Behind the wheel, music blaring, moving at breakneck speed. My song is interrupted (right at the good part) by a text.
Lauren: You comign to the party?
Oh don’t worry Lauren, I’ll be there. Its only 9:30 and you’re already throwing me typos, I wouldn’t miss this for the world. I send my response: “On my way.” Turn the song back to play, put my phone down, and lift my eyes to headlights. Impact. Darkness.
I roll back my sticky eyelids with the remainder of my might to a bloody airbag. My ears are ringing, and through the hum I detect the song of sirens. I am profoundly disoriented and extremely tired; but somewhere between my excruciating pain and beautiful numbness I am finding peace. I suppose now is as good a time as any…
“God…[cough]…if you’re there…I know I haven’t been to church much. Or really ever. I didn’t pray and…well…I did the best I could to be a good person, I think anyway…but I guess that’s up to you. I’m…I’m…”
Going to sleep. Looks like for good. One last Hail Mary to the big man should hopefully cover my ass if there is an afterlife. Not an actual Hail Mary, I don’t even know the prayer. To me a Hail Mary is a heroic quarterback play. But still, better than nothing, right?
The first thing I detect is the putrid smell of sulfur. I’m afraid to open my eyes, though I shouldn’t be. I know the result. I buck up and open them to find that I am in some subterranean passage. Behind me is a closed cave face that stretches all the way to an opening which is guarded by a figure.
Around me are hundreds of people trying to make phone calls and text messages to loved ones with no success. Some are panicked and crabbing about their lack of service; others seemed more familiar with their situation as they would attempt a phone call, wait, hang up, and try again with robotic effort.
For the sake of due diligence, I check my phone to find that I, too, have no bars. Sorry Lauren, looks like we’re not gonna get weird tonight. Or anytime soon. Just before I attempt a phone call, I accept its futility and begin to wade through the crowd towards the opening in the cave. With every step, the faint echoes of music and conversation grow louder.
As I approach the crag opening, I am able to better see its’ guardian. The figure has skin red as hate, swooped black hair with menacing eyebrows to match, and the nefarious grin of a furnace. So yeah, the guardian is Lucifer himself. Snaking red arrow-headed tail, horns. The whole ordeal. Though his appearance bears some…unexpected…deviations from the lore. His eyes are masked by plastic wayfarers, and he adorns a black tank top with “I Pitchfork…” written in white across it. The tank droops lazily over his vibrant floral board shorts from which his boney legs connect to his feet stuffed into well-worn flip-flops.
“You tryin’a party, bro?”
“Call me Lou. The full name is a little stuffy. So what’s the deal, you tryin’a get down or what?”
I weigh my options. Eternal damnation, or eternal lack of cell service? One in the same, really. “Uh…yeah. S-sure!” I begin to walk by him when he juts out his arm and thrusts his gnarled hand onto my chest.
“Five bucks for dudes…”
Right. I reach back and pull out my wallet which has somehow made the spiritual voyage with me, crack it open and produce my lone bill — a fiver with Lou’s face plastered on the side.
His grin widens as he snatches the bill from my hand and stuffs it into one of his floral pockets. “I’m glad you could make it my man, I was starting to fear that you wouldn’t show. Follow me.”
He whips around and begins to corner the entrance to the crag, during which I was able to read the back of his tank top: “…You Catchfork.”