The Key to Hell
The only thing keeping humanity from the brinks of Hell.
I stared at the broken heart-shaped locket that lay strewn all over the ground. I dropped to my knees ignoring the pain of rocks stabbing me through my jeans.
“No, No, No” I cried as I desperately tried to fix it. I frantically put everything back into place and tried to turn the dial to close it. The tiny clock that once beat rhythmically like a heartbeat was now silent. The way I wished my thundering heart would be right now.
“What did you do?” I launched myself at my sister. My hands lunged at her throat. We wrestled on the ground for a few moments before she kneed me in the stomach and crawled from underneath me.
“Are you insane? You almost killed me. It’s just a stupid necklace,” Rae spit out as blood gushed from her lip.
I shook my head, “because of you we are all going to die. That necklace was our only hope.”
“Don’t be so melodramatic Aria. It’s just a neck-” her voice cut off at the sound of thunder. Thick black clouds swirled in the sky, throwing the afternoon sky into a sheet of darkness. In the distance a purple haze flew over the mountains and into the city. They danced in between skyscrapers and with a light touch sent each one crashing to the ground. Darker more sinister wind streams stretched toward the city like spindly fingers on a witch’s hand. Screams rose from surprise to pure terror as people tried to outrun the haze. People hopped in cars, trying to speed away, as if they could drive to safety.
But you can never outrun the wind. It surrounded and devoured every soul it passed leaving pale bodies hard as stone.
You must guard this locket with your life Aria.
The haze spread out covering the outskirts of town as more buildings fell, and even more people died.
No matter what it must never be broken.
I ran down the street to the nearest convenience store. I had to fix it before it was too late. Rae ran closely behind me as she bombarded me with questions. I knocked items off of the gas station shelves as I looked for something, anything, that could put this locket back together. I searched aisle after aisle for anything sticky. Glue, tape, anything that could fix what Rae had done. Rae joined in the search and found a tube of glue.
She tossed the E6000 at me and I ripped the package open with my teeth. I laid out the pieces on the counter. Rae stood in the doorway to keep watch, to tell us how much time we had left.
It’s a key. If it is broken, a dark force will be released into the world.
My hands shook as I tried to use the tip of a pen to place each piece together.
“Aria,” Rae called cautiously from the door. She turned and looked at me with wide eyes. It was getting closer.
What’s the dark force papa?
Nothing you need to be worried about as long as you keep this safe.
I dabbed more glue inside the broken locket. My hand twitched at the sound of sirens, making me squeeze too much out.
Never take it off. Never let it leave your side.
“Why didn’t I listen, Papa?” I cried as I continued to fix the locket.
“Aria,” Rae called, sounding more worried this time.
Does Rae get a key too, Papa?
No, this job is for the oldest. So I must pass it down to you.
I managed to glue most of it before Rae called out in a shaky high pitch voice. “Aria.”
I didn’t look up. One last piece. Just one last piece.
The purple haze smoked in the parking lot, setting the gas pumps ablaze. Rae ran out of the doorway and deep inside the store, leaving me alone. The haze creeped slowly toward the door just as I put the last piece in place. The haze slithered close and stopped at my feet. I held up the locket as if it was a shield.
My heart slammed inside my chest. The haze wasn’t moving. I twisted the dial and waited.
What if it does break. Can it be fixed, Papa?
The dense haze snaked up my leg and around my neck, constricting it ever so slightly.
I don’t know Aria. I don’t know.
The haze flew into my nose and mouth, choking me in the process. It grabbed something heavy inside of me and slowly lifted it up, up, up. My head grew lighter and lighter as the load moved. The haze pulled it out of me and sent me crashing to the floor. With a light head and heavy eyelids I watched as Rae scrambled to me and twisted the dial, faster and faster. As my eyelids grew heavier I heard the tiny clock that once beat rhythmically like a heartbeat come alive. The outside had grown eerily quiet but the ticking was loud and clear. It beat strong and rhythmically, unlike my quieting heart.
Tick. Tock. Tick. Tock.