans, I decided to go a completely different direction with the story I'm writing.

The idea I chose to go with was:
(And, yes, this is only a work-in-progress cover, so please don't judge my artwork too harshly.)









What if Beauty didn't make it in time, and he had to stay a beast FOREVER!??













If you think about it, the original fairytale is easy.  He just has to behave himself long enough to win Beauty's love.  How many marriages are like that, where a guy puts on a good front while dating, but then after the wedding he turns out to be somebody else?

Looking at it from another perspective, concerning the whole curse thing, the spell is broken and things are all fine again.  Poof!  Is that how a good marriage works?  What about having to stick it out and work through your problems?


Finally, in the standard tale, we miss out on a lot of deliciously deep emotional turmoil.  What about the Beast's self-image?  Does he struggle with feelings of inadequacy?  How does that manifest itself?  Does he push her away?  Build up emotional walls?  What about jealousy when she talks to somebody who isn't ugly like he is?  The list goes on and on.  

There are a lot of things to explore.


So, anyway, I thought that this twist made the retelling worth exploring.


As usual, let me know what you think over on the socials.


Live Your Adventure,
-E.L. Fletcher


======================= UPDATE =======================


Pardon my ASCII art there, but I thought you might like to know how it all worked out, so...

Boom.



#NaNoWriMo #NaNoWinner2017

I really liked how it turned out.  I'll definitely have to edit it up all purdy and come up with a release plan.

Thanks for all the moral support, folks!

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Chapter 33: Airport


The the following is the next exciting next chapter of the ongoing eBook:
Juggernaught: A Moast Unusual Bible Study

The two villagers entered the international airport.

They looked around at the strange sights and sounds, appearing for all the world as if they were already in another country, rather than their own.

The old woman seemed oblivious to the hectic madness going on all around her.  Her grandson, on the other hand, made himself dizzy looking at all the different things. 

Up until this point in his life he had never even seen a Western business suit.  This place was filled with them.  Even some women wore suits, which made no sense at all within his cultural mindset.

The people also pulled tiny, little bags with wheels on them.  This made him look at his own yarn-tied bedroll and wonder how these people could fit all of their blankets into such a small box?

They had been here once before three days ago.  The place baffled the boy then, every bit as much as it did now.

The two waited their turn in line.  Just as before, those around them seemed strangely taciturn and uninterested in their conversation.

Once they reached the front, Antonio approached the woman at the ticket counter.  She was not the same woman from the other day, but he assumed that surely the other would have passed on the information that Niñera and her grandson would be back once they obtained a 'passport'.

Antonio still wasn't sure exactly what those were for.  All they contained was a photo and information like height, weight, hair color... all things that any fool could see just by looking at them.  In the end he decided that the papers were there to help describe them people with poor eyesight.

"Buenas tardes, ma'am." said Antonio. "We are the ones you sent to get passports."

The woman had a distant look that communicated anything but recollection.

Antonio offered the papers and continued, "We would like two tickets to fly to America."

The woman made a face.

"On an airplane." Antonio said, attempting to fill in whatever confusion the lady had.

"Where in America?" she finally replied.

"W-where?"  He pondered the question for a moment.  "What are the choices available."

The woman made a frustrated noise.  "Listen, kid.  There are over 300 major airports in the United States as well as 500 local services.  The country is over 500 million square miles in size!  If you want me to sell you a ticket, you need to be a little more specific than you are right now."

Antonio and his grandmother conversed with one another in low tones.  The line behind them was growing frustrated. 

After a painfully long time, the two reached a conclusion.

"Niñera says she wants to deliver a message to a man she saw in a vision.  Please sell us a ticket to where he lives."

The woman began to bang her head on the counter.

"What is the matter señora?  Still not specific enough?"



The preceding has been a chapter from Juggernaught: A Moast Unusual Bible Study
(Copyright 2016, Edmund Lloyd Fletcher.)

For more on this story, please visit its main page.

Also, don't forget to subscribe to the email list so you never miss a thing!

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Chapter 32: Ruined Town


The the following is the next exciting next chapter of the ongoing eBook:
Juggernaught: A Moast Unusual Bible Study

The three regrouped after searching the town.  None found any survivors.

"Did you check those houses?"  Misty pointed to a long row of flattened buildings.

"Yes."  said Jack.

"And the people?"

"Still inside."  He looked pale.

There was an ugly silence.

"And anybody outside is shot to bits." added Wendell.

"I drove up to the hill."  offered Misty.  "Whatever did this..."

"What do you mean, 'whatever'?"

"Look around.  Something big came through here.  If those buildings were knocked down by rockets or earthquakes, they'd be in piles, not laid out flat like that."

She continued, "Like I was saying, up on the hill you can see the direction the rubble falls and pretty well trace its path.  It entered the valley over there.  That gap in the trees."  She pointed.  Then she traced an imaginary line across the scene with her finger.  "Came in through the center, here.  Made a lap around the outside to catch anything that was left.  Then back out the way it came."

"That makes sense." said Wendell. "All of the shot people were on the outskirts where I was.  Like they were trying to get away."

Jack added, "And all of the others were in the middle like they didn't have time to."

He looked at the others who were looking back with wide eyes.  "So whatever it is, is fast, huge, and well-armed.  I think we need to call Michael."

Wendell pointed.  "The phone lines come in from the East.  We should be able to tap a fallen cable and get a call through."

Misty hugged herself.  "Better do it fast.  I don't want to be here when it gets dark.  They might come back!"



The preceding has been a chapter from Juggernaught: A Moast Unusual Bible Study
(Copyright 2016, Edmund Lloyd Fletcher.)

For more on this story, please visit its main page.

Also, don't forget to subscribe to the email list so you never miss a thing!

Monday, October 16, 2017

Chapter 31: The Road Home


The the following is the next exciting next chapter of the ongoing eBook:
Juggernaught: A Moast Unusual Bible Study

The old army troop transport swayed a little as it drove down the dusty road. 

Perhaps "road" was going too far.  It was a pair of tracks down a debatably flatter section identical to the surrounding plain.  Misty had long since given up checking for cell service.  They really were in the middle of nowhere, though a gradual increase in the number of trees hinted that they were nearing a more habitable area.

Jack drove, while Wendell sat in the passenger seat drumming on the open window's sill along with the staticy radio station.  The lyrics seemed to be in Bulgarian, but it was hard to tell.

"You know, the native tunes around here... at first it's not much but after awhile..."

Jack looked down at his fingers.  They were drumming on the steering wheel.  "Yeah, it kinda grows on ya, man."

Misty, who lay between the boys: eyes shut, and feet propped up on the dash, now spoke up.  "Just get us home, and I promise to buy you their greatest hits album."

"I'll hold you to that.  It looks like there's a town up ahead."  Jack pointed at something just before it disappeared behind the crest of a hill.

"All right!  Now all we need is to borrow a phone to call Micheal!"  Wendell poked Misty's arm, "And see if they have a Sam Goody!"

Wendell and Jack smiled at eachother.

Everyone was riding an adventure high.  Eventually, they no longer hold it in.

"Woo! Team!", shouted an overjoyed Jack Savage banging happily on the steering wheel.

Wendell joined in with the banging and added,  "Oh yeah!"

Misty raised both fists and shouted, "Woo!" as well.

The team continued to cheer and congratulate themselves until they crested the last hill between them and the town.

Misty and Jack saw it first.

"...well that was awesome, but how bout when you were like..."  Wendell was going on until he noticed that the smiles were now wiped from their face and looked out the windshield.

"How...!??"

The entire town was gone -- blown from the map!



The preceding has been a chapter from Juggernaught: A Moast Unusual Bible Study
(Copyright 2016, Edmund Lloyd Fletcher.)

For more on this story, please visit its main page.

Also, don't forget to subscribe to the email list so you never miss a thing!

Friday, October 13, 2017

Just Cheking In

Well, hello everybody!

It's been a long time since I've posted.  Too long.

There's been a lot going on around the old homestead lately, trying get ready for winter.  Also a great amount of our time is going into taking my oldest son's small business to a professional level.  Then, of course, DW has been busy as well, hijacking the laptop regularly for her own business.  Yikes!

But you'll be pleased to know that I've released Queen of Atlantis, Revision 2.  I mean, don't worry if you already own the book.  You're not missing out on any story.  It's mostly a few typo cleanups and things like that. 

But I do want to shout out and thank you all for your great feedback!

This also means I've got the ball rolling on the hardback version, so any of you who've been holding out for that, it should be out soon.

Now, for those of you who have been waiting on pins and needles to see what happens, the next chapter of Juggernaught will be up this weekend.

Anyway, thanks to everybody for your patience and support!

As always, Live YOUR Adventure!
-E.L. Fletcher

Monday, August 21, 2017

Chapter 30: Walking Away


The the following is the next exciting next chapter of the ongoing eBook:
Juggernaught: A Moast Unusual Bible Study

The three held one tightly-bound Myron Seebeck as his personal elevator descended in the direction of the basement parking garage.  Having time to kill, they decided to take him hostage, kidnapping him from behind his very desk.

Normally the place would have been guarded up tight, but at the moment his soldiers were somewhere between awake and asleep mentally.  They didn't know who they wanted to fight, but had a vague sense of anger a having been wronged.  It made navigating the halls a bit of a gamble, and the cards were stacked against new faces like their own.

"What did you do with Howell?"  With a surprising amount of force for her size Misty slammed the man against the mahogany veneer lining the side of the elevator.

It must have hurt, but he only chuckled in response to her question.

"Tell me!  Or I'll..."

Seebeck spat the defiant reply, "You'll what, little girl?  Cry to your mommy?"

She ground her teeth.  She was capable of, and on the verge of, beating the man to a pulp.  Since half of every couple from their triple-date was now missing due to his handiwork, neither of the boys felt particularly compelled to stop her.

"Or maybe you want to call the police?" he offered the idea only to pull it back again.  "Oh, that's right.  I own the police."

The conversation was interrupted by a soft chime.  The door slid open.

The garage beyond seemed almost exactly the same as the day they had arrived.  Army trucks still stood in neat rows, though there seemed to be a few missing now.  The rolling steel exit door stood wide open, letting in blinding white light from the outside world.

"Cut him loose.", said jack.

Wendell did.

"What?  That's it?", said the leader in astonishment.  "You fools don't realize that my army is on its way to tear you apart.  "Or maybe you'll take a ride in my sacrificial chamber."

The teens were already walking towards the nearest truck and paid him no attention.

"ANSWER ME!", demanded the primadonna.

They didn't want to give him the satisfaction and only climbed inside.  Jack started the engine.

Wendell popped his head out the window.  "Sorry, but we sorta misled you.  We already know Howell was on your side, because we've already seen how your sacrificial chamber works.  We have all the evidence we need to put you away and as for your army... I would be running away, if I was you."

"That's right", agreed Jack, "if you listen close you can hear they're on their way now.  And with no troops, no voodoo, no drug, and no production plant, they'll tear you apart."

"That's impossible!", challenged the leader.

A shout echoed through the cavernous space.  From the far end of the parking garage a group of angry men in fatigues was making for Seebeck at double-time.  Every doorway or vehicle they passed seemed to add more to their number.

Seebeck produced a concealed sidearm and aimed it through the open window at the departing Bible Study.  His hand trembled in rage.

More shouting.

Realizing that every bullet must count, the man reluctantly swung it toward gathering mob.  There were too many to fight it out, and they were too well armed.  He'd done his job too well!

Seebeck broke for the open garage door.

He exited into the arid sun at the same instant the truck did.  One went North, the other went South.

Neither saw the other again.

THE END ...?


(just kidding) NEXT CHAPTER >>


The preceding has been a chapter from Juggernaught: A Moast Unusual Bible Study
(Copyright 2016, Edmund Lloyd Fletcher.)

For more on this story, please visit its main page.

Also, don't forget to subscribe to the email list so you never miss a thing!

Monday, August 14, 2017

Chapter 29: Crazy


The the following is the next exciting next chapter of the ongoing eBook:
Juggernaught: A Moast Unusual Bible Study

"You're crazy!", accused Misty.  "There's no way that psychopath is just going to let us walk away!"

Jack's eyebrows twisted and then, a moment later, untwisted.

"Yes", he said with a gleam in his eye, "that's exactly what he's going to do."

The three, sat, leaning on their rifles, and conversing idly amid the rubble that was once the protected maximum security level of Seebeck Tower.

Pools of potent-smelling green mind control liquid dotted the floor, dripping from the cracked and broken remains of their storage vats.

Misty and Jack nibbled away at fresh doughnuts they'd found on a series of rolling bakers' racks.  Wendell, however, turned the snack down.

"Well, now I know En must be real."  Misty joked, being lighter-hearted now than in several days since she'd thought Howell ended life as a human sacrifice.

"How's that?" asked Jack, surprised.

"It'd take quite a miracle to make Wendell lose his appetite!"

The two laughed, but Wendell only shook his head.

"You sure about that, Jack?  That deal about Seebeck letting us go?"  he said, changing the subject.

"Of course.  This goo is some powerful stuff, but it must wear off pretty quick.  They have to re-dose the army every morning, so they're only a couple of hours short of missing their medication.  I'm guessing a day, maybe two tops, and this place is gonna be filled with a couple thousand former slaves, angry and armed, and all after Seebeck and his goons."

He shot a glance at Misty and continued.  "Is he going to let us walk away?  Oh, yes.  The only question is, are we going to let him walk away?"



The preceding has been a chapter from Juggernaught: A Moast Unusual Bible Study
(Copyright 2016, Edmund Lloyd Fletcher.)

For more on this story, please visit its main page.

Also, don't forget to subscribe to the email list so you never miss a thing!

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Chapter 28: The Sea of Regrets


The the following is the next exciting next chapter of the ongoing eBook:
Juggernaught: A Moast Unusual Bible Study

Mac Crieche was an old man.  It was now many years since his visit to the lost Daradanian people.  He looked out over the Eastern sea that frosty morn, as he often did.  Fog hung over the land, as it often did, watering the pungeant turf, if not by rain, then by general sogginess.

"Thinkin' about th' old times?"  said his the voice of his wife with a lilt she'd picked up somewhere along the way.

Mac Crieche nodded without turning.  "Aye.  Lot of adventures."

She looked up at him and tried to get something more from his glistening eyes.  They spoke volumes, but in a language she couldn't read.

"Ye never made it to the Holy City.  Ever regret turnin' back?"

"Mmm."  came the non-committal answer.

That may or may not be true, she decided, but surin' there's something more.

She watched the wind crawl across the emerald sward and listened to the sea crash against the rocks below.  'Tis a fine land. she thought.

As the sea kept up its relentless pounding, another thing came to mind.  She said it before thinking the better of it.  "Ever regret turnin' back?"

It still could have been about Jerusalem, but they both knew it wasn't.

"The idol of En."  he replied.  This time a low heaviness in his voice told the wife that she was on the right track.

He turned to look at her, and she noticed a tear running down his opposite cheek.

"The angel - the one from th' vision - he was right,"  he continued, "I had a choice t' make, and because o' my decision, the heathen god is still out there somewhere.

"I shudder to think of if Sharon, but who knows what terrors tha' abomination still has in store for future generations?"

"God knows."  she said simply.

It was true, of course.  Mac Crieche knew it.  From the vision, there was to be another that would complete the task he'd started.  But he also had seen the flames and the untold devastation that would come of his decision.

He wept.

Mrs Mac Criechie reached out to his arm.

She had a question on her mind.  It was something that had been plaguing her from time to time ever since very night she and the other believers had left her people in the clutches of En.  Thirty long years she'd kept it bottled up.  She feared it.

Yet now, in the wake of her admonition that, 'God knows', what else could she do but say it aloud?  Could she really, in good conscience, ask her husband to rely on the providence of God to govern the universe, when she, herself, refused to let things happen for fear of the outcome?

"Mac Crieche?"  she asked, barely audible.

"Yes, m' dear."

"Do you ever regret your decision?  Do you ever regret... us?"

He looked away from her, back to the sea.

Silence crashed like the waves.

This was the moment she'd been dreading for decades.  Was she about to find out that his life with her was a choice he regretted?  Was she about to learn that her entire life and all she now held dear was nothing but a wrong decision he counted upon his ledger?

A lone gull made a shrill cry, making a lazy circle back out to sea.

Mac Crieche, for his part, knew her well enough by now to know exactly how she must be feeling.  He knew how the silence must be torture for her, but the truth would be worse.  Yet he would have to tell the truth, that, though he loved her more than ever, he still regretted leaving En standing.  If he had it to do all over again...?

But then a high-pitched squeal of delight knocked him free from his inner turmoil.

He spun to see his granddaughter running across the meadow toward him.  Her parents walked calmly hand-in-hand, but the four-year-old couldn't restrain herself that long and ran to him with outstretched arms.

Little Sharon, they called her.  Like the rose.  And what a rose, she was!  Sweeping her up in his arms, he spun her around like a man half his age.

When he finally placed her back on solid ground, he was weeping again.  This time not out of regret for what he had lost, but for joy of what he had gained.

Through tear-streaked eyes, he said, "Mrs Mac Criche, if I had it to do all over again..."

Her hand flew to her mouth to cover up a ghasp.

"...I'd choose you."



The preceding has been a chapter from Juggernaught: A Moast Unusual Bible Study
(Copyright 2016, Edmund Lloyd Fletcher.)

For more on this story, please visit its main page.

Also, don't forget to subscribe to the email list so you never miss a thing!

Friday, August 4, 2017

Review: Eats With Sinners


Eats With Sinners [FREE pdf - forward, intro, and chapter 1]
ISBN 9781631468322
Arron Chambers [website]
pastor at Journey Christian Church, Greely CO [website]


Cover Description: 

If you want to follow Jesus on the incredible journey of sharing Him while sharing life with others, it’s time to eat with sinners—people just like you . . . and me.

As long as people have been sharing their faith, there have been critics. Even Jesus dealt with naysayers as He spread His gospel: “This man welcomes sinners and eats with them” (Luke 15:2, NIV). Sometimes we worry about our reputation when we spend time with non-Christians. But more than that, we worry about the time we spend with non-Christians: Will we understand each other? Will I offend them? Will they offend me? How long will it take before this relationship falls apart?

Every meal Jesus ate, He ate with sinners. And over food and drink, through stories and insights and observations and conversations, people let their guards down, and sinners came to know the love of God and the hope of salvation. Now revised and updated, Eats with Sinners helps you to let your guard down so the love of God can get out across the table to your non-Christian friends.

Pros:

The author is light-hearted and witty, and the text is well thought out and full of great illustrations, for instance:
"A friend of mine was visiting his mentor, a retired preacher, in the hospital."  The author's friend was fumbling for words of comfort to say when the old preacher, "patted his knee, and said, 'It's okay.  I haven't been preaching fairy tales all these years.' "
There are also a number of 1-2 page personal stories from other people.  I like this because often in books like this the author relies entirely on his own encounters.  While that's fine logically, after an entire book of it, it can start to feel a little narcissistic.  I appreciate the variety.
Everything is extensively and solidly backed by scripture (mostly hovering around Luke chapter 14-ish).
This book originated as a sermon series which amounted to a mini-revival of sorts, including hundreds of baptisms.  Once, 52 people on the same day!  They have developed their success into an outreach program available at: www.eatswithsinners.com

I also learned that there is another version available, ISBN 0784723184, which contains "recipes".  Whatever that means.
On to the content...
The primary issue is that the author, while glad of the Church institution, realizes the flaw in expecting a stationary building to be able to reach people. 
"I want you to know that I don't hate church buildings, but I don't love them either -- because church buildings are just very attractive, functional, but expensive tools." 
 He gives the analogy,
"I like to fish.  I like to catch fish.  The best way to catch fish is on a boat, because a boat allows you to go wherever the fish are biting.  Another way to catch fish is to build a dock and hope the fish come to you.  Too many church buildings are immovable docks -- and the fish stopped biting years ago."
Clearly a bigger "come to church" billboard is not the answer, but real people, one-on-one, forming relationships with other people.  That was Christ's model of evangelism and it should be ours as well!
If I could summarize variety of the different themes going on, it would be, "Be intentional about doing life among 'sinners' and don't let other things stand in the way."  These 'other things' come in a wide variety.
For instance, the desire to hide behind a mask of perfection.  The author says, "Authenticity is what integrity wears when it goes out in public."  He says that, "Men and women with integrity are unstoppable" because they have nothing to hide and no fear of being exposed.

Or, as Luke 5:5 indicates, Just because you're having a "bad day" or you consider yours a "wasted life", doesn't mean the next thing you try won't work (if God is in it).  He talks about record-breaking swimmer Florence Chadwick who lost sight of land during her attempt from Catalina Island to California.  She gave up and was pulled into the boat only to realize when the fog cleared that she was less than a mile from shore.  DON'T give up!

Also, the author calls for a renewed sense of "tolerance" when it comes to dealing with outsiders.  However, he is careful to use the word in the correct way, rather than the typical modern way.  He wisely balances accepting sinners vs. condoning their sin.  "We are supposed to eat with the non-Christian sinners, not the un-repentant Christian ones." (1 Corinthians 5:9-11)

Finally, it was a minor point, but Chambers said something like, "It's not about winning the argument, but winning the person."  The goal is to love people, not get in arguments.  It's a good point, and I wish he would have expanded on it more, rather than including some other things (more on that later).
Therefore, I think we should take both the medium and the message from Jesus.  Meaning, we should preach:  Deliverance for the captives, love not condemnation, the power to overcome, and that "you matter to Jesus". 
[Aside, how ironic is that?  Christians are renown for two things: holding up John 3:16 signs, and pointing fingers to make people feel worthless.  Really?  Is that how that verse says God feels about the world?]
Here are some practical ideas to increase our interaction with sinners:
(some from the book, some mine)
  • Support global missions.  It doesn't have to start off big.  Just learn about a people group.
  • Shop local!  Become a regular! Eat at the local diner (bar stool is better), get your hair cut at local barber shop, etc
  • Join a gym
  • Coach a little-league sport or join an adult league
  • Volunteer or perform at a rest home
  • Attend town council or even run for office
  • Become Christian artist (films, music, etc)
  • Try out for a community theater play
  • Do airport pickup and other services for an international students ministry
  • Start a bar ministry (NOT if you have alcohol temptation, of course!)
  • Participate in, and/or start, community service projects
  • Volunteer at a homeless shelter
  • Attend or teach a class at a library or community center
  • Join or start a chess club or tabletop gaming club
  • Anything with the word "club" in it, really (Maybe not Fight Club.  That could be painful.)
  • Drive for Uber
  • Hospital ministry
  • Prison ministry
  • Church bus ministry
  • Get involved helping the handicapped / special needs
  • Inner city mission projects 
  • Have a neighbor over for dinner once a month
  • Attend/host neighborhood block parties


Cons:

Like any book there are always flaws.  Though this time they are very, very minor as opposed to the last couple of sponsored book reviews I've done. (Larger-Than-Life Lara, and You Can do This)

First, and this may be more of an editorial thing, but thing I found most annoying is that they did supporting third-party quotes AND book quotes in the same format boxes.  When I read a book I usually ignore the self-quotes because I find them redundant and annoying, but with the same format I didn't know whether it was going to be a repeat of what I just read, or something clever from John Wesley.

I will also say that about 3/4 of the way through it seemed like the author had already said everything that needed to be said, and was trying to stuff in more material.  Topics like "Joy" and "Humility", while great chapters, seemed only tangentially related to the subject of the book.  It almost felt like the publisher said, "We need more page count." so the author dived into his file cabinet of "greatest hits" sermons.  I'm not overly upset about this, since it wasn't fluff by any means (which is what usually happens).

Without it, we wouldn't have gotten zingers like:
"But I thought that if I gave my life to Jesus I was going to be healthy, wealthy, and wise.  I thought following Jesus meant first class seats, luxury cars, a gold watch, a spacious home in a gated community, perfect teeth, a silk suit, my 'best life now,' and the most important seats at the banquet.

"I hate to break it to you, but that's not the picture Jesus painted.  The picture Jesus painted looks an awful lot like a cross."
 BAM!

Summary:

Buy it.  Read it.  Live it!

There are very few times when I look at a book and cry, "Nailed it!"

There are even fewer books that, if lived out, would have the power to revolutionize society for the better.  This is one of those books!  (Though to be fair, this transformative power does not from Chambers' writing skill or original ideas, but from following the example of Christ.  AS IT SHOULD!)

Live your adventure!
-E.L. Fletcher


Monday, July 31, 2017

Chapter 27 - Zombie Wars


The the following is the next exciting next chapter of the ongoing eBook:
Juggernaught: A Moast Unusual Bible Study

Misty, Jack, and Wendell, ran full tilt down the corridor, each giving the gung-ho shout of a crazy person.

"I thought... you said... this would... work."  panted Wendell between breaths.

Jack, who was the only one still holding his pilfered automatic rifle, called over to him.  "Well, they're doing what we expected.  I call that 'working'."

Another of the hoarde got close enough to squeeze off a volley of lead, causing all three to duck as they ran.

"Yeah.  Working."  said Wendell with, perhaps, a dump truck load of irony.

"There!  Up ahead!"  cried Jack.  "Misty?  You got any more of those grenades?"

"No.  I traded them in for a Volkswagen." came the sarcastic reply.

She pulled the pin of one with her teeth and lobbed it at the pair of locked double doors directly in their path. 

As the three hurled themselves aside and awaited the boom, Jack felt the need to defend himself.  "Honestly, you guys.  This is a good plan!"

The concussion was ear-splitting but both cleared the path ahead and swept away any nearby pursuers.

They ran through the tendrils of smoke and past small fires licking at the remains of the door frame.  They burst into the grand hall, the stout metal doors which formerly barred against after-hours access, now lie one to each side, mangled as if hit by a semi.

"I will admit though, these things kind of grow on ya." observed Misty, pulling the pin on another and tossing it back over her shoulder. 

The blast bought them a few more seconds.  As they made a bee-line for the stage, and in particular, the curtain partitioning off the inner sanctum of En.

"Hey, don't waste those!" scolded Jack.  "We didn't kick over that hornets nest to steal em for playing around with, you know.  We'll want as many as we can get when we get to Maximum Security."

"If we get to Maximum Security."

The three scrambled up on stage just as a new wave of brainwashed troops burst into the room.  Some of them squeezed off a round or two, but all stopped once they realized that their god En was in the line of fire.  Instead, they charged the stage.

The three friends dashed between the open curtains to the very base of the stone icon.

Jack and Wendell, made themselves busy searching the stage.  Wendell spied a control box and headed toward it.

Misty had promised herself she wouldn't look.  She really didn't want to look.  But as she saw the stains on the wooden stage, realizing they might be from Howell, she looked up.

The only light in the room was moonlight streaming in from the ample windows.  The look on the face of En was all but alive in the otherworldly glow.  She could have sworn a malevolent grin spread across the deity's face!

Misty, who prided herself on her toughness, let out a blood-curdling scream to end all blood-curdling screams.

Jack and Wendell's hearts jumped about three inches out of their chest.

The men following came to a screeching halt as the black curtains closed on their own volition.

The screaming of the girl abruptly stopped.

A cascade of red flowed out from under the curtains.

When they parted again, the three kids were gone.

Devoured by En!



The preceding has been a chapter from Juggernaught: A Moast Unusual Bible Study
(Copyright 2016, Edmund Lloyd Fletcher.)

For more on this story, please visit its main page.

Also, don't forget to subscribe to the email list so you never miss a thing!

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Chapter 26 - Back Into the Frying Pan


The the following is the next exciting next chapter of the ongoing eBook:
Juggernaught: A Moast Unusual Bible Study

Three days later, Wendell found himself in a chillingly familiar spot.  Like a horrifying case of déjà vu, he was once again standing in with a group of other men, waiting for the stupefying doughnut to be passed.

He hadn't been re-captured, but secretly slipped in with the enemy ranks filing into the grand hall - as the three teens dubbed the place.  Of the group, Wendell was the one most likely to foolishly fling himself into the jaws of certain death in order to take the enemy off guard.  Yet this plan made even him a little edgy.

To get oneself kidnapped and dragged into a hoard of mentally twisted bloodthirsty killers was a forgivable accident in his mind.  Hey, it happens to the best of us.  Yet to willingly return there...?  That was crazy to a whole new order of magnitude.

He'd protested the insane plan, of course, but in the end there were only two options:
First, to somehow evade the zomboid troops prowling the countryside for them, and then hope that the authorities weren't in the pay of Seebeck and would actually believe them.  Second, to take down the well-dressed evil overlord themselves.

That seemed to be the more reasonable.  There was only one Seebeck, after all.  Then confusion would rule the leaderless zombie horde, allowing the three to escape unscathed in the chaos.  ... Probably.

It wasn't the "probably" of that plan bothered Wendell so much.  It was the psychotropic pastry that the server now held out before him.

Wendell's hand shook as he reached out for it.

For the first time in his recollection, there was something the food-obsessed teen didn't want to eat.

If you get me out of this, Lord, I'm never eating another doughnut again. Wendell mentally lied.

The master stopped and banged his staff on the stage floor just as he'd done the previous time and raised his hands high.

Everyone raised their doughnut.

Wendell raised his doughnut.

The MC dropped his hands.

Everyone ate his doughnut.

Wendell ate his doughnut...!

People started to groan.  Some doubled over and clutched their stomach.

Wendell did both.

It gave good cover as the laced doughnut slide down his sleeve, just like the community theater magician he'd learned the trick from. 

(The one he'd eaten was completely clean - a decoy stolen from the relatively low-security kitchen fresh out of the fryer.)

As the server turned away, Wendell's hand returned to his side, letting the drugged doughnut roll back into his hand.  It went smoothly into his front pants pocket and was smashed flat so as not to create a bulge.

Even though he knew where it had come from, Wendell's subconscious nagged him with frightening questions.  Am I really sure they were doping them after cooking?  Am I becoming one of them?  How would I know?  Does my stomach really hurt?  Wait!  What's that?  A tingle in my foot!  Oh no!  It's starting!  (I think.)  (Maybe.)

His paranoia was interrupted by the call to march.  He staggered along with them, doing his best to look glassy-eyed and mind-controlled.  (All the while hoping that he was only pretending.)

Ultimately, he was split off from the herd along with several other new recruits, this time not en route for the prison, but instead following a tall senior officer with a mustache.

They were marched to a secure depot and fitted out with uniforms, kit, and best of all... weapons!

The mustache checked his clipboard.  "Congratulations.  You are now called unit 302.  You will report to Sargent Smith in sector A-19 and obey all orders with out hesitation."

"Yes, SIR!" shouted the crowd.

Wendell was a little late on the uptake and said "sir" a full beat later than the rest.

The irony of the words "without hesitation" made the mistake seem especially bad.  I hope he doesn't make me do push-ups for that.

Then he remembered that this bunch had harsher punishments than push-ups. He shuddered.

The new troop fell out behind the 'Stashe, presumably en route to sector A-19.  Wendell made sure he was at the back of the line, for he had another destination in mind.

Misty's arms must be getting tired by now.



The preceding has been a chapter from Juggernaught: A Moast Unusual Bible Study
(Copyright 2016, Edmund Lloyd Fletcher.)

For more on this story, please visit its main page.

Also, don't forget to subscribe to the email list so you never miss a thing!