My left hand snapped off at the wrist.
I didn’t scream. There was no use of screaming, not anymore.
My body swung out over the abyss. I scrambled against the cliff face, mistakenly looking down at the abyss of Hell, and gripped the ashen fingers of my right hand even tighter. I shoved my stump into a crevice.
Someone else’s blackened fingers clutched onto my ashen left hand and dragged it onto the ledge.
“Hey! A little help, here?” I pulled my left arm out of the crevice, watching as pieces of the forearm flaked and fell.
“Why should I help you?” She peeked over the edge of the cliff. Flames degraded her just as they burned me.
“What you got to lose!?”
“More than you realize.”
“Like what?” I tried to scoff, but part of my throat fell down into my lungs. “I’ve been to the top before and just got a trip straight back to the ninth level. You won’t win anything by getting there first.”
“I don’t know if I can trust you. He said that everyone here was evil.”
“Please! I’m just feet away from the second level.”
She whimpered and reached over the edge of the cliff. Blackening fingers grasped my upper arms and dragged me over the ledge.
“Thank you. They say I’m crazy, but there’s got to be a way out. So I climb.” I coughed a bit of my lung up. “I’m going to escape one day.”
I barely heard through my ashen ears, “I believe you.”
I closed my mouth on my disintegrating. The next question or answer would probably be my last. “Where are you from?”
I felt her touch the side of my head and assumed she was actually screaming when I heard a whisper, “Heaven.”
This was written for the 2018 Flash Fiction Rodeo under the ‘scars from climbing’ prompt. I immediately thought of this idea, about climbing up from lower levels of Hell, and set to writing.
If you’re a writer (or even if you’re not!), I’d encourage you to check out the Rodeo at the Carrot Ranch website.