Sentinels Of Souls

If only death were the end

By David Leonard

I’m telling you she’ll blow us both,” Devon told his buddy Tommy just before snorting one of two lines of coke he’d just meticulously chopped into powder with his debit card. He pinched his nostrils and tilted his head back so he wouldn’t sneeze just as the airborne blow slammed into his brain like a sucker punch from Muhammad Ali. Tommy quickly snatched the mirror out of Devon’s hand and snorted the second line, then licked the tip of his index finger and ran it over the remaining residue, rubbing it on his gums, savoring every last grain. It wasn’t often that Devon tapped out his private stash for others, mainly because you soon realized how much he stepped on the coke he sold; bastard. Laying back in his ripped up recliner Tommy watched as the gangly spiders with long legs and segmented bodies that inhabited his ceiling repelled down the living room wall, like Navy Seals from a helicopter, soon after he blew smoke up into their web. Glad they’re not as big as cows, they look pissed, he thought and started laughing.

“What’s so funny?” Devon asked.

Tommy just waved his hand and kept laughing before finally saying, “Nothing man, I’m just high and watching the spiders up there,” pointing his finger almost directly above their heads.

“I hate spiders,” Devon replied. “Maybe you should clean this dump more often.”

That got Tommy laughing even harder since he’d never cleaned once since moving in 2 years ago. “I’ll get right on it,” he finally replied.

Devon and Tommy both slipped coats on, not that they were needed in early June but pockets were for smokes, drugs, alcohol, or weapons, and hit-the-bricks. One advantage to living in the city is that a car is not needed or desired; traffic laws are the easiest to break. Most idiots put themselves in prison by getting pulled over; cars are for fleeing when all else fails. Devon knew one moron who got pulled over at noon on a bright, sunny day for having a burnt out headlight. He also had too much to drink and three pounds of pot in his trunk which got him a six-bit in prison. Just before passing under the Loomis St. station for the “L,” or elevated train which ran over the streets of Chicago like a giant steel snake, Devon spotted one of those robed “Moonie” Buddhist monks beating his tambourine and begging from passersby.

“Look at that Guru weaseling our neighbors’ hard-earned money and sending it to some Swami in India or Korea! Ain’t gonna happen, not on my watch,” Devon said. He walked up behind the guy and sucker punched him hard on his right ear. The robed beggar went down hard but not out. “Go beg in India asshole!” Devon growled as he took what money the man had collected.

Tommy just watched. He hated violence and the cops it usually brought, but Devon thrived on it.

The Moonie’s ear was bleeding, but he didn’t seem mad, and spoke softly while sprawled out on the platform: “You poor man,” he said. “Your soul will soon be caught in an endless, downward spiral of Samsara in the evil realms of Hell. But unlike Dante, you won’t return. Your short, pitiful life will soon end, I pray you won’t hurt too many others before you depart.”

Devon laughed, “Screw you, if anyone’s headed for Hell it’s you, if you don’t shut up. When you need money, get a job,” he said and walked away.

This from a guy who’s only means of support comes from dealing drugs or other illegal activities, Tommy thought but wouldn’t dare say, mainly because he was collecting unemployment.

Several blocks later they crossed Bubbly Creek, a cesspool of industrial waste

on W. 35th St. The night was young, let the good times roll.

“Look down there Devon,” Tommy said pointing at a pile of rags below.

Just under the concrete culvert was a wino who lay passed out, drunk as a skunk with a full fifth of vodka lying next to him.

“What’s that black boy doing in Bridgeport after dark?” Devon asked as he scrambled down the small slope to where the drunken bum lay. “Filthy blacks, the only way to keep them out is to take them out.” Like many of the local whites Devon was extremely racist, whereas Tommy didn’t care. Devon shouldn’t have either, black people bought enough of his stepped on, crappy drugs.

Tommy watched in horror from above. “Just grab his bottle Devon, I just want his vodka,” Tommy pleaded. “Leave him be. The poor bastard’s just sleeping one off.” But it was a waste of air and effort, how in the Hell did he end up hanging with this sicko? All he wanted was to purchase some heroin, he only had $70 which wouldn’t buy much cocaine. Instead he sold his soul for a few free lines of coke.

As the nighttime traffic moved sporadically down 35th St. Devon uncapped the bottle of vodka and emptied it all over the sleeping bum, then hustled back to where Tommy waited. “It’s a beautiful night for a campfire,” he said as he crumpled a dollar bill and poured the last couple of drops from the vodka bottle on it. Devon giddily lit the dollar with his cigarette lighter and dropped it on the sleeping drunk below, hitting him in the crotch, igniting the alcohol Devon had covered him with. Alcohol isn’t explosive like gasoline but the fire spread quickly with a deadly, low, wickedly blue flame. It took less than a minute before the bum was completely engulfed in flames, but still lay passed out. The poor bastard didn’t wake up until his cheap plastic windbreaker melted around his stubble-covered neck. Tommy knew, without a doubt he would hear that poor man’s scream echo in his head for as long as he lived along with the equally as horrifying, insane, high pitched cackle Devon emitted as he laughed at the bum’s demise. The poor bum beat at the flames, fanning them higher. He got to his feet after several attempts, causing his flaming hood to wrap across his face. It adhered to his skin, momentarily suffocating his terrifying scream as he inhaled the flaming nylon. Just when Tommy thought it couldn’t possibly get any worse his drunken-breath scream erupted, twice as loud, twice as horrid with flames shooting out his mouth fueled by his 100-proof breath. Thank God the human torch Devon ignited finally toppled face forward into Bubbly Creek and did not rise out of the steam his burning body created.

By then Devon was laughing so hard his eyes were tearing up, while the only thing Tommy found funny was that no one else noticed, or if they did they weren’t about to get involved. The bum died; a drunken ecstasy slumber one moment, then in an instant his dream was extinguished as Devon plunged him into the Hell he woke into. Tommy stood there frozen in place, eyes scrunched shut, the vision of blue and red flames danced across the inside of his eyelids like flashers on top of a cop car. He tried hard, but in vain, to block Devon’s deranged laughter from rolling past ear drums his heart already pounded in.

“Did you see him, was that great or what?” Devon laughed. “I didn’t think he would wake up at first, boy could that bum scream! Hold this-,” Devon ordered, handing Tommy the vodka bottle, “-while I piss, it’s a perfect souvenir.”

Tommy held the bottle in horror for but a few moments. That sick fuck is proud of himself, he thought, dropping the bottle as if it burned just before he lit off running north on Racine Avenue. Devon followed right on his heels at first, but Tommy ran like a looter with a new car stereo under his arm when the alarm goes off, and couldn’t keep up. At 31st and Racine Tommy ducked into Lucky’s Corner Bar, grabbed the first stool, put a $20 bill on the bar, and ordered 2 shots of Jack Daniel’s with a beer back. Before the bartender returned with his change both shots and half the beer were gone. “Two more,” Tommy said without looking up.

Devon sat down next to him just as the bartender was pouring Tommy’s second round. “Give me the same and keep them coming,” Devon said, throwing a big wad of bills on the bar. He leaned over to Tommy. “Don’t freak out on me asshole, no one reported nothing, no cops came, we’re in the clear.”

“Why Devon, why? That poor fuck was just sleeping off a good time, not hurting anyone!” Tommy cried. “You murdered him, the cops will be around soon enough just wait and see.”

Devon stared at Tommy in disbelief. “There’s no blacks in our neighborhood after dark, you know that’s not allowed. Never has been, never will be,” Devon growled at him. “And keep your big yap shut, it’s your fingerprints on that bottle I held it with the paper bag it came in. Listen, it’s your word against mine if you’re thinking of talking, don’t be an idiot! Let’s have a couple more shots then go see the slut as planned. You’ll feel a lot better after you get your rocks off.”

Tommy downed at least six more shots, he wasn’t counting, Devon only had a few. The fucking guy had absolutely no conscience or regrets for what he’d done. “You enjoy hurting people, you really do,” Tommy slurred.

Devon ignored him. “Let’s go,” he ordered, putting his arm around Tommy’s shoulders and leading him down the sidewalk. Suddenly Devon stopped, “You hear that, over there?” he said pointing down an alley. “There it is again, over there,” he said pointing in the opposite direction. Devon wasn’t laughing now.

“I hear lots of stuff, what are you talking about?” Tommy had all he could take of Devon for one night, no, not one night but one lifetime. The guy was cruel- no, worse, he was evil.

“Laughing, I hear someone laughing at me,” Devon whispered. “The same funnyman was at the bum’s camp under the bridge, I thought I heard laughing at the L station, and now he’s here. Some asshole has been following us Tommy, and he doesn’t seem too worried about us knowing that,” Devon said uneasy now.

“I don’t hear laughing, let’s split.” Tommy slurred.

They ducked between two buildings, crossed 31st St. then hustled down an alley for three blocks until they hit Loomis St. and turned north. The next street was Archer Ave, the building on the corner was their destination. About fucking time, Tommy thought.

“Wait here,” Devon said before ducking into a three flat brownstone dump. He was only gone a few minutes before returning with an extremely thin black girl, dressed like the homeless, in layers, and extremely unhappy to see Devon. Tommy could relate to that.

“Why you here? I don’t owe you nuttin,” Terry sneered through gritted teeth.

Tommy could see this wouldn’t end well. This girl looked ready to bite his head off, either head. This thought almost got him laughing, he would pay to see that happen to Devon.

“Bullshit,” Devon spit out, “Your mama saw me twice today, someone has to settle her tab, smack ain’t free. She promised you would settle her tab, so on your knees, you’re going to service us both.”

“You’re going to pay someday for your evil deeds. I told you, don’t be selling her any more of your poison. I’m not going to settle her tab, I done that for the last time,” she said defiantly. “You leave us be you heathen!” she practically screamed.

What a night, Tommy thought. It couldn’t possibly get much worse. He was wrong, again. Devon was crazy, an evil degenerate who enjoyed hurting people any way he could. “Listen Devon, I’m going, I thought we were going to party, this ain’t cool.” Tommy said with a little backbone this time.

Devon was getting pissed: pissed at Terry for arguing with him and pissed at Tommy for not backing his play. He reared back and hit the girl hard, knocking her to the ground, then kicked her viciously in her gut. “Listen bitch, you’ll pay or I’ll make your daughter pay, hear me?” and kicked her again, then again.

Tommy didn’t turn around, he didn’t want to see. He just walked a little faster, then faster yet, getting ready to bolt. Devon had to run in order to catch up, he was irritated the asshole hadn’t waited for him. “Where in the fuck are you going? We were about to get blown,” Devon growled.

Tommy looked at him and shook his head before replying. “Listen dude, you beat up and could have killed the Buddha worshipper, you lit up a bum like a Roman candle and killed him, and then you beat the shit out of some poor girl and you think I should hang around for more? I can’t take anymore, Devon you’re out of control.” No sooner had he shut his big mouth when Tommy realized he’d made a big mistake.

It was more than a shadow that crossed Devon’s face, it was a storm cloud.

“Listen ingrate extraordinaire, I knocked down the Buddhist jerk because he was taking money out of our neighborhood, we used it for drinks. The black bum no one wants hanging around Bridgeport or anywhere else. And that whore with her junkie mother owes me, I’m not the Goodwill. We’re in this together shit head, remember that. Don’t screw with me,” he snapped.

CHAPTER 2

It was early the next morning, he’d been up all night, when Devon went to the corner

diner for breakfast. That’s where he ran into his favorite junkie, Ruthy, Terry’s mother, standing

just outside the front door. She looked like the skid row junkie she was: loose dirty black skin

sagging off her stick like skeleton, stringy clumps of dirty matted hair, and long, broken fingernails that she pointed at you when she talked, keeping them at the ready to snatch her next fix as soon as it appeared. Her breath and body odor could be weaponized but the rags that passed for clothes were surprisingly clean.

“Devon I need a balloon bad, please front me one, please!” she begged.

“Your bitch daughter never paid me for the last two. No credit for you Ruthy, you’re about to find out why it’s known as Hell Dust.” he said and laughed.

“Please Devon,” she pleaded, grabbing his wrist with both her skeletal hands, digging her gross, cracked nails deep into his flesh. “Just one balloon, Terry’s a good girl she’ll be good for it, I promise.” At that moment Ruthy would promise Devon anything for her next fix, even her daughter. The power of the Poppy is like marriage, til death do us part.

Devon thought for a minute then tried to pry her filthy talons from his wrist. It would be worth a balloon to get her hands off him, he hated to be touched by the filthy junkies. “Let go,” he commanded. “I’ll front you one more balloon, but that’s all. I need to get paid.”

“God bless you Devon!” Ruthy cried. “I need it now, right now!” Desperation and sweat masked her face as her body rattled with shakes and tremors.

“Give me a minute. I need to pack a balloon for you,” he said and headed to the bathroom inside the diner. Devon had balloons already packed but Ruthy was going to get a “special” one, her own ticket aboard the “Hellbound Train.” Screw her and her tramp daughter, he hated junkies with no money, besides no one stiffs Devon the Dog.

Terry found her mother later that day sitting in the alley behind their apartment with her back against a dumpster and the needle still protruding from her arm. “Mother, why?!” she cried. “We were so close to getting out of here and moving to Madison! It was Devon wasn’t it, that damned pusher he did this,” she said bitterly to herself as she wept. “God, why take the weak and reward the evil?” she whispered. Without Mother’s disability check we won’t have enough money to move, Terry thought. She cried harder, not just for her mother but for her whole family.

It must have been a neighbor who called the cops because they arrived 5 minutes after Terry found her mother’s corpse. As soon as she saw the flashing lights she slipped upstairs, not wanting her daughter to come down and see her grandmother like this. Abby was only 12 years old and Terry needed to be the one to tell her and great grandma-ma, Ruthy’s mother, what had happened, so no mention of the needle or drugs need be made.

Her life had gone horribly wrong, Terry thought: My mother’s dead, we live in a roach-infested shit hole, and I can’t even afford to miss a day of work at the diner. Her 10 to 12 hour shift began in a couple hours, at 11am. How did her life ever come to this? Why had all the men in their lives disappeared? ”Why” seemed to be the one word that dominated her life, a life of poverty, privation, and pain.

It was later that night after Terry got off work, just past 10pm, when she ran into Devon, the low-life source of so much of the misery in their lives. While waiting quietly for the city bus he approached out of the dark from behind her. She didn’t notice him until the bastard appeared standing next to her like a shadow, an evil presence that never left.

“Too bad about your mama, but she was on the spike for quite some time,” Devon smirked with absolutely no regret for giving her the “Hot Shot” which led to her demise.

When Terry spun to face Devon the fire in her eyes reflected the boiling point her blood was in. “You dirty bastard, you killed her!” she cried. “My mother OD’d on the poison you peddle. One way or another you’ll pay for your vile deeds.”

She stared hard at Devon as if looks alone could kill and tensed up, expecting to be hit for good reason. Devon often joked “When the time comes for fists to fly always remember it’s women and children first.” A second later he lashed out, slamming his fist hard upside her head, knocking Terry flat, sprawled face down on the concrete sidewalk. Then he savagely kicked her ribs, sending Terry rolling off the sidewalk and into the gutter on the edge of the road. Terry lay there on the verge of unconsciousness hurting, no aching, in mind and body thinking of her mother, her daughter, and her grandmother; her family would be better without her. She’d failed them and just couldn’t take anymore, especially from this scumbag. If only there was some way out she thought, but death or jail were the only doors she could open unless she were to give up totally as her mother had, preferring life in a drug-induced dream world. Terry’s hand landed on something in the street’s gutter. It was metal with a plastic handle: a tool. A filthy, greasy, rusty screwdriver; her best option in life has come down to this. She would have preferred a knife, but when given lemons, make lemonade.

Terry stood up quickly and got right in Devon’s face, who just stood there grinning, like he was in control. Not this time, she thought. Not this time.

“Bitch on your knees, don’t make me knock you down again. I want a blow job and you are going to perform this time with one of your best,” he demanded.

Domination and control. Devon had a one-track mind, pain and pleasure was what he understood best, it was time to give the Devil his due. Terry squeezed the screwdriver so hard her palm was bleeding where her nails dug into her skin. I can’t let this monster ever touch my little girl, never. Terry drew her arm back as Devon grinned, thinking he was about to get slapped, and plunged the rusty screwdriver up to its plastic handle into his scrawny, stinkin’, ass-white neck. The pitiful fuck went into total shock, he pissed and shit his pants then wrenched the screwdriver out of his neck, allowing his blood to come squirting out of his severed carotid artery.

“You ungrateful tramp, you’re going to pay for this,” are the words he meant to say, the words that echoed in his mind, the ones his lips tried to pronounce, but instead of those words bright red blood bubbled from his mouth. Dumbfounded, he stared as his blood shot from his neck and splattered off the glass on the bus stop shelter several feet away. Even as he fell to his knees, he still watched his blood slowly run down the glass bus shelter wall, fascinated that there was just so much of it.

Devon finally toppled. As the concrete he was about to hit rushed toward him he managed to turn his head, not wanting to hit it face first. While he lay dying he continued to stare, watching his blood flow across the concrete sidewalk towards him. Against all odds he hoped, in vain, that his blood, attracted by the pull of his body like steel to a magnet, might possibly be sucked back into the hole it had just squirted out of. I can’t believe that 80-pound slut daughter of a junkie mother took me out, Devon thought as he watched his blood inch towards his face. Shit is sure red, turned out to be his final conscious thought and the last thing his eyes were to see. Did he hear someone laughing?

Devon was surprised to discover he could see everything all around him, it was more an awareness as seeing in a dream is, not limited to what was directly in front of you. Sight as seen through eyes is like sight with blinders on, the ones horses used to wear to keep them from being distracted, compared to the awareness he now possessed. But he could hear nothing from the living except that damn laughing he’d heard before. Maybe he had always heard it at different times in his life but never gave a shit and still didn’t. If it’s Satan he can go screw himself, if it’s anyone else I’ll screw them, Devon thought and started laughing to himself. What he couldn’t stop thinking about as he watched his body was the rusty screwdriver, which his hand still grasped, that she had stabbed him with. “A stinking rusty screwdriver, a new one would have been so much better,” he chuckled. “Much, much better,” then laughed maniacally. That’s funny, a dead man’s joke, too bad he had no one to share it with except the snickering idiot that’s been shadowing him lately. Why was he alone, in a city the size of Chicago? Hundreds of stiffs are dying daily, where the heck are they? And why is that stupid cunt just sitting there waiting for the cops? Devon wondered. He would have been blocks away lingering somewhere out of sight by now. Since several cars had passed slowly by and saw his body, no doubt one would have reported it to the police, she won’t have long to wait. This is unbelievable! I’m stronger, I’m smarter, and I’m deader, this is dead wrong, Devon thought then started laughing again as he hovered nearby, “Dead wrong, now that’s funny.”

The cops arrived on the murder scene first. Several gazed at his corpse, the screwdriver still clutched in Devon’s hand, when one smartass comments, “Looks like he got screwed.” This of course gave them all a good, hardy laugh. Another comedian comes back with, “Hell must be short of lowlifes,” this provides them all with another round of laughter. Before long an ambulance pulls up and hauls Devon away to the morgue, while the cops take Terry to the police station, not even bothering with handcuffs. The sad thing was he didn’t want to leave his body, it had served him well. Besides they had very little time left together so Devon tagged along. I’m a damn good looking corpse with only one little extra hole in my neck, he thought. The bitch did me favor that way, at least I’m not like one of those wrinkly old fucks or car accident victims that look like flattened roadkill. I’ll be the Pretty Boy of the morgue. The thought of him being “Pretty anything” seemed particularly funny though deep down he was scared shitless.

Lying naked on a stainless steel table along with dozens of other dead losers each on their own table, male and female, or shoved in a freezer drawer had no appeal to Devon. With most of his blood drained away his face sunk in against his skull and his skin looked the color of an old newspaper, making the needle marks on both arms stand out like the hole in his neck: Screw this.

The big revelation was he could go anywhere simply by thinking about where he wanted to be, not where he wanted to go; you could just “be” anywhere.If this is Hell it’s not so bad, Lord knows this can’t possibly be Heaven, there aren’t 70 virgins waiting for me- in fact there ain’t even one old whore,” he thought and launched into another frenzied, laughing spell. “Maybe God has lowered the bar to gain entry to the Pearly Gates of Heaven,” which sets him off laughing again. “Who knew death could be so much fun.”

“Might as well hang out at the strip club and scrutinize the talent; no dollar bills needed now. Wonder if I can still wack off?” he thought out loud to himself. His thoughts were hilarious, more like the funniest thing Devon had ever heard and again he howled at his own jokes.

Again he heard chuckling but not in his ears -he had none- but in his head. “He who laughs last laughs best,” Devon said to no one in particular as he gazes at the naked ladies on stage. Hey this is cool, he thinks as he stares up at the dancers from anywhere at any angle he wants.

Suddenly an extremely bright, iridescent, white-bodied Deity appears before him sitting on a lion throne holding an eight-spoked wheel with a beautiful female consort standing behind. The wheel radiates in a vivid, frightening, intense blue light dazzling Devon’s vision unbearably. In terror of the bright blue light Devon panics and flees down into a cave-like area nearby, which is bathed in a soft, smoky, orange glow. What in the heck was that, he thinks when he hears the chuckling again. “If you’re Satan laughing at me GO SCREW YOURSELF! Nice place you got here, I was expecting worse. Besides that you laugh like a faggot, dude. Go ahead, hit me with your best shot.”

An intense, clear white light suddenly appears. In its glow a dazzling, pure blue Deity emerges, clutching a five-pronged scepter while riding an elephant with his own female companion. The piercing light was unbearable and Devon ducked into another smoky, dimly-lit cavern. “See you screwy, see you in St. Louie” he said and laughed to himself as he fled the brilliant clear light. No one followed but the chuckling continued. He’d never seen an elephant before except in photos or on TV. What kind of idiot would want to ride on a stupid, smelly animal that big? He wondered. “Get yourself a Humvee, you could all ride together in style,” he called out and started laughing.

Screw them, I think I’ll just rest in this little alcove and figure out how to get back to my body and from there the strip club. Devon concentrated on himself, picturing his dead body in his mind and was instantly back at the morgue where the mortician was examining his neck where the rusty screwdriver had penetrated; two tables down a Priest was praying for some poor horribly burnt black guy. It took a minute but he quickly realized it was the drunken, skid row bum he had torched. Yuck, was he ever severely disfigured beyond recognition on his neck and head. Satan’s chuckling echoed in his mind but he didn’t find it the least bit amusing, not at all. Devon couldn’t stop staring at the bum, and for the first time ever he actually felt a small tinge of regret, but that quickly passed when he thought; “ The bum was the same color, burnt or not burnt,” and started laughing to himself again.

That’s when he was blinded by an all consuming, pure yellow light out of which came riding a vivid, yellow Deity on a golden horse carrying a large gem grasped tightly in hand with his woman on back. This dude had nine minions trailing behind, all looking like they wanted to inflict some serious pain on someone, and they all looked at him like he was that someone. That’s when Devon noticed a faint orange glow emanating from a narrow opening down to his left. This was a no-brainer and he fled into the soft orange light faster than you could shout “Adios Amigos.”

This same confrontation continued four more times like some insanely, recurring nightmare. These cagey, glowing apparitions hit him with an intense, dazzling, pure red light, then green, all with their own Deity, woman, and set of peons following. Next they came at him as a group with four colored leaders and a flock of minions in tow, then lastly as a five-colored rainbow with the same minions; it was those flunky followers that really bothered him. Those minions with their mis-matched wandering vacant eyes and different color ghostly bodies were the most bizarre apparitions that seemed bent on his entrapment or capture. Through experience gained from years of alluding cops Devon managed to duck into another slowly shrinking rabbit hole illuminated by a faint reddish orange smoky light. Little did Devon realize but those bright lights and Deities riding different animals, to appeal to different societies, were really God’s Angels of the Bible and Koran, Lords of the Buddha Clans, Planet Gods of ancient Rome and Greece, or Earth Gods of ancient Egypt; take your pick; accompanied by their Disciples.The good and pure of heart were drawn to them like moths to a street light, the evil fled the intensely blinding bright lights preferring the dim, smoky, soft lights of Hell. But it was really much more basic, simply Yin & Yang, Good versus Evil, the opposite forces that reside in us all and surface at the moment of death to battle for control of the Soul. Their purpose was to determine if the deceased had any redeeming value and pass judgement. Their choices were few, either admit him to the realm of Heaven in God’s glorious presence or condemned to Hell and Satan’s “Circle of Torment.” These Angels, these Sentinels Of Souls, vanquish the evil and drive them through the gates of Hell.

CHAPTER 3

Devon realized if this was Hell Satan’s not nearly as bright as his lights. Really, bright lights aren’t all that scary, maybe once or twice, but all he had to do was duck out of sight. What happened to fire and brimstone and River Styx? “If this is Hell, eternity is going to be extremely boring,” he thought. His wickedness would soon prove him wrong, dead wrong: panic, fear and unbearable terror were soon to follow.

It was time he concentrated on returning to the land of the living, regrettably this had become increasingly harder but doable and off he went. Incredibly the cops hadn’t even charged the tramp for killing him, it was self-defense. They even told Terry she’d done the city a favor and saved the State a fortune in future incarceration costs.She was also entitled to get money from the “Victims Relief Fund,” up to $10,000, once they seized and liquidated all his belongings. If all that wasn’t bad enough, to top it all off, every stinking cop in the station high-fived her on the way out the door.

Only four days after being murdered the Coroner’s office buried Devon’s body in Cook Counties Potter’s Field. His eternal resting place was a grave next to the black bum he had torched. The real pisser was more people attended the bum’s funeral then his; the bum had six people, Devon three, if you counted the priest and two grave diggers. Tommy didn’t even bother to show up; instead he broke into Devon’s apartment as soon as he heard of his demise and cleaned out all the drugs, money, and alcohol he could find; giddy with his good luck. “Just wait until your luck runs out and you roll snake eyes, I’ll be waiting,” Devon thought. Being the first to die might have it’s advantages in Hell, if he ever gets there. That’s where almost everyone he knows is heading: Tommy first he hoped that fucking ingrate extraordinaire, then the bitch. Hell would also include most cops along with a whole hell of a lot of army dudes, that “Thou Shall Not Kill” bullshit, there were no exceptions in the Bible. Add “Thou Shall Not Steal, Screw Your Neighbors wife, or use the Lord’s Name in Vain,” and there goes about half the population on earth, maybe more, at least most men.He couldn’t remember the remaining useless Commandments which were mere suggestions, Devon thought and started laughing to himself again.

Suddenly a deep red, shockingly evil looking bestial Being appeared. Good God, this has to be one of Hell’s Angel’s or maybe the Devil himself, Devon feared. The Devil was heinous looking with three frightful faces, six muscular, hairy arms, and four huge, knotted legs. His yellow eyes were fiercely terrifying with eyebrows of flashing lightning and copper fangs which gleamed as he roared with laughter from his pig-snout mouth facing Devon while the other two faces hissed like snakes about to strike. Spiked orange hair topped with a skull crown adorned with sun and moon discs sat perched on his head. His body was covered with snakes and around his neck hung a freshly severed head, Devon’s head. Each of his six enormous hands with gnarled fingers and nails like a wolf’s grasped something. His right hands held a wheel, ax, and sword; his left a bell, plowshare, and skull bowl filled with bright red blood. This hideous, butt ugly, blood thirsty hag hangs on his shoulder tipping sips of blood from her skull bowl into his disgusting mouth between laughs. She cackles like a witch as orange flames shoot from her stringy, tangled hair. If Devon had pants to shit in they would be full, over full, and running down both legs. Terrified, he couldn’t flee fast enough down a small cave lit by a dull, yellow light. It was while fleeing that Devon practically collided with another of the same horribly repulsive Demons, now with a dark blue face in front, his two hissing side faces were white and black. A disgusting, old hag still hanging on, arm draped over his massive shoulder feeding sips of blood into all three nasty pig-snout mouths. Terrified of the horrid, repellent Beast laughing and hissing at him, Devon quickly flees down a smaller tunnel. It was dark, very dark, but he was more terrified of the repulsive Beasts than of the dark.

Time meant nothing, not when you’re dead, so Devon was unaware of how long he’d fled but ahead he noticed a soft, orange glow. He quickly squeezed through a tiny hole which opened into a small cavern. Suddenly the loathsome three-faced Demon rushed toward him, his front face was a ghastly dark yellow the others were red and white. With all four legs rapidly moving up and down he advanced more like a huge, terrifying insect than an animal. His ugly sycophant hag now rode on his back like a disgusting fourth face, roaring and growling, blood splashed from their inverted skull bowl. Devon turned to flee back the way he came but the way was blocked by a dreadful green three-faced Demon laughing insanely out his front mouth, the other two hissed hideously, while his hag roared on back.

Devon was near hysterical with unimaginable fear as he fled down a large, dimly lit opening off to one side, right past eight demon-like crones holding various weapons in one hand while feeding on bloody body parts of corpses they carried in their other. One corpse looked familiar, the head was missing but the tattoos were his, they were eating him! From behind eight Ghouls, women with animal heads also ripped and tore at his body parts then gave chase. One had the head of a lion, another a tiger, a wolf, a vulture, a hawk, an owl, a crow, and a jackal. All with his bloody body parts dangling from their fangs or beaks making an ungodly, awful racket. Some shrieked, others screeched, howled, screamed, growled, or squeeled; as they loped along after him. Four more ghouls with heads of a horse, pig, lion, and snake joined the chase; blood dripping from their disgusting mouths, each with their own bawling cry. Sobbing like a baby Devon screams in total terror, mindlessly fleeing the Demons and Ghouls and their never ending laughter and cries,

Just as Devon was about to collapse into a shrieking, crying, disembodied heap he noticed a tiny opening illuminated by something he never ever expected to see again, the brilliant blue of the sky of a beautiful sunny day. Even though the entrance hole was small, very small, Devon had realized being dead he was a ghost and could pass through any size opening. As he slipped down the opening the blue sky at its end grew larger and his spirit soared as high as the sky he strived for. “You ain’t going to grab this bad boy you butt ugly dirt bags !” he laughed in sobbing gasps all the while flipping them the imaginary bird. “I’m back, I AM BACK!” he screamed in his mind. As he squeezed out into the intense, desert sunlight he was momentarily blinded and unable to move.

CHAPTER 4

Life had turned into an almost unbearable living Hell for Aisha since her husband’s death, he had been killed by the Janjaweed Militia in the Khartoum massacre. Not that her life was easy before, at any time. Her parents had sold her off in a forced arranged marriage when she had her first period at age 13 to a much older man, Abu was almost 60 when she became his fourth wife. Their first child, a boy, was born just under a year later, two more children, both girls, followed in the next couple of years. Before her 18th birthday she was raising three children under five years old. Abu was an abusive strict Muslim, when it applied to others, requiring her to wear a full burka when she went out in public. Of course this was rarely allowed, Aisha was a prisoner in her own home.

When the Sudanese revolution began Abu laughed at the protesters in the streets that President Al-Bashir brutally suppressed. But after eight months the black protesters broke through the weakened Arab troops and the bloody massacre commenced. Since they were well off and lived in a nice home the mob targeted them right off. Abu, the bastard, tried fleeing out the back alley alone taking all the money he could stuff in his pockets while carrying a loaded AK47. The idiot never even got one shot off; since purchasing the gun many years earlier he had never learned how to use it. When stopped by the rioters he pointed the fully loaded machine gun at their attackers and pulled the trigger, nothing happened, Abu had the safety on. The black Sudanese rioters hacked him to death along with his three older wives and all males. The daughters, all of them except the very young, along with Aisha were repeatedly raped for days on end, the younger girls didn’t live long. When Aisha finally awoke after having passed out from exhaustion her three traumatized children clung to her; the terror of the violence inflicted upon her filled their eyes. Aisha determined she must have been out for days, the bodies of her husband and extended family were bloated and beginning to decompose in the desert heat. Since that day she’d been begging, doing any kind of manual labor offered, and selling herself for sex when needed and they were still slowly starving to death. Living under a plastic tarp draped over a crumbling mud wall in a United Nations refugee camp did offer them a little security. But now this, another baby, another hungry mouth, another affliction from the evil men who had forced themselves upon her and murdered Abu.

Aisha left her tarp, limping painfully along with the aid of a stick she used as a cane, until she located a place to give birth. This somewhat private spot was on the opposite side of the wall holding her tarp, but down further, was a place many came to relieve themselves. The smell was almost overwhelming but her water had broken; the baby of evil deeds was coming out now. Her children stood near, afraid, watching as a small head appeared from between their mother’s legs as she squatted with her back against the wall for support. Aisha bled heavily which attracted swarms of flies and a pack of wild dogs that lived in the dump but rarely showed themselves during the day. Since dog meat was better than no meat everyone hunted them. The wild dogs formed a semi-circle, just out of reach of the stick Aisha swatted at them with, and right now kept her from falling over. Fangs bared the starving, mongrel dogs snarled, growled and snapped at each other fighting for the best position to be first to rush in and snatch anything edible. Aisha looked at her stick thin, swollen bellied children and felt their fear; she was not about to feed another starving mouth. Fighting hard to remain conscious Aisha pushed as hard as she could to discharge her unwanted baby. She screamed from the unbearable pain which was so intense her whole body burned with an internal fire. Her mind spun dizzily, her eyes went in and out of focus, finally, the baby’s shoulders appeared after which the baby slowly slid out of her uterus.

Devon, initially blinded by the intense sunlight, stared wide eyed up at the bloody lady’s crotch giving birth to him. She was dark skinned but Devon was black, unbelievable, he was coming back as a baby, a black baby. As Devon looked around he noticed three emaciated Arab kids and a dozen or so starving, snapping, aggressive dogs. It was then he hit the dusty, hard-packed ground head first, coming to rest on his back.

Aisha pulled the afterbirth out and bit the umbilical cord in half not bothering to tie the end. She saved the placenta to eat with the children; it was the only part of the baby worth saving. Without looking back she grasped the free hand of her youngest daughter and slowly limped away as the first dog rushed in..

“Wait, get back here and pick me up,” Devon tried to scream as he watched in terror a set of snarling teeth charge at him. The first dog grabbed his leg, cracking and snapping his bones in several places when his fangs crushed them. Devon let out a loud, blood curdling scream as the dog ran off dragging him; his eyes and mouth were quickly filled with sand and dirt. The starving mutt carrying Devon didn’t make it far before the other ravenous dogs snapped and ripped off their own bloody piece of his skin or body part in a wild canine feeding frenzy. Devon finally realized what his Hell would be, over and over endlessly, and he shrieked louder than any baby should as Satan’s laughter grew harder.

The End

I'm an old guy with to many stories & characters swimming around in my head.