Tag Archives: The Underworld is a Multiverse and All Your Lovers Are Invited: Part 1 and 2

“The Underworld is a Multiverse, and All Your Lovers Are Invited: Part 1 and 2” – Fiction by Laura Podolnick Dukhon

Haywain – Hieronymus Bosch, circa 1488

A woman discovers just how twisted Hell can be in “The Underworld is a Multiverse, and All Your Lovers Are Invited : Part 1 and 2,” Laura Podolnick Dukhon‘s demonically hilarious short story from our Spring 2018 issue.

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Part I: If You Break Hell It Only Gets Worse

I WANDERED INTO HELL BY MISTAKE, on a thunderstorm skulk while I cried and asked God questions. I paused for a moment and ducked into a warehouse, half-hoping to meet my doom and half-hoping to take a break from the rain. The ground split beneath me– smooth pavement separating to an obscene crack directly under my size three Converse high-tops, the crack then growing and sucking me in, enveloping me like a giant, jealous vagina.

Hell is a charade that takes place in a ballroom, and the cast comprises men who no longer love me and men who never did love me, dancing the tango, the foxtrot, the merengue, and a variety of other steps with nubile, big-eyed, dewy-limbed young women wearing slinky satin underthings and too much red lipstick.

Hell is round, so there are no corners in which to hide. My ex-paramours and not-quite-ever-paramours are dapper in tuxedoes and they are all sweet-smelling and cleanshaven. The one I’d taken to calling The Worst Person In The World waltzes by and gives me a wink. His hand, though still managing to hold an unfiltered cigarette, is conspicuously beneath the silky half-slip of his curly-haired dance-partner, who audibly hums a haunting tune that calls to mind requiems, ghosts, genocides.

P___ ignores my presence and is a poor dancer. At least there is that. The girl grasping onto his shoulders looks bored, as though she has been hired to be here. Y____ and I lock eyes for a horrible moment and tears well on both sides, but then he looks down and looks up, all while wiggling a violent tarantella. His partner appears nonplussed, so I want to punch her for her insolence. W___ does not remember who I am. His cha-cha could use work.

A__ comes over to talk. He first whispers to his partner, who crosses her arms and rolls her eyes. He runs over and asks if I am okay. “Considering this is Hell, I’m peachy,” I reply. He seems surprised to know that we are in Hell. I direct him to the sign over the refreshment table: Welcome to Hell, it reads in a fancy script. “I have to get back,” A__ says, pointing to his irritated partner across the room. I nod.

The walls are garish, baroque, pale orange and pink sherbet swirls and curlicues. The carpet is a periwinkle floral. The chandeliers make everything just a little too bright and a little too yellow.

I begin to dance awkwardly, alone, moving towards the center of the room. I feel the girls all staring at me, judging my inappropriate attire, my unkempt hair, my dripping mascara, my tired face. They all glower from stiletto-heeled heights, and their high, neat ponytails flick like whips upon every turn. I figure it is Hell, so there aren’t really any rules of etiquette to break, and it can’t get any worse, so I resolve to make a scene. Now in the middle of the floor, I slither out of my coat, my corduroys, my Henley, my shoes, my sweater, my socks, my unattractive underwear, until I am fully naked. I look to the mirrored ceiling and there I am, pink and shiny, raw, like a scar. The room has moved away from me and I am alone at the center, writhing, naked, arms out, looking up. I am in Hell, so it follows that the rules of physics do not apply, so I try to breathe fire from my mouth. It works. The girls who were laughing at me stop laughing. The gentlemen look less aghast now and more afraid. I shoot blasts of smoke from my nose and I fart tear gas from my very butt. Everyone is coughing and covering their faces, to protect themselves from my glare, my noxiousness. I make swords grow from my fingertips and scales and horns sprout from my back. I commission six tails, each with a dragon’s head, and my nipples are miniature machine guns, delicate, pink. Just when I start thinking that Hell is a lot nicer when I am not the only one having a bad time, the fire alarm goes off and all my exes file out, each holding another girl’s hand. I join the end of the line, but when I get to the double doors, I cannot fit all my new body parts. I try to undo them, but they don’t go. Hell, apparently, does not allow subtraction. The dragon heads on my tails bite each other, and it hurts. I stumble over to the refreshment table and pour myself a cup of coffee. There is no milk.

Continue reading “The Underworld is a Multiverse, and All Your Lovers Are Invited: Part 1 and 2” – Fiction by Laura Podolnick Dukhon

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