Stairway to Hell (Flash Fiction)

(This got long fast, so I just went with it)

I stood on the side of the road and watched the flames as they consumed my car. All the world around me was black in the moonless night. While I watched, enthralled by the blaze, wondering what I should do, worrying over how many had been killed, a thin woman approached me. She came to me from the thin woods that surrounded the windy road, and her step was as quiet as a doe’s. When she joined my side she took my hand in hers and startled me from my daze. I looked at her and saw she was very pretty. Her skin was pale and her frame was small, but her lips were full and painted black. She leaned in, with wide white eyes, and kissed me. I remember her lips sticking to mine and the taste of her breath on my tongue. When she leaned back, she pulled away, taking me by the hand. I went with her.

At the edge of the road, where the bare dirt blends into the grass and the narrow trees, I halted with uncertainty. I looked back over my shoulder, at the fire, at the destroyed vehicles, and realized I could smell burning meat. I found a small amount of solace in not hearing any screams. In the distance, the off pitch of a whaling siren was approaching, but the world around us was still black in contrast with the roaring flames.

“I was drunk,” I said, feeling her gentle fingers tug on my hand.

“Yes.”

“I’m not drunk anymore,” I said. The realization brought a very strong fear. She placed a delicate finger to my lips and only stared with those wide, white eyes. She turned to lead me into the woods, and I followed her.

As we moved, I realize I’m not walking. My mind is making the motions seem real in my head, but there is no sound. There are no footsteps. We pass by the trees like a sighing wind. No branches brush against my face. There is no cold that chills my skin.

Not far from the road is a large rock. Its surface is covered in a black slime of wet moss, and there is a large crack that splits down the middle. I see these things with eyes that no longer see in regards to dark and light. A dim glow of red pulses from the broken stone, and I follow the thin woman inside.

To say there was a door would be to say there is a spot of water in the ocean. She knew it to be there, and being her guest, I knew it also. But it was nothing beyond that of an ethereal connection. She released my hand and stepped aside. I asked her for one more kiss, and she simply shook her head in silence. The door opened, the red pulse from behind it brightened, and my soul passed from the realm of the living to the land of the dead.

I was surprised to find that it was warm, not hot. Suddenly I had feet again, no longer so vaporous in passing over things. The floor of this cave or passage was rocky and the jagged edges cut at my skin. I walked with great struggle, trying to distribute my weight, but no progress was made. Even placing my hands on the stone walls cut my palms and fingers. Soon, my footsteps became slippery with the flowing of my own blood. I remember now, thinking, do the dead still bleed?

I hobbled on toward the pulsing red. It often crossed my mind that I should try to go back, but it was a feeling that never breached serious consideration. Like a child wondering what it was like to be a bird in the sky, the thought only left a dull feeling of sorrow, of something forever left behind.

Without realizing, I suddenly stood before a goat type of man. To call him a man would be a great injustice, but to call him a goat would to overly compliment him as well. More or less, he was a goat who stood on two legs and held great hatred in his face. What you would consider to be his hands were gnarled clubs of meat that worked well enough to wield a spiked club. The first hit from that club was like nothing I could ever imagine. It was a pain that tore beyond the skin and into the soul. It was the first strike that told me what I truly was, and likely why it felt so painful. It told me I was damned, and this was just the beginning.

This goated man charged me down a horrendous sheer cliff that I can only call The Stairway to Hell. While his hooves remained sure-footed on the sharp, steep rocks, rocks that still tore quite easily into my own soft feet, I slipped and crawled and grabbed for precious holds. A sad state of mind to reflect upon now, all things considered. Had I the foresight to understand my situation, I would have never feared to fall from such heights. What fear should a damned soul have of dying?

I fought this goated man down every blood covered inch of stone. These stones, steps barely one-quarter the size of my own foot, bit into me like teeth and all the while every move I made felt like a constant slip. The hatred on the goat’s face was frenzied with twisted delight as he snorted and brayed and beat at me with his spiked club. My finger nails folded back as I clawed at the stone and, of course, immediately grew back. It’s difficult to describe such things in terms a living mind may understand, but if I were to venture a guess, I’d wager that descent took seven months of time. For seven months, day and night, not that any such cycle existed in this place, my feet were ripped by sharp stone, my body was broken by rusted spikes from a club, and a continual fear of forever falling filled my heart.

At one point, although I never dreamed of jumping, I believed with earnest that reaching the bottom of that pit would be a blessing. How difficult perspective can be when the mind is full of ignorance.

The final step off of the cliff side was a step into pure darkness. For a split second, I was delighted. I had made it after all. There was no more tearing at my flesh or pounding at my soul. I was given reprieve from my torment. But when I wept for joy, no sound came, and no feeling was felt. I was shutout. Gone. I was engulfed in blackness.

This blackness was not something of the external kind, an imposing lack of light or a heaviness over the soul. This was the blackness that only comes with the disembodiment of the soul from the mind. I was the observer with nothing to observe. I was the spirit with nothing to direct. I was the conscious with no expression to make. I screamed with lungs that did not exist, that could never breath in fresh air or exhale the bad. I clawed with hands that could never feel empty space passing through desperate fingers.

I was removed from god. I was part of the shadow that existed before the light.

While it’s hard to estimate the time it took to descend that terrible staircase, I can at least offer a weighed estimation. But when you are worse than lost in nothing, when you are the nothing, there is no perspective to give. I can only assume that aeons passed while I tormented in this way. A billion lifetimes were spent where each passing second was a free fall into the horribly insane.

When I was finally released, born again, and taken from my mother’s womb and replaced into the world, I never shed a tear. Even the doctor’s smack on my delicate bottom barely drew an utter from my feeble mouth. As she cradled me and cried with weariness and joy, a haze fell over my mind, and I forgot of what it meant to be in hell.

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