Sunday, 21 December 2014

Highway to Hell

Chuck has got us writing the last Flash Fiction this year as a random song title.  Now, we don't have to go to the theme of the song, just use the song title; and he's given us 3,000 word limit to write to.  Mine is AC/DC's 'Highway to Hell'... well, because it's been stuck in my head for the last few days.

My life started out like anyone else’s. 

I was born into a loving family and brought up properly to respect my elders, to care for my Mum and Dad and be carefree as a kid.  I learned my lessons at school, went to Karate lessons on the weekends and rode my bike around the BMX tracks at dusk before I heard Dad’s whistle on the wind for us to come home.
Mum was the best cook.  She could make just about anything she could put her hand to from food to clothes to most anything around the house.  Dad built her a craft room the size of the living room and she practically lived in it for around six months before Christmas.  

And we were never allowed in it.


Not even to borrow a pair of scissors.

We never questioned that rule and just accepted that she was working on Christmas presents or birthday presents and did as we were told.  So, Mum’s craft room was something we never went near, never told anyone about and when we showed our friends around the house, we kinda gave it a dismissive wave saying, ‘Oh, that’s Mum’s craft room; we’re not allowed in there… you know, it’s her cave of mystery.’ We’d giggle and snort and walk off.  Our friends never questioned that room either.
As the years passed, Mum’s hair began to grey little by little.  She started to look more tired, but she still had the energy of a person her age.  I noticed that the more she used her craft room, the older she appeared to become.  I’m not sure if Dad realised it or not.  So I asked him.
“Of course I notice.” He frowned, “She just won’t tell me what’s going on.”
“Dad, have you been inside her craft room since you built it?” I asked.
He looked to his hands, fiddled with his fingernails and then looked at me, “No.  She won’t allow me in either.” Looking over at the room, he shook his head, “I wonder what’s going on.”

Then, one day, I arrived home early from high school to find the door of the craft room ajar and wondered what had happened.  Mum normally kept that room locked up tight – even when we weren’t home.  The rest of the house had been locked up and this room had been built separate from the house.  I didn’t know what do to.  Dumping my school port on the floor near my bedroom, I walked out to the room and felt heat coming from behind the door.  I put my hand up to the gap and it felt like an oven inside there… and going against all the rules I had obey all this time, I pulled the door open more and stepped inside.
This place was the most organised mess I’d ever seen.  There were boxes of material stacked along one wall in order of colour, drawer up drawer of beads sitting along a counter by the window.  Hooked on a long piece of dowel were hoops of ribbon in all widths and colours you could ever possibly imagine.  I saw two sewing machines, two overlockers and in one area of the place were two easels and a collection of paints, brushes and canvas’ as well with smocks all over the place hanging up on hooks ready for use.  But the place was hot… it was like an oven.  By the time I had looked around, I had begun to sweat badly, but hadn’t noticed that the door had swung shut behind me until I heard a loud CLICK sound and I turned, looking at it dumbly.
Without even touching it, I knew that doorknob was hot, by the way it turned a molten orange kinda colour and began to drip onto the floor. 
“Mum!” I called out but my throat was caught, dry and hoarse, “Where are you?”
A very deep chuckle answered me, “Your mother isn’t here, Drew.  But be a good boy and step forwards, let me see my legacy.” Turning to my right I saw an unremarkable man standing next to the counter, “Come here Drew… I must see you for myself.” A grin pulled at his face and his eyes looked like … mine.
“No.” I cringed, “Who are you?  And where is my mother?”
“You are my son… and your mother is a whore.” He snickered, “She made a deal boy, and came here personally to collect her soul today.” He looked me up and down, “But meeting you… that was just an accident, a good one.”
“I don’t care who you think you are…”
“Think?” he stepped forward, “I know I who am.  But have you seen your Daddy look at you lately?  He can’t fully just look at you, can he?”
“What kind of deal did she make?”
He sighed, cocking his head to one side, “She wanted another child, oh so badly she made a deal with the Devil… and guess who I am?” he tapped out a little dance on the spot with that grin on his face, “And I graciously let her… but there was a catch.”
“Isn’t there always?”
“That catch was that the child was mine.”
I felt a sudden hatred for this man so strong I wanted to kill him, “Where is my mother?”
He gave me a mocking smile, “Dead.  Once I take a soul, you die because a human cannot exist without a soul.”
Feeling behind me, I found a pair of large metal scissors – the type that cut material, that are very sharp, that are expensive.  I grabbed them quickly and lunged toward him screaming!  Shoving him to the floor, I felt my hatred explode out of me as I plunged the scissors into him…
… but they hit nothing but the floor!
Scrambling to my feet, I looked around.
Where’d he go?
Turning, I heard the door open, and Dad was standing there, “Son? Drew, you okay?” he spotted the scissors sticking up out of the carpet of the floor and noticed me coated in sweat, “What happened?”
“He took her.” I groaned.
“Your mother?”
I nodded, “She made a deal with the Devil.”
Dad just stood there, not knowing what to do, not until I yanked the scissors out of the carpet, “So you attacked him?”
Dumping them onto the counter, I muttered, “He told me he was my father.  Exactly what did you expect me to do?”
He shrugged.
“You know, you’re acting very… calm about this.”
He ran a hand over his stubbled face as his voice caught in his throat, “Yeah, I know.  It’s because I’ve always known that you’re not mine.  There were just little things about you that gave it away that you didn’t belong to me… and today, we have to save your mother from the place she been sent to.”
“Dad that might take years.”
He looked at me, then look to his hands.  The Devil was right:  my father couldn’t look at me.
“Dad, we don’t know where He put her.”
“Yes we do.” He nodded looking at me finally, “The Devil put her on his throne… but your mother isn’t a Queen.”
“She’s the whore.” I whispered.

It took weeks to find out what we needed to about how to get into Hell without the Devil finding out.  And really there was no real way to do it.  The only way to do anything about getting into that place was to make a deal with a demon… and even then, with my bloodlines, they’d tell their boss who – when you think on it – was the Devil.

Crap really, right?

Yeah… right.

So, there we were – Dad and I – sitting at the dinner table eating pizza after the other kids had gone to bed, working on our search for Mum, when I had the best idea.  Well, okay, not the best, but it was something that would work.
“How about I tell Him I’d go with him.”
Dad turned on me, “Are you nuts?”
“Hear me through.” I touched his arm, “He wants me anyway.  So I go and find out where she is and bring her back through… um…” I search the papers, “Purgatory.”
He looked at the research, “And which Reaper is going to wait for you there?”
“We’ll find a way back.”
“Or not.” A voice said behind us.
We turned to find my sister, Tiffany, standing there in her pajamas, “I’ll summon you back.”
She walked to the table, quickly read over our plan and sat down, “I’ve been practicing witchcraft for over a year, I can do it.”
“But your initiation…”
“Bah… it’s all flowers and floating pencils.”
“You have to have one.” Dad said, “You can’t do this without being…”
“I’ll talk to my High Priestess and see what I can do.” She smiled, “I want Mum back as well, but like all Hell I’m letting you piss off downstairs without a way back.”

Tiffany came home the next afternoon in a crappy mood, “She won’t let me.”
“You’re not ready?” I asked.
“Not according to her.”
“Sis, I’m not letting you if your High Priestess isn’t letting you.” I said, “But I appreciate the idea of it.”
“Okay.” She said, “But at least let me prepare the pathway for you to enter the place… so you might be able to return the same way.”
“Sounds like a plan.” I grinned.

The cemetery was dark the night we did the ceremony for me to enter Hell.  I wasn’t looking forward to it and neither was Dad… but it was our only way to get our mother home.  The disgusting part was that we had to exhume her grave.  It took around an hour to dig her casket up and open it.  Then, I had to get into the box with the body… this was the freaking shitty part!
The casket was closed – but not nailed shut – and then the ceremony was begun.  Dad spoke the Latin to perfection and then Tiffany prepared the pathway back through the casket for me to come home – and what a way to come home!

I heard the thin layer of dirt being tossed over the lid and then heard them performing the rituals.  Minutes later, I pushed the lid open and found I was in a boiling hot cell of a place.  Heat rays wavered off the floor and all around me.

I was in Hell.

Climbing out of the casket, I stepped onto the roasting ground and stood, and began to walk to the road where the Devil stood waiting for me.
“I knew you just couldn’t resist me.” He smiled.
“I’m here for my mother.”
“The whore?” he laughed, “Very well, you can have her.” He turned and walked across the road, towards a door I hadn’t noticed.  It opened and let us through into a hallway where there were cells upon cells of lost souls of people who had lost their way and were stuck here in Hell for a variety of reasons.
I was here to get my mother out of here and back to Earth where she belonged.
We approached the end of the hallway and the door opened to a room where I found my mother chained to a bed in the middle of a large cell.  She was almost naked and had demons taking advantage of her – one by one – and she just laid back against the grey pillows with a distant expression on her face, in her eyes.
“Mother?” I said stepping toward her.
She turned toward me and her eyes lit up, “Oh… another one…”
“No… I’m your son.”
She turned her face from me whispering, “I have no son… none at all.”
Tears stung my eyes as I turned around, leaning on the door frame ready to be sick.  I had come all this way to find my mother, only to find her chained up and treated like this.
“It must be a shock…”
“Fuck off… you knew she’d do this.” I snapped.
He took a deep breath, “Well, yes, Drew I did.  So, why did you come?  Why did you come alone?”
I turned and looked at him, “Because it’s me you want.  And you would not have stopped me.”
I glanced at my Mother once more before approaching the bed, grabbing her shoulders and looking into her eyes and realising immediately, that we had definitely lost her.  Her eyes were nothing but lost pools of nothing – they were empty of life, of soul, of anything to say she used to be a human.  I whispered in her ear, “Mum, it’s me, Drew, your son.  You have a family.  Tiffany missed you.  Dad misses you… little Bradley misses his Mummy… please come home to Earth.” I started to cry, “Or at the very least, ask God to save you.”
Her head snapped around as her voice shrieked, “I have no family!  Never did!” she shoved me away, “Leave me alone, Drew!  For the love of all that’s God’s creatures, Drew go away!” she pulled and yanked at the chains as she tried to scratch at me and I turned away toward the door.
It opened and I stepped back out into the hallway…

…walked down past the other cells…

…out onto the side of the highway…

I crossed it toward the place I was before, found the casket and climbed back into it… dreading the fact I had to close the lid on my own.

I now despised small spaces.

Pushing the lid open, I sat up to find Dad was squatting by the casket to help me up, “Shit Drew… you were gone for a good five hours.  It’s almost dawn.”
“We lost her.” I said, “She’s…”
“…here.” Tiffany said looking over the top of grave site with a torch.
With Dad helping me up, we looked over the top of the grave to find my Mum was standing next to the grave, “Holy crap on toast.” Dad mumbled, “Let’s clean this place up and get the hell outa here.”
“Please, let’s not use that word anymore.” Mum said.
“Which one?” I asked clambering out of the grave.
“Hell.” She said holding me close, “You pulled me out of that place, and I was on the highway to Hell… the true Hell.  He had more plans for me than just what you saw, Drew.”
“What kind of plans?” Tiffany asked.
“Well, he’s let me go.” Mum said, “We’re safe from Him… for now.”

When we arrived home, Dad and Mum sat in the kitchen talking.  I listened at my bedroom door with my light out to their conversation:
“Sweetheart, what did you mean by: for now?” he asked.
“Do we have to…”
“Yes, we do.” He said.
“He let me go.  But Drew is the Son of the Devil.  When he is old enough, he will be ordered to walk the Highway to Hell by his true father – and nothing we do will save him from his true destiny in life.”
“What destiny is that?”
I heard Mum start to cry, “We’ll be able to say that our son is the Devil.”

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