This story is by Alex Valdes and was part of our 2020 Summer Writing Contest. You can find all the writing contest stories here.
It was looking at me with its glowing, beady eyes staring me down. It was trying to destroy my will to resist.
“You can’t win,” it said. “You are all alone. No one else knows where you are and what you are going through.”
As I was bound to a chair in a dark, empty room, my mind began to let the influence of its words take hold “I am alone. No one knows what I am going through,” the thoughts said, “no one cares about my problems.”
This thing, not a human, but a being nonetheless, continued to taunt me.
“You know you want to,” it said.
“You know you want to partake.”
Confused by its statement, I tried to look in the direction of its voice. As I squinted, the light in the room slowly faded on, and my eyes saw a table before me with the most delicious food I had ever seen. The bonds holding my upper extremities down released my wrists. The creature stood in the corner of the room where the shadows had retreated.
He spoke again, “here set before you are all the pleasures you could ever long for. All you have to do is reach out and partake,” his raspy voice muttered.
Then it left the room, disappearing into the outer darkness.
As my eyes gazed over the feast, I noticed the various kinds of delicious pleasures laid before me. There was a platter of sweet bread, sweetened by the honey of sexual immorality. The tarts on the table were known to cause impurity of heart, to sway its partakers towards sensual behavior. There was another platter of meat, juicy, hickory-smoked meat of the most excellent cut, a staple of those who would betray the Almighty One.
Also on the table before me was a bowl of rich, dark chocolate bits. It was the bittersweet morsels of discord and divisiveness. There was the fruit of envy there as well, looking ripe and ready for anyone who wanted it. There were also bottles and kegs of the most exceptional wine in the world, a vintage known to cause drunkenness that was virtually incurable.
A mystery dish was also present, rumored to be the most delicious dish created by man’s engineering. Yet it too had an adverse side effect as it is considered a powerful, mind-altering substance that would drive its partakers to engage in orgy-like activities. It temporarily relinquishes all forms of self-control.
There were many other delicious foods presented on the table. So many that it would take many pages to describe them. But they all had one thing in common: they all fed the monster within.
There is a monster within me that wants what I ought not to have. The cravings are severe, yet to fulfill them will only bring about more pain.
“I cannot feed this monster,” I thought to myself. “I am free from its control now, but it will gain power the more it eats.”
As I sat there, trying to distract myself from the temptations before me, I remembered the day that I first broke free from the control of this monster. A friend of mine, as we were talking, told me about a cure that could take care of this monster. We were drinking coffee on my porch on a chilly afternoon in the fall. The leaves had just begun to change their color.
“You know there is a cure to this ailment you have, right?” said my friend.
“So many people have told me about cures, but they all seem to be either fake or not potent enough, at least, from what I can tell in the studies they have produced,” said I.
“Well, this cure is no fake, and many people have found it to work perfectly,” he said.
“Okay, I’ll bite. Where can I get this cure?” I asked. “The store? The pharmacy? A traveling salesman? Do I need a prescription? I asked sarcastically.
“I can do you one better. I can introduce you to the creator of the cure Himself, and He can administer it to you,” my friend said, unfazed by my sarcastic attitude.
“Well, I don’t know,” I said, hesitantly. “I mean, I think I have this thing under control, and I don’t have the finances to pursue a course of treatment right now.”
“Don’t worry, He will take care of you, and you don’t need to concern yourself with the money. Just come and meet Him before you make up your mind.”
And so I did. My friend set up the appointment, and I met this creator of the cure, whom we know to be the Almighty One. He not only was the creator of the cure, but He was also knowledgeable about my plight and told me that while I had been born with this monster incubating within me, there was a way I could be free from it. All it took was for me to believe in the cure.
I believed, and my life has never been the same.
Suddenly, the bliss fell away, and my gaze was lurking over the table. I saw all the former pleasures of which I used to partake. The monster within me began to stir. It was hungry for its favorite delights.
My mind began to race with thoughts, “why not just take a nibble of the meat?” I thought, “what is wrong with just a nibble?”
As I contemplated partaking of one delicacy, my desires started to return for all of the food set before me. I knew that my will could not last forever in this state and that sooner or later, I would need to take a bite of something. Then that would cause the strength to return to the monster, making it more difficult to return it to its slumber.
The cure would keep me alive for sure. But the sickness that would ensue now that the cure was coursing through my veins would be torturous. Those who have the cure cannot eat of the food that feeds the monster, per a safety feature built into the cure.
I tried to resist the temptation by putting my mind on other things. But the only thing I could see in that room was the table, and all the attractions laid before me. It had been in that room for a long time now.
Not knowing how long just made it harder to resist. I had been repeatedly harassed in this way by this particular being. I had cried out for help, but it seemed like no one was around to hear. Eventually, I stopped calling for help because the creature had successfully convinced me that no one could hear me or knew where I was.
Feeling defeated, I lifted my hand to take a morsel of the sweet bread. As I reached out, I heard from another dark corner, a voice that I had not heard before.
“Don’t do it,” it said softly.
At this point, I thought I was delirious. I thought I was hearing things.
Yet I felt compelled to respond, “I just cannot stand it any longer,” I said, in an exhausted, airy tone.
Then it replied, “yes, you can. You possess the cure which will sustain you and keep you. It was designed to do so.”
I snapped back, “how do you know? Have you ever been faced with this dilemma? Have you ever had this monster within you trying to take control of your life? What do you know about my problems? Are you even real?”
The voice responded, “I know it works because I have tried it. You are not alone in your plight, and while it is painful, you can resist. Help is on the way.”
As I began to feel the monster increase its effort to gain control, the pain became worse. Yet, as I turned my gaze towards the direction the voice came from, I began to make out a shape in that corner. It was a human, like me. Only they were not bound to a chair. Then I saw another one sitting next to him, and several more behind him.
It then occurred to me that I was not alone in this room. I was not alone in this plight. I was not the only one who had to face the onslaught of temptation or quench the hunger of the monster within me. And yet, unlike me, they were unfettered from their chairs, totally free to roam.
“Perhaps they can help me escape this room,” I thought. As hope slowly returned to me, I figured it wouldn’t hurt to ask for help.