Dan Eats Cat Food’s Inferno: Circle Eight: The Sick: Anelli One Through Five

Posted: May 30, 2010 by kaostheory in Inferno
Tags: , ,

Lost in contemplation over the fate of my fellow humans and friends, I did not notice that Astley had stopped short until I ran into the back of him, stumbling as I went.

“Why did you stop, poet?”

“This you must see. Look, Kaos.”

Annoyed, I followed his gaze to see what he was looking at. My jaw dropped as I stared ahead into what seemed to be nothing. A tremendous gorge ahead of us made me quickly realize that we were standing on a massive cliff that overlooked the Eighth Circle. Winds whistled around us as I snuck forward a bit to stare into the abyss. A rough hand on my shoulder pulled me back and Astley looked at me, disapproving.

“I wouldn’t. Come with me. Our transport is here.”

“Transport?”

“Yes. You did not think that we were going to climb down ourselves, did you?”

“I…no.”

“Good. Barkoff! We are ready to go.”

A drumming of giant wings tore through the sky as a massive creature landed on the cliff in front of us. Its face was normal, if a bit off-puttingly human but its body was covered in dried blood. The tail of the creature, on the other hand, appeared to be made of another human excretory substance that I would rather not think about. According to Astley, this was Barkoff, our method of reaching the Eighth Circle. He represented – in his words – the entirety of the circle, being made of humanity but also of violence and of excretion. Gingerly, I hopped on his back, hoping that my clothes would remain pristine. It was not to be. A long glide later, we landed at the gate of the Eighth Circle, my outfit grimy with brownish-red. Astley simply thanked our guide and led me to the entrance.

“And what now, guide?”

“We are about to enter the Eighth Circle, though it is known by another name. The Tortoanneli, or ‘twisted rings’. Those who are guilty of deliberately and knowingly frequenting unsavory websites are condemned to these rings, separated into ditches by their most prevalent site. The lack of value that these creatures placed on human lives is why they are down here so low in this kingdom. Yet our journey is aided by the presence of bridges linking the rings. All we must do is pass through them all. Let us not tarry. The bloodlust here is quite high.”

We entered the first Anello – as Astley called it – with much trepidation. There before us, misery ran not free, but in one long line. Hundreds of thousands of souls walked in a circle, with faceless, hideous creatures whipping them unceasingly. Aside from the cries of the damned, there was no sound. The creatures holding the whips said nothing, only used their weapons well.

“These souls here in the first frequented the site known as Stile Project. Dedicated to simple lack of morality, the site used human misery to drive traffic from a sick corner of the Internet to their site, providing them money and ad space and even merchandising and a forum later on. So then must their punishment be equal: they will be driven by those souls that were not given a face or a voice that they exploited. To the next ring, friend.”

The second Anello made me wince as I entered. The rank stench of human excreta was overpowering. Even Astley, shade though he was, used a handkerchief to cover his nose. To my horror, I could see what this ring entailed. Every soul there was standing, roasting in the filth, bemused looks on their faces. They could not speak, could not laugh, could not cry. They were allowed, it seemed, no facial reaction whatsoever to their plight.

“These here indulged their taste for human waste through their patronage – and forwarding – of the video known as ‘2 Girls, 1 Cup’. I am beginning to feel a tad ill, so may we continue on without examining why they steep in waste?”

“And why can they not react to what happens to them?” I asked, fearful of the answer.

“Many of them used the video to shock and horrify friends and loved ones. They are thus denied in eternity the ability to create those reactions they once lusted for. Let us continue, please.”

The bridge to the third Anello was rickity but we made it across without a problem. In this ring, all the souls were placed headfirst into what appeared to be solid stone. Yet, blood seeped from the stone and their cries of pain were unending. Upon closer examination, the bottoms of their feet were sliced to ribbons and salt was rubbed into the wounds, never melted, always grinding away.

“Rotten dot com, my friend. They froze their faces in amusement as they looked upon the death and pain and sorrow of so many other souls. They did not allow themselves to see the humanity in the bodies, simply revelling in the gore. Worse yet, the pictures on the website were taken from many private sources which gave these creatures the ability to feed off of the pain of the families, amplifying it through the knowledge that the Internet had such personal material. Thus their feet are slashed – the familial anguish in physical form – and salt rubbed into the wound – proper amplification in themselves. Let us walk, friend.”

The fourth Anello was filled with those who walked around the ring backwards, their heads violently twisted backwards, their spines unrealistically warped and bent. Even with their walking backwards, they ran into each other, refusing to acknowledge the presence of others. They simply walked in a foot or so of blood, ignoring all that occurred around them.

“Similar to those from Rotten, these who loved Ogrish suffer as well. They turned their heads away from the realism behind such videos as those released showing the murder of various Americans or foreigners on-camera by terrorists or even the death of the wicked Saddam Hussein. They turned from acknowledging the humanity of those in the videos, instead seeing such atrocities as entertainment or even water cooler talk amongst other violent friends. They will not see another human being down here, though they will run into them as they walk forever in the blood they so loved in life. Such is their fate. And may we move on?

The fifth Anello, friends, was much different. As we crossed the bridge, we were met by a troop of winged beasts, their leader sneering at us as it towered over us.

“Welcome travellers,” the monster hissed, “I am Tortocuore, the leader of the Tortomento. You are in our realm now.”

“We understand, Tortocuare. We only wish to pass through,” Astley spoke, no trace of fear in his voice.

“Ah yes. We have heard of your travels and wish not to detain you. I shall send some of my finest with you to provide you safe passage to the sixth Anello. I insist. It would be our pleasure.”

“We accept your offer. Let us continue, Kaos, lest we remain here longer than we must.”

As we walked the path, the beasts flying lazily above us, I noticed that the souls in this ring were covered with and thrashing in pools of what looked to be boiling tar. Their screams bubbled forth from the tar and made me a little queasy. I spoke as quick as I could to Astley to ignore the sounds and begged him to reveal these sins.

“These here are as bad as the others, yet they committed greater sin. You see, they were the damned that would purchase – actually purchase – the videos known as ‘Faces of Death’ and host them on websites for the world to see. They not only paid money for human suffering on video, but paid money as well to spread and disseminate such suffering around the world. For these transgressions, they boil forever in the tar, which symbolizes how their hands are sticky with human blood, having made it more prevalent across the Internet. Ah, we have arrived at…there is no bridge.”

“What?”

Astley was quite correct. There was no bridge to the sixth Anello. We seemed to be trapped. A laugh erupted from the sky as Tortocuore swooped in, his teeth now bared and sharper than physically possible.

“What is the meaning of this, demon?”

“Oh, a thousand apologies, travellers. We have decided that we would in fact be more our pleasure if you would stay here, damned for all eternity, your flesh flayed from your bones daily by my poor, hungry soldiers. You would not deny them a fresh meal, would you? That would simply be selfish of you.”

“This treachery will not remain unnoted, monster.”

“But it shall, poet. But it shall. You are free to attack now, my friends.”

In what seemed to only be a mere moment, Astley shoved me as hard as he could towards the edge of this ring. I felt my body tip and begin to roll – out of control – down the hill. Yet after a few minutes, I reached flat ground once more and stood up shakily. Astley was there. He looked at me, sighed and gave a small, tired smile. For the moment, we were safe.

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