Fifty/Fifty

The Flash Bible.

Fifty stories in fifty words with a nod to the good book.

Next up: Fifty/Fifty: 2.zero…

– – –

Fifty: Beginnings

The sun creeps across the horizon.

Burning bright, hot for the day.

He wakes, sits up.

Blinks, shields his eyes.

Grateful.

Sunrise, a new day, a new start.

Night holds fears and darkness.

But with the new day comes relief.

He recalls his dream.

One day another sun will rise.

Malachi 4. 2

– – –

Forty nine: Awesome

The image fades.

The big screen image flickers and dies.

He sighs, sits up, the sky is empty now.

The closing credits have run.

He’s drenched in sweat and his brain feels like it’ll explode.

But there’s exhilaration too.

A rush hour of thoughts crowds his mind.

Soon. Coming soon.

Revelation 22. 1-6

– – –

Forty eight: Silence

Better than yakking all the time.
It was a trick he learnt a long time ago.
A lost art.
Let them wait.
People demand answers.
He’s in no rush.
So he sits and writes.
‘Blessed are the persecuted.
Those who lie in the dirt while others point and snarl.’
Silence.

John 8. 1-11

– – –

Forty seven: Grub

He did most of his work over food.
It was the best way.
Working lunches.
Breakfasts, teas and suppers.
On the beach, at the biggest picnic in the world.
A fistful of dinner parties.
And when it was all over, he left a message scribbled in the dirt.
Knock knock.

Revelation 3. 20

– – –

Forty six: Walking

Used to think he’d improve with age.
Not end up limping like this.
Faster, stronger, richer.
Then he met an angel.
Wrestled and punched and kicked up dirt round a camp fire.
Nearly died.
And now he limps.
Can’t run anymore, can’t duck and dive.
Walking slowly now.
With God.

Genesis 32. 22-32

 – – –

Forty five: Airbrushed

She never sees herself anymore.
Mirrors used to be about dressing up, looking funny in mum’s shoes.
Pulling funny faces.
Pretending to sing into a hairbrush.
Weird versions of herself at fairgrounds.
Now she can’t see clearly.
Can’t see the carefully-crafted and lovingly-designed woman.
Too many other airbrushed reflections around.

Psalm 139.13-17

– – –

Forty four: Dancing

He’s mad.
She’s thought him a pig for a long time, but now she sees him clearly.
An idiot.
Running through the streets chased by young girls.
That looks godly doesn’t it?
Fool.
He broke her heart once, she won’t let him do it again.
All men are like this.

2 Samuel 6. 16-23

– – –

Forty three: Trouble

It looks bad. She’s breaking up.
The guards are shouting, there’s a plan to kill everybody.
The sea seems part of it, beating the ship like Neptune’s fists.
The vessel lurches and there is a scream.
Man overboard.
They’ll all go that way soon.
Or a sword in the guts.

Acts 28. 27-44

– – –

Forty two: Companions

He wakes and reminds himself.
‘I am not alone.
I have companions.
Peace, imagination, motivation, strength.’
And he remembers, he will need them today.
‘Today will be dark and difficult.’
He will have to take tough steps.
But he won’t walk alone.
And ultimately he is walking towards home.
God.

Psalm 23

– – –

Forty one: Sacrifice

The problem with living sacrifices is this.
They keep climbing off the altar.
That’s the dilemma.
So take your day, your sleeping,
Waking, walking, running, laughing,
Arguing, frustrating, fearing, talking,
Gossiping, dreaming, hoping, playing,
Making, resting, dancing and struggling,
And offer them again as worship.
This will make God smile.

Romans 12.1

– – –

Forty: Dawn

One day the new dawn will rise.
The sun will spew light across the horizon and never set again.
Hospitals and prisons will close.
Judges’ wigs will pile the court, a fleecy white mountain.
The Samaritans will be off the hook.
Funeral parlours lie derelict, tumbleweed kicking at dilapidated doors.

Revelation 21. 1-4

– – –

Thirty nine: Stairway

Like a scene from Apocalypse now.
Like a page from Lord of the Rings.
A haunting vision, a stirring apparition.
Played out on the big screen.
The surround-sound God.
The rock’n’roll king writes his ballad about the one who kept him going when all was lost.
His stairway to heaven.

2 Samuel 22. 5-18

– – –

Thirty eight: Smile

He said he’d kill me.
That was his last promise.
No slack left to cut.
Too many bridges burned between us.
But I can’t stay away anymore.
I have wrestled and prayed and now I walk.
Back.
Smile or snarl, living or dying.
I have to see him once more.

Genesis 33.1-10

– – –

Thirty seven: Contradiction

Life didn’t turn out the way I planned.
Somewhere along the way it ambushed me.
The rug got pulled, the strimmer hit the dung.
I got the fallout.
It wasn’t supposed to be like this.
It feels like God/life/people let me down.
Again.
And I have to live with contradiction.

Lamentations 3/Psalm 40

– – –

Thirty six: Careful

He’s about to say something he’ll regret.
Make a promise that should be broken.
But once it’s out – it’s out.
Everyone will know.
Careful with that tongue mate, it’s like a dry forest catching fire.
Raging with mad words that will cost you too much.
Too late.
He’s said it.

Judges 11.29-40

– – –

Thirty five: Flashback

He raises the knife.
It glints in the sunlight.
Two eyes stare up at him, wide, terrified.
And he remembers.
Those old days and the barbaric ways.
Fathers killing children to please the gods.
Twisted understanding, fearful men, desperate to appease.
Surely there are other ways to make a sacrifice.

Genesis 22. 1-14

– – –

Thirty four: Light

She doesn’t weigh much now.
Neither of them weigh that much.
The twelve year old ravaged by sickness.
And the thirty year old ravaged for twelve years.
She got sick the day the girl was born.
The girl’s father nurses that shell of a body in his arms.
Unbearable pain

Luke 8.40-56.

– – –

Thirty three: Dark

He can’t see a thing.
What’s happened?
Was it the sun? Was it dust or a rock kicked up by the flailing hooves of the horses?
What’s that noise?
He’s going to die here.
His body hacked by a sword he cannot see.
Maybe it’s an ambush.
Some killer Christians.

Acts 9.1-9

– – –

Thirty two: Period

It’s that time of the month.
So, sorry, no, she can’t move right now.
You’ll just have to search round her.
She’d love to help but you know how it is.
Awkward.
Just one of those things.
It has nothing to do with that stuff shoved under her pants.
Period.

Genesis 31. 33-35

– – –

Thirty one: Drunkards

He watches and wonders.
Nine thousand seven hundred men with their heads in the stream.
Like dogs.
Can’t see what’s going on.
Could get an arrow right in the back of the neck.
But every so often the odd clutch of wily guys.
Scooping water, keeping their eyes peeled.
Three hundred.

Judges 8. 4-8

– – –

Thirty: Invention

It’s good to get out for a stroll.
Leave the work for a while.
They chat. Banter, tell jokes.
He has no idea.
No inkling that death is lurking, waiting around the next tree in the shape of a conveniently placed rock.
Jagged.
Cain is about to invent something new.

Genesis 4.1-9

– – –

Twenty nine: Panacea

She’s gorgeous.
He watches her approach, she has an enigmatic smile.
But once inside his tent there is very little enigma to it.
And they get very little sleep that night.
His heart was broken, but this is changing things.
Love in his life again.
Somebody cares about him.
He matters.

Genesis 24.61-67

– – –

Twenty eight: Broke

The two heavies leer at her before turning and strutting away.
So that’s it then.
She’ll lose her boys.
Sold into slavery.
Nothing else for it.
She raises her eyes to heaven, pleading for a response.
A different solution.
And she remembers.
That man.
The prophet.
Where’s he right now?

2 Kings 4.1-7

– – –

Twenty seven: Terrible

She feels like death warmed up.
They all feel like death warmed up.
No sleep.
No hope of any sleep.
No hope of much at all.
It’s the worst day of her life.
The day is dark and so is her soul.
Crash.
He’s the only one feeling very alive.

John 20. 11-18

 – – –

Twenty six: Boundaries

He’s goodlooking, she’s beautiful.
They get on so well.
Could have been made for each other.
Every day the attraction grows.
She thinks about him all the time now.
Him and his body.
Wonders what life would be like with him as her husband.
Shame about that.
She’s already married.

Genesis 39.3-20

– – –

Twenty five: Tough

She dusts herself off.
Walks away, amazed.
Can’t believe she is still alive.
The death sentence passed but not executed.
So she lives to love another day.
One problem now.
A tough problem.
To kill the thing that almost killed her.
To look him in the face and say, ‘No.’

John 8.1-11

– – –

Twenty four: Nutter

He doesn’t look much at all.
Certainly not the local holy man.
More like the nutter in the slippers feeding the pigeons.
People come and watch for a good laugh.
Free entertainment.
But he’s not stupid.
He knows what’s going on.
He’s just a mirror, a reflection of their madness.

Ezekiel 33. 30-33

– – –

Twenty three: Entertainment

He doesn’t look much at all.
Certainly not the local holy man.
More like the next criminal, nailed up like a piece of meat.
People come and watch for a laugh.
Free entertainment.
But he knows.
This entertainment will turn back time.
Put a crack in the wall of death.

Isaiah 53. 2-5

– – –

Twenty two: Smell

He watches the parade. It smells.
The heroes appear, brave, powerful.
And the flowers fall on them.
The smell of victory is sweet.
The city is impressed.
The prisoners limp before his window.
The air changes.
Broken men, dying with every step.
And the crowd hurl dung. Bad dung. Foul.

1 Corinthians 4. 8-13

 – – –

Twenty one: Refugees

Two women sit homeless by the road.
A pessimist and an optimist.
They have lost everything, fear for their lives now.
They are arguing.
The older one, bitter, angry, her face a twisted grimace, is telling the younger woman where to go.
The younger refuses.
Life can change. Hope lurks.

Ruth 1. 1-22

– – –

Twenty: Scam

Nothing quite so deceptive as wealth.
You can buy so many things.
Property, land, status, friends.
A reputation. And a selfish streak.
Wealth has a way of disguising itself as want.
It’s a master of manipulation.
Just that little bit more and peace will come.
There’s one thing wealth can’t buy.

Luke 12. 13-20.

– – –

Nineteen: Wife

She was smart and beautiful.
But she married an idiot.
A rich man with more money than sense.
Which was fine till a goodlooking stranger came calling.
The stranger was hungry, but her husband was stupid.
She had to do something and quick.
Or it would cost them their lives.

1 Samuel 25.2-38

– – –

Eighteen: Incomprehensible

He wanders the streets.
Sees the city and the people scheming.
Their little kingdom.
Celebrating the work of their hands.
A pale imitation.
And he knows.
He will have to do it.
A simple, disruptive act.
But it will be enough.
And their grand speeches will sound like car alarms.

Genesis 11. 1-9

– – –

Seventeen: Understanding

He wanders the streets.
Sees the city and the people scheming.
It gets to him. Breaks his heart.
But he has a solution.
He will disappear then reappear then disappear again.
And when they think it’s all over, it will start for real.
And they will hear each other again.

Acts 2.1-8

– – –

Sixteen: Trick

He’s in a hurry. But he stops anyway.
There’s a man sick. No not sick.
Injured. Beaten.
He stops to help, though no on else does.
He reaches down. That’s not right.
The injured man sits up, punches him, Grabs his wallet.
A trap.
Now he lies bleeding.
Please. Help.

Luke 10.25-37

– – –

Fifteen: Practical

Tell the stories.
Act them out.
Write songs about them.
That way you’ll remember them, and your children will learn them.
Build things. Get tattoos. Graffiti the walls.
Make fashion accessories.
Do whatever it takes.
Be inventive.
Weave the stories of justice and freedom into your normal every day life.

Exodus 6. 4-9

– – –

Fourteen: Sniffing

Jerry sits and watches the donkeys.
They run wild around here.
And they sniff the breeze for the smell of a mate.
If they had fingers they’d be drumming them.
Just like some of the folks he knows.
Restless. Wandering.
Running after the next big thing.
The next new thing.

Jeremiah 2. 23-28

– – –

Thirteen: Window

It’s been a hard day, and this room is hot.
Too many people, too many oil lamps.
He’ll just take a break, shuts his eyes.
It’s dark, he feels queasy.
Sick.
Wind rushes past his head.
He jolts.
There’s a light up ahead, a figure in white.
Where is he?

Acts 20. 7-12

– – –

Twelve: Depressed

Oh God, why?

Why has this happened?

Why don’t you answer me?

Why don’t other people understand?

Are you asleep? Are you on holiday?

Where are you?

My heart is breaking and you are silent

Hear my cries so that I may hear the cries of someone in my life.

1 Samuel. 3-18

– – –

Eleven: Confused

Oh God, why?

Why has this happened?

I had life worked out.

The future was straightforward.

Now it’s anything but.

You know that this puts me in danger.

Breaks all the rules.

People won’t understand, they won’t see you in this.

My family, my friends, even the one I love.

Luke 1. 26-38

 – – –

Ten: Foolish

The father watches his son walk away and he knows.

He isn’t stupid. He saw it in the boy’s eyes.

He may have said yes, but he meant no.

He may have smiled, but inside he was frowning.

That means one thing.

Plan B.

Where’s that loser of a brother?

Matthew 21. 28-31

 – – –

Nine: Wisdom

The old man looks at his son-in-law and wonders.

How did it come to this?

How did he end up with all these people?

The son-in-law shifts uneasily in the sand.

He’s dreaded this meeting.

What will the old man make of him now?

‘Son,’ he says, ‘this’ll kill you.’

Exodus 18. 13-24

 – – –

Eight: Rejected

He’s scared. So scared.

He doesn’t want to die.

He had dreams. He had plans.

Does it all end here?

Thirsty and alone.

Why did they forsake him?

And why did they take his coat?

He loved that coat.

Wait.

What’s that noise?

Hooves? Voices? Strangers?

Will they kill him?

Genesis 37. 18-36

 – – –

Seven: Oblivious

He’s scared. So scared.

He doesn’t want to die.

He doesn’t want to end his days in so much pain he can barely see straight.

He had hopes. He had plans.

Does it all end here?

Wait.

What’s that noise?

Who’s this stranger next to him?

Why all that shouting?

Luke 23. 32-43

– – –

Six: Inappropriate

She has half a plan, if they don’t throw her out.

Getting in is easy. The door will be open.

People wander in and out all the time.

But she has no towel.

Hmm.

Only one solution and the guys won’t like it.

Time to really let her hair down.

Luke 7. 36-50

 – – –

Five: Fear

What happens if it never stops?

They’ll be stuck here forever.

Probably end up killing each other, and it’ll all have been for nothing.

All that work. The sweat and ridicule.

He can’t stand the thought of that.

It was too hard.

He’ll go mad.

Wait.

It’s quiet.

Too quiet.

Genesis 7. 11-24

– – –

Four: Rustling

Where are they? He left them here somewhere.

He knows he did. Both of them.

He searches, no sign.

He listens. A rustling, something in the trees there.

He calls.

More rustling. Something’s alive out there.

Something’s breathing.

He braces himself, moves closer. Clenches his fist.

He calls again.

‘Eve?’

Genesis 3. 1-24

 – – –

Three: Noise

Women have always been his weakness. Can’t resist them.

See a woman, gotta have her.

But she’s cornered him.

‘If you don’t do it – you don’t love me.’

What to do?

Give in and be damned. Or refuse and lose her.

What’s that noise? Sounds like scissors being sharpened.

Judges 16. 4-22

– – –

Two: Downtime

He needs a break. Not just any break. A bathroom break.

He sneaks into the cave. It’s cold. Quiet.

Ah.

The relief. Smells bad, must be that goat. Or those dates.

He has no idea. No idea at all.

He’s thinking about his diet and he is about to die.

1 Samuel 24. 1-7

– – –

One: Cup

A man reaches for a cup of water.

He’s depressed, he’s thirsty, he’s disappointed.

It wasn’t supposed to be like this.

The best day of your life and this happens.

He smiles at her. He drinks.

Oh.

That’s not right.

What happened to the water?

It tastes like something else.

John 2. 1-12

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