The Road to Hell is paved with good Intentions

Sweat pearled on the middle-aged man’s face. His involuntary straining was obscene. How had he ended up here? He couldn’t recall. The last thing he remembered (before the killing started) was that old lady he had tried to help – the one that looked like Mother.

 

Dick Smith was irritated. He was jay-walking, in a rush before the staff meeting. Now an old gal was obstructing the gap he had targeted between two idling vehicles. The traffic was already starting to move again. Something about her reminded him of his own mother – long dead – and some filial guilt over the neglect that had taken place in her last years suddenly washed over him. Maybe it was the hawk-like schnoz, slightly red and drippy. He bumped into her and she stumbled slightly; grabbed his elbow in a painful pincer grip. He glanced down at the unsettlingly intense, rheumy eyes.

“Let me help you,” he mumbled.

“Want to help me, do you? Look like I need it, do I?”

Rude old cow, he thought.

“Let’s just move, shall we. It wasn’t a question. He pushed against her bony rump, as if she were a misbehaving dog..

“Don’t shove me, young man.” She moaned. “My bag, I’ve dropped it!”

He glanced back with mounting frustration. He wanted to get back to his office, where he could discipline…He spotted the crumpled yellow sack a little way back. Unceremoniously, he pushed the old lady onto the curb and doubled back to scoop it up.

 

The truck came out of nowhere, like a bat out of hell. As Dick clutched the yellow bag to his chest he felt an almighty impact, immense pain, and the crunch of ribs as red claws seem to reach for his innards.

 

“Ah, Baba – you brought us another one!”

There was a raucous squawk and Dick’s encrusted eyes opened in horror.

An enormous chicken stood over him, its head cocked to the side, a glassy orange eye focused on him. Its beak was slightly open and it reeked of decay and filth.

He gulped. “Where am I? He tried to move, but his broken body wouldn’t let him. He could smell his own panic.

 

“The miserable sod speaks.”

A rope ladder dropped down from the chicken’s back and as Dick glanced upwards in exquisite agony, two cloven hooves, followed by two hairy appendages started their descent. He was looking up into the arse of a nightmare.

“What do we have here?” The oily voice was deeply unpleasant and emanated from the Pan-like creature. What was that stench?

“Great Mother, what’s going on?” He felt like crying.

“Why did the chicken cross the road?”

“Why did…ahh,” he blubbered.

“I’m not your mama.”

“No, I … grrrsh.” Saliva was drooling down his chin. The pain in his chest increased and he grasped at his top pocket for his heart medication.

“Too late for that. But what an interesting tin you have there.”

The devil pried the tin from Dick’s clenched fist and popped it open. He discarded the small white pills with a snort. Then he poured the rest of the contents from the box into his palm and proffered it to Dick.

“Care to tell me about this?”

Pain and desperation fought for dominance in Dick’s muddled mind.

“My daughter’s baby teeth,” he sobbed.

“Ah, but we know that’s not true, don’t we? And the jelly tots? Who were they for?”

“Who are you? Why am I here? Help, someone help me,” he bellowed.

 

As if by magic, a nurse appeared. It was a handsome fellow in a mint-green cover-all.

“Mr. Smith: you are awake. You’ve been in a bad accident. Here, drink this. It will help with the pain. I need to adjust your drip.”

Dick shuddered. It was going to be okay; he was just hallucinating. But when the nurse smiled at him he bared black rotten teeth. Sharp, pointy ones. Nothing was ever going to be fine again.

 

“We just need a few things from you and then you’ll be free to go.”

“What? What do you need? Can I call someone? I need to call someone!”

“I’m afraid not. We’re a one-stop service. Drink this now.” The nurse held a beaker with yellow liquid to his bleeding lips.

 

“No, no. You need to swallow. He pried his jaws open with expert fingers and poured the vile stuff in. He had to swallow or choke. Dick tried to push the nurse away, but with every painful squirm he seemed to grow weaker.

“Stop resisting!” There was an unearthly creak and the nurse hopped onto his chest like a monkey, pinning down his arms with splayed, webbed feet.

He struggled to breathe, his arms flailed.

 

“That will do, Vomit: let’s adjust the cadmium and sulphur ratio. No dandelion or lemon rind. He’ll need the roughage later.” The cloven-footed beast was back.

“Mister Dick. Here’s what’s gonna happen now. This crane will position you nicely. See that splendid arch over there?”

Dick struggled to keep his head upright, his eyes bulging. The curved claw pointed at an enormous shark mouth, gaping like a wet wound in the distance. The teeth shimmered in the twilight.

 

Mechanical buzzing alerted Dick to the machine fastening manacles around his arms and legs. He was swung over a deep ditch that had opened up next to the gurney. At the bottom he could see people, trussed like him, neatly lined up, their bare nether parts swinging in the hot miasmic breeze. There was a wailing and a gnashing of teeth. A conveyor ran beneath them, towards the shark maw. His fevered mind replayed a butcher shop window full of cooked Peking duck he had once seen in his youth.

 

The conveyor was full of yellow bricks that glimmered golden in the dim light.

“Now void your bowels and help us build The Way. We will keep feeding you until eternity, or until The Way is done. Then you’ll get your reward. This is just an amuse-bouche.”

 

My first try for a Flash Fiction Challenge: Right vs. Wrong, Terrible Minds.

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