Serena undid her sandals and rose onto trembling legs.
Slowly, she walked out onto the narrow ridge. To either side
of the treacherous pathway she beheld the burning swirling
sea, a Dantesque parody of the pounding waves along the
rocky coastline of Oregon. She tried to focus upon the stony
ground directly before her feet, yet all too soon it ended,
replaced by empty sulfurous air. The precipice that loomed
before her gave her a frightening vista of this nightmarish
sea directly below her. It was a straight plunge to the heaving
turbulent inferno below.
“Do you have any last words before the sea of fire engulfs
you in an agony beyond your comprehension?” asked Satan,
a sense of satisfaction in his tone.
Serena looked back to see him waiting patiently at the edge
of the cliff, watching her intently. His arms were folded across
his chest, his eyes icy cold, filled with the hatred of humanity.
Serena said not a word to Satan, but turned to the dark portal,
beyond. She couldn’t see her mother anymore, but she felt
certain that she was still watched. “I love you,” she whispered,
hoping that her mother could see and understand. There was
nothing more to say.
“Now, just lean forward and allow yourself to fall,” said
Satan. “It is just that simple. And be quick, I have other more
important tasks to attend to.”
Serena turned once more to the burning shifting maelstrom
below her. She could feel the intense heat. Even from here it
burned. There were no other options, and no escape. She
took a last deep breath and let go. There was an instant of
weightlessness, of dizzying instability, as ground and feet
parted company. At first she was falling headfirst toward the
seething inferno. Her whole universe was encompassed by the
swirling sea of fire. She felt the growing heat, saw the broiling
mass hurtling toward her. She managed to swing around, to
right herself, for whatever good that might do. She closed her