Hell's Dark Opening
or
The Complete Idiot's Guide to Unsuccessful Dating Locations

by Megan Auffart

Mara had told me to wait, but I didn't think I could. As much as I wished it didn't, the blood-splattered walls of Hell's Dark Opening (HDO to Mara - nothing affected her) bothered the heck out of me. There was something in the way they pulsed. There wasn't any rhythm to it, like a heartbeat or anything, but the walls moved in and out anyway like they were alive. And the way that the small, pointed hairs grew out of the wall's skin and curled around my legs? I didn't like that at all.

Why couldn't Mara have just met me at the ice cream shop instead? The girl was always doing crazy, nonsensical things to impress me, but really! She doesn't need to meet me in Hell just to prove how brave she thinks she is. And she was late, too. I glanced at my watch to see how much longer I had till the movie started, but it was broken. The digital face said the time was "6:66", which couldn't possibly be correct. The movie was going to start soon. I didn't want to miss it.

A gurgled shriek resounded from somewhere out in the blackness. I couldn't see what it was, but I could hear it thrashing. It was some sort of monster, probably, or maybe one of the poor souls trapped in the HDO. I wished that I could move forward to see better, but I knew that I couldn't. If I went beyond the HDO, there was a chance that I'd be trapped there and what guy in the world would want that? I hate a date to go to!

I heard the sound of heavy boots on gravel and turned, maybe a little quicker than a brave man should, towards the noise. Mara was in what I liked to think of as a goth phase and often wore impossibly clunky boots. I looked around in the blackness beyond my five feet of sight, but I couldn't see her.

"Hello, Mara?" I called out, but no one responded. Instead, there was the sound of many chains being moved very quickly across a rocky floor and a disgusting scent invaded my space. It was like rotten meat and armpits and iodine, mixed together into a disgusting concoction. I quickly pulled the collar of my shirt over my nose. I couldn't help but try and breathe in tiny, tiny breaths.

The horrible shrieking started again as something out there giggled at the highest pitch, and then the sound of chains moving far quicker than they should. A liquid splashed on my face and I lifted a hand to wipe it off. In the dim light emanated from the pulsing wall of the HDO, I could see the reddish color and feel its thick quality from between my fingers. Blood.

I glanced at my watch again and it was still the same time, no surprise. The stench was growing stronger and stronger and the shrieks weren't stopping any. I started to move my position a little closer to the exit, but the hairs that had grown from the wall had wrapped themselves around my legs and arms unnoticed and I had to struggle to get them off. When I finally broke through, I took a couple steps towards the exit. That was it. Next time, I was going to stand my ground. Mara would have to just meet me at a normal place like any other person.

I had almost reached the door when there was this horrible ripping sound, like thick steaks being forcibly ripped apart by silent Dobermans, and an entire wave of blood splashed on me, getting in my eyes, my ears, my nose (I had pulled down my t-shirt a few seconds before and my nose was entirely uncovered).

"Ew!" I cried out, disgusted. A chattering overhead and I saw that the breasted bats that lived alongside Hell's wall were laughing at me. I used the cleaner side of my t-shirt to rapidly wipe off the blood from my arms and face. It felt sticky and smelled too strongly of metal. Disgusting, and blood was impossible to get out of fabric! The t-shirt was ruined, and it was one of my favorite ones!

That was it. I was leaving. What kind of girl wants her boyfriend to go to Hell, anyway?

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