Pillars of He//aven (Part 2)
The Broker laughed as a tendril of darkness flicked across the small space and pointed at an old disheveled map. Had to be over a century old, with small beacons where important places used to be.
With a grin, the beast tore it off of the wall and handed it to Jeff in a smooth motion.
Jeff stared down at it, then back at the beast.
“If you want out of this level of hell, you need to find an angel,” the beast laughed. “And get the angel to give you a pardon from this base level of murder and avarice. And maybe, while you’re at it, see if there’s an opening for a juror.” The beast shrugged. “And if you can’t find a way to become a juror… well, you’ll have to work the rest of your years climbing to the top.”
“Murder and avarice?” Jeff asked, pausing. “Both?”
The broker sniffed. “Originally the first layer was for murder, but the second layer of greed became too heavy and crushed everyone below it. So now they’re both the same.”
The unimaginable and censored horror looked sad at that.
The broker paused, and Jeff had the idea that they checked their watch. “And that’s all the time you’ve got to ask me questions. Now scram and scrabble towards the heavens like every other wretch.”
The door slammed shut in his face, and Jeff stared, blankly, at the back of it. Then flicked his gaze back down to the map.
The basal floor of hell was complicated and vast.
It made… sense, from a certain perspective, since the bottom layer would be built to hold the most amount of people.
It didn’t make it any better, but he turned and walked past the building wrapped around the gates he’d fallen in front of.
After the heavenly gates had pronounced him too full of sin to save.
After he’d fallen to hell.
He stood on the rim of a great valley, and stared down at it. Buildings formed nauseating spectacles of high rise buildings and snarled, torn concrete structures, sprouting up like the hive of some insect instead of the spectacle and perversion of man’s cities it represented. His hands tightened around the map, and he looked down on it.
Outdated. Not a single mention of the city structure before him.
Well. Would it really be hell if it were easy?
Jeff carefully folded the map and tucked it into the pocket of his work uniform (heart attack, he suspected, in a quiet dusty office nobody cared about) and started down the road into hell.
Demons flittered about around him. Horned things, with mouths full of sharp teeth, eyes, squirming like centipedes with countless legs. For a moment, he hesitated to stare, and the entire street stopped to stare back at him, unblinking.
His heart thumped in his chest. Odd, considering he was dead, but it pounded nonetheless, a fluttering flickering note beneath of his ribs.
The demon in front of him slowly bent his lips back to offer a grin made of shuddering bone. “Welcome, New Flesh, to Basal. Try not to lose your way in the dens of depravity.”
Jeff paused, hesitating. “Good day to you too.”
“Polite. Interesting. Most that end up in this level have lost that,” The demon said. The form melted like wax, reforming from the centipede into a more humanoid form, brimming with horns and bony growths, but in the shape of a man.
“If you ever do lose your way… the Horned Ones are always looking for more help.”
Jeff flicked his eyes across the demon for a long moment. “A gang?”
“The best gang, really,” The demon said. “A cartel of brotherhood, filled with anything your heart could desire.”
The demon paused. “Except a key to the upper floor. That’s not without our purview.”
Jeff hesitated. The hell was he even being offered here? It reminded him of a spam bot messaging him over email, in a language, garbled.
“Come on, Jeff. We can see your number clear as day. Two hundred Thousand years is a long time to change your mind.”
“Good day, demon,” Jeff said, turning away from him.
He may belong on this floor, but he wasn’t going to stay here. Not for long.
“You’ll be back,” The demon said. “Our next offer won’t be as polite.”
Then he tore his eyes away from the streets around him and walked off. This wasn’t a place for mortal spirits to rest. Anyone with eyes could detect that. Anyone with a brain could detect that.
How many souls had the demons snared by offering brotherhood?