DEATHTRAP





STEFANIE ELRICK

















SO DEATH’S JUST LIKE GIVING BIRTH, BUT BACKWARDS. ALL INWARDS THRUST. REVERSE ACCELERATION. DANGEROUS. CONFUSING, ‘COS YOU’RE TRYING TO BREAK BACK IN, SEE? YOU’VE BEEN THERE BEFORE, BUT DIDN’T HAVE THE FEAR THEN: A LIFETIME INSIDE YOUR MEAT CAGE’S MADE YOU SOFT. YOU’VE GOT ONE SHOT TO DIE WELL, SO PEDAL TO THE METAL, BUCKO! QUIT WASTING TIME!! WIN YOUR PLACE OR SCUTTLE BACK INTO YOUR NON-LIFE ANOTHER GHOST-ROACH SLIPPING THROUGH THE CRACKS.


I never knew this, so count yourself lucky. I’m giving you a head start.

Oh, and if you thought flicking the V’s at God in life was clever, think again, ‘cos us unbelievers are at a distinct disadvantage. We run the gauntlet a Hadean race the Godly-gullible get to bypass because they’re all on luxury cruise ships, sipping White Ambrosia Russians, mainlining straight to the Almighty.

There isn’t any room in their Shangri-La, get it? So believe in something, anything, or end up drag racing down Shit Alley, in the bowels of a R’ylehian spaghetti junction.

‘Cos of course, they made it a sport.

It starts with a bang like a faulty exhaust, not some slow celestial exhale. No blissful oblivion, no trippy drift as hot air leaches from your bronchi. No. A bang. An upwards explosion, making your ribs and torso concertina into your neck. Your subtle body starts churning like dirty bath water, rushing towards a penny-wide slit in your forehead. That meagre gap glugs you back, sucking you down some pineal sinkhole, before spitting you back out behind the wheel of your shell-shocked soul.

Mine’s a banger, an auto-shop mongrel badly welded together. The windscreen’s cracked and both wing-mirrors hang off like multiply-fractured arms. It’s a stick shift, of course, with all the traction of a coat hanger in a mud pie, and the dial already says I’m low on juice. Past contenders pile high in stacks of catastrophe around the track.

Not everyone competes in a car.

To my right is a redhead in a chariot, complete with spear and polished shield. To my left: a guy in a gypsy caravan, a black girl on a hover-board and a baffled punk trying to trade a broken pogo-stick. Poor bastard. We make our own crosses, I guess.



A gun shot fires. I slam my foot down. This hunk of junk careens full speed in reverse. I steamroll the punk, who splatters on my hub caps, shrieking as he’s banished into anarchist limbo. No time for regrets, ‘cos Warrior Queen’s a-rolling, followed by Hover-girl with unexpected gusto. The gypsy doesn’t make it more than twenty feet, ‘cos a crater with teeth opens up underneath him. I have to move quick, or be the next digested. It crunches his pony, then splinters the wagon. I wrench my gears and speed round its chomping maw.


With a little luck, I might just stand a chance.


Mz. Chariot’s way ahead, but lucky for me she’s in some trouble, caught in a freak patch of sanguine quick-sludge. Her cart won’t budge and her horses are struggling all that gilded splendour weighing her down. I’m overtaking as she launches a spear over her shoulder, aiming straight and true at my windshield. Braking, the spearhead misses me by inches, before I screech to a stop just short of a vertical drop. Below me, a bubbling swamp pit, where hordes of drowning (or waving?) slop-fiends writhe.

The redhead’s resourceful, cutting one of her mares free, then jumping from cart to horse. She gallops away with newfound speed whilst my engine splutters and stalls. This sad sack of rust shows some mercy on the seventeenth try, just as the gore-drenched ghouls learn how to scale the embankment.

Twenty, thirty, forty miles an hour! Boy, I’m really picking up sped!! Then I note a Stargate-sized web just above me, Hover-girl squirming in its centre. Her gyrations court a great arachnid beau, and I don’t wait to see that sticky end.

Beyond, on the lip of the horizon, a hole’s opened up in the sky. The ovum of Eternity, the eclipse of the Great Mother Womb, throbbing like a wet dream for all pilgrims true. I put my foot down, ‘cos I’m almost at Xena’s heels. She kicks her steed and prepares for the final leap. I ram with a twist, buckling her horse’s spindly legs, then rev, charge the jump and howl with glee.

But alas, some malevolent cryptid rises from the mulch below me, and is that Boudicca flying high just ABOVE? It wraps its suckers around my roof and chassis whilst she clears its squamous dimensions on swan-white wings. GODDAMIT, if that woman isn’t classy! Like some unflinching glory-bound Valkyrie!!

I shake my fists as the monster-fish devours me. This is the second frikkin time I’ve died today.



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