The Road

For your consideration is presented here the story of Charles Dupre, a man who is about to go on a journey from which he cannot escape. In life he took far more than he should. In death he is about to pay the price. It will be upon the Road that he will be confronted with his crimes and given a choice, the consequences of which may well last forever...


Judge
Charles. Awaken.

Judge
Charles. It is time.

Judge
Get off your ass Charles. Wake up!

Charles
What the Hell is this?

Charles
Where am I?

Judge
Good question Charles.

Judge
Take a moment to get your bearings. You've been asleep for a long time.

Charles
Jesus. I feel like crap.

Judge
It will take a moment to get used to your surroundings. Stretch out a bit, it'll help.

Charles
Where the Hell am I?

Judge
To answer that you must tell me what you see.

Charles
I'm in a car. There's some Thing driving it.

Charles
My God, what is it?

Charles
It's not going to hurt me is it?

Judge
No. And its not a thing.

Judge
Your driver is the Shadow. Don't try and talk to him at the moment. He won't answer you.

Charles
Where the Hell am I?

Judge
That is something you have to work out for yourself Charles. Tell me what you see.

Charles
I'm in a car. On a road so long I cannot see its end.

Judge

It would seem that your fate has brought you to the Road.

Judge

It is here that you are going to be judged.

Charles
I don't get it. Where exactly am I?

Judge
Where do you think you are?

Charles
Stop answering a question with a question. Its annoying.

Charles
What is this place?  What's up with this phone?

Judge

What's wrong with the phone?

Charles
You're doing it again.

Charles
Its just a piece of plastic with text messages displayed on it. Doesn't even look real.

Judge
Its a figment of your imagination Charles, a representation of something that allows us to communicate. Any face to face contact between us could prove problematic.

Charles
I don't understand.

Judge
Come on Charles, use your imagination. Its something you are familiar with. It allows us to talk without having to actually talk.

Charles
You're making no sense. Where am I?

Judge
Look out your window. What do you see?

Judge
See anything unusual?

Charles
Apart from the thing in the driver's seat everything seems ordinary.

Judge
Look closer.

Charles
I see rolling hills, sky, clouds, lots of grass.

Judge
Notice anything?

Charles
Christ. There's no colour. The whole thing is grey.

Judge
Does that seem normal to you Charles?

Charles
What am I doing here? What is this place?

Judge
As I said Charles. You're here to be judged.

Charles
Judged? Sitting in a car, being driven by... What is that thing?

Judge
As I said, that's the Shadow. And be careful what you say. He has feelings.

Judge
He won't be talking but if you like you can call him Brian.

Charles
Brian?

Judge
Yes. And don't worry he is a particularly good driver.

Charles
That's comforting.

Charles
So, if I'm here in this car, where are you?

Judge
About. Here and There. The one thing you can be sure of is that I'll be watching everything you do.

Charles
What is all this about?

Judge
Tell me Charles. What do you remember?

Charles
About what?

Judge
Don't be coy Charles. I know everything there is to know about you.

Judge
What do you remember?

Charles
About what?

Judge
Your life before.

Charles
My life before?

Judge
Now you're answering a question with a question. Stop doing that. Its annoying.

Judge
Look around Charles. You must understand that you are dead.

Charles

I'm dead?

Judge
I don't think you're that dense Charles.

Judge
What do you remember?

Charles

I can't remember much. I'm sure I was married.

Judge
That's a start.

Judge
What did you do for a living?

Charles
I think I was a delivery driver. Yeh. I drove a van. A big white one.

Judge
Good. Spend a lot of time on the road?

Charles

I think I did. Interstate transport mostly.

Judge
Do you remember who you worked for?

Charles
No. Lots of companies I think.

Judge
Must have been lonely, being on the road that much.

Charles
Can't remember.

Judge
Ok. That's enough for the moment.  You see anything else out of your windows?

Charles
It's getting darker. The sun is going down. Looks like it might rain later.

Charles
The road is empty. I haven't seen another vehicle at all.

Judge
Do you see anything through your rear window?

Charles
No. Except maybe for something moving in the distance. But its a long way off.

Judge
That would be the Manglers. As it gets darker you'll see them geting closer.

Charles
Manglers. What are they?

Judge

They are creatures of darkness Charles. They run the Eternal Road, hunting for the unwary and the unrepentant.

Judge
Not very nice at all.

Charles
But why are they here?

Judge
That's not important yet. You say they are a long way off?

Charles
Yeah. Can barely see them.

Judge
Then you have nothing to worry about.

Judge
Hungry?

Charles
I am.

Judge
Look in the glove compartment.

Charles
Ok.

Charles
Jesus Christ! What is this?

Judge
What does it look like?

Charles
Its a hand. A bloody rotten hand.

Judge
Throw it out the window.

Charles
Hell yes. Its gone. What are you playing at?

Judge
Sorry Charles. Thought it might be a sandwich. Sometimes catering get it wrong.

Judge
Tell me Charles. Did you enjoy being a van driver?

Charles
I think so. Did the job for more than twenty years.

Judge
Must have travelled all over the country in that time?

Charles
I did.

Judge
Pick up many hitchhikers?

Charles
Probably. Sometimes it was nice to have someone to talk to.

Judge
I bet it was. Do you remember them?

Charles
Who?

Judge
The people you killed Charles.

Charles
I didn't kill anyone.

Judge
Oh, but you did. By the reckoning of souls you butchered thirty-six innocents.

Judge
You have been a bad boy Charles. A very bad boy.

Charles
What are you talking about? I haven't killed anyone.

Judge
Oh, but you did. Want to see?

Charles
No. Who are you?

Judge
I don't think you've been wholly honest with me Charles.  What is the last thing you remember before waking up in the car?

Charles
Not much. Just lights. Lots of them.

Judge
Ok. Try harder. What were those lights doing?

Charles
I can't tell.

Charles
Hold on. The memories getting clearer. They were behind me.

Judge

And what were they doing?

Charles
They were chasing me.

Charles
They were police.

Judge
Bingo. Why do you think they were chasing you?

Charles
I don't know.

Judge

Come on Charles. Let's not play games.

Judge

Look at the Shadow. What do you see now.

Charles
Holy hell. Its some guy.

Judge
Recognise him?

Charles

No.

Judge
You should. He was in the cabin with you when you slid into that ravine.

Judge
Everything went up in flames but your last victim didn't care.

Charles
Why?

Judge
Because he was already dead.

Judge
You had just killed him. Police were just a little too late to save him.

Judge
His name was Larry. Nice guy actually. Going home to his parents to help them with their business over spring break. Don't you remember him?

Charles
This is all rubbish. I haven't killed anyone.

Judge
Oh, but you have.

Judge
Manglers any closer?

Charles
Yes. Still a ways off but closer.

Judge
Good.

Judge
You know Charles, the Manglers are voracious beasts. Give them a scent and they never stop hunting. Teeth, claws and a very bad attitude, that's all they are.

Judge
Its good you got rid of that hand. Do you know whose it was?

Charles
No.

Judge
It was your Charles. The Manglers now have your scent. You are now their prey.

Charles
Jesus Christ. Are you some kind of pyscho?

Judge
Yes. But in a nice way.

Judge

Why did you kill so many people Charles?

Judge
Did it give you a sense of power? Or where you just in it for the LOLs?

Charles

I will tell you once again I haven't killed anyone.

Charles

Get me out of here.

Judge
Ok. Here's the deal Charles, as simple as I can make it.

Judge
You're dead and that is a fact you cannot ignore. You are riding the Eternal Road and how long you stay will be determined by how repentant you are.

Judge
There's no way out unless you take responsibility for what you have done.

Judge
Confess your sins and you can jump from the car.

Charles

And then I'll be free?

Judge
In a fashion.

Charles
What do you mean?

Judge

Confess and you can jump. Your time on the Road will be at an end.

Judge
But you will then be prey to the Manglers.

Charles
You're kidding.

Judge
No. They will fall upon you and tear you limb from limb, devouring your soul until there is nothing left.

Judge

Then you will be free.

Judge
It is the cost of your Sins, Charles.

Charles
You're crazy if you think I'm going to admit to anything.

Judge

I'm not sure you understand the gravity of your position.

Judge
You did a lot of damage whilst you were alive Charles. Far more than most, far more than you should have.

Judge

You see Charles, we like balance and you upset us all.

Charles

I don't think I care.

Judge
You will.

Judge
The Manglers are getting closer. Anything you want to say?

Charles

No. I didn't do anything.

Judge
Your choice. The alternative is that you remain in the car.

Charles

Considering the alternative that doesn't seem so bad.

Judge
Yes. It is comfortable, and you will be out of the rain, but look at the road ahead. Do you see its end?

Charles
No.

Judge
That's because it has none. This is the Eternity Road Charles. Until you confess your sins you will remain upon it forever.

Judge
Yes, you will be safe from the Manglers but they will always be baying at your door. Waiting for you to jump.

Charles
I can live with that.

Judge

Can you now? Understand that there will be no food or drink on this ride.

Judge
Your body will whither and weaken, starvation and thirst will gnaw at your guts.

Judge
You will of course, not die. You are already dead.

Judge
But on the bright side we do provide entertainment.

Charles
Entertainment?

Judge
Sure. We're not complete barbarians here.

Judge

Look out into the night Charles. Have a close look.

Charles
I can't see anything.

Judge
You will.

Charles
What the Hell?

Judge

What do you see?

Charles
I see myself running through the grass.

Charles
No wait, there are hundreds of me, all around the car.

Charles
I'm being shot down by the cops.

Judge
Yeah. Larry got burned up in the crash but you got out. Started running. Dogs were on your ass from the get go.

Charles
Jesus. I go shot as I surrended. My hands were in the air.

Judge
I know. Where's the justice?  The officer who gunned you down won a commendation. Apparently no-one was sorry to see the end of you.

Judge
Want to see it again?

Charles
No.

Judge

Too bad. I'll turn up the volume.

Charles
Shit. What's happening?

Judge
Feel that? Three bullets went through your chest. Want to feel it again?

Charles

What are you doing?

Judge
Just giving you something to keep you focused. The Shadow is not good company and as you'll be here for the next eternity I thought you might appreciate it.

Charles
You're going to shoot me again?

Judge
I'm not doing it, the Officer is. And he'll keep on doing it forever, gladly.

Charles
Christ. Stop it!

Judge
Feel like talking?

Charles
No.

Judge
Your choice. See you in a few years. If you want to share anything just hit the redial.


Four years later

Charles
Judge. Are you there?

Charles
For Christ's sake answer your phone.

Charles
Judge. Where are you?

Judge
Sorry Charles. With another client. Ready to confess?

Charles
No. But something's changed.

Judge
Really?

Charles
I just noticed that the door next to me has a handle on it now.

Judge
Great. If you want to jump just confess.

Charles
No.

Judge

Charles. I don't want to see you in such pain. I have to say you're looking very poorly.

Judge
The balance we need will come with your confession.

Judge
Give yourself to the Manglers and you can leave this place. Give yourself the chance to ascend to a better existence and a new life.

Charles
You didn't say anything about that before.

Judge
About what?

Charles
Ascending. What's this new life all about?

Judge
I didn't mention that before?

Charles
No. You didn't.

Judge
Well you should have asked. I would have.

Judge
The Road is a test Charles. Do the right thing and you move on. Remain unrepentant and you stay here.

Judge
Believe me Charles, we don't want to keep you here if we don't have to.

Charles

...

Judge
Thinking about it? Considering your options?

Charles

Maybe.

Judge
Good. I don't need chapter and verse. Everything you've ever done has been recorded in detail.

Judge
Just say that you are a serial killer, that you are sorry for what you have done and a lock will appear on the door.

Judge

Own up to your sins Charles. Throw yourself into the teeth of the Manglers. Do that and a new life will be yours.

Charles

...

Judge

Press redial when you're ready.


Two years on.


Charles
Judge. I've had enough. You win.

Judge

I don't win anything here Charles. Do what you must and you will be the winner.

Charles
Just one question.

Judge
Yes?

Charles
Who is we? You keep on saying "us" and "we" but I've only ever spoken to you.

Judge
Would it surprise you to learn that I am part of a very large enterprise. It takes more than one soul to keep the universe in order.

Judge
The Road is just one challenge amongst many. Surely you talked with the Shadow about this?

Charles
You said he couldn't talk.

Judge
Did I? I can't remember.

Judge
Anyway. Ready to confess?

Charles
Yes.

Judge
Brilliant. You won't regret this.

Charles
What do I do?

Judge
Tell the Shadow your sins Charles and he will unlock the door.

Charles
Will he stop the car?

Judge
No. No matter what happens pain lies beyond the door.

Judge
Be repentant and a new life awaits.


One day later.

Judge
Did he jump?
 

Shadow
As soon as he told me what I needed to hear. 


Judge
I thought he might.

Judge
Did he confess all?

Shadow
He showed repentance. It was enough.


Judge
Good.

Judge

Did the Manglers take their time?

Shadow
Piece by piece. He screamed for hours. It was a joy to behold.


Judge
Excellent.

Shadow
Can we go home now?


Judge
Not yet. I've just had an email from Head Office. They're saying he has to fulfil all his obligations.

Judge
Get him back in the car.

Shadow
But shouldn't he move on? It's what we promised.


Judge
I know we promised he would but he's got a lot to atone for.

Shadow
I know what's coming. Any chance of a replacement?


Judge
Don't get shirty. I know he's rubbish company but he's yours for as long as it takes.

Shadow
Shit. How many more times?


Judge
How many more times? Thirty-six more will see him through.

Judge
Wipe his memory and get him back.

Shadow
This is bullshit.


Judge
Make sure the Manglers stay in position. I'll let management know we're going again.

Shadow
The guy's an asshole. Can't I just refuse?


Judge

No you can't. This is Hell, Brian. Just another day in Hell.

Judge
You know the deal. We have to stay with the client until the job is done.

Judge
Do you fancy some tea before we get back to it?

Shadow
Yes please. That would be nice.


THE END

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