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Cold As Heck

By Eric Tang

Father Sirloin was in the chapel offering up his daily prayers. “Dear God,” he whispered, “I am grateful for the wisdom to guide those away from the wrath and fury of Hell. Thank you for giving me the strength to save those from what is sure to be a most painful, eternal suffering...”

Filet Mignon burst through the door. “Father! Father! I’ve done something bad Father! I need help!” she cried. Filet was one of the younger students from the nearby school. The sisters were not fond of her at all, but there she was, with tears in her eyes begging for forgiveness. Sirloin thanked God for sending her to him so that she might be forgiven for her sins.

“What is it Filet?” said Father Sirloin.

“Me and Rump, we were playing with a Luigi board, and I accidentally put a spell on him and sent him to Heck!” Rump was another child from the elementary school. He was one of Filet’s few friends.

Sirloin raised an eyebrow. “You sent your friend to ‘Heck’?”

Filet nodded furiously. “I mean Hell but the sisters told me not to use that word.”

Sirloin shook his head. “Haven’t you learned not to dabble in black magic? This is very serious, Filet,” he grumbled, hoping his sternness would help Filet turn a new leaf.

“I’m very sorry Father. I didn’t think anything bad would happen. I shouldn’t have done it and I’m very sorry, but I need your help getting Rump back!”

“Very well. It will be difficult but I will try my best to bring Rump back into the realm of the living. I hope that this teaches you a lesson. Wait here while I prepare.”

“Thank you so much Father!”

“And say fifty Hail Marys.”

“Yes Father.” Filet knelt down and started. She forgot what came after “Hail Mary, full of grace,” so she just sat there and whispered nonsense, trying to mimic the sound of someone praying. It didn’t fool the Father but he was satisfied he had gotten her to make the effort.


Rump was sitting in the coldest chair he had ever touched the ass pockets of his pants to. He was in some sort of doctor’s waiting room lined with plastic, blue chairs and old magazines. There were actually old magazine pages and blue chairs taped to the walls of the room, so it was actually, literally lined with those things. By the door was the receptionist window, behind which sat a glaring nurse who was kind of old and made Rump really uncomfortable. She was looking at him every so often. Was she waiting to call on him?

A ghostly voice sounded from beside Rump. “You don’t look like you belong here.”

From out of nowhere, a man in a Jesus robe had appeared next to Rump.

“I am Virggil,” said the man, “I was once a poet from an ancient realm, but now I am the guide to this sad place.”

Rump gulped. “You wrote The Aeneid, right?”

Virggil sneered at the question. “No. That was Virgil, pronounced with a ‘j’. I am another Roman poet, not related to him but with a similar name. Perhaps you have heard of my epic work of love and lust, The Analed, as well?”

“I can’t say that I have.”

“I guess my works haven’t reached all time classic status yet. One day they will. I’m reading an except at a poetry reading at 5 though, maybe you’re interested?”

“Please, sir, I don’t know how I got here or what this place is. Me and my friend Filet were playing with a Luigi board and the next thing I know I’m... Here. I would really like to go home.”

An annoyed Virggil acceded to Rump’s request. “Of course. This happens quite often, believe it or not. I will guide you through the nine circles of Heck. In the center of this realm you will find a path home.” Virggil rose from his seat. “Come child, we have a long path ahead of us.


Father paced the super holy back room of miraculous artifacts. He shuffled through the boxes of incense and “God v.s. Pornography” pamphlets, looking for something that might be useful. Truth be told, he had never raised anyone from the dead and couldn’t remember what the procedure for such an operation was. Priest school hadn’t really taught him how to deal with such spiritual things.

“Father? Do you need help?” asked Filet from the chapel.

“Everything’s under control,” said Father Sirloin, “I’m just polishing the crosses.” Father picked up a box of keychain crosses and jiggled it around to make it sound like he was working.

“What’s that supposed that do?” asked Filet.

The nerve of that girl! No wonder the sisters didn’t like her. “Have you finished those Hail Mary’s yet?” Father Sirloin asked, jiggling the box with more force to emphasize to Filet how sure he was he knew what he was doing.


“Well then you better keep going!”

Filet was quiet again. Father put down his box and noticed how dusty the cross keychains were. He brought them to the sink and began actually polishing them. Evidently, he had no idea what he was doing. Father Sirloin decided it was time to call in the professionals...


“Welcome to the first circle of Heck, the circle of Lust.” Virggil led Rump down a long set of stairs into a street much like one one might expect to find on Earth. In fact, Rump would not have been able to tell the difference if he had not already known he was in Heck.

“In the circle of Lust, people are forced to live their lives but are hounded by prostitutes at every corner, symbols their impure temptations,” explained Virggil.

A businessman crossed Virggil and Rump on the sidewalk. Rump looked back and saw him get ambushed by several women with excessively large vaginas.

“Hey Mr. Businessman, why don’t you put some of that money to a fund for aroused women? And then arouse some women to fund? Some women being us.”

The businessman threw down his suitcase. “You know what, what the Heck. This is Heck. Why is there a concept of money anyways?” he said, hooking arms with his prostitutes, ripping off his business suit and underwears, and skipping off to one of the many motels in the booming motel business.

“So nothing stops the people from hiring the prostitutes,” commented Rump.

“Well, herpes, maybe,” said Virggil.

Virggil spotted a group of girls in bondage clothing walking down the street. He hurried Rump through the door into the second level of Heck before they could offer an hourly rate but not before slipping them his number.


In the dark undercroft of the church, several priests huddled around a table strewn with blueprints. All the clergy from the surrounding churches including the bishop had come to design a machine to revive Rump from his suffering. They sketched and measured and pounded their heads on cement to figure out a solution. One of the priests just started screaming in tongues and flailing his hands and the other priests understood his frustration.

Filet sat in a chair in the corner kicking her feets. “Are you sure you know what you guys are doing?” she asked.

The priests were too busy to pay any attention to her. They continued pounding their heads on the cement. “Who is that little girl who keeps asking all the questions?” said Father Tenderloin casting sideways eyes to Bishop Chuck.

“I think she’s from Father Sirloin’s parish,” said Bishop Chuck.

Sirloin, listening in from nearby, glared at Filet. Her insolence was making a mockery of him! Putting the finishing touches on the designs of the machine, he wiped the sweat from his brow and turned to his colleagues. Eager to divert the conversation away from Filet, he announced his master plan...


Rump and Virggil were crossing the river to the deeper depths of Heck.

“I really enjoyed the circles of Sloth and Gluttony,” said Rump, rubbing his eyes to wake up after his long nap.

“Well you shouldn’t. Eternal damnation is nothing to sneeze at,” said Virggil. He yawned. “I will agree though that a circle where all anyone ever does is eat and sleep is one of the better circles of Heck to end up in, though.”

“Yesss, my demon friends and I often go there for vacation between semestersss,” hissed the furry capra demon who was rowing the boat, snake-like eyes darting back and forth.

“Really? What college do you go to?” Virggil asked the demon.

“UMass Amherst.”

A drowned man reached up at the boat from the waters around the boat and pulled his head over the side. “Hey guys,” said the man, pulling the snorkel out of his mouth, “I’m looking for Sharps And Flats Music Industries. Do you know where I can find them?”

The demon hissed at the man and started biting at his finger with his dagger like teeth. “No free ridesss!” he said, banging his oar own the man’s hands.

The man let go of the boat. “Hey fuck you man! I’m just trying to get what’s mine!” he shouted as the boat drifted away.

“I see we’ve passed into the realm of Greed, where everyone is perpetually trying to track down a $10 bank charge that they didn’t make,” said Virggil, “That was pretty weird though, I’ve never seen a guy looking this far out. Usually they just make a phone call every once in awhile. That guy must have some real dedication.”

Virggil shrugged and turned back to the demon. “So I hear you guys have some sick parties...”


“We now go over to Flank, Channel 6 news anchor at the local church run by Father Sirloin.”

“Thanks Round. I’m here at a gathering of the most important religious figures in the world at this moment; in the crowd behind me are hundreds of men from all around the world, including Pope Well-Done himself. They are preparing to raise someone from the dead, a feat which has not been accomplished since Freddie Mercury rose from the grave in 2018. It looks like there’s a little girl in the crowd. What do you think about all of this little girl?”

“This is dumb.”

“How cute! Looks like they’re about to start the procedure. There’s Father Sirloin- It looks like he’s saying something. ‘

“Now everyone’s getting on their knees. The pope is spinning around and doing headstands at the altar and swinging a giant crucifix around. It sounds like he’s praying for the release of... Oh my God! A huge pillar of fire has just erupted from under the pope! It’s burning him alive! Now a giant monster sort of thing has appeared! I don’t know- Did they make a mistake? It’s a fire demon! Oh my god the monster is on fire! And it’s lighting even more people on fire by walking into them! We have to get out of here- Watch out cameraman! Not you cameraman A! You keep filming! The ratings are gonna flare if you get this on camera!”

The screen was covered in fur, went all bright for a second, then turned to static.

“Sounds like one flaming hot story, Flank. Be sure to tune in to Channel 6 for updates on more of the hottest news stories around.”


Rump and Virggil had stopped for brunch. It was cold; Rump shivered in his seat.

“You look cold,” said Virggil, “You want me to get you a coat from the other room?”

“Okay, that would really be nice,” said Rump.

Virggil sighed. “I lied, I didn’t actually want to get you a coat.”

“Why’d you even ask?” Rump asked.

“That is the mystery of the circle of Fraud and Treachery. Everyone speaks in a manner that is meant to deceive the people around them. No one may know for certain whether or not what anyone says is the truth. How sad it is that these people will never know what honesty truly is...”

The waiter brought the check, “Thank you for eating here, have a nice day!” he said.

“What an asshole,” said Virggil once the waiter was out of earshot, “Out of all the circles I had to end up in, this one had to have been one of the worst.”

“Hell doesn’t seem so bad. It’s at most kind of annoying.”

“Well, it’s not Hell anymore. A while back, the people of Hell petitioned God to make Hell less severe. You can’t even call it that anymore. That’s why I’ve been calling it Heck.”

“I wasn’t aware you could petition God.”

“Are you kidding? People do it all the time. We’re just backed up and trying to fill stuff out from way back from the middle ages.”

“Are we almost at the center?”

“Yes, we have one circle left to pass through. The circle of Wrath, made for the most evil and hateful people in all of history.”

“What happens there?”

“Well, God thought it wouldn’t be helpful to just segregate all the most hateful people in all of history in one place where they could group up and become even more hateful and destructive as a group so he decided to try to rehabilitate them. In the circle of Wrath everyone has to take a painting lesson from Bob Ross.”

As Rump and Virggil reached the bottom of the escalator, they saw a swell chill dude with a permed afro, walking through a crowd of people at canvases which included the likes of Ted Bundy, Joseph Stalin, and Alex Jones.

“No need to massacre hundreds of innocent people,” Bob Ross murmured, helping Osama bin Laden paint a clear, blue sky with gentle x motions, “You can’t force a painting. Just three hairs and some air. Gotta be really gentle with it.”

“Ach. Painting is too hard,” said Osama, “I should just go back to what I’m good at: blowing up infidels.”

“Look at Adolf Hitler over there, he was saying the same sort of thing as you way back when, when I first got here and started teaching. All he wanted to do was go back to Earth and finish killing all of the Jews, but after a while he saw the Joy of Painting and became the master painter that he always wanted to be deep down.”

Hitler was painting a set of all mighty mountains in front of a sunset sky. He seemed to have achieved a certain inner peace and there wasn’t an ounce of hate left in him.

“Just remember Osama, beat the devil out of your brush, not your enemies. Everyone’s happier that way.”

“I wasn’t aware this would be so effective,” said Rump.

“No one can study under Bob Ross and still be a bad guy after,” said Virggil, smiling at a beautiful river scene being painted by notorious rapist, serial killer, and cannibal Jeffrey Dahmer


Filet was napping in the chapel when Father Sirloin and the rest of the ministry came in to apologize to her. “I... We regret to inform you,” he said, biting his lip, “That we are unable to revive your friend. It is beyond the power and knowledge of the Church. We offer you our sincerest condolences in what is sure to be a time of great sorrow for you, knowing the suffering your friend must be going through. We shall offer our heartfelt prayers that God may take pity on him.” The priests all clasped their hands together in a gesture of apology.

“Are you guys done with your dumb machine yet? I was just going to write a petition to God and ask him to let Rump go.”

“A petition? You think that will work?”

“Why wouldn’t it? I mean, we have a lot of holy people here. If they all signed it, He couldn’t just ignore it.”

All the popes and bishops and altar boys in the crowd whispered to each other; it made a lot more sense than what they were trying to do.

“Very well,” said Father Sirloin, “We shall try your method. But I am doubtful that any sort of silly paper will be enough to change the will of God.”


It had been a tedious journey, filled with many perils and dangers, but at long last Rump and Virggil reached the center of Heck, the darkest realm of existence, reserved for only the most despicable and traitorous humans in all of history.

Rump found himself standing in a smoky bar with several questionable design choices. The floor was an odd mosaic of random black and white tiles. The walls had been covered in advertisements of local artists and musicians who would be performing. It felt like the interior decorator had been a pretentious art student who had tried to make the most avant garde room he could. A purple neon sign in the corner read, “Poetry reading today!”

“Where’s the exit to Heck?” said Rump.

“Huh? What are you talking about?” asked Virggil.

“You said at the center of Heck there would be a way back to home.”

“Of course there isn’t. This isn’t Hell, but it’s still eternal damnation. There’s no way home.”

Rump was exasperated. “Are you serious? We went through all this way so you could bring me to a poetry reading?”

Virggil was indignant. “Hey, what’s wrong with experiencing higher culture? Once you hear my poem, you will see it’s all worth it.”

Rump began to cry. Virggil felt sorry for him, after all he had just learned that he was stuck in Heck for all of eternity, and decided the best way to remedy the situation was to read an excerpt of The Analed, in an attempt to inspire him with the grandeur of his work.

“‘Porter lay lazily on the couch / watching Mr. Robot, season 3. / He was fingering his asshole hornily for / Rami Malek’s dopey but somehow / handsome looking face...’”

Before Virggil could continue, Freddie Mercury showed up. “Are you Rump?” He asked Rump, “Why am I even asking, I’m Jesus. I already know you’re Rump. Okay Rump, your paperwork has gone through. I’m here to take you home.”

“Freddie Mercury? You’re Jesus?” said Rump in disbelief.

“I rose from the dead, didn’t I? Yeah. I’m Jesus.”

Virggil caught Freddie Mercury’s attention. “Hey Jesus, wait, I’ve just started.”

“Sorry Virggil, job’s a job. Can’t waste time.” Freddie Mercury took Rump by the hand. You’re welcome, he mouthed to him.

In a flash, Rump and Freddie appeared in front of Filet. Rump ran up to her and hugged her, happy to be back in the land of the living. “Filet! Did you do this?”

“Yeah! I got all of the church people to sign a petition and sent it to God,” said Filet.

“It had so many signatures on it we pushed it through right away,” said Freddie Mercury. He stood there for a second and didn’t know what else to say. “Well, I’ll see you guys later.” He disappeared.

Filet turned to Rump. “So? What was Heck like?”

“I think it adds a whole new dimension to the idea that all of our actions have no consequences and life on Earth is meaningless.”

Written Winter, 2017 for English 354 at UMass Amherst.
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