Logan dragged Elena up Tenth Avenue clasping her fingers tightly.
He led her through the crowded streets of ghosts, bulldozing through their gaseous forms. They dispersed like lingering smoke from a blown out candle, then congealed once again a few steps away.
Elena’s grasp felt warm yet lifeless, like a fresh corpse rapidly fading away. Logan knew he only had minutes to get her out of Purgatory, to save her or would lose her forever.
Mephistopheles could renege on their contract, but if they left quickly, before he changed his mind, then perhaps, perhaps, perhaps…
A desperate pact made by a desperate man.
Ten more earth years with Elena for the eternal damnation of his soul.
He sensed a dim light permeating from Elena in his peripheral, but he dared not look backwards. She was a beacon in a sea of grey wash and blue hues that infused this thin reality interwoven with Hell’s Kitchen.
Everything felt delicate and fragile and crumbling upwards in this plane. Millions of black flakes peeled off and floated up and away from the desiccated buildings, the dried out hollowed street lamps, the husk of phantoms floating aimlessly.
The portal Logan was rushing to was kept inside a reprinted copy of Agrippa’s Fourth Book of Occult Philosophy found surprisingly, at the small Columbus Branch Library on 10th and 51st.
They were a block away physically, but lifetimes away in the spiritual realm. Every step forward felt like hours, even days in the thick gelatinous air of the non-breathing.
A lesser demon manifested beside Logan.
It prowled and hissed and slithered near Logan’s face. Its black bifurcated tongue darted in and out. “Logan Coxssswain… cox. cOX! Cocks… cocksssey. Cocky Logan. Where do you think you’re going… sssss…?”
Logan brushed his arm against its rattling body. “Get away from me.”
“Do you really think masssster Mepisssstophelessssss would let you essscape this eazsssily? Sssso sssssilly you are, Logan Cocksure. Logan micro-cock. Logan cock-down-your-throat.”
Logan marched on, ignoring its insults. He had reached the library and began to climb the flight of stairs up to where he’d hidden the book portal.
The demon followed behind him, behind Elena. “ssssSuch a beautiful girl you have there, Logan. So sssseXXXy. Just look at her asssss…. We had fun with her… In the time it took you to come to usssss… we had her in sssssSooo many waysssss. Hundredssss of our brethren… she ssssssucked… and fucked… all of ussss…. in all mannersss of waysssss … She enjoyed it ssssso sssso much and she begged for more. Why are you taking her away from ussssss….??”
“Shut up! You liar!” Logan turned to face the demon and tried to shove it down the stairs. His palms met with black smoke as nebulous as the ghosts he’d push through out on the streets.
In his anger, he slipped and fell headlong into the steps, through Elena’s spirit and down into the lobby.
At first, Logan was shocked by the speed of gravity. But by the third step down, he’d accepted his fate and rolled with it, each stuttering step punching his body in rhythmic fashion. Bump, bump, bump, bump, bump.
When he’d reached the landing, he smarted sharply. He felt bruises blossoming and he winced for a good while, head down and kneeling on all fours.
The demon cackled and chortled with delight.
After the first pain eased away, Logan looked up to see the demon with its claws clasped behind its head, air-humping Elena.
“Yeeeeeeeeaaaah, baby. Yeeeeeeeaaaaah!!!” it screeched.
Elena appeared vapid with sunken eyes and an elongated hollow mouth. Her spirit wafted in distorted lines. Her unkempt hair bristled as if sustained by static electricity.
“Ach! Too bad you’re not Orpheussss. We would have her returned now,” the demon jeered. “Like a late library book, ha ha ha. Get it, Logan cocksucker?”
Logan climbed the stairs again. Upon reaching Elena, he seized her hand and led her to a nook in the World War II section. He had placed Agrippa’s book, the portal, behind Churchill’s six volume set.
“Churcccchill? Churccchill? ha ha ha. The fattie fat Englisssshhhh bassstard!” the demon giggled uncontrollably. “Oh ssssweeetnesssss…. You know, Logan cocksure, he won the war, but lost the election. Remember that…..”
Logan flipped the pages of the book to the portal. It glowed with swirling orange and yellows.
He pierced the demon with his hard eyes and said, “Fuck you, asshole,” and placed Elena’s hands, her fingers tangled with his, into the portal.
The scapeshift was immediate, quiet and unceremonious. There was no flash of light. No sucking of air, nor reversed sound effect.
They simply shifted.
Just a nanosecond ago, Logan held Elena’s rotting hand. A nanosecond later, Logan felt the warm pulse of her sweet flesh. He held her tightly towards himself, wrapping every inch of his being around her.
They were home.
“Logan?” Elena whispered, confused. “Where are we?”
“We’re home,” Logan said weakly, tears streaming down his cheeks. “We’re in the Columbus Library in Hell’s Kitchen. We went here on our third date. Do you remember?”
“Yes, of course. Of course I do. I… How did we get here?”
Logan surveyed the room.
Students sat in one corner playing games on their phones. A Sikh man was surfing the Internet on his laptop. An old Indian man was browsing the fiction section and had a copy of Vikram Seth in his hand.
Everything appeared as it should, as it had always, as it had been when he left. But something felt, very, very wrong.
“Logan, what is it?” Elena asked.
“I, I don’t know, baby.”
Two Hispanic women were chattering loudly while browsing tabloids, snapping the pages violently.
That’s when Logan noticed the headline: “Royal Divorce? Katie leaves King William!”
He rushed over to the newspapers and saw the date. His shoulders slumped in disbelief and his stomach sunk. “No. No. No… This can’t be happening…”
Logan sat down on the floor, defeated. Elena placed her hand on him. “What is it, Logan? What happened?”
“He tricked me. He tricked me. He started counting the earth years the moment I signed my name. I had no idea every hour in Purgatory was a year up here…” Logan began to sob. “I’m sorry Elena. I’m so sorry.”
“What have you done, Logan? What have you done?” ☣
This week’s Garage Fiction prompt was provided by Nicholas Brack…
“Girl With A Book” – Photographed by Nicholas Brack.
His note: “Happened to see this on a car in front of me and thought alright cool!”
These weekly scenes & stories are part of an ongoing project codenamed “Garage Fiction”. Since January 2015, three writers (Nicholas Brack, Dogwood Daniels and I) have committed to writing a flash fiction or scene each and every week. We post on Fridays and dissect on Tuesdays via podcast.