PREVIOUS CHAPTER: The Devouring
“Please Sir Fox.” Sam cried.
“Please help me.” She was so afraid, so vulnerable.
Sometimes fear in itself is overwhelming enough, and with pain, physical or other types, fear becomes unbearable. But there is a greater feeling that can break even the strongest person’s heart: betrayal. The fox she had loved and worshipped was delivering this most painful blow with a smile.
“Please.” she pleaded again. “Please.”
“Shut up.” the fox said coldly.
The crowd laughed, Lord Ichabod’s chilling roar laughed loudest.
“How very cold of you Sir Fox. How very very cold.” he said with glee.
“Mr. Fox.” Sam tried once more. “You told me that you love me. You said that we would come here, to this feast, and that they would love me, they would love my honey.”
Sam was desperate. Gone was the hope. Even the desire to be desired was replaced with a simpler desire to survive. Desire unchecked, unreflected, and undisciplined always bring us to the edge of survival. When great hopes fall, living itself becomes a heavy necessity to fight for. We take what we can get in order to survive at the price of whatever dignity remains.
“My dear.” The fox said with mock affection. “There is no more honey is there?”
“No…” Sam admitted, looking down in defeat.
“Then what is there to love about you?
His words pierced her heart.
“You promised me!!!” this time Sam said with all the anger and pain in her.
“You promised me you would take care of me!”
“Oh please.” said the fox condescendingly. “You act as if you have never broken a promise.”
“What promise have I broken?” Sam asked bitterly. The crowd continued to enjoy the drama unfolding. Crowds find their entertainment in even the saddest circumstances yet they do nothing to end the sadness itself.
The fox looked straight at her and calmly said, “David.”
His name was like a punch to her stomach achieving the fox’s desired effect.
“I remember not too long ago, you were on a journey with someone. David was his name. Do you remember him? Or have you forgotten already? Do you remember you promised to never leave him? Yet you left him didn’t you? You left him to be here. You left him because it got difficult. And you chose me.”
Sam started to weep heavily. It was true. She had promised, and she had chosen to leave.
The fox continued his torture, “I remember him begging you to stay. He begged you like you’re begging me now. It’s very different to be the one begging isn’t it?”
Sam looked at the Fox with so much anger. she wished she was strong enough to rip him to pieces, and in fact, she was, but she had never liked confrontation, and so didn’t know how to fight.
“Enough talk Mr. Fox.” Let us have some fun with this undignified has-been.” Lord Ichabod commanded.
The fox strode to where Sam lay crying, sweating in a pool of her own blood, and with intense fierceness bit Sam’s leg.
Sam cried out in pain and tried to shake the fox off. She backed away from him only to feel Lord Ichabod’s claws on her shoulders and bury into her, creating streams of blood down her arms.
Sam screamed and cried. She had no words, just wails.
The fox bit into her again and again, and again, and the crowd cheered, little critters started crawling on top of her. Sam was shivering and trying to find someway to avoid more pain, but Lord Ichabod’s claws held her down. The fox went on with his biting, and the critters, hundreds of blacks scorpions, in military synchrony, stung her repeatedly like thousands of nails being hammered into her body.
The pain Sam was experiencing overrode her mind. Wave after wave of increasing pain, the punishment of those who fail to honor the offerings of the feast.
With the little strength she had left, Sam opened her eyes. In front of her, behind the celebrating crowd, she saw the young pregnant girl who she dismissed.
She looked into her eyes, and again she recognized her though not knowing from where.
The girl was looking at Sam and smiled a kind smile at her.
Sam smiled back.
Despite her agony and the pain of her situation, this single simple smile from someone she neglected lit a glimmer in Sam’s heart.
So she fixed her gaze on that smile.
Somehow she found strength in the young girl’s beam, and in her heart, at its most deepest, she felt that sharp pain of regret, that true regret when one realizes how mistaken he or she was to have traded true beauty for a fraud. This kind of regret is more painful than the pain of consequence. The consequence itself becomes trivial to the beauty that was lost. Yet this is the right kind of regret, the right result of pain that has made us rethink our heart’s orientation and return to true affections. this kind of pain is good for the soul.
“I’m sorry.” she told told the girl, though knowing she could not be heard.
“I’m sorry.” she said it again. This time hoping it would travel past the noise to her.
“Our dear Sam has something to say.” mocked Lord Ichabod, his claws still buried into Sam.
“I’m sorry. I’m sorry David.” Sam continued to say with full conviction even as she felt herself weaken.
“I’m sorry Abe.” she said, now almost a whisper.
“Speak louder!” the crowd mocked. “Louder! Louder! Louder!”
Sam could feel her body giving way, yet she continued her repentance, “I am so so sorry.”
And in an instant a light tore through the feast, the brightest light anyone there had seen. Even the great demon lord bowed, the fox hid behind his master, and the scorpions scattered, all blinded by this most brilliant light.
Kneeling beside Sam was Abe, gently cradling her head.
He looked at Lord Ichabod, raised his hand to him and said, “You cannot have her.”
Lord Ichabod tried to protest, “She chose the feast. She is mine.”
Abe looked at him with burning eyes. “Do not provoke me to hasten that which is your impending end.”
Lord Ichabod bowed in fear.
“My dear Sam.” Abe said. “Shall we leave this place?”
“I desire so much to but I can no longer walk. I have no strength left in me.”
Lord Ichabod smiled upon hearing this.
Abe smiled gently at her, “Just say you want to leave. I’ll take you away, far away from here, where you can rest.”
Sam weakly clenched two of Abe’s fingers. “Sir, please take me away from here. I really want to rest.”
The smile drained from Lord Ichabod’s face. Sam had chosen to leave.
That is the single power of a choice, potent to alter our course and potent to set us free. As the light instantly drives the shadows into hiding, so does choosing the light overcome darkness with ease. Every salvation begins with a flicker in a humbled heart, a flicker of beauty leading to repentance. Though we hurt or stay weary, we are crippled no longer by the claws of the darkness.
With her simple most humble request, Sam chose the light – and darkness was overcome.
Effortlessly, Abe carried Sam’s torn body and walked past the crowd which parted for them. Lord Ichabod remained bowed, afraid to face the light bringer.
Abe stopped in front of the fox, “Decide wisely fox. Your time is near.”
With Sam safely in his arms, He walked away.
Shadows began to fill the hall as Abe’s light traveled away from the feast.
It wasn’t long until the music restarted, the humbled chose pride once more, the shot glasses tinkled along with goblets, as euphoria would return to the foolish feast.
NEXT CHAPTER: Everything is Illuminated