The old man smiled at us, and threw his arms open in an expansive gesture, beckoning us forward with his distinctive cane, topped with the amber handle.
This was the moment we’d all been waiting for… All the secrecy, all the hype and all the intrigue had led to this moment.
He paused, then smiled again: “Welcome to Silurian Park!”
The great gate swung open and the vehicles rolled through.
The press reception afterwards was subdued.
“So, no dinosaurs then?”
“Well, no. They came much later… But you have to admit the ferns and lichen are all pretty impressive, huh?”
At the gate, the entangled cables covered the walls and sneaked through. No one knew what they were for, and no one asked. As the days went by, more cables appeared, increasing the entanglement of the hopelessly entangled mess.
And then came the kid. He unplugged all the cables, straightened them up, and plugged them all back in. It took him a while too. But he was pleased with himself. He smiled and walked away.
No one in town had the heart to complain about the hours with no power. But they did make sure to avoid any future entanglements.
It’s not very impressive, is it?
Satan shrugged. “You can blame the budget cuts for that”, she snorted.
The new gate into hell, was just a little disappointing – it was the cheapest the local DIY store had in stock, and someone had bent the hinges during the fitting, so now it wouldn’t close properly.
“Maybe some positive PR?” I suggested. “Call it ‘The Portal to the Abyss’, or something? Anyway, once the everlasting torture starts, who’s going to care?”
Satan, slowly shook her head. “Yeah, about the torture thing… We’re downgrading to ‘a good telling-off’. Budget cuts, I’m afraid!”
To get to the gate, you had to cross the bridge of sighs, descend the 1000 iron steps of forgiveness, swim the river of sorrow, tunnel through the mountain of memories, fill out form aw/42— 1066e, clear your mind of all thoughts, change out of yesterday’s underwear, run without scissors, slowly back-out of the room, meet you half way, stand on a corner Winslow, Arizona, It’s a girl, my Lord, in a flatbed Ford slowin’ down to take a look at me Come on, baby, don’t say maybe. I gotta know if your sweet love is gonna save me.
The great doors open only at festivals. On ordinary days the congregation enter by the door within the door, the wicket gate. Others enter by the wicked gate, and pass among the congregation unseen, except by the priest. In vain he tries to exorcise and seal the wicked gate, and in vain he preaches to the congregation to awake and witness the demons. Even the Eucharist is without power to dispel them, and he despairs.
For this world is but the refuse of the Resurrection, an unwinding clockwork imagining itself to live on, the drying cocoon of a departed butterfly.
Marissa slapped her father’s arm. “Daddy. It doesn’t matter how he flies, I just want to fly with him.”
Just then, Billbert’s father came through the gate to the side yard, smiling. “Did someone say something about flies? Do you know what has six wheels, and flies?”
Mr. Albraggetti rolled his eyes. “Garbage trucks have eight wheels around here. And, your son is going to take my daughter flying.”
“What do I do, dad?”
His father shrugged. “Go ahead son. We’ll have the agency come around later and do a memory wipe. But, then we’ll have to move away, again.”
My wife, my children are gone. Ash and smoke are all that remain. This land belongs to the shades. A fiery anger rages within me and if I don’t turn away from my fury. I too will be consumed and lost. Will my heart of flesh turn to stone? I surveyed what was our home. The gate to my hell house still stands. My anger finds its target and it shall not prevail. I push it over with ease. It does not give me the pleasure I seek. My sorrow overtakes me and I violently sob uncontrollably as angels descend.
Yeah, they took our temperatures as we boarded.
But all through the flight, a guy’s hacking and coughing in Economy.
He’d been told to self-quarantine, but he didn’t listen.
The pilot had announced that we would be changing gates on arrival.
We’d be met by airport security and put under quarantine for the virus.
“Why the fuck did you let that asshole on?” shouts a guy in First Class.
While everyone’s arguing with the flight attendant, I reach into the storage compartment, get out the demonstration seat belt, and loop it around his neck.
At least he’ll stop coughing.