“How’d you get thrown in Hell?”
“Didn’t get thrown in. I was born there.” He sipped his wine. “Both my parents were damned. They did their time in the inner circles, then got jobs, fell in love, and moved out to the suburbs. It’s not much different from the Earth that far out, if you can get used to the lack of a sky.”
“Did it suck?”
“What, being in Hell? The suburbs sucked, but Hell Proper’s great. Everything’s torchlit. Lots of great bars, lots of cocktails that you can’t make above ground. There’s this forbidden booze made from charcoal that’s in just about everything. People down there really know how to live, even though most aren’t, well, alive. I’ve given some thought to moving back, honestly.”
“Well, that’s a bit unexpected. I was raised by Baptists, and from what they had to say about the place, you’d think that anyone who managed to escape would never dream of going back.”
“But they also probably didn’t think that anyone could escape.”
“Yeah, I suppose not. What’s up with that?”
“You want to know how I got out?” She nodded, and he continued: “Hell is inescapable for those who are both damned and dead, of which I was neither. As long as at least one of these isn’t true, you can apply for a passport, so I did.” He withdrew a little oxblood booklet with tacky gold lettering from his pocket. “From there, it’s just a matter of getting a visa for wherever you need to go.”
“So you’re here on a visa? Work? School?” She raised an eyebrow. “You’re not married, are you?”
“Nah. Technically still a tourist, two years expired.”
“Well, I can’t imagine you can stay for much long, then.”
“Not unless we get to know each other a lot faster.”
She raised her other eyebrow.
He laughed. “I’m only joking. I’ll be fine. Trying to get rid of me makes for a bit of a legal loophole. There’s only one way to deport someone back to Hell, and that’s to kill them.”
“Is that so?” She cocked her gun under the table. No need to show her badge for this one. “I’m not sure if there is such a loophole, since the judgement comes after death.”
The legal systems of the living and the dead often conflict, as Daisy Cormorant learned first hand.
Some choose to exploit the space between life and death voluntarily, as it can be A Pretty Sweet Gig.
Hell is still in pretty good shape, though Hades desperately needs an overhaul to its infrastructure.