Devil’s House, Excerpt 2

This is the second excerpt from “Devil’s House”, a Novella that will take you to hell and back. Excerpt One Found Here

Hell Is Other Waiting Rooms

I woke up in a warm room to the soft oompah of New Orlean’s Swing. I opened my eyes to look up at a managerial spackle cieling. I was in a waiting room on a rough nap carpet. I groaned and got to my feet. There were no doors. The walls had recreations of dutch skyscapes and impressionist lilies. There were a few low tables scattered around with pamphlets laid out on them.

I walked over and picked one up, “So You’re In Hell… What Now?”

I wasn’t really that surprised. I knew this day would come. I knew what I signed up for and I was ready for it so I settled down in a chair and started to find out what the rest of my damnation would look like. So I cracked open the paper when I heard a voice

“That doesn’t apply to you, actually” I hadn’t noticed when She arrived or what door through which she’d suddenly appeared- I waited for her to continue. “I’m sorry to be the one to tell you this, but-”

“I’m Dead?” It seemed like the likely explanation.

“Well… no” And apparently it wasn’t

“But I’m in Hell”

“Yes”

“But I’m not dead”

“Yes”

And now for the more difficult question: “So why am I in Hell?”

“Well” She started, “You’re an idiot.” You can say one thing about Hell: Its brutally honest.

“Was it because I stole from Satan?” I mean, it did seem like a good idea at the time.

She nodded, looking at me like I tried to push a door that said pull.

Something nagged at me, “So I’m not dead, but I am in Hell?”

“Yes”

“Why?” Because, you know, it seemed like a simple enough question

She sighed and turned her hand at an invisible door knob, opening a Matisse that stretched into a door. I felt a little like a drunk kitten in a gothic wonderland, innocent enough to just accept the impossible but not coherent enough to create a simile. I gathered myself, nabbed a pamphlet, and jogged to catch up.

“So,” Caught in the forbidding vortex of awkward silence, “Whats your name?”

“Lily” She didn’t even look over at me, and kept walking. The hallway was lined with doors whose glass windows were the transparent backs of canvasses. Each room was labeled 666. I chuckled, earning a straightforward glare from Lily. This was a long hallway.

“So whats in all these rooms? More people like me?”

“No”

“Dead people?”

“Yes” She had such eloquence

At long last an old elevator door came to view at the hallway’s end. She pressed the button and we waited. Again in silence. So I Asked: “You aren’t going to ask me my name?”

“No I am not”

“Do you already know it?”

“Nope” This was going wonderfully.

“You don’t even care.”

“Yes.”

So I stood there and wondered why it was taking so long for the elevator to arrive. “Well… I’m Scratch.” I didn’t bother sticking out my hand

She grunted, a second later the elevator dinged and we stepped inside to badly played bluegrass. We both grimmaced.

“Why is the music-”

“Its Hell,” She snapped.

So after 15 minutes of, well, Hell, the elevator dinged again and she pulled aside the accordian doors and stepped through. I followed. The lobby beyond was massive and more hell-like than my quaintly beuarucratic waiting room. The marble and granite was a deep maroon with jet lines running through it. Decorative stalactites hung from the domed ceiling. All around us bussled the diverse and disheveled dead, led around by men and women in crisp suits. The Charons of Grand Central Styx.

At the far end of the lobby, flanked by large staircases leading down, is a foreboding set of double doors with a sign that read simple, “1”. Signs on the stairs said, in a too too cheery manner, “Levels 2-?”.

“Keep up!” I hadn’t realized I had stopped and had nearly forgotten Lily was standing there, I jogged again to keep up.

“Where” I paused for a moment before continuing. Some questions in the world you really don’t need the answers to, but even still you want them.

“Choose whichever level you want”

“Really?”

“Look, you were in a room, I brought you down here, you don’t have an assignment so you go where you want, I don’t care.” She scowled a little and turned heel and walked away.

I called after her, “What do I do?”

“That’s not my problem”

With that she was lost in the crowd. Then I did what any flesh-and-blood man with a pulse in Hell would do. I strode out into the first layer of hell and hoped to God I could find a bar.

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