THIS TRAIN, AIN’T BOUND FOR GLORY…THIS TRAIN….

“Three lines, please, people. Everyone with a Brimstone Pass, form up here, to my left, you’re going straight to Hell.” the Devil looked ridiculously earnest in his Conductor’s uniform. “Let’s do this in an orderly fashion, and the ride will be so-ooo much more pleasant,” he said in his sincerest voice.

As he directed into Line Two those with assignments in levels 1-4, among whose number I had chosen to travel, demons of the Dark Lord were hustling souls in the third line down onto the tracks in front of the Helluvapalooza Express. There, other shapes took over and, with club, lash, and twist-ties, made new tracks with some of the new arrivals whose crimes were of a brutal and repetitious nature. Others, ones guilty of Sloth, slavers, pickpockets, politicians, and others who profited unfairly from the labors of others, were tethered, in two lines, to an impossibly long tongue connected to the train’s obviously false engine.

My disguise was more for the benefit of my fellow passengers. Rather, it was for my benefit, so I would not be inundated with belated requests for mercy. Thus, I was not surprised that Satan saw me immediately. Of course, nothing surprises me, unless I will it to be so, which I do on occasion, because I like surprises.

“Like what I’ve done with the place?” he smirked.

“I’ll reserve judgment for now.”

Satan did a sulphurous spit-take, snorting out noxious steams, chewed pieces of ravaged souls. “You, reserve judgment?” You are funny when you aren’t waxing righteous wroth.”

As the moaning, fate-bewailing throng took their seats(nothing special about the seats, they were the same hellishly uncomfortable benches found in rides across the United states), Satan sat astride the engine, his knees drawn up and angled out to an outlandish degree. A crack of his whip, and the train began to move. His minions had laid out the wretches on the track in such a manner that, as the train crawled forward, the cries and screams of those being crushed rose and fell in tone, a calliope of misery and regret.

A microphone appeared in his hand, and a tinny version of his voice emanated from the cheap speakers on the ceiling.

“Welcome, folks, to another day, another Beautiful day in Hell. An acid rain is predicted for this afternoon, as usual, right before the nightly s#@t-storm. I’m sorry but the umbrellas provided us by the LandLORD won’t help much, as they are quite Hole-y.” His cackle was infectious indeed; not only was everyone around me induced to laugh, several experienced eruptions of open, festering sores on their arms and faces.

“We will circumnavigate the Nether Regions, you will all see where your damned souls will be tortured in accordance to the sins you committed in life..” A scream cut his spiel short. “Thanks for the reminder, fella. Ladies and Gentlemen, do not stick your arms or legs out of the windows.”

The train rolled around a bend, “Here is the new Intake Center, Some of you will serve your eternal time here. Not so bad, there are worse jobs than cleaning broken toilets 24/7.”

“Like what?”, asked an impertinent man three seats ahead of me and across the cramped aisle.

Immediately, he became a toilet brush, which a demon picked up and tossed to another fallen angel on the platform.

“I am here to answer your questions, as you can see. Are there any more?” There were not.

Just past the Intake Center was a metal floor under a bright red roof. “Those of you who just couldn’t wait to get home to do your drinking, who know the joy of being drunk behind the wheel, listening to AC-DC, the wind in your hair as you speed down residential streets and through STOP signs, and whose victims were just as much at fault as you, yeah, right, say hi to your new home.” The train stopped in front of a facade reading BUMP-‘EM CARS. Under the gaudy flourescents were gaily-painted, riderless bumper cars, wheeling about, smashing into one another and the terrified souls of unrepentant perpetrators of slaughter and maimings who fled in horror from the fate they had incurred on others.

With a jerk, the train move ahead. A woman next to me started crying, “Oh God, dear God, Oh God…”. Satan winked at me in the mirror mounted so he could watch the patrons.

“Maybe he can hear you, maybe he doesn’t care.”

I did care, care for the son she sold to a pervert for enough crystal meth to make her heart explode. Her boy was now with me, she would end up so deep in Hell that even I won’t hear her screams.

The next stop was in front of BeezleBubba’s Nursery. “You three, this is your stop”. At Satan’s bidding, three men in camouflage stepped onto the platform, and looked around, scared. This was not their familiar jungle, and those kids swarming towards them weren’t human, screaming as they were taken from their mother’s loving arms, their hands or feet amputated, the lucky ones broken and made into little killers and torturers themselves.

There are no children in Hell, but there are infant demons, with horns, razor-sharp teeth and lashing tails, whose phenomenally dirty diapers need constant changing and hand-washing, which is hard to do once your hands have been gnawed down to the wrist, one finger at a time.

With a merry yell over his shoulder, “Don’t take any bloody diamonds!”, Satan whipped the team into motion, and once again we were riding the human rails.

“About now is when it starts getting hot. How many of you would like a nice cold drink? All of you? I thought so. Well, me too.” So saying, he opened up a cooler between his legs and took out a canned soda. He downed it in one long gulp, spit in the can and tossed it behind him into the first car, where the riders fought for it as if for a home-run ball hit by Babe Ruth.

By now the mood on the train had become more subdued; instead of fright and screams, there was brooding and silence, a sense of resignation hung in the air, like the smell of dirty clothes in a ratty gym. Satan doesn’t like subdued resignation, one area of management where we agree to disagree. I like the idea of brooding upon your crimes, realizing what brought you to this. Satan, not having ever been in the business of saving souls, only consuming them, saw no value in repentance at this late date, and preferred to keep the fright and pain level high; it was his fuel, his drug.

So, in fast order, the train became a log flume ride, in a half-cylindrical track filled with molten lava, and headed for a pyroclastic slide into a bubbling pool of magma. The ennui vanished like smoke, which doesn’t vanish in these environs, and soon all the riders were screaming, the ones whose laps filled with hot lava naturally taking the lead in the chorus.

I pulled the emergency cord that I had caused to appear, and the train ground to a halt. I got out, I had seen enough.

“Going so soon?” Satan looked genuinely hurt. We still have the Tunnel of Lusts, The Greed Palace, The Bungee Jump into the Valley of Thorns…..”

“This is good,” A wave of my mighty arm took in all of his corner of my Kingdom. Good, in a bad way.” I joked, but the Devil didn’t laugh; he rarely got my jokes, which were more subtle than his oven-hot pie-in-the-face type of humor.

“So, this means I…”

“You get to keep the lease, for another eon. Just do me one favor, and put in some more soundproofing, like I’ve been after you to do since the last meet-up.”

“Done! Well, not done yet, but the next train will be perfect. All the suicide bombers are coming in on the Belial Flyer. Their padded suits are perfect for decibel reduction.”

“Fine”, My voice rumbled as my disguise fell from my being like feathers from a molting bird of paradise. As I soared heavenward, Satan’s voice faded away….

“All of those who sold their souls to me in life, the Helluva-View Condominiums are coming up on your right. Now on your left you will see…..”

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2 responses to this post.

  1. Interesting take from an atheist. I tell you, in one of Ann Rice’s vampire books (I can’t remember which one,) God and Satan have quite the chat….I wanna say it’s at the place that’s famous for Beignets….don’t get old!

    Reply

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