(© Biswapriya Purkayastha)
This contribution is part of a series:-
1. In Hell (5-Sep-2011)
2. In Hell: The Streets Of Hell (9-Oct-2011)
| ||In the streets of Hell, where the Souls of the damned slave for the Demons, one lonely Soul gets a chance to escape.|
| ||The demon Kratak is sent on a scouting expedition that leads him into lethal danger. This is part two of the Hell series.|
work!" The demonís lash fell violently, cracking. "To work, every last one of
The Souls stirred, sluggishly moving from their torpor. The
Sun of Hell glared through the open windows, already bright and hot to the
limits of tolerance, burning huge and red in a black sky. From the streets of
Dis the sounds rose, mumbles and scrapings and the occasional demonic howl.
"To work!" The demonís lash curled in the air, cracking.
The Souls shuffled out of their chamber into the street
outside. The chamber itself was built of their pain, the streets of their
despair, harnessed by the demons and turned into brick and stone. The entire
city of Dis was built of and by the Souls, and more flooded into the work gangs
by the day. The demons had no shortage of labour.
The streets were already crowded. Gangs of Souls were being
led off to labour, guarded by watch- demons of many different types. Among them
moved other demons; tall, spindly ones with eyes on stalks, whirling by at the
speed of the wind, squat, sluglike blobs with mouths full of needle teeth,
giants so huge that their size was beyond guessing, or tiny ones that skittered
between the legs of the others. Bent on their own business, they all ignored
the watch-demons and the Souls alike.
The Souls all looked alike; grey, virtually faceless and
featureless, with only approximation to their original shape as human beings.
None of them was entirely complete; some lacked a hand, others eyes, or ears,
or mouths. All shuffled on together with an identical gait, heads drooping,
into the misery of another slice of eternity as slaves for the demons.
The Souls were alike in another way as well. None of them
retained personal memory or a sense of individuality; they had no idea who they
had been or why they were here. They were utter automata, serving their demon
masters, with their labour and their suffering, until the end of time.
Group by group, parties of Souls began to be separated from
the main group, to be taken off to different sites where they would work the
day away. Many of these slaved away endlessly on the huge, blocky buildings
which never seemed to be finished and whose nature and purpose was known to the
demons alone.† Many of the others, more than half those remaining, were led off
up the winding road leading to the great palace of the Demon Lords of Dis,
there to build up the titanic black walls and furbish the gates with carvings.
The remainder, now quite a small group, only a few thousand
strong, shuffled on, under the cracking whips of watch-demons, towards the city
gates. They towered over the city, huge and black, carved with screaming
tortured faces and glaring, terrorised eyes. There were already Souls from
other parties hard at work on the gates, carving, rubbing and polishing. They
did not look down at the passing Souls, and the passing Souls did not look up.
Outside the gates and the city walls was the broken plain,
black rock under the black sky, lit only by the dim glow of the great red sun
The road that led from the gates of Dis was raised slightly above
the rough stone of the plain, and had been smoothened by countless caravans
over the millennia. The road branched within sight of the city walls, the
smaller path leading off to the mines. With a crack or two of the whips, the
watch-demons led their charges on to this path and began herding them into the
Among the Souls there was one who was confused. This one had
been among several which had only arrived in Dis during the night, and it had
not yet endured the crushing routine of suffering that removed the last trace
of spirit. It had no memory of itself, no thoughts of the past; it, however, thought
that there had been some other reality, which it had known. It still retained
enough humanity to know sadness, and confusion.
The watch-demons began to lead the Souls down into the
mine-pit. It was a hole in the ground, dimly lit by heat so intense that the
rocks themselves glowed a reddish hue, and the air would have seared the lungs
of any who might have breathed it. But of course neither the demons nor the
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