Stairway To

Purgatory is a profitable enterprise. The dead who go to hell are stuck getting tortured while those who go to heaven are bathing in eternal bliss, so that only left the betweeners to take care of business. What kind of business, you ask? Transport, mainly. People from one side naturally want to visit the other.

Now I can’t get myself in the upper H or the lower H–it’s a long story why, and I’m sure you’ve got your own tale since you’re sitting here with me–but let’s just say I know a lotta folks from both places, and they’re all curious.

I picked up a gaggle of folks the other day and headed to the other side. It was a long trip, but the sights are worth it. Cloud and earth and fire. People are always interested in Earth, even if they don’t think they’ll be. As soon as we pass it, I’m told to pull over, slow down, whatever–let ’em have a look and how the world is getting on. They remember what it used to be like to worry about an end. That things could advance, change, rather than stay the same for eternity. Yeah, they’re all curious about that.

So we finally get to our destination, but since A, I’m a resident of Purgatorio and B, folks from Paradiso and Inferno aren’t supposed to be crossing each other’s fence, we couldn’t just park in front of the entrance and stroll in. That said, lack of oversight upstairs meant the lower-tier angels could get away with a friendly barter system, and the demons downstairs were plain greedy, so I could always grease the palms of some gatekeeper and get a tour going. Residents pay good denarii for that, and I pocket quite a bit in the process.

But this time… the gatekeeper wouldn’t have it. “Take ’em back,” he said. I say ‘he,’ but, you know… Anyway, he doesn’t care a whit about denarii, even though they’re getting rarer and rarer since folks stopped sticking ’em on dead folks’ eyes. I offer him a couple more coins, and he’s got his hand on his weapon and saying, “Take them back or we’ll take them in.”

So some of the shades I’m transporting, they overhear this and they’re all, “Take us, then! Take us!” He couldn’t take me, of course, ’cause I’m more of an echo than a shade, but he gets this look like “Don’t tempt me,” but they are tempting him, right. They want to go to the other side. Even though they know their side, they’re safe in what they know, in the routine, in the eternity of it… but they still want to go. They weren’t looking for a vacation. They wanted to emigrate.

Why would the angel take them in? That’s a good question, but the wrong one. I wasn’t talking to an angel.




Day 321’s three random writing prompt categories were, “Trucker,” “The storyteller,” and, “Is it Heaven? Or Hell?”

I imagine the transporter as Charon (of the River Styx). But, like, a trucker.

– H.

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