PASIG CITY, Philippines. May 2006.
"Nina, stop staring at that computer all day. You'll wreck your eyes."
"But Grandma, it's so comfortable! Plus I wanna make my Sims richer. I don't use cheat codes. Plus my favorite Sim's making so many friends already."
"Then why don't you chat with your real friends? Go on, call them up. Isn't your class arranging a trip to Mount Makiling? Go with them."
"Boring. I'd rather play The Sims or DotA."
"Watch out young lady. You may be skinny now, but if you sit around all day like that, you'll end up getting fat soon."
"Fine, I'll go!"
Nina was 16 years old. She had just graduated from high school. She had been feeling lethargic all summer, and decided to follow her Grandma Andrea's advice, and went hiking with her friends in Mount Makiling.
MOUNT MAKILING, Philippines. June 2006.
"Hey, this is tiring. Go ahead guys, I'll catch up after I take a short break," Nina said, huffing and puffing all the while. She hadn't exercised in a long time, and today she plunged her body straight into the wilderness for a daylong hiking trip. She'd hiked with her friends through over five kilometers of forest, so now she felt incredibly tired. She lumbered over to a log to drink and let her body rest for three minutes.
"Thank goodness. A bug-free log."
Krrrrrk. The log under her was shaking. Nina feared it might be an earthquake.
"Ah! The log's sinking!"
The log suddenly dropped out from beneath Nina, not giving her any time to jump to safety. A large chasm had suddenly appeared right under her, and the trees around her were glowing. She fell down, down into a dark bottomless cavern. She tried to hold onto something, anything that would stop her fall, but she only succeeded in twisting her body into falling down headfirst. Everything was pitch black so she had no idea what kind of place she was in. She continued flailing her arms, hoping to catch hold of a branch or anything.
"Ugh! What's this?"
In her efforts to find a handhold, she had grabbed onto something squishy and wet. It was slimy and she lost her hold on it very quickly.
"Is this an infinite tunnel? Can things get any worse than this?"
Her head hit a large rock, and a searing pain spread thoughout her body.
At least it's all over. Maybe I'll see Mom and Dad in Heaven.Wow, things are starting to get brighter already.
An orange light slowly lit up the entire cavern. Nina continued falling down.
CHASM. Location, date, and time unknown.
"What the heck? I'm still ali-"
There was a body falling down right next to her. Her body. Her dead body, grimly illuminated by the orange light which seemed to come from the cavern walls. Her body's eyes were open, and her body's face had the expressionless stare of the dead.
Nina stared at her hands and felt her spirit. It felt solid enough to her. Her hands did not pass through her body, and she felt perfectly normal. The searing pain was gone. She was dead, but it was clear to her now that she wasn't on her way to Heaven. She started to cry.
So spirits can cry too. This is unfair, I've never done anything evil to anybody.
"Where am I!" she screamed, as the walls of the cavern became more and more clearly illuminated by orange light. Nina found out what she had grasped a while ago. The walls were lined with ghastly horrors- blood, intestines, and other entrails, which impaled on long, sharp spikes. The cavern was getting smaller, and the walls and spikes were starting to close in on her.
I'm a spirit; those can't harm me.
Her dead body was impaled on the spikes above her.
Her spirit was solid! The spikes were digging into her, and started tearing pieces of her away. From her wounds blood gushed normally.
"I won't die again, right?"
Finally, the walls spread apart again. More horrors lined the walls now- vomit and skeletons accompanied the entrails and spikes.
She landed with a thud onto a soft, soft floor. The air smelled putrid. Glancing down, she saw that the floor was made of soft eyeballs and lips. All the lips suddenly opened and let out cries of agony.
"Welcome to Hell, Lady Nina," a deep voice boomed.
HELL. Rules of reality no longer apply.
Nina looked for the source of the voice and saw a hideous sight. In front of her was a very tall and obese man. He had waist long blonde hair, matted in some parts with what looked like dried blood. He wore a long apron, which was covered with grime and even more blood. His skin was peppered with large bumps filled with pus. Scariest of all was the large axe he carried, which had caked blood all over it.
"Are you going to cut me up with that?" Nina said, not daring to look at his face. She didn't want to see how gruesome it looked.
"I'm sorry for being impolite. Let me introduce myself. My name is Lucius. I am The Welcomer. This axe is for breaking in the most evil of the damned. They attempt to attack me, and other souls the first minute they get here. It's just for teaching them some manners. You see, even in Hell, we prefer that people behave themselves to a certain extent. They get their appropriate punishments, not from other people but from the entities who help manage Hell. It wouldn't be right for residents to hurt other residents and enjoy themselves in the process. It would defeat the purpose of their stay here. Punishment for all."
Nina was shaking with fear. "Do I get punished too?"
"I'm sorry to tell you that you are here by accident. A prophesized accident, but still an accident nonetheless. It is rare that an innocent soul gets to Hell, and for those kinds of souls, a different treatment is given. Come."
She finally gathered the courage to look at his face, and, oh, what a shock she received. What she saw was not the gruesome face that she expected, but the face- oh wonder of wonders- of an angel! It was the kind of face any young lass would fall in love with at first sight- handsome, and perfect from any angle. What a shock it was, to see such a fair face attached to a body like that. "Y-y-you have blue eyes," she stammered out, "and a face like that. Why?"
Lucius laughed a laugh long and loud and gave no reply. He motioned for her to follow him.