A Hellish Test

It’s hard to provide an accurate description of my current situation. It was as though all of a sudden, I was able to think. I did not remember not being able to think but I do not remember any of my thoughts up until that moment. Around me was black. No, in fact it was darker than black, emptier and darker. I appeared to be in a void surrounded by an endless perimeter of nothing. Could nothing be endless? It seemed so. I did not think it was possible to feel nothing, and yet the absence of feeling and action was abundant. I could do nothing, be nothing, feel nothing. I was nothing. How was I conscious? Was I conscious? An endless stream of thoughts questioning my very existence and morality plagued my mind. If I had a mind, or even existed for that matter. Every thought I conjured lead to several questions arising and leaving me right back where I started off. Wherever that even was.

I had no memory of anything else apart from the vast nothingness that surrounded me. How was it possible for me to not have memories? I was conscious of my existence and I knew that this form of existence was not the correct one. However I did not know what the correct way of living was. I was sure there was more than this, was there? I could not move at all, I did not know if there was anything to move, and eventually realised that there was no point in moving because my surroundings were just empty. There was nowhere to go or nothing to do except just exist in a state 0f wonder at what made me like this and how I could revert back to whatever existence I had before.

The Deprive is the name I gave to my location, as it felt the only way possible to describe it. I was deprived of my ability to do anything other than think. I did not quite understand how I was able to retain the ability to think, and to form sentences in my head. Alternatively, as far as I knew I could have been saying this all out loud without the slightest realisation. I knew what words meant and could speak (or think) rather eloquently despite my ability to be able to do anything else. A sudden jolt pulsed through me and in that moment I began to feel again. I recognised emotions that I had apparently been able to feel in whatever my past existence seemed to have been. I am a human, I knew that much for sure.

A dimly lit cavern appeared around me. I could move. In that moment I suddenly existed again. I remembered everything of how to act and to feel but I just couldn’t remember who I was. A small lantern hung on the wall. I rose to my feet to investigate. What was this place? I looked above me and the roof of this cavern had been lined with the ribcage of some giant creature, creating a breathtaking gothic illusion. I made my way down the corridor as my fingers glided the rock for guidance. At the end of the corridor, stood a large wooden door. The door towered above me. I gave it a push and entered inside.

I appeared to be standing in an enormous stone courtroom. An immense bench for a judge stood in the centre of the far end of the room. Either side of the bench stood two granite grotesques. I remembered that they were called grotesques and not gargoyles because gargoyles were statues used for the drainage of water and grotesques were just for appearance. The rooms entirely empty. Not a single soul seemed to exist here. I was entirely alone. At least that’s what I thought. The two grotesques suddenly twisted and snapped themselves to life. They crept up to the bench their eyes showed nothing but pure evil. They jeered at me amongst themselves.

‘Welcome to hell!’ One of them hissed. ‘You have unfortunately been summoned by the reaper himself. We regret to inform you that you did not qualify for heaven because of all of the awful decisions you made in your living years. You are forbidden from having access to any of your memories from your life. You will suffer for an eternity at the hands of our Lord and master, Lucifer!’ Both of them howled with laughter 

‘Who are you? Is there any way at all I can change things around and go to heaven?’ I pleaded. I couldn’t go to hell 

‘I am Panic.’ One of the grotesques announced.

‘I am Pain.’ The other chimed in 

‘There is one way you can get to heaven.’ Panic chuckled as he looked at Panic, who also burst into a fit of laughing. 

‘Anything! I’ll do it!’ I was desperate. Surely I hadn’t been so inhumane in my living years that I was condemned for an eternity of torture.

‘There are nine layers of Hell as most people know. This is the first, limbo. If you can face the eight other hellish tests, then you will be granted access to heaven.’ Pain chuckled.

‘See you soon!’ Panic cackled like a witch around a cauldron. They snapped their fingers and like that I wasn’t in the courtroom anymore.

I was in a dark space surrounded by nothing except a distant door. I made my way towards the door. It seemed to be miles away. I was suddenly blown back further by an enormous gust of wind. The winds pierced my face. I pushed myself forward, despite the winds blowing me back.

‘Welcome to the second circle of hell. Lust. As punishment for people who are consumed by lust, they are blown back and forth by violent winds, which means they are unable to rest. The strong wind symbolises the restlessness of the person consumed by lust.’ Pain’s voice rang through my ear. I pushed forwards and allowed myself to move. The wind pushed me backward. I ached with pain. The strength it took to push myself forward was overwhelming. I was getting closer. Closer by the second. I stretched out my arm towards the door and pushed myself through.

The third circle of hell was gluttony. I was submerged in a pool of disgusting liquid that had a constant refilling of icy rain above me. The liquid represented the degradation of a glutton who is obsessed with food and drink and the inability to see through the slush represents the selfish neglect of others around the glutton. The icy rain represented the coldness of the glutton for ignoring those around them. The fourth circle represented greed. I was forced to joust against another version of myself using extremely weighted weapons which I had to push with my chest to represent the selfish drive for fortune during lifetime 

I was transported via boat down the river Styx for my next trial. This was the fifth circle of hell and it represented anger. A hoard of skeletons and demons stood on the banks of the fiery river watching as I was transported through. The boat stopped suddenly, I jolted backwards and nearly lost my footing. I was in so much pain. Every joint and muscle of my body throbbed with pain. The boat rocked as a skeletal hand latched itself onto the side of the boat. It layered aboard. I had been instructed that the punishment for anger was to battle to the death on the river. I fought the skeleton with everything I had and knocked it back into the river where it was deemed defeated. Before I could celebrate I was surrounded by a sea of skeletons all clambering onto the small boat. I punched and kicked them as hard as I could. I was given no weapon. They came at me all at once. It was too much for me. I was never going to heaven. I was too exhausted.

Deep down within me, a small fire began to burn. I stood up proud and fought like a warrior. I couldn’t live my life in torture. I needed to complete the trials. I fought and fought until I was the only one standing. I had done it. I was ready to move to the next circle. For the sixth circle I was enclosed in a flaming tomb from which I had to escape. The punishment was for heresy. The seventh circle was by far the worst. It was a representation of violence. The first test within the circle was being sunk in a river of boiling blood and fire, which was the intended punishment for murderers. I was then turned into a tree where I was fed upon by harpies, which was how people who committed suicide were punished. I was chased and ripped to shreds by a pack of ravenous wolves. In the final ring, for sodomites, I was trapped in a desert that rained fire and had to find away to escape. I made it to the eight circle. The fraudulent were trapped in various caverns and hunted down by Geryon, a flying monster who adapted different natures to represent the many natures of the fraudulent. 

I was so close to an afterlife of paradise. It felt like many years since I first started my venture through the circles of hell. The final circle was for the treacherous. I was enclosed in an icy lake and must make my escape. I contemplated how I would make my escape from the ice. I was entirely enclosed. My entire body was numb and raw. I had been severely injured from every stage of my adventure. I was so weak. I forced movement in my hands. I forced through a millimetre of ice. Scratching one millimetre at a time. Scratch. Scratch. Scratch. This truly was torturous. What felt like years passed me by and I still worked away at the ice. An eternity had gone by and I nearly had made it to the surface. My fingers had wore down to the bone. Another eternity passed. I’d done it. I was free. I had escaped at long last. Panic and Pain returned me to the courtroom after my trials.

‘Can I please go to heaven now?’ I pleaded. They looked at each other and laughed.

‘Nobody can just switch from hell to heaven. We’ve been playing you. There is no way you can ever get to heaven now. You’re doomed for eternity. It was fun to watch though.’ They cackled at me as I sunk to the floor and cried.

If you enjoyed this story you can find it and many more in my short story collection Abramacabre, now FREE on Amazon Kindle!

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