Carefully Controlled Purgatory
Johnny Hall trembled. Blue veins wormed across his temple. Eyes so deep set they seemed to vanish into his skull. He worried as the hold up continued in his run down mini-mart slash gas station. His reality was waving at the sea of black hoodies. The only vehicle he could see was the get away car. It was a tan two door sedan.
Two of his customers were shot while they were scratching there lottery instants. It was a terrible price to pay for gambling. A minute passed, then thirty additional seconds.
Crisp cotton shadows were floating across the store, they had taken the shapes of demons as he felt the heat rush through his body.
Everything around him moved and stood still at the same time. He then saw The Virgin Mary and The Baby Jesus look down upon him with jarring serenity. His body rocked back and forth as the visions failed to calm him.
Everything around him was an illusion, and the effect of that illusion was profound, disturbing as it does the natural hostility between the hunter and hunted. And he was clearly being hunted. It became a manipulation on a grand scale and The Virgin's presence became an act of betrayal. She did nothing to relieve him of the insanity that engulfed his little world. He felt trapped there, in a carefully staged drama in which hope deflated.
His body felt weak and his vision was failing. In his mind he tried to seek out some common ground where none existed in that carefully controlled purgatory.
The sag in his face indicated terror caused by fear. Johnny Hall then heard God's voice calling. It was loud and commanding.
“Move mother fucker, before I blow your fucking head off!”
Christ, Johnny Hall thought, staring at the cocked weapon. If that gun goes off whose going to raise my children?
Hall was then shoved violently against the cigarette stock, which covered most of the back wall. He looked at the black hole of the barrel, then at The Virgin Mary strangely, squinting through a euphoric haze.
“Open the safe!”
For a second or two Johnny Hall allowed him to think about that demand. What was he to gain from obeying?
“Open it or your brains are on the floor!”
Hall nodded, then walked to the safe. He punched in a few numbers and the safe door opened slowly.
Then there were two shoots fired almost simultaneously, Halls blood made it possible to cover the longest piece of ground in the shortest stretch of time.
The Virgin Mary extended her arm in a reaching motion, palm open and fingers bent. In her eyes Hall saw nothing that remotely resembled an emotion. The Baby Jesus closed his eyes as the shooters moved away from the victim.
Out of nowhere, a dark door opened on a perilously thin, old woman. She was barefooted, fungus toenails and spidery fingers. A silver cross rested on the arch of one varicose foot. Her thin mouth gave her a Capuchin look. Dark shadows under her tired eyes spoke of horrors that could never be untold. She pulled his spirit from his corpse and together they walked into the darkness leaving only death behind....
© 2015 Frank Atanacio
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