Escape from Hell is a fictional, faith-based novelette I’ve written, chronicling the journey of one man into Hell. It is a creative piece where I’ve let my imagination unspool and is intended for adults. Aspects of the subject matter will be unpalatable to some; while it is not my intention to inflict the reader, I have portrayed Hell graphically.
Copyright © 2019 by Ben Ezard. All rights reserved. No part of this may be reproduced in any form or by any electronic or mechanical means, including information storage and retrieval systems, without permission in writing from the author, except by a reviewer who may quote brief passages in a review.
The clammy hand of shock gripped me tightly, squeezing the breath and life from me. Just moments ago I’d been looking forward to experiencing the wonders of Heaven… now my reality had been flipped again, this time for the worse.
“It has to be a mistake, Abdon.”
Abdon shook his head. “God does not make mistakes; He is Just.”
“I thought you said earlier God was merciful in every judgement. Where’s my mercy?”
“You contravened God’s law incessantly since you were a child. You deserved death ten thousand times, and yet God withheld punishment. He gave you over three decades to recognise him, and you didn’t.”
Abdon wouldn’t understand, I realised. He was an angel and God’s faithful servant. Who knew if he even had free will? He was probably perfect and never had to confront the complexities of living. It wasn’t easy – if at all possible to live a life without sin on Earth. You couldn’t, not without permanently being taken advantage of.
The more I thought about it the shock of my ‘conviction’ gave way to anger, which simmered into fury. I’d been judged and found guilty of the most trivial things. All because I didn’t get to know Jesus? Was he really that vain that everyone had to be his friend? I wasn’t an axe-murderer. I didn’t peddle drugs on street corners or steal pension funds. I was a good guy and yet not good enough to get into Heaven apparently. Did I act in a way that was anything other than human, the way that God had created me? Who was even in Heaven then… Who possibly could meet God’s strict standards? A handful of nuns, and now a reformed gang-banger? Heaven must be a seriously empty place if the standards were so restrictive and ridiculous.
Would a God of love really place such a high standard on those he allegedly loved, knowing most would never measure up to it? How was God’s ruling then fair? How was it justice? It wasn’t. God wasn’t a perfect Judge by my common sense.
When a great injustice occurs the natural inclination is to bitch about it. I wanted to complain bitterly; had a right to. However I stopped myself from filling the heavenly tunnel with invectives. I wouldn’t give any credibility to the idea I wasn’t worthy of Heaven. I wouldn’t give them the satisfaction.
If God wants me to be punished for my sins, I guess I’ll be punished,” I said.
Abdon shook his head. “Your mind is being clouded by darkness already. God doesn’t want this for any human. Hell was designed for sinful angels, not mankind. He sent Jesus to die upon a cross so humans could be saved from Hell.”
“Are you saying it’s my fault because of the free-will that God gave me?”
“The truth remains the truth whether you like it or not.”
“I wish he hadn’t given me free-will if this was the cost.”
“An easy complaint to make now. Free-will is in the core of your humanity. You would not be human without it. God wants a relationship of love, not interactions with robots.”
“And because God wants love, now I’ll be punished.”
“It’s not punishment but a natural consequence. When you choose to reach out your hand and touch something hot you get burned: the burn isn’t a punishment.”
Like I thought, Abdon couldn’t understand.
“Your compassion is overwhelming.”
“On the contrary, I am heart-broken about the outcome, however there is nothing I can do about it. And I’m sorry to say, we are now at our destination.” Abdon said, his words heavy with regret.
A moment later we were outside of the tunnel. Two angels were standing a hundred paces off. They were both such physical opposites of one another they could have been a comedy routine. One was tall and athletic with the perfect male physique while the other was short and fat. The first was the guy you wanted to be, the second the guy you’d enjoy a laugh and a beer with. Both were immaculately groomed and dressed as though heading to a high-end party.
“Hello Abdon, who have you got with you today?” they asked good-naturedly. Abdon didn’t respond beyond an icy glare.
“Come now, there’s no reason to not be civil. You’re doing your job and we’re doing ours,” the fat angel said with porky fingers held up in peaceful surrender.
I felt a spike of compassion from Abdon directed toward me, displeasure etched across his face. Abdon’s reaction worried me. How bad was it going to be? Until this point I’d only thought about not getting into Heaven, not considering what the alternative was. Just as I’d assumed there was no afterlife, so too had I chalked up Hell as a notion to scare people into a malleable frame of mind. And now I was on the precipice of going there.
We continued walking towards the two but Abdon slowed the pace.
“What’s it like?” I whispered.
“No part of God is in Hell. There is no goodness, no purity, no love…” his voice petered out, but I’d gotten the picture.
“I don’t want to go.”
I tried to stop but Abdon’s hand at the centre of my back kept me moving.
“Come friend,” the tall athletic one said to me, “We’re going to party tonight. They wouldn’t know fun if it bit their face off. Some of your family and friends are here too; you’ll enjoy the reunion.”
Waves of resentment flowed from Abdon. The other angels either didn’t seem to notice, both smiling at him as though he was their best friend. Abdon put a hand on my shoulder to stop me, gesturing at my feet with his eyes. On the ground was a thin blood line that extended in both directions endlessly. Somehow I knew it was the dividing line between Heaven and Hell. Although it appeared inconsequential, I had the distinct feeling that it was the most important barrier in all of creation.
“Is there, ah, no other way?”
I realised what a fool I’d been; I should have used this time seeking advice from Abdon… instead I’d spent my time fruitlessly arguing. And now it was too late.
“Farewell, son of man,” Abdon said. He pushed me lightly so that I stepped over the bloodline. I stepped backwards instinctively and felt an uncomfortable heat at my back. I turned and was surprised to find a vast chasm filled with an inferno of fire behind me. How could a bloodline on one side be a fire when viewed from the opposite side? I could only just make out Abdon, obscured by the smoke and fire as he walked away. I stepped away from the fire and bumped into the two angels.
“Oh, sorry-” I began, my words cut off when I turned to them. They weren’t angels at all – maybe once they had been – now they were demons. On this side of the bloodline I could see through their deception. Or perhaps they considered it no longer necessary. Instead of the men they’d appeared to be, I now saw the terrifying creatures they were. Although they exuded the same strength as Abdon they were twisted, wrong in body and spirit. Both were physically deformed, one was thickly set like a weight-lifter but had several teeth growing out the bottom of its bristly jaw. The other was tall and thin but hairy like an orangutan with massive hands. There was unmasked cruelty glittering in their eyes.
In that moment I realised everything had changed. My eternal body no longer felt impossibly strong; now I felt decidedly human again. The sense of protection and peace I’d originally woken up with had vanished. In it’s place was a lurking terror, waiting in the shadows to surprise me when I was most vulnerable.
“Let the party begin,” the Orangutan said, rubbing his giant hands together as though approaching his next meal. “We’re going to hurt you more than you thought was even possible.”
I wanted to flee but had nowhere to go. They were in front of me and the fire was behind me. And I had no idea where I could run too.
“You will not escape. You’re ours forever.” the tall demon said as he took a slow menacing step toward me. The other demon chuckled. I was beyond scared, utterly fearful.
“God, please help me!”
The demon stopped, fear on his face as he leapt backwards. He looked around as though expecting attack from any direction… before the demons burst out laughing. The fat one laughed so hard he nearly fell over. It took them some time to recover.
“God does not hear you here, human. We’ve waited 36 years and now you are finally beyond his help,” one said wiping tears of laughter from his eyes. The demons moved to my side in a blur of supernatural speed and grabbed me in a vice-like grip.
“No one will come to save you.” The Orangutan grabbed my toga and tore it off in a single motion, pulling me to the ground.
He grabbed my hair and pulled me to my feet, bending down until I felt the warmth of his stale breath on my face. The demon snarled like an animal and laughed as he lifted me off the ground by my hair. I heard a sickening wet rip as my scalp tore free. The demon scoffed as he dropped the handful of hair and skin. I lay on the ground screaming, all other thoughts subsumed by the pain and horror.
“Oh stop being such a baby,” he ridiculed, “scalping doesn’t hurt that much.”
Powerful hands grasped my wrists and dragged me into a tunnel of light, or rather the Hellish equivalent. The tunnel smelled like a sewer and was dimly lit. Murky shadows clung to the walls, pulsating and changing shape as we passed. My two captors set a pace that forced me to run and when I occasionally stumbled they would smack me as punishment. Surprisingly, my head wound had stopped bleeding quickly.
“Want to find out what lurks in the shadows?” the Orangutan asked maliciously, forcing my hand towards the nearby shadow. I instantly began sweating… I couldn’t resist his strength that edged my hand closer. The shadow began to reach out, sharpened tendrils moving closer… At the last moment I was pulled out of it’s reach.
“Come on,” the tall demon said, shoving both me and the Orangutan roughly.
“You got a problem with me?” Orangutan asked, squaring up to the tall demon. “You think I follow your orders?”
The tall demon shook his head.“We don’t have time for this. I don’t want to get into trouble for being late again. Do you?”
The Orangutan answered by shoving me back into a run. Even without the brutality I’d suffered since leaving Abdon I was under no illusion this was Hell. My sixth sense, which in the outer courts of Heaven had filled me with wonder and peace was now drowning in the emotions of Hell. Billions of humans in fear and pain, mixed with the intense hatred of thousands of demons. The sixth sense was not a blessing here but an amplification of the foul evilness.
We left the tunnel and I found myself in an amphitheatre, a colosseum made of stone. It had a dozen balconies filled with cages. And in the cages, humans; though most looked so broken and pitiful that descriptor hardly fit. On the ground level where I was there were hundreds of humans cowering together. Many of the humans looked as fearful as I felt, newly-arrived to Hell and scared witless; some bearing their own severe wounds. Many of the injuries should have been fatal, but somehow weren’t. We congregated tightly together, trying to maximise the distance between us and the demon guards who encircled us. We didn’t talk; I preferred to sit quietly and hope nothing dangerous noticed me.
At one end of the amphitheatre was a large dais. Upon that dais sat Satan on a golden throne. After a few seconds I recognised Satan as the good-looking, square jawed prosecutor I’d seen in the court. Only now he was bare-chested and wore a crown made of human fingers. Curled below him on the dais was a huge snake, at least thirty metres long, that was devouring a still-live woman, feet first. It had already swallowed up to her waist, its mouth slowly moving up her body with each incremental gulps. She was gasping softly, tears running down her cheeks, horror in her eyes. Satan watched the woman being consumed with disinterest.
A demon in priestly robes stepped out from a corridor and climbed the dais to stand by a large gong. The Priest-demon sounded the gong three times and the sound reverberated around the Colosseum. As though called, thousands of scorpions emerged from cracks between the tiles, blanketing the entire floor in a writhing, scurrying mass that divided until there was a scorpion beside each human foot.
“All hail, Satan, God and Lord of the Underworld. Grovel before him or endure endless torment,” the demon commanded.
Satan turned his attention toward the humans. He looked right at me. His gaze was filled with a callous disregard so palpable my heart clenched. I was so terrified my legs buckled and I fell face down. A great cacophony of screams, cries and moans rose around me. I pressed my face into the slimy tiles, hoping that Satan’s gaze had moved away from me. To be looked at by him was to lay beside a lion and listen to it’s stomach rumble in hunger.
My sixth sense detected a small wave of pleasure from Satan at our subservience and fear. The emotion was fleeting, quickly replaced with anger and resentment. In that moment I understood what Satan wanted: he craved the same praise that had been lavished on God and Jesus in the court… and he would never get it. Even within the first moments of being in his presence his cruelty, vanity and selfishness were apparent. False projected-images aside, in his raw-self there was nothing lovely or praise-worthy about him. There was no comparison to God. And Satan, the Father of Lies, could not be fooled nor enjoy false flattery. He would never experience the satisfaction of praise that he craved. And that infuriated him, and we’d incur his wrath because of it.
“Look at me,” the Priest-demon ordered, “or be caressed by the scorpions.” I forced my eyes up onto his disfigured face, holding them their by fear alone.
“Welcome, wretched human filth! Welcome to the domain of Hell. We’re most pleased you decided to join us. This is Hell; not earth, not Heaven, and you’ll find the experience all new.
“When you wish to die, it will elude you and when you wish to live, death will hold you tightly in it’s grasp.
“This dominion belongs entirely to our Lord Satan. As is his right he has made adjustments to your spiritual bodies and the laws of Hell function at his whim.
“Among other things, you will feel pain in all of it’s glory; not suppressed by human limitations. There are rules to Hell, but we prefer watching you blindly stumbling about trying to discern them. Your suffering is entertaining to us. We look forward to seeing you soon.” Even missing half his jaw, the Priest-demon managed a cruel smile.
“Send them in at once, I’m sick of their stench filling my nostrils,” Satan said, waving a dismissive hand toward us.
Read on… Chapter 4: The First Cycle