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The Kind of Girl You'd Go To Hell For (Or) The Plunge

by Scott A. Vancil 4 months ago in Satire
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A Novelette By Scott A. Vancil

The voice sliced through his brain again, ‘Dogs don’t have souls; they don’t go to Heaven.’

‘Bull,’ his consciousness volleyed as his finger curled around the metal, giving the crescent a warm little embrace.

The explosion ripped through the air like a clumsy, fat-fingered man trying to open a Sun-chips bag at a funeral service. A geyser of cranberry-colored vein-juice erupted from the man’s head and spread like a fishing-net of fireworks, ready to catch the man’s rising soul, making sure it didn’t ascend. The crimson walls watched, with friends of scrambled-egg (the bits of his blasted brain) and fragments of shell, as the holy heretic fell to the rising floor.

In real time, he had only moment enough for one staccato revelation: ‘Ouch.’ However, in the magic that comes with crossing between planes of existence, he actually had time to think one, horrendously, long thought, as he died, ‘I hope the Catholics are right about suicide, or this is gonna’ suck like a seven-to-one mouth-to-straw ratio.’ As he slow-motioned his way to the floor, the porcelain tile beneath him disappeared and was replaced by a never-ending tapestry of flaming Hell, viewed from outside the throat of a giant pair of lips and rotting razor teeth. He had seen the Mouth of Hell; it had herpes.

Before he could start his descent, the Hellmouth closed on him, hard. He was relatively sure that it was supposed to remain open for the damned, but today it wanted to taste its victim with an acid-enriched tongue. After he had been shredded into strips, the mouth swallowed and let out a laugh. The shredded man fell into a world of fire. It didn’t look so bad from where he was -mid-fall- perceiving. All he could see, at the first moments of descent, were pink clouds. The pink clouds became flaming clouds. Below that, were clouds of smoke that led to a floor of the same. He fell through the layer of dark floaties to a violent turmoil. Charcoal clouds, on both sides, let out red lightning that, after striking, turned to fire and then ash. The man looked down as a great pain shot through his body. The parts that hellish teeth had chewed were healing.

Ten minutes later (He counted in his donut of a head), he was still falling. The clouds opened out to a giant world of magma and dark spots. Infinitesimal forms began to bleed into the man’s vision, as a frozen game of Snakes or a Pac-Man game-map awaited him below. The labyrinth of walls grew to enormity, as the man continued his plummet toward the flaming, circuit board of damned souls. Suddenly, a giant, floating billboard (welcoming him to Hell) crossed into the future of his freefall, and he smacked into it with astounding force and broke through the ‘e’ before the double, hockey sticks.

He let out a, “[EXPLETIVE DELETED],” as he was birthed out the other side, like the offspring of a horny Leprechaun and a tourist woman with load-bearing hips.

As the walls of Hell’s fortresses and the spires of its towers grew to become a poorly made three-dimensional, feature film, the man’s ears breathed in the audio-scent of some kind of music, music made to torture all lost souls: the music of Justin Beiber. He only heard this for a moment before his ears began to weep crimson rivers and sing their own songs of ringing tones. For a moment, he was relieved, until his sound-gatherers miraculously healed and the process cycled around.

As he let out a scream oozing Expressionism, the cobbled brimstone came whooshing up to greet Mr. Pitfall with a crunch rivaling The Captain himself, followed by a squish. His bones had shattered. He was a pile of gunk. There, he puddled about, contemplating the meaning of it all, when he started to feel a tingle in his flabby liquid-ness. The tingle became a tickle that then became a sting. The sting became a shock that zapped his form with quakes under his epidermis, a series of tiny tectonic tremors that inflated his body like a very crunchy balloon.

Eventually, he had a painful realization that all of his bones were retaking their shape inside his splattered form. His nostrils sucked in particles of petrol (after his ears had already heard the roar of industry), as something of a giant, spatula forklift came to pick him off the ground and drop him in a truck full of bodies. Midway through his fall into the bed of bleeders, his form righted itself. The truck began to move, as Pitfall was speed-dated with a beheaded gentleman that would look to be in his thirties, were it not for the color of his graying skin. His head was just sitting atop his chest, which was sporting a tuxedo.

“Hello,” Dr. Decapitated tried to voice, but settled with mouthing.

Looking at the man, made Pitfall wonder if he, too, bore the wounds of his cause-of-death. He reached up, and, sure enough, there was a hole. He reached in the hole and felt the inside of his skull. He took his hand out and unexpectedly pulled out a bit of brain. Sniffing it in curiosity, he popped it in his mouth, and began to chew.

‘Yuck,’ Pitfall tried and failed to say, for he had pulled the ‘yuck’ right out of him.

He quickly put it back in.

“Yuck,” he said.

“Some thought for food, eh?” said a man with a two-by-four sticking out of his nether regions.

“How’d you die?” Pitfall asked.

“Heart attack,” Two-by-four answered shortly.

Pitfall’s lenses captured the images around him. There were no females on this voyage of vagabonds.

“You ever been dumped?” asked another man with a hand to his bleeding crotch.

Pitfall tried his hardest to remember just how many woman had taken his still-beating heart out and stomped on it, when the back of the truck opened out and an avalanche of bodies came tumbling out into a giant pit, reminiscent of a sink, funneling down under the stone basin. The floor of the basin was slick like it was covered in a personal lubricant, though underneath, Pitfall decided, was what looked like a patchwork made of blue-jean pants.

On the outer rim of the basin, a skinny demon stood on a soapbox and tossed out fistfuls of cash, “Money! Free Money! Everybody get it while it’s still avail’.”

Everyone in the basin was ecstatic at the prospect of free cash. They stumbled over each other, slipping and sliding, trying to grab at green.

“I can get out of debt!”

“I can pay for college!”

“I can pay off my loans!”

“I can buy a bigger-“

“-What can we buy with our new money?” a balding man interrupted the throng with gleeful inquiry.

“Nothing,” the skinny demon said and stepped down from the box.

Everyone deflated with a united, elongated, “Aw,” and continued to slide down the slopes, now looking like a massacre of jolly-green paper-mache people, to be funneled into a tiny little hole- a hole that Pitfall was very surprised did not get clogged. When he finally made it to the epicenter, Pitfall realized why it was not so easy to clog: it was stretching open and closed in some sort of bowel movement.

The mass of bodies made it down the duodenum to the rectum and finally to the annals, where each person was to witness their entire lives over and over again. Pitfall could now count just how many times he had been Temple of Doomed: twenty-four times. Twenty-four times he had his heart broken in some form, but each time it was worse than the last. He had only been twenty-four-years-old before the whole, brain-go-boom thing… one girl for every year.

The walls of the annals, to be frank, looked like an anus, that is an anus that has fragmented mirrors with a swirling haze that forms a life’s story, but that was just the preview. Each Citizen Feces was soaked into the wall between the swirling mirrors. They disappeared, absorbed into the fleshy pinkness, to the sound of a chorus of farts. Pitfall was duly taken.

When he opened his eyes, Pitfall witnessed an opening into a spherical room with ugly, wrinkly walls that looked like a pig, if you were to turn it inside out (Also if you’ve ever seen The Fly II, post the-Goldblum-remake). This wrinkly flesh-ness was of a darker color than the entranceway to the annals. In the middle of the fleshy globe, there was a pool of what looked like mercury. Pitfall peered into the pool amidst the gums. It was history, literally his story (or rather bits of it- just the bits that made him cringe).

All the terrible things that had ever happened to him, all the painful moments, and all the cruel things that he had done to others: they were all there. They were the only memories that were there. There were no happy moments to speak of. The Mercury of Gloss swishied Pitfall a tale of a poor, little fuck-up, just trying to make it in a world of too many, fuck-ups. Would he ever get noticed? …No.

It went through his relationships: the first girl, a cute little redhead in preschool (He was also in preschool); the second girl, a cute little brunette in preschool (again with the not-creepy); the eighteen and a half girl (skipping ahead just a bit) tasted like eggs… when he kissed her; the twentieth girl, a drug addict and dealer; the twenty-first girl, also known as The Rusty Bicycle, was so promiscuous that people had started to name STD’s after her; the twenty-second girl, Pitfall’s best friend’s girlfriend (but he had totally seen her first) and a compulsive liar; and finally the twenty-third girl, the love of his life that he, very pathetically, could not get over.

That being said, number twenty-four was the reason he was here. While twenty-three might have been the love of his life, twenty-four was the love of his life and after. She meant the world and underworld to him, and he would not give her up without a fight. He would not sit in a mortal world, while she was possibly being tormented in the depths of Hell.

Her hair was soft but not of fur. He usually kept her fairly trim even though her kind was meant to have long hair. In her old age she had left pebbles of shit all over the house and urinated on everything that was a noun. She couldn’t see very well; she could hardly hear; her joints were arthritic; her muscles were failing; she’d wine and moan when she moved; and finally she’d cry out from merely lying still.

It was time. He couldn’t sit by and watch her suffer. It wasn’t an easy decision, at first. It sounded cruel, but he’d much rather she have died of natural causes when it was her time, but she had lived far longer than was the norm of her breed. It was time to let her go.

Once upon a time, Pitfall was the epitome of a sad-little-shit, having just lost the person closest to him, his Grammie (Not a music award -the Grandmother on his mother’s side- one of the 24 heartbreaks), to complications and infections after her third heart attack. He was wandering through middle school, a newly religious (Christian) and extremely, pacifist individual. Religion is great when you’ve lost someone, because it gives you hope that you might see them again or that they haven’t truly left you. If Pitfall didn’t believe in Heaven, he felt it would have been a betrayal of The Dead’s memory and trust. This newfound, religious self made Pitfall paranoid and always frightened of evil, rather than make him a better person.

He had always wanted a dog growing up, but his sister was allergic. He prayed every day, he hoped with all his heart, and he wished on every birthday cake, star, and well, every single day/year of his youth, for a puppy. He just wanted a puppy. After his Grammie died, when he was in fifth grade, he didn’t want one anymore. He was barely able to take care of himself; how could he care for such a creature?

By the time Pitfall was ready to not have one, his parents got him a puppy, a full-grown, small, female dog to be exact. She was five-years-old in human years and had already been to obedience school. Her family was passing her off to a new home, because they had just had a baby girl and their dog was quite vicious when she played.

She had a, kind of, girrgling growl when she played tug-of-war with a chew-toy, like an eleven-year-old that is trying to gargle for the first time and does it compulsively for an unusually, extended amount of time. It seemed that this was dangerous for the baby that crawled about at the canine’s level like it wanted to play. She didn’t bite (the dog) but she nipped, and it was scary and occasionally hurt human flesh. To a baby, that meant blood, trauma, and possibly a nice little infection. Whatever the reason, the old family decided they had to part ways with the pooch. People are often over-paranoid when it comes to human infants.

The Pitfall family was over at the dog’s family’s house, when his mom looked at Pitfall and said, “That’s you’re dog.”

Pitfall looked confused. It was his birthday, but he hadn’t suspected a reason for this visit at all. When she told him that it was his, he was shocked, yet inactive.

“That’s you’re dog, for your birthday… if you want her,” his mom prompted again.

He didn’t. By God, he actually didn’t. The idea appalled him. He didn’t want this dog… Did he? Why didn’t he? He was so confused.

“Okay,” he shrugged and reluctantly went along with it, because he felt, if he did not, his mother would be sad or he would regret the decision later.

The puppy whined all the way home, missing its family. Pitfall felt terrible for tearing it away from its home and felt even worse that the dog didn’t immediately take to him. The dog was a female named Tiffany/Tiffani. Not that the name was twice spoken, but, when it was spelled, it sometimes alternated from ‘y’ to ‘i,’ for either was acceptable. It was an odd sort of name for a dog. Pitfall considered changing it, but that was the name that she had been trained to listen for. That, and he couldn’t decide a name that would be better. ‘Tiffany/Tiffani,’ just fit.

They got the new family member home and put her down, so she could acclimate herself with the new surroundings (meaning leak and crap everywhere, while she whined, whined, and whined). If Pitfall tried to pet her, she would walk away or snap at his fingers, which really scared and upset him. His mom suggested some bonding time in his room.

Pitfall was shut inside his room with her. Tiffany just sat in front of the door and whined, while Pitfall sat on the floor against his bed and watched. Every time he tried to touch her, she would still walk away from him. She was his, meant just for Pitfall, and she didn’t even want to be around him. He eyes rivered. He wasn’t even really sure why. He hadn’t cried at all in a very long time, and finally it all came rushing out.

This was not a normal trickle of tears. This was a weep, years in the making, a tormented soul escaping -the entrapment of a life of hopelessness- through the freedom that comes with ducts of realization without the zation (but with an overabundance of the real). When the sobbing became very audible with gasps, Tiffany stopped whining and turned her head to look at Pitfall’s balling form. She walked over with a click-click-click-click of her nails against the worn -but still slick- hardwood floors, looked at him for a forever-moment, jumped on his lap, put her front paws on his chest, and licked the tears from his sorrow-soaked cheeks.

That entire night she was running around whining, looking like a headless chicken, but when it was time for bed she quieted. She kept whining until Pitfall just sat her on the bed with him and stroked her side, slowly. He kept this up for an hour or two, until she fell asleep.

During the day, Pitfall took to following her around on all fours as if he, too, were a dog. He would do this for hours, sometimes all day. Tiffani spent most of her time whining at the front door for her old family. He kept telling her it was okay and lying on the floor next to her. They went on walks, played tug-of-war and fetch, and slept in the same bed. Occasionally Pitfall even kept her in the bathroom while he took a shower, so she would get use to his presence, in the beginning.

It was in times, like those, that he began to study her and fall in love. She was a beautiful Yorkshire Terrier with golden, black, grey, and silver hair and gorgeous brown puppy-dog eyes. She had a pair of little, milk-chocolate ears that popped up when she heard a familiar word, like ‘walk’ or ‘treat,’ or a sound that excited her. Her mouth seemed curled up into a smile when she was happiest, even though it was supposedly impossible for a dog to smile, and her eyes expressed such glee that it was impossible to describe. If he had picked a name for her, it probably would have been ‘Wickett,’ from Star Wars: Return of the Jedi, because she sometimes reminded him of an Ewok. He would occasionally call her his, ‘Little Ewok,’ but, every time he did, she fully expected to be taken on a ‘walk.’

Tiffany and Pitfall kept each other warm in the winter. Pitfall found it amusing, after a heavy snowfall, to watch her leap about like a gazelle, getting lost in the depth of it all, so full of joy. After her wet adventures in the icy wonderland, he would dry her off. He held her closely in a blanket to his chest until she stopped shivering from the cold. Tiffani -quite often- slept on Pitfall’s lap. When he was gone, she slept on his pillow, for it still held the scent of him. Sometimes at night, they even shared a pillow, when Tiffani so requested. They got very close, to the point where she kind of became his guard dog. If anyone came near Pitfall, she would get between them and growl at the other person. Eventually, she branched out and became close to the entire Pitfall family.

Tiffany had a fiery spirit and always took on tasks far too great, like attacking Black Labs in the park, full sprint, yapping away. Whenever she went on a walk she marked every single post around the park. She always tried to run faster than Pitfall could walk and would gag and choke herself with her leash, in over-excitement. Sometimes, Pitfall, after rubbing her belly like she loved, would just lay there next to her and feel her heart beat or listen to it pump. In the spring and summer she sat in The Pitfall’s Piano Room catching rays through the large windows. Pitfall would come and lay with her in one of the warm rectangles and hold her little paw.

‘Tiffer,’ ‘Tiffy,’ or ‘Tiff,’ as Pitfall sometimes called her, was obsessed with licking. She would lick peoples’ arms and hands, sure, and give them little doggy kisses on the lips, but she would also look up at Pitfall and the lick the air constantly, as if she requested some loving back. Pitfall used to kiss her on the top of the head, and she would quickly flip her head up and try to kiss him back before he got away, sometimes using teeth to try and catch him first. If he blew on her face or puckered his lips, she would lick-lick-lick in answer.

When she was sitting on Pitfall’s lap, she would often turn around to face him, jump on his chest, and try to lick his face. When he pulled his head back, with his neck, to avoid the-tongue-that-had-been-everywhere, Tiff would stretch her paws up to grab at his face and pull it towards her tongue. Often, this would result in her nails gripping his lip and making that ‘flap’ sound.

She lasted a very long time with that family, and got Pitfall through some very difficult periods in his life. He couldn’t imagine a life without her, but he had known that he would have to live that some day. Recently, he had to finally put her down. In the months before, he imagined what it would be like.

It happened much faster and more painfully than he ever could have imagined. She had been his only true friend through much of his life. To say goodbye to her, was (what to most people would be) to sever a piece of his soul and let it sail upon the wind. …But worse for him, for Pitfall cared very little for his own soul.

“What is the box for?” Pitfall asked his dad.

“It’s for the body, if you want to take it with you, or you can have them take care of it.”

“Where would we bury her?”

“Well, we used to do it in the back yard with the cats we used to have, but we’re not really supposed to. It’s illegal.”

“…And we’re about to move….”

“Yeah.”

They had lived in that house for all of Pitfalls life. The rooms had changed much, but they were full of such memories. Before taking Tiffany to the vet, he picked her up into his arms and floated her through the house where they had spent so much time together: the house where they had bonded for the first time, in one of Pitfalls most heart-aching hours; the house where Tiffani had done tricks like shake, roll-over, and dance; the house where they had laid in the morning light and looked towards bright futures; the house where they had spent many Christmases, Pitfall giving Tiffani a toy from her stocking, when she just wanted to play with the stocking itself; the house where Pitfall had lulled her to sleep on her first night of sweet dreams; and the house where he had watched her dream, watched her moving her legs in a run and flexing her mouth muscles in a dream-bark. He showed her their old room.

“Do you remember this room, Tiffani?” he asked as he kissed the top of her head goodbye, “This is where you told me that everything was going to be all right.”

He walked her down the stairs to the room he had moved into in high school.

“You remember this room, Tiffani? We use to sleep in here too. You used to sleep on my pillow on the waterbed. You liked the waterbed better than the old one.”

He walked her to the other end of the basement hall, to the entertainment room.

“This is where you use to come sit on my lap when I’d play video-games.”

He showed her the computer room.

“This is where you used to sit on my lap when I’d write stories. You couldn’t get comfortable, but you always whined, until I would finally put you on my lap.”

He turned Tiffani over, like he had so many times, in his arms. She used to look up at him in calm and get excited as he rubbed and kissed her belly. Now she just flopped over indifferent. He was careful to watch her neck and put ease on her curved spine and boney body. She looked up at him and probably saw nothing with foggy eyes.

“I’m going to miss you Tiffy… my little Tiffani. It’s time to say goodbye. But I know everything will be all right.”

Pitfall pulled her in and kissed her belly, mouth, and head. Then, he just held her, in a hug, against his neck and cheek, and made her doggy-hair wet with an eye-full of rain.

“I love you Tiffany. I love you so much, more than anything in the whole, wide world. I want you to feel better. I don’t want you to hurt anymore. I want to thank you for taking such good care of me and being there when I needed you most. I’m not sure if I believe in Heaven. I stopped for a long time. But I don’t care if it doesn’t exist, because I’m going to make it exist.

“If there is one thing I believe in, it is human will and love. I think they go hand in hand, a symbiotic organism that can shape universes and affect how we see life. If Heaven doesn’t exist, then I’m going to will it to existence. I will tell the universe to make a place for my Tiffany and everyone I love to live together, forever, because we deserve a place.”

Pitfall gazed back into his past. There was a picture he had drawn on the back of a slip of paper in church. It was after his Grammie had left them. Little Pitfall tapped his mommy on the shoulder and showed it to her. It was a picture of his Grammie, his mom, and Pitfall standing on a cloud in Heaven. They were all together again with the sun shining behind them. Pitfall deeply wished he could find that picture and draw a little puppy by his figure’s side.

Pitfall took Tiffani back upstairs for the last time in her life.

“So what do you want to do?” his dad asked.

“Let’s have them keep her. I don’t want to leave her here, if we’re moving.”

In anticipation for the move, Pitfalls mom had gotten a job in their new location, out of town. Pitfall hadn’t seen her since the early summer. It was now a week before Thanksgiving. Pitfall was closest to his mom, and he really wanted her there for Tiffani’s departure. His mom couldn’t make it, but in a phone call she had revealed that -the last time she had been home- she had said goodbye to Tiffani. She hadn’t thought that Tiff would last much longer.

“She’ll have fun, running around in Doggy-heaven. Grammie will take good care of her.”

Pitfall had tried hard not to cry in front of his dad. He had gotten a little choked and teary eyed in front of him, but he always managed. Whenever he heard his mom’s voice, he couldn’t. When he tried to tell her that he was going to have to put Tiffer down, he broke-down in tearful agony. It all gushed forth; he couldn’t hide from his mom, even just over the phone. He couldn’t hold back the torrent.

His dad had prepared a pet-carrying-case to transfer Tiffani in. Pitfall looked at him like he was insane.

“What is that for?”

“It’s to put Tiffani in for the car ride… unless you want to hold her.”

‘Of course I want to hold her!’ he thought.

He did.

They asked him if he wanted to be in the room with her when she left. Of course he did. He didn’t want his Tiffani to have to die without anyone there that had loved her so deeply. Two of the veterinarians came in with their tools of separation, with their gracious-weapons of severance. They explained to Pitfall that she wouldn’t hurt. They said that it was a sedative that it would just put her to sleep. They mentioned that her eyes would dilate and that she would relax. They warned that she could empty her bladder and/or void her bowels.

The lead ascension-assistant took out her syringe as the other held Tiffany on a cold metal table. She looked so frightened. She was shaking and looking out for anyone that loved her. Pitfall wanted to be the one to hold her in her last moments. He wanted to be there. He tried desperately not to cry. Pitfall and his dad told Tiffani it would be all right, that everything would be okay.

Well, the dad told. Pitfall just mumbled. Pitfall’s dad reached out with his hand to Tiff’s nose and stroked her head. She sniffed at his hand. Pitfall reached out to her nose; she didn’t react. He clumsily stroked a bit of her head and pulled his hand back. He had always been terrible at consoling.

The lead vet injected the love of Pitfalls ever and after. Tiffany’s eyes were so wide with fear. After the sedative had been administered, the vet, with a slight of hand, filled the syringe with air and poked Tiffany again. The vet hadn’t told Pitfall that she would do that. He wished that she had told him that she was going to do that. He wished she had prepared him for the scene. The air bubble was probably on its way to the little puppy heart, that he had felt beat on the palm of his hand time and time again, the little puppy ticker that tocked against his ear. It was on its way right—

No. It happened faster than he could have guessed. They had said fast. He had figured fast. It was faster. It was the fastest moment to ever happen in slow-motion, the quietest moment to ever speak so loudly in Pitfall’s memory. How could anything be so quiet? How could any creature be so still? They should be outside with the birds, rabbits, squirrels, and cats that Tiffani used to chase. They should be outside where she had wanted to be so often.

Instead, they were in this cold room where there was no sound. There should be a wind, a breeze, or a rustle of leaves. There was nothing. Time stood still and the planet held its breath for his little girl, his little puppy. She was so small, he realized. She was so tiny. All Pitfall wanted to do was take her outside or lay in the sunny-shine and hold her tiny paw as she breathed her last. He used to just lay there and watch her breathe, watch every breath inflate her tummy and then be released. Now there would be no rise. There would be no fall. There would only be ‘empty.’ For the first time in his life, Pitfall had witnessed death.

Before he could think about how it would start to look, before he could imagine it all over again, it happened. He saw it leave her. Not the breath from her miniature form -though that left as well, as the air might sail out of the canvas bag of a set of Scottish Bagpipes when its piper has abandoned it- he saw it leave her… her soul. He didn’t care what some boxed up children in their boxed up religions said about their boxed up beliefs.

Tiffani had a soul. He saw it every time he had looked into her eyes. He felt it every time he had rubbed her belly and graced the beat of her heart, or received her little doggy kisses, or felt her paws on his chest or the warmth of her form in his winter-plagued lap. He smelled it in every one of her farts, as he protested and she looked up at him in apology. He heard it in every time she tried to tell him she wanted attention, as she stamped her front foot like a stubborn child would. He saw it in her smile.

Pitfall knew she had a soul… so he was all too aware when it had left her. There was no substance there. She was a little rag doll now, a shirt without anybody left to wear it. She was a plushy of a dog that Pitfall had -all-too-many times- wished were a real dog. Every time he looked in the plastic eyes of that plushy that were still and held nothing behind them, no personality, no soul, Pitfall wished with all of his heart and soul that it would live, that its non-existent plushy-heart would start beating.

Pitfall looked into void-eyes again and wished the same, with all his heart and soul, with everything he had left, all the hope he could muster. When she left, his hope left too. Tiffani had taken most of him with her. Pitfall didn’t get why people refer to the body as ‘just a shell,’ the host having left after death. There was no shell there. There was no frame or structure. There was plastic wrap. There was limp. There was nothing. Tiffany was gone.

The vet and vet assistant were the puppeteers for the so-long marionette as they slowly laid her flat on her side, the deflated bag waiting for a piper that would never return. They stroked her like they loved her and like it would matter. Pitfall both hated them and loved them for it. He didn’t know how they could do this more than once, how they could do it for their job and still seem to care so much for every little canine patient that says goodbye. Pitfall did not have the strength for that. He was barely holding it together. As the vets stroked the bag, they looked at Pitfall and said that, if he wanted, he could have a moment alone with her (the body) to say goodbye.

‘Why didn’t they let me do that before they stuck her? Why didn’t they ask me then! What good does it do now?’ Pitfall thought.

Everyone looked at Pitfall, awaiting his decision. He looked at the door, suddenly feeling very claustrophobic and wanting to escape into the open air. He wanted some place safe to cry. He couldn’t cry here, not in front of them… but they could leave him alone. He could cry alone in the room with… but no. It wasn’t her. There was no soul there. She was gone.

‘That’s not her,’ he thought.

“No… Thanks.” Pitfall said, immediately heading out the sliding wooden door.

He wanted to. He wanted to stroke her, just like he had on the night that they had met. He wanted to lull her to sleep, to cuddle, as she rested. But he couldn’t watch her dream, watch her twitch, and watch her breathe. What was the point? He didn’t want to console something that didn’t exist, just for his benefit. He regretted that decision for the rest of his life.

He didn’t cry. He was proud yet ashamed. The problem was: he never cried again. He didn’t cry when his dad touched him on the shoulder, a shoulder he wished could never be touched again. He didn’t cry on the car ride home. He didn’t cry when he walked into the house that held no home, the windows that held no doors, the chairs that had no cushions atop their empty frames, and the floor that held no click of reverberation upon its surface.

She had always greeted him on his return home, his arrival back into a shared moment. He looked immediately to where she would always come up from and saw nothing, forgetting completely that he never would again, that she was gone. As his dad went to use the restroom, Pitfall slowly picked up his feet, with a bane of Atlas sized weight holding them down, and walked to the corner of the living room to peer behind a comfy chair at a sight he did not want to see. Behind the chair was the girl’s bed.

It was an empty bed, save for some remnants of the departed. There were urine stains of a bladder that held nothing in and rusty spots from where the deceased’s nose and gums (losing hold of rotting teeth) had bled. There was an indentation on the pillow from where her form had smashed it down. Her hair was strewn all about in a layer of leaves on the fabric. The young-man shrank into a little boy that stroked, with fingertips of longing, at the leftovers of love, like he was checking for dust. He found some in the form of grey hairs that clung to his fingerprints like snowfall to a winter’s dying grass.

Pitfall couldn’t use his voice, for if he did: a monsoon would consume his entire body; the quakes would seizure through his form; his stomach would be as negative space, consumed by the black hole inside his chest where his heart used to reside; the quivering bottom lip, that cheeks would shake, would be caged by teeth in futile determination to stem the future; his liquid-blindness would send him into a murky universe of deluged darkness, from which he could never return; and the skin-plates, that rubbed together in villainous vibrations on his epidermis, would cause a typhoon of tingling to boil all the way to his burning eyes, and cause the tsunami to devastate his cheeks, his Hydro-Vesuvius of despair sending raging heat up to sear the soles of Heaven. The young man couldn’t breathe, for if he did the tide would reach above the mountaintops to touch the clouds with tears, and all would be lost.

“I’m going on a bike-ride,” declared Pitfall as he heard a flush.

Pitfall slammed his feet to the peddles of his mountain bike, wishing he had the power to douse the sun, or a blade large enough to threaten the reigns of Apollo from taking hold of herald horses that pull his chariot of dreadful luminance-toting truth. The laughter of light lashed down with whips of scornful scorching for the dead-living. Concrete soles, lined with lead, on shoes of determination, made circles in the air and swung the metal arms in laps around the gears, as they hugged the arches of his feet.

Pitfall pumped at the peddles in a quickening pace that his heart matched. He followed his normal bike-route through the park. Suddenly, with a whack, his head collided with a branch that flicked him right in the fore. His tires skidded in his agitation and he tipped over, landing in the grass but rolling to the path of cement. The warmth of the blood, sliding along his forlorn face, and the sting of a tree’s finger-kiss, gave to the man some comfort, as he sat upon the surface of the sidewalk, feeling its glorious roughness with his palms. Sitting still, gave to Pity a realization that it was getting quite cool. It was November, but the cool weather had come late this year. Recently, it had been exceptionally nice, but today Pitfall felt the chill was soon to come. It would be a long winter.

-

Pitfall gazed into the silvery mirror in the middle of the squishy, round room. Mercury painted his vision and heralded his horror. He didn’t get to see the wonderful moments with his beloved Tiffy. He saw every time: he had spanked her; he had ignored her requests; his large and clumsy teenage feet had ever jumped their track and kicked her; he didn’t take her on a walk in her later years; he left her to go to school or hang out with friends; he had accidentally rolled on her in his sleep, or kicked her off the bed when she just wanted to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night; and he gave her baths and scraped the allergy related gunk out of her blind eyes, even as she cried out in painful protest as if being tortured by a loved one, bleeding from her tear-ducts.

He saw the pain. He saw her, weep; he saw the shining tears as they streaked the hairs under her eyes. He heard her whine. He felt her bones pop in and out of joint. He saw her frightened of the thunder. He saw her feeling alone and abandoned, as he was nowhere to be found. He saw her die over and over again.

Pitfall saw the pain.

The merc’y pool drained as another bowel opened up to swallow Pitfall. He emerged from the other side of a long, esophageal passage to a vast expanse, just for him. He couldn’t see the walls of the dark room, but there was a certain amount of dim spotlight that floated down from the ceiling. He fell and fell and fell. He fell past a stone bridge that narrowly missed his head. A time after that, there was a cross between a worm and a spider (both of the giant variety), sitting upside down in the middle of the place, like it were just for decoration. Pit managed to miss the abomination in his continuing plummet. He dropped for long enough to sing “The Song That Never Ends,” and then broke an arm with his landing… not his, but the one he had fallen on.

It was a pit of arms. The arms were charcoaled and woven in a sort of cushy net that should have absorbed his fall to a certain degree, but it was a long fall and he had landed oddly on the arm he had snapped. Now, looking around, Pitfall could see that it was a giant square room with cemented walls. The entire Arm Pit reacted to his plunk in their pond of palms. They all moved at once in longing for him, a reverse ripple. They grabbed at him and pulled him under. The pit of arms -with no bodies attached- went down for a coon’s age, until Pitfall hit an unseen bottom.

Pitfall was still moving, which confused him. He heard mechanics all around him, mechanized monsters in the dark, making hums and clicks. He could tell he was in a squared tunnel, for there was a dim, red light outlining the square of the exit. He was on a conveyer belt, he realized after he exited the tunnel. It opened up into a vast tower of conveyers that overlooked a grizzly scene. They were being tortured or experimented on, the people below him, all of them stark naked and afraid. Others, like Pitfall, were traveling along conveyers like little bits of machinery. Several, frightened men were behind Pitfall on his own conveyer. Overlords watched the scene with glee.

The Overlords had pentagon-shaped heads, except for the v-shaped chip in the top. Their eyes were a cat’s and were hosted in slits, and their mouths were vertical horrors with choirs of razors. Their pentagon heads were hoisted above their bodies with two-meter, elongated necks of navy blue skin, thirty-six inches in girth. Their bodies were arachnid, except for the insectoid, beetle-like, exoskeleton that covered their abdomens and looked to be split in half. Perhaps, they were covering retractable wings?

The upper arms of the creatures were like a t-rex’s and were frail but sickly sinister, with claws that were pointed straight and spun around like little drills. The Overlords used their rippling, muscular, lower arms, at the base of their necks, to crack whips at poor souls manning machines that tortured other poor souls. The working souls had ghastly masks nailed to their heads, their faces covered. The different masks indicated their different assignments.

Pitfall looked over the scene in terror. He watched as little demonic creatures, devils playing doctor, sliced open a once-human man as he lay there, awake. The doctor demons had on their lab coats made of what Pit could assume were pelts of human skin, patched together by tailors without hands. They were taller demons, about eight feet, sans three-feet horns, horns that forked straight up like thorns.

The Doctors were fairly humanoid, though they did sport the stereotypical tail that cartoon devils normally did. The difference between these tails and cute 2-D ones was the giant eyeball that darted its gaze throughout the room. These particular demons’ feet were cloven, but their hands were very articulate, having more knuckles than the normal humans. They started studying the human man as he begged for mercy, the damnable wretch. They had his chest clamped open, spread eagle.

The doctor on this case looked over the wretch with a face of curiosity. It used its many-knuckled, right hand to stroke the curly, black goatee on its dark, red chin, in contemplation, as its eyes -one monocle-clad- fiercely jabbed into the seen. The whites of them took over most of the tea-saucer sized, orbs. A little black dot was in the spheres’ center.

It raised a black eyebrow and gave a black smile, a smile so wide, that if it had been on the highway, it would have had to wear a sign. The evil of the smile curled up to reach each eye. The teeth of it were each giants of brilliantly shining, chrome, so stunning in their shine, that the patient could see himself reflected in the gleam. There was a phonograph to the side of the horror-show that blared the last of “New York, New York,” as the man shrieked and blood fountained.

The Doc pointed a finger and his masked assistants nodded and clapped their hands in glee, swaying back and forth with permanent evil grins on their frozen faces. The surgeon had picked his specimen. The evil little masked children removed a corncob… a pancreas from the eagle. The organ was handed off the Doctor. The Doctor proceeded to put the pancreas into some kind of juicer. All the life was sucked out of it. He, then, placed the shriveled organ into a jar and sent it up a chute that one would see at a bank. The chute launched the sample up to the laboratory.

The Overlord, watching the case, moved its neck side to side so that its head went back and forth. It nom’ed its mouth, drooling. The Doctor rolled its eyes and casually pointed to the spleen of the patient. This, the Masks were not excited for. They cut out the spleen and threw it high in the air so that the Overlord could feed.

After the munching, the Overlord repeated the back and forth motion, but this time he moved up and down simultaneously to show his appreciation for the act. His beetle back glowed red and throbbed four times, making a deep tone. The wrists of the muscular arms on the overlord flicked, and the whip cracked the Masks in surprise. They busied themselves with their work.

The track on the vinyl changed to “When Somebody Loves You,” as the minions cut and cut and cut. The patient screamed and screamed and screamed. The Doctor laughed and laughed and laughed. Pitfall crapped and pissed and cried (so much for bravery). The conveyer did not stop. The chorus of screaming from all of the room’s occupants made wondrous accompaniment to Frank. As the eagle disappeared from view, Pitfalls eyes roamed again, this time to a face-removal surgery. Two Doctors carefully removed the skin from the face of a man as he was forced to watch the procedure in the looking-glass before him. He was pinned to a vertical table, standing him up, with a Doctor to each side with their scalpels.

“Oh, my G—“

Before the man could finish that curse, the Doctors stuck him in the throat and removed his larynx. One of the Doctors ate it raw, as the other looked upon him angry and jealous. They started shoving each other, their human flesh, lab-coats swaying in the movement, as the patient teared and tried to cry-out in agony. Blood poured down the front of the naked patient from his castrated throat. His face just hung there, only half off, clinging to hope and the man’s chin. ‘All the way,’ the music ‘verbed.

Pitfall had a revelation: Why didn’t he just jump off of the conveyer belt? There was nothing keeping him there. But what would he jump to? Each surgery took place on a pillar of sorts. Between each pillar, was a deep pit carpeted with deadly spikes. Pitfall would be skewered and then nabbed by the Overlords. He shivered. He didn’t want to think about what would happen after that. Indeed, when Pitfall took a second look around, he saw that other men had tried an escape like that, and Pit did not want to be among them.

The conveyer belt entered into another tunnel against the far wall. This tunnel led to curvy metal slides that sorted everyone into how they had died. Above each fork of the chute was a glowing marquee that explained what they were. Pitfall fell under ‘suicides.’ Further along the journey he slide under, ‘Gunshot.’ Then there was darkness, for a moment only, and heat. The time of the heat was extended. The walls of the brick room they were all in glowed, red. He was in a room full of others like himself, bleeding from their heads, and now they were all on fire. They were burning alive, except they were dead and forever would be. Their skin became crisp and fell away.

The fire stopped and the floor of the brick room dropped out to dunk them all in freezing water. The shock of it was horribly astounding. Their skin healed itself and they had barely a moment of relief before they were drowning over and over. They were all naked now, for their clothes had burned away. The chamber drained and Pitfall could now see that he was in a sort of aquarium, and on the other side of the glass there was a theatre of people watching. The auditorium was relatively small, and housed various races of demons. They cackled as if watching a comedy. Mechanical arms entered from the ceiling. Each man in the tank was propped up, completely nude. The demons laughed and pointed out the faults on the human bodies, going for a hurtful weakness of every man there.

The metal arms picked up the men and placed them in a fire again. The floor dropped out once more and they were plunged into drowning. The arms laid the men out flat and they were conveyered to new room after room. In these rooms they were subjected to cyanide poisoning, alcohol poisoning, gassing, suffocation, overdoses on various medications, hanging, gunfire to their heads, and smashing.

The next series of rooms was about fear: fear of spiders, fear of other critters, fear of society, fear of being alone, fear of being eaten alive, fear of eating oneself, fear of rape, fear of nonexistence, fear of being evil, fear of excess vomiting, fear of commitment, fear of deep water, fear of heights, fear of small spaces, fear of the dark, fear of being lost- it was all there. All of the men’s worst fears were explored. Each individual was forced to not only endure his worst nightmare but also to endure the nightmares of the other men.

After the hall of fear they were all hung from the wall on hooks by their backs, cut open, and slowly dripped, dry of their blood. When the blood was restored the process repeated for an undisclosed amount of time. Then, it was on to the next chamber. They were all visited by the people they’d wronged or loved ones they’d left behind. The loved ones pointed out all of their faults of personality and failures in life. The torture chamber followed with everything in the history books and some new toys from the vivid imagination of Hell.

The chamber after was a private chamber. They were placed on a cold stone slab. Wicked drills descended and burrowed into the skulls of the men. Pitfalls sight was replaced by memory. The annals were for seeing moments throughout life, viewing them as if from the outside; The Burrow was for living them. Pitfall was forced to relive every horrible moment throughout his entire life. He was like a zombie. He had no control. He went through the motions that he was destined to. There was no righting the wrongs of the past. It was impossible for him to change his mistakes. He felt every pain like it was a fresh wound to his soul.

After The Burrow, there was another private chamber. It was pitch black. Pitfall could not see his hand before his face. This was the Chamber of Despair. Inside the chamber, hope was nonexistent. There was sorrow. There was giving up. Pitfall re-felt the deepest moments of depression, the deepest feelings of loss, and the deepest feelings of loneliness. After spending what seemed like an eternity of damnation in the Chamber of Despair, a loved one was chosen from the earlier, verbal, tag-team onslaught that stood out as more painful than all the rest. The older form of Tiffani appeared before him, set apart from the darkness like she had her own luminescence. She could barely stand for the pain. She was angry with him.

“You tortured me with baths, scraping at my eyeballs with a dirty rag of scalding hot, water. That was probably the reason I lost my sight. You kicked me and stepped on me like I was a dust-bunny in a corner. You didn’t take me on walks. When I whined, you ignored me for your own interests. Then, when I was too full to hold it, I leaked on the floor, and you spanked me. You were a terrible dad, a vicious brother, and a despicable friend. I never loved you. I could never love someone as pitiful as you. Do you know why I licked the tears from your eyes that day? I was trained to. That, and I wanted outside.

"You were the only one in the room, so I showed you love so that you would do me a favor and let me out. I used you. You know that is true, for you often saw that, after I had whined, I showed some love and then ran to the door again. You took me away from my family, and put me through hell. You let me live in pain for years until you finally killed me. You didn’t want to dirty your hands, so you had stranger send me off on a cold table, without even the love of a breeze or a ray of sun on my face. You didn’t hold me, didn’t console me. You weren’t there when I needed you, and most of all you didn’t even have the decency to give my body a proper goodbye after I had left. You couldn’t even be bothered to cry…. I hate you.”

Pitfall stared at the figure of his puppy in silence, and then he looked away and spoke to the darkness.

“I love you, little Tiffani,” he said, “My little puppy. I will find you. Hell be damned, I will find you. I will hold you again. If you can hear me… I am here. And everything is going to be all right.”

-

On the playground of his elementary school, a six-year-old Pitfall argued with a group of his classmates. They were considering Heaven and all those allowed.

Kid One: “Dogs don’t go to heaven.”

Pitfall: “They do too!”

Kid One: “Nope. They don’t. Grandma says.”

Kid Two: “They do so! All dogs go to Heaven!”

Pitfall: “Haven’t you seen the movie?”

Kid Two: “Your Grandma doesn’t know. My mom knows.”

Kid One: “Dog’s don’t have souls.”

Kid Two: “What?”

Pitfall: “They do too!”

Kid One: “They ain’t got souls. They’re just beasts. It’s in the bible.”

Pitfall: “What? No it isn’t.”

Kid One: “Is so.”

Kid Two: “Oh, you ain’t even read the bible. It’s too big. You’re not that smart!”

Kid One: “So what, my Grandma’s read it. She told me. Dogs don’t have souls; they don’t go to Heaven.”

Kid Two: “Where do they go then?”

Kid One: “Maybe, Hell?”

Some of the kids began to cry.

Kid Two: “They don’t go to Hell! God wouldn’t let that happen!”

Kid Three: “Who says God has a choice? Maybe he can’t control it.”

Kid Two: “Bull. Nothin’ happens without God saying.”

Kid Three: “What about killers… or tornadoes?”

Kid Two: “That’s the Devil.”

Kid Four: “No! Tornadoes are God’s farmers.”

Kid One: “People are God’s farmers, idiot. Tornadoes are evil.”

Kid Four: “Don’t call me an idiot!”

Kid Three: “I think, when dogs die, they just go away. Like they just aren’t there anymore. They don’t go anywhere. They just stop.”

Kid Four: “But that’s not what my mom said!”

Kid Two: “I think they go to Doggy Heaven. It’s not the same as the Human Heaven though.”

Kid Four: “Can you visit?”

Kid Two: “I think so. In mine you can.”

Kid Five: “I think it’s all one Heaven.”

Kid Two: “No! ‘Cause then the spiders get in! I don’t want any spiders.”

Kid three: “Spiders?!”

Kid One: “Spiders are evil.”

Kid Five: “No. They can’t get in. Spiders don’t love no one. And no one loves spiders. You can’t get into Heaven unless you’re loved.”

Kid Two: “God loves them.”

Kid Five: “No he doesn’t.”

Kid Two: “He loves all creatures.”

Kid One: “They’re the devil’s.”

Kid Five: “Doesn’t matter anyway. You only get to go if someone here loves you. A Person.”

Kid One: “I still think it’s more probly dogs go to Hell.”

Kid Two: “What do you think about Heaven? What do you think, Pit?”

-

“I don’t know,” a twenty-four-year-old Pitfall answered with a barrel to his temple.

He gazed at Death, and Death stared him back. The Reaper stood with his shadowy cloak and giant scythe, ready to ferry Pitfall to the afterlife. Turns out… not a lot of ferrying involved. There was an awful lot of falling though. In retrospect, Pitfall probably could have handled the job himself.

Death spoke to Pitfall in whispers, rattles, and screeches, “What if there is no Heaven? All you do is cease to exist. Or what if the other world is worse than this one?”

“How could it be worse than a world without Tiffany?”

“They think up ways,” Death assured him, “What if there is a Heaven and your Tiffani is there? What if that idiot child was wrong, and she isn’t damned? When you go to Hell, she won’t be there to greet you.”

Pitfall smirked, “Who says I’m going to Hell?”

“Touche`,” The Reaper allowed, “You sure you’re up for this?”

“Whatever happens, happens. She might not be there, but it’s a risk I have to take. If she is in Hell, I can’t let her stay there. I won’t sit here and let her suffer.”

“You’re not thinking clearly.”

“…Clearly.”

“Pitfall, you can never come back. You do realize that, right?”

“Look, if I wasn’t meant for something like this, then life sure is freaking ironic.”

“It’s a dog, Pit. She’s not worth eternal damnation.”

The words of the child echoed in Pitfall’s mind.

“Bull.”

The gun fired as Death simultaneously spun his scythe around and sliced at the floor. It tore, through space and time, to Hell. Death waved goodbye. It was out of his mangled hands now.

The plighting figure in the Chamber of Despair disappeared. Pitfall was taken to the next room. There, each occupant of Hell was to view the contents of his soul. He was in a circular room with a metallic dentist’s chair smack in the middle. Brick spiraled out from the chair to the brick walls of the same maroon with grooves of black between them. There was a metal circle, with a blue glow, attached to the ceiling above the chair, watching Pit.

There were two metal doors before him. They both opened. A demon, comprised entirely of tongues, came out -of the door on the right- to man giant lever, mechanisms to Pitfall’s right. From the left door, entered an eyeball demon. Almost every inch of the beast was eyeballs with some spaces of slimy, black skin between.

On each fingertip, a giant eyeball resided. The creature had one ball in each palm, as well. Pitfall was looking at these hands and wondering exactly how the demon ever used them without it bothering the lenses. Just as Pitfall wondered, the creature closed his finger eyeballs and taped at a console at pitfalls feet.

It became too dark to differentiate the roads of black grout from the redness of the brick. The eyes and tongues busied themselves with their work. The circle of blue glowed to life. The idea behind the machine was that if you were to show someone the true contents of their soul, they would go mad. It was one of Hell’s worst… Pitfall was very grateful….

The image projected in the space above Pitfall’s body, was Tiffany, smiling down at him as he rubbed her belly. The demons turned to each other in confusion. Souls were not supposed to be so concrete. Pitfall would need more help to reach the darkest depths. Tongue turned to the doors and made a noise. A new door appeared between the other two. It opened with a slow horror-show creak. From the middle door came The Conductor.

He wore a tux with tails, had footballs for eye-shapes, and slit-nostrils in his flat, ugly, greening face. His horns slicked back out of the front of his head to the back, curling up slightly at the end. A metal box grew out from the floor at Pitfalls feet. It was about two feet in height and just wide enough for the new demon. The Conductor stood on his platform, pulled out a baton, and began to conduct the darkness from Pitfall’s soul, the depths, the truth. The music from the depths of Pitfall’s soul was ‘A Night on Bald Mountain.’

The image of Tiffani grew larger and larger until the entire room was swallowed up. The walls squared and widened. Shelves sprouted with tomes galore. He was in a bookstore, drinking milk in a thin paper-cup. He walked the isles and passed a badger. It was friendly enough, but Pitfall paid it no mind, just giving it the minimum of a curt nod and walking on. Eventually, Pitfall came to a whirlpool in the middle of a row of books. There was no way around it, so he went back for the badger and used it to surf across. The badger drowned. Pitfall continued his journey.

On the shelves, he found a book labeled ‘Hope.’ Pit took a gander at what was inside. The pages revealed nothing. There was a book labeled ‘Religion.’ When Pitfall opened it, it was just insanely loud and said nothing of importance. He tried to be rid of it immediately, but it stuck to his hand like a leech and started sucking at his life force. Luckily, there was a book called ‘Freedom’ that removed it. He could have used ‘Logic,’ but he felt it wouldn’t have been as clean a removal. There would always be a residue left over that would taint the wonderful sin that hands could hold, should they choose. The shelves disappeared and were replaced with a metallic chair. It was eerily familiar to Pitfall. He sat in the chair and was snapped in by restraints. The walls of the bookstore disappeared and became a void that freckled with twinkles.

The dentist chair moved forward through the cosmos, leaving streaks of constellations behind as speed-lines. Planets soccer-balled at Pitfall’s head. He tried to dodge them, but he couldn’t move from the chair. A tumult of world’s collided in a cosmic cacophony, like a pinball machine on multi-ball mode, except with glass balls instead of metal and no flippers to guide or walls to contain. Giant stars screamed in nova or Super Saiyan’d in super nova, while smaller suns just grew big and hot, swallowing planets, then shrunk again in cold, dead implosion. The forever of it all frightened Pit to a point beyond all reason.

The galaxy swirled to Pitfall’s soulful symphony. Comets congregated about him like little tears in a slow, spiraling dance throughout the fast-paced chaos. At the center of his universe, there was a tear, a dimple, a hole, a destabilization in the swirling mass of lights and energy. Pitfall’s consciousness slid into the depression and it never came out. Inside, the stars were gone. The universe was gone. The only thing that was left was a little, blue flame, slowly swaying and turning grey. The music was quiet, just a piano at pianissimo, then a breeze to a breath, and then nothing, no sound. Pitfall felt for the paling flame. He wished to cover it. He made a move to do so and realized that he had no body. The flame blew out quietly. Nobody noticed.

-

There was a bright flash and explosion. The demons in the Chamber of Souls fell to the floor. Pitfall’s restraints fell away. The room was now too dark to see the ghastly hands that grabbed at each of Pitfall’s arms to take him away.

When they segued into a brighter corridor, Pitfall got a look at his captors. They had horns, like upside-down, ice-cream cones, sticking straight out of their black heads. The color of their horns was a gothic unicorn spiral of light and dark grey. Their faces were pure white, with a black widows peak on top, framing them. The eyes were giant round things, the size of softballs, with tiny black specks in the middle. Their noses were slits on flat faces, like The Conductor. Their mouths were open tall about a foot, with lolling tongues searching for succulent souls and four fangs (the top two like a snakes). They had wings that came around them like capes. Their clothes were of a loose-fitting, black material, like a dark sheet. They had no feet. They just hovered above the floor.

Pitfall lost track of where they were going. He was too dizzy to pay attention. They finally came to a pair of giant, double doors. The demon guards dropped him there. Without any escorts, he felt very naked. Then, he realized that he, indeed, was still naked. A pile of clothes fell from the ceiling, but when Pit looked he couldn’t tell from where exactly. He donned the clothes. The doors moved as slowly as an apple at a cherry-picking contest, but open they did. He couldn’t believe his eyes. It was the opposite of what he had expected. It had to be. Pitfall eventually entered with the tentative movement of a conservative virgin opening her legs. He took a deep breath, straightened up, and took the plunge invading the inner-sanctum of Hell.

Inside, Pitfall was distracted from the sight of the surprise and immediately greeted by another one. It was the surprise he had been waiting for, the one he wanted most. A puppy leapt up into his arms and licked his face. His little Tiffy! She was so happy to see him. He squeezed her tightly, kissing her head and rubbing his face in her neck. She kept trying to snap around to lick his face again. She was wiggling around, so excited, that Pitfall was afraid he would drop her. He set her down on the floor and she skittered around like a zapped squirrel.

“She’s been whining for you,” said the saddest and most beautiful demon that Pitfall had ever seen.

He had a disfigured, human face. He was scarred with burns all over his glorious body. From his back, large wings sprouted, charred black and brown on one side, burned to the bare-bones of the frame on the other. He had a thin layer of blond hair that looked like it had spent too long wrestling with a blow dryer. On his crispy cheeks were shining streaks. Tan rags dripped from his body like a layer of icing. His eyes captured souls and gave them a place to rest. The irises spoke of peace, for he was tired, too tired to go on, too tired to do what had to be done, what had been written for him. The Future required too much energy. The eyes of the head demon were as emeralds with glimmers of gold, flecks of silver, and a ring of ruby at the core, but he couldn’t smile and so the eyes didn’t either. He had never smiled, not since his fall from grace.

“Really?” Pitfall stared.

“Yeah,” Lucifer was monotone.

“Are you…?” Pitfall started.

“Yes?”

“…Okay?” Pitfall finished.

“…” Satan couldn’t answer, for that question was layered like a deep-dish pizza.

“I can’t answer,” spoke the Devil, “For that question is layered like a deep-dish pizza.”

When Pitfall had first entered the circular room, Satan had been staring out of the giant window before him. It was overlooking a masterpiece of towers and flames. Satan had been gazing out, in sadness, at his magnificent, glowing kingdom.

“Okay, you can’t answer. That’s fine.”

He did anyway, “She wouldn’t let me touch her. I just wanted to pet her, to hold her, but she wouldn’t let me. She just kept whining.”

Pitfall didn’t speak.

The fallen angel continued, “Life isn’t fair, whether it’s eternal or mortal.”

“Oh, yeah?”

“I just want to sit here and play.”

The Fallen revealed that in his palm was a little toy action-figure of Eve. Lucifer went on as he ran his hands over the woman’s surface, “I should be allowed to just sit here and play. I don’t want to do things. There are too many rules. There are too many things to do. There’s no reason for it. We’re trapped. We’re all trapped by life. I just wanted to play.”

Pitfall sat next to Satan. They both faced the window. Tiffani came and snuggled between them.

The Devil rocked back and forth crying and muttering to himself before he kept talking, “Was it worth it… to come here? Was she worth it?”

Pitfall rubbed the top of her head and smiled, “Yeah. Yeah, she’s worth it.”

“At least you didn’t get to the bad parts.”

“There are bad parts? As in worse?”

“Well, it’s all relative. Suicides usually live their suicide over and over for the span of –what is perceived by you as- three thousand years. Then, you are cooked and fed to the head demons. They feast upon you and digest you, eventually pooping you out. The feces slowly comes together in a pit and forms you again, before you are taken to the experimentations, de-organizing, larynx and face removal, and masking.”

“Wow. Glad I dodged a bullet there.”

Satan let out a ‘humph,’ to express humor. Pitfall was reminded of the gaping hole in his head.

Pitfall had to ask, “So which one was right? Was it Christianity? Or one of those Abes? Is it monotheistic? Which one got it right?”

Satan at first just looked confused and then burst out laughing for a bit, before he returned to a crushed sort of sadness.

“None of them,” Satan said.

“What about Jesus?” Lucifer just looked at him in pure confusion.

They sat in silence for a while, and then Satan mumbled, “I was in love once.”

Pitfall turned his head to Lu, “What happened?”

Lucifer turned his head to Pitfall…

“…Oh,” Pitfall said.

“He didn’t want me to be in love. He didn’t want love at all, and now suddenly after all that time he thinks it’s a good idea, while I’m shunned. Nobody likes me. I hear them, you know. I hear them all talk about me. They say horrible things. I’ve never done anything to them. They don’t know me, but they still judge me, based off of God’s propaganda. What gives them the right to judge? It hurts…. I’m going to have to go soon. There are things I am supposed to do on Earth, things I’m supposed to do out in the world, but I don’t want to do them. I don’t want a job. I don’t want this forced existence. I just want to play in my room. I get lonely though. I just wanted a friend. I just wanted someone to love me.”

Satan turned to look at Tiffani and broke into sobs. Pity looked at Satan with love. Tiffany jumped on his lap, put her paws on his chest, and licked the tears away. Satan chuckled and cried even harder, hugged Tiff, and kissed her head. Tiffani went to Pit’s lap.

Pit looked at the door.

“Are you going to leave?” asked Satan.

“I suppose we should, eventually.”

Lucifer looked absolutely heartbroken.

Pitfall reassured him, “Perhaps, we can stay… At least for a little while. Everything will be all right.”

Satan began to weep and Pitfall held him… until the end of all and after… with little Tiffany licking away….

Satire

About the author

Scott A. Vancil

Writer/actor/director. Founder Stained Glass Eye Productions. Pansexual/Schizoaffective/Feminist/Vegan. On YouTube and Patreon. I write poems, novels, short stories, comic books, and screenplays in both standard form and iambic pentameter.

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