01 Feb How to survive in Hell
I woke up in a birthing sac. Panicked and choking on amniotic fluid, I clawed at the fleshy walls, fighting with all my terrified strength to free myself. With a wet, ripping sound, I was dumped onto the muddy cobbles of the street below, twisting my ankle as I landed.
Cold rain blasted my naked body clean of the sac’s liquid, I tried and failed to get to my feet. The street was alien to me, an insane medley of architecture ranging from the modern to the prehistoric. The sky above boiled with storm clouds, illuminating my surroundings with non-stop flashes of lightning.
A man walked over to me, his hair was matted with filth and the rain streaked down his mismatched leather clothes. He said nothing, just watched me squirm on the floor.
“Please,” I gasped. “Help me.”
He answered by slamming a foot down on my face, breaking my jaw and making my vision reel. He moved onto my limbs, stamping and tugging until he heard the bones snap. Crippled, naked and screaming, there was nothing I could do to defend myself when he started to eat me alive.
My introduction to Hell wasn’t unusual. Very few people survive their first hour, let alone their first night. When they die, they go through the same thing again, emerging from a new birthing sac in another part of the city. Eventually they learn to attack the first person they see and, if they’re lucky, they’ll be able to kill that person.
That’s the one rule of Hell, the strong take from the weak. Get used to the idea and you might just make it through the afterlife.
I’m going to give you a helping hand. Consider this your handbook to Hell, a primer on the Inferno. Make no mistake though, I’m not doing this out of the goodness of my heart. When you die, you’ll owe me one. Don’t worry about trying to find me, I guarantee we’ll run into each other eventually. Eternity is a long fucking time, so it’s a matter of “when” rather than “if.”
Do as I tell you and you’ll have a better chance than most of avoiding my own nasty introduction to the pit.
Welcome to Hell
Some people swear they saw a light at the end of the tunnel when they died. To my mind, those people either hallucinated or they’re lying. Most of us just wake up in a birthing sac a few minutes after death. The buildings of Hell are covered in the things, horrible, yellow-brown pimples growing out of the brick.
I’ve already mentioned that the first thing you need to do is claw your way out and get ready to fight. This is where the real bitch of the situation comes into play, since not everybody has the strength to break through their sac’s flesh. You get the body you had just before you died, see. So, let’s say you were born a cripple or maybe you died too young or too old … tough shit. You’re going to have a rough eternity drowning in birthing fluid over and over.
If you manage to break free of your sac, don’t waste time moping around, wondering what the fuck happened. Get on your feet and get ready to defend yourself. Chances are good that the first person who sees you will be hungry. There are no plants or animals in Hell, so cannibalism is your only option if you don’t fancy starving to death and having to start over. Aim to kill the first person you see.
It might take a few tries. Most of Hell’s residents have been fighting for survival a lot longer than you. They might have armour made from tanned skin, scavenged metal and bone. They’ll almost certainly have a shiv, club or axe. All of that will be useful to you if you can take it from them.
The next thing to do is find shelter. It never stops raining in Hell and pneumonia is a shitty way to die. Luckily, you’ll have a selection of buildings to choose from. Ever wanted to live in a rundown Victorian manor with half a roof and no furniture? How about an ancient Egyptian mud-brick hovel? If people have built it, you can find a crumbling version of it in Hell. Pick a building, kill any squatters you find and move in.
The best houses are the ones that come with a supply of scrap metal and timber. Not only are these good for making weapons with, they’re also vital for getting drinkable water. I learned the hard way that Hell’s rain is teeming with disease. It has to be boiled before it’s safe, so getting a fire going and something to make a bowl with is a necessity.
So, we’ve killed our first man and found a home. Things are going well. Get that far and you’re going to want to hang on to what you have forever. You won’t. Something will kill you eventually and you’ll have to start over. My record is a year, if you want to beat that, you’ll need to understand Hell and its denizens.
The people of Hell can be grouped into two categories. The first, the fresh meat, are those who’ve just climbed out of a birthing sac. It’s kill or be killed when it comes to fresh meat, always has been. The newly birthed want clothing and tools and will kill to get hold of them. The second category, the residents, view fresh meat as a quick and easy supply of food, leather and bone.
Residents have an easier time of it for sure and all of them will fight to retain their resident status for as long as they can. Make no mistake though, residents victimise each other just as much as they prey on the fresh meat. If you’re a woman for instance, well, you better get over any hang-ups you have about rape. Women get raped in Hell far more than men, it’s just a fact. If you’re not one of those body-builders or warrior women, do the smart thing and prostitute yourself for protection. Self-respect doesn’t keep you breathing.
Remember how you get the body you had just before you died? Well that fact forms the core of Hell’s society. The truth of the matter is that throughout history, it’s usually been men who die in battle. That means that in Hell, there are a lot of men with young, strong bodies fit for war. Don’t like it? Tough. Those are the guys who call the shots. If you can’t fight them, you better do as they tell you.
If you live long enough and fight well enough, you might get invited into one of the resident tribes. These are groups of people who band together for the sake of safety in numbers. Believe me, being part of a group makes things a lot easier in Hell. However, keep in mind that you’re only part of the tribe for as long as you’re a resident. Get yourself killed and it’s back to being fresh meat.
Tribes offer the closest thing to civilised society you’ll find in Hell. If you’re part of a tribe, you have people on your side who probably won’t kill you unless shit gets rough. Doesn’t sound like much but that’s about as good as it gets.
My own survival record was thanks to getting into a tribe. Life was good for a while there. We had about fifty soldiers and plenty of girls to fuck. Nobody could touch us and the men abided by an honour code, so the usual fear of being stabbed in the back by your friends wasn’t too much of an issue. I could have spent my eternity in reasonable comfort but Hell has ways of fucking over a good thing.
Human flesh and boiled rainwater doesn’t exactly make for a balanced diet and sooner or later even the strongest resident dies of malnutrition. I did well to last a year on it, though the last few months were agony. If I believed in God, I’d swear he designed Hell in such a way that nobody stays on top of the food chain for long.
The City and the Wasteland
Most of the damned live in Dis, the city of Hell. That’s where all the fresh meat is born and considering the size of the place coupled with the short life expectancy, a lot of people will spend eternity without ever setting foot outside of Dis.
Take my advice, do not leave the city. Things are rough on the streets, that’s true, but trust me when I say it gets a whole lot worse if you try to leave.
Dis is surrounded by a wasteland called Gehenna. At first glance, it doesn’t look like much, just an empty expanse of grey stretching out into infinity. Sometimes the damned lose that fire in the belly, the will to survive, and set off wandering into Gehenna. Most of them never come back.
I made the walk myself once, a long time ago. I don’t care how hard you think you are, spend enough time in Hell and it starts to break you down. I’m not going to sit here and tell you that I’m a good person who never deserved this. Nobody can say that and not be a liar. I’m not evil though … or rather, I wasn’t. Not until I got to Hell.
You murder, rape and torture because you know they’d do the same to you. You’re murdered, raped and tortured because they know you’ll do the same to them. Give it long enough and you just don’t want to face it anymore. That’s when you take the walk into Gehenna.
The first couple of miles I walked were nothing special. The rain stopped after a while, the sludge beneath my feet giving way to grey ash and I caught my first glimpse of Hell’s sky beyond the clouds. It was a flat grey with a white sun, completely devoid of beauty or warmth. I trudged on.
While walking through Gehenna, I lost any urge to eat, drink or sleep. My body started to waste away but I didn’t care. Even when my skin started to peel away and my bones were exposed, I didn’t care. The further I walked, the hollower I became in mind, body and soul.
I don’t know what would have happened if I’d kept going. Frankly, I don’t want to know. Some part of me still wanted to live, so I turned back. I’d walked for days, maybe weeks, yet when I turned around, Dis was only a few steps away.
I stepped back into the city and my body finally fell apart. When I emerged from my birthing sac, I swore never to step foot into Gehenna again.
Escaping from Hell
There are ways to leave Hell. That should be obvious, otherwise I wouldn’t be talking to you would I?
Sometimes the living get it into their heads that they want to talk with the dead. They get their crystals, incense and spirit boards in the hopes of reaching their loved ones. Most do nothing more than trick themselves into thinking they’ve made contact. They smile or cry, convinced their beloved Granny is playing the harp on a cloud somewhere before getting on with their lives.
A few have the skill to actually reach us though. They can open a gate between Hell and the world of the living that we perceive as a pillar of fire stretching down from the clouds. As soon as one of those pillars shows up, the damned scramble to be the first to get to it.
You haven’t seen the true nature of man until you’ve watched thousands of the damned swarming over each other, kicking, biting and clawing to be the one who escapes. Contacting the dead always results in a bloodbath. Even the most civilised tribes fall apart the instant it becomes clear that only one of them can leave.
I’ve left Hell twice now, left my body behind and ridden that pillar of fire up into the clouds.
Some people believe that you can be possessed by demons. Let me tell you something … demons aren’t real. What the living see as demonic possession is just one of the damned testing out their new body. Let’s face it, if you’ve fought your way through Hell to get back to the world of the living, you’re not going to be on your best behaviour for long.
Sooner or later, we take things too far. Our host dies or their family cave and recruit an exorcist, then we’re fresh out of the birthing sac and on the streets again.
I’m going to go now. When you get to Hell, remember my advice and that you owe me one. Maybe we can form a tribe someday?