Steve was crossing the street after dropping some bills off at the mailbox. It was early; too early to be drunk, one would think, but not for Bill. Bill was drunk for almost three hours when he hit Steve. It happened so quickly that Steve didn’t have time to react. He was only able to think, “There’s no way that truck’s going to hit me,” and when he opened his eyes, there was nothing but white.
Steve wondered where he was.
“You’re dead.” Steve was as surprised as one can be to find out that one is dead and to meet a mind reader, “I’m not reading your mind; you’re talking out loud.”
“What do you mean what happened? It happened just now. A truck hit you; you’re dead.”
Steve looked around. All he could see was white and people walking aimlessly. “There are a lot of old people here,” Steve commented.
“Yeah, most people die old.”
“Well,” Steve asked, “Now that I’m dead, what do I do?” One may think that death is like a hot bath that one eases one’s self into, but that’s not true. Death is like winning the lottery; the first thing someone thinks isn’t, “Where do I collect the cash?” it’s, “What stuff will I buy with all of this money?” Death is just like that; there’s an eternity to get the prizes.
“You can do whatever you want.”
“Go on safari?”
“There are no safaris.”
“There are no oceans.”
“There are no TVs.”
“Read a book?”
“There are no books.” Steve was exasperated. Told he could do anything, his queries became less grand as it became understood that “anything” was limited.
“Looks like Heaven is going to be pretty dull.”
“Heaven? Why do you think this is Heaven? You’re in Hell.”
“Hell?” Steve was shocked and abashed. He immediately thought about being seen by someone from work or a neighbor and how such gossip would affect his place in the social hierarchy. “What did I? Oh. The hooker,” Steve, in the city of New York, accidentally ran over the feet of a soliciting hooker, hit her in the face with the car door as he rushed to her aid, and, fearing high medical bills, strangled her with the strap of her handbag. “Are you Satan?”
“Satan? Who do you think you are that Satan’s going to come over here and talk to you? He’s too busy with Hitler, Mao, and other more important people. Nah, I’m just a lackey.”
“Oh. Well, where’s all the fire and brimstone?”
“Hell’s been around for a while; it got crowded. Brimstone is by appointment only.”
“Then where am I?” Steve was in the add-on. Devoid of any visual stimulation, the add-on forced people to contend with their own demons. Once again, Steve asked about entertainment.
“You can do whatever you want.”
“Well, since I’m in Hell, I’ll go find some young people and have lots and lots of sex.”
“No you won’t.”
“Sure I will.”
“No you won’t, cause you don’t have a groin.”
Steve was skeptical. He rummaged through his white robe, which he now noticed he was uniformed in, and discovered that where his groin should be it was not. “Damn it!” he exclaimed.
“That’s a bit redundant. You don’t have a groin because you don’t need one. Before, you needed a groin to make people but now that you’re dead your people making days are over.”
“How about groping?”
“Wouldn’t do you any good. There are no whoop-whoops,” Steve mouthed his disbelief that a minion of Satan would use such terminology, “Hey-hey’s are just like groins; you don’t need them here. Besides, you don’t have a sense of touch. Or smell or taste. Those senses are denied to you because you’re in Hell. In Heaven they let you keep those, but you’re not in Heaven. Guess you should have thought of that before you killed that hooker.” Steve didn’t bother asking about food or sleep and waved the minion off.
Steve learned various things about his situation by conversing with a woman that killed her husband and his mistress. In addition to lack of feeling, smell, taste, and groins, bonus areas, breasts for example, were also no longer present. Furthermore, Steve was now impervious to pain. He should be careful, however, because not everyone was as nice as she was. There were gangs that went around decapitating people and using their bodies as building materials. The heads were kept elsewhere because their complaining was annoying.
When he asked about size, Steve did not receive a response. No one had ever walked to a place past which they could not walk no more. Steve decided, since he had plenty of free time, that he would see how far Hell stretched. The woman declined his invitation to accompany him.
Steve walked nonstop because in Hell, apparently, one cannot become tired. During his journey, Steve noticed that people seemed to stay in groups. One such person approached Steve and, after a short discourse, decided that he would accompany him. His name was Rudy and he was a former college professor. Some of his coworkers, as a practical joke, framed him for murder, but the court didn’t believe the story and put him in prison where he murdered two inmates, raped a female parole officer, and eventually hung himself.
“But I never killed that college student,” he would say. Rudy died in 1964, he was seventy-two, which made their conversations interesting. Rudy would talk about World War Two and the Reds trying to infiltrate Hollywood, while Steve explained the Internet and Reality TV.
Then they met a Vietnamese prostitute that intentionally infected one hundred and twenty six G.I.’s with gonorrhea and was killed by the one hundred and twenty-seventh. She was twenty-three and greatly contributed to the conversations.
“I’d usually stand at store fronts in a really short skirt and revealing top,” she said of prostituting.
“That’s what girls dress like normally in the future,” Steve said. Rudy asked how one could tell the difference between the girls and the prostitutes, “You can’t really. The prostitutes are more direct, I’d expect.”
Later, Steve would be joined by a Hessian, a Nazi, a woman that had killed her landlady, an Australian that murdered several Aborigines, and a child molester. Steve didn’t care who joined his party; safety in numbers is what mattered to him. Furthermore, each of the people was able to tell an interesting, however disturbing, life story that would entertain for quite some time.
They had encountered several interesting things, such as one of the places where heads were kept. In this particular pile, there were thirty heads.
“A one and a two and a: goodbye my Coney Island baby, farewell my own true love bum ba-bum bum bum,” the heads formed an a cappella group and they were quite good due to the over thirty years of practice. Having exhausted their entire repertoire at the request of Steve, the heads asked if they could join him in his journey. Steve agreed to take five of the lightest heads and continued the search for the edge of Hell’s add-on.
Steve and his followers encountered a polo game where instead of horses people were riding people, the ball was a head, the clubs were legs, and the nets were made of two headless bodies holding hands.
“Hey,” said one of the players, “Why don’t you give us one of your heads; ours is a bit old,” and at Steve the man threw a head that had been used to such an extent that it resembled a battered cantaloupe. Steve’s refusal prompted the man to say, “Then I’ll use yours,” after which Steve relinquished the head in his possession. “Actually,” the man decided, “I think we’ll keep you and your party. We may need a new net.”
Steve and his comrades were forced into cages made of interlocking arms, out of which he was able to easily escape. Having freed himself, Steve proceeded to emancipate the other prisoners. A great battle ensued during which Steve, Rudy, the Vietnamese prostitute, and several others ran toward the horizon.
Albeit having a great lead, Steve was being pursued. Since in Hell one does not become tired, the chase could have lasted for eternity had it not been for Steve’s plan: the group would drop to the ground and pull their robes over their flesh, which would render them invisible from afar.
It was purely by chance that Hans, a former member of the S.S., bumped into a ladder. Even right next to it, the ladder was difficult to discern from the white surroundings. Its color was off-white and it stretched to a ceiling that was over ninety feet above their heads. Steve volunteered to climb it and found a door at its top that opened into another white enclosure. There stood a man in shouting distance.
“What year did you die?” Steve asked.
“2047,” he answered. Steve stood dumbfounded. He had, it seemed, stumbled into the add-on to the add-on. He was so astounded that he didn’t notice a Minotaur began goring the man, the sound of which took Steve by such surprise that he lost his hold of the ladder and began to fall. Screams from below were quieted when Steve caught one of the rungs and quickly climbed back toward the top to shut the door.
When he returned to the bottom, Steve explained what had happened and it was decided that the ladder would be taken with them. This was done for two reasons, the first being to prevent access to the door and the second being that it might be useful later in some way.
It was decided that the ladder would be carried horizontally so that inconspicuous items could be discovered through collision, which meant that the group would have to carry the ladder at various intervals. Annoyed with yelling, Steve resorted to a contemplative silence. He had thought that it was interesting how one could have one’s head removed from one’s body and still be able to function. There was no blood, which was also good because it kept everything nice and white. Since the head was able to survive on its own, it meant that it was the most important part. What would happen then, Steve wondered, if the head were smashed open? Would the head still work, or would its essence seep out and the person continue to exist without a means of expressing itself, or would it die again? Such thinking made Steve uncomfortable, just like thinking about death when he was alive used to do. But now he was both dead and in Hell. He didn’t see that one coming.
Not much happened for quite sometime, which was the greatest torture of all. Hell was absolutely boring, but it got a great deal more exciting when Steve and his party hit a wall. They all did it at the same time and cried out in pain out of habit. However, it was a short-lived exhilaration that ended with the decision to turn left in search of a corner.
Eventually, a second door was encountered. The door was opened, but before anyone could look inside out flew winged beasts so hideous that the human mind had never envisioned them and therefore they had no name. Their skin was the color of blood, a shade of red that most of them had long ago forgotten. The horde emerged with such vehemence that the entrance could only be shut after they had all exited. One of the creatures had toppled Rudy, ripped off his arm, and was beating him with it.
The beast was temporarily subdued, but it had broken free and flew off at a sharp angle. It didn’t know, however, that there was a ceiling and it fell to the floor with a great thud after hitting it.
“Well,” said Steve, “That’s going to make death a little more exciting.” And it would. Now one could be playing soccer with someone’s head and then bam! A demon rips your legs off and now you can only watch the game. Steve and his followers watched the demons fly toward the center of Hell’s add-on, which seemed to be the place where people entered Hell.
“Great job, Steve,” Rudy quipped, “You’ve made our lives a living Hell.” Everybody laughed and they continued walking. Forever.