Published January 05, 2017 by

Memories of a Soul in the Underworld Chapter 17




Story: Ethan is a soul doomed to spend eternity as a slave in Hell for reasons he can't remember. After centuries of torment he finally snaps and goes on the run from those who enslaved him. Can he escape and become more than a regular soul, or is he doomed to spend an eternity in The Underworld? 

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The Pit

Sometime later.

It wasn't so bad at first. Of course I couldn't see anything (and there were creepy noises from whatever else was trapped in the basement) but I could finally escape the excruciating work.

I thought my time there could remain pleasant like that, but it didn't take long to understand why Foreman had me shoved down that hole.

It was difficult to keep a firm grip on reality. I couldn't tell night from day, or how much time had passed. What felt like forever may have been nothing.

"Hey!" I screamed in the naive hope that there was someone out there who cared. "Let me out!" I yelled for hours, but nobody came. I didn't doubt that Foreman would leave me down there forever if he wanted, and the idea of being stuck down there for the rest of eternity made my stay even more intolerable.



I curled up against the wall in defeat and tried not to give into my despair. I was letting them win if I allowed myself to be sad.

"It's okay," I muttered over and over again like a mantra. "Everything will be fine. It's not so bad down here in the dark."

And it was then that I realized I was talking like Angela.

Little did I know that my slow descent into insanity was all part of Foreman's plan. Souls can't feel pain, so they can't punish us the same way as living things. Getting beaten and thrown around may be a shock at first, but you quickly get used to it after a few years. Instead they come up with plenty of painless ways to screw with our minds. Words alone can be a powerful weapon, and many masters love to rant and scream until you lose every shred of self-confidence. Locking us in small dark spaces is the Soul Market's favorite. I've seen plenty of disobedient souls start begging for mercy once they can't move their arms or legs.

"Girly Boy!" called a faint voice from outside the pit. I thought it was just my sanity messing with me until the voice gradually grew louder. "Girly Boy?"

I didn't know who it was, but I was so desperate for contact that I caved in and called back. "In here!"

They went silent for a moment. Then I heard the gentle rumble of metal scratching against stone, and the steel plate above the pit slowly slid open. Dim light flooded in for the first time in days, and I never thought I'd be so happy to finally see something.

They opened the pit just enough to peer in. It was difficult to make out who it was from the weak lamp in her hand, but I soon realized that it was Skanky Legs. The girl who Foreman ordered me to kiss before everyone.

"There you are," she said with a gentle smile. "I was beginning to worry that I would never find you."

"Have you come to take me back?" I tried asking as nonchalantly as possible. I was afraid they'd lock me in again if they knew how badly I wanted to get out.

Skanky Legs nervously bit her lip. "No. Sorry I'm not. I actually snuck down here alone once everyone went to sleep. Foreman would throw a fit if he knew I was down here."

"Oh, I see," I sighed in disappointment. "If you're not going to let me out, then why are you here?"

"I came to see how you were doing. I wanted to come down sooner, but you know how this place is."

"I'm doing fine," I said even though it was a lie.

"I also wanted to tell you something." Skanky Legs nervously glanced over her shoulder just to make sure we were truly alone. "Foreman wants you to stay down there until you come back ranting and raving. But there was once this guy who was always unaffected, no matter what. I asked him what his secret was, and he said that he came up with different ways to keep himself sane."

"Really? Like what?"

"He said he would trace his fingers around the bricks and count every one. He would also gather loose pebbles and throw them around. I guess you might think that it's boring or strange, but those activities stopped him from going insane. I was kind of thinking that something like that might help you."

"I see." I nodded, but doubted her advice. "Thanks for telling me."

"You're welcome." She smiled. "Sorry, but I've gotta go back before anyone works out I'm gone." Skanky Legs got up and began pushing the metal plate back over the pit.

"Wait!" I called out and she stopped. "Before you go, I was just wondering. Why are you helping me?"

Skanky Legs paused for a moment and glanced back down the hole. "I wanted to do something to thank you, for what you did for me the other day. Most souls just follow Foreman's orders without thinking, but you stood up to him and he left me alone. Nobody's done something like that in a long time. We need more people like you." And with those words she finished closing the pit and plunged me back into darkness.

Her advice seemed strange, but with nothing else to do, I decided to give it a go. Why else would she have risked her life if it wasn't going to help?

I reached out one hand and searched for the grooves in between the stones. "One, two, three." I slowly counted as I worked my way around in a circle, making sure to count all the bricks that I could reach. As boring as it seemed, it was a welcome distraction from my dismal thoughts, and I was no longer terrified of being stuck down there forever.

When I became tired of that, I started tracing patterns on the wall like drawing an invisible picture. I drew the mansion where I lived with Alistair and the others, but the loneliness soon crept in, and I had to erase the image before I began to cry.

Instead I attempted to recreate the magic diagram that I once drew in Alistair's study. I found that I could remember most of the details, and I began to see various patterns amongst the complicated symbols. I thought I was finally onto something, until I heard voices from outside the pit.

The steel plate above me abruptly slid open, and I looked up to see Big Guy angrily glaring down. He then jumped down into the hole beside me, grabbed a hold of my arm, and tossed me up into the air. I went sailing out of the pit and crashed on the stone floor before Foreman's feet.

Foreman's arms were crossed over his chest as he glared down at me. It was no doubt a look he'd carefully crafted to intimidate his victims. "So, Girly Boy, have you finally learned your lesson?"

I sighed and slowly pulled myself to my feet. I know that I should have put on some show and made an effort to look broken, but I couldn't resist the urge to show how I'd bested him and his scary punishment. My face broke into a smug grin, and I laughed as soon as I saw the subtle hints of surprise that leaked through his nonchalant facade.

"Lesson? What lesson? Was I supposed to be learning something down there? Thanks for the nice getaway, Foreman. I feel so energized and refreshed. It's a shame that you had to come back so soon, I was really beginning to enjoy myself."

Foreman looked stunned for a moment like he didn't know what to say. Seeing him like that was almost worth being trapped down that hole, and I began laughing at the hilarity of the situation.

Foreman let out a frustrated growl. Then kicked me back down to simmer for another week.




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