Hellbound
A journey through the bowels of Hell
with The Devil as your guide.

One

This is a preview to the chapter One from the book Hellbound by Tim Hawken.
Please note this text is copyright protected.

HE PREFERRED TO BE CALLED ASMODEUS. This was all I knew about the man standing before me. In fact, I wasn’t even sure if he was a man. When I looked directly at him, he appeared normal. But if I glanced out of the corner of my eye, I could see something else, something intangible. It was as if his true self was hiding in his shadow, which loomed dark and menacing on the wall, flickering in the firelight.
The fire shed no light itself but rather made the darkness more visible, creating doleful shades of grey throughout the room. The darkness seemed to suck all hope from me, making me restless and edgy, but this man, this ‘Asmodeus’, brought my sense of feeling back. His charismatic air held me totally in thrall. He talked with such passion and authenticity that even if he told a blatant lie, I would believe in its truth.
And what was he talking about? Himself. About how he got to be in his position and how his ‘work’ was always taken out of context.
“You look very confused when I say I’m just trying to help these lost souls make their way to Heaven,” he said. “The reason you’re confused is you think I’m speaking metaphorically. Well, my dear friend, take it very literally. You see, I may have introduced myself as Asmodeus, but let me run off a few of my more well known aliases. Now let’s see: we have Mephistopheles, Beelzebub, Bafomet, Iblis, The Fallen One, Lucifer, The Morning Star, Lord of the Dark, The Devil, oh and my favorite, Satan.”
My jaw dropped as I stared in disbelief at the madman in front of me.
“Now I’ve seen that look on many faces before,” he continued. “That look of, ‘oh my God, I’m stuck in a bad dream!’ Well, this is happening. But please don’t be put off by the negative connotations of my ‘titles’, if that’s what you’d call them. This is real, Michael, this is very real.”
A deep growl rumbled in Satan’s throat and suddenly the fire exploded throughout the room. Satan spread his battered wings, skeletal and black, half draconian half angelic, his eyes turning into pits of oblivion, reflecting my horrified expression as I fell back onto the floor. He collapsed into his chair shaking with fits of laughter. The room once again fell into its despairing shade of grey.
“I’m sorry, Michael, I just couldn’t help it,” The Devil squeezed between giggles. “I love a good joke. I’m not all about wrath and destruction. I am on your side! Haven't you listened to a word I’ve been saying?”
My mind was reeling. I tried to think of how I came to be there, in that room. Nothing came. It was as if a veil had been draped over my thoughts, so that all I could do was concentrate on the moment at hand.
Satan clicked his fingers, chuckling. “A bit confused there, Michael? Don’t worry, your memory will come back soon enough, although not all at once or it would be too much for you to handle. Remembering your own death can be pretty horrifying; remembering your life can be even worse!”
Dead? I was dead. I looked at my hands. They appeared solid. I rubbed my fingers over the palm of my opposite hand. I could hear the crackling of the fire clearly. This isn’t a dream, I know when I’m dreaming, I thought. I looked around the room again. There was a light coat of dust covering the polished-wood floor, but no trace of footprints from where this man had been pacing back and forth in front of me. It wasn’t normal. He wasn’t normal. I looked at Satan closely and he smiled. He had a pointed chin, shiny-white teeth, high cheek bones, black eyes and two short horns protruding just above his thick, jet-black hair. Am I really seeing this? I thought. Am I dead? Where am I? Am I in Hell?
“You are in Hell!” The Devil confirmed with a smirk. “You’re here because you are dead. But that’s not the only reason you’re with me. And, I might observe, you don’t seem too surprised you’re down here and not in Heaven.”
The thing is, I wasn’t surprised at Satan’s remark. Even though I couldn’t remember my lifetime, I somehow knew, or rather felt, that I deserved to suffer.
“Suffer? You will do no such thing down here. You’ll do nothing but enjoy yourself!” Satan laughed.
It occurred to me that my thoughts were being read. This devil was in my mind!
“Oh please, Michael, you don’t really think I could have made it to be ruler of the underworld without learning a few tricks along the way? Don’t worry, my powers only extend to my realm. When I go up there,” he said, pointing up with a clawed hand, “I lose most of my glorious power. That’s why God always tries to get me to fight Him on earth; Armageddon, the final battle. He knows he has my measure.”
A look of pure hate spread across The Devil’s face. Disgust and frustration deformed him to the point where his eyes turned a deep yellow, as if filled with bile. His mouth dripped venomous spittle and his bared teeth twisted into points. I let out a muffled cry and, instantly, he returned to normal.
“Oh, sorry about that, Michael,” he said cheerfully. “God and I have a bit of a past, but you’ll learn the truth of that soon enough. Let me try to explain the essence of why you are actually here. Come with me.”
Satan stood up, turned and walked towards the door at the far end of the room, motioning for me to follow. I quickly fell in step just behind him, as we walked out the door towards an elevator.
“An elevator?” I wondered aloud.
“Of course!” he said. “Do you think we’d live in caves down here while everyone else on the planet lives in houses and apartments? We are the future, Michael, not the past, and we have everything you need.”
The elevator doors opened with a sharp sounding ‘bing’ and he ushered me inside. Satan reached up and pressed the button for floor 666.
“See,” he said as he turned to me with a cheeky grin, “we even have a sense of humor in Hell!”
This must be a dream, I thought to myself. A vivid, horrible dream. I watched the elevator’s shimmering silver doors close in front of me. Cheesy elevator music leaked out of a speaker in the roof, just as if I was riding any ordinary elevator in any ordinary building. The metal cage lurched upwards and The Devil started talking again.
“Hell, Michael,” he said, putting his hand on my shoulder as if to reassure me, “isn’t a place of suffering or torture, but a place of purgatory and rehabilitation. It’s a bit like a jail really, but with a few exceptions.” He paused and looked up at the floor counter as it rose slowly towards the number of the beast. “You see, people end up here because they have done something wrong and have not repented for their actions. They didn’t care that what they were doing was wrong. In order that they ‘purge’ these ‘demons’ from their system they come to Hell, so they can be cleansed before entering Heaven.”
I must have looked confused. I certainly felt that way. My head was swimming. Satan paused as if deep in thought before clearing his throat to continue.
“Let me use an example. Say a man loves to rape women. He does it for a portion of his life and then dies. His soul is befouled because of his crimes committed on the spirit of the women he defiled, and so he ends up here in Hell. He comes here because God does not want predatory rapists running rampant in Heaven destroying more souls. It’s my job to help the rapist rid himself of his terrible urges. In other words, I rid him of his will to sin. I convert the damned to the saved. Once the rapist’s soul has been cleansed then he can trot off to Saint Peter with the hope of passing through those pearly gates.”
The elevator shuddered to a halt. Bing, the door opened into a room made completely of glass. I stood for a moment transfixed. We were overlooking a thriving metropolis, where constant movement whirled far below and lights shone from every building. We were at least twice as high as any other structure around us. I could see for miles in every direction. The city stretched beyond sight. Every road below branched out from the building we stood on. They were linked by twisted laneways and offshoots, to look like a massive spider-web. Red and black glowed throughout most of the tangled net of streets. Others were the darkest pitch. Below us, the streets were alive with movement. Tiny cars were zipping, weaving and dodging through the fast-paced traffic. It was organized chaos.
“This is my kingdom, Michael!” Satan said, sweeping his arm out in front of him. “Welcome to Hell.”

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"I started reading this via Authonomy where Tim is a member and was sharing early looks at the book. Watching..."

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