Hell on Earth

Gabe pointed at something in a dense patch of greenery.

"What's that?" It was hidden by the greenery, but we caught sight of a purple peaked hat. Whatever it was, it cackled just then.

Lou approached it with caution. Gabe followed. The rest of us stayed back. Just as Lou was about to move the patch of bushes blocking our view, something leaped up from them suddenly. Lou cried out in surprise as the woman that had emerged from the bushes struck him on the head with a stick.

Her hair was completely white, and she was dressed in a pink costume that reminded me of the witch costme my cousin sister had dressed in for Halloween two years ago.

"Oh, what a bubbly group of fools we have here! Mind if I join you?" She said in her shrilly voice.

"Yes!" Lou said indignantly. "What did you smack me on the head for?" He rubbed the hurt spot of his head.

"Smack you on the head? When did I do that?"

"Just now! With that stick of yours."

"Stick? What stick?" We realized the stick was gone. Lou looked around for it, baffled. She cackled.

"Hello, everyone." She said, facing the rest of us. "You can call me Helga, the wicked witch."

"'Wicked' is right." Gabe commented.

She joined our ever-growing party. As I took a closer look at her, I realized that features-wise, she looked no older than fourteen. She could barely pass off as an adoloscent. It was only her white hair that made her look so old.

"Excuse me, miss," I said politely. "Do you happen to know where we are?"

She turned to me with an evil grin.

"Sure I do." She motioned all around her and announced loudly, "Welcome to hell, everyone! Welcome to hell on earth!" She cackled.

Brilliant, I thought. Gabe had advised us to keep going for the mountains that appeared to be at a distance. He felt sure we'd catch sight of Welton sooner or later.

After a mile or so, Helga asked me happily, "You've lost that boy, Jimmy, haven't you?"

"Do you know where he is?" Gabe asked quickly.

"What's it to you?" She snapped, miffed for some reason. Apparently, she'd decided that I was her favorite, and that she was going to talk properly only to me. But at the moment, Gabe seemed to have pissed her off, and she fell to the rear of the group along with the man with the hood, no longer in the mood to talk.

I  wondered if she was really a witch. Wouldn't have surprised me. So many strange things were happening that day that the existence of witches seemed almost normal.

We walked on for what seemed like hours, although we wouldn't know. Nobody's watch was working for some reason. The desert seemed to stretch on forever, dotted here and there with patches of green stuff.

Snakes appeared at regular intervals. Helga always pointed them out to Gabe and cackled. Gabe, frightened of all things slithery, walked forward bravely, muttering to himself, "Welton, mountains, Welton, mountains."

I complained to Lou about the heat. He told me that if it hadn't been for him, we'd have disappeared along with the island. I realized that Alexis and I were the only ones who had retained our backpacks. I guessed we probably had a day's worth of food and drink between us. Thoughts of cannibalism crossed my mind. I started wondering when the sun would set.

"Hell on earth!" Helga exclaimed happily. I had an urge to tell her to shut up, but I restrained myself. Some part of my sun-baked irrational mind was sure that she would turn me into a frog if I did.

"Hell on earth, baby. Hell on earth." I muttered to myself.

The End

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