Sunday Scribbles Writing Prompts, Week 11: Stairs

Welcome to Sunday Scribbles!

Today marks week 11 of the 52 week writing challenge!

Introductory post: Sunday Scribbles announcement post
Past prompts: Sunday Scribbles past prompts

Two weeks ago, I ran a poll on Twitter to decide the prompt for the 5th March.

Third place was ‘Stairs.’ I had an interesting idea for the prompt, so I decided to use it.

The prompt for 19th March is Stairs:

Sunday Scribbles 19th March Stairs

I got the idea for this prompt from a one line prompt from figment daily themes. ‘He found her sobbing in the stairwell at work.’ I don’t know why my mind immediately jumped to hell and the afterlife as a workplace, but here it is:

My Attempt:

Each day, Morag toiled from hell dawn, until hell dusk. Contrary to popular opinion back on earth, hell did have a concept of day and night, and time passed in a similar fashion. A slow drudge from sun up, to sun down. Except here in hell, there was no sun, and everything was down. The red orb below them moved on a stream of red-hot lava to mark the passage of time. Just another day in eternity.

It was a hard life. Afterlife. Whatever. Only this time, it was impossible to turn to a life of crime because you were bored. In a society where everyone was a criminal or sinner, each hour of each day was regulated by strict routine.

Morag’s minder, Aaron, watched her like a hawk: be it in person, or via the crimson communications crystal which showed him her every move.

She hoped that she could become a minder herself one day. The minders were granted wings, and their duties involved occasional travel between heaven and hell, via the staircase to heaven at the top of their hellish society. Aaron had described heaven to her with the boyish wonder that he had managed to keep alive, even after death.

How Aaron, with nothing but wonder and appreciation for everything around him, ended up in hell was anybody’s guess. Morag had learned early on, through a punch to the face, that it was considered rude to ask. No one mentioned their time spent alive.

The staircase was the only crossing point between heaven and hell. Very few had climbed it, but Morag wished that she could. If only she could see heaven, just once, it would make the toil worth it and break up the monotony a little bit. Morag bit her bottom lip and slumped down at a table in Hell’s Kitchen. Her head came to rest on her hand, and she let out a sigh as she ripped into an imp steak. The bone clattered to the plate, stripped clean, and Morag’s hand delved into her pocket.

The hard edges of Aaron’s communication crystal dug into her fingers. Morag’s lips curled into a smirk. Aaron could not watch her today. He would be in so much trouble if anyone found out, and he would care a damned sight more than any of the others would too.

Morag tensed, and her hand clenched around the crystal as another minder wandered past her. She had dallied enough. Her appearance at dinner had been made, and no one would be suspicious so long as she made roll call. It was time to make the most of her freedom whilst she had it. She needed to climb that staircase.

Her chair scraped against the red stone floor as Morag pushed back from the table. With a discreet glance over her shoulder, and a smile when no one’s eyes were on her, Morag slipped to the back door and out into the night.

The staircase was not hard to find, but under normal circumstances it would have been impossible to get near. With a flash of Aaron’s crystal, and a whispered thanks to whoever designed the minders wings to be concealed, Morag was on her way towards the top.

It was quiet this time of the day. A small mercy. Other minders on route would have questioned her. “Why aren’t you using your wings?” After all, It was senseless to walk all this way. Yup. If anyone found her up here, she was screwed. Probably to the ceiling of Hell’s Kitchen for a day or two.

Morag paused, hand raised to her chin and eyes drawn skyward as she pondered that for a second or two. Being tied above the tables, left to hang and do nothing but observe, would certainly provide a new perspective. Her leg twitched, restless. No. It would be just as boring as watching television when she was alive. She needed action, the thrill of the chase. It was why she had ended up here in the first place, inspired to trespass and explore, to take things that didn’t belong to her. Morag powered on. She couldn’t go back now. The prospect of heaven was far more motivating than the threat of punishment.

Morag wiped a hand across her brow as she climbed. Aaron had described the staircase as grand and sweeping, but there was nothing like the real thing to put the word grand into perspective. This better be worth it.

As she neared the top, the stairs became crumbled and worn. Morag frowned and let out a huff as she reached a precipice. She collapsed to her knees in front of it, shoulders heaving with exertion. The dark staircase crumbled away into nothingness. When Morag looked up, a beautiful white marble staircase continued to wind upwards, but between her and the path to heaven was a deep chasm. The stairway to heaven was broken.

Morag’s hands grasped at the edge of the broken top step, and she looked down, head craned and eyes hesitant. The lava flow bubbled far, far below. This. This was why the minders were gifted with wings. Morag gazed up and leaned forward towards the pearly gates as far as she dared, but there was no way up. Not for her, a lowlife with no wings.

The gates were beautiful. Tall, ethereal, and they glowed, tantalising ahead of her. Mystified, eyes wide with wonder, Morag reached further forward, and her body began to tilt over the edge. How many times had she dreamed of this? It was even more beautiful than Aaron had described it. One hand reached out: her other remained steady on the edge. What would it be like inside? Oh, how bored she was of hell. How she longed for heaven.

A gust of wind danced around her and grew stronger. Her outstretched hand wobbled, and Morag felt the hand that supported her shake as she tipped forward. She scrabbled backwards on desperate legs, and huffed as she landed safely on the stairs, body tilted at an angle. Her breaths came in harsh pants and her eyes were wide. A near miss.

Morag sniffed and her eyes began to water. What happened when you died in hell? Could you? She didn’t know, but she certainly didn’t want to find out. Hell was so small, restrictive, but some existence was better than none at all, right? Even if heaven… well. Heaven sounded like earth: a playground to explore, full of adventure and victims ripe for the picking.

Hell? Hell was what Morag imagined prison would have been like, had she ever been caught. She glanced around her. It seemed that someone had caught her after all.

She lifted a hand to her face, and her mouth opened in a sob when she felt the hot, wet tears that streamed from her eyes. No. Her lower lip trembled. She hadn’t cried since she was alive, not since the day her father left with her mother, and, seven years old and alone, she had been forced to fend for herself. Once they had begun though, it was impossible to stop the flow of tears. Just like that day, she couldn’t stop. On her knees, at the very pinnacle between heaven and hell, Morag sobbed.

It was there, on the stairs in tears, that Aaron found her. He placed a hot hand on her shoulder and spread his wings to shield them from view. Morag looked up, and through her blurred vision, she saw the deep sympathy reflected in his eyes as he gazed down at her.

If you stop all this,” Aaron gestured around them to the stairs, “maybe one day you might…”

The quick shake of her head cut him off, and then she muttered with a croaky voice, “I can’t.”

If you don’t change, things around here never will,” Aaron huffed with a sigh.

Will you tell?” Morag whispered. She took a few deep breaths and managed to get her tears under control. Her face dried rapidly, and she waited with bated breath as Aaron stared straight ahead.

It is my duty,” Aaron insisted finally. At her affronted look, he rolled his eyes. “People noticed that you were gone, Morag.”

Couldn’t you tell them that I went for a walk?” Morag asked with a small smile. She pushed herself to her feet and dusted off her legs.

Aaron paused again, and he looked hesitant.

Please? I promise that I’ll try to be better!” Morag begged. Her long dark hair swung behind her as she turned to him, fists clenched.

All right, fine. But just this once!” Aaron relented. He ran a hand through his hair and attempted to glare at her. “And if you don’t get better, there’ll be trouble!”

Thank you,” Morag whispered, more sincere than she had ever been in life: which, if she were honest, wasn’t much.

Aaron nodded, and he grabbed her around the waist as he spread his wings.

As they took off back towards Hell’s Kitchen, Morag looked back towards heaven, and the rapidly fading pearly gates. ‘One day,’ she whispered to the wind. ‘One day.’

End Prompt.

This is another universe that I wouldn’t mind expanding. I really enjoyed writing this one. Apparently, I have an obsession with wings and the afterlife!

I am halfway through work experience in editorial. It has been interesting so far, and there will be a blog post or two summarising what I’ve learned later. Confused about the publishing process? Have any questions? If you let me know, I’ll ask the editors!

Next Sunday’s prompt:

The prompt for the 26th March was decided a few weeks ago by Twitter poll. It is Portal:

ssbanner 26th March Portal

If you try next weeks prompt yourself, let me know how it goes. Post your attempt on your blog on the 26th of March, and leave a link in the comments below this post so that I can read it 🙂

If you can attempt the prompt in less than 140 characters, you can also #sunscribbles on Twitter. I am super interested to see what you all come up with 🙂

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