In life, we are plagued by the uncertainty of an afterlife, and it is often expected that when we die, everything will suddenly make sense. But when a group of strangers, similar only in their time of death, find themselves in the afterlife, they are faced with more questions than ever before. Are they in Heaven or Hell? If they’re in Heaven, why is there a Nazi wandering around? Why are there no children? If they are in Hell, what universal law did they break? Is there a way to repent and move on to a better eternity? At least one man seems to have some answers. Marcus, a Roman dead for 2,000 years, gains the group’s trust by leading them through the perils of their new reality. But soon it becomes clear that Marcus is only telling them half the story.
L. A. Barnes is public librarian in the southern US. She is a Nerdist podcast listening, South Park loving, Twin Peaks conspiracy theorizing, Stephen King reading and Joss Whedon worshiping geek. The Pit is her first novel. She plans to explore the Watchmaker’s universe through four more novels.
“WHERE DO WE GET WEAPONS?” Regan asked. It was her nineteenth intruding inappropriate question to Lauren in an hour.
“T, the weapons dealer in the City.” Lauren answered every question. This should have left Regan concerned, but the beautiful dullard just didn’t see what was coming.
“Right, I’ve heard about him.” Regan though speaking to Lauren, turned her head to make sure the phrase could be heard by Christoph and Allison behind her, who followed them, looking slightly sick. This too should have been a warning for Regan. But that would require Regan to be worried for others, which was also not in her skill set.
“We’re here,” Lauren announced, sounding relieved and annoyed at the same time. “You two stand over there,” She told Christoph and Allison, indicated to her right.
Lauren reached behind a boulder and retrieved a thing she’d been missing for a week, the item that rarely left her right arm: her shotgun.
“Is that it?” Regan tsked.
Turning to the couple, Lauren gave them a little advice. “Focus on the sound of her voice—how annoying it is. That will help. Also, I’m going to make it easy for you.” As she said this, she loaded a charge of buckshot into the barrel. In one fluid motion, Lauren cocked the rifle, aimed and fired into Regan’s abdomen.
For a moment, Regan just stood there, stunned. The buckshot created a dozen tiny holes over her torso but didn’t hurt her otherwise. It didn’t even knock her down. That came next, courtesy of Lauren as well. The huntress shoved the butt of her rifle into the center of Lauren’s forehead, sending her off balance. Regan fell to the ground and screamed.
Lauren sighed and addressed the lovers again. “Go ahead. Time to finish her off.”
The professor and the teenager approached the wounded animal they needed to put down. They stood on either side of her, only letting each other’s hands go at the last moment. Clear disgust colored Christoph’s expression, as determination colored Allison’s.
With no other defense from her position, Regan started to cry. “Please, please, don’t….”
Allison slammed her foot down into Regan’s torso, causing it to cave in. Regan tried a backward crab crawl away from her attackers. “No, please….”
Christoph kicked her hip, expecting another cave in. Instead, the sound of cracking was barely above a whisper. He looked at Lauren inquiringly.
“Harder,” their teacher entreated. “You need to really mean it.”
Christoph raised his foot as high as it would go and slammed it down on Regan’s hip. He felt the vibration move through her body and finally heard the loud crunch he’d expected.
“Stop her mouth,” Lauren instructed.
Christoph did as he was told, bringing his foot down on Regan’s head. This only left cracks across her beautiful face, but before Regan could raise her arm to defend against the next blow, Allison too brought her foot down on Regan’s face. The left eye caved in, along with the bottom half of the jaw. The remaining eye still looked up at them.
Allison whispered to Lauren, “She keeps looking at us.”
“Then crush her eyes,” Lauren responded, entirely patient with this part of the lesson.
Allison did as she was told. The face was gone, thankfully. But the body was still writhing on the ground.
“How much do we need to do here?” Christoph asked.
“90% of the body plus the face,” Lauren explained. Christoph nodded and returned to his work. Allison tried stomping on the torso some more. This left the limbs barely attached to shards in the center of where Regan had lain a moment earlier. The stomping motion was key for this job, they realized. It was the most efficient way to destroy the remaining limbs. Finally it was over; only shards were left.
“Ok, help me clean this up,” Lauren instructed as she removed a handkerchief from her pocket.
“When do we get—” Allison began.
“As soon as we finish with the shards,” Lauren reassured her. “I promise.”