A collection of short stories, mostly written for 'Screams!'
| To Hell... And Back?
He's always there, loitering, ready to hurl out his insults and put-downs. I know I shouldn't let it get to me, but when you've got no friends to share your pain with it's hard. No, forget that - it's impossible.
I never let him see it though. Not the torment or the tears he caused. But things were getting worse, almost unbearable. I'd have to stand up to him if the bullying was ever going to stop.
So now I'm all tensed up, breathing so shallowly that I feel dizzy. My hands are curled into fists so tightly my fingernails are cutting in to my palms. I'm gonna do it! I'm gonna give him a taste of his own medicine.
The first thing I see is the toe of his boot poking out from around the corner. I could turn around... the temptation is almost irresistible.
Too late now; he's seen me and is swinging round to block my path. He sneers, juts his face towards me, and in his pronounced southern drawl begins letting those insults fly. "You #**^#88**## witch!"
I'm almost floored by the beer fumes, the stale smoke and the stench of his rotting teeth. I draw back, a reflexive movement, but this time I don't give my ground. "Why don't you just go to hell!"
You know, I've got to tell you that I'm pretty impressed by the power of my voice. There's not a hint of my quaking to be heard.
I don't think either of us were prepared for what happened next. He... flickered. There's no other word for it. One minute he was standing there, clear as day and just as grubby, the next he was surrounded by flames. His eyes are so wide I think they might pop out of his skull and land on the pavement between us; and his mouth is held in a grimace that exposes the broken teeth and the raw gums.
Sulfur! That's what I can smell now. The stench of rotting eggs. Whatever I'm seeing it doesn't last long. He's standing there in front of me again, but his clothes are smouldering and the skin on his face is lobster red. But it's his hair that is the most startling. No longer is it black where it pokes out from beneath his cap, but absolutely bleached out white.
As I force myself to keep on walking, he actually flinches away. I can't resist taking a backward glance, and there he is, still in the same spot, staring at me with a mix of awe and fear.
I'm sorry, I just can't resist it. "Boo!" I say, and he turns tail and runs.