A crackling noise woke Jenny. She fluttered her burning eyes and scrambled to her bare feet. Mud had stiffened her profile, and with no other alternative she used the hem of her dress to wipe it away. Timidly she scanned the dimly lit unfurnished room, a total disparity to the pristine apartment she had expected to rise in. Abduction was the only explanation she could consider, though she could not fathom a reason. Tremors overwhelmed her frail frame. Her body involuntarily jerked her almost off balance, and made her bite her tongue. Beads of light danced sporadically across the dark room. She peered through each reachable crack, none wide enough to suggest a possible location. With no visible exits, Jenny blindly dragged her palms across the walls, and found grooves outlining a door, discreetly harmonized with the material of the room. She knocked forcefully, incessantly and screamed for a savior to no avail.

Adrenalin overwhelmed her. Though dizzy and a bit disoriented, she drove her shoulder against the door with the confidence of a bull. Every impact fatigued her more, but she was persistent and eventually pitched herself out of the room. She struggled for a breath, coughing and choking. She rubbed her bruised shoulder. Mental anguish superseded her physical pains after she composed herself, and became conscious that she had not rescued herself, but in fact, entered into a forest filled with trees completely engulfed in bright yellow-orange flames. She could not put her thoughts together to answer all the questions that filled her mind. She had never been in a forest, or knew how to find one, and why were the trees on fire? A panoramic view further alerted her that the trees were merged together, and had formed a complete loop around her. There was no way out.

The scenery resembled the set of a horror movie, or she had to be dreaming the most realistic dream she had ever dreamt. Trees randomly released branches that could no longer hang on to their trunks. Leaves turned to ash before they touch the ground. Smoke jeopardized her oxygen supply. She grew weaker and weaker. In spite of her dilemma, Jenny knew panicking would threaten any chance she had for survival. She disciplined her thoughts, shielded her nose and mouth with her sleeve and wandered around her prison calling for help, looking for anything, or anyone. As she searched, she peeked at the sky, ashamed of her awareness of what it symbolized. To her horror it was deep red, so deep it almost seemed black except for the orange illumination it projected. The sinister ambience of her prison increased her fear, she speculated that her circumstances might be the result of something supernatural, but she focused on her escape.

She shuffled through grass and ash, trying to ignore the crackling of burning trees, and the howling of wild animals she did not see. Perspiration invaded her bloodshot eyes, the soles of her feet were grossly blistered, but she was afraid to stop or fall asleep. She continued walking until she accidentally stepped on a scorching branch, causing her to lose her balance, and fall into an open pit. It seemed as though she was lying there forever. Jenny was in such grave pain she was afraid to move, if she even could. Her right arm hurt the worse. She had used it to try to brace her fall. Wind blew, gently circulating a scent she could only compare to a mortuary she had reluctantly visited.

Jenny groped and pulled herself upright. She cuddled her injured arm and surveyed how far she had fallen. At the rim of the pit stood a man tall, thin, and completely concealed by a black gown except for his hands that exposed raw skin with veins protruding and seemingly infested by tiny insects. He wore an elaborate cryptic headpiece that covered his face, and he stood as straight as a soldier on parade. The chilling sensation of his presence crippled her. Her lanky legs struggled to keep upright.
“Do you know who I am?” he growled.
His voice was icy cold and venomous.
“No,” Jenny replied.
“I am Apollyon. I am here to execute your transition to hell.”
“You are dead!”
“What! I am not dead, and even if I were I won’t go to hell!”

Apollyon didn’t argue. He threw a thick scroll to her, smacking her accurately on her forehead. She staggered to maintain her stance. A vein pitched out vertically on her bruised forehead. Her nose flared, her teeth clenched, but she picked up the scroll without verbal complaint. She unrolled the scroll with her fingertips. Her tears ran freely when she saw that it chronicled every sin she had ever committed. Even though she had never killed or committed adultery, she had never valued spirituality, and had only committed what she considered to be ‘little sins.’

“But these are all little things. I’ve never really done anything that bad,” she said.
“I’ve heard this all before. Your choices and deeds have brought you here. This is your consequence.”
“No! Please, this can’t be the end! Can’t I get another chance?”
“Do I look like I could give you another chance? To do what – go to heaven, repent? Actually, He gave you many chances, but you’ve built your life around your selfish manipulative behavior, causing havoc to anyone who did not submit to you. You even destroyed your sister’s marriage! What did you think sin was?”

Jenny could not believe this was her reality. Usually her father’s influence safeguarded her from any retribution she might have deserved.
“I will say one thing to you. Most people including the worst of the worst try to pray their way out of here, sometimes it actually works. Though you thought of God, still you would not call His name.”
Apollyon glided away allowing loose dirt to fill the pit. As dirt fell, she was accosted by memories of the people she had hurt, and the outcome of her actions. Jenny clawed at the walls as she begged Apollyon for help, but he was apathetic.

Completely submerged but alive, Jenny did something she had never done before. Instinctively vain she had shielded her face, but in retrospect, it enabled her to move her mouth. She prayed!
“Dear God, please forgive me for the horrible life I’ve lived, and for ignoring You. I know now there are consequences for sins. Please give me one more chance.”
Jenny did not panic. She was as still in her mind, as she was forced to be with her body. Remaining hopeful, she eventually become unconscious.

Whack! Whack! Suddenly a rush of raging water engulfed Jenny. Someone grabbed her shirt, and frantically began dragging her out of her car. Completely in shock that she and her car were under water, she wrestled with her rescuer, but he held her firmly, swimming upwards. Shortly they both emerged to the surface. She spluttered, coughed and fought to catch her breath.
“You’re going to be OK. Just breathe, breathe.”


  1. Pingback: THE BOCAS LITERATURE FESTIVAL | Selima and the Merfolk


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