Crooks stood up from his bunk and faced her. "I had enough," he said coldly. "You got no rights comin' in a colored man's room. You got no rights messing around in here at all. Now you jus' get out, an' get out quick. If you don't, I'm gonna ast the boss not to ever let you come in the barn no more."She turned on him in scorn. "Listen, Nigger," she said. "You know what I can do to you if you open your trap?"Crooks stared helplessly at her, and then he sat down on his bunk and drew into himself.She closed on him. "You know what I could do?"Crooks seemed to grow smaller, and he pressed himself against the wall. "Yes, ma'am.""Well, you keep your place then, Nigger. I could get you strung up on a tree so easy it ain't even funny."Crooks had reduced himself to nothing. There was no personality, no ego--nothing to arouse either like or dislike. He said, "Yes, ma'am," and his voice was toneless.For a moment she stood over him as though waiting for him to move so that she could whip at him again; but Crooks sat perfectly still, his eyes averted, everything that might be hurt drawn in. She turned at last to the other two.
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Crooks stood up from his bunk and faced her. “I had enough,” he said coldly. “You got no rights comin’ in a colored man’s room. You got no rights messing around in here at all. Now you jus’ get out, an’ get out quick. If you don’t, I’m gonna ast the boss not to ever let you come in the barn no more.”She turned on him in scorn. “Listen, Nigger,” she said. “You know what I can do to you if you open your trap?”Crooks stared helplessly at her, and then he sat down on his bunk and drew into himself.She closed on him. “You know what I could do?”Crooks seemed to grow smaller, and he pressed himself against the wall. “Yes, ma’am.””Well, you keep your place then, Nigger. I could get you strung up on a tree so easy it ain’t even funny.”Crooks had reduced himself to nothing. There was no personality, no ego–nothing to arouse either like or dislike. He said, “Yes, ma’am,” and his voice was toneless.For a moment she stood over him as though waiting for him to move so that she could whip at him again; but Crooks sat perfectly still, his eyes averted, everything that might be hurt drawn in. She turned at last to the other two.

-John Steinbeck

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Brahma made up his mind to make the world and a man and woman. He made the world, and he made the man and then the woman, and put them on the island of Ceylon. According to the account it was the most beautiful island of which man can conceive. Such birds, such songs, such flowers and such verdure! And the branches of the trees were so arranged that when the wind swept through them every tree was a thousand Æolian harps.Brahma, when he put them there, said: 'Let them have a period of courtship, for it is my desire and will that true love should forever precede marriage.' When I read that, it was so much more beautiful and lofty than the other, that I said to myself, If either one of these stories ever turns out to be true, I hope it will be this one.'Then they had their courtship, with the nightingale singing, and the stars shining, and the flowers blooming, and they fell in love. They were married by the Supreme Brahma, and he said to them: 'Remain here; you must never leave this island.' Well, after a little while the man—and his name was Adami, and the woman's name was Heva—said to Heva: 'I believe I'll look about a little.' He went to the northern extremity of the island where there was a little narrow neck of land connecting it with the mainland, and the devil, who is always playing pranks with us, produced a mirage, and when he looked over to the mainland, such hills and vales, such dells and dales, such mountains crowned with snow, such cataracts clad in bows of glory did he see there, that he went back and told Heva: 'The country over there is a thousand times better than this; let us migrate.' She, like every other woman that ever lived, said: 'Let well enough alone; we have all we want; let us stay here.' But he said 'No, let us go;' so she followed him, and when they came to this narrow neck of land, he took her on his back like a gentleman, and carried her over. But the moment they got over they heard a crash, and looking back, discovered that this narrow neck of land had fallen into the sea. The mirage had disappeared, and there were naught but rocks and sand; and then the Supreme Brahma cursed them both to the lowest hell.Then it was that the man spoke,—and I have liked him ever since for it—'Curse me, but curse not her, it was not her fault, it was mine.'That's the kind of man to start a world with.The Supreme Brahma said: 'I will save her, but not thee.' And then she spoke out of her fullness of love, out of a heart in which there was love enough to make all her daughters rich in holy affection, and said: 'If thou wilt not spare him, spare neither me; I do not wish to live without him; I love him.' Then the Supreme Brahma said—and I have liked him ever since I read it—'I will spare you both and watch over you and your children forever.'Honor bright, is not that the better and grander story?

-Robert G.

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Cabal. Cabal. Cabal. I summon you to me. Now."Simi and Kody exchanged a look that said he was as crazy as he suddenly felt when nothing happened.Great, Dad. I can look stupid on my own. Didn't really need you to help out on that front.That was his thought until he heard a curse and something slammed into him, knocking him against the wall. Nick shoved his attacker away, then froze as he looked into a pair of familiar, startled brown eyes.Now this was the giant badass-tough demon that Nick was used to."Malphas?"Tense and braced to fight, Caleb turned around slowly, surveying every aspect of his new surroundings. He paused as he faced Kody and Simi. "Where the heck am I? And how did I get here?"Kody pointed to Nick. "Apparently, Nick summoned you.""Nick?" Caleb glanced right past Nick and kept searching the room with his gaze. "Our Nick? Where is the little booger?"She gestured even more exaggeratedly at Nick's position. "Right there."Caleb's jaw went slack as he faced him."Nick?""Caleb?"The word had barely left his lips before Caleb grabbed him into a bear hug and held him tight. Which was extremely awkward and gross. Completely weirded out by it, Nick tried to disentangle himself from the demon. It wasn't like Caleb to show any emotion toward him other than irritation or frustration. Sometimes anger."Stop C! If you're going to hug me like this, you got to buy me dinner first, boy. And it's got to be someplace nice, like Antoine's or Brennan's. I ain't easy or cheap."Laughing, Caleb stepped back and narrowed his eyes on Nick as he held him by his arms. "Dude . . . did you lose a bet with a sorcerer or something?"Nick gave him a droll smirk. "Don't taunt me now that I know your real name. I'm told I can do some damage to you with that. Make you fetch my slippers and stuff.

-Sherrilyn Kenyon

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Billos ran. He tore down the shore, bounded up on the rock, and dove into the air. The warm water engulfed him. A boiling heat knocked the wind from his lungs. The shock alone might kill him. But it was pleasure that surged through his body, not pain. The sensations coursed through his bones in great unrelenting waves. Elyon. How he was certain, he did not know. But he knew. Elyon was in this lake with him. Billos opened his eyes. Gold light drifted by. He lost all sense of direction. The water pressed in on every inch of his body, as intense as any acid, but one that burned with pleasure instead of pain. He sank into the water, opened his mouth and laughed. He wanted more, much more. He wanted to suck the water in and drink it. Without thinking, he did just that. The liquid hit his lungs. Billos pulled up, panicked. He tried to hack the water from his lungs, but inhaled more instead. No pain. He carefully sucked more water and breathed it out slowly. Then again, deep and hard. Out with a soft whoosh. He was breathing the water! Billos shrieked with laughter. He swam into the lake, deeper and deeper. The power contained in this lake was far greater than anything he'd ever imagined. "I made this, Billos." Billos whipped his body around, searching for the words' source. "Elyon?" His voice was muffled, hardly a voice at all. "Do you like it?" "Yes!" Billos said. He might have spoken; he might have shouted--he didn't know. He only knew that his whole body screamed it. Billos looked around. "Elyon?" "Why do you doubt me, Billos?" In that single moment the full weight of Billos's foolishness crashed on him like a sledgehammer. "I see you, Billos." "I made you." "I love you." The words crashed over him, reaching into the deepest folds of his flesh, caressing each hidden synapse, flowing through every vein, as though he had been given a transfusion. "I choose you, Billos." Billos began to weep. The feeling was more intense than any pain he had ever felt. The current pulled at him, tugging him up through the colors. His body trembled with pleasure. He wanted to speak, to yell, to tell the whole world that he was the most fortunate person in the universe. That he was loved by Elyon. Elyon himself. "Never leave me, Billos." "Never! I will never leave you." The current pushed him through the water and then above the surface not ten meters from the shore. He stood on the sandy bottom. For a moment he had such clarity of mind that he was sure he could understand the very fabric of space if he put his mind to it. He was chosen. He was loved.

-Ted Dekker

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