From above (a short story)

Alexandr Bormotin
Alexandr Bormotin on Unsplash

“What do you think’s up there?” Arioch looked nervously at the moving staircase. They moved slowly, tauntingly. He had approached them earlier and they had sped up ever-so-slightly; he had not gone near since. They never seemed to end. With each second a new, grey, metallic step emerged from the depths and rolled upwards, forming a definite step, moving ever onward until it disappeared out of sight. That was the thought that was troubling Arioch now. Where did it end?

Phis stared up at the strange monolith. His face was unreadable, although, Arioch knew this was always the case with the older demon so he did not let it trouble him too much.

“I think we both know what’s up there,” Phis finally replied. He sounded tired, weary, as if something he knew would happen had finally come to pass. Arioch wondered if Phis had been expecting the monstrous contraption or simply the incursion of what was above. “But,” Phis continued, “I suggest you don’t go up there and check.”

Arioch gasped at the very suggestion, go up there? That was pure madness! He cowered back, stepping further away as if someone may appear at any moment and force him on. He wouldn’t put it past Lucifer to be so unkind.

“You know Arioch,” Phis leaned forward, squinting his red eyes. “I think we’re worrying about the wrong thing.”

“You mean how did this happen?”

“Quite,” he nodded.

“We should find out who?” Arioch drew himself up, buoyed by this new plan. “Yes, someone must know who. Then they can remove it.” He started to turn, ready to march back to the pits to do some investigating. Shake down a few lesser demons as it were, but he spotted the look on Phis’ face and paused. He shook his head tentatively and Phis returned the gesture. “Not who,” he slumped and turned back to the stairs which were making him more uneasy by the minute. The way they parted the protective flames that surrounded hell was unnerving to say the least. Smoke wafted around the hole as if the flames were being put out by the staircase. But that should have been impossible. Hell’s flames could not simply be extinguished. “What should we be worrying about?” Arioch chewed his bottom lip, his left fang dug into the flesh beneath drawing a small amount of blood that he quickly lapped up. His right fang was somewhat deformed and hardly sharp enough to damage a piece of fruit, not that he had seen fruit in millennia.

“The one on the left,” Phis pointed. Arioch followed his long arm, down to the talon that was directed at the light above the third, left-most staircase. The light was different, red, implying no entrance. Arioch leaned again, nearly over-balancing in his reluctance to step closer. Why would there be no entrance?

And that was when he spotted it. His eyes widened in horror, “It moves differently.” Phis nodded. “It is the reverse!” Arioch clutched at his chest as he knew not what else to do in times of such terror. “It, it moves towards us. Bringing travellers to us!”

“Quite my young friend,” Phis sighed. “A direct line straight to hell.”

“But,” Arioch nearly choked on the words, “that means. The humans. The humans can come here!”

“That they can my friend,” Phis had never called him a friend before. Now Arioch was truly worried. “Such a monstrous race hell has not seen for an age.” Phis turned and grasped him by the shoulders. “We must ready ourselves Arioch. Tell the others. Tell them the humans come.”

Written in response to a prompt on Creative Writing Ink dated September 4th.

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