Chapter 10 of Ama

Jason felt like an empty shell as he sat on the doorstep of his house. If he were to move from this step, he believed he might shatter. After Lilith’s little show had finished, he’d walked out, leaving her to enjoy the aftermath. He could neither stop her nor reason with her. She held possession of power beyond his comprehension or control. He’d opened his front door, stepped out, and then dropped to the step. He sat and watched with a vacant gaze as thick clouds of black smoke rolled along his old street, towards his house. Maybe these are the fires of hell, he thought. If so, let it burn me to ash and be done with it.

The smoke consumed the other homes along either side of the road, until it reached and surrounded the border of his garden, where it stopped. Jason’s world now appeared to end where his front garden met with the pavement. The houses and the street beyond lay hidden within the smoke—if his old street still existed at all. His body whined and seemed to weigh a ton as he stood and walked towards the end of his garden and closer to the wall of smoke. Although it didn’t encroach the boundary of his home, the smoke rose on all sides of his garden and then rolled over his house, a few feet above the apex of the roof. Within seconds, a rough cube-shaped bubble became Jason’s world. Is this to be my prison? he wondered, this house and garden now the limit to my wanderings? The rest of eternity spent surrounded by memories of the family I once had?

The smoke had no effect on the level of light, though. Jason’s new claustrophobic world should have been pitch-black, without any observable sun or source of light, but illumination came from somewhere. It was a dim light, but enough for him to see. He turned back to his house and looked along the front wall, to where the neighbouring home had once joined the side of his own. The neighbour’s house had gone, leaving nothing as evidence that his house was once semi-detached. It had been cut away from the adjoining home with surgical precision, leaving nothing but bare brick a metre from the wall of smoke.

He saw Lilith standing in his living room. She smiled back at him through the window. He wished he could remove the broken remains of the bottle from his wife’s neck and use the glass to cut the smile from the face of the demoness. He walked back into the house and past the archway to the living room, ignoring his wife’s corpse and the beautiful yet demonic creature standing next to it, proceeding on and into the kitchen.

A minute later, he walked back out of the house, with his daughter’s dead body in his arms. He laid her down on the yellowing grass in the centre of his garden and then walked over to his garage to retrieve a spade.

Inside the garage, it appeared to be as he remembered it: an unorganised jumble of accumulated do-it-yourself crap. Yes, Zoe, of course I need to buy that, was Jason’s well-used mantra. Yes, Zoe, I do need to buy this spade with the extortionate price tag. I’ll use it to dig a hole and plant a tree, and maybe dig a vegetable garden too and, oh yes, I’ll need it to bury our daughter in our front-fucking-garden. He located and grabbed the spade, and then swung it against the shelves on the left-hand side of the garage. Tins of paint came crashing to the floor. Without missing a beat, he swung the spade against the right-hand wall. Bamboo canes clattered and snapped under the assault. As the destruction settled, he saw a familiar face standing against the back wall. He ran at the grinning monstrosity, holding the spade out in front of him; no longer was it a simple spade but a bayonet affixed to the end of a rifle. A moment later, a two-foot-high plastic gnome became half a foot shorter, its head guillotined by the blade of the spade.

“You stupid-looking fucker,” he said to the shattered pieces of plastic.

The cracked head of the gnome rolled back and forth on the concrete floor for a moment before coming to rest. It looked up at him with a bright red smile upon its garish face.


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