Scrawling a Bit of Fiction

17 02 2014

So it seems to be the time of week where Ermilia provides us another visual writing prompt. Some people may find a bit of unpleasantness ahead. Here at the press? Well, we’re all adults…by legal definition. Nontheless mature content is ahead.

You’ve been warned.

As always the picture is provided by the ladies over at Ermiliablog for their regular Picture it and Write prompts.

water-mask

“So you come to libraries much?”

Lewis looked up from the copy of House of Leaves he had been buried in for the past hour. A young girl, probably a teen, with a fiery red mane squinted at him through a pair of thin framed glasses.

“What?” he said.

The girl sat down across from him and leaned on the table. She looked over her shoulder around the rest of the library like she was hiding from someone. Lewis followed her gaze around.

“I know what you are.” She whispered.

The scent of brimstone and burnt hair filled Lewis’ mouth and nose. Reflexively he was thinking of smiting this girl. Commencing her to a life of pain and suffering the likes of which she would have only experienced in her worst nightmares. He had sworn off the old ways but if anyone was going to try and stop him from moving on with his life he just might have to make an exception.

“You’re one of those guys who hangs out at like, libraries, and coffee shops, and those weird clubs with saxophones where they wear sunglasses all the time trying to pick up girls.”

Suddenly the imaginative tortures occupying his imagination took a seat to wait for the explanation that was hopefully on its way.

“Why would I want to do that?” said Lewis.

“I don’t know. Maybe you were like, raised in like, maybe, a really religious home or something so now you’ve got really repressed feelings.”

Lewis thought about the long hours talking to God about the condition of the human spirit. The stories that he would tell about time before time. Before any of the world was yet made, even before Lewis’ existence; the really old time.

“Something like that.”

“Right, so you think that the hole you have in your life you can fill with stuff like beer and sexual conquest.”

For a moment he pondered her proper use of the word ‘conquest’.

“You’ll have to forgive me, but why are you talking to me in the first place? I don’t even know who you are.”

The girl stood and brushed off the front of her skirt. “My name’s Girl and I’m here because I think you can do better with your life. I’m here because I could tell you were in need of something. Have you heard the good news of our Lord and Savior?”

Oh sweet irony.

Lewis leaned back in his chair and scratched his head. It was something he had heard humans did when they were attempting to sort out particularly complex problems. It hadn’t worked for him so far but he continued when faced with things he didn’t yet understand hoping that he just hadn’t mastered the process yet.

“Did you say your name was Girl?”

She gave him a single sharp nod. When it became apparent he wasn’t going to be able to focus on anything else she sat down, adjusted her glasses and told him about her parents; Diane and Keith.

He tuned her story out almost immediately. There wasn’t much that Lewis couldn’t tell you about a person. Given a name he could recite every single sinful act a person had ever committed right down to the date and time of day, public or secret. At least so far as the current framework of sin was concerned. And then only the people who subscribed to that particular belief in the first place.
 
Diane and Keith Klemp were a couple that had been fond of engaging in some of the more serious sins during their married years. Major thefts, pride in their criminal ways and of course a slew of sexual nonsense that flooded their part of earth in the 1960’s. Also he felt that he might be able to make a strong case for naming one’s offspring ‘Girl’ as being a sinful act.

Lewis felt her grab his arm and in a flash he was back in Hell.  “Are you listening to me?” she asked. Between them the table still stood, burning and turning quickly to ash. Girl was unaware of the sudden change in environment, a terrible landscape of black stone and fire stretched infinitely outward from them. Volcanoes rained magma and flaming boulders down on throngs of people in the distance. Nearby a bony devil shoveled hot coals into a pit of the recently deceased.

He hadn’t had a reaction like this since he’d retired. As it was, particularly evil acts would stain a person and even the slightest physical contact would offer him a front row seat to the particulars. This little evangelist was suddenly becoming more interesting.

He checked Girl. As expected she had become motionless, frozen in time, her mind likely unable to make sense of the sudden break down in physics and natural law that was occurring around her. Lewis released his arm from her grip and started to walk.

He stopped at the shore of a lake of magma that flowed freely from the ground. Globules of the stuff drifted about over the surface and floated lazily off into the sky with a sentience all their own. These lakes were the start of the whole thing. The source of why he retired. There were three in Hell. Lucifer’s Reflecting Pools is what he had decided to call them. It was a subtle nod to an English monk he used to delight in torturing. That was his name for them and Lewis decided that he’d liked the ring of it.
He skipped a stone across the surface and each time it contacted the magma would tremble and transform into water as clear as a high-mountain stream. He kept skipping stones until the whole thing had changed and a series of rocky steps floated to the top leading out to the center. He continued his walk across the water.

The path led him to an island at the very heart of the lake. It was only about the size of the kitchen in his apartment. He laughed out loud at the thought. Here he was in the middle of Hell thinking about an apartment he rented on Earth. How things were changing.

In the center of the island a stout basalt altar stood. Upon it was a golden cup filled with fire that burned from an invisible source. He dipped his fingers into the flame in the cup and rubbed his eyes. He blinked hard until the sting subsided and walked to the edge of the water where a memory was starting to take place.

It wasn’t much of a memory but it was enough. A young girl maybe seven or eight stood cowering in the corner of her room. Lewis stepped in and instantly became a part of it. The lake, the fire, the little piece of Hell was gone and he found himself standing in a house that smelled like cigarettes and cheap perfume.

He squatted and looked down at the memory of the child. Tears streamed down her cheeks, her eyes fixed on the bedroom door. From another room, screaming and the sound of terrified tears carried down the hall.

“What happened to you?” Lewis asked. The memory didn’t respond of course. For the young Girl, he wasn’t even there. As he asked she gritted her teeth and walked slowly to the door. Girl pushed it open and headed for the source of the noise. Lewis followed.

The hallway was a mess. Pieces of glass littered the floor. Broken picture frames and family photos added to the chaos like bits of sad confetti. The volume of the fighting increased sharply and Lewis looked to see that Girl had opened another door. Profanity and desperate cries poured out. He walked over and peered in as Girl entered the room.
This was a bedroom. Broken furniture was scattered everywhere. Torn curtains lay draped over smashed up chairs and a splintered table covered the bed, the sheets of which were stained with little pools of blood. He followed Girl into an adjoining room, the true source of the commotion.

Her father, Keith, towered over her mother who lay crumpled up beside a bath tub three quarters full of water. His fists were bloody and her mother’s face was bruised and clearly broken. Lewis couldn’t make out what Girl’s father was yelling – that bit of the memory was too fuzzy.  But as he raised his fist to strike her again, Girl lunged at him, the unexpected force hitting him in the back too great to maintain his balance and he fell into the bath tub.

It was easy to tell from the way he fell that he struck his head on the way into the tub. He didn’t move after he hit the water, even so Girl rose to her feet and held the motionless form of the beast that was her father under the surface for several agonizing moments before realizing that it wouldn’t be necessary. She stepped back from the tub and rushed to help her mother, the memory fading as she did.

And he was back on the shores of the old reflecting pool. Lewis remembered the father’s arrival as a particularly satisfying day. He had prepared a delightful table of punishment for the monster that was Keith Klemp. He had never seen Diane though. And that thought brought a smile to his face as he walked back across the lake, to the table and sat down again.

Hell faded away, the world righting itself once more around them. Girl stared at him as if nothing had happened. “Are you listening to me?”

Lewis stood and stuffed the books he had checked out into his backpack.
 
“May I ask you something, Girl?”

“Sure. I’d love to answer any of your questions.” She said, excitedly producing a Bible from her bag.

“When you have nightmares do you ever see your father’s face staring at you from underwater?”

The excitement fled from her. She stared open mouthed as she dropped her Bible on the table. A couple of times she started to say something but seemed unable to piece together a coherent thought despite what seemed to be a monumental amount of effort.

Lewis walked around the table and set his hand on her shoulder.

“People like you are why I retired.”

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