Night of “The Thing”

Night of "The Thing"

The aroma of freshly baked banana-nut bread filled the kitchen as my mom pulled another loaf from the oven.

“Hi, Juliana,” she said, smiling at me.

“Wow, more banana bread!” I exclaimed. “What are we going to do with all this?”

She grinned. “I was just going to tell you. I want you to take a loaf to Grandma Jeannie. This recipe made more than I thought it would.”

Our neighbor, whom we all affectionately called Grandma Jeannie, lived just across our backyard. I worked for her sometimes, clearing out weeds and raking leaves.

“All right,” I said. “I’ll go get my flashlight and take the bread right over.”

It was 9:00 p.m. and pitch-black outside. I had a powerful flashlight, though, so I wasn’t worried. I slipped on my shoes and set out confidently.

As soon as I got out of the porch light’s range and turned on my flashlight, however, I discovered I had a problem.

“Oh, no!” I groaned aloud.

I hadn’t used the flashlight in quite a while, and the batteries were really low. The beam of light, if you could call it that, was practically nonexistent.

“Well, at least I won’t have to worry about stepping on a snake,” I told myself cheerfully. “They don’t come out at night, I hope.” (I’ve found that if you’re all alone in the dark, it helps a lot to talk out loud to yourself. You don’t get so edgy that way.)

I started humming the scripture song “Thy Word Is a Lamp Unto My Feet” to keep my spirits up as I gingerly picked my way over the leaf-covered earth. I held the flashlight just a few inches from the ground so I could at least see enough not to step into any, ahem, predigested little “gifts” left by generous squirrels.

I couldn’t see anything in front of me. The flashlight might as well have been turned off. I stooped over farther and held the flashlight even closer to the ground.

It was fortunate that I did, because I would have run into a tree had I not seen a root poking out of the dirt.

“Silly flashlight,” I muttered. I started humming “Thy Word” again. Suddenly I giggled. Now that’s a coincidence. My situation is similar to the song, except I have a flashlight instead of a lamp! I grinned.

I was just about to Grandma Jeannie’s front yard now. I was close enough to see the outline of a rocking chair in front of the only window that had a light turned on.

But suddenly I stopped and listened, holding the flashlight loosely, since it didn’t help at all. What was that strange noise? It sounded like a hundred little animals rushing through the ferns on the front porch!

I listened harder. A second later the rustling stopped, but a weird noise I couldn’t identify started up. Then the rustling started again.

“H-hello?” I called out nervously, taking several hesitant steps forward. “Anyone there?” No answer. The rustling got louder. If this was an animal, it was certainly not a shy one. The pattering continued, as though an army of squirrels were tearing over the front lawn right toward me.

“Hellooo?” I called out, growing less brave by the moment. Suddenly something brushed past me.

“Aaahhh!” I screeched, jumping out of the way, nearly sending the banana bread flying.

The noise increased. The thing was coming back! I was just a few feet from Grandma Jeannie’s front porch. I stumbled forward in the dark, gripping the loaf tightly and holding the useless flashlight in front of me, trying in vain to peer ahead into the blackness.

Then something cold and wet struck my face, and I stumbled over something on the ground. I almost fell, but managed to keep my balance and my hold on the banana bread and the flashlight.

I stood for a moment, stunned. Then I started laughing. The thing was heading toward me again, so I jumped out of the way, barely missing being caught by the sprinkler again.

Yes, the sprinkler! The ferocious animal that was going to harass me in the dark, the SWAT team of squirrels coming to attack the giant enemy who was intruding upon their province, the mysterious object that had so terrified me just a few minutes earlier was a lawn sprinkler.

The strange, unidentified sound was the rush of water shooting out of the hose. The rustling was the water shredding the ferns in front of the house.

I managed to compose my face enough to deliver the banana bread. Grandma Jeannie turned on the outside light so I wouldn’t have to worry about the flashlight on the way home.

I started off across the yard, laughing silently as I thought about the episode with the sprinkler and the flashlight. When I was able to stop laughing, I started humming “Thy Word Is a Lamp Unto My Feet” again.

God’s Word is definitely a lamp onto my feet, and, unlike my flashlight, God’s Light never weakens!

Written by Juliana Marin, age 13
Illustrated by Zach Shuta

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Night of “The Thing”

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