Smiling in the Face of Hell

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Summary

Between fighting with herself and fighting to survive, Scout is forced to find herself while she quickly learns the ropes that she now held onto. Scout was only still in the process of accepting she was never going to have an ordinary life when all of a sudden everything around her turned red and hot as she found herself in Hell. Secrets were no longer a problem for her once she comes to terms that she was no longer human and accepted the life that was put in front of her for the sake of her self preservation as she finds herself in the middle of one of the biggest rebel movements in hell that almost cost her everything she came to accept. Just surviving and learning about her true self are the only things Scout could hold onto until she found her own way in her new life that just looked like a poor love story.

Genre:
Fantasy / Drama
Author:
Rudy Palinski
Status:
Complete
Chapters:
15
Rating:
n/a
Age Rating:
16+

Chapter 1

Echoes of screeches, wails of terror and fear ricochet off the walls of the large church that housed the one and only official Gate of Hell. Personally watched over by three, yes only three, demons, and one single human.

Scout’s eyes rolled uncontrollably at the man in front of her, who was putting up a fight, thinking that doing so was going to get him out of this mess, too bad for him,” Look, sir, your name is on the list, you have the ticket straight to hell, literally. So if you’re going to continue to fight me, I’m going to have to call in the big guys, do you want that sir?” She asked in an overly sardonic voice, a tone acquired over the long hours of hearing the same thing over and over, a talent that took very little practice to develop to its full potential of absolutely zero cares or sympathy.

Yes, that was exactly how it sounded, Scout was sending people to hell personally, being it is part of her job. She comes in, stands at Hell’s gates and begin checking off people’s names as they enter Hell accordingly and orderly, just how the King down there likes it.

If anyone else were to know about her job they would flip, going into a crazed stage of,′ Are you insane?’, ‘SATAN!’, or even an occasional, ‘Dude, I want that stuff you smoked.’ However, what some people do not know is that Heaven and Hell have become like one big system, saints go high and sinners go low for punishment. It’s still the same, good or bad, high or low.

Despite being cast down to hell, there is an option to confess his or her sins truthfully to the King, and if deemed honest, they would be sent up to Heaven to live for their afterlife as the other occupants of Heaven have. Very simple one would think, only if they truly regret what they have done.

It was very easy to say sorry, it’s being genuine about it that was difficult for most who even try, and that was what the King was there for, to gauge their honesty under very harsh analysis. No lies can pass the King.

Ones who go straight to Heaven are the ones who get the choice to be reborn or not, Scout has even heard of some given the option of being a guardian and other special positions to represent Heaven.

It’s not a difficult system now.

Even if there was such an ‘order’ for Hell, the place still is terrorizing. Not a place someone would want to accidentally stumble upon, obviously.

Scout was the Gatekeeper, she made sure no one who did not belong stepped through the gates, or that no one who belonged inside did not come out. In a way she held Hell in the palm of her hands, if she wanted, she could just open the gates and let every demon and bad soul out to come and have some fun, but she will never do that, it’s too scary to think of the havoc it would cause to both her and the surface.

Those who refuse to admit and reflect on their sins, which the number of those are really higher than most might think, after so long, turn to something inhuman. What the world on the surface would recognize as a demon. The process does not take long, by what she was told by the demons that are actually what she would call ‘Hell’s Gate staff’, it only takes a week at most for someone to change into something out of this world.

The bigger their sins, the longer it takes. She heard that not only was it to give them more time to accept and admit to their sins, but also so they suffer longer as a soul before changing where there was no turning back.

Their natures can be whatever they please, mean, horrible, nice, or kind. It is what they chose to become, according to some.

Most of them are consumed in their anger and grief and lose their sense of humanity and are considered the full-fledged demons, which were the most common ones to make messes and cause problems by mindlessly going on a rampage just for the sake of blood and terror.

To Scout, Heaven and Hell where just dimensions, and Earth was just another dimension that was sandwiched between the two. Once a person has gone through the gates, they no longer are earthlings, their either angels or demons.

This system was far past just any religion that is on the surface.

She did not know the story of Heaven, she was not Heaven’s gatekeeper. Although she heard it was a whole lot quieter than Hell’s gates, where there are no delusional sad sacks of flesh who are in denial of being dead or are outraged that they are on the wrong end.

The man in front of Scout grabbed his head between his hands, she saw his mind reeling, he couldn’t figure out why he was here, he was in a fear induced panic at the sight of the big red gates that almost seemed to look down at him mockingly.

Scout put a hand on the man’s shoulder, making him jump under her touch, shocked she could even touch him,” Sir, you have committed a great sin, you are to go to Hell and either admit to your sins, or don’t. Either way, I do not care, there is a line behind you and I need you to move along, I am on a time schedule and you are running into my free time hours.”

The man looked up at her, horrified,” You’re a monster! You don’t care about nothing, you’re sending people to Hell, you're a devil!”

Scout sighed, and nodded,” Yes sir, I understand, now if you will move, please. If you’re lucky, you will get to meet the real ‘Devil’ himself,” she said sweetly with a smile, referring to the King himself, whom many on Earth who did not know any better, would just call him the Devil.

She hears the same thing day after day, the fact that she was indeed a human, doing a demons ‘job’, it still had her wondering what the hell happened and who thought up this splendid idea to have a human in this position.

Scout was here getting called monster, devil, demon, while Heaven gatekeepers are just called one thing; Angels. She was past the stage of annoyance towards the name calling, it’s not like she was the one who was being sent down to Hell.

Who was she to complain anyway, she got paid enough to make any billionaire cry from the difference between the zeros in her account compared to theirs, and it was easy enough.

Yet, the best part was she got free instant language packs installed into her brain. Sure enough, that was not the correct term for it, but to her, that’s what it was, she can understand any language that ever existed on Earth. It’s quite amusing.

Just then, the man jerked free of Scout’s hands and turned to run.

The irony of the saying ‘Ran like Hell was at his heels,’ was frankly hilarious.

Scout watched after him in pity as Dirge, one of the three demon ‘staff members’, chased him down without breaking a sweat, grabbing the man by the throat. There was nowhere for the man to run anyways, she did not understand why he tried.

The pitiful soul squirmed in Dirge’s large hand that was easily the size of an extra large baseball mitt.

Dirge himself was huge, his height almost reached eight foot, his skin was a greyish, extremely faded purple color, his eyes were big and slit, making him look like some kind of reptile, plus his split tongue had only added on to that description.

Despite his looks and attitude in front of the screaming and shaking souls in the room, he really was a nice person, er demon. Well, off work hours of course. During work, he looks as mean as a hungry dog with mange, and he doesn’t act all that nice either.

Dirge stepped in front of the gates and threw the pitiful man inside, his screams seemed to echo until it’s finally faded to nothing as he was swallowed by Hell, lost in the abyss.

Scout kept her pity face on as she smiled on the inside, happy she had her first resistance for the day, it should go by quickly now that everyone in the line has seen they cannot escape, and just what will happen if they try. Of course, it would only be a matter of time before a new example had to be made, but the quicker they get a resistor, then the quicker things got a little more controllable and manageable temporarily, and if they were lucky, get a few moments of silence.

As the day withered down, her list was finally coming to its end. The only thing on her mind was food as she continued her job with her back to the door, her hair pulled up and out of her face.

Every once and awhile she would catch an extra warm breeze sweep over her back from inside the gate. It was, in fact, a chilling experience, not one she enjoyed. It’s like she could feel the weight of those who she has sent down there that day, all rush back and dance up her spine uncomfortably.

There was one demon standing nearby Scout at the gate, just in case something were to go wrong. Then there was one demon on either side of the line, keeping everyone in check. Scout always wondered why in the hell she had the job of the gatekeeper when there were more than enough demons to do it themselves.

She was terrified of asking, for some reason, she has always felt this air come off of demons, one that told her not to go that far. She also was scared of the whole possibilities of it being like ‘I tell you and you die’ or ‘You know too much, I shall close your mouth forever’.

Point was, she was too scared to ask, period.

When the last one went in, as silent as a rock, and just as stiff as one, Scout closed the massive book and handed it to Dirge. He smiled down at her, his smile full of large sharp teeth, almost similar to a sharks mouth, which was an odd contrast to his overall reptilian look,” good work today, we will see you tomorrow,” he said casually and began to turn to leave.

Scout sucked in a breath, feeling nervous as she finally felt the need to come out with it and ask, figuring out of the three, Dirge was the best option,” Hey, wait.”

Dirge looked back, raising his thick black eyebrow,” yes, What is it?”

Scout scratched her head nervously and spoke up,” What can happen to me on this job? Like what bad things can happen, what risks? I have been on the job for a year already and I’m quite shocked nothing has happened yet, but there still are some things that can possibly go wrong, right?” She asked carefully.

She tried asking this questions before, but she always got rehearsed and indirect info that was not the answers she was looking for, she never had the guts to pry the information out either, considering the only other demon she bothered trying to ask was her employer.

The other demons passed up Dirge to step through the gate without him, Dirge stepped closer to her to speak, his small actions alone told her he was not supposed to be speaking too much on the subject,” Well, honestly, a lot can go wrong. You could be pulled down with one of the souls who have been cast down to Hell. You could slip or fall into the gate and you would be sucked in Hell. Many possibilities and scenarios that end with you in Hell.”

“Well,” she started, her mouth feeling dry,” then there are some of you guys waiting down there to get me out if that were to happen right?”

Dirge looked away, hesitating,” Well, no. You see, once you fall into that gate, you can end up anywhere in Hell, possibly somewhere where we can not get to.”

Scout stiffened,” If this job is so dangerous then why am I stuck with it? Were there other gatekeepers before, human ones?” She asked.

A year ago before she started the gatekeeper's job, she worked at a restaurant as a dishwasher, she has no family that she knows of, she has been in an orphanage her whole childhood.

Then she was suddenly visited by this demon, she was tall and almost literally poll skinny, as white as paper. She was actually very pretty somehow, like in the fairytale unrealistic kind of way, considering the fact she came out from Hell just to meet Scout, which initially she did not even know she was from Hell. She wore a long white robe that was frayed at the end, her eyes, the only uncovered part of her face, were small, narrow, and were a stunning silver colour. Her hair was pitch black and it hung down her back, and it would move as if it was alive, slither around on the demons back. It was slightly frightening once Scout had a good look at everything, it did take quite a while to realize that she was clearly not a cosplayer or even human. The rest of her face was covered by a white mask.

The demon told her that there was a well-paying job as a gatekeeper. Scout liked to think of it as being scared shitless into taking up the offer, so she said yes, afraid if she said otherwise something bad would happen to her.

After her first day on the job, she figured out it was easy. She had been let in on everything she knows now, which honestly was a vast amount of information, but was not as much as she would have actually liked, and she had to keep everything in order no matter what. She was also promised protection by Dirge and the others. In addition, if she failed to meet the ‘customer’s’ expectation, they could take it up with her ‘boss’, in Hell.

Hah, that was almost the best part about this, no disgustingly high expectations on how to act and no way for anyone to complain about their experience of being sent to Hell.

So here she was with Dirge, finally asking the most important question that she should have gotten answered from her employer, but never did. Which should have been more red flags, you know, aside from her being hired as the gatekeeper of Hell as a human.

Now she managed to squeeze an inkling of information from Dirge, but what was she supposed to do with it? She had no idea how she was supposed to quit. Was she supposed to hand write a resignation letter and send it down with Dirge to the woman? Yeah, doubt it.

Deep down, she knew she could not just quit. There was this unsettling gut feeling that quitting meant a certain doom for her for breaking the contract.

“Yes, there were others, but not human. I apologize, Scout, I am not allowed to speak to you about this, I think it’s best you ask Lady Pers about that,” He said with his head down.

Before she could say anymore, he turned and hurried off in through the gate, the door pushed closed behind him and it was silent.

Lady Pers being the demon who hired her in the beginning, her employer, the one who avoided her questions, the woman that Scout would rather avoid at this point.

Scout huffed in annoyance as she turned and stomped away from the gate, not daring to chase after him, slightly angered by Dirge’s lack of cooperation to answer a few simple questions even though he did give her some of an answer, which was more than she ever got before.

The empty hall quickly began to fill, other souls from around the world who have died that second began to pop up, trying to speak to Scout, but she ignored them, deep in thought, walking right through them like ghosts.

She reached the end of the long church’s nave that has long been emptied of its pews and opened the door to outside. The spirits were not allowed to pass through this door, or any other door of the church, as they are to wait in that room until tomorrow morning when Scout comes back in for work. Behind her, the Gate eerily stood as tall as the church’s structure let it, sitting behind the very spot where the altar would otherwise be, where usually a cross or some kind of statue would have been. The old church allowed the gate to stand about 50 feet high or more, since it was built very large and extravagant to most likely resemble the European churches of old with their stone build and Victorian style.

Once the doors behind her shut, the sounds of the souls screaming their lungs out were silenced, and Scout was left to stew in her thoughts.

With pros always came cons, of course.

Scout’s work hours where horrid compared to most, but the pay is far better than her restaurant job, like millions more since they did not seem to have much of a concept of paying wages. She worked from 8 in the morning to 11 at night.

In only a year of working, she seriously had the money to do or buy anything she wanted, so she honestly could not complain anyhow.

What she didn’t understand was why she was being paid all this money, but she did not have any time to spend it. If she finished that list that was predetermined by someone in Hell before passed on to her, then she might get an hour or two extra to waste, but that is a rare occasion. This was a difficult job when it came to actual free time, she had to cram her meals in nothing more than five to ten-minute intervals to eat and go to the restroom while still doing her job and get as much sleep as she can when it was time to be off. She eats small snacks in between meals, thank whoever that they didn’t care when or what she ate as long as it did not slow her down too much, but she did not have an actual set lunch or dinner break. Eat, sleep, and work is literally the only three things she had time for.

All this money and the only thing she gets to spend it on is home bills and necessities like food for the day. She invested in a laptop, but has yet to even really use it, the only use it had was collecting dust on her empty desk. There was a simple, cheap flat screen tv in her living room, but since moving into this place and getting this job, she never used it.

The gate and the souls were something only Scout could hear, touch, and see, other humans can not. While there were some humans that were, in essence, ‘sensitive’ to ghosts have also been known to be a bit sensitive to souls as well, but for them, since their detection and knowledge is so weak, there no real distinction between the two to them, so most just write them off as ghosts. However, ‘sensitive’ is as close as Humans got to truly discovering souls and truly knowing about them and the difference between them and ghosts. Scout is the only human to have the ability to see, touch and communicate with souls, ghosts, demons, and Angels, something that was provided somehow to her upon accepting this job.

A protective and preventive shield covered the entire church, since there was more than humans on the surface of the world and many preferred to just not know of Hell’s gates, for the safety of the surface. The shield kept the souls and demons in, while kept humans and others of the Earth’s surface out, that of course with Scout being the one and only exception to moving freely in and out as far as humans went. From what little she understood about the hierarchy of Hell, there were few demons aside from the King himself that can go to the surface and leave the church grounds. Lady Pers seemingly being the only other one that she personally knew of that could do so, since she made it somewhat of a habit to just visit Scout in her home instead of ever meeting her at the gate.

She had no room to feel bad about the trapped souls she left in the church. She had her own life to hold together, while her life of being alive might seem unimportant to those who had died, it just was not her business to feel bad about their deaths when not only did she not even know them, but just didn’t care considering where they were headed. Between doing her job and trying desperately to keep her stress in check over whether she should be feeling some kind of way about having this dangerous and ludicrous job or just not worry about it.

She was hitting a point where she did not know where she stood on how she should be feeling versus over what she was feeling. The lack of care was what steadily began to worry her. She did not know whether she should accept it or find a problem with everything, that was her biggest dilemma at that moment.

No normal sane person should be as accepting of the idea of being a Gatekeeper of Hell for the rest of their lives and be 100% ok with it. She must not be sane, because that was exactly where she was, and it only bothered her that she was actually fine with it.

She walked out to the sidewalk and shoved her hands in her jean pockets, walking down the street to a small diner that was open 24/7, her everyday diner, the only thing she had time for if she expected to make it home and get at least those eight hours of rest.

She stepped in the air-conditioned diner and took her normal seat in the back by the windows. Her normal waiter came up and gently poked her arm,” hey ya there Scout, what will it be today?”

Scout glanced up at him smiling,” Hey Tommy, I will just have the corn dog meal with a large sweet tea please.”

He nodded, his blond curly hair bounced with his head,” coming right up.”

Scout almost found him cute at one point, with his curly blond hair and green eyes, slightly tanned skin, he was adorable and innocent. However, when she thought about her job, she threw those feelings away in defeat, she was never going to live a normal life, go to college, get a life partner, have kids. She didn’t know how long they were going to keep her as gatekeeper, but something deep down told her she was there till the end of her own days, and maybe even beyond those.

She imagined others who were in her position would possibly kill themselves, cause trouble, resist properly doing their job in something like a boycott. Maybe just not accepting the job from the start, but she doesn’t do any of that. Sometimes she wonders if she is using fear as a mere excuse for just staying and doing the work and not minding it, instead of just accepting she was possibly screwed up somewhere in the head by not actually being bothered about not having a life or family ever.

She felt like it was actually alright to be alone her whole life and live to be the gatekeeper. It’s not like she enjoyed school anyways, and kids were always sickening and annoying to her, so what was she really missing out on anyways. Although she knew she was alright with it, it was like she could not settle and accept it at all. It was like every sane part of her wanted to reject such a thing, but it just resulted in this endless cycle of her accepting reality, but being mad that she was just rolling over and letting it happen with no real qualms with it.

She ate quickly and left to her suite that she called home, it was only down a few blocks away from the gate, she’d just walk over, no use in getting a car or calling for taxis or ubers all the time. She had it all set up with her workplace, her go-to place to eat and her home, all within short walking distances of each other, something she had done purposefully to make things easy.

When she stepped into the hotel lobby she greeted the normal workers that she sees almost every night when she comes in from work and took the elevator up to her floor. She stepped into her room with a tired yawn.

Her routine was so consistent from day to day it was almost pitiful at times, no matter how pitiful, she was too into just keeping it simple and would rather not change anything.

Just as she turned on the light to her place, a crash sounded from her kitchen, making her jump. She twisted to stare at Lady Pers standing in her kitchen, who was looking down at her victim, a new flower vase she randomly got on her way home that she had on her table waiting for some flowers to possibly fill it, showing absolutely no interest in cleaning up her mess.

Lady Pers looked up only a moment later, not a single worry or sincere bone in her body, her eyebrows raised,” I apologize for that, my robe got stuck on it and it pushed over,” her honesty was somewhat perplexing considering she was a demon.

As tall and scary as she was, she sounded small and innocent, strange combination; she was pretty from a distance, up close, she’s utterly terrifying,” it’s fine, but what are you doing here, in my kitchen to be exact,” Scout carefully asked, wondering if it would upset her.

She stepped over the broken glass gracefully and stepped in front of Scout, making her stiffen, looking up at her with unease tugging at her entire being, her heart smashing itself against her ribs from sheer fear and anxiety of what she was going to say,” well I heard you were curious about previous gatekeepers, I am here to tell you not to be. You do not need to know about that, just do your job as you have been and you will be fine.”

Scout found Lady Pers’s threat threaded under the layers of seemingly friendly advice, making Scout swallow a hard lump in her throat, scared to speak any further on the subject. Looks like Lady Pers got tired of her repetitive questions.

“No more questions? Good, that is all, good bye for now Scout,” and with that she was gone in a blink of an eye, a small breeze hit Scouts face, making her shiver as every single emotion she felt rolled over her like a bulldozer.

Creepy ass woman, Scout thought after a moment of composing herself, scared to say it out loud in fear Pers will just pop out of nowhere to eradicate her for speaking again. Buy how quickly she herd of Scouts questions, and how big Dirge made Hell seem, word sure did travel very quickly.

Scout shook off the woman’s words and quickly changed to go to bed, determined to forget about Lady Pers’s little visit, firmly convinced for now that she no longer needed to worry about shit and should just do her job.

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