The Runner

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The Climb

The climb was difficult and he was facing exhaustion. He had no way of knowing if he had been climbing for fifteen minutes or fifteen years. The water although refreshing, more so than any other you might receive in Hell, also near drowned him at times.

He came upon a small ledge indented into the rock face behind the falls, and finding it just big enough to accommodate his body, lay upon it to take a rest. He fell fast asleep, this time feeling safe for the first time in how long. He dreamed of his girlfriend, what's-her-name and how they first met. She had come to his office wondering if the Census Bureau might know how it was she had come to be in Hell.

She worked as a stripper at Hell's Belles, and despite being in Hell looked pretty good. He decided to help her, and help himself at the same time. So he looked up her life's sins and his own, and found them even though all names were deleted. She had been a singer in Las Vegas with a very prominent career, and a cocaine addiction she paid for by selling her body to any celebrity who was in town at the time. Her and Charlie Sheen made the tabloids a few times, and apparently she aborted his unborn kids at least twice without his knowledge.

The runner awoke to sharp pains on his back, and discovered rats feasting upon him. He swung himself off of the ledge, nearly falling as he did so and brushed the rats away down the falls. He continued his climb from that point on, trying desperately to not lose his strength. About an hour later he thought is when he felt it, a rat had stowed away in his pocket. As he held on with one hand, he removed the rat with the other, getting bit a few times for his trouble. So he bit back, biting the head right off of the rat, as the rat bit his tongue in defiance.

The rat wasn't the best meal ever but it would sustain him a little longer. He continued climbing and climbing, until eventually the fatigue would start to wear on him. He had an idea that seemed to help a bit when he had to stop. He would climb up or over to some pointy outcropping of stone and hook his shirt on it so that he might hang suspended while he slept.

One day was it, or just another minute, he actually got hit in the face with a half eaten fish. Clamping down upon it's tail with his teeth, he now had another meal. He wondered why there weren't more fish, and speculated that it was because most fish get all of themselves eaten, not thinking that it was next to impossible for a fish to sin. How many times have you heard fish owners say bad fishy to their pets? But this fish had attacked another fish just before a bear had him for lunch.

He found a crevice behind the falls that made the climbing a little easier, and it seemed to continue up for miles on end. Upward he climbed, dreaming of how life on Earth might be now and what was in store for him there. Would there be flying cars or the devastation of a global thermonuclear war. Even that he thought would be better than one more day in Hell.

Perhaps no time had passed at all and he could return to his old life. What was his old life? Maybe the police could help, he could tell them he was a homeless amnesiac and they would have to find out who he was, right? DNA swabs, finger prints, and dental records, and he'd be home free. If they found out he was dead, they'd assume that he was simply believed so and had been wandering all that time with no memory.

The more he thought about it the happier he became. Still in Hell and happy, imagine that. He was happier than Hell. This seemed to give him new found vitality, as he climbed ever upwards. He noticed his emaciated form was becoming toned with muscle, and he finally had abs.

He noticed a large outcropping piercing through the veil of the falls. He climbed upon it and walked out to it's point. There was a thick cloud covering below, and he couldn't see through it, so he went to sleep. When he awoke the clouds had disappeared and he could see clearly. From here he could see all of Hell. Every circled neighborhood of Dis and Pandemonium lay spread out beneath him. His view was like that from a plane coming into it's city of destination.

The runner could even see just outside of Pandemonium, where Satan himself was still stuck in the ice. He laughed that Satan himself couldn't escape the ice or Hell, but that he was going to escape and he was going to be free. He gave Satan the finger and mooned him, mocking the Devil for his fate. But Satan saw him too, and in his rage grabbed a massive piece of broken ice and hurled it at the runner.

Seeing the ice coming towards him he flattened himself on the outcropping just before it impacted and shattered ice shards everywhere. He was alright, but the rock he was on was not and started to quake. He dove back towards the falls just as the point broke off and fell to the bottom of the falls. Another peril he had survived.

But Satan was not finished with him yet, and spit a ball of fire at the runner. Seeing this threat coming he ran back behind the falls, into the crevice and began to climb again. The fiery spitball struck the falls, instantly boiling the falling water and creating scalding jets of steam which rose in his direction.

This he did not escape and was severely burned all over his upper body which had been leaning outwards during the climb to safety. Through the pain he climbed until he reached a ledge where some light permeated the falls. His shirt was stuck to his burned flesh and had to be ripped in places to separate it from the skin. This was a painful process that seemed to take forever, and he could here "Satan laughing with delight" as the song goes.

After removing his shirt he located a small puddle which afforded him the ability to see his own reflection. His face was a bleeding, blistered, pus oozing mess, and his scalp was burned down to his skull leaving only singed hair in some places. He sat and cried for weeks maybe months.

Finally regaining his determination, he grabbed up pieces of his shirt, wrapped his hands with them, and continued his climb. Up, up, always up. Endlessly up. Until he came to a ledge that lead out from under the falls. Once out he climbed up and discovered that he had reached the top of the falls only to discover the underground river it flowed from. This made sense that the river might need to travel through the mountain at the point where it pierced the Earth's mantle.

As carefully as he could, so he would not be swept away and over the Purgatory Falls, he made his way inside and along the river. Hopefully he was almost there.


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