Tell the devil Tom is coming.

Prompt: Into the darkness.

“You cannot go, because you will not survive,” the old man said.

“I can’t stay, because I don’t live while she is down there,” Tom said.

“She is dead my boy,” the old man said. “She ought to remain dead.”

“She will not.” Tom said.

“Oh, then you will break your oath?”

“My oath was for a loving god. A benevolent god.”

“Hell is not for mortals. You will be engulfed in flames.”

“I will enter the devil’s layer and finish what Orpheus could not,” Tom said.

The old man pulled his beard and lifted his palms up to the clouds. “Protect him lord,” he said. “Protect him lord. Protect him lord.”

Tom knelt on his left knee. He unlaced his sneakers and laced them tighter. Tom wore black gym shorts with red stripes down the thighs. His black Hanes undershirt was frayed along its bottom and missing one sleeve.

Tom squeezed the oak-handled dagger in his hand. “Pray for the devil,” he said, “warn him Tom is coming for his wife.”

The old man sobbed aloud. Tom turned and faced the black throat of the cave. Stone steps faded down to black. A distant rumble echoed off the rock and into Tom’s belly.






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