Augustine’s Hell

Scott sat in his car in the garage. He had buckled his seatbelt out of habit. The garage door was closed and, through the little rectangular windows set into it, he watched the trees in the wind blown night. They danced violently against the sky which was illuminated red/orange by the fires that had erupted all over town.

Leaves blew off the limbs and Scott knew it wouldn’t be long before flames caught the tinder that occupied his neighborhood, too. Houses, trees, cars, trucks, people– they would all be incinerated. There was no use in running, no hope to be had down that road. There was nowhere to run to, no escape from the fate the world now faced.

There was no place to hide from the devastation.

The news stations said as much. The last channel still airing signed off twenty minutes earlier with a defeated, pale anchorwoman saying:  “God help us all.”

Scott had never been much of a praying man, but he had knelt beside his couch yesterday when the first reports started coming across the wire and popping up in the newsfeeds on social media.

TOWN COMPLETELY ERADICATED

ALL LIFE LOST

DEFENSES TOPPLED

MILITARY CRIPPLED

WORLD POWERLESS

Scott prayed to be spared. 

Scott prayed something would stop it.

Scott prayed for answers.

Scott didn’t receive any reply.

Not that he expected an Old Testament communication or anything. He knew there would be no conversation with a burning bush or a message of reassurance in his Spaghettios. He expected something, though, some kind of peace of mind or clarity of thought, or a well defined decision of what his next move would be other than to sit tight and wait to die.

Half the world was waiting.

The other half was running wild.

The world, everyone in it, had a destiny.

Today, everyone’s destiny was the same.

Earth was a burning rock, being pummelled, torn apart, and scorched. 

Earth was a rock you couldn’t just jump off of, you were more or less grounded to it.

Scott slid the key into the ignition. 

He listened to the wind whip at the house, push the trees and their limbs to the breaking point. The garage door rattled. Between the gusts, between the breaths of portent, Scott heard screams. 

Muffled, distant, bloodcurdling cries of agony and desperation.

Hopelessness.

Frenzy.

Scott could have kicked himself, and he did laugh the slightest bit, when he realized the garage door wouldn’t open automatically during a power outage. He pressed the remote once more for old time’s sake and tossed it on the passenger seat.

When he lifted the door manually, the smell of smoke, fire, and burning flesh washed over him with the brute force of the wind. He ran back to his car and locked the doors, as if that would actually do any good.

A group of people ran down the street. The one or two that looked in Scott’s direction were wide-eyed and frantic, full of tears and lamentations.

Wailing.

Scott started his car.

He didn’t know what else to do.

He shifted to drive and left the garage, pulled out onto the street with the wind shoving his little hatchback side to side.

In the rearview mirror he saw it.

Death.

The Devil.

Fire and brimstone.

Whatever its name, it was coming. It had crawled from the bowels of the earth and stood on two cloven-footed legs to remake the world to its desires, to bend it to its will.

Scott sped down the boiling street through a melting world.

Maybe he’d have an answer to his prayers soon.

Maybe not.