Monday, 21 April 2014

Short Story: The In-between Place

by Fenella Johnson

When the woman came to, her throat was warm and sticky.
“Welcome. “said the demon.
She knew it was a demon; it could have been nothing else. It was dark in the strange place she was, darker than anything-even the stars which dribbled across the sky provided no light. The most she could see of the demon was the blue black smear of its body and its mouth, a toothy gash on a crumbled face.
“Where am I?” She asked voice as thin and blonde as she was. It only merely smiled-if you could call it that.
“I suggest you sit down. “remarked the demon.
She turned, following his hand which pointed to the table that had suddenly formed from the shadows which slivered and screamed in the corners of the place. On the table there was a light. From the faint glare it gave, she could see that the place where she stood stretched for milesuntil it reached the dark sky. The horizon was smudged. She obeyed its orders and sat on one of the chairs around the table.
“The place where you are is both neither here nor there. It simply exists .It is called the In-between Place. They will tell you it is all a confused dream, that it is a story. But only fools ignore stories. It is as real as you or me. “The demon told her.” You will visit me every Wednesday.”
“Wednesday? “ squeaked the woman. ”I mean, that’s when I do accounts. Perhaps another day?”
The demon laughed-a bark of coarse cold sound. ”I don’t think it matters what you can and can’t do. You will visit me every Wednesday, like every woman of your blood-line has since time first found itself on a calendar, and you will do so until you die.”
“What will I do? “She asked.
“You will help me.” it told her. “We will sort out the souls that go to heaven and hell.” It gestured towards the shadows. They had become illuminated, bodies turned towards the light, writhing and shrieking. Their faces were the most terribly beautiful thing she ever saw.
So the woman came every Wednesday .She came until the skin on her face had caved into craters. She came until she could hardly see out of sunken bleary blue eyes. She came until she too was old and her body was like paper, the blue veins visible on the surface. And when the women died she came to in a place that was darker, darker than anything. And in the corner was her daughter. She knew her cue.

“Welcome. “said the woman.
“Where am I?” asked her daughter.

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