My original flash fiction, THE DEVIL HIMSELF.
Published today, June 5, 2012, on 1,000words.org .uk
|Photo by Sue Hutton|
THE DEVIL HIMSELF
The air is cool, crisp. Much like the hardened ice of my heart. I’ve been sitting on this bench long enough to go through all of the stages of grief and remorse.
I’ve settled on acceptance.
Icy, hard and unforgiving, my heart has accepted my fate.
Had I any other choice, I might not be so calm. But my choice was determined for me long before this morning. Long before this day of waiting. He determined my fate the very first time he struck me.
He determined his own as well.
It’s time. My ride is here.
“Your chariot,” the driver says, though his lips do not move. His voice is molten lava, sliding its way through my ears, wrapping itself around my very soul. He warms me – a heat so intense, it’s like nothing I have ever imagined.
He wears the guise of a human man, devastatingly handsome, gorgeous dark eyes, and his beard neatly trimmed.
I stand up, back straight and shoulders high. I will go forward with dignity. Never again will I cower to anyone, least of all a man.
The horses that pull the chariot are all black smoke and soot. Ash swirls around them as they stand there smoldering. Flames engulf the chariot, and though they burn brightly, the chariot itself does not burn. But wait … As I assess a bit longer, I see that the chariot itself is the fire.
A chariot of fire.
I climb inside, my skin burning as my dress goes up in flames. The fire laps at my skin, teasing my flesh with the relentless torment of my future.
I remain silent. I will not scream.
An eternity of damnation is far better than the hell I’ve lived on earth.
I take my seat, my escort’s eyes burning mine as he holds my gaze. I realize that like the chariot, I do not burn away. I do not turn to ash. I have become one with the fire. Agony and pain courses through my system, but I do not find the relief of passing out or dying. I will forever burn without escape.
“You knew the repercussions, yet you chose the path. Was I so tempting you could forsake all else?”
“No,” I say to him, and it’s the truth. Though tempting he was, and desire him I did, he is not the reason I have chosen to trade my life on earth for eternity in hell. “He had it coming.”
“Indeed he did.”
I watch with wide eyes as my escort changes, morphing into his true form. I always knew it lurked there, just beneath the surface. His skin becomes reptilian, and vibrates as if never quite settling around him. His eyes, blood-red irises among deep pools of obsidian watch for my reaction. Horns sprout from his head, bending and twisting higher and higher until they are at least two feet tall. He smiles at me, a grotesque, unnatural smile, and I wonder how he managed such a beautiful façade for so long. His true form is hideous and strange. Oh, but it matters not.
The devil himself has come to lure me out of my misery. He’s come to usher me into my eternity, forked tongue and all. His reward for my actions, fate for my sins.
Somehow, as I watch the wooden bench fade off in the distance, the fire lapping at my skin and eating away all control, I am not afraid.
He had it coming.
“Will I see him there?”
“No. You will not. He has a … special place. Your fates will never cross paths again.”
Somehow, with that small promise of relief, I feel vindicated.
The flames will swallow me whole, but he will never hurt me again.