out of the ashes

Thursday, November 24, 2011


Dear Diary, A Journal From Hell at amazon.com, Kindle

30 days; 30 entries...24th day in.

March 24

Friend, diary,

Hell. It presents itself in many shades. Perhaps the entire history of once-living souls is here. I am drawn to the grays and the vicissitudes of this kingdom, and yet I am repelled. The violence, the orgies. What will the next holiday bring? Do they go down the list of deadly sins and celebrate for eons an infinitely magnified version of each? Then return to the first and begin again?

I asked him this when he appeared this morning.

“You learn quickly. Welcome, Terence. Heaven is indeed nearly empty. What was hidden under baskets by every living soul since your race began has, as prophesied, been brought to light. And so they arrive. But their arrival is their choice, as it was yours. Do you want to leave?”

“It was NOT my choice! And further, I am not leaving without her.”

“Her choice to leave or stay is hers to make, not yours. She has made it, as you shall see.”

“You’re a liar, just like all those fucking preachers said. How could she possibly want to stay in such a twisted place for all eternity?”

“You shall see soon enough.”

“You’ve drugged her.”

“Hah! The bitter bread? Fool, it’s merely bread, nothing more. What do you take me for?”

“I loathe you.”

“That is good. You can use that; build on it. Maybe convince her to loathe me, too.”

We spoke little more on our journey deeper into the city of the enlightened, the city built by millions and millions who had thrown off the constraints of morality, or any pretense of decency or goodness. Through the park, past neighborhood after neighborhood of laughing, drinking, sweating bodies willfully participating in every conceivable act of sex. I am not, nor was I ever prudish, but, dear diary, I closed my eyes in shame.

I can write no more today, except to say we finally entered a golden cathedral dedicated to the deities of lust.

“She is here,” Lucifer said. “I will bring you to her tomorrow. In the meantime, enjoy the sights…if you refuse to take part. Fool.”

Tomorrow. I hate the word. I fear what I will see when it arrives. What I see now is dispiriting enough. She is here somewhere in all of this.

March 25


I slept in a corner beneath a large painting of a penis. Better than to sleep beneath one of the other side altars commemorating their saints who evidently excelled in copulation. Upon those separate altars were couples, several on each, flowing like unholy water, undulating, panting and sweating, smiled on from above. And the rest of this cathedral. There are no pews, only a stadium-sized marble floor filled with writhing snakes of passion gone berserk. Massive columns separating the main aisle from the side aisles, with bodies pinned against them like so many moths enjoying their erotic demise.

I would have gone outside, but in every place it is the same. At least in here the air is cool, though the squeals and deep guttural echoes are loud and constant, and the invitations to join these groups has no end. Do they tire of this, or do they continue on unceasing for centuries until they finally drop from exhaustion, their lust having finally consumed them? What would happen in a different festival—say a festival of drink? Would they try to swallow every ounce of liquid available until they exploded? Or in another, eat until the city and the countrysides were laid barren?

I don’t care to learn.

Midway through the morning a young woman approached me, her hair askew, an exhausted, sleepless look about her. She asked me to follow her. She led me across the altar, through the sanctuary door, and up twenty flights of stairs (empty of celebrants, thankfully). We exited the stairwell into a lobby that took my breath away. Wide and long, and backlit by soft, glowing waterfalls of light. Punctuated with erotic statuary and paintings that could not have been more masterfully executed had Michaelangelo…no. He could not be here, I thought. Or then again…? I wondered as we walked silently toward the massive architectural door at the end whether his tastes might have drifted away from harps by the end of his life among the Medicis and sullen popes.

We entered to a scene reminiscent of the one so far below, save that all of the people here seemed infinitely younger, devoid of any of the scars of the previous, murderous festival, perfectly unaware of anything except the ritual. She lifted a hand and pointed toward the far end of the room, which was magnificently appointed, befitting the god of this kingdom, and then she numbly joined the group in front of us.

I was met by Lucifer, tall and naked, but by no means looking the worse for wear. He was smiling.

“Care to engage before you meet your Teresa again? Of course not; how silly of me. Come, then. See your love.”

He walked to a door in an alcove, opened it, and indicated that I should go in. I did. My heart fell. My heart? I have no such thing. My courage, my hope, anything good remaining of me perished when I saw her. She lay on a satiny dais many times wider and longer than our wonderful bed in the complex. Her hands were clasped behind her neck, her breasts heaved, and one knee was slightly raised, reminiscent of an odalisque in repose. Even from where I stood, trembling in yet a deeper despair, I could see that her eyes were vacant; as vacant as those of the masses outside the room.

“I leave you to her. Spin words of gold and silver to her. I can tell you this, however, they will do you little service. It was I who invented language, deceits, mesmerizing tales of…what are you so fond of calling them? Love? It was I, not him in his empty kingdom, busy enough keeping the clockworks of his universe wound and functioning. He invented you. I perfected you. Go to her.”

And then he left.

Teresa lifted her arms, stretching them out to me. I gazed around me. We were alone. I turned and went to her, taking a knee at the end of the cursed dais. My words weren’t gold or silver. They were lead.

“Get up, Teresa. I’ll take you away from this abomination. Come with me, my dearest. I beg you.”

“But why, and to where? Look around you, Terence. Is this not enough?”

“You covered yourself that first day we met. Look at yourself now.”

“I was frightened by the demons. How hideous they were. There is no fear or hideousness here. Come to me.”

I wanted to climb upon her and slap the stupor from her. Awaken her. Save her. Instead I lay down beside her and let my cheek fall to her breasts. I fell asleep rambling stupidly to a heart that had ceased to beat, her tender fingers stroking my hair.

(c) Patrick Sean Lee, 2011

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