This story is by Joan Maccarrone and was part of our 2022 Fall Writing Contest. You can find all the writing contest stories here.
The End of the World
Eve’s life was gone.
Everyone’s life was gone.
The end of the world that was foretold in The Bible was here.
Eve’s soul entered a place that could only exist in hell. It wasn’t the afterlife she had hoped to be going to and it wasn’t hot either. Hell was bone chilling cold, blindingly white and utterly empty.
Shivering, Eve pawed at her eyes to see…something. Anything would be better than this torturous white. She was wrong. The mist burned off in front of her revealing the obscenity that would be her new master. It was the Prince of Darkness himself. No other could look like that. Eve screamed.
Coming awake trembling, she sat up on her couch and gasped for air. Her Bible fell to the floor. Strands of gray hair stuck to her sweaty face. She picked up her Bible and gently placed it on the end table. She prayed she wouldn’t see that dreadful apparition again when she fell asleep. Her prayers had not been answered.
Lucifer and his freezing hell had been haunting her dreams for weeks. She couldn’t sleep anymore, not for more than 5 minutes at a time, without the nightmarish devil showing up and waking her.
She just couldn’t take it anymore. Frowning, her brow furrowed and wrinkles creased her forehead. Without sleep, she thought, bad things could happen to a person’s brain.
Eve made her way into the kitchen and to the fridge. She opened the door wide. Could this really be the end of the world? She grabbed a can of beer, pulled the tab, and drank. The world was a mess. People were doing horrendous things to each other. Countries were at war and peace was a forgotten word. The conditions were right, she thought.
Eve plopped back down on the couch and belched. The cushions felt so soft and her eyes grew heavy. Rousing herself, she grabbed the TV remote.
“Stay awake Eve.”
The news was on and school closures ran across the bottom of the screen. At least she didn’t have to worry about that. All her children were grown. The weather came on and she turned up the sound.
“We have something out there called a bomb blizzard, folks. It looks like the end of the world,” the weatherman said.
“What…what did you say?” she asked the TV
A loosened strand of Christmas lights tapped against the living room window as if begging to come in. She put the lights up early this year. Halloween was tomorrow and she knew she should have been putting pumpkins out but she liked Christmas lights. They made her happy. Thank God, it made her neighbors happy too.
It didn’t look much like Halloween outside. Snow pelted her window like buck shot. Maybe it really was the end of the world, she thought. She listened to the TV and became more and more afraid of what she heard.
“We’ve had some extreme weather here in Denver, but this storm is one for the books,” the weatherman continued. “We’ve been getting reports of odd weather all over the world.”
Eve went to the window and pulled the curtains closed.
“If you have any pets, I advise you to keep them indoors tonight. Even if they will make a mess. They could freeze to death while doing their business.”
She sucked in a breath. She loved her pets. She looked at her gold fish swimming in a little aquarium, and Jackson, the turtle, in his home behind the couch. The very thought of an animal freezing to death outside made her sick to her stomach.
Her vision blurred and her head began to spin. She lurched to the couch to sit down but the space was already occupied with two enormous gold fish from her tank. They were playing poker.
“Wanna play?” a fish asked, twitching it’s tail.
She was horrified. She shook her head no and, just like that, the vision faded. Her breath hitched in her chest.
“Oh God, I’m hallucinating.”
“It’s not a fit night out for man nor b… ” The talking man on TV never finished his sentence. The power went out.
Eve groped her way back to the window. She had to see what the end of the world looked like. She grabbed the edge of the curtain and peered out.
Eve dropped her beer. It was the hell from her dreams.
Something brown caught her attention and she blinked. It was half buried in a drift of snow. It’s little nose stuck out looking like a little pebble. A paw poked out of the hole. Her heart sank. That shape she saw half buried in the snow was a puppy.
It was suicide to go out there, she thought to herself. She choked back tears. If her dream was right; Lucifer would be showing up about now. Turning her back to the window she sank to the floor.
She sobbed. Either the puppy will freeze to death or Lucifer will eat it.
Eve stood up and peered outside again. Something huge was materializing out of the nothingness. If she was going to do something, she had better do it now.
Eve ran to the closet and reached for her coat. She flung the door open and rushed out into the evil night.
She fixed her eyes on where she thought she had seen the puppy. Bending down, she furiously dug at the snow.
Something screeched and howled with delight. She couldn’t spare a glance.
Eve plowed the snow away with her arms, frantic to find the puppy. Finally her hand touched fur and pulling the puppy out of the snow, she tucked it inside her coat. She turned ready to run. Eve gasped. She was out of time.
He rose up out of the white. With each step the earth trembled. The Prince of Darkness was here.
The rancid smell of rotten meat gagged her. Eve backed up until she banged against her garbage pails. She had nowhere to go. She was trapped.
The Prince of Darkness was covered with putrid pustules and hairy tumors. Pus leaked from the growths. A barbed wire tail flicked out behind. Giant horns protruded from it’s head.
He came on fast. There would be no escape. Eve stood her ground and raised a defiant chin.
He bent down and peered at her a few inches from her face. The demon’s mouth opened and another mouth advanced through the first set of fangs. A fat drooling tongue lolled out. She closed her eyes.
Eve had to deal with this thing once and for all. She plunged her hand in her coat pocket to search for something… anything she could use against him.
She needed something inherently good. Something holy and pure. Car keys, ornament hangers, and tissues filled her hand. Her knees buckled. There was nothing there. Still she kept digging. Her hand closed around something solid. Adrenaline poured into her and hope returned. Would it work?
She opened her eyes, stared boldly at the demon and spat at him. The demon raged with anger, gnashing it’s fangs. This is it, she thought. She pulled the hard object out of her pocket and pushed the button.
Suddenly everything was bathed in twinkling lights. She had turned on her Christmas lights with the remote control.
Santa stood proud in the snow, bobbing his head back and forth with his team of reindeer. A troop of toy soldiers guarded the pathway to her house and huge candles blazed in the dark illuminating her front door. Under a pine tree nestled a nativity complete with angels and stars.
The demon covered his eyes and howled . His body contorted in agony and he clutched at his tumors and pustules in an attempt to hold himself together. But they popped and sizzled and released pus into a puddle at his feet.
Thousands of yellow hands formed out of the puddle and pulled him down with them into the pus. He roared one last time and the stench of sulfur filled the air.
Eve ran between the toy soldiers up the path to her front door. She peeked at the Prince of Darkness. He was almost gone. Ferocious winds scoured the snow and air clean. She ran inside and slammed the door.
The power was back on. Eve released the puppy and tossed her coat on the floor. She collapsed on the couch. Happily the fish weren’t there. The puppy jumped up and covered her face with little kisses.
The TV man was still jabbering, “The worst of the weather is over, folks. Everywhere! The bomb blizzard fizzled itself out. It wasn’t Armageddon after all.”
Eve grabbed the TV remote on the table and turned the talking man off. She pulled the throw blanket over both her and the puppy.
Eve closed her eyes and slept.
Eve didn’t dream.