The giant’s thick curses to the Hebrew god rung across the hazy field as the afternoon heat’s distortion gave him the appearance of an evil spirit. His armor bearer nearby looked like an infant next to the huge warrior.

Surely this was not a human, the young man thought. It had to be a monster. A monster from Sheol unleashed as punishment to the young man’s people for forsaking their God. He breathed slowly to push away the fear as it surfaced. He whispered in prayer once more.

The giant continued to taunt him, so the young man taunted him back. The giant was smiling broadly, his black beard spilling out of the opening in his helmet. He repeated his dark curses louder, raising his spear even higher to keep his army cheering.

Now, slowly, the younger man felt his fear seeping away as the covering came. He smiled at the champion, who still did not realize what he was facing.

They would all see soon enough.

He tossed his staff to the ground and pulled taut the sling made of two ropes of goat hair attached to a leather pouch. He reached into the small hide bag at his waist as the war drums of the army across the valley pounded out the summons to watch the contest.

Both kings wanted their men ready if the other side’s fighter lost in order to exploit the advantage. Neither side trusted the other’s promise to depart if their champion lost.

The young man pulled out one of the stones from the creek bed and notched it into the leather strap at the base of the sling. His forefinger was calloused from drilling with the weapon. It had never failed him. It would not fail him now.

The drums increased in their frenzy. The enemy soldiers were screaming behind their iron weapons and expertly forged armor, clearly the superior force in strength and equipment to the poorly outfitted Hebrews cowering on the hillside behind him. Like a pack of hyenas, the enemy could smell the coming slaughter. The young man glared at them as they cursed his God. Rage rose in his heart.

And then he felt the fire.

It swelled in his chest first. Then it rushed in a torrent into his arms. His fingers twitched with crackling energy, and he felt as though his muscles would leap out of his flesh if they were not given release. His eyes clamped shut. Listening to the war drums pounding, he let the fire course through his skin and thought that he would burst with the rush of heat filling his body.

Soon the sound of the fire roaring in his ears blotted out the rest of his senses, and he felt nothing but the heat consuming him with greater intensity than he had ever known. His sling shook in his hands. The war drums hammered, the soldiers beat their swords against their shields in time with the drums, and he heard the mass of voices shouting at him.

He opened his eyes. The monster had charged past his armor bearer and was running toward him in leaping strides, covering ten cubits with each bound, his armor bearer struggling to keep up. The young man shouted to relieve the tension, but it only made the fire in his body burn hotter. He found himself running as well and pulling the sling tight. The stone settled into the groove in the leather and he whirled it once through the air.

Swing.

He slowed it.

Measure.

He kept running and whirled it again, even though it was difficult to sling accurately while running. He wasn’t able to fight the fire.

Swing.

He sped it up.

Measure.

The giant was bearing down on him. There was no more time.

Swing . . . faster . . . aim!

He cried out, certain the fire would destroy him, but instead it drove him forward through the rocks. Dust flew. With a final burst, he released one of the ropes, sending the stone whistling though the air, and as it flew toward the black form of the warrior, the young man whispered in his spirit: Cover me in the day of war.