Christopher Elieson is a young man from Toronto, Ontario, Canada. When he is not writing, he is either reading, surfing the web, working in the fast food industry industry, or thinking about his two great loves; Filipino Pentecostals and flash fiction.
If anyone told me I’d voluntarily walk into hell today, I’d laugh at them. No way! But I know what it’s like to pay the price for something I didn’t do. At least I’d had a chance to redeem myself. Mark deserved a chance, too. First, I had to find him.
Walking in hell is like walking over sand dunes, except the sand grains are melted together and almost liquid, so it’s more like walking on crushed ice over a rolling sea. Except hot. Really hot. The looming mountains weren’t an option either. No handholds on the flat, glassy faces and every edge is razor sharp. One slip could slice me in half. A hiss and some loud cracks. I jump out of the way just as a geyser of fire erupts right next to me, the jet of fire shooting hundreds of feet up. It’s high enough to give me time to run when I realize it’s about to fall down on me. I’m not sure what’ll happen if I’m touched by the fire, but the only other people I’ve seen so far were living black hulks, eternally burning and so out of their minds with pain they never even knew I was there.
Everything around me is red. The sky pulses like blood and is the same color. It’s disturbing so I look down. The ground is red, too, but darker, burnt, with flashes of orange and yellow through the cracks. It isn’t water making the valley floor fluid. I try to keep my feet moving but they feel so heavy in the heat. What I would give for a color other than red.
Wish granted, a flicker of blue grabs my attention. It materializes into a hospital gown on a child. Maybe children don’t burn in hell. By the sound of it, she is being chased by an army. Before I even think about it, I call to her and she turns my direction.
Then I see what’s chasing her. It looks like a giant grasshopper wearing armor, but is as big as a horse. Its wings are making the noise, but I can see a scorpion’s stinger through the blur.
As the girl runs closer, I see she’s probably older than me, just small. She’s obviously exhausted. The stinger darts out. She screams and stumbles but keeps running. As she gets close, I move to get between her and the creature, but she stops me.
“No,” she calls out. “You can’t save me that way.”
I’m surprised when she jogs to a stop in front of me and the creature just stops behind her, looking at me with a human face.
“You’re not dead,” she says, somewhat accusingly.
“No, I --”
She screams when the creature stings her again, tears streaming out of her eyes. By the tracks on her face, I can tell she’s been crying for a long time.
"I beg you, please help me.” Her eyes are wide with fear and sorrow.
“I don’t understand.”
“I didn’t know. I’m so sorry.”
Scream. Another sting.
The stinger seems even bigger than her back. I don’t know how I can save her. I still haven’t figured out how to save Mark, but at least I know his story. I invite her to explain with a shift in my posture, but I don’t commit. There might be a good reason why she’s here.
Gasping, crying, she falls to her knees. “There is no hope,” she sobs. “I know God’s mercy won’t reach me here. If you won’t help me, I’ll be trapped here forever.”
Sting. Scream. Crying.
“I promise, if you help me, I’ll change. I’ll tell everyone, I’ll tell my family, they need to believe.”
That’s when I get it. She’s here because she denied God.
“Sorry, lady,” I tell her, truly sorry for her. “That’s something between you and the big guy. I got problems of my own.”
“Please!” She grabs at my ankle. trying to hold me back, dragging along the ground as I try to walk away.
“Please! At least get the message to my family! You have to save them! My name is Sally --”
The bug isn’t about to give her hope. With a vicious thwack, it pins Sally flat on the ground with its stinger, holding her in place, its face glaring at me. I run until I can’t hear the prolonged sound of her agony.
(© 2016 Christopher Elieson – All rights reserved. Written material may not be duplicated without permission.)