Welcome to Hell: A Caregiver's Nightmare

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Location, location, location

I close my eyes again but, even as I do it, I know it is an empty gesture. I cannot un-see what I have seen. I cannot go back. ‘Ha,’ I chuckle to myself. ‘If I have learned anything from the past five years, that would be it, in a nutshell.’ Has it really been five years already?

I wonder if I should respond to the voice. Should I say “thank you”? And who welcomes you to Hell anyway? The devil is obviously my first guess but…he doesn’t sound like the devil. (Not that I know what the devil sounds like.) Still, doesn’t the devil torture people? Shouldn’t I be in pain? Agony?

And what I have actually seen anyway? It is dark, pitch black. I cannot see my own hand attached to my own arm but, oddly, I am not overly bothered by this. (This really is odd; I am the type of person who sleeps with a flashlight next to her bed and knows the nearest emergency exit of every room she enters and the quickest way to get there.) I am not shackled to the wall or bound in any way. I run my hands along my arms; none of me is bleeding. I am wearing comfortable clothes, stretchy jeans and a roomy t-shirt. The floor underneath me is solid. I am lying down, or was until the voice freaked me out and I sat up with a jolt. I had assumed I was on bed but, now that I am noticing, it feels like a couch. A futon maybe?

Not very dramatic at all, to be honest. In fact, if the PA voice had not informed me that this was Hell, I would probably not have guessed it. I am surprisingly disappointed by this. Part of me really was hoping for fire and brimstone. Though, at the same time, there is something deeply disturbing about being familiar with this place.

I rack my brain for descriptions of Hell. ‘I should have read Dante’s Inferno! How did I never get to it?’ I yell at myself. I am convinced that I would be better equipped to handle this if I had. Instead, all I have is contradictions, gleaned from years of soap operas.

Hell is hot. Hell is cold.

Hell is waiting. Hell is arriving.

Hell is loud. Hell is silent.

Hell is packed. Hell is lonesome.

But even the contradictions don’t match my current status:

I am not overheated or chilled.

I am not expecting anyone to join me and I have no clue how I got here.

I hear only the subtle, fairly pleasant humming of the PA system.

I can stretch my legs and I do not feel alone. (Like when you are at a sleepover and are slightly unsettled by the unfamiliar surroundings but you know that your friends are there, even after you shut your eyes. Kind of like that.)

I wait. The voice has not said anything else. Assuming I was asleep, I have no clue why he was so determined to wake me up. ‘Am I supposed to be…doing something?’

“Hello?” I call out into the dark. “Hello? Anyone there?” I am not sure what else to add. My name? My age? Do things like – names and numbers – still exist in Hell? I start to whisper my name, just as a test, but then-

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