“It was a dark and stormy night….” Didn’t Snoopy in the Peanuts cartoon strip always start the Great American Novel this way?
It was a moonless midnight as I typed, “The man stumbled down the hill toward the empty house as if he were in a stupor….”
The glass in the living room window trembled with the force of a body hitting it. Then I heard a low growl gain in volume until it almost sounded like a scream. It was just Flash Gordon snarling at another cat just outside the window.
I checked to see that all the doors were bolted. I shuddered, and then remembered, when Jesus scolded his disciples during a storm, “You of little faith, why are you so afraid?” as he calmed down the winds and the waves on the Sea of Galilee. (Matthew 8:26 NIV) Because Jesus could do that without breaking out in a sweat, I could stop being so afraid.
Still, I scared myself writing a ghost story. Not only was fiction new for me, but also hair-raising stories. Tired of finding few contests to enter my humorous writing, I had looked up the elements of fiction and was giving it my best. Alas, dark and stormy nights, I discovered, are not the best time to write ghost stories.
I returned to the computer to continue, “Blood pooled on his shoes as the figure pounded on the doorway of the empty house. A permanent print….”
Something touched my arm, firmly pushing my hands from the keyboard! I pulled away, gasping! “Fear and trembling have beset me; horror has overwhelmed me,” (Psalm 55:5 NIV) psalmist David wrote.
My sentiments exactly! It was only a cat, Sapphire Maxine, sprawling on the keyboard, leaving a paragraph of dashes and caps in her wake.
I put her down and continued, “As the truck’s headlights illuminated the scene, Mack shivered—the lights passed through him as if the injured man were made of dust!”
Poltergeist! Something rushed around the living room, spewing bouncing objects from one wall to another in three rooms! Tennis balls and stuffed toys moved like pin balls.
This time, I caught both furry streaks in the act. Did anyone ever tell you that cats are nocturnal?
In the midst of all my heart-thumping terror, I remembered my favorite, “When I am afraid, I will trust in you.” (Psalm 56:3 NIV).
So much for being self-contained, self-reliant, and unafraid. I need God.
He is there for all of our times of alarm and true terror. We can lean on him and trust in his light. Nevertheless, I’ll work on the ghost stories after the sun comes up when the cats are napping.
[Jo Russell is a Christian teacher, speaker, author of many articles, contributor to several anthologies, and Which Button Do You Push to Get God to Come Out? A Humorous Devotional for Women, Intermedia Publishing, 2011. For more chuckles, keep checking her weekly blog on Button-to-God.com.]