We landed on the rocky ground with a thud! As Phoebe, Ellie, Ginger, and I laid on the floor, I could feel something sharp digging into me, but my mind was still in too much shock to move anywhere else! I cried out,” They caught us! They figured out we were covering up for a criminal so we could infiltrate their private quarters and destroy their property, and they sent us to Hell for this infraction!”
“We’re not in Hell!” Phoebe reassured me.
“Then what do you call this?” I gestured to our surroundings, which had pools of lava and brimstone fountains that spouted fire. She searched for an alternative explanation but struggled to produce any comforting notions. The discomfort I felt from the pointed object prodding into my back became unbearable, so I grunted, “Ugh! What is poking me?”
From a distance, Blaise let me know, “That would be my knee!”
“Huh?” I puzzled. It made no sense to claim I had been laying on a part of him when his voice came from another section of this space… until I glanced over to where I heard him… I gasped when I saw his decapitated head!
“Yeah, I lost my noggin!” Blaise confirmed when he saw my reaction.
The three ladies and I freaked out and scrambled off of his corpse! As his headless body went to retrieve the rest of him, Ginger exclaimed, “Wow, you really are undead! I kinda thought you made that up to… Well, I don’t know why you would do that!”
As Blaise put himself back together, Ellie petitioned him, “So, why did you become a zombie while Damon’s a ghost?”
“Please don’t use the ‘z’ word around me!” Blaise grimaced and then responded to her query, “I don’t know why Babelsama went that path! You’ll have to ask him when you see him!”
“And we’re in the right spot?” I posed to him. “It kinda seems like we got sent downstairs…”
Blaise ensured us, “Nah, it ain’t that! That’s just how he decorates! He houses a lot of representatives from the underside, so he wants them to be comfortable during their time here. Personally, I never really cared for the décor! It could really use a plant or something to liven up the joint!”
Phoebe observed, “Luckily, there doesn’t seem to be any Hellion reps visiting right now!” At that moment, half a dozen men with red skin and horns surrounded us! Phoebe muttered, “Figures!”
“Listen, we don’t wanna hurt you…” the tallest one addressed us.
“Yeah, well, we don’t wanna hurt you either!” Ginger retorted.
The demonic man heartily laughed, “You can’t hurt the dead!”
Ginger raised an eyebrow in skepticism of his assertion. “Oh really?” She grabbed a hefty rock and hurled it at the demonic man! He ducked, but it richoted off of the craggy wall behind him and hit one of the other demons in the circle! He fell backwards into a well of magma and writhed in agony as he disintegrated!
“Huh! I guess you can hurt us…” the leader of the demon men stared at his fallen comrade in a somewhat startled manner, but when he espied our eyes brimming with hope, he renewed his bluster, “We still outnumber you, so you’d be better off meeting our demands! You see, we’re seeking-.”
“Yeah, yeah, yeah!” Ellie interrupted him. “You want the key! We already know!”
She appeared to have taken some of the wind out of his sails as evidenced by his stammer, “Yes… which… uh… which means you should hand it over pronto!”
I folded my arms and refused, “We’re not doing that! You don’t know where we’ve hidden it, so if you hurt us, you risk damaging it!” I thought I had gotten the upper hand for a minute, but then…
“But did you put it in-?” Blaise started to question.
“Shut up!” I hissed.
The demonic man interrogated him, “Where’d he hide it?”
I panicked! I was sure that Blaise was gonna spill the beans and blow everything! My heart raced as he opened his mouth and spoke to them, “Why should I tell you?”
My jaw nearly hit the floor! Was this insufferable lout actually standing up for us? “Seriously, Blaise old buddy?” the demonic leader uttered. “Whose side are you on anyways?”
“Mine!” Blaise shot back. “Do you think I would’ve got sent to Hell if I cared about anybody’s feelings besides my own? No, I mean it- why should I tell you? What’s in it for me? I got the portal open, so my job’s done! Now I’m gonna wait for the reward Babelsama promised me unless you can convince me I’d be better off doing anything else!”
“You won’t get squat if you don’t cooperate with us!” the demonic man bellowed.
Blaise snickered, “What? You reckon I’m gonna suffer ‘cause you can’t do your job, Kaaron?”
As Kaaron and Blaise debated this issue, I decided to use their distraction to destroy the key with interference. I backed away from the crowd slowly to avoid detection, and for a few seconds, it seemed as though I was going to achieve success! Soon though, Kaaron beheld my movement from the corner of his eye and hollered, “Oh, he’s getting away! Don’t just stand there! Get him!”
Prior to two of them reaching me, Ellie and Ginger grabbed their tails, and Ellie snidely conveyed to them, “Nice try! Except it wasn’t so much!”
“Ooh, I’ll get you for this!” the demonic man growled. He attempted to twist around and attack her, but she moved too, which forced them both to go around in circles!
“Should we help him?” one of the demonic men by Phoebe and I asked his comrade.
He answered, “Nah! We should probably get this guy before he… Hey!”
I made another bid for the molten lake, but I paused my endeavor as they ran towards us. As they barreled themselves in our direction, we stood still until they were inches from our stance. When we spun out of the way, they had to strive to hit the breaks soon enough to avoid falling in! We sped over to push them into it, but they regained their stamina and swooped in to grab us! We crouched low and lifted up their ankles, which made them lose their balance! They quickly perished, and we smirked at this site until…
Kaaron grabbed me by the ankle and held me upside down over the fiery embankment! “Oh, right! There was five of you left!” The joy of garnering a numerical advantage swiftly vanished, but I rejected the concept of Kaaron growing confidence from his perceived victory, so I taunted him, “Fine, kill me! But you’ll never know whether or not I have the key if you do!”
“Valid argument,” Kaaron acknowledged. He brought me over the land and informed me, “If you don’t have the key, I will kill you! Whoever has it better furnish it now or watch your friend perish!”
“Don’t say anything!” I urged the others. As much has I didn’t want to lose my life, I truly had no desire to give the key back to these ghouls for their outrageous scheme! If they put me in the inferno, then the key would go too, and if I had to get sacrificed to keep the planet safe, then so be it!
Kaaron shook me vigorously, and my keys fell out immediately. My wallet came out next, and the stake I stuffed in there just in case tumbled out too. Phoebe retrieved each item as it emerged, which didn’t raise any alarm bells for me until a soft ping emanated throughout the cavern space! To my horror, Phoebe picked up the engagement ring, and dread swept all over me! Okay, I was already fairly frightened at the prospect of dying at the hands of malevolent force, but somehow, a part of me remained hopeful that we would survive this venture! There were no second chances from this though! The jig was up, and the opportunity to propose to her in the romantic fashion that she deserved had vanished! Assuming I lived through this assault, I wouldn’t have much motivation to go home- I thoroughly convinced myself that she was going to leave me from this clumsy gesture!
Phoebe peered at the piece of jewelry curiously, and she inquired, “What’s this?”
“It’s a diamond!” Blaise blurted out as he lounged from the sidelines. “Golly, I thought you were smarter than that! Aren’t you a teacher?”
“I’ve been bringing it with me wherever I go,” I confessed while regretting my decision to tote it along tonight in case this expedition went smoothly. “I knew from the instant I saw you that you were special, but I never thought I’d have the fortune to talk to you let alone spend so many happy hours together! You’ve made dull periods fun, and you’ve made difficult challenges more endurable! I’m ready to spend the rest of my days with you, so I keep that ring with me waiting for the perfect timing to ask you to become my wife! Sorry, that came out pretty dumbly! It’s a little hard to think with so much blood rushing to my skull! If we make it out of here intact, I’ll understand if you wanna pack your bags…”
Phoebe insisted, “No, that came out perfectly! And my bags aren’t getting packed ‘til we go to Maui this summer!”
I pondered, “We’re going to Maui?”
“Yeah, for our honeymoon!” Phoebe beamed at me.
“Hold on, you’re saying that…?” I couldn’t finish that sentence! Excitement flooded throughout my veins simply from image of her agreeing to get engaged to me, but this juncture seemed too wonderful to be true…
Except for the whole being held hostage to a demon fiasco! Kaaron, who appeared irate that he had permitted us to carry on like that, shouted, “Enough of this drivel! Prepare to pay for your defiance!”
Phoebe, Ginger, And Ellie watched in sheer terror as Kaaron lowered me closer and closer to the scorching reservoir, and I hated to see the pain that this was causing them! I wished there was another method of obliterating this infernal object, and all of a sudden, I got struck with a brilliant stroke of inspiration! “Put me down! I have the key!”
“You do not!” Kaaron seethed. “I emptied all of the contents of your clothing, you haven nothing that’s of any interest to me!”
“I figured you guys would search my pockets, so I hid it somewhere else! Put me down and I’ll tell you!” I requested.
Kaaron eyeballed me suspiciously, but then he relented. He dropped me onto the stony surface quite unceremoniously, and after lingering for a bit, he grumpily probed, “Well…?”
I snapped, “Give me a sec! I was upside down for a long time, you know!” He impatiently tapped his foot as I collected my senses, and once my ailments had somewhat ebbed, I stood up and conveyed to him, “I stashed it in my underwear. I’d rather dig it out myself unless you’d prefer to…”
“Oh, screw that! I’m not going down there!” Kaaron rejected that suggestion with complete repulsion. “You may fetch it, but be warned, if you try anything funny, you’ll suffer the consequences!”
“I wouldn’t dream of it!” I lied. “I’m gonna turn around for some privacy…” Kaaron motioned for me to do what I put forth with haste, so I swiveled around and unzipped my pants.
Ginger remarked to Kaaron, “So, you’re willing to watch a man get brutally murdered, but you won’t touch his-?”
He cut her off as he barked, “Shut up!”
As I shuffled through my drawers, I slyly smiled. Not for any gross reasons! He was under the impression that I planned to hand the key over once I got it out, but I had no intentions of doing that! The blazing basin stretched before me unobstructed, and they couldn’t prevent me from “accidentally” tripping and losing my grasp…
Kaaron snarled, “What is causing this delay?”
I sincerely apologized, “Sorry! It seems to have roamed around this ordeal! I’ll move quicker, I promise!”
“Come on, man! Go!” Kaaron hurried me as I frantically ferreted for the spoon. “Faster! Faster!”
“What in the devil’s name is happening here?” Babelsama entered the scene and gazed at us in aghast.
Kaaron surmised that his push for my speed to increase while I combed through my briefs projected a very provocative picture to him, so he emphatically contended against it, “No, no, no! We’re not doing anything sordid! He’s getting us the key!”
Babelsama clearly didn’t believe him. “Getting the key? Is that what people are calling it nowadays?” I produced the key from my backside, and he astonishedly expressed, “Oh, you weren’t fibbing! Alright, in that case, good work, Kaaron! You deserve a raise!”
“Don’t hand out that bonus too soon!” I commanded. “Instead, I think you’ll find that he should be… fired!” Ginger and Ellie groaned at my joke, but I ignored that as I tossed the key towards the embers! I assumed that we had won, but then everything went wrong…