“Right then Lenny,” Bel purrs, waving a hand. The white walls, floors and ceilings all disappear, replaced by a literal scene from Hell. Except, while the bubbling lava pools and rivers flowed everywhere and demons and humans cavorted through the streets, no one was doing much screaming. At least, none that wasn’t consensual. Everything was shaded red and black with occasional beanbags shaped like skulls situated for easy resting through the streets. There didn’t seem to be any houses, at least not in the view that Lenny had, instead numerous flats and apartments joined together and marched ever upwards and he presumed, downwards.
Surprisingly, instead of a stifling heat, the temperature was a warm and dry 27 Celsius, warm enough that men and women strode through the streets wearing very little. Tank tops, short-shorts and miniskirts were the derigeur dress code for women and for men, bold Hawaiian shirts and shorts dominated. It reminded Lenny of pictures of Hawaii – a place he always wanted to visit and never did. Adding to the impression of the tropical paradise was the non-stop smell of barbecues and fruity drinks with only the barest hint of sulphur.
“Sorry about the smell – you’ve got to give up a little whem you get ambient mood lighting like we do,” Bel grins, already swaying to the jazz that emanates from the various buildings around them. “I took you to the Jazz quarter – way I read your file, you’re a big fan.”
Lenny nods, smiling slightly. A pair of holidays in the French Quarter of New Orleans was one of his favorite memories, days and evenings spent lounging in tourist trap bars listening to musicians play their hearts out. He even got a deal since he never went during Madri Gras – frat boys could die in, well… Hell?
“Really?” Sariel rolls his eyes. “Jazz music, BBQ’s and half-dressed women is the best you can do? The heat’s nice but then you start getting busy and it’s all dripping and staining…”
“Lalalalala,” Bel sticks fingers in her ears, drowning out Sariel.
“Sariel, this isn’t your turn yet. Please refrain from interrupting,” Colum replies tiredly.
“So you have questions Lenny?” Bel says after pulling her fingers out of her ears and sticking her tongue out at Sariel.
“Uhhh… so… how does this work? If I say yes, I just… you know, stay in Hell and party forever?” Lenny asks.
“Well, not exactly,” Bel replies and shoots a glare at Colum. “Aren’t you supposed to have explained this?”
Colum looks guilty for a moment before he mutters, “Most people don’t care. And I’ve got a backlog…”
Sariel sighs, “You have got to stop doing this Colum. You’ve already got two demerits on our report.”
“I know,” straightening himself, Colum meets Lenny’s eyes. “You have a certain number of Karmic points, points you have gained through your actions. These Karmic points are spent as payment for your stay in Heaven or Hell or, well, any other secondary realm you live in. Once your Karmic points are depleted, or at your discretion, you will be reincarnated.”
“What if I had a negative balance?” frowns Lenny. “I thought you said you there was no such thing as torture.”
“I said we didn’t torture people,” Bel points to herself and then Sariel. “If you want suffering, you go back to Earth. Or you know, if your points are used up or negative.”
“Oh….” Lenny pauses, his eyes widening. “Are you saying that the reason the Earth is such a shithole is because everyone else good is enjoying the Heavens?”
“Pretty much,” Sariel nods.
“Oh. My. God,” Lenny says, mouth moving.
“Yeah… about him…”