My Life in Hell

March 25, 2011

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 This story originally ran on June 8, 2009. It’s one of my favorites. We take you inside a day in hell, thanks to Satan’s Little Helper, Andy.

The alarm rang at 3 AM.  There is no such thing as a snooze button in the nether regions of Hell, so I forced myself out of my lumpy bed.  Someone had to manage the fires.  The union recently had an uprising and the result was that work weeks were capped at 120 hours.  The resulting shortage of manpower meant that even those of us in the inner circle had to take our turns keeping the home fires burning.  The Great Freeze of 2004 had occurred when the Boston Red Sox won the World Series.  Satan brought a bunch more nuclear reactors online and we managed to get through the crisis with substantial portions of the Great Fire still intact.  However, we still fear the Freeze to end all Freezes that will occur if the Chicago Cubs ever win the World Series.  That could result in the end of Hell as we know it.

I quickly ate my breakfast gruel and packed my lunch.  Braunschweiger, a bit of leftover blood sausage, somewhat moldy rye bread, broccoli, and prune juice.  Definitely one of my better lunches in a while.  I jumped in my Yugo and headed off toward the main fire pit.   The pot holes seemed a bit worse and a bit more frequent than they had been yesterday.  I quickly joined the assembly line and began to shovel molten fire into the box cars.  The train would take this load to an outlying region, where men would offload the fire in order to restart the dying fires in those regions.  The offloading was usually left to the young hellions, to get them acclimated to the heat slowly.  I’m really not sure why the union had fought for shorter work days – fire duty was a great job.  Lots of wonderful heat at the pit.

Finally, my shift was over and I jumped back into the Yugo and headed back to my studio apartment.  I had to check my email for messages from the boss.  Not surprisingly, my computer showed me the familiar Blue Screen of Death.  Satan kept promising to get us some Macs, but I wasn’t holding my breath.  I expected Windows to be the dominant operating system in Hell for many more years. After a few reboots, I managed to get into my email.  Just one message, but it was a bad one.


Adolf and Eva are causing trouble in A-7 again.  I’m hearing that he’s trying to take over the sector and eventually march against me.  Run over to the Hitler home and have a chat with them.  Use your own discretion regarding punishment for this latest round of misbehavior

– Satan

I Yugo’d my way over to A-7 to have a little chat with Hitler.  After a contentious discussion, I finally got fed up and banished him to sector G-14 (telemarketers) for the next six months.  Adolf and Eva were obviously glutton for punishment, as they had been sent to G-14 at least five times in the last six years.  I can’t imagine what could possibly be worth that sort of punishment.  When Hitler had arrived here in the 1940s, he had been ushered into the inner circle and had Satan’s ear.  However, his repeated insubordination had caused him to lose his privileges, and he wasn’t even invited to the good parties any more.

The Yugo stalled a few times getting out of A-7.  Probably vapor lock.  When I got back home, I sat down in front of the computer and went onto eBay.  eBay was a bit slow over dial-up, but Satan had promised to install broadband soon.  eBay had been great for Procurement Services.  While at one time it had been necessary to wager a golden fiddle against Johnny’s immortal soul, the supply of souls on eBay had really brought the price down.  I bought fourteen souls for a grand total of $12,314.  Satan would be pleased with the purchases, although he’d be upset at the shipping charges.  Hell was outside of the normal delivery zones, so the shipping charges were out of this world.

My day’s work was over.  Time for some leisure.  I settled down on the futon and flipped on the 13 inch black and white TV.  142 channels, and all of them C-Span!  Could life get any better?

Chill Out

June 26, 2009

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It was 11:18 PM when the refrigerator door closed for the final time. The occupants of the fridge waited 15 more minutes, just to make sure. Then they finally started to unwind.

“Man,” said Leftover Pizza, “I really thought I was a goner. She was eating my slices pretty fast. At least there’s still a little chunk of me left in here.”

“Eh, it’s not all it’s cracked up to be,” replied Orange. “I’ve been in here for three months. It’s always too cold and the lights are always off. Plus, Limburger has horrible BO that fills the entire fridge.”

“Speak for yourself,” shot back Limburger. “I’m not so sure that you’re not the cause of a lot of the smell. You’ve got mold spots that are older than me.”

“Hey guys, cool it,” said Cucumber. Cucumber was unflappable and served as the referee for these battles. “Limburger, stay in the dairy section. Orange, stay in the produce drawer. No more trash talk, guys.”

“Yeah,” piped up Ketchup. “Some of us are trying to get to sleep.”

“Man,” piped up Eggs “you are no fun at all, Mr. Ketchup. Not even midnight yet and you’re already going to sleep. We have a short life span, we need to party as much as we can!”

“Oh Yeah!” said the Kool-Aid pitcher. “Time for a party. Who brought the tunes?”

“There are no tunes, you numbskull,” retorted Fresca. “Just the incessant sound of that stupid compressor. Day after day, night after night, year after year.”

“The rest of us should be as lucky as you, Fresca,” said Ranch Dressing. “The life span for my species in this habitat is less than a month. How long have you been living in these parts, Fresca?”

“Since 1992,” said the old geezer. “It was touch and go for a while, but then grandpa died, and grandma doesn’t like my flavor – but she hates to throw anything out, so I still sit here.”

“Yeah, good old grandma,” said the Container of Food with an Indeterminate Origin. “She has already forgotten what I am, so she’ll never want to throw me out until she remembers what I am.”

Milk sighed. “You guys are so lucky. She barely leaves me in here a week past my date. It would be so great to have the shelf life of Fresca.”

“The cold does get to you after a while, though,” replied Fresca. “Sometimes I long to be squirreled away in a closet somewhere, enjoying tropical climates all year.”

“It could be a lot worse, though,” piped up Butter. “Someone could have drunk you years ago!”

“You speak the truth, my fine yellow friend. You speak the truth. My life may not be a paradise, but it is a life nonetheless. Better to have lived than to have died, I always say.”

“Hey guys,” yelled Limburger. “Watch me light my farts!”

“Limburger, cut that out. Cheddar, grab that lighter from him. Let’s settle down, guys. Let’s play a quick game of twenty questions and then go nighty night. Carrot, it’s your turn to pick the object. Orange Juice, you can ask the first question.”

“Animal, vegetable, or mineral?” asked Orange Juice.

“Vegetable,” answered Carrot.

“Don’t tell me it’s a carrot” asked Celery.

“Yup,” replied Carrot.

“Aw, man, you suck at this game.”

“OK, that’s wrap. Time go grab some ZZZs,” said Cucumber, in her most authoritative voice.

Retro fiction: Tina

May 15, 2009

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I wrote this quirky little story in 1999, so if it seems a little rough around the edges, this is why.  In order to maintain the integrity of the original story, I have published it ver batim as it was written a decade ago.

Tina awoke amidst the screaming of her alarm clock.  As she glared at the inert plastic clock, she saw that it read 6:45 AM. She rolled over, slammed her hand onto the snooze button, and tried to savor the final fifteen minutes of sleep.

A quarter hour later, Tina sluggishly pulled herself out of bed and toward the shower. Soon, the water was rushing down and Tina was lathering her long hair with shampoo.  As she shampooed, she inhaled the wonderful strawberry aroma.  With life kicking her in the teeth as it was these days, this was often the highlight of her entire day, and she longed to savor the moment.  But as all good things must come to an end, the shower was soon finished, and Tina hopped out to face the real world.

Tina tapped her foot to the rhythm of “Cheeseburger in Paradise” as she waited for the red light to turn to green.  As Jimmy Buffett gave way to some up-and-comer on the radio, the light finally turned, and she eased the Grand Am into the intersection and headed north.  A few short minutes later, she had pulled into the parking lot, jumped out, and raced to her eight o’clock class.  She eased into her seat a moment before Ms. McAnally entered the room.

As Ms. MacAnally yammered on about how to compose a business plan, Tina’s mind began to drift.  Why on earth would a nurse have to know anything about business writing, anyway?   As long as they could somehow find a way to read doctors’ handwriting, that would be enough.  College was enough of a pain without useless classes. She gently sighed to herself as she forced herself to listen to the instructor.

After what seemed like an eternity, the class was released and Tina quickly raced across campus to her next class.  When she entered the room, there was a note of the board that Mr. Nelson was sick and that class was canceled.  She could barely contain her joy.  She would have some time to do some homework and catch a quick nap before work.

After a quick meal of chicken noodle soup, Tina settled down for a nice midday nap. As the warm sun poured through the window and bathed her body in its beam, she fell into a cozy sleep on her futon.  After what seemed like only minutes (but had actually been nearly 3 hours), she was once again awakened by the alarm.  Once again, she reluctantly pulled herself out of bed to start the second half of her day.

When Tina arrived at the hospital, she was disappointed to find out that she would be stationed in the geriatric ward once again.  Some people found the old people interesting, but she found them very boring and would usually be extremely tired when she got off a shift hanging around them, not because she worked any harder on those nights, but because their lack of energy was contagious.

Her first patient of the night was old Mr. Burns.  The guy was ancient, had an artificial hip, and was ugly as sin, but that didn’t stop him from being the most notorious skirt chaser in the wing.  Luckily, because of the hip, most of the nurses could easily out run him.

At his birthday party last month, someone had the smart idea to actually put ninety two candles on the cake.  A small fire had broken out, and poor Mrs. Frederick’s hair had been burned to a crisp.  And just when it had grown back after her radiation treatments.  It was quite traumatic for the old witch.  So much so that she had stopped attending birthday parties entirely, which was probably a good thing for her, since she carried quite a bit of weight.  Her fondness for angel food cake was the main reason for the considerable weight that she has gained during her stint at the hospital.

Tina was able to quickly check in on Mr. Burns, and since he was asleep, she got out of there in a matter of seconds.  She had avoided the first major obstacle of the night.

She wasn’t quite so lucky at her second room, though.  Mr. Vincent wouldn’t let her escape.  She was forced to listen to several of his tales about how he led the confederate forces in the civil war.  Despite the fact the war ended in the mid 1800s, Mr. Vincent not only claimed to have fought in the war, but actually thought that it was still going on, and that the South would eventually prevail.  What a fruitcake.  Who’d have thought that a little pneumonia could do that to you?

After what seemed like a lifetime, Mr. Vincent got a visitor, and while he was distracted momentarily, Tina bolted out the door.  As she hurried down the hall, she could hear the old man yelling “Missy, missy, don’t you want to hear more about my friend, Mr. Jefferson Davis?”

After a dozen more visits to the old folks, Tina was finally able to escape to the ER.

It was a pretty quiet night for the ER – a couple of broken legs, a kid with his head cracked open, and a self-inflicted gunshot wound.  How someone could do serious damage to themselves with buckshot was beyond her reasoning ability, but some fellow named Billy Bob managed to do some very serious damage to some pretty serious parts of his anatomy.  They really should think about locking up stupid people for their own protection.

Around nine thirty, John Wilson checked in with what seemed like a little case of mono.  When Tina did the blood work on him, she took a little more than was necessary – about a pint more, to be exact.  John was one of those guys who always went around bragging about how far he had gone on his last date (and usually stretching things a bit).  He had dared to pull this stunt on Tina’s friend Jill, so this was her revenge.  The poor bastard would recover just fine, but he’d feel like hell for a couple of days. A fitting punishment.