Everything I’ve ever said a lie, except those bits which were extremely true. The road to Hell is paved with good intentions, my intentions. Not figurative Hell, not small-h hell, that part is a lie for children. Proper Hell, the Hell of the Bible, the Hell where Beats lie in wait for fools to swim its silken black pools. That Hell is real.
As a theoretical mathematician, when the military men had rolled into my university town with their pomp and circumstance, it had sounded like easy money. Open a dimensional portal, they said. Blink away the supply lines, they said. Win this war. Living in the quiet safety of my private ivory tower, the sales pitch bored me. I probably yawned. That was, of course, before they brought out their big guns… a lanky athletic man with thick rimmed glasses and a ridiculous name: Sargent Thirsty. They must have known – how could they not? Muscled nerds are kryptonite to academics. So when Sargent Thirsty said, “If you’re up for it”, it felt like flirtation. “It’s going to be hard,” I challenged. “So hard,” he countered, tussling his cropped buzz-cut as much the follicles would allow.
Before I could ask him if he came from a long line of Thirsty’s, Major Muppet interrupted. “There is, uh, unlimited funds,” he said, dragging the conversation back to the reason for their visit. I had forgotten his name on learning it, instead calling him after his oversized handlebar moustache that bobbed as he talked.
I guzzled another intoxicating look from Sargent Thirsty’s big brown puppy-dog eyes before replying, “No need,” adding an unnecessary pause. “I’ve already solved the higher level trans-dimensional calculus while you were talking.” That had been my first mistake, to solve the equations too quickly. My eagerness to show-off for Sargent Thirsty was paid for by never seeing him again. Some excuse about Sexual Harassment in the workplace. Bah! Instead there was only the muppetine moustache, some beards, and the occasional mono-brow issuing orders to build the delicate tridimensional machinery.
On the day of the grand reveal, the day Test Subject Alpha – a snail named Sir Snail McSnail the Third by some of my more puerile co-workers – was to be trans-dimensionally relocated across campus, I was confident, mostly, somewhat confident, eighty perfect extremely certain that I had made no mistake in my equations. Mathematics told no lies, as my old professor was fond of saying. Except he was a eunuch and had never differentiated n-dimensional calculus in his head while in the presence of Sargent Thirsty’s perfect nerdish abs. Mathematics may suffer no fools, but I was a fool in love. Nerd love. The worst kind of love.
It was with some trepidation, by me mostly, that Sir Snail McSnail the Third hurtling was sent through a tridimensional portal, thereby bypassing several hundred metres of libraries, lecture halls, and bored students procrastinating their way between classes. He never arrived. That is to say, he never left. It wasn’t that slimy bundle of goo that travelled between dimensions, we all did. Military men, other scientists, members of the press, and an eighty percent surprised me popped out of the three-dimensional space, that we lovingly call Earth, and into the space between worlds. A place stinking of brimstone. Somewhere very, very hot. The Hell dimension.
For those brief life-destroying seconds, we watched towering infernos of daemons beat, starve and torture Lost Souls; rivers of fire weave their destructive furnace across a barren landscape; and the beast who would be God, proclaim his self-glory atop an ivory throne. None of us moved. None of us breathed. Statues. At least at first.
I was the first to notice a nearby impish demon waving his hands in our general direction. Trading fingers for eyes, ten separate pupils squinted at our motley band of never-been-tortured flesh. It, maybe he, maybe not, dropped a headless screaming plaything of a man, opened its gaping wound of a mouth, and screamed a long, shadowy whisper, “LIIIIIIIIIFE”.
To say we ran for it would be an understatement. Moments later, after personally beating the Olympic record for the oh-my-God-I’m-going-to-die one-hundred metre sprint, my miscalculations safely return us, the demons missing out on their chance to gnaw the flesh from our bones. Major Muppet, now standing firm on terra-nova, his moustache half-burned by a misplaced ember, turned to me, turned to his watch, then back to me. He spoke slowly, the gears of his brain taking their time to whirl back to life. “Right then boys, uh, time for lunch,” he said, before marching out of the room.
Perhaps travelling to the Hell dimension is an everyday occurrence in the Military, I never did find out. Nobody every spoke of it again. And those unlimited funds proved not quite so endless after all. However, like all good stories, it did end well. The Military assigned me my own personal military attaché. A babysitter, really. Someone responsible for preventing me from revisiting those equations, thereby inflicting an endless fiery Armageddon onto the word. His name, Sargent S. J. Thirsty.