Going To Hell For Business and Pleasure - Valentine Farris

Red, Blue, Magenta, Yellow, Red. The colors lurch from one to the next, dizzingly bright. I feel the bile pull itself up from the back of my throat, kissing the back of my teeth before I turn over and violently rech some mashed combination of lunchable pizzas and egg. My eyes flutter and flicker open. I see now that I have puked all over my clothes – which, I had yet to realize we’re no longer on my body. My body. I finally mentally connect with the fact I have a body – and it hurts.


I first gingerly bring a finger to my bloated red cheeks, feeling the rawness of them. The nerves in my skin numbly squealed in pain as my fingers pushed up against them. I let out a pained mutter, sliding myself off what I realize now appears to be a cheap leopard print couch – a black wool blanket having been flung atop me at some point. Standing to my feet causes a dominoing of aching pains from my lower thighs to my lower back. My whole body warms with the sensation. It was not wholly unpleasant – despite the immense pain accompanying it. 


I stand in tight boxers, my body squeezed in grotesquely normal ways. Like Eve I can begin to feel the shame of my form wash over me, as I gingerly lift up my soiled checkered purple shirt. I stop halfway and merely toss it to the side. My green flared jeans had escaped most of the vomit – enough to be wearable. I have to fall back into the leopard print seating in order to pull the jeans up 


Shirtless I stumble through the circling neon lit room, running my eyes from wall to wall. Where was everyone? I was beginning to realize I was completely alone. There were indents in some bundles of pillows and blankets scattered about the place, the only sign anyone lived here beyond all the vomit and trash everywhere. I couldn’t of possibly been the only one to get that thrashed, right? I land my eyes on a dark red door, stumbling towards it closer. I deeply inhale, pulling back at my loose sweaty hair. I reach towards the ebony black metal door knob and open it. 


The door moves on it’s own within my grasp, feeling it pull itself open at a long slow pace. The car was coming. Straight for me. I was a deer in headlights, as I realized what was on the other side of this door. It’s coming. The car is coming. It’s coming faster. I need to move. 


The Door is Open.


The Car Has Hit Me. 


Framed in the absence of where the door used to be – I see a red washed landscape ahead of me. A mass of violence unfolds – a collage of terrifying beasts and Things intermingle amongst themselves across this plane of deep crimson. I take a few steps back, suddenly made aware again of my body as the heat blasting into my face through the open door reawakens new pains in my worn body. I fall onto my ass and scramble back, suddenly remembering to breathe. I am breathing. I am breathing a little too much. I threaten to drown myself in it. 


The open door grows closer despite my scrambling efforts, dragging itself closer to me slowly as if the whole wall was on a conveyor belt. It creeps slowly, steadily, before suddenly it throws itself upon me and I am launched out through the door forcefully. I fly preternaturally through the sky like a lark. Despite this bird-like ascent through the sky I most definitely do not fly as gracefully, screaming and flailing the whole way across the vermillion vistas. The flight ends as abruptly as it begins as I suddenly have a red-touched grey office space form around me, stumbling onto an off white carpet, feeling it’s uncomfortable scratchy texture between my toes and heels. 


Across from me behind a little white desk sits a fathomless black being that hides all that exists behind it. It’s various masses and off-colored parts have a clear meaning to me and me alone, but I don’t have the words for it. 


It speaks, “Here for business or pleasure?” It sounds like a middle aged woman who gave up on her life in her 20’s and reserved herself to service for 45 years. I look at it blankly, and then vomit on the off-white carpet. 


I looked up weakly, and the answer I didn’t know I had came out, “Both.”


“Excellent – Y. Friboulet, I believe we have you down here as an Overdose on ‘Disco Night’?”


I wipe my mouth of vomit and look away from the puddle of bile, “First I am hearing about it.”


“By whatever mechanism you were brought here – I have you marked down as being assigned to section 4 triple Oh, sub-section J.” A mass moves within it, seemingly a gesture of sort I wasn’t expected to understand. 


“What does… any of that mean? Am I in hell?”


“Sort of – partially. You’re half here.” it remarks dryly, as if preparing an explanation it has been giving since the dawn of time. I looked around confused, suddenly feeling the panic of someone who had lost something. 


“Where is it?”


“Heaven – you’re the half that lost the coin flip.”


Upon hearing that, I decide it’s time to sit down. I look to make sure I don’t sit in the vomit, and just plant myself in the terrible off-white carpet, “Alright… What the fuck does any of that mean?”


It readies itself for a moment before it’s voice shifts slightly, presentationally, “The seat of THE JUDGE remains unfilled – and the POWERS THAT BE  have come to a single ultimate conclusion. Each soul is to be split into unequal parts. The good shall rise to the top and the evil of the soul shall sink into the layers of hell. No Whole Soul shall go to either realm again.”


“So – I’m evil?” I ask incredulously. I didn’t feel particularly fucked up or evil. I felt like myself if anything. 


“You’re sinful. Despite the wording of my explanation, good and evil actually has very little to do with it. Has this explanation satisfied you, Y. Friboulet?”


“Absolutely not.” 


It seems to nod in response to this, and suddenly I find myself somewhere very different. 




I stand in a pearl white hallway, lightly indented with door-like shapes in the walls. The architecture of this space seemed geometric, but the more I looked into the ways the walls neatly met into corners the less solid the space felt. As if observing it slowly melted it, like I had  heat vision. I stood there for a while, letting this space deteriorate itself around me for a while, unsure where to even go. 


Then- I realized there were eyes watching me and the rubber tactile texture of the world snapped itself into place, looking back at a pair of brown eyes that sat firmly in a fairly familiar skull – or. Uh. Face? Face. A familiar face, that’s what I am trying to think. 


They speak to me,“Yahren?” I absolutely recognized the voice, the face, the eyes, the everything but… Names. Damn names. They looked over me with a wash of relief in their eyes, and then a sudden surprise as they looked down. 


I glance down. I forgot I am completely shirtless.




When did I get disco-ball pasties? I look back up at the Mysteriously Familiar Figure and shoot two finger guns, “You know how it is”


“I do – I don’t think you do.”


I instinctually laugh as if I were breathing, feeling out the wash of familiar moments and pleasant times. Everything but a name, but I try not to worry about it, “Well what do you know? Huh? Smartass?”


“Well, I know we’re in hell. I know there’s a lot of us in hell. I know you just got here.” they pause, and click their tongue in an almost predatory way, “and I know you don’t remember my name.”


I suddenly seize up like a deer in headlights. This 5’4 fiend with brown eyes suddenly felt massive, as they eyed me expectantly. I sharply breath inwards, smiling at them coyly. I can see it in their eyes, familiarity… and disappointment. How many times had I done this to them? The guilt suddenly builds like bile and my entire face hurts to continue smiling, as it slides into a frown, “To. Give myself some benefit of the doubt. I did just overdose. I doubt that leaves a uh, soul in uhm… complete tact.” 


“Tsk. It’s Red. It’s always been Red – as long as you knew me, and know me. It’s been Red.” They step towards me and circle slowly- sizing me up seemingly, “You got old.” they state matter of factly before stepping past me with arms crossing. As they step down the white melting crayon hallway.


Red… Red Light…“Green Light.” The words leave my mouth without any thought, like a hiccup. They stop, and look back at me for a moment before swallowing what they wanted to say, stumbling out something different


“Keep moving. This is the sloth dorm if you don’t move… things get. Weird. Obviously. You need to keep active or you’ll get stuck.”


“Oh THAT’S why reality is dissolving around me. I just thought I was dissociating again.”


“Yeah I thought the same thing – kinda weird for your mental state to be actualized in a physical space. Kinda – comforting? Like, oh wow, this pain is something in real life that makes me want to die and isn’t just my own mind constructing a hell around me. A real hell! Finally.”


“That’s incredibly depressing – mostly in how much I immediately agree with you. Fucked up if true.”


“And it is!”


There’s a small pause between us – and then I laugh to myself. I felt a warmth in my gut, smiling more. I wasn’t sure, but I knew that was a joke we had made together before. A vague collage of the phrase buzzes in the back of my mind. We keep moving in silence for a while before we come across a pair of doors at the end of the hall. There’s a bright red exit sign placed just above it.


They look at the door for a paused moment, but keep moving, “Fingers crossed we end up in a fun dorm.”


I hurry after them towards the exit, “What the fuck does that mean?” We cross the threshold of the door. 

My feet make contact with a good bit of nothing as I fall forward, reaching out and grabbing Red’s shirt in a sudden panic. They let out a dog-like yelp and we’re suddenly in free-fall. The door we stepped through is gone and the world around us smells of burnt hair – and we’re spinning out of control. 




I didn’t even realize I was screaming – small bundled fists pounding against my face as I finally shut my mouth and stopped, letting out whimpering pants. It was too fast to open my eyes, I could just feel I was still holding onto red desperately. 


There’s a car horn somewhere in the distance – and suddenly the only thing spinning is my head. Red is trying to loosen my grip on them but my hands have slid into a hug, I think I am out of sorts. Well, I know I am out of sorts but my mind is elsewhere. My body is a terrified mess and my mind is stuck in limbo. I feel a hand on my head, and everything in my body loosens and liquifies. I let go of Red. My eyes lazily open from the sudden sedative to my body. I mutter from loosened lips, “Tired of flying around. Hate flying around.”


I am slumped on a textured mauve floor, looking down at red and white Vans caked in mud. Their hand is still on my head and suddenly I am 18 again – ready to run away from home. Not some bloody nosed adult in disco pants and pasties. 


“Yahren, stop being a mess. You’re going to make me feel bad.” they offer a hand to me and I loosely take it. My mind is abuzz, I know what they mean but it doesn’t form itself clearly for me. This was someone I hurt.


“Sorry.” I muttered it out pathetically, it was the only way I knew how to apologize. 


There’s a long terrible pause, I think hard on how I knew Red. It’s hard, it’s painful even. I keep trying to dig back into my mind but every time I am confronted with a massive brick wall. I fucked up, and I can’t remember how. It’s the worst possible existence, really. To know you hurt someone and to never know how to apologize truly, to fix whatever was wrong with you. Red breaks the silence, we had been there for either a minute or ten. 


“How old are you?” they asked pointedly, they seemed to be making a judgment about me. 


The question bounces around in my mind as I try and pull up the correct number. I think I had been lying about my age since I was 16 in some way or another. Online, for R-rated movies, booze… Tinder. Although it never really felt like lying one way or another, more like. I was trying on the feeling of being 21, or 18. Now that I am far past both of those ages… The number finally comes to me and I respond, “I am twenty-nine.”


“You did always say you’d be dead before thirty. I guess that means it’s been ten years, and you’re…a mess. Honestly.” 


Ten years? Oh god. I couldn’t really remember anything that far back. It’s not like I could just… ask. I mean, honestly, who would even want to get into that kind of conversation anyways? I am standing now, feeling myself again, a familiar warm ache in my toes and fingers, “Be less honest.”


“You look better than ever, really a beacon of inspiration. Every moment I spend looking at you doesn’t make me want to cry, it’s astonishing.” 


“Be less.” I idly retort with a groan, hiding my face with my hands. Red responds with a simple ‘psh’ and I finally take in my surroundings.  The walls were covered in purple velvet linens, covering polished mirror walls. Red lets out a groan, looking around idly before turning back to me, expecting me to catch up. 


I step forward, making my way towards them eyeing the new… Dorm? I wasn’t exactly up to date on all the terminology. If this was a dorm I had to wonder where all the rooms were? I pull one of the drapes to the side to get a proper view of the mirror behind it, Red’s hand darts towards mine, gripping my wrist to stop me, “This is Pride. Don’t. They cover the mirrors around here for a reason – even if it doesn’t really help with their vanity…” 


I pull my hand away, looking around, “Where is everyone, everything is always so… empty.” 


“I couldn’t tell you. Hell has billions upon trillions of people’s souls trapped within it, but from what I understand we’re not all on the same… wavelength. So to say. You see folks who are on the same wavelength as you at any given time if the dorm hasn’t trapped them in some way somehow.”


“Like radio channels?” I suddenly have a memory tickling the back of my mind; running around as a kid in my backyard with a radio, talking to someone just out of sight. 


“Yeah kinda. Except you can’t switch channels at will, sucks ass. Though this IS the most quiet the Pride dorm has ever been for me… “ They give me an odd look, as if putting together a puzzle, and slowly getting pissed at the solution.


I rear back almost instinctively, raising my hands “Well uh – like you said. No way to control or affect it.”


“Not exactly what I said but… Whatever.” They turn from me and turn down a hall I was sure wasn’t there before. I follow behind, letting out a low sigh.


We wander for a while, quietly. It felt as if this place was a lot bigger than where we were before, watching purple draped hall after hall. It was almost maze-like in the ways it twisted, and I could of sworn the tunnels twisted into themselves, “It’s so… big here. We didn’t go that far in the Sloth dorms…”


“YOU didn’t, I was walking for a while until I bumped into you. You just sorta got lucky where you were tossed. Now you’re stuck here with me, walking the mile.” They suddenly stop, “Wait.”


I stop as well, standing amongst the softened floors. I could barely hear our own footsteps. “What?”


There’s a second of silence, and then I hear it. Velvet being disturbed, rubbing against one square of cloth against another. I turn towards the sound and spot… A child. They stare back at me, and Red lets out the breath they’d been holding. 


“Hey…What’s with you?” The kid speaks before either of us, wearing a cast on their left arm and aviator goggles on their forehead. He looks at us incredulously, snapping from one to the other, “Why is this place empty? It’s boring here.” 


“Just how it works.” Red responds, turning to leave.


“Hey hey we can’t just leave this kid hanging like that.” I look at them with a growing frown, crouching down to the kids level, “It’s like radios! We’re all on the same channel right now.” I give them a big smile and they give me an extremely perplexed look. 


“Radio channels?” He tilts his head all the way to the side and squints, unconsciously reaching up with their casted arm and trying to scratch their head with it, banging their face

“He’s like twelve Yahren; he doesn’t know anything about walkie talkies. What would a kid understand?”


“I dunno why are you asking me? It’s like. I dunno, when are you from? Do you know what a tik-tok is?” The kid stares at me with a scrunching face, eyebrow rising and mouth opening slightly ajar – I got the feeling I was not getting through.


“Yeah uh… So like – are you two really the only adults around here? I kinda thought hell would have a lot of adults in it.” He looked me up and down, and I tried to give my best smile. He reacts immediately, and I can already tell I am freaking him out.


 Red kicks me in the thigh to get my attention, “Come on let’s go already. How much time are we going to waste on this?”


I ignore them, keeping my eyes on the boy “My name is Yahren. What’s yours?”


He smiles slightly, now this was a social situation they knew how to navigate. Telling someone your name was a million times easier than dealing with a fucking weirdo in hell, “Oswald.”


I stand to my feet, “Well Oswald you’re free to hang out with us if you like.”


“What, are we babysitters now?” Red slipped in, getting quickly irritated


“If you like the word ‘bodyguards’ more I think it’ll be more my style.” He gives us both another glance and then grins in that way children do when they’re trying too hard to look cool. It reminds me of something, this role felt familiar.


“Yahren I am going to start walking. It’s your problem as to whether you can both keep up.” Their tone is a cold flame, snapping at my mind. I couldn’t place the tone quick enough as I suddenly hear the sound of velvet shifting again. 


Im suddenly breathless, “Red-”


Red sharply inhales and begins backing away from us, harshly whispering “We need to go.”

I feel it, the change in the air. The pressure now mounting suddenly, and the shifting velvet was getting closer. I instinctively lock my hand around Oswalds wrist and let out a strained whisper, “What the fuck is that.”


“H-hey let go-” Oswald lets out a slight whine but then Red turns and starts running. I let out a start of surprise and began after them, chasing after Red with Oswald in tow. I turn around slightly and see the silhouette of something Large. I let out a gasp as I met eyes with the Thing. 


It waits a moment, our eyes locked. It was letting us get a little further, and then it let out a roar that wasn’t a sound. It was a sight. The halls suddenly grew bright, light emitting from the shadow. It grew even less clear in the sudden brightness as I was forced to turn away from it. 

The sound of velvet moving is accompanied with thuds as the Thing throws itself against the ground, bounding and leaping towards us. I feel Oswald falling behind my rhythm of running. I pull on him to try and help, but he trips. 


I keep pulling as his feet leave the ground and pull him all the way onto my back. His hands wrap around my neck tightly- and he feels almost weightless. Was it the adrenaline or feeling dead, I couldn’t even say. I was catching up with Red, shouting something to them. They turn to look at me and then past me, fear filling their eyes. 


The Thing is getting closer, and we’re turning a corner, I hear it slam into mirrors. At the end of the hall is a bright red exit sign just ahead. I start laughing, we’re so god damn close. My feet begin to warble, my eyes begin to slur across the scenery as I try to hold my attention on the exit.


The world has a palette knife dragged across it, colors and shapes mixing into a slurry of existence, I am stumbling towards the blurred black rectangle. Red has disappeared. I tumble through the darkness, and suddenly I am flying through blind.


When I open my eyes again I am looking at the ceiling – and it’s hot.


I sit up, slowly and feel the weight of my own frail human form tugging on me, begging me to come back to the ground and lay down. I push past it, letting out a low groan, “Fuck.”


My eyes glide around my surroundings, the floor is a dark stone riveted with holes and marks. There’s an endless plain ahead of me on any side, peppered with fires. My fingers feel the stone is cool, and wet. The mixed sensation is disorientating, but I finally get enough bearings to see Red and Oswald nearby, already to their feet.


“So I am allowed to say fuck and stuff right?” Oswald asks with their arms crossed, giving Red a look.


“Yeah sure, what do I care?” Red huffs, stomping over to me, hoisting me to my feet.


“Well- uh. Yeah I guess. We’re already in hell, I dunno if children swearing exactly tallies high on the sin count, if they even keep track anymore.” I chime in, dusting myself off.


“Cool cool, what the FUCK was that?”


Red holds their hand to their temple at the sudden uptick in volume, letting out a low hiss. I wince a little, mind wandering back to the creature that had scrambled after us in the previous dorm, “well… I mean. It’s not.. A bad question Red.”


Red snaps back at me, “We. Are. In. Hell. What do you THINK it was?” 


I step back slightly, instinctively reaching for Oswald who batted my protective hand away, and stepped towards Red, “What are you trying to say I am stupid or something? Huh”


“H-hey uh-” My brain starts to buzz with static as Oswald’s voice raises another octave


“Deeply stupid. Irrevocably stupid! What dumb kid shit did you do to die huh, fall off a house dumbass?” Red shoves him into me, and I fall back into the stone as Oswald struggles not to stumble onto his ass as well, “Go to hell.” 


“W-WW.. YOu.” He’s unable to croak out a response, bringing his arms to his face as he wipes away tears from his face, “YOU.” he bellows out again, picking up a loose stone from the floor and throwing it at her. It bounces off rather uselessly but there’s a flash of anger behind Red’s eyes. 


My mind is static and my body aches as I freeze up. There’s too much going on, and everyone was yelling. There’s a car horn in the distance, somewhere. Red is so loud. It’s a green light. 


“Guy’s please” is all I can croak out, heat from the flames becoming unbearable as I try to cover my face.


I hear Oswald start a sentence and then there’s a thunk. 

“Welcome to Wrath, moron.”


I peek between my fingers, and Oswald is laid out across the ground. I sharply inhale as suddenly everything comes into crisp detail. The way his body no longer quite fit what I thought a human ought to look like. I looked up from him to Red, who was holding a large obsidian stone. It wasn’t even coated in blood. Where was the blood? 


“What did you.. Do?” 


They look over at me, almost confused, “Is it not extremely obvious?”

“You. Killed him.”


They hiss, sharpening their tone as words dig into me,“He’s already dead, Yahren. There is no human life. We’re ALL DEAD. We will be living these same awful days for ETERNITY. Do you even begin to comprehend that? How little anything matters on that time scale?”


“A.. A Child…” 


“A child. Right. How long do you think he’s been here? An hour? A millennium?” They grab my face and force me to look at Oswalds broken form, and the wound was… Gone? He wasn’t getting back up, but he looked fine. I reach up and grab their wrists 


“But, that doesn’t mean. That suddenly this means… nothing. Right? Don’t our actions still mean something?”


“No. They don’t.”

“… They do. I.” I let go of their wrists, and step away from them, “I think. I am going to leave.”


“Wait. Wait, Yahren , don’t do that. Don’t do this.” They step towards me, a sudden fear in their eyes, “I can’t be alone again. I even. I didn’t even. Blame you. I haven’t blamed you. That’s how little I want to be alone again, Yahren. I forgave you! Do you not understand how much that MEANS?”


“Blamed me… for.. What?” I freeze, my legs won’t move. The headlights blind me. 


Their eyes widened, “You really don’t remember anything do you?”


The car has hit me.

I blink away tears in my eye, my whole head wants to turn inside out from the pressure building in my skull. I was a terrible friend, a worse partner and most of all – A really bad driver. “I- I killed you”


They stare at me blankly for a moment before sharply breathing inwards, “Yeah. You did.” there’s a crisp silence and suddenly an obsidian rock is cracked over my head.


Red, red, red and red. The colors lurch from one to the next, dizzingly bright. I awake on a hard rock floor, looking to a dark sky. No ceiling existed despite this being rather coyly called a ‘dorm’. I sit up slowly, mind swirling like a dark opaque liquid. I see Red, sitting across from me. 


“Oswald left, ran off.” they remark, looking off to the distance, “I guess we’re even now.” 


I feel bile push at the back of my throat but nothing is actually there, just the perpetual feeling of almost vomiting, “Why are you still here.” 


“Because my worst instincts are all I am, all we are. We’re half-souls cursed to only be our worst. My worst instincts were always to be with you, Yahren. So here I am.” they muse, pulling their hair back, “I still wish I was better than this. I’ve spent so long here but I still wish I was better than just what I am. Hell is regret.”


“…For what it’s worth, I am sorry.”


“Of course you are.” they reply, and for once I think I know what they mean.


We sit in silence there for a while, maybe forever. Half-formed ideas – stagnated and rotting. I listen to the sounds of the world around us. The wood-like creaking in a stone plains, and the beat of wings just beyond what I can see. The colors mix into the sky like oils – and I briefly wished I had become a painter. 



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