Welcome to Tuesday Night Fiction!
Abandon all hope ye who enter here. This week on Tuesday Night Fiction we have a short that would make Dante himself very proud. This story is not for the faint of heart nor would it make a good bedtime story for those of the Disney loving persuasion. This fire and brimstone vision is equal parts terrifying and poetic. Join us in welcoming new author Mason Word as he takes us on a visceral journey through Hell itself.
This story is not for the faint of heart nor would it make a good bedtime story for those of the Disney loving persuasion. This fire and brimstone vision is equal parts terrifying and poetic. Join us in welcoming new author Mason Word as he takes us on a visceral journey through Hell itself.
Just Another Day
by Mason Word
Hell. It is another day. Low-level demon workers are prying away at the flesh of the damned souls. Barbed claws are digging into their exterior as red blood comes shooting out in indiscreet little lines. Think about when you open the ketchup packet but the hole you tore in it is too small. It looks a bit like that.
You’re wondering why I am writing this story now. Of course, low-level demons will be torturing poor damned souls. What is so special about that? Overcome and adapt. That is what is so special. Overcome and adapt.
God did not plan on the resiliency of his own creations. Humans come to Hell, scream a little, wail a bit, gnash their teeth together until there are only bleeding gums left and still keep gnashing. Fires can only burn so hot…..Eventually, a human will learn to accept their tortures. Eventually, a human will learn to embrace the pain. Eventually, for them, it all becomes just another day. The humans turned absolute masochists even get a special treat every once in awhile.
All is silent in the first level of Hell today. The once agonizing screams of the damned are replaced by a sense of anticipation in the air. Shipments come regularly, too regularly frankly. Law and order are replaced by a sense of anticipation in the air. Shipments come regularly, too regularly to be quite frank. Law and order is not a good thing for restitution. Predictability eases the pain and gives those that are damned a bit of pleasure in at least knowing what to expect.
There are those that do not know what to expect arriving today. The angel knocks on the upper gate of Hell. The chasm surrenders its firm grip and swallows the shipment whole. Fresh meat is falling from the ashen hollow that is the perpetual sky.
As the new souls tumble through the air they pick up their first whiff of the smell. Fire and brimstone, blood and bone, sinew, marrow, shit, and filth. Before they even make contact with the ground their eyes roll backward and they vomit so strongly that there is a slightly gentle rain of blood.
“New blood,” The denizens of the first layer of Hell all shout out in sadistic joy. At least the poor souls that still have a mouth that has not been sawed off, or flayed beyond use, or ripped from their frames. As the new arrivals land, there can be heard the loud crunching of broken bones. Agonizing wails that were once familiar to the more experienced damned one’s own mouths come cascading through the area.
The silence breaks. As the new arrivals sit in their destitute state, some with burning caltrops attached to their quickly atrophying skin, they are greeted by joyous laughter. Quickly the demons surround them and begin piercing them with pitchforks. The acidic spittle from the grinning demons is spraying all over the new flesh. The fresh meat is being marinated in their own blood, their own shit, and their own piss.
There are moans that can be heard throughout the other torture pits as the damned that have grown accustomed to the punishment wince at the memory of their first landing and revel in knowing that soon this new shipment will be like them: desensitized, incorrigible, vile, and numb.
A few days pass and it is time for the new arrivals first bath. The communal pool emanating from the mouth of the caldera lay before them all. Yellow acid is before them, bubbling and steaming with heat and filth.
There is no separation amidst the fires of Hell. Veteran denizens of the first layer are bound and placed in spiked cages. As the bars dig into their skin they have the straightest of faces, no tears, no fear.
Then there are the newer arrivals, you see, their reactions are much different. They each struggle in their bindings, which are all tight enough to cut off blood circulation and to leave a mark, not to mention done with the worst of rope. This is rope that has all sorts of sharp fibers protruding from it. They all stutter in pain. Haphazardly, they try to maneuver in their cages to a place of balance in which their skin will not be hampered by the spikes lining the bars of the cages. They look on with horrid, petrified stares as their cages get closer and closer to the boiling acid of the caldera.
And then all the cages align in tandem. A few of the older members of the first layer of Hell close their eyes and brace themselves for what they know is to come. The rattling of the tarnished flesh in the newer members’ cages begins to be a bit louder, and a bit more desperate and distressed.
The cages submerge into the acid of the pit. There are streams of red making their way up to the surface. Bubbles are appearing in the acid at a bit faster of a pace. Cages rise from the pool of acid.
Skeletons are seen amidst patches of flesh. Completely numb to their senses from the overwhelming acid burns that they just sustained, several of the newer arrivals reach out toward the bars of their cages and make an inquiry of those around them that seem so nonplussed.
“How?” is all that they can say. How is all that they know? How did they get in this place? How are they still alive? How are many others here so calm? The demons laugh and the older denizens of the first layer bob their heads up and down in a “yes” motion. The cages submerge again, and again, and again.
When nothing is left but charred bone the demons pick each skeleton out of the cage and lay them down in a hulking pile by some of the other torture pits. Flesh begins gradually making its way over the bones of the damned. Slowly they each gain back their body, their senses, and their minds.
A few of the now, once again, quite human souls begin to gather their wits and walk back to their favorite corners of the grand plateau that is the first layer of Hell. Some of those that are very obviously newer arrivals look on in terror as their, now comrades, lurch towards their favored places of pain.
Some of the new arrivals ask the question yet again. “How?” With a growl and a snarl and a hint glee in their eyes, one of the older members of the first layer says back to them, “You will get used to it. Soon it will all be just another day.”
Shortly after this exchange happens, something a bit less predictable occurs. Under the feet of the eldest inhabitants of the first layer of Hell appears a giant spike. The spike impales each of their bodies and then drags them down below with recalcitrant speed and ease.
There is the tumultuous shout of many damned souls and demons alike as the spikes release their prisoners atop of a bed of broken glass laced with toxins. The once familiar black skies of the first layer of Hell have now been replaced with the icky convulsing red and orange masses of flames through which these poor souls have just come.
The silence breaks. There are screams heard coming from the charred and ashen bones sitting atop of the toxic glass. Pain is being broadcast and terror is cascading through the area. The demons are coming for the new arrivals, their tattered skeletons used as toys. The once familiar smell of shit and sulfuric acid is gone. There is a new smell.
The older denizens of the second layer of Hell had waited eagerly for this day. There is fresh meat. There will be new blood. There are new arrivals.
The disoriented and expectant members of the first level of Hell wail and gnash their teeth. They are experiencing a new sensation, a new pain.
Hell seems orderly and lawful from the surface. At least that is what the inhabitants of the first layer are made to think, but right here and now, in the second layer of Hell, the new arrivals are groaning. They are groaning because they know, generally, what is about to happen. They have a new fear and a new longing. They do not know what is in store, but they do know it will be soon. It will happen soon enough. In time, it will be just another day.
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