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Show Us The Way - Chapter 4

by Noelle


"For I, the Lord your God, hold your right hand; it is I who say to you, 'Fear not, I am the one who helps you.'"

Annette

As they made their way through the halls, Annette tried to imagine Peter being bullied like she had been, on the ground, drenched with that disgusting liquid, being ridiculed by his classmates. The image was there, but she couldn’t get a clear picture. It just wasn’t something that she could see. But she believed him. They might have only known each other for half the day, but she knew that he wouldn’t lie to her.

She followed him down the hall and out the side door. They made their way across campus and walked towards town. It really shouldn’t have been that easy to leave campus, but the administration was so relaxed that they didn’t keep an eye on who was walking to their next class and who was leaving campus. Annette was thankful for that. She really didn’t want to have to explain to her mother why she had gotten in trouble on the first day.

Still, she was wondering why everything was so laid back at the school. Teachers didn’t patrol the halls (that was evident by the incident with the Jeek Juice), no one supervised them at lunch (no the lunch ladies didn’t count), and now she was able to sneak off campus in the middle of the day. None of this would’ve been possible at Saint Mary’s.

“They trust us,” Peter said suddenly as they walked along the main highway. “The teachers I mean. They figure that we’re smart enough to make it into the school so we should be smart enough to go to class and do our work.” It was as if he was able to read Annette’s mind. It was a bit discerning. How was he able to answer the question she’d never asked? Strange.

A sudden thought came to her mind, one she was surprised that she hadn’t asked yet.

“Why are you at that school?”

“I am a musical genius!” Peter responded, grinning at her. She looked at him skeptically and the smile faded. “What, you don’t believe me?”

“You just don’t look very—musicy.”

“And you don’t look like a history buff.”

“Touché.”

They walked in silence the rest of the way. Annette was enjoying being out on the town. She loved it there. Right next to her school was a corporate building full of offices. But on the ground floor there were restaurants and a bar that her father used to go to every Friday night. That was before he began his preaching and traveled around the world. She wondered if there was a new bar in each city that he went to. He never got drunk. He claimed that it was the atmosphere that he liked.

He told her once, “I can really focus on Christ when I’m there. I know it might sound weird, but with all that noise, it’s easier for me to hear God. His voice cannot be outdone by the voices of those He created. So I just have to listen real hard and I can find His voice in the crowd.”

Annette looked up to her father. He was exactly the person that she wanted to be when she grew up. Except for the fact that she didn’t want to be a preacher. It was a wonderful and fulfilling job, but it was a special path that one had to be born into. If there wasn’t an undeniable burning passion in your soul to spread God’s word from the day you were born, the path of a preacher was not yours to follow. Although there had been some documented situations where people had changed and seen the light; literally.

But Annette knew that it wasn’t going to happen to her. She loved God and believed that Jesus was her Savior, but her relationship with Him was on a personal level. She wasn’t ready to pour out her soul to complete strangers. Not yet at least. She could do it on a local level, what with her church youth group, but never on a national level. Not like her father.

Just passed the corporate building was yet another school. This was a small pre-K center. Annette smiled as she walked by. She thought the kids who went there were the cutest things she’d ever seen. They always looked so excited to be there.

If only she felt the same way about going to high school. It had only been one day, half a day, and she was already burned out on school. She never wanted to go back. She never wanted to face Jordan and the rest of the kids who only saw her as a jeek and not as herself.

But it was for that same reason that she needed to go back. She had to be brave and stand up for herself and for Christ. She needed to be that example, that beacon of light. She just wasn’t sure how to do it when everyone was being so cruel to her.

Peter eventually slowed and came to a stop outside of a Christian bookstore. Squinting, he read the sign on the door. His mouth tightened and he stormed into the store. Alarmed, Annette chased after him.

“What’s the meaning of the sign on the door?” he demanded from the poor old lady behind the counter. She didn’t even look up at him or even flinch. She just kept writing whatever she was writing on a tiny notepad on the counter.

Annette figured that she was a typical librarian. Her hair was short, gray, and curly. And her classes were huge and hung from around her neck. Annette couldn’t see much of her outfit, besides the loose blue top, but she figured that she had on a long skirt and comfy loafer shoes.

“The store will be closing tonight,” the lady answered. “We’re having a sale. All books are free and jewelry half off. Take whatever you want. I don’t want to be caught with this stuff once Staucher takes control.”

Peter was taken aback. “Staucher? But he’s all the way on the other side of the world!”

“Uh-uh, sweetie.” The old lady finally looked up and pointed behind them. “He’s on his way here now.” Peter spun and nearly hit into Annette. She stumbled backward and followed his gaze.

There on the wall was a tiny television, nothing like the big screen that she had hanging in her basement. This television looked to be one from back before she was even born. It was so small and the screen was so grainy that she couldn’t even see the image on the screen. But she could hear the broadcast.

“Live from Washington DC where the White House is under attack. I am being told that the Secret Service has custody of the President and he is being moved to a secure—” The reporter was interrupted by gun shots and an explosion. Annette’s eyes desperately raked the screen, trying to make out a picture. Something was happening and she needed to know what was happening. The picture just wasn’t good enough for her to see.

Peter seemed to understand what was going on though. He whipped out his cell phone and pressed it against his ear.

“Hey,” he shouted into the mouthpiece. “Come get us. Now.” Another round of gunshots sounded, but this time they were closer. Annette’s heart pounded. She was sure that the shots were coming from just down the street. “We don’t have time!” Peter grabbed her hand and pulled her from the shop. When they reached the sidewalk, she froze. The scene around her was just too much to take in.

“Come on!” Peter yanked at her arm, but she stayed put. He groaned and pulled harder. “If you want to live we have to get moving.” That woke up her senses. Her feet moved from their spot and she ran after Peter down the street. But every so often she looked over her shoulder to see the damage.

In the distance, fire filled the air. Smoke rose over the top of buildings and into the air. Everywhere, people ran for cover, frantically waving their arms and holding tight to each other. She watched them dive into buildings and into cars to drive away. She didn’t blame them. That’s all she wanted to do; run and hide.

And then she saw them. They stalked down the street, their footsteps even. Of course they were the ones causing the terror. They were much too calm to be regular people. Each one wore a dark green body suit and carried a small hand gun. One woman had a small bag clenched in her fist. She suddenly stopped, turned, and threw the bag into a building. The building immediately went up into flames and the old lady from the book store rushed out, hacking and coughing, into the street.

Annette was enraged. The air around her turned from cool to hot and she began to sweat. Her hands shook and she wanted desperately to rush the woman who had set fire to the bookshop and strangle her. How could they have destroyed the store? More importantly, why did they destroy the store?

“It’s all over the damn news,” Peter was yelling into the phone between gasps for air. “I know you’re at school but there’s gotta be something on your phone. No? Well get a new phone! Just get your butt down here and—what do you mean you can’t miss Algebra?! When I say it’s an emergency, that means it’s an emergency!”

They continued running until they couldn’t anymore. Peter finally slowed and collapsed onto the ground. Gasping for air, he tried to keep up his phone conversation. “I—just need you—to bring—the car. Need—we—safe house. Now.” He hung up the phone and laid face down on the pavement. But Annette couldn’t relax like that. Everything going on in the town was just too much for her. They were ruining her town! Whoever they were.

Almost the entire town was in flames. The smoke rose higher until it disappeared into the sky. Fires raged, spreading from one house to another. Few firefighters rushed to contain the fires, but there were much less than Annette knew the city could deploy. They were able to contain the fires, but the flames still spread.

Who could ever do this to a town? Especially one full of people. And then it hit her and she felt like a two ton weight was pressing down on her chest. All of the things Peter had told her at lunch made sense. The way her teachers acted, the way Jordan made fun of her and poured that concoction all over her; she understood.

History was repeating itself and she hadn’t realized it.

Christianity was once again under attack. Christians were dangerous, feared, put out of society. They would be shunned, persecuted. Her entire world was falling apart. How could this be happening? How’d it get to this point? What had her parents not told her?

A horn sounded and Annette pulled her gaze away from the destroyed city. She stared in surprise at the person driving the red Jeep at the curb. She was about to speak up when Peter pushed himself off the ground and climbed into the front seat.

“Hurry up!” He held out his hand to Annette who took it and climbed in next to him. The front seat was a bench seat, stretching from the passenger door to the driver side door. She sat next to the window while Peter sat in the middle and Jordan sat behind the wheel.

“Everybody hold on!” He slammed down the accelerator and took off down the street just as fire exploded where the Jeep had been parked. Once her heartbeat had settled, she leaned forward to glare at Jordan.

“What are you doing here?” He opened his mouth, but Peter spoke up.

“You still have that Jesus fish on the back of this?”

“Yeah,” Jordan responded. “Why?”

“You idiot! That’s why they tried to cook us before we drove off!” Peter playfully smacked him on the arm and laughed. Jordan glared and then turned his eyes back to the road.

“So you think this is funny, do you?”

“No, I’m just trying to lighten the mood a bit—”

“Somebody better tell me why,” Annette interrupted. “Jordan—the same boy who hasn’t ceased to make fun of me since this morning—is driving us somewhere.” Both boys were quiet. For a second, Annette was scared that she wouldn’t get her answer. But then Peter sighed and turned to face her.

“Jordan was never against us. He’s always been a Christian.” Annette looked at him, dumbfounded.

“What do you mean? He was acting it the whole time?”

“Sorry kiddo,” Jordan said. “It’s part of the act.”

“Don’t call me kiddo. And I can’t believe all you put me through! How dare you!” Annette slid low in her seat and looked out the window. Jordan started to say something, but Peter silenced him.

“Dude, let her be. This is a lot of information for her. She didn’t know any of this before.” Jordan looked at him. “Parents,” Peter explained. “They sheltered her. Just—keep driving. We’ll talk more when we get there.”

Oh I know exactly what’s going on. Annette thought. But she wasn’t about to let them know it. She wanted to hear the whole story, from the beginning, from Peter. There was still a lot she didn’t know. Like how the government couldn’t have fought off an invasion. They could win a war, but they couldn’t defend their own country? How ridiculous!

And what about Jordan? He was so mean to her and now she’s supposed to just accept the fact that he was really just acting the whole time? It didn’t really make her feel any better. He still had made fun of her and terrorized her. That was a real Christian way to act.

Speaking of acting like a Christian, she wasn’t acting much like one at the moment. Here she was, sulking about Jordan being so mean to her and hating him deep in her heart. That wasn’t supposed to be how it goes. She was supposed to forgive him, to trust him and be nice.

But she couldn’t; she just couldn’t. Jordan had been too mean to her. Of course she wasn’t just going to brush it off and go on with her life. He had to ask for forgiveness and only then would she forgive him. She knew that now was the time and place to forgive him, but there just wasn’t enough love in her heart to do that.

So she sulked for the rest of the ride. It was only when they reached her house that she perked up.


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Mon Jul 29, 2013 10:06 pm
Sins wrote a review...



You did not inform me that you had posted this next chapter! GASP.

But yay, I'm glad I found this! This is, like, a totally awesome chapter too because there's action and violence and YEAW. I think you've created this action at an ideal time too because if this was another chapter without anything major going on, I think it would have started becoming an issue. So great timing with this one, Noelle! I love the twist with Jordan too because I definitely didn't see that one coming, and it adds some great depth to his character. He's not just the completely evil jerk anymore, he's a lot more complex than that, and it's awesome.

Generally speaking, the technical side of your writing in this was great. I didn't notice any spelling mistakes, and your grammar seemed pretty much on point. That always gets a massive thumbs up from me because when a writer has their grammar and punctuation down, the prose reads far more smoothly. Saying that though, there is one tiny nit-pick I want to mention before I get into any proper critiques

“Jordan was never against us. He’s always been a Christian.” Annette looked at him, dumbfounded.


This is a grammar/formatting thing. Because of the way you have formatted this and set it out, it sort of seems like Annette's the one saying the dialogue when she obviously isn't. I think it's because the sentence after the dialogue is in the same paragraph/on the same line as the dialogue. If I were you, I'd maybe reword this a little bit so that it's clearer Annette's not the one speaking.

Now onto the juicy stuff! It's still bugging me how the school is so relaxed, I must admit. I see that you've tried explaining it in this chapter with Peter saying that it simply trusts its students, but I don't know... I don't know if that quite satisfies me enough. I know, I know, I'm a very fussy person. I just find it hard to believe that the staff would be that relaxed, especially when there is stuff like bullying going on in the hallways. Plus it's clear that the staff shouldn't trust the students so much because as Peter and Annette show, the school's students aren't always so rule abiding. I'm not saying the staff should be nazi's or anything, I just think they should at least be a bit more education professionalesque (which is totally a word).

The only other critique I have is regarding the action part of this chapter. Now like I said before, I really liked the action in this and it benefitted the chapter awesomely. It's just that it all happened very... suddenly. There's nothing wrong with suddenly, heck, suddenly can have some awesome impact. It's just that it was edging a bit too much on random for my liking. Like, there were no foreshadowing, or subtle hints, or anything like that. You don't have to have these things, I suppose, but I do think it would do the chapter some good. You've proposed that Annette has no idea about what's actually going on in the world in previous chapters, and that's good. That is hinting of sorts, so that's good.

What I'd like to see, I think, is hinting that's more direct to the action itself. Maybe you could have, like, Annette spot some dodgy looking characters lurking somewhere as she and Peter approach the bookstore. Even if she just has a feeling of unease as she walks around the streets so that it's more of an internal foreshadowing. I think that could work really well too if done well. Don't get me wrong, I do like how things suddenly explode with action, but you've got to be careful not to make it seem too random.

Also, about the bookstore woman: she seemed awfully relaxed considering the situation. I don't mean when things started blowing up and stuff because that clearly freaked her out, but when she was watching that stuff on the TV. She was really casual about everything when Peter asked her why the shop was closing down, despite knowing what was currently on TV (plus the store closing down means her losing her job, so why so casual?). Maybe I'm missing something here, or I'm just overthinking stuff, but it is something that stood out to me so I figured I better mention it.

Oh, and with this woman working in a Christian bookstore, I kind of assumed she was one herself. I'm not so sure now though because of the way she reacted so casually to the situation. But then if she isn't a Christian, I'm kind of confused. I mean, why would a non-Christian work in a Christian bookstore? Especially when they're being portrayed so awfully in the press, by the government, and what not. If she wasn't one herself, you'd think she'd stay away from working in a Christian bookstore! I'm probably missing something obvious here again, but hey ho. >.<

Critiques and me being ew aside, I have to say that I think this is probably my favourite chapter so far. I think your characters are developing really nicely now, and I'm starting to see them shape into some really interesting people. I'm definitely looking forward to where you take them. So yus, an awesome job overall, Noelle, well done. :P

Keep writing,

xoxo Skins




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Sun Jul 28, 2013 5:20 pm
niteowl wrote a review...



Hi there Noelle! Nite here to get this out of the Green Room for Team Inc(red)ibles this fine Review Day!

Now, first thing I just had to point out (though it's minor)

“They trust us,” Peter said suddenly as they walked along the main highway. “The teachers I mean. They figure that we’re smart enough to make it into the school so we should be smart enough to go to class and do our work.”


Okay, sorry, but that is just...too funny. Smart kids don't really have to work, therefore they're more likely to be troublemakers, not less. Teachers can't be dumb enough to believe what Peter said.

Overall, this is well written, but I'm finding the whole premise implausible. There's a literal War on Christianity (not America, just Christians), and the most vulnerable victim (the child of a well-known national preacher) has no clue? I have trouble believing any child would be that sheltered. Children who are victims of war tend to be at least somewhat aware of what's going on. Also, Jordan pretends not to be a Christian but has a Jesus fish on his truck? Seems inconsistent.

Also, I'm a bit confused about the demography of the America in this story. It's majority atheist, but the government is Christian? Also (sorry, this is a comment on your first chapter) it sounds like the dad is Protestant...doubt they'd put her in a Catholic school. Some Protestants do not consider Catholics true "disciples of Christ". Granted, perhaps in a war situation there might be more unity, but these divides are literally hundreds of years old. Just food for thought.

More minor comment: I do like the incorporation of the bible quotes, but you forgot to source your epigraph. Although it's fairly obviously Biblical, you still need to cite it so interested parties can look up the verse, context etc. This is typically done (Isaiah 41:13 ESV). Version used is optional but helpful.

Overall, I like the characters, but I find the scenario as currently presented rather implausible. Keep writing! :)




niteowl says...


Sorry, one more afterthought I had: I read your Author's Note, and how this is supposed to take place in 2020. I have trouble believing such a dramatic turnaround--of people but especially politicians could actually happen in seven years. Christianity is losing ground in America, but it would take much longer for it to become a minority.

Also, I like "jeek". It's a good, believable insult.



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Sun Jul 28, 2013 11:32 am
Dreamy wrote a review...



Hi,straight to the point,though I haven't read your previous chapter, I could say what was happening. There wasn't any mistakes of suck kind, just a few comas. That's all. It has got nice vibe. The reason why I read this, is the way you have narrated the story, though the story wasn't really catchy. The emotions of Anette for her father was well said, and I found it amusing.

"That was the real christian way to act ?" You forgot the question mark.That was all I could find :P. You are very good narrator. All you got to do is, put more of imagination in the story and I''ll guaranty you that your work will be a success. Good luck. Keep writing! Cheers!:)





It usually takes more than three weeks to prepare a good impromptu speech.
— Mark Twain