I died for three seconds and went straight to Hell. Upon my arrival, the Devil came and took me before that infamous immensity of molten fire, the limitless, unquenchable expanse of mucilaginous horror, which cracked and crackled to reveal its seething white-hot underbelly. The Devil asked me to choose whether to be cast into the squirming hostility immediately or to wait as I watched my fellow humans boil and broil and scream in eternal agony and implacable doom. He said that he often liked new arrivals to just stay and watch on their first day because, then, the horror and affliction of Hell was total and complete and immensely rewarding to him. He added that he was a fair being, for he still allowed us some choices, even when we were utterly in no practical situation to make any.

“I do not want to be here,” said I, whining and quivering in unspoken terror, to which his reply was “That’s not a decision you can make now,” by which he meant that it was too late for me. My life of choices was spent. He proceeded to add, “However, I can return you to earth, but you must choose, from the two ways which I shall offer you, how to spend your worthless time on the worthless pit that you so thoughtlessly love.”

I quickly agreed, thinking I would do anything to return to earth, and escape the hideous, unflinching terror of the inglorious molten sea.

“A short life of three seconds during which you shall be the most intelligent of your species, a genius of a singular kind,” continued he. “Your fame will be unsurpassable, your glory intense and unmatched; three seconds during which all your dreams and whims shall come true. Or a long life of a hundred years spent in savage servitude, of brutal labour and undying humiliation. My demons shall minister to you and shall be your supervisor, and they shall expose you to anguish so great and insupportable it will make what they did to Job of Uz a travesty.”

While I was still pondering over the disparity between three seconds of a minute and a century of years, and increasingly becoming appalled by the wicked irony of this offer, the Devil turned to face me . . . and lo! what a mocking smile on his unfeeling countenance, what a cunning gaze in his deep, bone-chilling eyes! Perceiving fully what fate awaited me, I broke down in desperate yells from the desolate pits of my accursed soul, yells so deranged and inconsolable they startled Hell itself. For an instant there, I thought the everlastingly burning and smouldering souls had forgotten their unequalled anguish and stopped their inhuman screams in order to listen to me.

Enraged that I had failed to take either of his choices, the Devil lifted me by my neck and hurled me, like a tiny rock, into the molten, white-hot vastitude of fire . . .

And I woke up in my bedroom, choking and screaming, red smoke hissing furiously out of all the pores of my skin and the orifices of my body. My hair was all burnt, my night-clothes melted and stuck on my skin, my throat parched as if on fire. My head felt as though it were splitting along several jagged lines, and my eyeballs throbbed endlessly, rife with agony and immortal pain. I was hotter than a cupola; the heat of my body alone set the blanket and sheets ablaze, and soon the entire bedroom was engulfed in unforgiving flames.

I bolted to the door coughing and crying for help, but stopped at once when I heard a man laughing just outside it, a baleful, deep-throated guffaw like the rumbling of the foundations of the earth. Ho, ho, ho . . .

The Devil laughing

lo! what a mocking smile on his unfeeling countenance, what a cunning gaze in his deep, bone-chilling eyes!

  1. Dan Antion says:

    I think I need to replace the batteries in my smoke detector before going to bed tonight. I love the vivid imagery that you’ve created here, not to mention the diabolical story line. Good job.

  2. jaime tong says:

    Wow! I get such a strong sense of atmosphere and presence in this piece! Thanks for sharing.

    • Peter Nena says:

      Hellish atmosphere. Atmosphere must be right for any kind of story. I like it intensity. Thank you so much, Jaime. I’m glad you liked it.

  3. dweezer19 says:

    Wow. That’s wicked. What a fate!

    • Peter Nena says:

      Hi Cheryl. Hell is wicked. I was from work when I conceived of this story. My mind seems to wander farther and farther everyday. Thank you, my friend, for allowing time for it and making a comment afterwards. You are very supportive.

      • dweezer19 says:

        Anytime Peter. It is my pleasure. You know, I have come to feel that the fate of hell was created by educated men as a means to bring order to a barbaric society. And yet it reeks of chaos and the very violence it purports to be punishing one for. Hmmmmm…

    • Peter Nena says:

      Indeed. They thought fear of Hell would draw people to closer God, and maybe it did then. But people woke up. How can God create a place as cruel and diabolic and evil as Hell when he is supposed to be an all-caring, all-forgiving, all-loving good God? Why does he give us free will and then punish us when we choose our own ways? Then we understood. Hell is fiction.

      • dweezer19 says:

        And life, Illusion. Keep writing. I love your stories! Although my words are not as cutting edge as this in my Forever Never work, the message is the same. It heats up at the end however, for those who are persevering…. Happy Sunday to you.

  4. echoesofthepen says:

    A clever and fiery little story, and a great sense of atmosphere…

  5. Peter Nena says:

    Paul, thanks, man. When I was little, I was told that when a person goes to hell, one of his nails alone can burn for thousands of years before his whole finger eventually catches fire. I believed it and terrified me. I never forgot, although when I grew up I began to doubt it. The bible says nothing like that. The bible says there is yet no hell where people burn. Anyway, thanks again.

  6. Damyanti says:

    I’m teaching my kids at a school workshop about setting– I should ask them to read your piece. (I’m wondering though, what this piece would look like if you replaced all the adverbs and adjectives with details, with specific, descriptive nouns and verbs.)

    Loved the ending 🙂

    • Peter Nena says:

      You flatter me too much. To use this story in class! How old are the kids? I have mulled over your advice before and I’ll do it again. My writing usually has too many adverbs and adjectives. It’s a fault, but only a few people do notice. You are the third person to point it out. I must consider it for the next story that I write. Thanks, Damyanti.

  7. Cimmorene says:

    This really isn’t my thing, but it’s still very vivid and personal. Great imagery over all. I’m probably going to have nightmares. Well written, anyway.

  8. Peter Nena says:

    You spared time to read it even though it’s not your thing. You are great person with a great heart. Thanks, Julie. I truly appreciate it.

  9. Peter Nena says:

    I hope you don’t get any nightmares.

  10. Esther Lopez says:

    Just a normal night in each writer’s day, right? Wow, good job! I love your writing style. Please don’t change it.

    • Peter Nena says:

      A normal night, you say. Writers then have terrible nights indeed. But it’s true. Imagination can be more terrifying than the actual monster. Actually, it seems to me that we imagine most of our problems in this life. Once we imagine them, we begin to fix them, and then we end up creating real ones. Dangerous ones.

      • Esther Lopez says:

        I was only a strange as kid. At 3 years old I wanted to watch Poltergeist on tv and most of the scary movies or horror movies did not cause me that terrifying sensation. For me, the human being can be more scary that all the imaginary created around him.
        I cannot count how many times I have dreamed with the apocalypse, people trying to kill me, demons… And, one day, I simply decided to write it. If we are the ones that imagine our problems and create them. I do not know. But, almost, I will try to entertain somebody with my imagination, my nightmares and my problems.
        Thank you Peter, sometimes I think it is better do not think in the consequences of our actions if not, despite that they can put you in troubles, you will finish without doing nothing in this live. And apathy is a real demon. Trust me 🙂

    • Peter Nena says:

      Apathy is death. And the human, you are right, is scarier, deadlier, madder, than any demons or ghouls or devils he can imagine and create. I think all the monsters we create in fiction are a reflection of ourselves, especially our fears. In this sense, horror stories are relevant as love stories. I also watched The Poltergeist. I think they are three movies. Frightened me a little. They are old by now, anyway.

      • Esther Lopez says:

        I agree. Feel apathy it is like being dead. However, most beings can co-live with it. They don’t do nothing, they are simply here waisting there time, waiting the last moment. Nothing else… For this I think they have a demon inside, the laziest one which only leaves to them time to be constantly thinking in their heads bad things and tragedies but not for act. Definitely, humans are scarier…

  11. what a wicked and ironicimagination you have!! you do grab the reader and throw him into the flames!!!

    • Peter Nena says:

      Thank you, Dune. A wicked imagination is good for a writer. I think a writer should not have any limits to his or her imagination. If anything is possible, as the saying goes, why not imagine anything. Thank you, my friend. Have a lovely week.

  12. Ajenifuja Adetokunbo says:

    I am speechless. But I must contribute as to what I perceived. see, I would say it again, I have been a fan of your works from your first piece I ever stumbled on (Anyap). You’re a great wordsmith. These are the kind of works we’re expecting in paperbacks to inspire those who are not priviledged to read online. Yes, again, I agree with Damyanti on your extensive adj and adv…. i spotted on typo. ‘throat Patched’ instead of ‘parched’ when the character was awake. Perhaps that is the word you meant. Kudos, sir. Keep your pen bleeding.

    • Peter Nena says:

      Hey, thanks, man. For your comment, your encouragement, and for noticing the typo. I can’t believe how many times I’ve read this story and didn’t see it. Thanks again.

  13. Mou Mishra says:

    Three seconds to think, do we really need life? Very thoughtful and creative.

    • Peter Nena says:

      People say one second in Hell can be like eternity. Maybe that’s because there is no sense of time after this earth. Or so I think. If we weren’t bound by time and space we wouldn’t know what one second of a clock is, so that even if somebody burnt for what would equal one second here on earth, it’d still be like forever. But we are slaves of time and space and gravity and the atmosphere . . . and ourselves. We are in a version of Hell.
      Thank you, Mou Mishra, for visiting my blog, and for your encouragement.

      • Mou Mishra says:

        welcome 🙂 time is a concept that I still don’t understand and is very interesting to me. I wish, I had the power to know time as it is but, alas! we are slaves of our perceptions and there are infinite that we’d never perceive, time being one and known, there are many unknown too.

      • Peter Nena says:

        What baffles me the most is SPACE. Because, before anything was created or evolved or big-banged or whatever, before time, before God himself, there was space to be occupied. I have thought up to this point and admitted defeat. What is space? How could there have been space?

      • Mou Mishra says:

        We can’t conclude whether time came first or space and how are they actually related or whether even both exist or not? Yes, we cannot define space in its actual form, we can attribute certain qualities to it but, no we don’t know how exactly it is, similar is true for time too.

  14. Peter Nena says:

    The first time I heard that the universe is expanding, I thought: “So what’s out there in yet unoccupied zones? What should be there?” I still can’t tell. And my imagination hits a wall every time I try.

  15. Stephen Thom says:

    Mucilaginous! That’s a wild word. Nice one man, your writing is very evocative, felt the flames licking my sofa as I read. I’ll definitely frequent your blog, seems like cool, weird (in a good way) pieces that suit me. I like the way the blog looks too. All the best 🙂

    • Peter Nena says:

      I think it is something to do with stickiness, like glue. So the fire is like glue, yet hot and seething. You stick in there and boil forever. I imagine Hellfire would be so, if it were there. But thanks again, Stephen. Yourself you are a great writer. I like your descriptions of Meds chimerical experience in The Dinner Party. I read Grindstone but was called to a duty before I commented. I will. Thanks.

  16. The ho, ho, ho at the end reminded me that Santa is an anagram for Satan.

  17. riversofgrue says:

    I choked…I screamed. Your words dance off the screen like delicious flames my friend. Stellar!

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