Map of Hell by Maxx Carr

Let me tell you how it all went down

How it all ended


A.

Will a list do?

Will it put those pesky pieces into place?

The night is here

She’s got a vendetta

Against me

No sleep will come

Insomnia Insomnia

Hear what I have done.


B.

The Day met the Night at dusk

The Night met the Day at Dawn

They shared a kiss

Formalities as well

Discussed their plans

Mapped out a hell


C.

Time sat in a restaurant

Drumming his fingers on the table

Waiting

Waiting

She was late

Night often came too late

But Day was always on time


D.

Life was sipping a cup of bitter lemon tea

Changing with every second that Time sat there,

Amused,

“You change every time I see you.”

“I don’t change—your perception of me does.

I stay the same for all eternity.”


E.

A map of hell is an intricate

Delicate

Thing

Especially when it is written in eyeliner on a bar napkin

Where do you put the street corners?


F.

Time grew impatient

Too controlling

Too brutish

Too intent on taking

Stealing

Hurting

Killing—


G.

“Hush your mind, dear thief,”

Life laughed a harsh laugh

Disguised as a gentle giggle

She looked at the sun

“Tick tock,” she said,

“How long until boom?”


H.

I toss and turn in my bed

I can’t figure out how to sleep

Sleep

Sleep Sleep Sleep

Too much

Too bright

Release


I.

The map is almost complete


J.

Is it Hell if there are no demons?

What if the demons aren’t real demons?

Night and Day mapped out an escape

They could be free from the clutches of time

No one cared that the sun hadn’t moved in an hour

Only that it was most beautiful


K.

Isn’t it most beautiful right before it all goes wrong?


L.

Life noticed the sun’s placement in the sky

“What now?” She asked him, knowing that it wouldn’t be pretty

That it wouldn’t be kind

She tried once before to run to their defense

And learned not to stay in his way

For only Death had more power than Time.


M.

Running across the streets of New York,

Night and Day fled hand-in-hand

There were places out there that Time couldn’t reach them

Even if he tried

Mapped out on the napkin

In black eyeliner

Was a way to their safe haven.

The hell they mapped out was the one they were living in


N.

Time arose from his chair.

He saw the sun and knew that something was amiss

He didn’t like it

Not one bit

Life took a sip of her tea and remarked, annoyed,

“The food isn’t even here yet.”


O.

Everything began to slow down around them

Night and Day realized what was happening

He could find them faster

If everyone was stuck in Time


P.

“Just a little farther!”

Was what she said

“Inescapable hell.”

Is what Life thought as Time left her with the check

“Take me with you if there is a next time.”


Q.

“Isn’t it quite swell?

Isn’t it quite nice?

For one to be

So nice to see

After all this Time?”


R.

“Isn’t it really great?

Isn’t it really neat?

For Time to tell

Out of the well

Who you should be?”


S.

The music began to play

Near Night and Day

As they ran in slow motion

Towards the storefront

The song played

As if Time hadn’t slowed

Which meant he was growing nearer.


T.

They couldn’t go back

If he caught up

He’d make them go back

Or he’d make them go forward

He wouldn’t let them stay for now

Time was always too controlling


U.

“Isn’t it quite swell?

Isn’t it quite nice?

For one to be

So nice to see

After all this Time?

Isn’t it really great?

Isn’t it really neat?

For Time to tell

Out of the well

Who you should be?”

For eons Time told Night and Day when to begin and end

When they could stay near each other

Told Life to stop

Told Love to stay

Let things keep going

Only Death could stop time

But now wasn’t when he would interfere.


V.

The store was a place stuck in a time loop

You know, while all of the other stores around it got torn down

Rolled over

Rebuilt as a condo

A mall

A Chipotle

But this store,

Jimmy’s Coffee and Donuts

Still had the same lights from 1987

Had the same doors from 1979

Had the same floors from 2003

Had the same owner since 1965

Had the same regulars come and go

Had some windows boarded up

Some cracks in the paint

But it was somehow unaffected by the passing of Time

The fluorescent lights were within their grasp—


W.

He grew nearer, smoke appearing out of his nostrils

No one could hear the stomping, they would after they unfroze—


X.

“Isn’t it quite swell?

Isn’t it quite nice?

For one to be

So nice to see

After all this Time?

Isn’t it really great?

Isn’t it really neat?

For Time to tell

Out of the well

Who you should be?”

I can’t sleep that song’s in my head I can’t sleep that song’s in my head I can’t sleep that song’s in my head I CAN’T SLEEP THAT SONG’S IN MY HEAD TIMEWONTLETGO TIMEWONTLETGO TIMEWONTLETGO TIMEWONTLETGO TIMEWONTLETGOTIMEWONTLETGOTIMEWONTLETGOTIMEWONTLETGOTIMEWONTLETGOTIMEWONTLETGOTIMEWONTLETGOTIMEWONTLETGO

TIMEWONTLETmeGO


Y.

Time reached out both hands—


Z. but. A. but. Z. But. A. But

Night opened her eyes. It was a bright, sunny afternoon. The sun was shining down upon her—it had to have been near noon. The birds sat frozen several feet away. Her dress, something she didn’t have before, was bright, ironed, crisp, and floral. Her hair had been straightened, placed up into a bun, white gloves were on her hands, pointed shoes—

“Wakey, wakey, dear.” Night looked up. It was the same diner Time had been in with Life, but several years before. 1954 to be exact.

“There’s gonna be a bit of hell raised once I unfreeze everyone,” Time said, himself still wearing a crisp suit.

“Where is she?” Night demanded, although she couldn’t move. She had to find her.

“She’s…elsewhere.” Time beamed, as if he had done some great deed instead of staying his evil self.

“How long will you keep me here?”

“For as long as I want. Although I’d suggest dining elsewhere soon. It is 1954, after all, and well, you do look like the Night, in a way people around here may not like.”

“What? Get me out of—“ Night still couldn’t move.

“If anyone asks, your name is Petunia and you’re from upstate. See you in fifty—well, however long I take to take you back, or rather, forward.” Time kissed Night’s hand, and as much as she tried to move, she couldn’t. She couldn’t figure out what to do. Time moved away from her, walking slowly through the tableau of people frozen on the sidewalk and in the restaurant. Time appeared to grow a few grey hairs as he walked, but he wouldn’t notice until much later. Night moved, and wished to be back where she was before this whole thing began. Especially considering the number of angry people that someone of her type was patronizing the restaurant.


Time disappeared through the crowd of people.