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  1. Domoviye
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    Domoviye Contributing Member

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    Accept the Consequences

    Discussion in '"Consequences" Short Story Contest' started by Domoviye, Jun 8, 2008.

    Accept the Consequences​


    Tommy hid under the filthy blanket. He clutched a tiny bear in his arms, and tried not to scream. If he screamed the demons would find him. They were looking for him.They were always looking for him. They would look for him for eternity for what he had said. For what he had done. He had to pay the consequences.
    The cold night air went through the blanket, he shivered and clutched his knees to his chest trying to keep some of the warmth in his body. A few weeks before he might have wished for warmth. Might have asked God to make him a little bit warmer, or that a friend of his parents would come by and give him a ride home. He used to do that sometimes, when he was walking in the middle of winter and it was 30 below. He couldn't do that anymore, he didn't have the right. Not after what he had done.
    His body wanted to sleep. He had been running and climbing all day. His food had run out and he had had to get more. The demons hadn't seen him, but he had been running hard to cross streets and climbing fire escapes trying to find food. He had hid for over an hour in a trash can, while demons walked down the street. His legs had been on fire from crouching at the bottom of the can for that long. By the time he got out his body was shaking and drenched in sweat. He had hobbled away into an empty building to recover. If a demon had seen him he wouldn't have been able to escape. He wasn't sure he would have even tried. Maybe he would have faced the big consequences. Now hours later, his body still felt dead.
    His mind wouldn't let him sleep though. It kept making him wonder what would happen if a demon found him while he slept. The teeth and claws tearing away his flesh. His bones crushed as he screamed in pain. They would eat him, breaking his body as they feasted. He could feel their teeth around his neck already. They would make him suffer for what he had done. If that was all he might just let them do it. A few minutes of pain until he finally died would be a blessing here. Get it over and done with once and for all. But he knew he would come back. They would do it over, and over again. He would never get away from them, and he would never die.
    They would strip the flesh from his bones, they would rip him into little peices as they ate him. He would scream, and scream. Even as they tore his throat out he would keep screaming. You couldn't die here. You had to live, forever and ever. Those were the consequences.
    For what he had done he was being punished.
    He knew he deserved it.
    This was the consequence for what he had done.
    Why else would he be in Hell?

    ***

    "Tommy!" his Mother shouted, "It's time to get up. You have to help your Dad clean up the yard."
    Tommy rolled out of bed grumbling. One low mark and he was being punished as if he had actually failed. A single C-, for French no less. He wasn't ever going to go to France, why did he even need to learn the stupid language. But his parents had flipped. So now he had to spend every weekend doing chores around the house. It wasn't fair.
    Smokey lifted its large black head from his paws, and gently woofed, as Tommy's foot brushed its nose. The boy bent down and scratched the big, black dogs head. It loved him at least. Not like his parents. Smokey didn't care if he couldn't speak French, or if he had trouble with geometry. Why should either of those things matter. He wasn't stupid, he just prefered history, and gym.
    His stupid parents didn't care that he'd gotten an A in those classes. They only worried about that stupid C-. Stupid French. Stupid parents.
    "Tommy! Get your butt into gear, I want to hear some movement up there," his mother shouted again.
    Tommy stomped to the bathroom. They wanted to hear him so badly, he would do exactly what they wanted, just like the good boy he was.

    ***

    Tommy woke up sweating. He didn't really remember what he had been dreaming about. He never could remember clearly anymore. What happened in his dreams and what happened when he was awake were usually the same, pain, exhaustion, teeth and demons. Sometimes he wasn't sure what was real and what was a dream. Maybe it didn't matter. Here it might be one and the same. Maybe that was why he was so tired all the time. Going to sleep simply moved him to another area of Hell.
    His Granny had told him all kinds of things about Hell. How it was a place for bad people, like murderers, thieves, kids who didn't obey their elders, fornicators whatever those were, and girls who dressed like whores. She had told Tommy and his brother all about it whenever she looked after them. Tommy knew his parents didn't agree with her, and the one time they had heard her, there had been a huge arguement. After that Granny had only talked about it when his parents were gone. She had also made them promise to keep quiet about it. She made sure the next few talks were about how little boys who broke promises were going to Hell.
    If you sinned you had to pay the consequences.
    His Granny sitting stooped over on the couch pointing with her crooked finger at Tommy and Billy, who had to stand obediently in front of her, had been an imposing figure. The wicked witch and an avenging angel who punished all the sinners of the world rolled into one frail little body. Since the age of three Tommy remembered her talking about Hell and how sinners were punished. She had always told them that Hell was a lake of fire, where sinners burned forever. But she had some special stories the scariest ones for Tommy. Sometimes someone would be so bad they would get special attention.
    The Devil didn't have to put every sinner into the fire. There were some places that were different. Some people had to push enormous rocks up a hill forever, and ever. Each time it got to the top it would roll back down crushing them. But they would heal each time and have to go and get it again.
    Some were thrown into a pit with snakes and they were bitten over and over again, turning into a snake until they found another sinner and bit them stealing their body. So you were always getting bitten, and even when you had a body it was never your own.
    A few had their bodies ripped open and eagles would eat their insides all day long. At night they would heal up and the next day they would be eaten again.
    As he laid there Tommy thought he must be in a real bad part of Hell.

    ***

    "Come on Tommy you can't just sit around all day, break times over," his Father said.
    "Aw, Dad. We've been working for hours. I've only been sitting down for five minutes. Give me a break," Tommy said.
    His Father tossed him his work gloves. "You've been working for two hours, and all you've done is mowed the lawn, and picked up some dead branches. Now we get to do some real work, grab the spade and shovel from the shed. We're going to dig your Mother a new garden," he said with a smile.
    "This sucks!" Tommy yelled.
    Tommy's father walked up to him and put an arm over his shoulder. "Listen, if we get the garden done before four, you can have the entire evening off. But you will have to work. So go grab the stuff from the shed and lets do this quick. OK?"
    Scowling Tommy walked to the shed. "I hate you," he whispered to himself.

    ***

    Pain in his legs woke him the second time. His muscles were cramped from the cold air, and the exertions of the day. He couldn't feel his toes, but his knees were just under his chin and he felt his painfully tense muscles vibrating under his clothes. He felt tears running down his face.
    He listened carefully. He had to know if the demons were close. He couldn't run, but if they were close he would roll off the roof and hope that they wouldn't be able to find him. He didn't know the rules here, but maybe if he died from falling, he would be able to keep hiding from the demons.
    He heard the moans of the demons, they never stopped making noise, even at night they moaned. They didn't sleep or rest, they just walked, and ran, and ate, and moaned. A human scream could be heard from somewhere far away. It sounded like a woman, but Tommy wasn't sure. He had discovered that when the demons were eating someone, screams from men and women sounded similar. Children screamed differently. Those were easy to make out. They were higher pitched, almost like a tea kettle. Sharp, long, and painful to the ears. Tommy had heard a few children scream like that. He wondered what he would sound like when the demons finally ate him. He wasn't a kid anymore but he wasn't even really a teenager yet. It didn't matter, he would find out eventually.
    The distant scream didn't last long. Either the person had finally died, or the thousands of moans that now rose from the street were overpowering the person. With all the noise it was safe enough, they wouldn't hear him, and they wouldn't come up the stairs. They would walk down the streets trying to find the screamer.
    Gently, ever so gently Tommy began massaging his legs. Even the lightest pressure made him want to scream in pain. Fresh tears rolled down his face, and he sobbed as quietly as possible. He'd had to do this before, he knew there was no other way. If he wanted to be able to run he had get his legs moving again. He rubbed them, forcing the blood through them, making the muscles remember how to move once more. Pinpricks of pain ran through the muscle, where ever his fingers touched spasmed and ached. Carefully he began moving his legs. Move them too quickly or to much and they would spasm and tense up again. He had to move slowly, patiently, or else it would hurt even more and take longer.
    He didn't mind the pain, not really. He didn't want to hurt, but maybe if he didn't try to fight these little pains, didn't cry or whine about them, the demons would let him stay free a little longer. He was here to punished, to accept the consequences. The little pains, the hunger, the thirst, and the fear, that was accepting the consequences wasn't it? He was suffering the consequences. If he had enough little punishments, the big punishment might wait just a little longer. Even avoiding the big consequence for what he had done for a few more days, a few more hours, a few more minutes was a good thing. As long as he was accepting some consequences, they would let him keep going. Right?
    He pressed his fingers into his muscles a little harder, ignoring the gasps of pain that escaped his lips. He had to accept the consequences.

    ***

    "Lunchtime!" Tommy's Mother said.
    "Thank God, I'm starving," his Father said.
    Tommy dragged his feet as he walked to the cheap plastic table. "Joy," he said, "bread and water for your slave."
    He saw the smile drop from his Mothers face. She placed a big serving tray full of all kinds of thick sandwiches. They looked good. Suddenly he felt bad about his wise crack, he wondered if he should apologize. She went back inside without saying a word before he could make up his mind.
    "Smarten up or else," his Father said, a scowl etched on his face.
    "Sure," Tommy said grabbing a sandwich. He turned away and bit into the sandwich ignoring the world. He didn't even look around as his Mother brought out a pitcher of juice and poured everyone a glass.
    His parents talked about what else needed to be done, and what it would look like once it was completed. All Tommy could think about was all the work he would have to do. It was suppose to the be the summer vacation. When did he get his vacation?
    "Can I let Smokey out?" he asked.
    "No, he is sleeping peacefully inside. If he comes out now, he'll just get in the way and roll in the dirt. You'd have to give him a bath after," his Mother replied.
    "Fine," Tommy said. I hate you, he thought.

    ***

    An hour later he could move his legs. They were still wobbly, but he could walk. That was all he needed. He carefully rolled the old grey blanket up, placing it at the bottom of the book bag he had found. Normally it would go over top of the food and water bottles. But he didn't have either of those. He hadn't found enough yesterday, the little bit of moldy bread he found while searching a house, had been eaten immediately. He'd been able to get a drink from the toilet tank at the same house. He remembered that the water in tank was clean. That had been enough to get him through the day. Now his stomach growled painfully. Lack of food wasn't a big problem anymore, it was the norm now, but there had been even less than usual in the last week.
    The teddy bear he had clutched throughout the long night he placed carefully, almost reverently on top of the blanket. He had found it on his first night. He didn't know why he kept it. He hadn't had a stuffed animal since he was six. It didn't have a name, he didn't even feel the need to give it a name. Nonetheless he kept it very carefully. When he didn't have a backpack he shoved it in his pocket. His hand constantly checking to make sure it was still there. Every night he would take it out and just hold it to his face. Sometimes he tried to talk to it, but as soon as the words were out of his mouth it just seemed silly and stupid.
    Once he tried to throw it away. Just fling it off the roof he was sleeping on. His arm went back, and he made a good hard toss, that should have sent it flying. His hand hadn't let go though. He just stood there holding the stupid bear in his outstretched arm. Finally he had fallen down crying, clutching the teddy bear like a baby.
    Closing the book bag he went to the stairs and walked down to the street.


    ***

    "Why doesn't Billy have to help? He got a D in Math." Tommy asked.
    "Billy got an F in Math last term, he improved. You got worse," his Father said.
    "Only in French. When am I ever going to use French?"
    His Father growled something under his breath. "You have to take French in school. You may never use it, but you have to do well in it. You did badly, so you have to accept the consequences. It's called being an adult, at your age you have to start thinking about things like that."
    "I still did better than Billy. I got two A's, he didn't get any."
    "You know Billy isn't good at school. So stop trying to bring him into the situation. This is about you, not him."
    Tommy grabbed a board and put it in place while his Dad got the drill ready. He knew his Dad was right. Poor stupid Billy, he was born dumb, so he never got yelled at for having bad marks. Didn't have to try very hard, just had to go to special classes, and draw pictures all day. While Tommy had to be perfect or else he got to spend all his time making stupid planters, and digging. Or painting the house, or helping to fix the plumbing, or helping fix the car.
    Stupid, stupid, stupid. Sometimes he wished they would all just go away and die.

    ***

    The street was deserted. There were plenty of insects, and rats on the street. Flies lived in the demons. The few demons Tommy had seen up close had been swarming with files. Maggots crawled under their flesh. The demons had wounds in them. Bite marks, gun shots, holes, and rotting flesh. The flies swarmed around them, and laid their eggs in the dead flesh. The only time Tommy had seen anything like it was when he and his friends had found a dead bear in the woods. It had been crawling with insects. It had smelled bad to.
    The demons were worse. Their flesh wasn't just rotten, it moved. Even when they stood still, and nothing could stand quite as still as a demon who was looking for some sinner to eat, their skin didn't stay still. It moved, bulging and shifting like something was living under it. Tommy wondered sometimes if it was the souls of the sinners they had eaten trying to escape.
    The flies always covered everything. Even when the demons were far away, the flies still landed on Tommy. Some of them bit his flesh, leaving him with painful, bloody bites. Most just got into this eyes, and his hair. Crawling into his mouth and nose. He barely noticed them anymore, they were just one more little punishment. He could accept them as one of the consequences.
    The rats still scared Tommy. The rats fed on the dead bodies that lined the street. They fed on the demons as well. The demons sometimes ate the rats. Usually the demons ignored the rats, they liked the taste of sinners more, Tommy thought, but once in a while, the demons would go madder than usual. A bunch of them would run through the streets, and if they saw anything that looked alive, they would eat it. They would tear their way through doors, rip down fences, and climb in windows looking for food. When the rats ran down the street, Tommy ran to. No hiding place was safe when the demons were looking.
    But the rats were peaceful today, they sat and ate the garbage and bodies that lined the street. At first the bodies had scared him. They looked too much like the demons. But after a while he realized they wouldn't attack him. They were just dead. So he ignored them. Now he just wondered if the bodies came from sinners that had been caught over the eternity, or if they were just a part of Hell that had always been there. It probably didn't matter.
    The rats did scare him though. They were big ones, and vicious. If he came too close they would turn and glare at him with their black, soulless eyes. He saw how they arched their backs, and knew they would attack him if he came too close. Sometimes when he slept, if he actually slept, a rat would sneak up on him, and bite him. Those bites were the worst. They would turn red and get very painful. The rats were always infected with something. But Tommy could accept that. Little punishments were better than the big punishments.
    Maybe enough little punishments would keep him from having to deal with the big punishment. He might be able to keep ahead of the worst consequences.
    He could hope. He couldn't wish, and he couldn't ask for help, but he could hope.

    ***

    Tommy's Mother came out of the house. Tommy didn't really care until he saw his Father drop the shovel and run over to her. He stopped working as well, he deserved a break after all the work he had done. Looking at his parents he suddenly started to worry. His Mother looked scared. She was whispering, but from the way her mouth was moving she was speaking very quickly. It looked like she might even be crying. He walked over to them.
    He couldn't make out what she was saying. She was speaking too quickly, and her voice rose and fell in a weird way. He had never heard her like this. Something about riots, or maybe massacres.
    "Tommy go inside, and get cleaned up. We're done for the day, but you are to stay inside the house," his Father told him.
    Normally Tommy would have complained about being forced to stay inside, but something in his fathers voice told him that it would be a very bad idea. He went inside. The tv was on, it was on a news station. The reporter was saying something about spontaneous riots all over the country. Tommy stopped to listen.
    "UPSTAIRS AND WASH UP!" his Father shouted.
    Tommy ran up the stairs to the bathroom.

    ***

    Staying in the shadows as much as possible, Tommy made his way down the street. There was a grocery store close by. He would have gone to it yesterday but the demons had been waiting all around it. He hoped they would be gone today. If he could get in there, he would be able to eat as much as he needed, and find different ways to get in and out other than the front door.
    He stopped as soon as the grocery store came into sight. He crawled under a car where he could watch the grocery store. Before he ended up here, he would have been too big to crawl comfortably under it. Now he just had to take off his book bag, and make sure he didn't raise his head too quickly.
    He watched the grocery store, looking for any sign of movement. If only he hadn't broken his binoculars, he thought, the job would be so much easier. He wondered where he might find a new pair. Hell looked like his old city, but he had wandered around so much, he didn't know what was where anymore. Sighing he kept looking.
    After an hour he was sure no one was at the store, and no demons were close by. He crawled out from under the car, ignoring the fresh smears of grease that covered the back of his shirt. Hunched over like he had seen in the movies, he ran to the grocery store. His stomach growled painfully, he felt his mouth trying to water, but he was too thirsty and his tongue stayed dried. No moans rose from the surrounding buildings, and nothing came running down the street. Tommy sobbed in relief as he got to the glass doors of the store.
    He tried the door. Sometimes they were locked sometimes they were unlocked. Luck was with him, as the door opened smoothly. He barely gagged as the stench of rotten meat and fruit wafted out the door. Tommy went in quickly and closed the door. If the demons were close they might smell the odor if he let too much of it out. But he didn't lock the door. There might be some demons in the store. He had almost been caught by one when he had tried to get food the first time. He wanted to make sure he could escape easily.
    Not wanting to wait by the window while he listened for demons, he ran to the check out counters and crouched down between two cash registers. It wasn't a perfect place but he couldn't be seen by the window, and he had two ways to run, if he had to he could jump over the counter as well. He listened carefully, trying not to breath to loudly.

    ***
     
  2. Domoviye
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    Domoviye Contributing Member

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    Part 2

    Tommy sat in his room playing his Nintendo Wii, Smokey sat beside him watching. Tommy didn't know what was happening. His parents weren't letting him downstairs to watch the news. The only thing he knew was they were both worried, and they were phoning lots of people to see what was happening and make sure they were alright. One of the first places they had called was the house where Billy was playing with a friend. They had almost cried when they were told that Billy would be driven home right away.
    Other than that Tommy didn't have a clue what was going on, what he was suppose to do, or anything else. He hated his parents sometimes. He wanted to know what was going on to. He wasn't a stupid little boy anymore. He deserved to know what was going on. Stupid parents.
    His Mother came running into his room. "Grab three shirts, two pairs of pants, and 4 pairs of underwear and socks," She said as she tossed him a book bag. "We're going to pick up Billy, and going to camp."
    Tommy stared at her, his mouth hanging open in disbelief. He had never seen his Mom like this before. She looked scared. No that wasn't right. She looked scared watching horror movies sometimes. That wasn't close to the expression on her face. She looked terrified. Not tv terrified, but really terrified.
    "Get up and do it now! We have to go!" she shouted.

    ***

    Except for the sound of Tommy's heart the grocery store was silent. Only the ever present flies moved along the aisles looking for more meat that wasn't already maggot infested, and the remains of fruit that hadn't turned to sludge, and was covered in a carpet of flies.
    Tommy ran to the nearest aisle that couldn't be seen from the street. He grabbed a chocolate bar as he ran. As soon as he was out of sight, he ripped the wrapper off, and breathed in the smell of chocolate. At that moment, even with the smell of rot and decay, Tommy had never smelled anything sweeter or better than that half melted chocolate bar. He took a small bite allowing it to melt in his mouth. His dry mouth finally felt some relief as the chocolate covered it, soothed it and forced some moisture from his body to his mouth and throat.
    Tommy spent five minutes eating the chocolate bar, enjoying every second of it.
    After he was done he looked around to see what aisle he was on. Toothepaste surrounded him. He walked to the back of the store. It was dark but he could still see well enough in the dim shadows. He read the signs at the start of each aisle and went to the drinks aisle. The first thing he needed was water. He switched the book bag from his back to his front and opened it up. As he walked down the aisle he put water bottles into the bag, without even stopping.
    He went to another aisle with granolla bars and dried fruit. He also found some beef jerky, it was hard to chew, but it was filling. From experience he knew cans were too heavy, and almost everything else was hard to prepare, heavy, or rotten. He filled his book bag with food. As soon as he had enough, he ripped open a bag of dried apples and began eating them as he walked. He wanted to make sure he had everything he needed before he left.

    ***

    "Dad what's going on?" Tommy asked, as he came down the stairs.
    "I don't know," his Father replied. "The news is saying that people are going crazy, and I can't reach a lot of people. We're getting out of the city while we still can. And Billy still isn't home yet, so we have to go and pick him up."
    "Do you have everything?" his mother asked. He answered by lifting his full book bag up. "Good," she said. "Now get Smokey. We have to get going," she told him.
    Tommy went to put Smokey's leash on, the dog was excited and jumped up and down wondering what all the commotion was about. "Sit boy," Tommy ordered. It took him a minute before he could get the leash on, by then his parents already had a cooler of food and some bags waiting at the door. His Father waited by the door looking out the window holding a gun case in his hand.
    "Ok everyone, get into the truck and don't stop. I don't care who you see, just get in," he told them, looking mostly at Tommy. "Go!" he said opening the door.
    Tommy followed his Mom through the door, her hands were full with bags. She ran straight to the truck, flinging the door open and throwing the bags inside. Tommy tried to follow her to the truck, but the moment he got outside Smokey started barking and growling. The dog pulled Tommy away from the truck. The boy looked up to see what the dog was barking at. Rob a teenager from down the street was coming towards them. He was covered in blood. Tommy screamed.
    Smokey ripped the leash from his hands, and ran towards Rob, barking like mad. Tommy ran to catch hid dog screaming for it to stop. He felt someone grab him and he was picked up in the air. He screamed to be let down. He didn't know what was wrong with Rob, but the teenager seemed dangerous. The blood covered figure howled and ran at Smokey. Tommy had heard screams like it from the monsters in horror movies, he knew you shouldn't hear something like it in real life.
    Whoever was holding him turned away from the scene just as the dog and teenager met. He was thrown into the truck and the person holding him jumped in beside him. The door slammed shut. His Mother sat panting beside him, she was locking the door and staring fearfully out the window. He tried to climb over her, he needed to save Smokey. Rob was going to hurt him, he had to save his dog.
    "Let me out we have to save Smokey!" he shouted.
    He didn't hear his Mothers reply. He tried to climb over her again, she kept pushing him back and tried to hold his hands. Flailing his fists he thought he hit her a few times as he struggled with her. His Dad finally jumped into the drivers seat, and gunned the engine. The truck jerked to a start and they pulled away from the house. Tommy saw the houses whip past, and could just see a blur of red and black through the tears as they drove past his dog.
    "YOU LEFT SMOKEY! I HATE YOU!" he shouted at his parents.

    ***

    Tommy wandered through the store, he would need to come here again for food and water. Coming in the front door all the time would be a bad idea. It was too easy to see from the street. He went to the back of the store. A doorway or two leading into an alley, or better yet two alleys would let him get in and out safely. The storage room was dark. No windows to the outside. It was impossible to see more than five feet in front of him.
    He remembered seeing some flashlights by the cash registers, he could get some of them. They were always useful. There were plenty of batteries here as well. Walking back to the front of the store he stopped. He heard something.
    Someone was talking.
    Tommy ran from the voice. He headed to the deli counter, the smell of rotten meat and moldy cheese was overpowering. It would hide his smell, and no one would think he was hiding there. He could also run into the back of the store and hide in the darkness if he had to.
    There were two or three people talking. He heard a buggy with a squeaky wheel being pushed. He wondered who they were. He hadn't met any people since coming here. All the ones he had seen had been far away, or had been captured by the demons. He didn't want to meet any either. He was in Hell, the only people here were sinners. He knew what bad people did to kids. He had watched it on the news, and heard what Samantha's father had done to her.
    He didn't want that to happen to him.
    Hiding behind the counter he put his hand over his mouth to cut the stench a little. They might be demons to, he thought. Not all demons looked like dead people. Hell had as many demons as there were people on Earth, his Granny had told him. Some of them may look like humans, at least until you looked at their eyes or saw their teeth. Some stories said that the only way you could tell someone was the Devil was to look in their eyes. If you saw blood and flames it was the Devil. Or look at their teeth, if they were sharp like a wolfs, it was the Devil as well, or one of his helpers.
    That was it, Tommy decided. These were demons, why else were they talking loudly and walking so boldly through the grocery store. If they found him, they would toss him to the demons outside, or do other things to him. His butt clenched painfully, instinctively.
    Even if they weren't demons, they were still sinners, they were in Hell to. They couldn't be nice people. They would hurt him for the fun of it. Or throw him to the demons if they had to run. You couldn't trust them, they would only hurt him, and make him scream, while they laughed at him, and used him.
    He trembled in fear as the bad people wandered through the grocery store. He sat ready to run into the darkness, and tried to breathe the foul, stinking air that smelled of corruption and rot. He didn't whine though, accept the small consequences to avoid the big one for a little longer.

    ***
    They drove through the neighbourhood not speaking. The sound of Tommy's sobbing, and the radio quietly reporting the chaos, was occasionly broken by the sound of gunshots, and screams. Lots of screams.
    His Mother covered his face a few times. Usually when the screaming was close by, or if they drove past something really bad. She kept him from seeing the worst of it, but he would still see the blood, and body before she could cover his eyes. Sometimes he would pull her hand aside just enough to see what was happening. He didn't do that much, especially when he heard the screams.
    He saw a little girl lying on the ground. She was screaming. His mothers hand didn't quite cover his eyes. There was a man on top of her, he seemed to be kissing her stomach. But her dress was dark red, and her scream wasn't human. It was too high, to sharp. It didn't stop either. She didn't pause to take a breath, she just kept screaming, and screaming.
    Tommy tried to scream with her, but his throat didn't work. He couldn't make a sound. He felt his Mother crying. It was impossible to hear her over the scream of the little girl, but he felt her chest shake, and the tears hitting his head. His Father drove faster.
    Sometimes a person would run after them. Sometimes yelling for help, mostly just screaming. Almost all of them were covered in blood. Some had bite markes, some had there skin torn apart, some had broken bones, some had lost pieces of their flesh. His Father didn't stop driving, he would swerve out of the runners way, or once ran over someone. Tommy had screamed that time as the truck bounced over the person. He had covered his ears, but he was too late to block out the sound of crunching bones.
    At that point he ducked down, placing his head on his Mothers lap crying into her pants, and covering his ears. He didn't care that he was too old to cry, he wanted to. Smokey was gone, his Father had killed a man, people were biting little girls. It was a nightmare, it wasn't real. He was going to wake up in his own bed any minute now.
    He started pinching himself.

    ***

    "You got the baby formula?" one of the demon women asked.
    "Yep, two boxes full," a man demon said. "Think that will be enough?"
    It should do for a while. I don't want to stay out here any longer than we have to," the demon woman said.
    Tommy ignored them. No matter what they said they were demons. They knew he was here. They were trying to lure him out. They couldn't tell where he was exactly, and they would play with him first. Try to make him come out to the them. It was all part of his punishment. Make him feel safe, trust them. They would still hurt him, make him suffer the big consequences. If he stayed hidden, kept breathing in the sickening air, didn't believe the lies, they might go away. He would still only suffer the little punishments, the small consequences.
    He would keep hidden, the demons wouldn't get him. No matter what they looked like, what they said or what they did. If they wanted him they would have to come and get him. He would pay for what he did, he would accept the consequences. But they would be the small consequences. If they wanted him to suffer the big one, they would have to catch him. They wanted to play games with him, he would do the same. He would follow their rules until he lost. Then he would accept the consequences like a man.
    What else could he do?

    ***

    The truck came to a stop, as his Father cursed. Tommy looked up from his Mothers lap. The main road was filled with cars. Horns honked, and people shouted. It was too noisy to make out any words. He saw some people on motorcycles, scooters and bikes drive between the cars, and on the shoulder of the road. He thought he heard some gunfire.
    "What are we going to do?" his Mother asked.
    "Turn around and try to find another way across the city," he replied. "Have you been able to get through to Arnold yet? We need to find out where he and Billy are."
    She shook her head. "The cell phone isn't working. Too many people must be trying to phone. Billy is be alright. I know it."
    They began to back up to turn around. His Mother screamed, Tommy turned his head to see what was happening, when the truck was shoved hard.
    Tommy couldn't see anything. He knew he was awake, but everything was black. He heard his Mother and Father screaming. For a moment he thought it was the little girl again. Their screams were almost as loud. He heard a loud bang, and he felt the truck suddenly begin to tip. The truck was still moving even as it rolled. The painful earpiercing shriek of metal scraping metal and pavement overpowered even his parents scream. He still couldn't see anything. He could only feel his gorge rising as they were flipped upside down, and listen to the sound of metal and people shrieking in unison.
    The truck tipped over again, Tommy finally yelled in pain as his Mothers head violently cracked his head. Stars appeared, and finally he could see again. He watched in fascination as the house they were facing went from being on its side to being upright. The truck slowly tipped one final time, it was so slow he wondered, confusingly if he was watching a movie.
    He felt something warm and wet in his pants. The smell of pee filled the truck. He looked down embarrassed that he had wet himself. He saw the dark wet stain around his crotch. There was something else there to, blood. Lots of blood.
    He screamed, and fumbled at his seatbelt. The only thing he could think of was to get away from the blood. It covered his legs. He couldn't look away, it was on him, his pants were soaked in it. There was too much. He was going to die. He was bleeding and he was going to die.
    The seatbelt came off, and without thinking he leaned over his mother and tried to open the door. It wasn't until he had his hand on it that he realized the door was bent, ripped and jagged. The sharp metal cut his hand. Not much but enough to briefly shake him out of his panic. He shouted, and looked at his mother.
    He screamed.

    ***

    The demons were finally leaving. They had taunted him enough, and they were really going. Tommy cried with relief. He would avoid the big consequences for a little while longer.
    He sat there still not moving or trusting them. They might just be pretending to leave, they might have left a few demons, silent demons behind, just waiting for him to move. He would wait right where he was. They would get bored soon and move on. They always did.
    He sat there motionless, not thinking. He simply listened, listened for the demons, listened for any sinners, listened for the rats. Flies landed on him and tasted his flesh, he gently brushed them away. Making no noise, not slapping his flesh, not moving quickly, just a gentle movement that didn't even brush his skin. You couldn't make noise if you wanted to keep away from the demons.
    Finally as the light of the sun dimmed, Tommy moved. He would leave the grocery store. He could come back some other time. He had enough food and water to last a few days. He wasn't eating much, another one of the consequences. Wait until the demons thought he had forgotten about it. He needed to find a safe roof. The demons didn't climb very well. If they did find him on a roof he could always jump off.
    He didn't know how long it took to come back to life in Hell, but he might have enough time to run away before the demons could get down and grab him. He tried not to think what might happen if he didn't recover before they found him. He knew what would happen so there was no reason to keep thinking about it.
    He would accept the consequences.

    ***

    Someone lifted Tommy out of the truck. They pulled him through the shattered windshield. He didn't know what to do, but he couldn't look at his Mother. He kept his eyes closed until they got him on the ground. He knew he should look at her, she would want to know he was alright, but he couldn't look at her. He wondered where his Dad was.
    "You ok kid?" a man asked.
    Tommy nodded his head. He couldn't work his mouth, it refused to open. He felt a scream trying to escape his lips, but his mouth wouldn't open. He heard the people talking, someone said something about shock.
    A grey blanket was put over his shoulders by someone he couldn't see. Faces didn't exist for him, only hands and bodies. Everytime he saw a face, he only saw blood and hair. Someone said they had to get going. Something was coming closer. Tommy didn't know what they were talking about. He couldn't remember anything. His parents were going to pick up Billy, and they were going on a trip. Why weren't they still driving.
    His head hurt, and he just wanted to hug his Mom.
    He had said he hated her earlier. Why had he said that? He had told Dad he hated him to. Where were they. Why were they still in the truck. He had to say sorry to them. He shouldn't have said he hated them. He loved them.
    Why weren't they here, he needed to tell them he loved them. Was that why they weren't coming out?
    He tried to open his mouth, if he shouted loudly enough maybe they would hear him and open the trucks door. They would forgive him. Wouldn't they? Why wouldn't his mouth open?
    Someone picked him up and started walking away.
    Who was this guy? Why was he taking him away. He had to tell his parents he loved them. Why couldn't he open his mouth. Where were they taking him?
    He tried to struggle and scream and shout for his parents. His body refused to move. He simply stayed in the mans arms, he couldn't even say, I love you Mom.

    ***

    Tommy made it to a building he knew of, and climbed up to the roof. He sat in a corner far away from the door and the ladder. Demons could come up either way and he had to have some time to run.
    He thought about what his Father had told him, about accepting consequences. He coudln't remember what happened to his Father. Or his Mother. Before he realized he was in Hell, he had cried and begged them to forgive him. He hadn't meant to say he hated them. He didn't remember why he had said that.
    He only remembered the demons coming to take him away. They had taken him away from his parents because he had hated them. If he had only said, I love you. They would have let him go. But he couldn't say it. He had been too much of a coward. So they had taken him away.
    He was sure his Mom and Dad had fought for him. They wouldn't have let him go easily. But how could you fight demons? It had been up to him to fight them. All he had to say was, I love you, and he would have been able to return to them.
    He had failed.
    It was his fault he was here.
    He had said too many times, he hated them. Worse, he had failed his one chance to make it up. He deserved to be here in Hell.
    He had run away away from the demons who had brought him to Hell. He had gotten out of their car, and ran away once his body was able to move again. He had tried to find his parents. He had shouted 'I love you' to the sky, hoping they would hear.
    It wasn't enough.
    He had never found them. He only found demons. They tried to capture him, they tried to punish him for being a bad child.
    He knew they were right.
    He should accept the consequences like a man.
    But he didn't want to. He wanted to keep away from them. Keep accepting the little punishments, and avoiding the big punishment.
    Maybe if he was punished in little ways enough, they would realize he was wiling to face the consequences for his words.
    Maybe they would let him go long enough to say one last time to his Mother and his Father that he loved them.
    Then he would accept the final consequences.
    Maybe if he kept running long enough, far enough, he could find a way to let his parents know how he really felt.
    He could hope.
    Couldn't he?
     
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