On CC for October 17th 2016, the conclusion of Finish The Story 

For the month of October, Creative Colloquy challenged the scribes of the South Sound to finish the story. A prompt was provided by Burl Battersby and we received a great conclusion to the work. The new completed story is titled The Antechamber.

But first, a poem inspired by Mr. Battersby’s offering.

Keurig by Jennifer Chushcoffkeurig

The new American values
can be measured in glassware
and plastic pill bottles
it can be measured in addictions
and the drive-thru wait
and elastic waistbands
it can be measured in empty
seats in synagogues
and bare wooden pews
in the slippery acceptance
of everything
and the moral compass spinning
as we seek our own true north.

The finite are cursed with
endless appetites
as we bow to masters
of our own making.

I have found the entrance to Hell
and it is within.
I have found the entrance to Heaven
and it is without.

Wanna go to a movie?

The Antechamber started by Burl Battersby, completed by Anonymous

There are other passages to the underworld. There’s a triangle formed by Turin, San Francisco and London, and each is purported to be an access point to the underworld.

As a child, I too found the entrance to hell to be a real place, under some bushes across the street from my house. It wasn’t hidden. It wasn’t a place we feared. It wasn’t guarded by evil fallen angels or scary gargoyles.

It was where we went to meet with Gerrymønd, a toad-like being who smoked a hookah and hoarded crystal decanters of milky liquor. We’d visit after school, and the dimly-lit, smoky antechamber was always hot from a crackling fire. Kids told us we’d be sorry if we spent too much time with Gerrymønd, as he would steal our souls slowly away from us. The priest in our neighborhood told his congregation that depraved beings like Gerrymønd could never be trusted, that he’d burn in hell and take unsuspecting souls with him. We didn’t listen.

The antechamber was small—we could only get in by crouching—so there were no more than two or three of us in there with him at a time. He never came out; no one brought him anything. It seemed everything he needed was there in the bushes or deep underground.

The sound of his voice reminded me of rasping wood, gravelly and hoarse from tea and the hookah. It was hot all the time, so the place smelled like burnt wood and overripe flesh. Shimmers of heat rose from the secret chamber beyond. We never went back there.

His eyes were pale gray with small pupils. I read somewhere a fly has between three and six thousand eyes. Though Gerrymønd had but two human-like eyes, he could look at us as if a big fly were sizing us up for a place to lay eggs; if we weren’t paying attention, he’d slip maggots into our wounds. I dreamt Gerrymønd had a long, curled tongue like that of a fruit fly, a tongue he’d uncurl and slip into my ear, licking brains from my skull if I fell asleep.

Gerrymønd’s favorite of the elixirs he imbibed was a smoky tea. He sipped it for hours while drawing on the hookah. One day, he offered us a cup of tea. No one accepted but me. I took one sip and immediately saw mild hallucinations. The dark antechamber became a large mouth with pursed lips and teeth. Though it held me in, the vision didn’t frighten me. A few days later, I awoke with a sore ear and had trouble remembering things, but otherwise everything was fine.

To continue reading The Antechamber, click here.