Downhill, Uphill, Hereabouts

Posted on June 5, 2004 by Jenna

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This one starts like this.

There’s a big cheesecake. It’s delicious. It’s yummy. And it goes to Hell because, well, it’s apple. And it used one of those apples. And if someone slices up one of those apples and uses it to make cheesecake, then, first, the cheesecake is going to be pretty knowledgeable on matters of morality, and, second, it’s going to Hell. Ain’t nobody ever died for the sins of a cheesecake, whatever Marie Antoinette might want you to believe.

So, anyway, this cheesecake meanders down to Hell, and pretty soon the demons are all tasting it. And they’re saying, “Wow, this is pretty good.”

And someone, and it’s best not to say who, has the bright idea, “We should give some to the sinners.”

Everyone discusses this for a while. It’s kind of unusual, but, you know, they’ve gone through a lot of suffering—you know, with the boiling oil, and the fire, and the ice, and that room full of moths with really big heads. And it seems reasonable to everyone that maybe the sinners should get just a little bit of a break, because, hey, cheesecake.

So they make a rule.

“Okay, everyone. Eat a slice of this cheesecake. Savor, if you want. Enjoy. It’s good stuff. Then back to the torture!”

And a day passes. And word starts getting around. No one’s eating. Oh, sure, some of the damned had eaten … a bite or two. But then they put it down.

“What’s up?” somebody asks Cain. He was the first human there, so he has seniority.

“I’m savoring,” he explains.


It’s pretty good cheesecake, so that isn’t unreasonable. But another couple of days pass, and still, everywhere you go, there’s cheesecake. It’s starting to look a bit less savory, what with the fire and the boiling oil and the ice and the moths with really big heads—y’know, even if there aren’t any of those things in the designated non-torture regions, they do make themselves felt. There’s heat. There’s cold. There’s little baby moths with wide cute eyes and little kawaii fangs. Hell is no place for a pastry.

“Listen,” explains the Vice-President in Charge of Corrections. “We can’t torture you if you won’t finish your cheesecake.”

“Oh,” says Cain. He looks embarrassed. “I didn’t realize.”

He doesn’t pick up the fork, though.

So time passes, and it’s all still the same. The damned are just kind of wandering around. You can’t stop them. They didn’t eat their cheesecake. Except for that guy, Saul or whatever his name is. But you can’t run a whole Hell on torturing Saul. For one thing, he’s got these horribly reproachful eyes. For another, and don’t tell anyone else, but there’s a rumor going around that the Vice-President in Charge of Corrections made him out of dried macaroni and glue. He does kind of have that look, you know?

“Some decrease in productivity.” That’s the report that went upstairs.

They gave it to a girl, and she got in an elevator, and she’s rising and rising. Someday, she’ll reach Heaven.