HE Double Hockey Sticks By Mari
Heat is the first thing I feel. Soft, at first, but slowly increasing in intensity until I can no longer bear it. I feel it all along the back of my body.
My eyes flicker open. I see red and orange and a thick gray fog. I use my hands to push myself up into a sitting position.
I hear a sizzle, and when I look at my palms, they are red and covered in angry blisters.
The sky is entirely red. It seems to go on forever, but if I squint, I think I can see a black roof of inky fog.
I get to my feet and look around, and that's when I realize that the fog isn't actually fog. It's smoke. Smoke from the fires that rage throughout the black, rocky plain that I am standing on.
It stretches for as far as I can see. There are cracks here and there that expose bright red magma beneath it. I take in a breath of hot air. It burns my mouth, my throat, my lungs.
I cough and gasp for more poison air, which makes me cough more.
"Careful, now, Eliza" a deep voice says from behind me. "I don't want you to die before all the fun happens."
From my hunched over position on the ground, I can see a shadow looming in front of me. It's tall, with curved sticks protruding from what appears to be its head.
I gather myself, stand up, and slowly turn around.
The first thing I see are the feet. They are at least four times bigger than mine and the toenails are cracked and dirty. I look higher, and see the red, defined legs.
Even higher, and I see the tunic that covers his torso. It's made of what appears to be human skin.
My eyes travel higher still, and what I see next sends me into another coughing fit from my sharp inhale.
Looking down at me is a face of malice. I can see nearly every curve and sharp line of his skull through his red skin.
He has no hair, which draws all the more attention to the curved horns implanted in his head. He grins down at me, a grin that is anything but kind. He has no regular teeth.
Instead, pearly white spikes protrude from his black gums. And his eyes.... His eyes are the worst part.
They are coal black and cruel. And if I look closely, I see visions of unimaginable pain from poor tortured souls, thousands of years of it.
"Of course," the Devil says, "-you can't die here."
"What," I gasp. "What am I here for? What's my punishment?"
The Devil looks down at me. His smile stretches wider, giving it a maniacal look. "You're not being punished. You are the punishment."
I am speechless. He grabs my arm with a meaty hand and drags me along. I can barely keep up with his long strides.
"Where are we going?"
"To meet your victim," he growls.
We arrive at a school building. Not just any school building, the one I attended in elementary school. He shoves the doors open with such force that I'm surprised they don't fly off their hinges.
He takes me down the cinder block hallways. My feet drag on the linoleum floors. I've always thought school was hell, but hellish enough to be a punishment for all of eternity? That's just crazy.
He stops outside a door labeled "Custodian Supplies".
I look up at him in confusion. "What am I supposed to do?"
Before he can respond, I hear desperate screams from the closet. It sounds like a child.
"LET ME OUT! PLEASE LET ME OUT! THERE ARE SPIDERS!"
𝑇ℎ𝑒𝑟𝑒 𝑤𝑎𝑠 𝑎𝑛 𝑎𝑠𝑠𝑒𝑚𝑏𝑙𝑦. 𝐴𝑛 𝑖𝑛𝑠𝑝𝑖𝑟𝑎𝑡𝑖𝑜𝑛𝑎𝑙 𝑠𝑝𝑒𝑎𝑘𝑒𝑟 𝑤𝑎𝑠 𝑡𝑎𝑙𝑘𝑖𝑛𝑔 𝑡𝑜 𝑡ℎ𝑒 𝑒𝑛𝑡𝑖𝑟𝑒 𝑠𝑐ℎ𝑜𝑜𝑙. 𝐸𝑣𝑒𝑟𝑦𝑜𝑛𝑒 𝑤𝑎𝑠 𝑡ℎ𝑒𝑟𝑒; 𝑡ℎ𝑒 𝑡𝑒𝑎𝑐ℎ𝑒𝑟𝑠, 𝑡ℎ𝑒 𝑠𝑡𝑢𝑑𝑒𝑛𝑡𝑠, 𝑡ℎ𝑒 𝑎𝑑𝑚𝑖𝑛, 𝑒𝑣𝑒𝑛 𝑡ℎ𝑒 𝑐𝑢𝑠𝑡𝑜𝑑𝑖𝑎𝑛𝑠.
𝐼 𝑠𝑎𝑤 𝐴𝑛𝑔𝑒𝑙𝑖𝑛𝑎 𝑠𝑛𝑒𝑎𝑘 𝑜𝑢𝑡. 𝐼 𝑚𝑜𝑡𝑖𝑜𝑛𝑒𝑑 𝑓𝑜𝑟 𝑚𝑦 𝑓𝑟𝑖𝑒𝑛𝑑𝑠 𝑡𝑜 𝑐𝑜𝑚𝑒 𝑤𝑖𝑡ℎ 𝑚𝑒. 𝑊𝑒 𝑐𝑟𝑒𝑝𝑡 𝑎𝑓𝑡𝑒𝑟 ℎ𝑒𝑟.
𝑆ℎ𝑒 𝑡𝑜𝑜𝑘 𝑎 𝑟𝑖𝑔ℎ𝑡 𝑎𝑓𝑡𝑒𝑟 𝑡ℎ𝑒 𝑜𝑓𝑓𝑖𝑐𝑒. 𝑂𝑓 𝑐𝑜𝑢𝑟𝑠𝑒, 𝑠ℎ𝑒 𝑤𝑎𝑠 ℎ𝑒𝑎𝑑𝑖𝑛𝑔 𝑡𝑜 𝑡ℎ𝑒 𝑙𝑖𝑏𝑟𝑎𝑟𝑦. 𝑆ℎ𝑒 𝑎𝑙𝑤𝑎𝑦𝑠 𝑑𝑖𝑑. 𝑊𝑒 𝑤𝑒𝑛𝑡 𝑎𝑟𝑜𝑢𝑛𝑑 𝑡ℎ𝑒 𝑜𝑡ℎ𝑒𝑟 𝑤𝑎𝑦 𝑡𝑜 𝑐𝑢𝑡 ℎ𝑒𝑟 𝑜𝑓𝑓.
𝐼 𝑝𝑒𝑒𝑟𝑒𝑑 𝑎𝑟𝑜𝑢𝑛𝑑 𝑡ℎ𝑒 𝑐𝑜𝑟𝑛𝑒𝑟 𝑜𝑓 𝑡ℎ𝑒 ℎ𝑎𝑙𝑙𝑤𝑎𝑦. 𝑆ℎ𝑒 𝑤𝑎𝑠 𝑤𝑎𝑙𝑘𝑖𝑛𝑔 𝑟𝑖𝑔ℎ𝑡 𝑡𝑜𝑤𝑎𝑟𝑑𝑠 𝑢𝑠. 𝐴𝑠 𝑠ℎ𝑒 𝑝𝑎𝑠𝑠𝑒𝑑 𝑢𝑠, 𝑡𝑤𝑜 𝑜𝑓 𝑚𝑦 𝑓𝑟𝑖𝑒𝑛𝑑𝑠 𝑔𝑟𝑎𝑏𝑏𝑒𝑑 ℎ𝑒𝑟 𝑎𝑛𝑑 𝑐𝑜𝑣𝑒𝑟𝑒𝑑 ℎ𝑒𝑟 𝑠𝑐𝑟𝑒𝑎𝑚 𝑤𝑖𝑡ℎ 𝑡ℎ𝑒𝑖𝑟 ℎ𝑎𝑛𝑑𝑠.
𝐼 𝑜𝑝𝑒𝑛𝑒𝑑 𝑡ℎ𝑒 𝑑𝑜𝑜𝑟 𝑡𝑜 𝑡ℎ𝑒 𝑐𝑢𝑠𝑡𝑜𝑑𝑖𝑎𝑛 𝑐𝑙𝑜𝑠𝑒𝑡 𝑎𝑛𝑑 𝑠ℎ𝑜𝑣𝑒𝑑 ℎ𝑒𝑟 𝑖𝑛. 𝑀𝑦 𝑓𝑟𝑖𝑒𝑛𝑑 𝑡𝑢𝑟𝑛𝑒𝑑 𝑡ℎ𝑒 𝑙𝑜𝑐𝑘 𝑎𝑠 𝑠𝑜𝑜𝑛 𝑎𝑠 𝑡ℎ𝑒 𝑑𝑜𝑜𝑟 𝑤𝑎𝑠 𝑠ℎ𝑢𝑡.
"𝐻𝑒𝑦! 𝑊ℎ𝑎𝑡 𝑎𝑟𝑒 𝑦𝑜𝑢 𝑑𝑜𝑖𝑛𝑔? 𝐿𝑒𝑡 𝑚𝑒 𝑜𝑢𝑡!"
𝑀𝑦 𝑓𝑟𝑖𝑒𝑛𝑑𝑠 𝑎𝑛𝑑 𝐼 𝑔𝑖𝑔𝑔𝑙𝑒𝑑. "𝑁𝑜, Alex," 𝐼 𝑠𝑎𝑖𝑑.
𝑀𝑦 𝑓𝑟𝑖𝑒𝑛𝑑𝑠 𝑤𝑒𝑟𝑒 𝑠𝑒𝑛𝑡 𝑖𝑛𝑡𝑜 𝑎𝑛𝑜𝑡ℎ𝑒𝑟 𝑓𝑖𝑡 𝑜𝑓 𝑔𝑖𝑔𝑔𝑙𝑒𝑠 𝑏𝑦 𝑚𝑦 𝑗𝑜𝑘𝑒.
"𝐼'𝑚 𝑛𝑜𝑡 𝐴𝑙𝑒𝑥 𝑎𝑛𝑦𝑚𝑜𝑟𝑒. 𝐼'𝑚 𝐴𝑛𝑔𝑒𝑙𝑖𝑛𝑎!"
"𝑂ℎ, 𝑖𝑠𝑛'𝑡 he 𝑠𝑜 𝑓𝑢𝑛𝑛𝑦?" 𝐼 𝑠𝑎𝑖𝑑 𝑡𝑜 𝑚𝑦 𝑓𝑟𝑖𝑒𝑛𝑑𝑠.
𝐴𝑛𝑔𝑒𝑙𝑖𝑛𝑎 𝑏𝑒𝑔𝑎𝑛 𝑡𝑜 𝑐𝑟𝑦. "𝐿𝑒𝑡 𝑚𝑒 𝑜𝑢𝑡, 𝑝𝑙𝑒𝑎𝑠𝑒!"
"𝐻𝑚, 𝑙𝑒𝑡 𝑚𝑒 𝑡ℎ𝑖𝑛𝑘... 𝑁𝑜!"
𝑊𝑒 𝑐𝑜𝑢𝑙𝑑 ℎ𝑒𝑎𝑟 𝐴𝑛𝑔𝑒𝑙𝑖𝑛𝑎'𝑠 𝑠𝑜𝑏𝑠 𝑡ℎ𝑟𝑜𝑢𝑔ℎ 𝑡ℎ𝑒 𝑑𝑜𝑜𝑟 𝑎𝑠 𝑤𝑒 𝑙𝑎𝑢𝑔ℎ𝑒𝑑 ℎ𝑦𝑠𝑡𝑒𝑟𝑖𝑐𝑎𝑙𝑙𝑦.
𝐵𝑢𝑡 𝑡ℎ𝑒𝑛 ℎ𝑒𝑟 𝑠𝑜𝑏𝑠 𝑡𝑢𝑟𝑛𝑒𝑑 𝑡𝑜 𝑠𝑖𝑙𝑒𝑛𝑐𝑒, ℎ𝑒𝑟 𝑠𝑖𝑙𝑒𝑛𝑐𝑒 𝑡𝑢𝑟𝑛𝑒𝑑 𝑡𝑜 𝑤ℎ𝑖𝑚𝑝𝑒𝑟𝑠, 𝑎𝑛𝑑 ℎ𝑒𝑟 𝑤ℎ𝑖𝑚𝑝𝑒𝑟𝑠 𝑡𝑜 𝑠𝑐𝑟𝑒𝑎𝑚𝑠.
"𝐿𝐸𝑇 𝑀𝐸 𝑂𝑈𝑇! 𝑃𝐿𝐸𝐴𝑆𝐸 𝐿𝐸𝑇 𝑀𝐸 𝑂𝑈𝑇! 𝑇𝐻𝐸𝑅𝐸 𝐴𝑅𝐸 𝑆𝑃𝐼𝐷𝐸𝑅𝑆!"
𝑊𝑒 𝑘𝑒𝑝𝑡 𝑙𝑎𝑢𝑔ℎ𝑖𝑛𝑔 𝑎𝑠 𝑖𝑓 ℎ𝑒𝑟 𝑓𝑒𝑎𝑟 𝑤𝑎𝑠 𝑡ℎ𝑒 𝑓𝑢𝑛𝑛𝑖𝑒𝑠𝑡 𝑡ℎ𝑖𝑛𝑔 𝑖𝑛 𝑡ℎ𝑒 𝑤𝑜𝑟𝑙𝑑.
"𝑇𝐻𝐸𝑌'𝑅𝐸 𝐶𝑅𝐴𝑊𝐿𝐼𝑁𝐺 𝑈𝑃 𝑀𝑌 𝐿𝐸𝐺𝑆! 𝑃𝐿𝐸𝐴𝑆𝐸!"
𝑆ℎ𝑒 𝑏𝑒𝑔𝑎𝑛 𝑡𝑜 𝑏𝑒𝑎𝑡 𝑜𝑛 𝑡ℎ𝑒 𝑑𝑜𝑜𝑟. 𝑀𝑒 𝑎𝑛𝑑 𝑚𝑦 𝑓𝑟𝑖𝑒𝑛𝑑𝑠 𝑠𝑡𝑜𝑝𝑝𝑒𝑑 𝑙𝑎𝑢𝑔ℎ𝑖𝑛𝑔. 𝑇ℎ𝑒 𝑑𝑜𝑜𝑟 𝑠ℎ𝑜𝑜𝑘 𝑣𝑖𝑜𝑙𝑒𝑛𝑡𝑙𝑦 𝑓𝑟𝑜𝑚 ℎ𝑒𝑟 𝑓𝑖𝑠𝑡𝑠.
𝑇ℎ𝑒𝑛 𝑡ℎ𝑒𝑟𝑒 𝑤𝑎𝑠 𝑎 𝑠𝑚𝑎𝑙𝑙 𝑦𝑒𝑙𝑝 𝑎𝑛𝑑 𝑎 𝑡ℎ𝑢𝑑. 𝑇ℎ𝑒𝑛 𝑠𝑖𝑙𝑒𝑛𝑐𝑒.
𝑊𝑒 𝑎𝑙𝑙 𝑠𝑡𝑜𝑜𝑑 𝑏𝑎𝑐𝑘 𝑓𝑟𝑜𝑚 𝑡ℎ𝑒 𝑑𝑜𝑜𝑟. 𝑂𝑛𝑒 𝑜𝑓 𝑚𝑦 𝑓𝑟𝑖𝑒𝑛𝑑𝑠 𝑠𝑡𝑢𝑐𝑘 𝑜𝑢𝑡 𝑎 𝑠ℎ𝑎𝑘𝑖𝑛𝑔 ℎ𝑎𝑛𝑑 𝑎𝑛𝑑 𝑢𝑛𝑙𝑜𝑐𝑘𝑒𝑑 𝑡ℎ𝑒 𝑑𝑜𝑜𝑟.
𝐴𝑛𝑔𝑒𝑙𝑖𝑛𝑎 𝑙𝑎𝑦 𝑖𝑛 𝑡ℎ𝑒 𝑚𝑖𝑑𝑑𝑙𝑒 𝑜𝑓 𝑡ℎ𝑒 𝑐𝑢𝑠𝑡𝑜𝑑𝑖𝑎𝑛'𝑠 𝑐𝑙𝑜𝑠𝑒𝑡, 𝑜𝑢𝑡 𝑐𝑜𝑙𝑑. 𝐵𝑙𝑜𝑜𝑑 𝑤𝑎𝑠 𝑝𝑜𝑜𝑙𝑒𝑑 𝑎𝑟𝑜𝑢𝑛𝑑 ℎ𝑒𝑟 𝑎𝑢𝑏𝑢𝑟𝑛 𝑐𝑢𝑟𝑙𝑠. 𝑆ℎ𝑒 𝑚𝑢𝑠𝑡 ℎ𝑎𝑣𝑒 𝑠𝑙𝑖𝑝𝑝𝑒𝑑 𝑖𝑛 𝑡ℎ𝑒 𝑑𝑎𝑟𝑘 𝑎𝑛𝑑 ℎ𝑖𝑡 ℎ𝑒𝑟 ℎ𝑒𝑎𝑑.
𝑀𝑦 𝑓𝑟𝑖𝑒𝑛𝑑𝑠 𝑎𝑛𝑑 𝐼 𝑙𝑜𝑜𝑘𝑒𝑑 𝑎𝑡 𝑒𝑎𝑐ℎ 𝑜𝑡ℎ𝑒𝑟.
"𝐸𝑙𝑖𝑧𝑎, 𝑤ℎ𝑎𝑡 𝑑𝑜 𝑤𝑒 𝑑𝑜?" 𝑜𝑛𝑒 𝑜𝑓 𝑡ℎ𝑒𝑚 𝑎𝑠𝑘𝑒𝑑.
"𝐿𝑒𝑡'𝑠 𝑔𝑜 𝑏𝑎𝑐𝑘 𝑡𝑜 𝑡ℎ𝑒 𝑎𝑠𝑠𝑒𝑚𝑏𝑙𝑦," 𝐼 𝑠𝑎𝑖𝑑 𝑎𝑓𝑡𝑒𝑟 𝑎𝑤ℎ𝑖𝑙𝑒.
𝑊𝑒 𝑖𝑚𝑚𝑒𝑟𝑠𝑒𝑑 𝑜𝑢𝑟𝑠𝑒𝑙𝑣𝑒𝑠 𝑏𝑎𝑐𝑘 𝑖𝑛𝑡𝑜 𝑡ℎ𝑒 𝑐𝑟𝑜𝑤𝑑 𝑎𝑠 𝑖𝑓 𝑛𝑜𝑡ℎ𝑖𝑛𝑔 ℎ𝑎𝑑 𝑒𝑣𝑒𝑟 ℎ𝑎𝑝𝑝𝑒𝑛𝑒𝑑. 𝑁𝑜 𝑜𝑛𝑒 𝑛𝑜𝑡𝑖𝑐𝑒𝑑 𝑡ℎ𝑎𝑡 𝑤𝑒'𝑑 𝑙𝑒𝑓𝑡, 𝑎𝑛𝑑 𝑡ℎ𝑒𝑦 𝑑𝑖𝑑𝑛'𝑡 𝑛𝑜𝑡𝑖𝑐𝑒 𝑤ℎ𝑒𝑛 𝑤𝑒 𝑐𝑎𝑚𝑒 𝑏𝑎𝑐𝑘.
𝐴𝑛𝑔𝑒𝑙𝑖𝑛𝑎 𝑤𝑎𝑠 𝑓𝑜𝑢𝑛𝑑 𝑏𝑦 𝑎 𝑐𝑢𝑠𝑡𝑜𝑑𝑖𝑎𝑛 𝑠𝑒𝑣𝑒𝑟𝑎𝑙 ℎ𝑜𝑢𝑟𝑠 𝑙𝑎𝑡𝑒𝑟. 𝑆ℎ𝑒 𝑑𝑖𝑑𝑛'𝑡 𝑡𝑒𝑙𝑙 𝑡ℎ𝑒𝑚 𝑤ℎ𝑦 𝑠ℎ𝑒 𝑤𝑎𝑠 𝑖𝑛 𝑡ℎ𝑒𝑟𝑒 𝑜𝑟 𝑤ℎ𝑎𝑡 ℎ𝑎𝑝𝑝𝑒𝑛𝑒𝑑. 𝑆ℎ𝑒 𝑘𝑛𝑒𝑤 𝑡ℎ𝑎𝑡 𝑖𝑓 𝑠ℎ𝑒 𝑡𝑜𝑙𝑑, 𝑠ℎ𝑒 𝑤𝑜𝑢𝑙𝑑 ℎ𝑎𝑣𝑒 𝑡𝑜 𝑑𝑒𝑎𝑙 𝑤𝑖𝑡ℎ 𝑢𝑠.
𝑆ℎ𝑒 ℎ𝑎𝑑 𝑓𝑖𝑔𝑢𝑟𝑒𝑑 𝑡ℎ𝑎𝑡 𝑜𝑢𝑡 𝑙𝑜𝑛𝑔 𝑎𝑔𝑜.
I can't speak. I'm here to torture Angelina for all of eternity? This is the worst possible thing that Satan himself could come up with? But there is one other thing I don't know.
"Why is she being punished?" I ask.
The Devil snapped his fingers and conjured a list out of nowhere. "Let's see," he said, scanning the piece of paper.
"Child abuse, theft, driving under the influence, second degree murder, child sex trafficking, rape- the list goes on."
My jaw drops.
"But let me ask you a question, Eliza" the Devil continues. "How does it feel to know that you were this poor soul's worst moment. Better yet, that you were the cause of all her misery?"
"Angelina was traumatized after the way you treated her in elementary and middle school. She was diagnosed with anxiety at age eleven, then severe depression at thirteen.
How does it make you feel that your abuse towards her haunted her for the rest of her life and indirectly caused her to commit the majority of these crimes?"
"Did you know that she got pregnant at fifteen and committed suicide when she was twenty-seven? Do you sleep well at night knowing that you ruined this girl's life?
While you had a loving family, a college education, a steady job, and a supportive spouse, she was on a slippery mental slope for the rest of her life because of the way you treated her.
Does that make you happy?"
The Devil gives me a horrible smile and leaves me there in the hallway. The only noise is the sound of Angelina's screams and her fists upon the door.
I look down at my hands. They are small and pudgy, like a child's. The Devil transformed me into a child again so I can recreate that moment during the assembly. For all of eternity.
No. Angelina doesn't belong in that closet, nor does she belong down here. I do.
I unlock the door. Angelina in her child form comes tumbling out. She looks up at me, her face contorted in fear and anger.
"Get up," I say. "We're getting you out of here."
We stand at a crossroad. We had followed the Devil out of the school, hoping he took us somewhere important, and he led us here.
There are two doors, one labeled "Heaven" and the other labeled "Earth". The Devil walks through the "Earth" door.
"He's going to torment the human race through nightmares," Angelina whispers.
I nod, although I don't know how she knows that. I'm just glad she's talking to me in a civil way. My ears are still ringing from her yells. I rub the part of my face where she slapped me.
As soon as he is out of sight, we dash for the "Heaven" door.
Just beyond the door is an elevator that only has an up button.
"We're going to talk to God, if he even exists, and we're going to fix this," I say.
We finally reach the top. The elevator doors slide open with a ding, revealing a floor of fluffy clouds for as far as I can see.
I leap out and bound across the clouds, Angelina right behind me. We run straight through the golden gates and into a building made of clouds.
We skip security, much to the annoyance of the guards. They run after us.
"Come on! Faster! We need to find God!" I shout back to her.
We pass doors left and right. I select one at random, grab Angelina, and pull her inside with me.
We hear the guards run past us. I sigh in relief.
"That was close," I say. "Come on, let's go-"
Angelina isn't paying attention, and suddenly, neither am I.
Right in front of us is a line of spirits, or souls. They have no special features or anything that distinguishes them from one another. They're wispy and white, almost like ghosts.
Except they aren't dead. They haven't even been born yet. I know that because they're walking through a portal labeled "To Be Born".
"Angelina, I think we just found a solution for you," I whisper.
I gape at her. "What do you mean, no?"
"I don't want to go back. I hated my life."
"I don't think you're going back to your old life. I think you get a completely new one."
"Will I remember my old life?"
"I don't think so."
Angelina takes a small step towards the portal. She looks at me one last time before walking through it.
As she walks through, her soul momentarily turns into a wispy white one, just like the others, then disappears.
I let out a breath. I may have ruined her life, but I believe that I made things right.
Disclaimer: I am not a religious person. I know some stuff about Christianity, but very little about other religions. This was just my imagination so please don't take offense to anything I said regarding the depictions of Heaven and Hell and Satan and God and things like that. I don't think I said anything offensive but I just wanted to make sure to let you guys know that I'm not trying to disrespect religion.
It's 2 AM. I'm tired. I apologize for any inconsistencies or plot holes. Also that last thing with the pictures was Angelina's new life, in case you didn't catch on. I hope you guys liked it! Thank you for reading! -Mari <3