Walking the streets of hell, brazen, and unable to stop the demonic activity against the depraved souls sent there became eerie. The screams grew farther and farther away as did the attackers. They knew we were here and they retreated. But, not in a cowering sort of way. More like, we are retreating because someone called security.
Caleb looked around shakily. Scared out of his mind. I don’t know how many people are here or for how long. It seemed like the ones who had been affected the most, and thus were the least alert, were people who had been here for a while.
I felt bad. What I was doing was cruel in a way. I mean it’s not like I could bring all of them back with me. I had given them a reprieve for a moment from their suffering. A reprieve that they would soon find was almost as cruel a trick as offering hope to someone before slitting their wrists. They were safe, but only for a moment.
When I leave, there will be no one with any power to stop them from the torment that will surely resume as though it had never been interrupted. And every time I stopped an attack, all the people did was cry. Tears long and salty as they wept. It was a free moment without the pain of being ripped apart where they took the time to reflect what poor choices had led them here and the epiphany that there was no escape, only a momentary lapse due to me, someone they didn’t know for sure was even really here.
Fancy that, people in hell asking if I was a ghost. As if, I was the aberration and the only lovely thing with hope attached to it they had ever known. As I followed Amelia and she felt for Raphael saying his essence grew stronger with every step, I knew Caleb was firmly attached to my side.
In his eyes I saw a boy who hoped that I would not trade him in for someone else down here I felt sorry for. But, no one else… as much as my heart felt for them and as badly as I yearned to save them from this misery and bring them back… no one else was someone I owed like Caleb.
I sent him here. I really did. He was a good kid and he might have been in heaven, though prematurely, if I hadn’t flatlined him and shown him a much darker path. I never bit anyone to take Ryan’s place, but that doesn’t mean that I didn’t enslave someone’s soul to damnation for the sake of having a family. Just a little family. Just a brother.
After that blew up in my face I decided that it was cruel to have hope for myself that would only dissipate and disappoint me. So, I went off the grid so to speak and only wrote letters. I thought for sure that Caleb would come looking for me one day and he never did. I don’t know if he resented me for transferring him into this life or if Primus merely fed his head full of lies.
But either way, I felt deserted. Now he clings to me for dear life. I took his hand in mine and tried to smile warmly. When really all I wanted to do was cry right along with hell’s inhabitants.
I wonder how long this power will last. Would it fade out after a couple of eons? Would I be able to truly offer some kind of relief to the people of hell? This is bad. I am contemplating staying here and going on some kind of vigilante rescue mission.
Even if I stayed and rescued everyone once. It would take forever… literally forever… to do so. There are so many people. And that would do what? In the grand scheme of things what would that accomplish? What if I defeated the devil and set up new management down here? I could expel the demons and give the people here a rest. Put the fires out and then it wouldn’t be so bad. No one killing you every day. Nothing making you all but die of fear. No flames melting your flesh or freezing you.
I could do that. Couldn’t I?
“No delusions of grandeur over there right?” Amelia’s voice broke my concentration and snapped me back to the moment of reality we were in.
“Um, I’m not sure. What do you mean?” I asked trying to decide if those were indeed grandiose. I haven’t considered my little plan to be an out and out delusion just yet.
“I was like that at first too. But, I learned after time that you can’t save everybody. You can’t go off trying to change hell to make it better for them. We have a mission and unless you want to go on a crusade that will take you a millennia off course, we’d better do what we have to do and get out of here.” Amelia expectorated dryly.
“How can you say that? We could do it you know.” I snapped at her.
“Look around Elle. Look around.” She said as it finally registered that the section of the city we were in was completely deserted.
“So?” I asked feeling triumphant that I had claimed a little space down here. Maybe I could drive all the demons away.
“Do you think Hell was built in a day? This place was here long before people were. It was an empty land that filled with the race before Adam. Thus, the command to replenish the earth. This occurred round about when Lucifer was thrown down from grace. He took over so he had a kingdom somewhere ruling something. Hell didn’t start off like this. It wasn’t always bad.” Amelia continued.
She had distracted me giving me the history of how hell came to be. But, it only strengthened my resolve to perform a hostile takeover.
“Elle, think of it. What if the two of us stayed down here and took over, banishing the devil to one part of hell with the demons and it would just be us and the people.” Amelia said drawing my attention more and more to the glow of her hands which turned to a soft blue that pulsated with the beating of her heart.
“That’s what I imagine.” I said wistfully, holding Caleb’s hand tightly.
“Now imagine that all of the people who wouldn’t do right when they were on earth are running around free down here with no hope of redemption, no chance to break free and do something else somewhere else. They’d get stir crazy after a while and start killing each other.” she continued.
This made me angry… mostly because she was right.
“A world full of people with no morals, and the ones that do, that weren’t necessarily bad people but who still didn’t take God up on His offer to avoid this place. They’d be prey. They’d be the first ones to be killed. We can’t convert the population of hell into Christians who follow God and don’t kill each other for sport because there is nothing else to do and nowhere else to go for the rest of forever.” Amelia concluded.
“So what? What are you saying? That it’s better for these people to be tormented in order to keep them under control because why not?” I asked indignant and angry.
“No, because it would turn into a place of torment anyway. Except instead of the demons inflicting pain, it would be the people hurting each other.” Caleb weakly offered up keeping his eyes on the ground.
“Yeah but… we’d be in control. We have power. They’ve have to obey us.” I said as I looked behind us. Still empty and still.
“The devil has power too and you will soon find that his control is not as far reaching as you think.” Amelia said as she stopped and turned around.
“What is it?” I asked feeling as though she had turned around to face slash confront me.
“You know those zombie movies on earth?” she asked.
“What on earth does that have to do with anything right now?” I said exasperated… until I turned around.
The street had been empty just seconds ago. Now there was a murderous mass of people who were both of sound body, and not so sound. Limbs bloody and missing. Eyes red and wild.
“Uh, demonic puppets?” I asked stunned.
“More like, ‘Hey the demons backed off for a minute. Let’s fight back, eat, and kill anything that’s not us.’ just kicked in.” Amelia explained.
“But, the demons retreated.” I offered up confused.
“Yeah, because you kept rebuking them and there were too few to fight them off. I bet they’ve cleared a radius of three city blocks by now. Good thing Raphael is close.” Amelia said as she took off running.
This triggered the mass of injured, angry, people to sprint as well.
Before my legs found movement, Caleb had let go of my hand and almost outrun Amelia.
The realization of what she was saying finally sank in. Even if the demons were dispelled of… Even if I had power and helped these people… Hell was still Hell.
I stood there thinking. I mean I do have vampire speed I can catch up easily right? Then I remembered that Amelia had told me that the only power I’d have was from God. Meaning no vampire additives. I wanted to try something though. I have power, I mean that has to count for something right? Only I do not recall anything in the Bible about repelling the people in hell. Only demons.
I took off running.
(Photo courtesy of: http://www.theinevitabledossier.com)
Music for this episode – O Children by Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds