Dan Eats Cat Food’s Inferno: Circle Six: The Desperate

Posted: May 25, 2010 by kaostheory in Inferno
Tags: , , , ,

Lightning sundered the sky above us as the walls of the city, cracked and filthy gray, created a jagged horizon. Vents dotting the ground spewed noxious gases, the cores of the vents glowing a malevolent red. The path on which we walked wound serpentine through an obscene mockup of what appeared to be city streets. I walked more closely to Astley than before, concerned about some shade reaching from the shadows and pulling me into nothingness. I wished to quiz my guide on this Sixth Circle but fear locked my voice deep in my throat. He, as usual, needed no word from me.

“We have entered the City of Diss, friend. As we walk, be mindful of our surroundings. A false step could lead to an eternity of plummeting through this place. Stay fast to me. I will be careful. We have now entered the Sixth Circle, though only near the entrance. Let us go deeper so that you may experience the true depth of this level of sin.”

I am not proud of what I did, but it must be said. To ensure my safety, I softly held onto the sleeve of my guide, as if a small child frightened in a shopping mall or a zoo. A quick, amused glance from Astley was all I saw before turning away, ashamed. Stifling a laugh, he motioned forward to me.

“Look, the first members of this circle are up just ahead.”

“Who lives in this circle, poet?”

“Those who in life were desperate for attention.”

“As those in the earlier circles were?”

“No. Those wished only that people would notice them, say good or bad things to them. A weaker, less intense form of attention. These that dwell here wish for…personal attention. Less verbal and more…physical attention.”

“As in fighting?”

“As in sexually engaging.”

“Ah, well surely this circle cannot contain ALL those who are desperate for sexual attention. Nearly…all of the planet, really, are in that frame of mind much of the time.”

“Yes, but not all of the planet prowls the Internet like rabid beasts seeking it from strangers.”

“Point duly noted. Who are those then?”

I gestured to a massive pile of grotesque naked flesh writhing and pulsating near the edge of the path. Muffled moans and grunts emanated from the inside of the pile. The more clearly I looked, the more horrified I became. The pile was not just random. It was a conglomeration of legs and lips and breasts and behinds and other less savory body parts. Attached to the occasional breast was a suckling child. I heaved involuntarily.

“Those are the online daters. They are less reprehensible than the rest, normally. They ache for sex, yes, but also for companionship and love. Unfortunately, their life choices to the point where they signed up to date online were what we shall call poor. They would get married and pop out their brood before being divorced two years later by their rurally-based Marine high school boyfriends. After a few years of raising their children alone, they miss the touch of a man and thus enter the online world to find some person that will accept her and her child as a viable partner, making sure to mention in every essay that they are not looking for a father for their child, though they surely are. Their sheer desperation has warped them and drawn them together into one giant mass, never to be alone again for the rest of time.”

“And what of the males who join online dating websites?”

“Sexual predators all. Let us move on.”

We walked a little further and found before us a giant conference room filled with large men and women staring at each other, all seeming very uncomfortable. Occasional coughs and sniffs were the only sounds to fill the air. The overwhelming quiet created an atmosphere of supreme awkwardness.

“Poet,” I asked, careful to keep my voice to a whisper, “who are these that stand here so silent?”

“These are the Craigslist perusers. While those who date online have low standards, those who search for intercourse on Craiglist have those that much lower. Of course, they lie as well when describing their physical attributes, creating a cycle of untruth. This could not stand down here. They cannot hear or see us, so we may depart quickly. They are doomed simply to wrestle with their deflated and unmet expectations forever, unable to broach the subject of the lie they see for fear for exposing their own. Come. We have one more group to see.”

That last crowd of damned souls were just a few steps down from the last, but were noticeable as soon as we left the first. Their screams pierced the air, making me wince. As we entered their area, I could see why. Every one of them, every single one, had his or her crotch lit aflame, the fire never dying or subsiding.

“What are the sins of these poor souls?”

“These have lacked the subtlety of even Craiglist in their pursuit of sex. They plainly went for those oh-so-prevalent groups online that promise nothing but random sex with random strangers. Their lack of decorum has damned them to have that which they valued so little licked by tongues of fire, an appropriate metaphor as well. If I may also have one more moment of your time, friend?”

“Of course.”

“What we shall experience in the final three circles is much different than what we have seen so far. The last three are made of components – three, ten, and four, respectively – and are darker in tone than what we have been through. While these six have been the realm of the self-serving, the last are…malicious. They seek not to serve their own needs but to hurt others. What they wish is pain and agony, not simple affirmation of their selves. These are the ones that do harm on the Internet. We must be careful. We must be wary. We must watch over ourselves lest we be pulled down into their worlds. Be warned, traveller. You now remain in constant danger. Now, let us depart.”

With a deep breath to calm my nerves, I followed Astley as we began to descend. The smell was overwhelming. I was overtaken and felt my senses leave me. There was nothing.

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