Fiction: The Devil’s Chariot

I wrote this short story as part of an assignment for my degree.  It’s my first assignment for my creative writing module, and is presented in it’s original form, without editing suggestions made by my tutor, so there are a couple of tense errors etc..

The car of the ghost train rattled to a stop in front of us. One by one we climbed in, the safety bar dropping across our laps with a clang. The ride assistant smiles at me as he checks I am securely fastened in. He’s devilishly handsome despite the grease stained overalls, dark hair and dark eyes and a smile that could make angels sigh. He returns to his bench, walking slowly, lazily.
‘Enjoy the ride’ he says, and hits the button. The car jerks forward into the darkness, and my hands grip the rail in fear. I’ve never ridden the ghost train before. We swerve around the first corner and straight in to a gruesome face looming out of the darkness, recorded screams shattering my ear drums. I nearly jump out of my seat, covering my face with my hands, afraid to look at the terrors that lie ahead.

The car continues down a dark tunnel that brings us to an ocean of tortured souls. The walls are lined with watchmen, sentinels of the sinners below, masked like broken birds. Their wards writhing and screaming on tides of pain and anguish, we pass over the sea of swollen corpses and onwards in to the next level of Hell.
A courtroom. Men in stocks, and women in chains, waiting for their sentence to be served. The owlish judges watching from their stands, and a crowd of faceless shadows jeering from the jury. One by one they are led off to face their fate. The track widens and the car in which we travel jerks to the left, turning our faces away before we can see their end.
The next chamber is almost dark as pitch, scuttling shapes flit across the walls, calling to each other in an alien language. Their victims are held in thick, gelatinous webs, spun by spiders like creatures with too many legs on the torsos of men, burnt and blackened by the fire of hell itself. Their tiny eyes watch us as we pass, teeth chattering. They are hungry for more victims. A trapdoor opens and a sobbing, shaking sliver of a man is forced in to the chamber by unseen hands. The car speeds down an incline towards bright throbbing light as the spider-men rush upon their prey, chattering excitedly.  His screams vibrate through the air, as if I could reach out and touch them.
The light pours from the next room, so strong and white it burns our eyes. A room filled with noise, the voices of tortured souls echoing around an endless chamber. Shapes in shadows of grey and black, swarming and spinning and body-less, what’s left of the tortured souls. Their voices whoosh past our ears, snatches of a million voices and last words. Cries and sobs, screams of anger. All the pain, all at once, the noise is suffocating and a pressure builds inside my head.  The car tilts and the track curves but no distinct wall can tell us where we are going, the light consumes it all.

Another voice reaches above the rest. Inside this time, inside my head, speaking in tongues. He whispers my name, secret and seductive. The light goes out and we’re thrust in to endless darkness and the voices of the dead are cut short. In the distance, a dot of red light, growing larger as the car trundles towards it. The voice still whispers above the wheels tumbling on the track, the light grows larger, surrounding us and swallowing the darkness behind.
He sits on a throne, regal and giant. His red skin glitters in the flames that fan around him. His face is handsome, hiding secrets of the ages. The voice inside my head grows louder, booming through my brain. He knows, he knows everything. He knows I am afraid. His lips do not move, but he addresses us all the same, his great hand reaching, pointing, coming nearer and nearer. There is no escape. I want to scream but no sound will come out. I close my eyes, the heat from his flesh searing my face. It’s too late, it’s too-

Dark. It’s too dark. He’s saying my name.

‘Lucy. Lucy?’ He’s so close I can feel him next to me. A hand on my shoulder. The light comes on. The ride assistant stands beside me, shaking my shoulder. It’s over.
“Lucy, are you ok?” my friend asks. I’m shaking as I stand, can barely find my feet.    “I think you passed out.” She puts an arm around me. My head feels funny. Passed out? But the chains, the people. The man on the throne?
“Come back soon” the assistant smiles, watching us leave, his eyes flashing red in the light.

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