When counting backwards from thirteen becomes a ritual is there something wrong? Missing someone may lead to a variety of things, even new discoveries. Even if things are okay where one may be, well sometimes they don’t want to stay there.
Being nine years old and knowing exactly how to escape to a forbidden place seems somewhat unreal, especially if that place is occupied by starving demons. But one would be surprise what someone may do for someone they loved.
My mother warned me before she left that anything could happen to her. I had no clue that meant she’d be gone forever. Her story had made the news that night. With her car all bent out of shape and herself collapse over. Father watched the news every night until that night, because no one else had told us, and we were forced to witness it ourselves.
Days lead to weeks, which led to months, which totaled to a whole year. A whole entire year since we saw that news cast and watched mother die. Every morning I hear dad wish under his breath “Why couldn’t she have been a better person?”
One morning I asked, “Father, why wasn’t mom a good person?”
He looked strangely at me like he had no clue where the question had originated. “Lynda, your mother was a very good person,” he replied after thought. “She just wasn’t very religious. And well, I just hope she’s okay.”
I walked away with the new worry that my mother may not be in the happy place that is subjected for the afterlife. That is what Father was talking about, I was sure of it. After that I went back to my room, where I kept the chest with the few of Mother’s belongings I managed to smuggle before Father stashed everything of hers in the shed outside.
Underneath my old baby blanket and teddy bear was four things of my Mother’s I hope I never lose. There was her journal, a locket, a hairbrush, and a small handheld mirror. I pick up the journal and open it to where I left off.
‘Finally, I think I have cracked the code. After years I’ve discovered a way to visit the place where demons lurk, where heat is abundant, but the king hates outsiders. This place is rather a nightmare however. By laying down in bed and right as you’re falling into sleep, you count backwards from thirteen. Once you say one your thoughts lead you to a new place. I believe I found a way to Hell.’
Closing the book thoughts eat away at me. Is my Mother there? In the place where demons lurk? I picked up the mirror and looked at myself. I see that my dark brown curls need to be brushed, and my green eyes appear slightly bloodshot, I haven’t slept well since the incident. “Will I get to see Mother again?” I asked myself and watched my lips form each of the words.
That night I lay in bed, and I look out at the stars. Then I begin to count. “Thirteen, twelve, eleven, ten, nine, eight, seven, six, five, four, three, two… one.”
Suddenly I feel myself begin to fall. My bed seemed to disappear and everything has gone black. Nothing is around me yet I feel wind rushing past me and my heart dropping as I do. Hitting the ground, not nearly as hard as I would’ve suspected, I look around to see where I am.
For miles I see ash covered ground and smoldering rock. I can feel myself start to sweat thanks to the radiating heat. The air is dry and smoke fills my lungs. Where am I?
Just when I thought I was alone behind one of the heated rocks I see a dark figure move. It comes out from the shadow and begins its way towards me. Its skin is almost as black as the ashes on the ground. I jump when I hear it growl at me. Its teeth are barred and appear to be rather sharp. Its claws scratch the ground as it walks.
As it gets closer I see I’m shorter than it by a longshot. I look about one-third of its size. I walk backwards slowly until I stumble back. I fall to the ground and feel the heat from the smoldering rocks.
This creature is now hunched over me and I see the hatred in its eyes. The pain it must go through. A whistle is heard behind this beast and backs off of where I lay.
It must have a master… That’s when I see her. My mother stood there next to the beast like she controlled it. “Lynda?” She asked when she saw me.
Without any thought I stand up and race over towards her. She catches me with a hug and I begin to cry. “I never thought I would see you again” I sob.
“Oh sweetie, I’m so happy to see you. But how did you get here? This is no place for you.
I began to tell her about her belongings I kept in my chest back in my room. I explain that Father kept hoping she was okay in where she was now.
“Well honey…” she began “I don’t know how to explain this. But after the accident, my soul was sent here.”
“Mother where is here?” I asked.
“Don’t you remember? I believe in the journal I wrote that the method you must’ve used to get here was a way to visit Hell. Why anyone would want to come here for a little vacation I will never know.” She shook her head.
“Why are you here?” I said curious.
She paused, looked at her Hell hound and turned back at me. “I’m not sure.”
Before I could speak another word a loud roaring erupted from behind me. Like and earthquake the ground began to split and me and Mother both run back to get away. Flames emerge from the crack emitting light into the shadowy place.
A figure comes out of the flames and silently makes its way over to us. With a deep voice much like a man’s it points to me and says “How have you gotten here?”
I stammer and begin to panic. “I’m…I came to visit my Mother”
He stops and looks at Mother. “Did you know about this?”
Terrified she responds with, “No, no… she came here on her own.”
Looking down on me the silhouette like creature used a voice of authority. “Don’t come here ever again. Mortals are not welcome here.”
“May I please visit my Mother? I haven’t seen her in a year…”
He began to laugh. As he did so he held out his hands and a rush of wind began my way. Then I felt myself being thrown back to my bed.
I toss and turn in the sheets and finally untangle myself. What did I just witness?
Night after night from then on I tried to go back to see her. But the counting didn’t work. For years I researched ways to Hell. I could never find my way back.
That creature had banned me from Hell for as long as I would be mortal. But I will make sure of I will end up there. I know I’ll see her again. No matter what it takes.