The Not Very Divine Comedy
Word count: 1458
When I opened my eyes, I found myself in a very strange, bleak sort of wasteland. It seemed to stretch on forever in all directions, the land flat and white. The ground gave way beneath my feet and when I knelt down to examine it, it peeled away into my fingers as if made of the most brittle of papers. The sky above stretched on, equally endless, fading into a sort of sad, dreary gray.
A voice came from behind me. “Oh hello there. You must be new.”
I turned about and regarded the man, who was a skinny and nerdy sort dressed in simple jeans and a brown shirt, wearing thick brown glasses. I nodded to him, as his voice was kindly enough and it was good to see someone else in so baffling a place. “New? Yes. I suppose I’m new. Where am I?”
He shook his head, “You’re in Literary Hell.”
“Literary Hell?” I said, “How can that be?”
“I think it has something to do with the fact that your stories suck.”
I frowned at that. “I’ll admit I’ve had a bout of writer’s block lately.”
The young man gestured to the papery ground below us. “As you can see, we are doomed to the pages of untold crimes in literature, each more heinous than the last…and with each crime, there is a suitable punishment of sorts. It gets real interesting down here, you can be sure. Please follow me.”
A bit disgusted but also interested, I followed the strange man across the wasteland that seemed to stretch for ages. Finally, after eons of walking across the great white expanse of failure, the land seemed to open up into a rocky sort of pit in which innumerable white desks had been set up. Each held a solitary, twitching figure. A great bonfire was set up in the middle, and stacks upon stacks of books lay flaming and crackling and filling the air with thick white smoke. Atop the bonfire sat a looming, droll looking figure wearing a bleak gray robe and glasses, seeming to read a stack of papers on his lap. People dashed up and down the aisles, holding flaming books and stacks of papers and occasionally bumping into and stopping to brawl with one another.
As I gazed in rapt fascination, the young man in brown came to stand beside me. “This is the pit of Academia, ruled by The Teacher. Here are the worst literary memories of children that were forced to read the ‘classics’ at school. Now, these memories of Poe, Hemmingway, Wilde, countless others…they are doomed to forever be chained in English class, forced to read each others’ books and write reports that will never be returned in a timely manner. These poor, fine authors never meant to have their reading forced upon innocent children…except Hemmingway. He’s an ass...but now their literary selves must pay penance for the children whose nights were spent cooped up reading.”
I spotted a figure among the doomed authors and picked up a rock, hurling it with force down into the pit. “You wrote the Scarlet Letter from my seventh grade report! I hate you, Nathaniel Hawthorne! Rauuugh!”
Virgil, as I had begun to call him, next led me across the wasteland to a great white mountain that towered into the gray sky. As we neared, I could see that this mountain was a great mound of loose papers, in which sat numerous television sets and great mounds of food. Scrambling up this great monolith were large, obese middle-aged women, their pinned and dyed hair spilling into their puffy faces and their brightly colored dresses stained with food and make-up that oozed off their caked faces as they cried thick, wet tears. Always they seemed to strain for the top of the mountain but were constantly stopped and distracted by the flickering lights of the television sets, or would pause to shove great mounds of potato chips and bon-bons into their jowls as their great mass would slowly begin to slide back down the slope of papers. They would never make it, but would continually try to fight their way back up again.
Virgil shook his head sadly, “This is the Mountain of the Unattainable. You know those cheap paperback romance novels they sell three for the dollar in great bins of old bookstores? With the cheesy airbrushed covers of men and women? The authors and readers of those wretched creations end up here. Here, those ladies will forever try to climb the mountain made up of the pages of their own blatant lust, but will always fall to temptations of mid-day soap operas and chocolates.”
He pointed upward, and my eyes followed to the very highest peak, where there stood a great shining figure. His bronze skinned shone with an inner light that would make the angels themselves jealous. Handsome, chiseled features stared down at the rolling tumbling figures below him, and his long flowing black hair would wave tantalizingly in a constant breeze. He dressed only in black pants, no shirt, and a black bowtie, and he seemed to gaze without emotion at those below him. The Unnatainable.
Virgil pointed to the shining figure, “And that is the master of the mountain, Lord Fabio.”
Feeling sick, I allowed Virgil to lead me onward. He paused only to offer me a set of earplugs, which I accepted without question. I soon found out why. We came upon another great expanse below us, which was roiling with the same dregs of humanity. Computers lay scattered across the land, giving everything a sickly blue glow. The sound of typing was deafening, even muffled. It rattled the air itself, as loud as machine gun fire and twice as aggressive. Even above that, I could hear the shrill screams of girls. Pock-marked, slovenly, greasy girls decked out in the latest faux-goth fashions, covered in pocky crumbs, their bags covered in pins of the latest anime fad, some bearing tattoos in kanji that they could never ever hope to understand. They were screaming, trying to make their voices higher-pitched yet as they pounded away at their keyboards, trying to out-do one another in volume and ferocity.
Virgil could barely make himself heard above the cacophony. “These are the Internet Barrens. This is one of the worst crimes. These lovely ladies became consumed by their sick whims, and are guilty of warping the beloved characters of others to their own selfish desires. They congregated in the lowest pits of the world wide web, barricading themselves in their chat rooms and fan sites with animated gifs. It is they who are guilty of such internet classics like ‘Cloud on Aragorn’ and ‘Harry Potter gets raped by Snape who then gets raped by a Werewolf’. They share this among themselves, feeding off it and regurgitating their own. It makes them grow stronger…”
It was all I could do not to vomit. Then I spotted a great harpy making her way across the massive heat waves emitted by the humming computers. I pointed at her. “Who is that!”
Virgil looked alarmed, grabbing my arm as we turned and ran. “That is one of the most dangerous denizens of Literary Hell! That…that is the harpy Fanfic!”
The harpy wheeled across the sky, opening her terrible maw to scream across the land. “ANY1 SEEN NEW INUYASHA MOVIE??/ A/S/L??? LOL FINAL FANTASY SEPHIROTH IS MY BISHIE!!!!1 KEKEKEKEKEKE!!!!!!1111111”
I let out a wail. “How does she manage to speak in jargon!?”
Virgil and I kept running until we could no longer hear her shrill cries. I panted, almost doubled over. “This is a dangerous land!”
Virgil nodded solemnly. “The harpy Fanfic is one of many denizens of Literary Hell. There are many others, such as Lord Fabio and The Professor, and even more, each more powerful and tortured than the last from the crimes of sinful authors and readers. But there is one who is all powerful in this land…the one who-“
I felt a rumble. Virgil felt it too. His eyes widened, and he urged me into a run again. I let out a cry as I struggled to keep up. “Please! Tell me! What is that!”
Virgil looked terrified, pausing to look back at the looming darkness that was rapidly heading towards us and the rest of Literary Hell. “No! No! It can’t be! Not now! Have we reached the end already!?”
I tripped and fell, staring back in terror as the darkness hurtled closer. Virgil stood over me as I wailed out once again, “What is that!”
The darkness enveloped us as Virgil screamed.
“IT’S DEUS EX MACHINA!”
Then we all died.