September 28, 2001

When he fell, the earth opened under him like spoiling fruit, and he tumbled muffled through. Though he braced his arms and gripped soft piles the boy met no bottom, and the walls, gaining life, urged him irresistably down. He felt the teeth of the demons gripping his flesh, his bones, pulling. He felt the soft walls slither upwards. And he perceived as he came closer to the abode of the damned augmenting heat. In dread, he saw distant gates. When he entered, he was met with screams, as if the very walls screamed. Under him, the ground screamed, and he rolled blistered and pierced. The red dust and hot shards penetrated his wounds. It was then that a laquais approached. The devil sent him back up to earth, where the boy awoke scroched by the midday sun, the black rock cooking him from beneath. He could hardly open his eyes, but on he walked, and when he could walk no more, he saw approaching him a figure. The haze now kept the figure back, but as he spied, it proved to bear a loop of hide. The bearded figure held the heat in contempt, and revealed pointed teeth as it laughed. --Have you had enough, it jeered. It closed its mouth and fingered the cord hung at its side. Shadow cloaked its eyes. --My friend, it lied, I'm here to offer aid. The boy fell to his knees and prayed. --Dear Father, I will never abandon my faith in you. He gave thanks to the Lord for saving him from devil hands. The figure nodded grimly and replied: --It is right to give your Father thanks, but He doth act a mystery. Thou canst not know what will has He. --I know that His will is benign.

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