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 Main Index

 Chapters

 Editor's Note

 Preparations

 My Trip

 My Arrival

 The Stench & Flames

 The Cigarette Man

 The Unpersuaded

 The Valley

 The Rich Man

 The Ministry

 The Island

 The Angels

 Homeward

 Reflections

 The Bible & Hell
 

The Cleft


 
My Arrival

Fearing mostly the flames, I was dressed in my fire suit when I arrived.

The land was indeed dark, and I stood still for what seemed to be an hour, though it may have been more or less, until my eyes began to adjust more completely and I could begin to see. A faint light as from a far, far distant moon shone from behind me, as if I stood on Pluto and the light of the sun barely touched the planet, casting my shadow long and dim across the black hellish landscape.

Though it would be unfair to say that the pale, cold light actually illuminated Hell, as my eyes adjusted it provided a faint glow that provided barely enough light to see by. But the light fell in patches, interrupted by the uneven landscape and outcroppings, and I could see that my flashlight would prove to be useful.

Even after my eyes had become accustomed to this shadowy world, I stood unsure, for I was dressed in a bulky fire suit, which my eyes told me was unnecessary, for it appeared to be a cold and lifeless land. My concern that Hell would be an inferno did not appear to be the case, but not knowing the terrain, or whether there might not be such a thing as invisible flames, I hesitated. But slowly, even through the insulated material, I began to feel the cold, and became more certain that Hell, or at least this part of Hell on which I had set foot, was as cold as a moon of Jupiter.

Discovering that the temperature, though brutal, was the reverse of what I had feared, I removed the fire suit and intended to fold it carefully and pack it away before changing into the parka. But the cold was so intense that I dropped it on the ground and grabbed quickly for the pack, struggling to open it as my fingers, and even my entire hands, began to become numb.

The cold was so piercing that my confidence in completing this simple task began to wane, and I feared I would not manage to open the pack before my fingers were unable to do so. I worked feverishly and probably made the task twice as difficult as it would otherwise have been save for my concern. But that distant sense of God came upon me and I found my fingers, though increasingly immobile, seeming to do just the right thing, sliding open the flap and exposing the parka, which I gratefully put on. The cold was bitter, so I put on the insulated gloves as well.

As I became more comfortable within my clothing, I noticed more clearly my surroundings. There were small hillocks, mounds, and hollows, but the landscape was a dull, cold, powdery blue-grayness, unbrightened by any cheerful color, any tree or flower, or even, despite my searches, by the smallest plant. The only light was from Heaven, far behind me, but the glow was distant and without warmth. As my eyes grew adjusted to the darkness, I could more clearly see the dim shadow it cast before me.

But at least this dreary place was sparsely inhabited, or so it seemed. If Hell was occupied by the damned, there certainly appeared to be few of them. It gave me comfort to think that so few had rebelled and been sent to this awful land.

I opened my pack again and, intending to explore the still darker regions of Hell, removed the flashlight, and shone it before me as I began walking. I flipped it on and off as I walked to illuminate the shaded areas into which I could not see clearly. There was not much to report about them, for they were the same dull color as the places exposed more clearly to the faint light.

I had begun to flip the light on and off in a casual way, having, after ten or fifteen illuminations, come to the conclusion that there was no more to see in the shadows than in the light, when casually swinging the beam around to glance behind a hummock, there came the most horrifying scream.

Copyright 2003, Brad Haugaard