Chapter 2:


Welcome to Hell

I found a wall nearby, and leaned on it, looking at the ground. "Still, uhh... how am I gonna make it home? I don't know how to get to Semaimachi."

Charles was struggling to stop himself from laughing for some reason. "Welcome to Semaimachi, April."

"Oh." That was embarrassing. "Haha, I, y'know, I forgot it was written on the sign."

"Well, now you know. Your place isn't that far. After me, please."

Now that I could think clearly, the place had a different atmosphere compared to everywhere else I've seen so far. The space between buildings was narrow to the point of not having a lot of cars around, if any at all. One had to move left and right through the stalls to get anywhere. Somewhere above us, Chinese lanterns shone a familiar red hue. But hey, the air here was cooler than anywhere else, thanks to vents in the ground emitting cool air as well as some blue light. Not cold enough like an air conditioned room, but not as bad as even the hot days when I was briefly in California.

Most of the people here were humans, and many were Asian, some shouting about their wares in either passable or decent English and what seemed to be at least two other languages. Fish, vegetables...

"Wait," I stopped walking, looking at a fish store called "Semaimachi no Sakana" to the left. The fish seemed a little bit different than what I was familiar with, but still... "Fish and vegetables? In this place?"

Charles turned around, "Not the kinds you know. The exterior of Hell fish are heavily fire-resistant, because you know, they swim in the lava. Good luck cooking them without cutting their thick skins."

Merely heavily fire-resistant? That was an understatement. "Well, and the vegetables?"

"Look, they might look and taste like tomatoes, but there's something peculiar to their taste. All I can say is to get used to that feeling. We've still got some amazing delicacies in Gehanna, of all places." The more I learned about this place, I guess.

Taking a closer look at the humans, some held smartphones in their hands, but others had screens embedded into their arms — just like that ad from earlier. Others had part of their heads turned into metal with a goggle for one of their eyes. Some had robotic limbs, even extra arms, too.

We hadn't even gone that far when it comes to cybernetics back on my home planet. Was Gremory the sort of place where things just happened?

Taking a side turn off the main street, it became even more narrow. The vents and lanterns disappeared as well. Yet several people walked to and from this alleyway. Five more minutes of walking in here, Charles stopped just before a low platform leading up to a circular iron door.

"And this is your room." He opened his palm in the direction of the door, which also had a key. Picking it up, I slid it into the keyhole on the iron door. Pretty weird mix, futuristic technology combined with visibly outdated stuff like locks and keys. "Be careful not to lose the key. It takes a while to get a new one."

"Don't worry, I never lost a key." Smiling, I appreciated his concern.

"Well, I'm glad to hear that." He crossed his arms. "I think you'll be busy with these boys soon, so I'll leave you be for a long time while I fix that car. Good luck with them and stay safe."

"Thank you for everything today. I'll manage."

"You're welcome. See you soon, then." He smiled warmly, like he forgot I was the one responsible for trashing his own car.

"See you!" And then he was off.

I turned the key, and felt a click, then turned one more time for another click, when the door became more or less loose. Grappling the vertical handle, I slid the door to the left, and what appeared in front of me...

You know what? This place was actually decent accommodation for an evil robber and murderer like me. Better than any prison cell inside or outside of the United States. Light blue walls and ceiling, mixed with a light green carpet helped in breaking the reddish ambient light of the harsh outside world. I had a bed with a nightstand, a desk, a TV, a closet, and even an air conditioner. Better yet, I also had two doors, one leading to the kitchen and the other to the bathroom. Both of which were admittedly small, but the kitchen had a refrigerator and a stove, and the bathroom; a bathtub.

I'm sorry, but with a lodging like this, Hell wasn't exactly a great punishment for sins like murdering a man and his pregnant wife. Maybe other districts had it worse, but I didn't know yet.

I took off my shoes, plopped into the surprisingly comfy bed, picked up the remote and turned the TV on. The first channel to appear on screen was Gremory Live News English.

"...two decades of not losing," stated a female voice probably belonging to a human, "meanwhile, Beelzebub District is once again seeing prices tripling. This includes necessities such as electricity, affecting humans and other Hell-unaccustomed beings who pay for air conditioning." The picture showed some place that definitely looked like the underworld, except it was mostly precarious cliffs, small buildings and houses made of concrete, one or two four-wheeled cars driving on unpaved roads... "We have reached to the spokesperson of Lord Beelzebub's, who refused to comment on the matter." The footage ended, showing a well-dressed human woman. She had green eyes behind her glasses, and wore a white suit which contrasted with her black hair. She was reading off a large tablet she held in her hands. "In other news, the S.S. Noah is presently..."

I really had it good here, huh?

I wasn't sure how the TV exactly worked here or if I had to pay for it - but one thing was certain. There were channels airing shows at specific times, less like Netflix and cronies and more like cable television of the past. That said, there were so, so many channels. Flicking through the TV stations revealed a multitude of scenes: dramas, cartoons, romance, comedy, living room sets with laugh tracks, talk shows, news, erotic scenes, documentaries...

Before long, I came to the realization that I was really sleepy for some reason. All it took was a few minutes before I got so sleepy, I forgot to even turn the TV off. Heck, my arm fell off the side of the bed with my hand still holding the remote.

Other Slater