Hell is not as you'd imagine it.
The Damned, those tortured souls that opted out of Heaven by exercising their God-given right to choose, aren’t all rapists and child-killers, though we get our share of those. Many of the Damned simply didn’t tend to the positive development of their souls. Some were doomed by small, repeated Sins; others by a Sin so great that the sum of their virtuous deeds couldn’t tip the scales back in their favor. They indulged in their Cardinal Sins in a proportion greater than the Heavenly allotment granted to them.
You know the Sins of which I speak; there are seven: Lust. Gluttony. Greed. Sloth. Wrath. Pride.
Ahhh, Envy. Without that insatiable desire for the things you don’t have, the things to which you believe you’re entitled, Hell would be nearly deserted. Thank God for Envy. The housewife who keeps too close an eye on the status of the neighbors. The businessman who believes his boss’s position is rightfully his. The aspiring actress who would kill for a part given to another. As fleeting thoughts, these won’t Damn you to Hell, but when they rule your mind and result in direct action, causing harm to yourself or others, your soul is in jeopardy. When the housewife starts a rumor about the neighbor with a bigger house, when the businessman undermines his boss until he becomes his replacement, when the actress sleeps with the casting director and gets the coveted part, a Cardinal Sin has been committed. And I take notice.
The Damned aren’t all Pagans and Atheists, either. Hell has its share of Christians – mostly those that talk the talk, but don’t walk the walk, if you know what I mean. They preach Devotion, but sleep with their wives’ best friends. They put money in the collection plate, and steal from their employers. They warm a pew every Sunday morning, half-asleep and dreaming of the football game, and condemn those Faithful that pray in the forests.
The talk won’t get you into Heaven. It’s the walk that determines your eternal status.
Hell is not as you’d imagine it.
The sky is not a red, smoke-swirled ether; the structures aren't gnarled and twisted stone columns or volcanic islands surrounded by fire. There aren't any pointy-eared, flesh-deformed monsters poking the Damned in the back with tridents, or whipping tortured souls with razor-tipped lashes.
It is hot, though. Not so hot that your skin bubbles, burns and cracks, but hot enough to wet your brow and convince you that you're running a temperature. Muggy enough to add weight to your clothes and make you feel as though you're breathing through scorched, wet cotton until it hurts your chest to take another breath. It's not a fiery, broiling, scalding heat, but a relentless, stifling, oppressive heat.
Hell is Florida.
I'm not making a literary comparison of Hell to Florida. I'm saying that Hell, in its physical reality, was modeled after Florida. Or maybe Florida was modeled after Hell, since Hell came first. I'm saying that Hell is a real place.
And I'm the Queen.