Heaven, Hell, and the Space Between

An Entry of Susi Speaks

“And so the God’s said, let there be light, and there was. See, when they first showed up there wasn’t anything there. Not even themselves, which gets weird, honestly. I tried to ask Paoken once but I got all glassy eyed when he tried to explain it and gave up. But they said there was, so there was, got it?” Susi cocked her head at Sniper who was staring at her over her soda in the diner.

“So…where’d the Gods come from?” Sniper asked.

“Dunno, actually,” Susi said, thoughtfully staring at her dessert, “Where does any God come from in any mythology?”

“Can’t ask those Gods, can we?”

“Some,” Susi said with a grin.

“Okay, discussion for another time,” Sniper rubbed her temples, “Continue please.”

“Right, so, light showed up, and the Gods found it good. Then they created The First World and The First Race. Then something happened and the Gods got really pissed at The First Race and they split reality in three so –”

“Wait,” Sniper cut her off, “What happened there? What did the first race do?”

“The First Race, you need to say it with capitals. I can tell when you don’t.”

Sniper blinked at her, “Fine. What happened to The First Race?”

Susi shrugged, “They pissed off the Gods, make sure you listen next time.”

Sniper was about to argue, when Hunter just shook his head, she contented herself with an eye roll.

“So!” Susi continued dramatically, “The Gods decided that those of The First Race who hadn’t pissed them off should go to The Verdant Garden those that did should go to The Barren Plains.

“Now, see, the Garden I don’t know much about. I guess it’s like paradise. Eden, Humans call it, right? But I guess it’s some perfect place and everyone is happy and they don’t want for anything. Boring.

Susi's home town and the seat of power for The Plains.
Susi’s home town and the seat of power for The Plains.

“But The Plains…that’s where it’s at. It’s always a balmy seventy-five degrees there, and there isn’t really a sun. I guess the Gods couldn’t be bothered to make another sun or something. But there’s always light. It never goes away. And there’s no curve to it, it’s totally flat and goes on forever and ever and ever. I don’t think anyone has ever even traveled to it’s end. Not that I know of, anyway.

“It’s where I grew up. The Plains. It’s really close to Earth, actually, if you ignore the things that are different, anyway. There’s a few cities down there, but they’re all kind of suburbs of Dis. So –”

“Like Dante’s Inferno?” Sniper interrupted.

Susi looked impressed, “I wouldn’t have thought you’d get that.”

“I went to high-school,” she replied.

Susi considered this, “Fair enough. And yes. Like the book. But because of the book, actually. You can’t pronounce the real name in English, or any other language for that matter, so when the a new portion of the population starts calling it something else we change it.

“Anyway, stop interrupting. So, Dis is the seat of power in The Plains, it’s where the ruling family lives, the Thalazars, my family. They have a castle that sits in the center of the city, the whole city spread out from that one spot. Legend says that’s where the first Devil landed when they were banished from The First World. Dunno if it’s true, but it sounds good. Adds legitimacy, you know?

“There’s not that many Devils, maybe something like five thousand? But they’re kind of the ruling class. Not through violence of murder or anything, mostly out of attrition. Devils live hundreds of years. Some over a thousand. So they’re just kind of in charge because they see the big picture.

“Then there’s the Demons. They’re born in The Plains, but because of Earth, but if I started to explain that it would take forever. And I don’t feel like it now. Most Demons are pretty happy with their place in the world, some resent Devils for being in charge, but most are happy enough. I think. I don’t really know since I mostly hung out in a castle and read. And played with knives.

“Demons do most of the labor and services in The Plains. Devils do some too, but not as much. But most of the economy in The Plains centers around dealing with Mortal Souls. See, it’s –”

“You buy and sell human souls?!” Sniper hissed as she leaned across the table and stared at Susi.

“No, it’s, you know what, I was about to tell you. Shut up for two seconds. Okay?

“The Plains isn’t like your idea of Hell, right? It’s more like Purgatory. It’s super rare for a Mortal to not stop off in The Plains at least for a little while. Most Devils act as spiritual guides or psychologists to Mortal Souls. When a soul goes to The Plains, they have something that’s weighing them down, something that they need to purge before they can move on. Maybe it’s a lesson they need to learn. Devils help them with that.”

Sniper bobbed her head slowly, “Okay, so there’s no torturing?”

Susi snorted, “Never said that, did I? We torture Mortal Souls all the time. Sometimes it’s the only way for a soul to move on. To be purified. They caused pain and can’t understand or emphasize with it, so we cause a little pain ourselves,” Susi grinned at Sniper, fangs glinting in the low light in the little dive they were eating in.

Sniper considered this answer for a moment, then shrugged, “Fair.”

“So, there’s probably a good hundred and thirty to a hundred and forty billion souls in The Plains at a time. Not that big a number, I guess, when you really look at it. Some are there for a little while, learn, then leave. Others stick around for decades until they learn what they need to learn. The ones who don’t need a more creative punishment will typically acclimate to their new home pretty quickly. Find jobs. Take lovers. Etcetera. They usually just deal with nightmares.”

“Nightmares,” Sniper repeated.

“Yeah, Mortal Souls will relive the events that they need to relive in order to learn. Takes a toll, but it’s the best way to learn…and they’re usually not good things.”

Sniper shrugged, “I guess.”

“So, that’s it, I think, for The Plains and Heaven,” Susi said, glancing at Hunter, who looked at her out of the corner of his eye and shrugged.

“What about Earth?” Sniper asked, “You said you were going to tell me about Earth, too.”

Susi nodded, “I did. It exists in between. You know the rest. You lived here, right?”

Sniper screwed up her face, thinking, “But, how do Demons get here? How did you get here?! And…why don’t humans notice stuff?”

“Oh!” Susi nodded, “Ask me about The Veil next time we stop. That’s probably more interesting, but it would take forever to explain and I’m bored talking now.”

Sniper blinked at the little Devil slowly, then decided that it was best to ask later. When Susi got bored, she tended to start making up answers for the sake of humor.

/End

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Paoken

Also known as Keith Thomsen. I’m an author and teacher living in Las Vegas, Nevada. I’ve been writing since I was very small and hope to continue until I am very old. I live with my wife, who you can thank/blame for finally getting me published, and our dogs.

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