The building began to collapse from the top down as the vapor from the Holy water reached the ceiling. Everything was falling around us including hell’s inhabitants. Gabriel and I didn’t free fall, or plummet to our deaths. It seemed like we were on the moon. There was no gravity and although the building was breaking apart around us everything just seemed to be suspended in the air. The people with saucer sized eyes didn’t seem to notice that anything had gone awry.
But, I could see. The outer walls crumbled and the landscape of this level of hell revealed itself. Gabriel extended his wings and steered us towards what looked to be a ray of light shining in the middle of a barren icy wasteland. Only once we were on the ice, you could see faces underneath and blinking eyes. There was the glow of fire light and subdued screams as the lake of ice turned to lava and melted those trapped under there.
The ice never broke, melted, or shifted. And then new faces appeared underneath it, waiting to be burned to death. The ray of light we walked towards seemed unnatural here.
One lone ray of orange light. I looked at Gabriel who had freed his left arm up by curling a wing around Ryan and keeping him safely in place. Ryan didn’t move but I could see him breathing shallowly. I have never been this happy in my entire existence. He was here. I could touch him, hold him, look into his eyes one more time like I always agonized for. Even though we were here and even though it was my fault he was here. It was going to be alright… if he forgave me. I mean he was willing to die for me and bit me and ran off in order to save me. He’ll forgive me… RIGHT?
What are we going to do Gabriel?
We are not going into that light. That’s for sure. It’s like sticking your hand over an open flame.
So where are we going?
Just keep walking.
We continued to walk over the ice as several sets of people were melted underneath it. Who would think such a place up?
“What happens to them after they get melted?” I asked, saddened by the idea of having to stay in that one spot forever being melted to death over and over again.
“If you die in hell you are reborn in another portion of it only to be tortured and killed another way. Some people get frozen alive and thawed then thrown into a furnace. Then wake up to be eaten alive by demons. Then wake up to be melted here. Then wake up underwater and drown while being torn in two. Then do it all over again the next day. Every painful death imaginable is down here and that’s all that will happen to you forever. No chance to grow numb to it either. Just like if you suffered the worst possible death on earth, it’s fresh all over again like it would be if you were still alive.” Gabriel explained sadly with tears in his eyes.
“This is the place I have always been afraid of. I somehow feel justified, just a little bit for being so desperate to become human again.” I said choking back tears.
“This is what he went through to save you. Three earth days were a long time for him down here only because they knew who he was. Jesus could have been melted like you see here, in your place for your punishment. You could be walking on where his face was right now you know. It was very brave of you to come down here with me. Ryan is an exceptionally blessed man to have a wife like you. Especially since it was your prayers for him that made him untouchable and the worst thing he experienced down here so far was being stuck in that closet.” Gabriel continued.
“I still got him into this mess.” I explained.
“You didn’t get him turned into a vampire. He volunteered for that and knew what he was risking. You blessed him like Paul blessed you without knowing how that worked. Remember how you prayed as you rejoiced before Ryan found you in that church, entranced you, and left you bitten again? Those prayers are what saved him Elle. When Primus doused him in Holy water and he didn’t turn to ash it scared him, so he threw Ryan through a mirror and locked him in there. Ryan literally feels like he’s only been here for a day and a half. Time slowed to torture Jesus, but after that it sort of collapsed a little bit to make things easier on Ryan. Hell may be Lu’s playground, but God still controls time.” he continued as we came to the edge of a cliff.
Looking down it felt like we were on an iceberg that was drifting towards the mouth of the largest whirlpool of water I had ever seen. There seemed to be a face inside of the whirlpool contorting the water. It was frowning at us.
“What is that?” I asked.
“That’s the door.” Gabriel said as he repositioned Ryan and held me closely.
“Where does it lead?” I asked nervously as we stood there about to jump hundreds of meters into a watery demon’s face.
“I believe you refer to it as Bermuda.” Gabriel said laughing at my apprehension.
“You’re kidding! That’s what the…” I began as he used my distraction about the portal we were using as an opportunity to jump.
I expected us to float like we did when the building was collapsing. That didn’t happen. I screamed the entire way down as we fell at top speed plummeting into the demon waters.
I don’t know what happened after that. When I opened my eyes I was in a large free standing sphere of water looking out at the sandy shore of a beach somewhere. Ryan was sitting by a campfire staring up at the stars.
I moved to reach out to him and the bubble burst releasing me. I coughed and gagged and shivered as the sea breeze hit me. Was that the Holy water bath Gabriel meant when he said I would need a cleansing after being in hell? I thought that was only if something down there touched me. Well, purgatory collapsed. Maybe someone brushed up against my foot or something.
I looked for Ryan hoping I wasn’t seeing him as a dream and he very slowly stood up as I made my way to my knees. We just stared at each other.
* * *
She made it. She is alive. I wonder if Ellenora is upset that I turned her into a vampire again. She must have been lonely after all of the time that passed while I was down there. I am very grateful that Elle was in the bubble while Gabriel caught me up to speed on what happened and what God wants me to do now.
I wonder if she fell in love with another man and remarried. Gabriel told me repeatedly how she must truly love me to go into hell after me like that. But, I know her. I know that she had been carrying unspeakable guilt because Elle internalizes everything. Maybe she only came to pay a debt to me.
I don’t remember anything that happened after I bit her as she slept. I tried to be gentle. Here was my happy wife, planning to run away with her vampire husband having sweet dreams and she still felt it. That cold slip of my fangs beneath her skin. Her eyes flew open and the look on her face in that moment still haunts me.
She would rather have died than be sentenced to hell. I may not have seen much of it as Primus dragged me through that building, locked me up, and knocked me out. But, the fear I felt was real. That fear is what drove her to becoming human and reuniting with God so that she would not have to go to hell. She knew. She knew more than I ever could. Down there, we would be separated and alone to suffer forever. Not like on earth where we could live as condemned but reasonably happy.
I looked into Elle’s eyes searching for some clue that she would still have me. She stayed crouched on her knees still stunned from hell I think.
Then she reached out her hand.