The tree is my only hope. Up its branches I can climb to salvation, through the darkening clouds and out into brightness. I start for it. Now I can feel the darkness pressing hungrily at my back. I pick up my pace. The stretch of withered, stubbly field between me and the tree grows shorter, but I can also feel the something gaining on me.
My legs are clumsy and ineffective, weighed down as if I am running through thigh high water. I press on. Suddenly the rough, cracked bark of the tree is before me. I made it! As I look up to reach for the lowest branches, I can see the uppermost ones parting the ominous clouds. There is a strain of light coming through. It illuminates my next handhold, and I grab on, swinging gratefully up.
But not quick enough. A basket ball sized sphere of soft flesh and feathers leaps from the darkness and slams into my chest. I fall to the parched earth. It presses down on my chest, a suffocating blackness. Feebly I beat my fists against its feathery sides, but it only pushes harder. I can't breathe. I can't think. I can't speak. Panic chases terror in cold waves. I know I am dying. It'll be over soon.
One thought flashes through the darkness. "Say the name of Jesus." I open my cracked lips, but my tongue fills my mouth. I can't utter a word. I can't even think the word. I force my teeth together in the first syllable.
"Jee ... Jeee ...." The darkness has almost burrowed a hole through my chest now. It wants me. Somehow I move my swollen tongue in my mouth.
"JEEE - sus."
Exhausted, I woke up. My own familiar bed was a damp cocoon around me. I lay for a few moments in the darkness, trying to to slow the beating of my heart. "It was only a dream," I reassured myself. "Just calm down, and go back to sleep."
But I couldn't calm down. It seemed as if the darkness from my dream followed me into the night of my room. I lay there, catching my breath, and staring into the thick darkness surrounding my bed. Fear was a palpable thing, pulsing, pressing, pushing close.
"If I can only make it to my parents' room," I told myself, "they can pray for me. And it will be ok." Gathering my courage, I swung my feet over the ladder of my bunk bed. Now that I was facing the darkness head on, its power began to diminish. Growing braver with each step, I left my room.
Just one more corner, then I would be there. With hope now blooming, I turned the corner. And was brought short by what I saw there. Suspended in the darkness, a face snarled at me. It was a dog, with boar's tusks sprouting from its snout. I blinked, and suddenly it was gone. My heart leaping up my throat, I jumped through my parents' door, and began shaking the sleeping form I found there on the bed.
It was my dad. Together we prayed through the early morning darkness. The heaviness began to lift as the sun rose. Roosters perched along the village rooftops heralded the morning, and the coconut trees stood black against the pre-dawn grey sky.
You will not be afraid of the terror by night, or of the arrow that flies by day; of the pestilence that stalks in darkness, or of the destruction that lays waste at noon. A thousand may fall at your side and ten thousand at your right hand, but it shall not approach you ... for you have made the Lord, my refuge, even the Most High, your dwelling place. No evil will befall you, nor will any plague come near your tent. For He will give His angels charge concerning you, to guard you in all your ways. They will bear you up in their hands, that you do not strike your foot against a stone.
Because he has loved Me, therefore I will deliver him; I will set him securely on high, because he has known My name. He will call upon Me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble; I will rescue him and honor him. With a long life I will satisfy him and let him see My salvation. Psalm 91:5 - 16