05 May Just Another Day at the Office
“Just Another Day at the Office”Written by Dale Thompson Edited by Craig Groshek Thumbnail Art by Craig Groshek Narrated by N/A
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🎧 Available Audio Adaptations: None Available
⏰ ESTIMATED READING TIME — 12 minutes
In the place unseen by the living lies a world so deep that time is forgotten and years are not measured. No longer in the terrestrial, in this existence, it doesn’t matter how badly one behaves; as a matter of fact, bad behavior is readily encouraged. There is no law, no punishment, but there is order.
Organized chaos sits at the right hand of the Overlord, who manages all who have subscribed to this infernal place. The lowliness of the low, the most offensive of the foul, the most unpleasant of the worst, the most deplorable of the bad, the most crapulous of those who fill their gullets so thick with lust that their throats appear to be on the edge of explosion, they all exist here confined in their roles; and everyone is responsible, all accountable to their eternal assignments.
In this unplumbed region in the abyssal state of limbo, those who are bound are thrust gobsmacked into the incomprehensible. All thieves, liars, murderers, those who have taken their neighbor’s wives, those who lust in chaste delights and scortatory love. The eccentric high and mighty, greedy for power, control and lordship over their neighbors, coveting the very things they cannot afford, are eventually dealt with, judged and then, in a remedial act of sentencing, they are delivered to Satan to learn not to blaspheme. Some are dragged by their feet, kicking and pleading, screaming for their lives, but their lives have been forfeited and snuffed out , into the mystery of death, the mouth that enlarges itself with every new inhabitant. Hell, and its counterpart, destruction is never full. Some arrive by the gun, some by the razor, others by the needle, the rope, or careless inattention.
Honestly, though, the worst I have seen is the slubberdegullions who behave in such an embarrassing, brachial manner that they are instantly sentenced to the lowest depth, which I have never witnessed anyone emerging from. Once here, we all practice nephalism. No one gets to bring their vices from the living world to the dead.
This capsulated world with its stifling heat, its roaring flames of globe-shaped fire, which explode and crackle from demonic veins, web through the labyrinth, feeding the fire and the worms which never die. One minute a person is minding their own business, living their lives, thinking about what they want for dinner or planning a holiday with the family, maybe thinking about how they are going to pay off that student loan, perhaps they are just getting out of bed when it happens. All life, all plans, all future come to a sudden halt , and they die. Their next step is coming here. In th is godforsaken, inhospitable habitation, they realize that the life they had lived was an elaborate dream, a lie, and they were stars of their own existence until their curtain came down and the show was over. There are no encores for those who sought only carnal knowledge. Their reward is now realizing all they had ever done, all accomplishments, all wins, all gain have been wiped away, and naked with no earthly treasure, they enter through the gateway of no return.
This is where they can find me. Names are not given in this sweltering, forlorn inception. Yes, this is a new beginning where it never rains, there is no sun, no moon, the stars have all burned out. Forgive me – now that’s a funny term here – rather, excuse me; my earthly name was Dante Russo, but no one knows anyone’s name here.
My assignment is simple; I shovel coal. I feed the hungry flames, which are all-consuming. This is backbreaking work, hunched over awkwardly performing work that never ends.
There is no conclusion. It is a run-on sentence from a devil that never runs out of air and where the listener cannot squeeze a word in edge-wise. The work is ceaseless, a dreadful task where it never pauses; there is never a break, just scooping and feeding those surmountable nuggets of black incendiaries into Hell’s mighty swelling furnace. They tell me this is called the colliery.
I believe I am enslaved to Satan – that name is seldom used here, though. Baphomet, Mephisto, the Abominable One …all attractive names, don’t you think? The devil is the devil wherever you meet him, and I am positive it is the Ol’ Serpent who has us all entangled in this burning nest of damnation.
I am neither happy nor am I sad; I just am. I cannot buy my way out, gamble my way out, no bargain can be met; no achievement so grand, no treasure to be given, that would secure my release. Originally in a sniveling and slovenly state when I realized the last hope of life had escaped me, and my life vanished; mentally, the torment began. The bitterness of death has answered the call of my failures, so in tune with my short comings and errors in life. Ignorantly I had drank death daily but never recognized the dark looming presence when he first began his evil spying on me. Death sought me, planned the day of my demise, and when I was at my weakest, he swooped on me with bold, tenacious inevitability and caught me unaware.
One scoop after another, I labor. This thankless work is necessary; otherwise, Hell would freeze over, and we wouldn’t want that now, would we? In my unabated roll, a mountainous pile of coal is heaped. From this towering pyramid of blackness, those of us assigned to the unrelenting task wheel our carts to the base of the mound, where some other person tips a conveyer bed of coal into the cart.
Uninterruptedly, I then wheel my cart to my station, where I begin to feed the coal into the open mouth of the furnace.
No water is supplied. The only river that runs through the underbelly of this demimonde-perfumed, sulfur-choked place is a river of molten lava, a pyroclastic flow from the Master’s throne. Some say it is the bile from his princely throne. It is not the type of river one can fish or swim in. It is a boiling brew of gases, poisons, rotting smells of decomposition, liquid abscesses bubbling, resembling suppurating sores, flowing in glowing crimson purification, disgusting belching geysers of purulent discharge.
My furnace station rests on the banks of a massive lava field complete with scalding hot spouts of intermittent volcanic bombs. Throughout the unapproachable fields, as far as the eye can see under the bright orange illumination, are symmetrical cone-builds of alternating layers. This all adds to the torrent of ash plumes augmented overhead. I am accustomed to the blast sounds as frequent eruptions shake the landscape. A deep caldera formed not long ago, which sucked some of the other coal shovelers right down into the depression. I know that I am midlevel and that the cauldrons which boil with fervent heat are merely passages into lower corridors that descend into the abominable abyss. I am thankful to be at midlevel. Nothing is dormant, even on the highest levels. Everything is vibrant with shaking, rocking and constant vibrations. Fissures can pose real difficulty if they open beneath someone. I was recently caught in one and straddled the gap for the longest time, doing my best not to fall in and succumb to an even greater fate. As chance would have it, the opening closed up just enough for me to make a leap over to the other side, where I was safe. Well, at least as safe as this place allows. Seismic activity down here is immense, but like I said, you get used to it.
If you want to know the truth of the matter, rats in the sewers of New York and the coal miners in West Virginia have it better than we do.
I have had the good pleasure of meeting some very famous people here. I am not a name dropper but allow me to share with you, my privilege, the titles of some of these disgusting people. I have met kings and queens and all sorts in between; preachers and popes and others without hope. Lawyers, judges and cops, those on the bottom and those on the top; drag queens, even teens, movie stars, rock stars and some that can’t even sing. Businessmen, bankers, admirals have set anchor. There is no bigotry, discrimination or prejudice, there are no corporate ladders to climb – but not all are treated equal, for the punishment here fits the crime.
That was a little musical number I made up while biding my time slaving away in this vile environment. There is a lot of time to think here. There is a lot of second-guessing, like,
‘What if I would have? Maybe I should have done this different or that different or changed something, maybe I should have said no when I said yes?’ You see, you can beat yourself up here for an everlasting time over ‘should of, could of, would of,’ but second guessing probably wouldn’t have changed fates. Doubt is a loathsome friend that brings disquiet and a ringing in one’s head. I guess there is nothing wrong with speculating, but you can’t worry about things.
I used to question everything and believed nothing, and look where that got me. The coal shoveler one station over believed everything and questioned nothing, so you see, I am
here because I belong here. There is no other place in the cosmos where I could be this productive.
My earthly life, from what I remember of it, was a confusing mess. That old saying, ‘look before you leap’? Well, I left out that first part. I never considered consequences, and I just
leaped. Seemed like ‘live and learn’ was not the best ideology.
I had misguided convictions, I would have to say. Oh goodness, listen to me. Hindsight is 20/20. It’s dilemmatic now. I am, as you say, in over my head. I would say a lesson learned for me would be to choose your friends wisely.
Speaking of friends, because our workstations are isolated from each other, building any sort of friendship in this sweltering sauna is virtually impossible. People get moved around a lot here due to the number of new arrivals. I have had the good fortune after my initial processing to be assigned to the place where I still work now. I couldn’t tell you how long I have worked here because the conditions are so disorienting. Being here I am in a state of sensory deprivation.
I know one thing, and that is how to keep the furnaces hot. It is important for me not to lose sight of my assignment. I have witnessed others who thought they could become slack in their work get sent further below to never be heard from again.
There is a hierarchy here. First, you have The Prince of Darkness, some call him Your Lordship. I have never even seen him, but I am pretty sure he exists; he is quite revered. Beneath him, you have what I call his minions who do his personal bidding. Below them, you have the enforcers. These are people who are nominated to keep order. Here order and peace are two different things. I have seen it get out of hand here, and when it does, they just let it play out. The enforcers usually clean up any messes. Next in the food chain are people like me. We are the guts of the operation working maintenance. We are the wheels that keep Hades ablaze.
Below us, there are far worse conditions. In that Tartarian region I have heard of unfathomable vicariousness. I have heard it is an eternal slaughterhouse for anyone that is condemned there. The ‘irredeemable’ make up the majority of the population. On this level, it is a free-for-all. The heinous acts of debauchery, and the deplorable cruelty inflicted cannot be remotely imagined. The place is crawling with the nefarious kind wrapped up in necromancy and maliciousness. These are those that never cease to accuse, to defame, to conquer, to perniciously malign; these are the forever insidious repellent ones ignoble in all of their ways.
I will admit that when I first arrived, I was a fish out of water. I thought there had to be a mistake. I told them I do not belong here in this insufferable place. I was nothing like these skeptic types roaming around, the witlessly incorrigible bunch they had lumped me in with. It didn’t take long before the higher -ups recognized my value, and I have been at the furnace since. I think it is my commitment to work, my on-time personality, willing to please, and the fact that no one foresaw me causing any real trouble.
Unlike God, the devil isn’t all-seeing, all-knowing; he can’t be everywhere at once. That in itself gives us some advantage.
I don’t want to paint this place like a walk in the park because it is hardly that. I have not mentioned the magma spiders whose little legs leave nasty burns, nor the flaming cockroaches which crawl up one’s pantlegs, not to mention the worms that do not die which gnaw on the occupants day and night. The lava crickets are a very real thing here. I would have to say that the policy of no rest day or night would probably be the worst of all. Sleep deprivation is murderous here. I am not sure if it is possible to sleep, but if I could , I would be reluctant to do so because if you let down your guard, you will lose your position, and no one wants to be bumped down a level. My brain and cognitive function misfire often but as long as I stay robotic in my work, I am never questioned.
You might be wondering about memories, like do I have memories of my family, friends or lifestyle? The answer is an emphatic yes, but there is a catch. The only memories we were allowed to retain are the bad ones. The remembrances of our worst days, our biggest losses, our physical pain, our failures, they accompany us in haunting flashbacks. Memories such as these bring on a sense of impending doom. Imagine if you never had a good thought ever again, if positivity was forbidden. What if you knew the opposite of bad is good, but no longer had the ability to define right and wrong, light and dark, evil or righteousness? Too late to preach. I digress ; I shall move on.
When I initially arrived in this place ablaze, I could not imagine what I had done to deserve such disrespect. I was vehement and protested this eternal incarceration, but no one cared, no one listened, and the advice I received in passing was to keep my mouth shut and to do my own time. This is when I realized that time was now a figment of my imagination, and I was doomed.
Oddly, I have not met anyone I know here. I guess that’s the point. The old saying that in Hell we’ll party with our friends just isn’t true. I have not met one family member. Another peculiar thing is, there are no children here. I figured if anyone was to be punished and pay retribution in everlasting agony, it ought to be all of those spoiled little brats I have seen causing a commotion in the middle of Wal-Mart and the grocery store. Then again, I suppose the parent is being held liable, you know, for spoiling the little monsters.
It wasn’t too long ago there was an incident that occurred which left the few of us that witnessed it shivering in our bones. There was a man in full rebellion against the devil himself. He had lost all composure and astuteness displaying all the temulent characteristics, but we know this is not possible. The man raved on about how he saw this chasm, a gap, and could see heaven on the other side.
He was running wildly and shouting things like, “It’s not real, it’s not real! We are all imagining this. We are all fixed into this nightmare collectively. We are dreaming the same dream.
Can’t you see it? We are a collective body! Wake up! Rebel! Revolt! They are twisting our minds. This place doesn’t exist. Hell isn’t real! The devil is in your head. Hell is in your mind. Join me!”
I had seen such behavior before. His appalling raucous cries of desperation were falling on muted ears. This sort of outburst was similar to others who attempted to preach religion, share beliefs, minister faith and share convictions.
As with all who attempted such shenanigans before him, his insoluble lack of control presaged what came next. Decidedly , his moment was over. His disruption of our daily ritualistic work was met with swift and brutal force by two amorphous creatures of indescribable distinction. Gnawing at me in those few moments of manic disturbance, his words resonated with me as a glimmer of hope. I thought, ‘what if I could cross this gulf?’ Even if there was the slimmest of possibilities, it meant freedom. I continued my laborious task of shoveling coal, but all the while secretly collating recent events in my head, trying to make sense of what I had heard concerning a valley that separated this loathsome place from paradise. I forced myself to believe that maybe there was a bridge I could cross. Now I was dreaming. I didn’t mind dreaming; daydreams are better than the reality of this nightmare. It wasn’t long under the weight of oppression that I reconsidered my delusional thinking. ‘There cannot be a bridge, and let’s just say for the sake of argument that there is a bridge, would that passage not be fortified? Of course, it would be.’ Maybe I ought to keep my head down, do my job, stop fantasizing about the impossible, and never think about this again?
As these thoughts boiled in my head, it became an additional torment, virulently infectious. My heart had already been scourged, and this existence of constant, unrelenting turmoil and noxious vitriolated acrid stink polluted my thinking unbearably, yet I could not stop breathing. I could not end my existence. Annihilation would have been preferred over this conscious state of unhampered suffering. The indignities, the furial emptiness, no free will, the relentless fatigue, the perpetual reclusion which never ends. Forever and ever, I am told this day never ends. Framed in a moment to repeat and exercise this redundancy, and for what? Recapitulating, reprising the same themes as if I was bound to factory work, which I suppose I am. I am feeding the machine that keeps the mechanics of this dungeon lit for the infinitude of human souls. The emanation that is generated from my act only amplifies the nebulousness of our confinement.
Regret? Absolutely. I most assuredly wish I had done things differently. Yes, I would like a do-over. I would be nicer, more polite, caring, loving, selfless, giving. I would do every saintly thing imaginable. I read a story once where a man begged to return from his Tartarian chains to warn his brothers of the place he had unfortunately found himself in. His request was denied. The moral of the story was even one from the dead shouting warnings and sounding the alarm would not be a testimony convincing enough for some to change their ways.
I seem to have gotten distracted. Allow me to conclude.
My plight? I would not wish it upon my worst enemy. As my horror perpetuates its stranglehold on me, causing constant sustaining distress, vice-like domination, unleashing pain and misery without mercy, remember, ‘it’s just another day at the office.’
🎧 Available Audio Adaptations: None AvailableCraig Groshek Thumbnail Art by Craig Groshek Narrated by N/A