Into Hell

“I told you, I ain’t sellin’ and I ain’t movin’,” said Joe-John Watley, as he chewed on a scraggily piece of his unkempt grey beard. He sat on a rickety chair at his rickety kitchen table in his rickety shot-gun house. Across from him was the uneasy and uncomfortable Eugene Zansky, a mid-level representative from Walton Natural Gas.

“I ain’t gone sue ya neither, I ain’t like that,” Joe-John went on. “Way I see it is Lucifer got hisself thrown outta Heaven and inta Hell and now it’s you businessmen and lawyers that let him out to dwell on earth with us, and I ain’t dealing with neither of you no matter how much money you wave in frona me. You understand?”

As they spoke another tree not far from them was sucked into the earth. The dirt underneath fell away as well, into the abyss. Into Hell.

“Mr. Watley,” said Eugene, trying to sound polite, with one eye on his watch. “We will compensate you handsomely.” He paused and looked around at the four cracked walls surrounding him. “You can get yourself a new place to live.”

“Now you listen here,” said Joe-John as he slapped the table. His hand hit so hard some of the dirt crumbled out from under his finger nails. “This house has been in my family for generations and that means something to me. I worked off that river just as my father and grandfather did before you went and ruined it with your drillin’ and brought about that damn hole. I got nothing left, no livelihood, nothing but these walls and the ground underneath em’. And I ain’t leavin’. No sir Mr. Zansky. I am not.”

“Mr. Watley,” said Eugene. “I am going to leave my card with you. You think on it and give me a call.”

He pulled a business card out of his shirt pocket and put it face up across from Joe-John who picked it up without hesitation, crumpled it into a ball, and tossed it over his shoulder onto the floor.

“Nothing to think on,” he said. “Now nothin’ personal Mr. Zansky, but I’m done talkin’ with you so I believe you can show yourself out.”

“Okay,” said Eugene, with a sigh. He stood and walked a few feet to the front door. He didn’t even know why the hell the company had sent him here in the first place. The land would come out from underneath the old bastard anyway. They’d just drill into the remaining land from an angle , like the Iraqis did in Kuwait, back in ’91.

When he walked outside and closed the door behind him he teetered on the edge of the earth. The sinkhole must have grown another few miles wide while he was inside. He quickly took a step back. He’d have to walk around the little shack of a house to make his way back to his office.

When he turned around, with his foot in mid-step, a grey hand reached out from under the earth. It was dry and cracked and had dirty bone-looking finger nails. The hand grabbed the bottom of his pant leg and pulled so quickly Eugene didn’t even have time to scream. Once he was below ground, the demons, the ones unleashed by the gas drilling and the sinkhole that resulted, began to devour him alive, starting with his face.

© Stanton McCaffery, October 2013


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