“One Way Trip” is a well-written, entertaining short story about a curious character who tries everything he can to get into hell instead of being sent to heaven.
One Way Trip
Josh cringed as the light went red. Shit, not red.
Anything but red.
Next in line, he shuffled his feet. The application form
in his fingers trembled. This was it. No turning back. He
swallowed tentatively, studying his list of ticked boxes,
circled options, and deleted as applicable.
He didn’t know exactly what they wanted, but rumour
indicated it was hard, much harder than it used to be.
Fail to complete every section perfectly, and whoosh, one-way trip
with no chance of return.
The barrier lifted and the NEXT sign buzzed. Josh
glanced over his shoulder, hopeful to back up, but the man
behind him issued a look that said he better get his arse
through that door and hurry up about it.
The NEXT light buzzed again—its tone angrier, more
demanding—and Josh took the hint. He folded his application
form, held his head high, and fought to keep his knees from
buckling like limp rags beneath him.
The steel barrier clattered down behind him, leaving him
trapped in a thin walkway, nowhere to go except for the
elevator. Two hooded figures were posted either side. They
pointed the way with pronged forks that hovered just above
Josh’s shoulders. He tiptoed between them, afraid his feet
might shatter the thin air on which he stood.
Seventeen years and one sheet of paper, he thought. A
mere ten minutes to plead his case with no chance of appeal.
This was it, do or die, and since only one option remained, he
The elevator doors loomed up, and he walked in noting the
multiple dents and telltale scorch marks. He directed himself
toward the solitary seat in the centre, stepping over a
steaming, yellow pool that swam on the floor—no doubt a
deposit from the previous occupant.
After a quick take in the scenery pirouette, Josh sat
down and perched his feet on the bar beneath the stool,
feeling like a kid in the seat of a rollercoaster—except no
Black curtains drooped around the elevator, cutting off
the line of waiting newly deads, revealing a desk with a
little old man positioned behind it.
The man, small and dumpy with more than his fair share of
wrinkles, inspected Josh above the rim of his spectacles. He
reached forward and said, “Application, please?”
“St Peter?” Josh couldn’t help but wonder.
“Application, please, Mr Carmen.”
“Are you St Peter?”
The little man sighed, opened a desk drawer and pulled
out a name badge. He shone it on his breastplate, then pinned
it to his jacket.
Josh leaned in to read it. “St Cyril?”
“Yes. Application, please?”
“St Cyril, really?”
The man drummed his fingers on the desk. “Application,
now.” His cheeks tinged red.
Josh swallowed, aware he couldn’t stall any longer. He
held out his paper, unable to keep from shaking.
St Cyril beckoned Josh’s coming fate with his fingertips.
The form prised itself from Josh’s hand and floated through
the air. It passed between the elevator’s cage bars, unfolded
itself, and fluttered to the saint’s desktop.
“Ahem.” St Cyril hunched over the new application,
muttering while he inspected it, adjusting his specs every now
and again. “You’re a minor, I see. We don’t try minors, but
… wait a minute.” A rather worried look constricted his
face. “This can’t be right.”
A nervous shudder ran down Josh’s spine. He edged forward
in his seat. “What can’t?”
The old man jabbed a finger at section A, creating a
crumpled dent. “This. It says your cause of death was a blow
to the head with a rolling pin delivered at the age of
seventeen and three days.”
“Yes, sir. Ma always kept her promises.”
“She promised to kill you with a rolling pin?”
“She promised to give me a bloody good hiding if I didn’t
Josh had to think quick. “Clean my room.”
The saint raised an eyebrow, then returned to his
examination of the paper. He let out a sigh. “All seven sins?”
He looked up with a piercing stare.
Josh hesitated, but decided one lie was enough. “Yes,
“In seventeen years.”
“And three days, sir.”
St Cyril lay the paper down and wiped his brow. He glared
at Josh over his specs again. “Well, it can’t be as bad as it
looks. You’re a minor, which goes in your favour, and there
must be some redeeming features between the lines.”
Josh folded his hands in his lap. Happy to listen.
Pleased of a reprieve, no matter how momentary it would be.
St Cyril cleared his throat and plucked up the
application form. “Tell me why you’ve circled Lust?”
“Double chocolate fudge, mostly.”
St Cyril pulled a biro from his pocket and put a red mark
on the paper.
Josh’s heart skipped a beat. Nervousness nibbled at his
toes as he wondered if the old man would buy it.
The red pen went away, and the saint’s attention returned
to Josh. “How about Envy?”
“Because of my stupid, snot nose sister, sir.”
The man flicked the paper over and read section F.
“She was younger than you?”
“It says here she died before her first birthday.”
Josh looked at his toes, took a deep breath, and said,
“That’s why I circled wrath, sir.”
The old man’s face twisted. Extra wrinkles furrowed his
forehead and the red marker came out of his pocket again.
Josh thought his heart stopped, but it wasn’t even
beating, so it couldn’t have.
“And Gluttony?” the old man asked without looking up or
putting the pen away.
“That goes back to the double chocolate fudge cake …
some are interlinked, you see.”
“I see.” The pen went back to the paper, more wrinkles of
apparent frustration folded the little man’s brow. “What about
“Isn’t that the same as Gluttony?”
St Cyril glanced over the paper. “No, it’s an entirely
“Really? But the thesaurus says …”
The saint slammed the application form down on the desk,
his face as red as the ink of the pen. “Did you, or did you
not commit Greed?”
Josh examined his open palms, hoping they might have the
answer, but they didn’t—not unless metaphorical sweat was a
“I dunno,” he said at last.
A smug expression crossed the man’s face, his wrinkles
migrated south and gathered at the corners of his lips.
“There, I knew we’d find something.”
Josh swallowed a lump in his throat, and sighed. “Does
that mean I can keep the stuff?”
“Jewellery, watches, coins, trinkets … things I took,
things I could never get enough of.”
The old man’s frown came back like a cloud slapped across
the horizon. The red pen moved again, and he grumbled as he
jotted, before putting the paper down and glowering at Josh.
“How about Sloth?”
Josh twiddled his thumbs. “Well, I didn’t clean my room
…” He looked up and met the man’s gaze. “But surely …” His
voice trailed off.
The red pen wiggled back into motion, putting a thick
line through Section G. St Cyril tutted. “We don’t try minors
… usually. But, I have to say things look hot for you, son.”
Josh clasped his hands together. He didn’t breathe in
case imparting unneeded breath would somehow tilt the
The old man’s expression softened a shade. “Well, let’s
not jump the gun, we’ve not crossed Pride off yet. What made
“My nose, sir.”
“It’s always been perfect. Not crooked or bent. Not
shaped like a ski slope, or flat like a mushroom. Always just
perfect, you know.”
The old man looked puzzled, and Josh sat up straight.
“I’ve always been proud of it.” He turned his head so the
saint could see his good profile.
“Okay, then.” The old man shook his head like it was a
heavy burden, and struck a cross through the final box. He
laid the pen down with a laboured sigh. “I’m not sure about
this, but …” He pulled a manual from under his desk and
spread the pages wide. He thumbed through with a droning
mutter, then closed the book, looking at Josh. “Being proud of
your nose is acceptable. So is lust and gluttony for chocolate
cake, and sloth for not cleaning your room.”
Josh evaded the saint’s attempt to make eye contact.
St Cyril stood up. Josh caught a glimpse of cloven hooves
that beat the nonexistent ground as the man walked toward him.
“Mr Carmen, just why did your mother kill you with a rolling
Josh tried to hold his tongue, but it spoke beyond his
control, damning him with its every syllable. “After I
strangled Pa, I said I’d clean up the mess, bury the body, but
… I didn’t get around to it, and Ma always did keep her
St Cyril stamped a hoof. “Then it appears I have no
choice.” His hand slipped to the side of him where his palm
wrapped the top of a red lever. “Minor or not, you’ve no
Josh looped his feet beneath the bar they were perched
on. His fingers moved and curled around the base of the stool,
ready to cling on for the very last time. His heart pounded,
metaphorically. Sweat poured from his forehead,
metaphorically. Executioner’s drums hammered his brain,
This is it, no chance of any return.
The old man leaned forward and went to pull the lever.
Josh shut his eyes.
“Wait a minute,” St Cyril said.
“What?” Josh opened his eyes to find the little man sat
back in his chair, hand off the lever, examining the
application form, held so it touched the ball of his round
The man put the paper down and nodded. “I knew it.”
“Section D, it’s all here in Section D.”
“What’s in Section D?” Anger ripped through Josh, heating
his previously frozen, dried up blood. He leapt off his stool
and splashed down into the puddle of fermenting pee beneath
him. “What’s in Section D?”
The old man pulled out a second pen—a gold pen—and
scrawled a massive circle around Section D. “This … it says
you helped an old lady cross the street.”
“You helped Mrs Barley cross the road when you were
Josh flopped onto his stool and brought his hand to his
forehead. “I was just a kid … what does this have to do
“Everything.” The old man slammed the gold pen down on
the desk. He pointed to a plaque on his box office wall.
“Helping old ladies to cross the street is a direct violation
of commandment six six six. Thou shalt not help people …
“I was seven. I only did it so I could steal her purse.”
“And did you?”
“Yes, I mean no, turned out she were a tough old hag,
“No buts, Mr Carmen. You know the rules. Seven sins
committed and commandment six six six abided. In full.”
“But I …”
St Cyril grabbed hold of a golden lever and Josh
screamed, “No. Don’t. Please. I drowned a puppy. I stole candy
from a three year old. I murdered. That must count for
The old man smiled. His knuckles drained white around the
handle of the golden lever. “Tell it to Gabriel, son.” His
smile broadened. “The underground is close to over brimming.
Evil wannabes like you can’t be allowed to slip through the
net. Places are limited, and not for minors.”
He pulled the gold lever.
The elevator went whoosh.
And Josh screamed on his way to the uppermost clouds with
no chance of any return.
About the Writer
Rinoa Cameron is an experienced writer specialising in dark comedy and horror. Her publication history includes appearances in Drabblecast, The Devil’s Food anthology, Everyday Weirdness, Dog Oil Press, Books for Monsters, Daikaijuzine, Thaumatrope, Macaver Cadaver, Strange Publications, Space Squid, Fifty-Two Stitches anthology, Morpheus Tales Magazine, Ballista Magazine.
She also enjoyed her time as senior editor for Shock Totem magazine.
You can follow Rinoa Cameron on Facebook.
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