Boiling Point

sulfur pit

Lassen National Park Boiling Sulfur Pits – Found at Dailymotion.com

Stop! If you haven’t done so already, read The Quest to Save Landon and When Hell Boils Over first.

After giving Alfred and Merlyn Landon’s invisibility cloak, and making sure they entered the secret entrance to the Moose King’s castle, Buddy the Ambrosial Dragon used a separate and most secret entrance himself, this time straight to Hell, or as close as he could get without being dead or dying. Asmodius, the head of all of Hell’s demons, wouldn’t expect him to enter their realm by posing as one of the dead on a barge crossing the River Styx.

The dragon, Landon, and their magical companion Yao Jin had been exceedingly lucky to escape this place in the past. But he couldn’t let Landon die, and he would do anything to save the boy, including sacrifice his own life and soul. However, there was more involved in his quest than even that.

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When Hell Boils Over

shark

Photo: Discovery Channel

Stop! If you haven’t done so already, read The Quest to Save Landon first.

Landon’s soul shot straight up from the pits of Hell as fast as he could go, but Hell was a lot more confusing than he realized. There were all kinds of tunnels and passageways all over the place. Which one led him out of Hell, and even if he could find it, how was he going to get back to the Moose realm and his dying body?

“Wait!” He saw a blue light just above him. “That’s got to be it.”

He heard yelling, and screaming, and a bunch of voices making vile threats against him. Looking back, there were hundreds of winged demons pursuing him, and they were catching up.

“Oh no.”

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Release

sparks

Sparks from a fire rising into the night sky. Photo credit: unknown.

It had been nearly a century since the fall. He didn’t think he’d had a sense of time while his soul was being seared in its fiery crucible, but he had been aware of the passing of every day, every hour, and even the tiniest second of torture, shame, and regret.

That it had taken him so long to reach a state of correction and purification was a testament to his stubborn nature and moral weakness. All he had to do was give up his sins and make true teshuvah, but even once mortal life had departed his flesh, he continued to cling to his darkness.

Yet little by little, with the passage of time and in the company of incredible horrors, and even more horrible spirits, he progressed toward that goal which most human souls eventually achieve; a reconciliation with the Source.

Today was the day. He continued to rise through the stench and stale, smoky air of Hell, his sojourn in the realm of misery finally finished. Like a Divine spark, he flew high above the blaze, the inferno becoming a fading memory, as he soared into the fresh atmosphere of freedom and redemption. He was going home.

I wrote this for Saturday Mix – Opposing Forces, 26 May 2018 hosted at Mindlovemisery’s Menagerie. Today, the idea is to take a pair of antithetical statements and use them in a poem, short story, or other creative work. They are:

  • fresh and stale
  • rise and fall

I bolded those words in the body of my story so readers could pick them out better.

I admit, the first thing I thought of was “bread” or “cake” but I decided to write something more interesting instead.

In Christianity, it is generally believed that you either go to Heaven or Hell when you die and that your stay is permanent and eternal, However, some branches of Judaism believe that except for the most evil souls (Stalin, Hitler), if your sins outweigh your merits at death, Hell is a horrible crucible wherein you may continue to confront your dark nature, and ideally, with the passage of time, make teshuvah (repentance) and eventually merit release to the Heavenly court to be reunited with the Source.

I thought I’d create a brief chronicle of my character’s “graduation.” I’m sure I’m not doing the concept justice, but after all, this is just a brief sketch.

The Other Side

corridor

© J. Hardy Carroll

This had to be a dream because it had that totally unreal feeling about it. He was walking down a corridor with closed doors on either side, but the one he really wanted was the doorway straight ahead. He could see daylight coming from underneath. It was the way out.

He also couldn’t help but notice the fire extinguisher on the floor to the left of the doorway. They’re usually mounted on the wall.

His footsteps were silent even on the break floor but he could hear the sound of his own breathing so he was alive.

He stopped at the door and pressed his ear against it to listen. It was hot, really hot. He couldn’t hear anything but had to pull his head away.

“In for a penny.” His voice sounded strange to him. Then he gave the metal doorknob a brief touch. Too hot to touch. He had a rag in his back pocket and he used that to protect his hand.

He pushed the door open gently. Flames. A city street outside a cheap motel. He grabbed the extinguisher and created a path. There was a figure just ahead. “Welcome to Hell.”

Then he woke up.

I wrote this for the Sunday Photo Fiction Challenge of February 11th 2018. The idea is to use the image above as the prompt for authoring a piece of flash fiction no more than 200 words long. My word count is 200.

The tale is pretty much taken from all of the visual cues. The image looks unreal but the sepia tone plus the fire extinguisher say there’s something hot. I picked “Hell” but then decided it was all a dream after all because I didn’t sleep well and my dreams were pretty messed up anyway. No research this time, just reactions.

To read other stories based on the prompt, go to InLinkz.com.

Revival (Not the Church Kind)

Chocolate Legs

From the YouTube video Project Soul – CHOCOLATE LEGS – Eric Benet (Live Band Cover) Freddi Lubitz

“Your cocoa skin against mine…Is all I need to help revive me…”

I’m dead and it’s all her fault. Oh, she didn’t actually murder me, but she knew it was dangerous. Well, that’s unfair. I was dying anyway. I had nothing to lose and she knew it. She was actually trying to help and I even agreed, but if I’d said no, I might have had a few more weeks or even months.

We met at a “Pagan Pride” event in Oak Park near Chicago. The place was actually pretty impressive compared to what I was used to. I’d just hit “the Windy City” and was staying at a cheap hotel wondering what I was going to do next. Kenadee had a little apartment on the South Side. She normally didn’t hook up with guys the same night she met them, but I have that affect on people.

Neither of us were exactly “pagan” people. They tend to be pretty nice and harmless, Crescent Moonies, Wiccans, and Heathens who pull together for local charities and social causes. I only went because they were having an open house and the food was free, plus they aren’t nearly as judgmental as churches, synagogues, and mosques.

She was there because being a witch, she had no other place to go for a social outlet plus she has a soft spot for puppies and they were having a fund raiser for the animal shelter.

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A Brief Respite from Hell

marina

© J.S. Brand

Finally I can relax for a little while. It’s such a nice afternoon. I don’t own a boat but I love this marina.

The bird doesn’t have a care. Oh to be like the bird simply standing in the water near a small tree waiting for lunch to swim by.

I know the people on their yachts probably have cares, but they seem not to from where I’m sitting.

If only I could make these few moments last forever. No, that’s not right. They are precious only because they are few. Eternal peace would probably be boring.

I don’t want to leave. Just a few minutes longer please?

I know. I have to go back. This is only a fantasy and you can’t really live in a fantasy.

True life is lived in the cold and darkness, in snow and ice, and drones like me only get the briefest taste of freedom.

Good-bye my little marina. I hope I’ll be able to visit again. Now I rise. Back to life in darkness and purgatory.

I wrote this for the FFfAW Challenge-Week of January 2, 2018. The idea is to use the image above to inspire the creation of a piece of flash fiction between 100 and 175 words long. My word count is 174.

I had a tough time with this one. It looks like a marina which I find very relaxing. I once read that one of the 10 best places to retire is Port St. Lucie, Florida. I looked up marinas in that area and found a bunch of them, but that still didn’t help.

As I write this, I’m sitting in my office at home and it’s still pitch black outside. It’s about 26 degrees F and will only climb to just below freezing today.

After my second three-day weekend in a row, I don’t want to get in my car and drive to work in the dark. That’s the full inspiration for this wee missive.

To read other stories based on the prompt, go to InLinkz.com.

Return to the Mysterious Island

styx

From the 2012 film “Wrath of the Titans”

The 25th Story in the Adventures of the Ambrosial Dragon: A Children’s Fantasy Series

“What?” Landon was surprised to still be alive. Somehow, when he heard the coin in his head say it was hungry, he thought it was hungry for him and that in some magical way, he was being eaten.

He sat up and looked around. It was darker than night. He was on an island on a plateau near the highest point.

The sky was black. The water all around the island was black. The island itself was made out of black rocks and dirt. Worst of all, he knew where he was. He’d been here before.

“The island on the River Styx, the River of Death.”

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The River Between Heaven and Hell (Part One)

styx

From the 2012 film “Wrath of the Titans”

The Seventeenth Story in the Adventures of the Ambrosial Dragon: A Children’s Fantasy Series

“My name is Yao Jin and I need to speak to your grandson. It is an urgent manner.”

The Chinese woman at the door spoke English formally, like someone who had learned it from a textbook, but her tone, facial expression, and body language told Grandpa she was terrified and desperate. On top of all that, she was dressed in a simple but full length cloak, which was odd clothing for a warm summer afternoon.

“Well of course you can come in, but why do you need to speak to my grandson?”

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Where the Hell am I?

lucifer

Actor Tom Ellis as “Lucifer”. © Tricia Helfer. Found at Buzzymag.com

“Welcome to Hell, Daniel, where we’ll try to make your stay as uncomfortable as possible.”

“Wait. What? Where am I? Who are you and what happened to me?”

“There, there dear Daniel. I’ll try to explain.”

From Daniel Katz’s point of view, he was standing in a large, empty white room in front of a tall, charming fellow with a British accent. The man wore a tailored black suit, his dark gray shirt open at the collar, black hair, and deep brown eyes which seemed to pick up a bit of red from time to time.

“You see, you died.”

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Life After Resurrection

infernoAfter Martha brought her sister Mary to meet Jesus outside Bethany, Mary threw herself at his feet weeping, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” She was bitter in her heart but secretly hopeful as well. As her sister Martha had told her, “Even now, I know that whatever Jesus asks of God, God will give to him. We can still have our brother Lazarus back.”

The mourners had followed the sisters from their home to where Jesus was waiting outside the village, and there was a great cry of anguish in the air.

Jesus placed his hand upon Mary’s head. “Where have you laid him.”

Seeing the tremendous grief Mary and Martha suffered, he too began to weep. The crowd thought it was because Jesus had loved Lazarus so much that he too mourned the loss. They didn’t understand that Jesus had known the man Lazarus was to die and that it was for the glory of the Almighty.

“Lord, come and see.” Mary rose and took the Master’s hand, pulling him in the direction of the tomb.

He went with them, still deeply moved by their grief. The mourners followed so there was a sizable group of people present when they came to the cave. The opening was covered with a stone sealing the corpse inside.

“Remove the stone,” Jesus said.

Shocked, Martha replied, “Lord, by this time there will be a stench for he has been dead four days!”

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