The Hell Experiment

📅 Published on March 13, 2022

“The Hell Experiment”

Written by Kyle Harrison
Edited by Craig Groshek and Seth Paul
Thumbnail Art by Craig Groshek
Narrated by N/A

Copyright Statement: Unless explicitly stated, all stories published on are the property of (and under copyright to) their respective authors, and may not be narrated or performed, adapted to film, television or audio mediums, republished in a print or electronic book, reposted on any other website, blog, or online platform, or otherwise monetized without the express written consent of its author(s).

🎧 Available Audio Adaptations: None Available


Rating: 9.57/10. From 7 votes.
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My name is David.  For as long as I can remember, I couldn’t think of anything to be more ashamed of than my dad.

I was a preacher’s son, you see, and my dad always made sure to make me feel awful about something in my life any chance I got.

It was always the same story; I would find a cool video game or music and then find out how according to him, it was nothing but Satanic garbage.

Often growing up, I would see other kids laugh at me for being restricted on content; I was told though it was always for my protection and that God wanted me to remain righteous for his glorious purposes.

I never believed any of that, but what did stick with me the most was how terrifying dad made it sound if I diverted from the intended path.

How my soul would be sent to the underworld and tortured forever if I so much as thought about something bad.

Sin was a constant worry of mine up until my early twenties, or as I like to call them, my enlightenment years.  I suddenly realized that all of the mumbo-jumbo my dad was spinning was mostly based on tradition, and I started asking some very tough questions that he couldn’t answer.

“How could a God of love allow a place like Hell to exist?”

“If we as humans feel it is terrible to torture terrorists in the present, why would we be okay with God torturing normal people for all eternity?”

Or my personal favorite:

“If hell exists, doesn’t that mean God and Satan are on the same team?”

I can’t go into all of the debates we had here, but it definitely caused a rift between us.  Sin felt like an easy way for evangelical parents to control their kids, and Hell was just the big bad end path.

Still… I did wonder if Hell was really so bad, why wouldn’t more people actively try to avoid it?

It was a question that led me down this path to meet my partner Dominic, who, like me, loved computer programming and wanted to create virtual worlds that really impacted players.

One day after a round of beers, Dom and I got to talking about God.  Somehow we jumped from coding to the way an all-powerful being works, and Dom had a wild suggestion.

“Wouldn’t it be fascinating if we could simulate what Hell was like?  Maybe that’s why people aren’t scared of it.  They figure that it’s something that they will never have to consciously experience in their lifetime.”

The thought stuck with me for quite a while, and soon we started to consider actually tackling such a project as the technology improved.

Dom made it clear though, that this project was not simply for fun.

“The only way we could really make this a user experience is by inserting sensory response modules into the headset.  When a user experienced pain in the simulation, it would send a soft neural shock to that part of the brain.  It would need to make it clear that the experience they were having was as close to how we could emulate pain for whatever they found in the virtual world,” he said.

I was on the fence about it, especially from a marketing standpoint.

“We could never convince anyone to purchase something so…torturous…unless we installed some kind of fail-safe.  People get too scared or can’t handle the experience, they can jump out at any time.”

“Listen to yourself though, David, is that really how the underworld would be for them?  A few minutes of suffering they can just opt out of at any time?  I thought we wanted this to be realistic,” he scoffed.

His enthusiasm for keeping the simulation authentic was sometimes overwhelming.

“We can’t really do something that insane.  It’s inhuman,” I insisted.

“But if the Almighty himself considers Hell to be the perfect justice for sin, who are we to present people with an alternative?”

We finally came to the agreement of creating two separate versions of the program, one where the user could leave at any time they wanted and the other which had no way out until the simulations came to an end.  The headset would automatically send the user a powerful discouraging pulse if they attempted to leave early, conditioning the person to ensure longer.

Also, Dom wanted to ensure the entire experience was something that we could control, so taking a headset home to set it up was never an option.  We had an entire warehouse bought and designed with this hellish experience in mind.

As launch day got closer, we kept fine-tuning some of the details, including more and more variations of the key concept, and tried to market it to a few tech companies for selling.

It was clear that no one was interested in the idea; torturing customers just didn’t appeal.  And to be honest, when I heard it presented that way over and over and over again, I started to wonder and worry about what we were really doing.

“If we present it as entertainment, the message we send will be lost entirely.  People will view it as escapism, scary, silly experiences to run to for fun.  That’s why people love horror movies or adrenaline rushes: because they don’t consider the experience as truly threatening.  That can’t be what we are going for here,” Dom said.

“The tech needs to make them feel something in their souls.”

He insisted that I let him manage the final threshold alone when at the next marketing meeting, I addressed a concern about audience variety.  If this was intended for Christians, would we limit it to only Americans or to anyone with a belief in Hell?

“You are overthinking all of this, David.  You need to trust that our product can change people’s core belief in life.  Change their outcome for salvation.  If you can’t believe that, you really shouldn’t be here,” he said coldly.

At first, I didn’t want him working on it solo, but then I had a rough patch of pneumonia and couldn’t attend launch day, so I insisted he make the product as perfect as he knew how.

“I’m gonna make us proud, bud,” he assured me.

Then the unveiling came, and to say we had a lackluster turnout was probably being gentle.  I attended via FaceTime to see that only perhaps a few dozen people showed up for the first public test run.

And a few hours later, when I checked to see what reviews were saying, I found nothing but one-star ratings, horrible comments about us as creators and even a few people claiming what we did was sick and unholy.

There were a few good reviews, but even they seemed to focus on my major fears – that we had gone too far with the simulation.

“I have seen a lot of things that disgust end terrify me in my day, but this…this was an abomination of all that is good.  You wanted us to see Hell firsthand, and my word…you did that in spades.”

Dom did not take all of the backlash very well.  He became isolated as I recovered from sickness, and then, one day in late April, he actually took his own life.

I remember walking into his office and finding him strangled from an electric wire above his desk and thinking, what a tragic end.

Then I saw his note and discovered the troubling thoughts that had led him to choose this path.

David, I wish I had listened to you and not followed my ambitious spirit.  I believe somewhere along the way, the Devil himself must have recognized what potential I had and infused me with a dark desire to push the envelope, and I have done that in our final product.  I tested the product myself a few days before launch, and I have been too frightened to tell anyone the results.  But now, that I have left this life…likely trapped in my own Hell, I must tell you the truth.

I was interrupted by a knock at the door.

It was one of our sponsors coming to ask me about potential future funding for another program that went even further.

“The buzz about this is amazing, David.  I believe with enough modifications, we can definitely see this to the end,” they said.

But something in Don’s final words was bothering me.

He spoke as though the simulation had gotten out of hand.  That night I decided to investigate and went to the warehouse myself to try the VR.

I hooked it up and immediately activated the program, standing in the dark room and waiting for the pixels and images to coalesce.

It was a very authentic representation of Hell as we had planned.  Fire immediately pushed its way onscreen, making the sensors that created heat activate and causing me to sweat profusely.

An endless bleak landscape stretched out before me, molten lava and broken black lifeless stones covered the entire horizon.  Heat and volcanic ash filled the air, swirling with thunderous dark lightning and acid rain as more distinct features filled the picture.

There were bodies, perhaps millions of them.  The bones and collective melted souls of generations forming my steps toward the mouth of a cave.  Rancid smells of death and decay and cancerous bones covered the wall as I descended a flight of stairs into this Hell.

The stunning colors and dire landscape had my skin tingling as I saw simulated people being dipped in smoldering magma by demonic overlords, again and again, their screams filling the air and mixing with the loud rumblings of the cave to give off an absolutely choking behavior.

Each pixelated user had sheer pain and suffering on their face as the demons peeled their skin, pierced them with pitchforks endlessly and devoured their bodies in eternal suffering.

I started to feel anxious, disturbed by the nightmare as I realized this simply had to be my imagination playing tricks on me.  None of this could be real, I kept telling myself.

Then I heard a familiar scream just as I tried to take the headset off.

“Dom?” I called out.  I saw him standing, covered in sores and his flesh rotting off as he was shambles toward me—this amalgamation of endless turmoil and pain.

Had he programmed a version of himself into the code before his death?  It didn’t seem possible.

Slowly I approached the eyes of the monster to get a better look.  To determine if what I saw was real.

All I saw was an empty void.

“Redeem yourself,” the cursed body said, right as I was inches from his body.  It was a warning, I realized.

“It’s too late for my sinful body, but you must save yourself.  Destroy this horrible program. Treat it as if it never existed.”

He touched my skin.  It burned, and I screamed as it demanded to tell me the awful truth.

“We thought we could control Hell.  But playing the Devil’s advocate also opened up a gate. Where it stands is no simulation, David; the door between our world and the next is forever attainable.  Unless you destroy this, me and all the sinners here will never be freed.  We are prisoners of our own dilemma…”

I pushed the headset off, hardly able to breathe as I looked down at my arm.  The mark was there; the experience within the simulation actually real.

This was Hell incarnate.  And those people who have risked coming here may never leave.

I frantically tried to shut the warehouse down but soon found that not only would that result in crippling debt, but it would be pointless.  Dom had gone behind my back and made a deal to keep it open for business for the next six months with a local software company.  They would provide enough of the headsets and other specs necessary, and he would ensure that the virtual Hell remained opened.

I told myself there wasn’t a reason to panic at first; after all, I had managed to escape this bizarre nightmare.  Surely others could too.

But I was just fooling myself.

In the weeks to follow, those who used our program slowly were driven mad, to the point of self-harm.  Others wound up in comas, their minds turned to complete mush as even after they left the virtual world, it left such a lasting impression on them.

I tried to ignore the taunting demons that circled my thoughts for as long as I could.  Truly I didn’t want to ever see such a place again.

But I know because of this, this abomination that I helped create; Hell is precisely where I will go when I am gone.

Perhaps it’s where I deserve to go?

I do not know what will happen to the tech once I am gone from this world.  My hope is it gets destroyed but something tells me that now that a gate has been opened, there is no going back.

I truly mean it when I say that I hope God has mercy on these souls.

Rating: 9.57/10. From 7 votes.
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🎧 Available Audio Adaptations: None Available

Written by Kyle Harrison
Edited by Craig Groshek and Seth Paul
Thumbnail Art by Craig Groshek
Narrated by N/A

🔔 More stories from author: Kyle Harrison

Publisher's Notes: N/A

Author's Notes: N/A

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Copyright Statement: Unless explicitly stated, all stories published on are the property of (and under copyright to) their respective authors, and may not be narrated or performed, adapted to film, television or audio mediums, republished in a print or electronic book, reposted on any other website, blog, or online platform, or otherwise monetized without the express written consent of its author(s).

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