Doom Mountain "A Journey to the Center of the Earth Story" By John Pirillo. The Big One strikes. Only one will survive Doom Mountain!
"Journey to the Center of the Earth Story"
By John Pirillo
Tumbling down like soft kisses from the sky wet, flaky winter fell onto his hair, his shoulders and arms as he went down the long slope before him. Strewn with fallen trees, massive scorch marks from the wreckage of a passenger jet that finally gave up the ghost and crash landed, spewing its passengers and guts across the mountain, leaving only memories and what might-have-beens echoing in the air.
He paused a moment to pray for them, knowing that it was too late to help the fallen ones recover, but not too late to forgive himself for not being able to catch them and save their precious lives. His name was Father Brown. He was a Church of the Real God pastor and proud of the work he had done over the years, but nothing could have prepared him for what he saw as he descended the mountain.
The mountain itself had crumbled in many places, leaving huge chasms he had to find another way around, or else struggle to cross, hoping he wouldn't plunge into their depths as he did so. It was a treacherous and dangerous decent.
As he eyed the smoking ruins of the jet, he thought of the retreat he had scheduled for this weekend, where his followers could learn more about the earth and the delicate balance that man and environment danced together. He was not a spiritualist, a man who condemned the weak. He was a simple man who held a vast amount of faith in the goodness of God and the growing goodness of man.
After all, men were not beheaded for stealing anymore, nor their hands cut off because they were thieves. Women had rights. Men had rights. Gays had rights. It was as it should be in the kingdom of God and of man.
But something had still gone awfully wrong. And he prayed every waking moment for God to show him what it was, so that he could pray for it to be undone, to spare those still struggling to survive, and were yet to struggle from the results of the massive aftershocks.
He flashed back to the retreat on the top of the mountain and the narrow dirt road that led to it from a single lane highway that only truckers usually traveled, bringing cut trees down the mountainside to the saw mills deep in the valley below. It was still the edge of winter, and so there had been none of those traveling the single lane when the Big One struck, or else there would have been more deaths than had happened.
He felt his face flush with anger at himself, and his throat constrict with grief as he thought of the twenty one souls who had been in the meeting room waiting for him as he prayed outside. Had he been inside with them, maybe things would have ended differently.
He remembered turning around when the first jolt struck. Startled, he had been about to enter the building, when a second jolt struck, even stronger. He was flung from his feet. He heard screams inside the building. He got back to his feet to go inside and see if anyone needed help, when the Big One finally lashed its whip and took the whole building down into the gaping mouth of the mountain beneath it.
He hadn't realized that the building was built over any kind of subterranean structure. No one had told him. He suspected someone knew, but failed to disclose it, thinking this event would probably never happen. So much for wishful thinking.
He had been thrown backwards, away from the mouth of the mountain that opened wider and wider, engulfing the building and the screaming people inside. The most heart-breaking moment was when a mother, June Allison, reached the door as it began to break apart with her child. Three years old.
"Please catch him. Save him, Father Brown."
He had managed to scramble to his feet, but the moment she flung the child, the gaping mouth had opened too wide and the building was swallowed hole, breaking apart as it did in splinters of screaming humans, no longer blessed to be alive. Victims of a crime they would never understand. Nor he.
He had reached for the child as it flew through the air, crying its heart out, "Mommy! Mommy! Mommy!"
He almost had the child when the earth beneath him rose and shook him backwards, but flung itself up and over the child, smothering its cries of pain and loss, then dropping over the building, burying it forever.
He had lain there stunned and broken, a mannikin used for the worse by nature. He stared at his hands, cursing them for not being longer, cursing himself for not being stronger. What good was he, when he couldn't help those he was there to protect and nurture? Why had God let this happen to all those good souls, to him?
He lay on the trembling earth, occasionally being thrown up or sideways, but never into the massive pit in the top of the mountain where all his followers had been consumed by the most massive earthquake in modern history.
He lay there, in shock, hurt, bruised, aching in his heart, mind and spirit.
He lay there for hours, wading through layer after layer of self pity, sense of betrayal and anger towards God, and then the earth began to settle again. When it did, he sat up. Above him in the skies massive storm clouds pitched forks of lightning at each other, lancing the blue heavens with piercing flames of blue fire.
The hair stood up on the back of his neck, his head and his wrist and forearm.
Then a miraculous thing happened. One that restored his faith.
A small doe stumbled into the opening before him, followed by its parents. A large buck and its mate. They stopped and watched him, making no further movement, but the doe continued towards him, haltingly, but steadily, having just found its new legs. It was new born. Even in the midst of so much pain and death life goes on.
He sat there still in shock and pain, his eyes bloodshot from crying, his throat hoarse from screaming out in useless dismay.
Then the doe reached him. It gently stretched its neck, and then nuzzled his face with its nose, which was moist and firm. He looked into its eyes and saw...hope. And salvation.
He was about to reach out and touch it, when it vanished, as if never there. He looked to the parents and they still stood there. The buck swished its bushy tail, made a short snorting sound, shook its rack at him, then it and his mate walked proudly back into the trees and brush that were so t hick at the top of the mountain.
He sat there a long time, absorbing the impact of his vision, the feel of the soil beneath his body, the crackling of thunder and lightning above, the strong wind that had begun to whip through the trees not knocked down. So many were. Yet, so many also stood as well.
He stood up and staggered a moment, recapturing his balance. He didn't look back. He knew what was buried there. Instead, he began making his way down the mountain. The single lane road that abutted the dirt one was broken up and shattered its entire length. It's like it had been a string of rope so brittle it had broken from the momentous force of the Big One. There was no way home on that path of destruction. Most of the road had fallen away, leaving huge gaps he would have to leap if he dared to follow it.
He doubted he had it in him to do such things anymore. He was sixty nine, approaching seventy. Still youthful in many ways, but also feeling the years weigh down on him, as his body complained about the many bruises he had just suffered.
He limped at first, but as he continued, something altered his stamina, and he stopped limping. He almost felt like running. Don't ask why. He just did.
He retreated from his memories and examined the wreckage again. Maybe he could find something of use there. He had lost his cell phone in the quake. It had been on his prayer table, set aside during the prayer of silence he and his congregation always partook in.
He began to tear up again and wiped at his eyes, smearing the memories on the sharp rocks of reality. It was gone. All of it.
He reached the wreckage, praying as he climbed around it. Not a living soul stirred. Bodies were everywhere, broken and sightless like dolls broken and set aside. The light snowfall was beginning to dress them up, making them look like fallen snowmen and snowwomen.
He saw several children and for a brief moment hope flared, then when he saw the impossible position of their necks and bodies and their glass eyes, frozen in death, he shuddered and looked away.
He went through the pockets of a man who was less broken and bloody than the others. He found a cell and was about to pull it out, when the man's eyes opened and he gripped Father Brown hard by his shoulder. "It wasn't our fault! Tell them! It wasn't our..." Fading out. "Fault."
His eyes stayed open and his grip fell from Father Brown's shoulder.
Father Brown said a brief prayer over the man, then stood up and faced the direction he knew he would now travel alone for a time. Surely there would be rescue copters this way, but he saw no point in waiting. If it had struck so hard here, there must be greater need elsewhere. He was nothing, if not practical.
He lifted the cell. The battery was fully charged. He dialed emergency.
He dialed every number he could. No tone.
Finally, he switched the cell to Chrome and punched in a web address. Weather channel. That would report what had happened. Chrome came up perfectly, but no webpage imaged. No address he punched worked. Finally, Chrome reported that the server connection was missing.
It was then, at that moment, that he realized the Big One had struck much more deeply and widely than he had thought. He looked across the mountain towards the valley below, where the city of Marysville was. Huge billowing clouds of dark smoke filled the air. He looked towards Yuba City and the same.
He descended slowly to his knees, and then bowed his head.
He didn't pray out loud. No one would hear him. There might not be any left to hear him here, or anywhere else.
He struggled against the deep sense of grief he felt, as the skies became a battlefield of hard falling rain and hail, lightning strokes and thunder.
Amid that he once again saw the doe, and felt its nose upon his cheek. He raised his eyes to the sky. "I...will...not...give...up!"
He stood uncertainly for a moment, and then continued his descent. Praying with all his heart and soul that there were still some alive he could help. For this event must strike a terror so deep and horrible that any caught in it would need all the hope they could experience. He felt the presence of the doe walking alongside him, even though he couldn't see it. It gave him strength and courage to face what must be done and the challenges he must overcome.
"Though I walk into the valley of death..." He began praying, his voice lost in the thunder and lightning flashes as he continued to descend. And as he walked, fear grew on both sides of him, but before his eyes, the warm image of the doe remained, fixed in his heart.
Spread your Sauce, Mind your Mummies
"A To Hell and Back Story"
By John Pirillo
"Mustard....the only female of the squad, the DAA...Demon Asskicking Avenger... works as a programmer during the times off, expert language skills, can interpret any language in a matter of minutes or hours, gifted, never forgets a thing, hard for dating because of her innate distrust of men, though she loves her comrades in arm, she won't have anything romantic to do with them even though Squat has a mad crush on her and brings her a bouquet of flowers every day. Named Mustard because she puts it on everything she eats, especially ice cream. Emerald green eyes and loud blonde hair, frosted with strawberry."
Mustard sucked and sucked on the stick, juicing it for every drop of pleasure she could, her parched lips aching from lack of moisture. The stick had been part of a cactus that she had blown up, along with an assorted cadre of Mexican demons, the kind that manifested with huge Tequila bottle heads, multiple knifed fingertips, and a tongue that could lash you like a whip, then such you dry like she was trying to do with that sole survivor of the blown up cactus.
The first one had stepped out of the Joshua Tree, leaned against it, a cigarette between its horrid lips, and tipped its Tequila head and leered at her. "Girlie, wanta get lucky?"
She had blown its Tequila to bits with her Sig Hauser.
A second slid from beneath a shrub and sneered at her, its Tequila head lined with wrinkles. "That trick won't work on me..."
She kicked it in its privates, and then as it ducked to cover them, she smashed its bottle against her knee, shattering it. Her pants smelled like Tequila and blood. Demon blood.
She shoved the body away and it dissolved, like the other back into the soil.
She didn't hear the other five behind her until too late. She spun around to confront them. She even managed to personally smash three of them together at the same time. The same time as this MF the size of a small garbage truck rammed into her legs. Wham Bam, thank you M'am. It had said, leering at her as she laid there, her legs both broken.
She had sneered through her tears of pain and powdered him with a grenade, sending him and the other lusting demons back to the hell they had come from.
The desert became hushed and quiet again.
But now she wouldn't be hiking back to her Four by Four anytime soon. It might as well have been a thousand miles away. That was when she realized she'd have to crawl a lousy thirty miles in hundred plus heat to get back to Baker.
How in the hell...she almost snickered at that word...had she ended up in the middle of the Mojave Desert outside Baker, where the 100 foot tall thermometer reminded her of what she didn't have? Water. Cool. Shade.
How? She had been a disgusting freak and plodded out into the desert by herself, because Squat had proposed to her again. She was so disgusted at him...no, herself...that she had run out of their meeting place, jammed the pedal on her Four by Four and drove blindly, until she finally ran out of gas in Baker. That was when she decided to go to the Little Alien Store, buy some jerky, some water bottles and hike out into the Mojave. Screw the heat! Screw the demons! Screw Squat!
No, she had stopped. "Unscrew that bastard. That bastard!" She had wept, and kept walking, even though night was approaching. That's when she had been ambushed by the damned demons. Damn!
Both her legs were broken. She had to crawl to make progress. She'd made a lot in the three days since the incident. Also blown up more demons. She seemed to be a demon magnet. She would've settled at that moment for being a babe magnet...but it seemed too sexist, even to her in her more elevated spirit at that time.
"Spread your sauce and mind your mummies." Her mother had always told her, but she never understood the meaning of those words until this crazy incident. At the time her mom had been spreading tomato sauce on a homemade pizza, confusing the wisdom she was imparting. Or else maybe it was just because Mustard was only eight years old then and had no idea of what a double entendre was? Probably be the last thing she learned the way things were going.
"Where are those brats?"She wondered out loud. For the last day or so she'd found herself having great conversations with the sand, the occasional rattle snake, and scorpions that rustled her way for a peeksy. They never rustled away though. She hated them with a passion. Devil's work for sure she thought sourly, thinking of the last scorpion who'd she'd ripped it stinger off, then its poison sac and sucked its juices from its body for nourishment. That had been her last meal. The one before that, several days after her fight that broke both her legs, she'd grabbed a rattler by its throat, ripped off its rattler, pounded it flat, then extracted its poison sacks, and munched on it raw.
She was long past caring about raising a fire. It might signal the other demons out there.
She looked up again as she painfully dragged herself inch by inch through the blazing hot sands, over prickly rocks and fallen thorns, ignoring the red ants and the scorpions who popped from under rocks to raise their tails at her when she accidentally disturbed their homes. She wasn't hungry anymore so she let them live. They let her live.
She swept...if you can call moving as fast as an arthritic old lady almost two hundred years old fast...some fingers through her straggly blonde hair. It would need a good shampoo and rinse once she got back. If she got back. No when she got back.
The thermometer was getting bigger in her vision now. How far? Maybe another mile?
She felt as if the ground were moving under her. Ahead of her was a large Joshua tree with the shade in the right direction and about the right size. It took her most of the rest of that day to reach it and she collapsed into it, letting herself go at last. Tomorrow would take care of itself. Almost automatically, her hand snatched out for a huge scorpion that rushed her from the shade she had invaded.
She quickly tore out its stinger and poison sacs, then sucked it dry, spit out the remains and rolled over onto her back. She edged up a bit to look at her legs. They were twisted like pretzels. "What a mess you've gotten yourself into now." She sneered at herself, even though only she could see it...in her own mind's eye.
Where was Squat when you needed him? A soft spot had grown in her psyche towards the man. He was no looker. But what he lost in looks, he made up for in his gallantry. No man had ever bought her flowers every day. Every single frigging day!
She burst into laughter. It came out as a hoarse, broken choke that sounded like a dying horse. Or at least what she imagined one would look like.
She heard a sound. New. Loud. Closing in.
She tried to roll over to look. A large shadow swept by. A horse and its rider. She glimpsed them for a brief moment. They were looking toward where she was crawling, a cell phone on their damned ear, their eyes lost behind thick sunglasses that blurred any side vision which might have caught her in them.
"Damn!" She swore, which came out as "Sham!" Making her sound like she was drunk. Hell, maybe she was. Dead drunk.
She laughed at her own stupid joke, and then sighed, making a gurgling sound in her throat. Her legs didn't hurt anymore. She suspected that the nerves had given up from all the banging around she had done to them as she fought off the last of those damned demons. Who would have thought that any country would have its own demons? But they did.
She remembered when she was in Russia, the demons there all looked like polar bears with vodka glasses for eyes and leering smiles. In Florida they all wore Hawaiian shirts and had noses that trailed behind them. In San Francisco they all dressed like drag queens and smoked long cigarettes that stuck between puckered red lips. Some damn heterosexual had given birth to that crazy version. Some Baptist preacher, whom they had to rescue from his own stupid demons. He had such a hatred and fear of being gay that he had manifested it as real demons.
Last she heard he had been busted by reporters for engaging in homosexual behavior with a prostitute that had cost his church hundreds of thousands of dollars to cover up. Such hypocrites. Why can't they just admit what they are and love themselves anyway? Why do they always have to take someone else down because of their fear of admitting what they themselves were?
That's the danger of hatred. It's powerful. Very powerful. And what we hate we create, even as what we love, we create. What a damned strange world, she mused.
Hell! Demons were nothing if uncommon. Generated by all the stupid fantasies of the people who feared them, they came in all flavors, and all dangers. Some ate you. Some sucked you up like soda. Some sipped. Some nibbled. Some fried you. Some dissolved you. Some married you, then exposed themselves on the night of the...here she fell into a smile. Romantic, she wasn't. So she refused to even go there with that thought.
Men disgusted her.
Women disgusted her.
She wasn't into sex. She wasn't into sex. Not with anyone or anything.
Her mind began to reel, so she reeled it back in, blocking out the visions of horror that began to overcome her, of groping hands, of a large face with a friendly smile, and a woman. A woman too. She shook the thoughts out and the images, her whole body numb with grief, despair and a growing anger. The last kept her awake, even as the sun began to sink and the temperatures drop. She had made it through the last nights because her fever had been so high that she had sweated through the dropping temperatures, but now she had beat that she felt the drop intimately, as intimately as if she were being dunked in a cold bath of ice water.
She sighed, and then closed her eyes. What was the use? She'd never make it. No one knew where she was. They had probably all written her off as another casualty. Another lost comrade. There had been others. Her heart grieved even now for them...Soothsayer, a gentleman who always wore a tux and carried a machine gun that could saw through solid steel and demons like butter. There had been Marge the Large. A very heavy woman who used her weight to demolish the demons, immobilizes them, and then finishes them off with huge slaps of her karate hands. Deadly hands. Even if fat. And the last...Norman. Normal in all ways. Petite, almost feminine. Had he been born in Frisco, he might have become a drag queen back in the Haight Ashbury Days, but he wasn't and wore his femininity like a cloak, but without blazing it for all to see. He had been the most hurtful of the lost ones. He was kind to a flaw. His kindness had let a demon get through his defenses.
It had been a ten year old kid, sucked into a demon, which had assumed its form and acted like a normal kid. The kid inside the demon would surface, sometimes naughty, sometimes nice, but always wanting to be...just a kid. Norman had taken pity on it, and spared it, securing it in his home's basement.
They had found him a week later after he didn't come for their regular meeting. He had been shredded to pieces. They found him intertwined with the ten year old boy in a pool of red and green blood mixed together. He had scribbled with his blood. "I saved him."
And for all she knew he had, the kid, now demon skinless, laid there with a serene look on his face and an arm wrapped around Norman's neck, his face wet with streaks of tears he had cried before he had died of heartbreak.
Shaker had told her all of that after she had come back from the madness it had temporarily flung her into. She had a sensitive nature and the sight of that destruction...a good soul and a young child, destroyed by the loathing and hatred of the darkness of demons created by humanity. That drove her over the edge for a time.
As she considered those days she fell into a merciful sleep. She felt her body struck hard, as if by something huge. But she didn't care anymore. What was the use? She was dying.
She heard a voice keep saying, "Don't leave me now. Don't leave me now."
It made sense, but it shouldn't have been there. Not with all the pain and agony her body felt as it was roughly moved. Every nerve in her body screamed.
Finally, she woke up screaming, every cell in her body letting go of all the pain and anguish she had been carrying for years now and those last few days.
She felt something wet her cheek and opened her eyes. Her screams stopped.
It was Squat. Looking into her face.
"You ugly sonuva bitch!" She greeted him.
"I love you too, Mustard." He told her.
Then everything swirled into a deep, blissful darkness. One she could surrender too, knowing she would escape to the other side with a man who cared for her as much as he loved his own life. Maybe when she woke up she'd tell him something about that. Maybe. But then she became lost in a beautiful white light that surrounded her and enveloped her, healing her mind, heart and soul.
"Spread your sauce, mind your mummies." Mom told her for a brief moment, her big, compassionate eyes looking into hers, and then she was lost again in the light and surrendered to unconsciousness.
Time to rest and heal.
John Pirillo"Writing fuels the heart and soul!" Science Fiction, Fantasy and Adventure Tales to Take Your Breath Away!