Michael leads Maria and me down a flight of stairs and into the next room. It smells like pipe smoke and a delicious food. The ground is bathed in the red glow of crimson lampshades scattered around the barren landscape. Michael takes a step forward, dead leaves crunching loudly underfoot. The ground shutters, I can hear thunderous footsteps in the distance. A giant bounds for us, he looks like my father.
“Barnabus Gael, what in the holy hell gives you the right to make such a racket, you filthy boy. And Maria Bethany look at you, dressed and painted like a little whore.”
“Daddy?” Maria says through tears, “why are you saying these things?”
“How dare you talk back to me, if you’d learn to keep that mouth of yours shut I wouldn’t have to call you a whore.” He says raising a hand ready to strike. Michael glides swiftly behind us and pulls us far enough back that we only feel the whipping wind from our father’s monstrous hand.
“Are those our ungrateful Children, Carlos?” my mother calls out from behind him. She slithers down his back and onto the ground. Her scaly skin glistens in the lamplight, “that little disappointment and his bitch of a sister dare come crawling to us for a handout?”
“Michael what is this? This isn’t a fucking horror house?” I turn only to find a lamp where I thought he would be.
“Don’t you dare use that kind of language in front of your mother, you little shit.” He swings for a second time, and connects with my face. I can feel the blood trickle down my cheek.
I grab Maria, ready to run, but the sight of her halts any plans of escape. She is not my sister of twenty-four, she is my sister of six. My father didn’t grow into a giant, I shank into a child.
“Daddy I didn’t mean to use bad words.”
“Don’t try and explain that to your father, he uses them more than those colored people.”
My father slaps my mother across the face, “Are you calling me a Negro, woman I’ll kill you in front of these kids if that’s what you want me to do.”
“Look at your father children, all he is and all he’ll ever be is a wife beater.” She screams at us, then turns her pointed tongue back at him. “Why don’t you go fuck those sluts you call when your piss drunk.”
“Maybe I will, and why don’t you go make me dinner like a proper wife. That’s all your good for.”
Michael puts his hands on our shoulders, “come now children, there is more to see.” I look over at Maria, now back in her adult body, still crying child’s tears. I nod at him and allow to be guided away from this room.
The next room is a long corridor with cells on either side, all lit from above. The first few cells are filled with gaunt men and women covered in blood. As we pass they charge the doors, screaming and grabbing for us.
“Give me your little slit, girl.” One man yells grabbing at Maria’s dress. I knock his hand away, the rest lung their skeletal hands at me, pulling me into the door.
“A fighter, I want his heart.” A woman says scratching at my face.
Michael only has to look at them for them to scurry away. He leads us deeper into the corridor, the next cells are silent. Their occupants are hanging by the neck, their eyes stalking us. I can see little creatures digging into their abdomens and helping themselves to the rotting flesh inside.
“Help me, I want to die.” One of them says.
“No please, kill me instead.” Another retorts.
A young boy’s neck snaps and his body falls to the ground without a head. Both Maria and I scream as a deformed man emerges from a hidden door. He reattaches the body and the head, the whole time the boy pleads for him not to.
The last cells, before another staircase, were filled with men and women lying naked on a ground made of steel. Their ceilings were open to a bright sky, the sun that streaked in dried them into husks, while the metal scorched their backs. One of the woman turned over, leaving some of her back stuck to the ground. The ones that still had the strength looked into the sun and cried for forgiveness.
“Pity no one can hear them anymore.” Michael says, leading the way down the stairs.
By Edgar & Cas