The Ladies of Horror
Picture-Prompt Writing Challenge!
Halfway to Heaven
by Michelle Joy Gallagher
The master ordered the spires built during one of his episodes. He said he wanted to be as far away from hell as possible. “We can build a city halfway to heaven!” he’d exclaimed. Everyone feared him too much to contradict him. He brought in the finest architects and engineers, builders and learned men. The spires started going up only days later, with the poor men who’d just finished the aqueduct now working around the clock on them. All the while he laid in bed, suddenly afflicted by the “heat of hell coming through the floor tiles. It was all around him, he said. They had to work faster.
As they worked faster, more mistakes were made, and as the spires grew taller, reaching into the sky like bony fingers scrabbling for purchase, it meant that people died. The men would slip and fall and hit the ground with a dull thud, blood oozing from their eyes and ears and mouth, skulls crushed beyond oblivion, and the master refused blame, saying the men were so in love with a sinful life, they were drawn to it like a magnet. He laughed at them and cursed them, and forced older men, boys and women to take their place.
Still the master cried, and gnashed and screamed that the fires of hell were growing hotter. Old men carrying stones were whipped, young boys climbed and climbed and then fell and were impaled. The other workers were ordered to brick them up, even as they screamed and squirmed and tried in vain to lift themselves off of the impossibly tall rebar. They pled and begged as they were cemented in.
Finally, the platform was in place, and the spires that now carried so much misery held the base of the new city. The master ordered them at once to carry him to the top, that he was burning alive and wanted to be closer to the glory and grace of almighty God. Once at the top, he exclaimed that he could still feel hell chasing him, and in his anger, whipped them, beat them, and flung them from the platform to the ground below, “back into the fire that made their sinful hearts.”
Soon it was only the master remaining, and he realized far too late he was too feeble to climb back down. He paced and screamed down to the people below to help him, to bring him food, that he was thirsty, that the sun baked him. They dragged their dead away and buried them and ignored the raving man, who’s almighty god wasn’t listening either.
Fiction © Copyright Michelle Joy Gallagher
Image courtesy of Pixabay.com
More from author Michelle Joy Gallagher:
Blackhawk: Volume 2
Welcome to Blackhawk, Colorado. Blackhawk has always been strange. Natural disasters. Disappearances. Murders. High strangeness is a part of daily life. We can’t hope to explain it, but we can chronicle its past. Learn from it. Fear it. Blackhawk is an experimental fiction series set in a shared universe, written by a variety of talented authors. It is the brainchild of David M Brown (Plague Doctor, Modern Animals) and Carl D Smith (Moleb the Giant, Darkness Out of Carthage). Each story will contribute to an organic, evolving mythology as diverse as the voices behind its tales. For fans of True Detective, Lost Highway, Twilight Zone, and The Terror. This is Volume Two of the series and contains five stories by five different authors, each in tune with the specific strangeness Blackhawk has to offer. NOTE: For fans of Lake Lord Publishing’s prior horror titles, be warned that Blackhawk will contain content that is perhaps more disturbing and mature.
Good one, Michele! Justice is served.
Great story – I can see the movie already!