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Seven Hells

Imagine a trip from which you never have to return. The sounds are flashy, the colors hot to the touch. Transportation is pretty cheap too. Most of the expense is in the gardening and upkeep. That and, well, the piece of your mind...

Next stop: the Gutter.

Seven Hells by Angel Luis Colon

Laurie had this smile on her face—like flat, grey tombstones lined up all uneven. She shoved the baggie in my hand. Opened it and crammed a yellow blossom into her mouth. Gnawed more than chewed. “I’m on my second one. It’s amazing.”

“Where’ve you been?” I asked, “You never answered the phone last night.” Had my suspicions, but wanted to hear her story first.

Laurie ignored the question and jammed two flowers into my mouth. “Catch up with me. We’ll fuck to ‘Rainbow in the Dark’ when we peak. It’ll be better than last time.”

There was no last time, but my dick had bigger ears than my head. Besides, my parents weren’t home yet.

We lay on my twin bed and stared at the spots on the ceiling that surrounded the old light fixture. Generations of spiders and flies still trapped inside the ceramic cup that muted the light bulb.

“So what are these things?” I asked.

“The guy told me they were Seraph’s Trumpets.” Laurie brushed a hand up and down my thigh. “The visuals are supposed to be intense.”

“That’s an awesome name.” I ate another flower. Tasted bitter. Finished at the back of my throat like cherry syrup. “Is it like peyote or ’shrooms? I never get major visuals from those.” I took a long breath. The posters on my walls fluttered like moth wings.

“You ever think about bears?” she asked. I felt her shift on the bed. My stereo came on.

I closed my eyes and let the music climb my toes, my shins, my thighs, my balls.

“Hey,” she was chewing again, “I asked a question.”

Her fingers brushed against my lips. I opened my mouth and my tongue scooped up the offered flower. I shrugged. “I don’t really think much about bears.”

“What if there was one outside?” she asked. “They’re dangerous.”

“What if?” I asked back.

We remained silent after that. Tucked into each other and alternating flowers. Seven for each of us. The stereo stopped and Laurie sat up again. She didn’t come back to me. I rolled over. My head felt like the heaviest part of my body and it took so much effort to open my eyes.

She wasn’t there. I could hear the stereo scanning a new CD. Figured Laurie went to the bathroom or downstairs to get some food. I wasn’t very hungry, so I figured she was in the same state. Bathroom, it was. Pink Floyd came on and I groaned. I scooched up and got myself sitting. Shut the stereo off.

“Caleb,” Laurie called from downstairs.

I stared out the window. The sky was red and gold. The clouds rolling like boiling water. Not sure how long it took me to respond, but the words finally escaped. “What’s up?” I thought about bears.

“Caleb,” she called out louder.

“Shit, what?” I moved to the bedroom door. Opened it wide. None of the house lights were on, just the blue canary nightlight in the outlet by the light switch nearest my parents’ room. “You need something?”

“Caleb, help!” Laurie screamed.

Her voice ran down my back like hot ash. I stomped down the stairs. Slapped at the light switch, but the room was still so dim. Spotted her feet poking out from behind the kitchen island by the sink. The faucet was running at a slow trickle. I lingered on the last stair and watched the cracks in the marble floor recede like waves.

“Laurie, you okay?” I whispered. If she was asleep, I didn’t want to wake her up. She’d be mad. Still, she called me, so it’s not like she’d have a reason. Laurie could be a bitch like that, though, so I played it safe. “Babe?” I kept the volume low. Walked around the island. I counted six hard water spots nearest the sink basin. No, wait; there were eight because the other two were busy growing near the vase without flowers.

“Eric,” Laurie called to me. She was lying on the floor, her hands raised up. She wasn’t wearing a shirt, but you wouldn’t be able to tell from far away since the ivy was growing so thick from inside of her. “It hurts,” she said.

“What hurts?” I laughed. “Why would you even think about bears?” I stared down at her, my hand reaching to pull open the silverware drawer. Found the cleanest butter knife we had. “We need to get that off you.”

Laurie was a trooper. She kept quiet and stone still the entire time. The ivy was a stubborn bastard and kept jumping up from the floor and back to her shirt. The knife wasn’t working—too wet. Maybe fire.

My father kept the biggest lighter in the closet by the bathroom. I could hear the wind echo behind the walls. I ran my fingers down the wainscoting as I made my way to get my father’s fire.

“Eric?” I mumbled. “My parents would never trust me with an ‘e’ name.” I was a little mad Laurie decided to rename me without asking. We’d talk about that later.
I found the lighter near the bathroom. Took some searching to find the butane. Wandered back to Laurie. Did my best to ignore the talking coming from the family photos. A younger me was whining about itchy sweaters.

While I doused Laurie’s vines with the butane, I noticed those leaves running up and down my arms too. Figured I could get two birds with one stone, so I covered poured the remaining liquid down my arms. Just the arms—I’m no dummy. Lit up the ivy on Laurie’s chest and myself. The room went red—just like the skies outside. I couldn’t help it—had to laugh.

I laughed at the heat, at the way the vines curled up and let out acrid, black smoke, at the sound of the front door opening and the way my name echoed from the living room into the kitchen—the space felt canyon-wide and forever deep.

Angel Luis Colón‘s short fiction has appeared in All Due Respect, Out of The Gutter, Revolt Daily, Shotgun Honey, and Thuglit. His debut novella, The Fury of Blacky Jaguar, is due out this summer from One Eye Press. For more, visit