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by Terdell Lee Johnson 3 months ago in Short Story

A short story based on the last plague of Egypt in the book of Exodus.

“The Blood. Bring it quickly.”

The spring has gone, and with summer arriving the temperature was stifling. The middle eastern air blew faithfully, making sure that every inhabitant felt the sheer power of the sun's magnificent heat. There was no shade to curve the Egyptian summer day. However, this wasn't any ordinary day. There was no trouble of early morning work. I saw no whip of the slave master within ten miles. Even Pharaoh's rage was tempered by what disaster was roaming about through the village pathways of the Hebrews.

Surprise caught the young man holding the basin of blood. He had not had the chance to drench his doorpost with the unseemly red liquid; he found it rather deplorable, but remembering the direction of Moses, the young man could relinquish his prejudice in order to live throughout the night. With a group of hyssop in his hand, he dipped them in the blood and he carefully covered the entrance to his residence. Other homes shared the same mark, however, not all took heed to the warning.

“Amram!,” said his neighbor a few feet away, “The Blood. Bring it over!”

With great haste he brought the basin over, trying not to spill a drop of blood. Amram was a slender twenty-five-year-old. He has a gash across his face from a slave driver who thought he was lazy by failing to make brinks at the appointed time. Amram was frail in body, but strong in spirit. He grew up under the bondage of the Egyptians. There wasn't a day that he didn't hear the crack of the whip over the back of one of his brethren or sisters from the tribe of Dan; and with the shrieks of pain, he wished he could strike back with as much hatred as the Pharaoh had for his people.

He was told by his mother and father of Abraham, Issac, and Jacob. They were men of faith, trusting in the great God who made heaven and earth, but with the bondage Amram was nearly devoid of faith. The old men and women during the nights would recite the same tale repeatedly about the promise the Lord gave to deliver His chosen people. Amram could recite it himself., and he did it constantly to preserve what little faith he had left.

The blood river. The bodies of the Hebrew boys tossed into the water without remorse by the edict of a cruel king. Mothers screamed in agony. Fathers died defending their young, but it did little to stop the slaughter. Amram had not come along until years later, and yet the story pierced his heart like a dart. He shuttered to think if he was alive during that time and young enough to be fed to the blood river.

Amram handed the basin to his neighbor. A short scowl came over the man's face, but after Amram lowered his posture out of remorse for not being swifter, the man's frown disappeared.

“I thought I would never see such sights.” replied the man, “Plague after plague. The God of Abraham, Issac, and Jacob has revealed His wrath.”

“Moses says that this will be the worst one,” Amram said looking over his should nervously, “There will be much death tonight.”

“And let it be so.” said the man looking beyond him to the pyramids in the distance, “They have reaped death and now they will sow it.”

Amran heard the hatred in the man's voice and that scowl he first seen returned to his face. Amran did not blame the man. He left his neighbor with the basin, making his way through the narrow streets. He thought to go see the man Moses himself. He knew where he was staying, but he didn't have to go far. Up ahead stood the elderly man with his brother Aaron. Despite his age, Moses seemed as energetic as himself. He moved with haste among the other Hebrews, giving the command of the Lord. His very voice, although seemingly weak in delivery, carried a tremendous potency.

He went to draw closer to this great man, but did not see another approaching. Amram bumped into another young man, not that older than he. However, his was a different birth; not one from the twelve tribes, but one of a different nation. The nation of bondage!

He was an Egyptian, stout and strong. His tanned skin by the sun's rays gave an air of superiority. The very look from the Egyptian demanded that Amran bow in reverence, and he did so. He was standing before his master, Abasi.

“Amran!” said Abasi, growling, “My horses were no tended or fed today. I will whip you for this!”

“I..I,” said Amran nervously, “I had other business.”

The Egyptian looked around at the doorpost and then back at him.

“Protection for tonight.” said Amran in a lighter tone, “The God of our fathers....”

“Protection? Filthy Hebrew!” said the Egyptian, striking him across the face, “That's the first of many blows you will get. Now get to my horses!”

Amram said nothing. He quickly made his way to his master's stable, tending to the horses. All the years of watching friends and family beaten, broken, and demoralized gave him a small loathing for Abasi; and yet, for a moment, he thought the Egyptian needed the same blood on his doorpost. The Lord had heard the cry of his people and had sent a deliverer. Could the same Creator who chose his race be even kind to his oppressors?

He completed his tasked. Amran returned to his home. He received no lashes for his prior infraction. During his meal, he heard a knock at his door. Upon opening it, there stood an old man.

“The time is very near,” said the elderly gentleman in haste, “I'll put some more blood on your door for you. There's just a little left.”

“I fine,” Amran said, “the blood covers my post, but...”

He stopped and looked beyond his home to the massive palace. He remembered his master.

“I'll take that,” Amran said, taking the basin from the old Hebrew, “thank you.”

Holding the basin of blood carefully, he proceeded from the ghetto up to the more luxurious land of the Egyptians. Oddly, he found little resistance from guards or others as he proceeded to his destination. It was already evening, and the sky was nearly pitch black. His shadow traveled long in front of him, as if guiding him along the streets. Finally he saw the two Anubis statues, and between them stood the Egyptian from earlier that day.

Amran stopped in his tracks. The man was looking up at the night sky pensively with an expression of concern. Then he saw Amran. Taking his time, he made his way over and stood in front of the Egyptian. There was an icy stare between the two. Neither at first acknowledged the other. Amran put the basin down.

“What's that?” said the Egyptian, leaning back.

“Blood.” replied Amran.

“For who?”

“Your house.”

“My house?” the Egyptian said, looking away from him, “Get the filth away from here.”

“Master,” Amran said pleading, “it is your only hope. You've seen the plagues. Tonight will be the worst of them. The God of my fathers has promised that if the blood is on the post of the door that the destroyer will not come to my house to kill me. You heard the man Moses speak. You know that the words I speak are true. Time is short.”

A fit of anger emerged on the Egyptian's face. Amran dropped his arms and stood firm, awaiting the reprisal. He was ready to fight or run, whichever was more convenient. Suddenly, from behind Egyptian came a toddler. It waddled up to his father’s leg and held to it for balance. The baby’s arrival quenched the high tempers. Abasi picked up his son. The child gave Amran a goofy smile. Even though he tried to hold it back, a smile emerged on Amram’s face.

“Your firstborn?”

“Yes.” said the Egyptian, “and so is his father. What is that to you?”

“Where is his mother?”

“Died during the birth,” returned the Egyptian in a crestfallen tone.

“For the sake of your son, apply the blood. I will do it.”

“Keep back, slave!” said Abasi, taking a step back as if protecting his son from an intruder, “Osiris will protect this house from these peasant threats. Pharoah is right to keep you. How dare you demand to be released to worship the abomination you call Jehovah? Lazy! All of you—lazy!”

At that moment, the air changed. It felt different, and Amran couldn’t explain it. His insides grew cold and there was such a fear that entered him he could only cry out:

“The Destroyer!”

He quickly ran from his master residence. Amran needed safety for his life, for he was the firstborn as well. How foolish he was to travel so far when he knew the command was not to leave his home. The sunlight began to dim. Amran pushed his door open, flung himself inside, and slammed the door shut.

A heavy darkness lingered. Amran fell prostrate and shielded his face. It came through the streets and moved with such speed and power that Amran thought that death touched him. He trembled; and then, as quickly as the plague had come, it was over.

He returned to his master's home. The entry way was clear, leaving a dark opening. The baby's voice was not heard, nor his master’s. It was silent. At first Amran made took a step forward to enter the house, but remembered that it was an abomination for him to do so. A tear crawled down his face. He wiped it away. Osiris had failed to protect the one who has so much faith in him.

The roar! The curses! The shrieks! The choir of sorrow filled his ears. From every angle was a voice weeping. It seemed from every house the Egyptians were holding a dead body. He sprinted throughout the streets, and in great terror, he saw Egyptian parents coddling the dead. They formed a gauntlet, holding their firstborn in their arms and crying out to their gods, which would not and could not answer.

Amran ran from the sight, holding his ears. At his village, Amran's people were gathering. He knew why. In haste, he gathered what he could and joined the multitude. No longer would he feel the sting of the whip. No longer did he have to fear the pain of the whip on his back. Thousands of his people filled the narrow pathways with their animals and carts. Some were singing while others lifted praises and prayers to the Lord Almighty. He saw a few Egyptians among the Hebrews. Why were they there? They looked to be mingling among them as if joining them on their departure.

A heavy hand took hold of his shoulder. It was his neighbor.

“Freedom has finally come,” said his neighbor to him.

“Yes,” said Amran, remembering his master and the baby, “Freedom has come.”

Short Story

Terdell Lee Johnson

Terdell Johnson's aim is to glorify God through writing.

He lives in Tacoma, Washington.

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Terdell Lee Johnson
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