Jay (still standing on the same beach, though now it is evening)
Welcome back. We’ve had a huge response to our program last week, with many people claiming they have renounced sin in order to get into the Kingdom of Heaven. Church attendance has soared amongst subscribers to our show. But now we want to examine a different point of view. Let’s go straight to our reporter, Daryll, as he travels down the famous Road to Hell.
Daryll (has blond hair, otherwise is practically a clone of Jay, he is sitting in the back seat of an open top car, with the camera pointing back at him)
Thanks Jay. As we’ve all been told, the road to Hell is paved with good intentions, and in honour of this, it was recently renamed the Jimmy Carter Boulevard. However, it’s surroundings are less attractive.
The camera pans along the side of the road, blighted by McDonalds restaurants, Exxon gas stations, and Nestle billboards.
My guide for today is the demon Szad… Szat…er…Szadtcrkoth. He tries to apologise to the grinning demon. No apologies needed, it’s a deliberate ploy by the denizens of the netherworld to render their names difficult to pronounce for humans , just to make their experience in Hell just that little bit more trying.
The car drives on for a bit, then comes to a stop. Szadtcrkoth speaks:
Welcome to Hell, or as it is now know, The Hellacious Experience, sponsored by Bud Light, official beverage of Hell. He winces slightly as he says this.
So, Hell is moving with the times, huh?
Actually, we’ve had corporate sponsorship for some time, starting with the East India Company; but the slogans seem to get more vacuous each time. I realise that the goal is to torment the wretched inhabitants of hell, but I don’t see why they have to make the poor, hard-working demons suffer as well. He glances suspiciously at the camera. This is off the record, right.
Daryll nods reassuringly, unwittingly condemning himself to particularly barbarous treatment on his return visit.
If you don’t enjoy the tortures though, why not skip them and simply give the victim the illusion that he or she has been subjected to it?
Szadtcrkoth looks scornful
Yes, I suppose we could do that, but in general we try and avoid any resemblance to a bunch of glorified hypnotists. We pride ourselves on the quality of personal service that we devote to the torture of the incumbents of hell. He returns to the official tour script.
Hell is no longer just a punishment for those who scorned or were deemed unworthy of Heaven. Instead it’s somewhere that people are happy to choose for their afterlife. If Heaven seems a little staid and Valhalla a little raucous, Hell provides the perfect alternative. No need to worry about the consequences of your actions anymore, you can just relax and behave as your nature dictates. Whether you’re callous, vindictive, meanspirited or just plain violent, we welcome your presence. Even if you’ve always been and easygoing person, we offer the opportunity to get in touch with your baser feelings.
He finishes, giving the overall impression that he is not wholly convinced of the merits of this change in direction. Daryll questions him.
It’s an interesting idea to make Hell an attractive place to spend eternity, but surely only the most warped people would want to spend time with the most evil people in history, Hitler, Stalin and so on.
Ah, but there is more than one layer of Hell, you see. Most people who were just ordinarily sinful get one experience, while those who were actively malevolent get a more unpleasant one, and the genuine monsters are tormented still more horrendously. So the person who chooses to come to Hell is unlikely ever to come across Hitler, though they may get to hear his tortured screams. Szadtcrkoth grins broadly at the thought.
I’m confused, I assumed that as demons are evil, they’d approve of people like Hitler, and give them preferential treatment.
I think we’re unfairly maligned really. Sure, demons are a bit sadistic, but it seems a bit much for humans to have a go at us for practising retributive justice. Anyway, unless there’s anything specific you want to see, that concludes the tour. We’ve arranged a brief interview with the Devil now. To get there, walk down this corridor and turn left, you can’t miss it.
Daryll does as he is instructed, clearly rather apprehensive, but trying to look cool. He finds himself in an office with an attractive blonde woman, who looks in her early thirties. She is wearing a long, blue dress. He assumes she is some kind of secretary.
Hi, I’m supposed to be meeting the Devil.
Well, you’ve come to the right place. What can I tell you?
Noting his surprise, she laughs.
I take it I’m not what you were expecting.
To be honest, no. I was sort of imagining, you know, cloven hooves and horns and stuff like… he trails off
Ah yes, I think those medieval church propagandists did a very effective job in tarnishing my image. They would have made a fortune in PR had they only been born a few centuries later. Of course I can take on any form I choose… she reappears in a traditional satanic form, horns, tail, legs of a goat, severe halitosis. Daryll recoils in horror, and she returns to her previous shape. Naturally, you can see why I might not choose to take that form on a regular basis.
Daryll tries to regain his composure, glancing at his script for reassurance.
So, why have you decided to make this change in direction, to try and make Hell an attractive destination for people to go to. I mean, given the behaviour of humanity over the years you can’t have been short of people arriving.
That’s true, but we can’t allow other potential destinations to wrongfoot us. The various Christian churches have become a lot more tolerant in who they say is going to be admitted to Heaven, homosexuals and so on. If we didn’t try and broaden our appeal, we’d risk losing market share which could adversely affect our corporate sponsorship.
Hmm. Now, it’s often said that the Devil has the best music. Is that true?
Naturally we aim to do so, and obviously Wagner is a big draw. However, my attempts to bring down the best modern musicians have been somewhat frustrated by the incompetence of some of my followers on Earth. I asked for the Rolling Stones, Primal Scream and James Brown, because we know none of them are going anywhere else but here, and who dies? Otis Redding, Jimi Hendrix, Eddie Cochran and Buddy Holly. Celestial bound every one of them. Unbelievable. Of course we did manage to get Brian Jones, but it’s hardly the same thing. At least I had the foresight to close the deal with Robert Johnson myself.
So you actually are responsible for killing people?
I don’t see why you should be shocked, I am the Devil, you know. Prince of Darkness and all that. But when eternity’s at stake, a few years off your three score and ten doesn’t matter that much. I mean take Jesus for example, everyone goes on and on about how wonderful he was, dying to save humanity and all that, but put it in perspective. All he ahd to do was put up with a few hours of agonising pain, then he had the rest of eternity to spend at God’s right hand, not to mention the added kudos of having been responsible for the salvation of humanity. I mean admit it, if someone could do that, and chose not to, you’d be pretty pissed at them. Bloody Jesus, 40 days I wasted on that bastard. She continues muttering in this vein, and Daryll is forced to link back to Jay.
Thanks Daryll. Fascinating insight into the new Hell, I’m sure it’s made plenty of people wonder whether Satanism might be for them after all. Now, next week we’re moving away from Christian theology and we’ve got a real treat for you as we examine the Islamic paradise. Exactly how many virgins can you expect, what might the prophet Mahomed look like, questions like that. Don’t forget to tune in again for our third episode, same time next week.