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by Bill Brennan
( based on Dante's "Inferno" and Larry Nivans "Inferno", with great respect for both)
PART ONE: GO TO HELL
The Castle had been in Transit for a few hours now, and they would make planetfall in a day or so, ship's time. Riffraff had much work to do, and very little time to do it in. And his sister, Magenta, had refused to help. Riffraff had already exceeded order's by executing Frank N Furter, and she would'nt help him complicate matters anymore. He would get them off with out detection-or get them caught-on his own.
Riff silently went to work. Many hours later, he was done, and pleased with the results: the computer memory was jiggered, and would confirm his story about an overload in the Power Reactor Inputs.He sealed the lab and let them overload, making a very beliveable explosion scene. He took DNA from Frank, Columbia, Eddie, and Rocky and fused them into a fine gas, and sprayed the gas over the lab, away from the explosion. Anyone checking his story would find the minute remains of the four "accident victims" spracyed away from the blast, coating the walls...exactly as would have happened in real life.
The bodies themselves were dumped out of the airlock, shredded to component atoms by the eddies of hyperspace. No evidence there. Everything else was bells and whistles:erase all evidence of the humans, stick to the story and plead fir his sister to keep her mouth shut. He knew she would. She loved him, and he loved her. They were in this together...
The ship soon landed on the Planet Transexual, located near the outer rim of the galaxy of Transylvania. An airlock door opened, and the pressure was equalized-any contaminant from earth's air were already sucked out of the huge hanger bay.
"Your'e sure you can get away with this?" asked Magenta as she gave him a very uncostumary squeeze of her hand. "Im sure," said Riffraff, with a crooked smile. They opened the castle doors and walked out to meet the hanger crew and deck officer.
And just as the doors finished opening a fist smashed in Riff's face. many hands grabbed at him, held him tight, and another fist smashed into his face when he tried to talk.
Magenta was restrained as well, but didnt give any resistance. Riffs side arm was taken from him,a knee was brought up into his face, and his head rocked back, blood spewing from his broken nose. Magenta looked around: the hanger bay was filled with the Queens Guard: men and women in black vynil catsuits, with spike heeled boots, elbow length gloves, and severe make up. Each carried a short sword and side arm, and there were at least a hundred of them. "Bring him to the Queens chambers!" ordered a woman in an Officers hat. With a gasp magenta recognized her-it was Croft, the Queens Head of security. Croft turned and gave Magenta a look, a scowl that said "You should have known better! Fool!" And indeed it was likely that that was what she ment: Croft had trained Riffraff and Magenta herself, many years, and like Brad and Janet with Dr. Scott, Croft was something of a tutor. Riff was dragged away, spitting blood and curses, and Magenta and her guards followed...and Magenta started to feel fear. She knew what was to become of her brother...he would be excuted, found guilty, and given a fair trial...in that exact order.
The great doors to the Throne room opened, and they were admitted. the Queen sat on her Throne, dressed in black and red leather, score of Warriors and slave men and women attended her...and behind her was a huge video screen, the size of a football field, which dominated the back of the room. And on the screen was a slow motion scene: Riffraff and Magenta, standing there in front of Frank, watching him run and climb the curtains, seeking escape. the camera closed in on Riffraffs face, his smile, and Magentas, her shock and suprise.
The Queen, or her Oversight Committee, had placed secret cameras on the ship. Of course. And they knew everything. "We find you guilty of Murder, Officer Riffraff. The sentence is death, and sentence is to be carried out immediately. Do you have anything to say for yourself!?!" demanded the Queen from her lofty height. She was angry, and justly so. frank was not only her cultures most brilliantmond, he was also the Queens consort.
Riffraff opened his mouth to say his last word, and the Queen nodded her head. The Guard behind Riff pressed the trigger of his side arm, and the criminals head went up as a puff of smoke as it was vaporized there on the spot.
No one would ever know it, but his last words were going to be, "Im sorry." It was like waking from a dream, at first. Riff suddenly became aware that he was awake, but he wasnt quite sure when he had actually fell asleep, or how long he had been awake. He didnt know where he was, and he thought he was seeing things: all he could see was a bronze-grey color, as far as his eye could see. He went to look down...and then he relised that he didnt have a body! He reached around with his arms, and didnt see, or feel, anything! It FELT like he had his body, he could feel the muscles move in his legs and arms, and he started to yell-and had no voice!
Panic set in-what was this!?! No voice, no body, he soon found that he was litle more than an intelligence, a point of view, hovering in open space. he looked around, up and down and all around, and there was only a uniform bronze color...it was like he was in the center of a huge, huge bronze egg. What had the Queen done to him? Was this some form of torture, was he in a sensory deprivation tank, drugs filling his brain? Some other form of halluconation? What was going on???
Time had passed. First hours, then days. It must have been at least a few days, he thought. He was in no pain, and could not feel anything at all, really. He didnt get tired, he didnt need to urinate or defectae, he didnt get hungry. He was just...there. And he started to wonder exactly where he was, where he REALLY was.
More time passed, he didnt know how long. he thought to himself, remembered old missions, faces long dead (many by his own hand), and the events that led him to where he was. He walked and walked, hours at a time, and never got anywhere. he sang, he tried to sleep, he became board...and always he thought of his sister, Magenta.,and how far she was from him. he worried about her, and recalled her face, her black eyes, her red-rimmed smile, the feel of her icy cold alabaster breasts in his hand, in his mouth. He cried, tearlessly, and screamed, and it went on and on and on, for who-knows how long, and Riffscreamed and cursed and yelled until finally screamed "FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, PLEASE LET ME OUT!!!!" And suddenly he felt his ass fall down on the sandy ground, hard.
"You okay?" asked a voice, which Riffraff ignored. He had his hands on the soil-it was reddish and hot, no moisture at all, and it felt wonderful. He touched himself, his legs and torso. He was somehow dressed in his butlers uniform, but he didnt care, because he was THERE! He felt his vest and spat, ran his slinky fingers through his greasy blond hair, and even enjoyed the sting on his butt. He breathed inthe air, and it stank of copper and sweat and warm wind. It was wonderful.
"Here, let me help you up," said the voice, and a hand appeared in front of him. Instinctivly Riffraff took the hand, and was pulled up, and found himself looking right into the smiling face of the human, Brad Majors. "Im here to help you get out," said Brad, and Riff wondered what the hell was really going on here. "Brad." said Riff. "Yes," said Brad, and the human smiled. he was just as Riff remembered him: dark hair, glasses, a happy goofy smile that you just wanted to smash with your boot. A tan "Denton High School" jacket, black pants, white socks, black shoes.
Riff then gasped, and look around him, behind Brad. There seemed to be bottles and urns all around them, millions and millions of them, heaped into huge piles! And beyiond here dunes, like sand dunes, of these bottles, stretching as far as the eye could see, lost in a red fog. rRiffraff turned-the bottles and fog were all that he could see. He looked up and saw a blood red sky.
"Where am I?" he asked. "Um, well, uh...your in Hell." Brad said. He seemed uncomfortable saying the word "Hell".
Then Riffraff heard a sound, like wind, only far away and coming from everywhere.
"Whats that sound?" "People screaming," said Brad softly. "the Damned." "Im in Hell, and that sound is people screaming." said Riffraff, in shock. He looked up, there was a white blotch in the sky, almost poking thru the clouds.
"And the white glow up there?" he asked.
"Paradise," said Brad with a sigh. Janet was up there, waiting for him. "How long?" asked Riff.
"How long? Oh, since you died! Thats hard to answer, time isnt the same in this plane of existance. Could be a few years, could be a thousand years. It dosent really matter, does it?" Brad smiled that smile, and again Riffraff was taken with the urge to hurt him. "And where was I before I woke up here?" Riff asked. he knew what this was-mind torture. This was the Queens doing! No doubnt his body was wired up in some hell-hole laboratory and her Majesties minions were no doubnt playing with his brain! Wel, he would not cooperate!
"From in here," said Brad, and he tossed Riffraff a bronze urn. "In this?" "yes. It where all souls are stored until they ask for release, and then they wake up here.Of course there has to be an angel on hand to let them out. thats me." "You. An Angel. And Im in hell. Humph," Riff smile. he waved Brad to one side and started to walk away. "Where are you going?" asked Brad. "Away from you. I shant play along with the Queen or her lackies. I am my own person," Riff said without turning back. Brad sighed, and shook his head. he knew this wasnt going to be easy, he was WARNED it wasnt going to be easy...rescuing a soul like this one was going to be downright difficult! Brad started walking after him, wondering if Janet was watching...
Riffraff looked around him at the fantasic surroundings: there was the red sky, the small path of sandy brown dirt, and bottles. Million, billions, of bottles. Most were small, some were large. There wer dunes of them, piles of them, mountains of them. *CLINK*
Riffraff looked around and saw a small bottle, the same dull brass urn type bottle, fall onto the ground.
"They fall from the sky...from Paradise, abive," said Brad.
"yes, from Paradise," said Riffraff. "Which is where you came from," "thats right," said Brad, smiling that bovine smile that Riff so wanted to smash in with his fist.
Riff saw it this time-a bottle appeared, about twenty feet up, from no where. It fell to the ground and rolled to a stop with a soft clinking sound. "And inside these bottle are...souls?" Riff said with a sneer. "Yes. And they cant be let out unless they ask God for help." Brad smiled again.
"God," said Riffraff. "And YOU are my 'guardian angel", come to set me free of Hell? This is Hell, you say?" asked Riff again, still not belivng it. "Thats right," said Brad. Now, the sooner we get going the sooner we get out of here," Brad said and motioned to leave. Riff listened, hard. He though he heard a small buzzing sound, coming from below. He leaned over...yes, he heard what sounded like ...like curses, from a small voice, within the bottle! He reached down to pick it up, and the tips of his fingers started to burn! It was hot! Very hot! He dropped the bottle, and it rolled a bit, and come to a stop.
Riffraff turned. "After you," he said toi Brad. He wanted the human in front of him, where he could see him. He didnt belive for a second that he was dead, or in "Hell". hell was a human institution...wasnt it? Either way, he didnt belive it. This was some type of advance hologram program, of an intrusion into his very brain! At this very moment he could be strapped to a bed in her Majesty's Palace,. undergoing some kind of brain washing...
But there was nothing to be done about it at the moment, but follow Brad. So they walked...and walked...and walked.
They walked for hours. The mountains of bottles became only hills, the hills only vast "sand dunes" of bottle, then only a shallow sea. Ground started to break through-it was hot and dry and nothing grew there..and eventually there were only a few patches of bottles, then one or two, and finally none. In all that time they had not seen another living thing. riffraff didnt speak at all, but rather only followed Brad, Brad, for the most part, rattled on about this and that, none of it important and all of it annoying: How janet had looked when they married, the children they had raised and watched grow to have children of their own, how the souls of the dead appeared as the observer wanted to see them (which is why Brad appeared in his jacket, black pants, shoes, and glasses), and the importance of always making sure that one has an extra spare tire. And through the desert they walked.
Riff walked, and eventually found that something was wrong. Very wrong. They had been walking for a long, long time. More than hours-many hours. Perhaps even as much as a day.Yet he was not tired, his feet did not ache, his insides did not produce any waste, he was not tired or hungry or thirsty...how could that be? And the bright yellow spot that occasionally peeked out from behind the red cloud cover, "Paradise" as Brad suggested, never moved. The sun didnt rise or set or move-it was always over-head. He asked Brad why. "That's the nature of this place. Your soul dosent have the same needs as your physical body. Riff thought about this. Could it be true? Could he REALLY be in Hell? No. No, of course noit. It was an illusion, it had to be, a dream induced by Queen Innelda's scientists...or something. He hoped.
"There," said Brad, and he pointed out something on the horizon. "A building?" Riff asked. "A town. Its a place for people that ahvent been good enough for Paradise, but not bad enough for Hell. Most people call it Purgatory. But the people call it something else." "What?" asked Riff.
"DENTON, HOME OF HAPPINESS" read the sign in the center of the graveyard. There was a field behind the bilbpard, and a church next to it. A cool breeze blew, and it was semi-cold, almost like late November. "Denton?" asked Riff. "Like I said, things here appear to be what the soul in question expects to see. If you were someone else, the sign would have a name that that person would relate to. either way its the same place. the people here arent subject to the dangers and tortures of Hell.They are safe." Brad smiled. "Then Im staying right here until I get some answers," Riff said, and walked into the church. He walked in, spun a vase of flowers around as he did, and sat right on one of the pews. "We cant stay here," Brad explained, and tried to get Riff to leave. "Wjhy not?" Asked Riff.
"The people who live here wont let us. We botrh have the stink of Hell on us, Riffraff. You are one of the damned, and Im from up-top but not sentenced to be here. neither one of us BELONG here. They wont let us stay. "Who wont?" asked Riff.
"We wont," said a voice.
"Hey Ralph," said Brad.
"Hiya Brad," said ralph Hapscahtt. He stood there in the doorway, flanked by a small man, a photographer, and his wife Betty Monroe-Hapschatt, and other wedding guests.
"Ralph, come with us, you can escape Hell and go to Paradise with us!" Brad pleaded as thety crowded the room. Riff stood. "Brad, spare us your sales pitch. Wrdve been over this over and over. If you want to leave, you can leave. If not, you an stay with us, if you get can get that smell off of you. But HE has to go," and Riff slunk back, towards the wall.
"Ralph, I only want to help you, please, your my friend.." Riffraff slipped in between some of the people, and they shied back from him, and walked out the door, leaving Ralph and Brad arguing. Riff looked about, and saw a car! It had wrtting on it-"Wait till tonight, she got hers now he'll get his" and "Just married". Riff saw the keys in the ignition and got in. He tried to start the car-the motor coughed, died, and cough again.
And thats just when the crowd came out of the church. Brad was in the rough arms of the tall churchMinister and the scrawny groundskeeper-Riff was amazed that the minister looked like Frank N Furter, and the groundskeeper looked like himself!
"It wont work for YOU, damned soul!" saiod the Minister, and Riff was taken from the car, and both he and Brad were marched to the city limits, where the green grass and thick tree's changed abruptly to desert waste. "And stay out!" they were told as they were set on the road. "Now are you ready to follow me to the center? It IS the only way out," said Brad. riff didnt say a thing, but followed as Brad started to walk away from Denton.