Chapter 0:


Welcome to Hell



I... I thought I was... how...


...I was stabbed to death, right? Right? There was no way anyone could survive that, let alone myself. how come I could open my eyes? And hear sounds? Even smell?

Everything was a hazy blur, like I had just woken up from a deep sleep. It didn't take long to see clearly. Or start screaming, of course, because right in front of me was a red creature that looked fucking hideous, like it could eat me alive!

"Calm down, calm down!" This thing could fucking talk! In English, too! It tried to get me to stop screaming, instead I shrunk back into wherever I was laying down. "Stop screaming! I'm here to help you! Alex, please come here."

"Sure thing!" a feminine sound came from somewhere outside the room, and soon after... a woman actually stood beside that thing, looking between it and me. "We're not gonna hurt you," She smiled in my direction.

It took me a few seconds to stop screaming, now that an actual human being was around and... she wasn't afraid of that red demonoid looking thing or whatever it was, which was somehow wearing a white chemise and black pants. Her presence gave me the chance to finally examine my surroundings with less stress and fear, and surprisingly, it was a white room with a few empty beds and some medical implements. Almost like the room was part of a hospital, even down to the sterile smell and air. The woman's amber hair and amber eyes hidden behind her glasses betrayed the rest of her attire, which was simply a casual black tank top over black pants. The tank top has "I <3 Hell" written in white with the heart colored red. Surrounding the red heart, there were other smaller hearts at various angles.

"What the fuck is that?" I pointed at the creature.

"That's Gilligan," the woman nonchalantly answered. "Sweeter than he looks. He'll only ask you a few questions, and then you'll never see us again."

Gilligan scratched his hairy head. "I promise I'm not out to get you. Some of our newbies get demon scare, you included." His attempt at smiling was probably not worth seeing because it appeared more crooked than genuine, but given everything so far, a demon seemed pretty normal compared to.

"How... how come I'm alive? I couldn't have survived any of these stabs, including to my neck." Instinctively my hands felt around my neck, only to find nothing. That troubled me more than it comforted me. "I should've been dead...?"

"You are already dead." Gilligan sat down on a chair opposite me, with a big clipboard and a pencil in both hands.

"What?" I'm dead? How? This didn't make any sense.

I was able to see that Gilligan could effortlessly overpower and crush me with his slightly wrinkled yet buff body. His hands surprisingly didn't have claws, and his head didn't have horns either, but it had some messy hair with a brighter shade of red. "You're in the Afterlife now. Specifically, Sheol."

"Which is just fancy for Hell." Alex interrupted with a smile.

"He... Hell? And you guys are happy about it?" I stared at Alex's tank top, where the phrase was not just the center of attention but also placed directly on her chest, so it was almost impossible to ignore.

And come to think of it, the air wasn't just stale, but also felt hot and heavy, except maybe that could've been just a placebo effect, because there was an air conditioner in the room set to... 20 Celsius? Great, I had no idea what that meant in Fahrenheit.

"You'll get used to it." Gilligan held the pencil close to the clipboard. Alex held some weird contraption that looked like a supermarket scanner in the shape of a bulky gun, and pressed a button, revealing what may have been a hologram with my picture and a bunch of other stuff drawn, possibly a language I never saw before. She sat on a chair next to Gilligan, who looked at the hologram screen. "So let me start. You are April Garrison, correct?"

"Yes." The answer came out of my mouth monotonously, prompting Gilligan to quickly scribble something down.

"Race is human, sex is female." He looked at me intently for only a second.

Bewildered, I looked down at my body, expecting some drastic change to have happened. Indeed, there was a radical change! More specifically, the change was that I even doubted I was still human and female. "Is this a joke?" I looked him in the eyes. "You needed to confirm those?"

"I know it's stupid to ask the obvious, but outdated protocol demands it." He shrugged before continuing to jot down his notes.

"Or our central government wouldn't be using pen and paper in this age!" Alex winked.

"Uh-huh, okay." I shrugged. "What next?"

"You're an American citizen, born on 25 April of 2010."

I kept mindlessly nodding to these questions, because they were all correct observations about me. One would think they've unearthed my info straight from where it was buried in some rotting corner of the Social Security database, yet they still had to double check all of it.

"Okay, that's just about everything except for the most important thing."

Just as Gilligan stopped speaking, Alex continued with a smile. "Your greatest sin. You need to know it."

"My greatest sin?" Now this was something I genuinely couldn't understand.

"You're in Hell for many reasons, but the reason that tops this list is your greatest and worst sin." Gilligan looked at me all matter of fact-like. As if he wasn't bothered or surprised or anything. Which, amazingly enough, calmed me down a bit, because I did do a lot of stupid shit in the past — bad enough to land me in the underworld. "The District of Lucifer keeps records on all the denizens of Hell, and this sin will be archived and known there. It's up to you to tell others about it or not."

"That said," Alex interrupted, "no one here tries to keep their sins hidden. For example, I killed my little sister." She finished with a smile.

Ah, family murder. Classic. The most surprising part was how enthusiastic she was. I genuinely couldn't understand bragging about murder even back then.

"Did I really need to know that?" I also figured that I might as well appear slightly, if not completely, interested. "...uhh, where is she now?"

"We've reunited and now live in the same apartment."

"Okay, uhh..." I didn't want to ask further about why she would reunite with someone she herself had killed, someone she intended to never see again. I was already overwhelmed with all this new information, and wanted to get out of this stuffy room sooner than later. "So... what's my sin?"

Gilligan put the clipboard and pencil down. "You murdered a man who cheated on you, along with his wife." Huh. Yeah. That was something I did. "Also in reality, he was cheating on his wife with you. You deprived their son of his parents. The wife was also eight months pregnant."

I shrugged. "He had children, too? Well, fuck David and his bitch, I guess."

"I like it when newbies are honest with themselves," Alex commented, "but that's probably because you're already dead and in Hell."

Looking at Alex, my answer was, "I wouldn't say you're wrong."

"Also a few years later, you got so desperate, you stabbed yourself several times when the police were finally about to catch you. Then, you finished it all off with one decisive neck stab. You would rather spend time here than in jail, it seems." Gilligan chuckled.

I rolled my eyes. "Excuse me, I didn't even believe in the afterlife when I was alive. I'd rather stop existing than be in prison."

"Anyway, we're done." Gilligan stood up. "You'll be discharged. As part of Gremory District's welcoming processes, you'll be introduced to a guide who will occasionally help you get used to your new life." He extended his right hand towards me. "Don't worry, I don't bite."

Reluctantly, I held his big hand, and surprisingly it wasn't too bad. A bit too warm by human standards, but even when he closed it his grasp actually felt light but at the same time reliable. I was able to get back up on my feet, and he let go without fuss. My opinion of Gilligan changed really quickly, didn't it?

"Also, April," Alex got my attention, "Lord Gremory did win this month's Demon Lottery, so consider yourself lucky you get to experience the best of the district for a while."

Demon Lottery, huh. As much as it sounded interesting, sadly I wasn't gonna delay for more questions. I could ask that guide anyway, wherever he or she or it was. I had bigger problems, like having no fucking idea what I got myself into.

"Follow me," Alex said, heading towards the door.

Doing exactly what she said, I was almost out of the door when Gilligan called me. "April."


With another smile, he said something that might as well encapsulate the whole experience in three words. I would soon know their significance.

"Welcome to Hell."

Shahreen Islam
Other Slater
Taylor Victoria