I got up from my soft bed, I felt amazing ! I felt my illness had left me completely. I ran out of my room and saw my mother settling the dishes , all my relatives had come over because my condition was pretty critical. “Gosh! Ma you can’t imagine how good I feel. I feel free . Anyway, could you give me something to eat? I’m like starving!” She didn’t seem to notice, but then again she used to do that when I told her to make something in early mornings. I went back into my room and what I saw terrified me, to say the least.
I lay there, motionless and still. My chest didn’t rise and fall like it normally did. I saw my skin changing colour as my body temperature dropped. I knew what had happened, what I was. My mother came in , she began to stroke my head and hugged me putting her head on my chest, then she heard it.. The sound of nothing. A state of morbidity went through her, I saw her less tense face fall as she went into a shock, I couldn’t see this! I left the room but could hear my loved ones cry. ‘I am right here’ I thought. After sometime, as everyone got ready to get on with the ceremonies, I went into my room again. I looked sick and like a vegetable. (look at me self-criticizing for looking a certain way in death!)
13 days later..
The final custom was going to be performed to let the soul free from the mortal world.
Death is nothing like they show in horror movies, it wasn’t cold , it wasn’t harsh, it was something like the insignificance of a graduation ceremony for going from class 5 to 6, you feel nothing. The ceremony was performed , as I saw my father in a dhoti , go into the middle of a small lake and break a mud pot. I thought I would see a striking aura of white light and get sucked into it, like a UFO abduction , but nothing happened. I saw a man approaching me, he looked haggard. He wore a black suit, with a red shirt, the first button was open and his hair was messy. He had mud marks on his trousers and part of his suit were burnt. I knew he was something that didn’t belong here with me because he was looking straight at me.
As he approached,“Please don’t be an angel, because if you are, I’ll be really disappointed with all the television serials and the books I read in my lifetime.. Short lifetime.” I said and I didn’t regret being mean, I wasn’t in a good mood. I was dead , duh! But he looked too pleased after hearing it.
“No. I am in fact not an angel. I am a demon. I am here to take you.. To hell!” He tried to put a dramatic tune to it and failed. I knew I should have been disappointed, but I really didn’t care where I went.
But I still wanted to know why I was going there , “Hell? Why? I haven’t done anything wrong!”
“There was a testimony by your ex-boyf-”
“That I cheated on him and made him sad. Heard that story a million times.. Is hell this way?” I said pointing at the direction , he came from.
“More like this way” He snapped his fingers and a trapdoor opened in the ground as I fell on my face after a few feet. “Come on get up! The other trap doors aren’t working.. We have to walk down the levels!” I got up reluctantly. “And from when have they been out of order?” I asked looking up and seeing a narrow tunnel like cave. “ About 400 years. Come on , let’s go!” He said casually. “Wow! Talk about low maintenance.” I followed him down the tunnel.
An hour passed of silent walking and now, my mouth muscles wanted to be stretched. I wondered that was I going to hell, or was going to create one with my constant urge to talk.
“So.. What’s your name?” I asked trying to act casual.
“Azazel” He said gloomily.
“Oh! Nice .. name. Biblical. I am-”
“I know your name, sweetheart.”
“Great. So is hell all like .. fire and screams?”
“Not really. Those are stereotypes and we don’t like them. Hell has moved on and we are trying to make the improvements. Sometimes management goes out of hand and some rogue demons escape, otherwise it’s much less politicised compared to up there!” He said as he pointed up.
“Cool. So if you all don’t believe in stereotypes, what’s with the suit colours? Isn’t red and black the stereotype hell colour?”
“The pick-up service is very advanced. I was told that you read books and see horror movies , so I thought I’d give you at least that much of a fantasy.”
“That’s sweet. I mean, in a very morbid way but.. Thanks…So if-”
“Enough questions, sweetheart. The tour guide will answer the rest.”
We arrived at a counter named ‘Registration and Enquiry’ , behind which was a big metal door and on the other side there was a stairwell. “What’s that?”
Azazel looked up at it “Stairwell to purgatory.”
“Stop the fandom girl! Give your name and details here.”
A blonde woman sat there, in a pair of ripped denims and a white shirt. She had light blue eyes , behind the shimmery pair of glasses she wore.
“How and what time did you die?” Her voice was so monotone.
“Influenza. At about 6 am.”
“You’re the girl who is here because of her ex’s testimony?”
“Yeah.” I sighed. I wish I had haunted that guy before I came here.
“You’ll not be here long. As soon as your work quotient is equal to the sin quotient.. You’ll be given a pass to heaven.”
She smiled sweetly and lead me to the door.. “Welcome to Hell!”
I looked back at Azazel as he nodded reassuringly.
There was a gush of wind..
And I stepped into my very own hell.