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Carlos Allende

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Valentines Day

Carlos Allende

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‘Some time ago’, I decided to come here to Hell to rescue the soul of my girlfriend Eurydice. She of the steep brow, atypical nose and distinctive jawline. I was young and naive, and it was almost inevitable I'd become trapped. 
Famously, you're allowed to take with you one physical object when crossing over. I'd been watching a lot of Marx Brothers films and was fascinated at how all the chaos would pause while  Harpo brought forth a musical interlude with his Harp. So, quite simply, I decided to take with me a Celtic Lyre made of strange, non-specified metal, shining like spilt petrol on a garage forecourt. The plan was, I would play it before the King of Hell and thus persuade him to free Eurydice through sheer pathos alone.
This is how naive I was: I didn't have the slightest understanding of how someone actually descends to Hell. Some people report that it's like crawling through a barely-human-size cave and emerging into an arid desert. Others, that suddenly, with the act of blinking, you find yourself in a fiery pit surrounded by similarly damned souls. Perhaps these phenomenon are real enough for the people experiencing them: I would suggest it's simply their minds creating an explicable narrative for something which is wholly unknowable and insidious beyond words. 
This place isn't about pain and torment. You feel pain and torment, certainly, but they're only a means to an end. Some time ago, the King of Hell came to a highly political, perhaps even logical understanding that consciousness is a spiritual cul-de-sac. For anyone who arrives in his kingdom, only relatively small amounts of self-awareness will be tolerated. Eventually, it will be burned away altogether.
My lyre, I kept it under my bed. I never learnt to play it and eventually it broke down into tiny pieces -- though how exactly this could happen with high-tensile metal is a mystery. 
But I’ve never stopped loving Eurydice. Indeed, the search has never properly ended, though I’ve no idea what would happen if ever we came face-to-face again. I’m not the same man she knew. There are men who carry shame and weakness, and then there's me. Sometimes I get the distinct feeling that she was able to leave this place on her own, and if that’s true, more power to her. 
It’s not as if I’m not a hateful, monstrous hypocrite. Within a few decades of my arrival in Hell, my marriage to Nessa could easily have lasted forever and been called ‘true love’, except for a few strange missteps. Anna was sweet and lovely. Rosey was wise, and scintillating, and she absorbed strange new intellectual ideas as easily as you and I might breathe. 
More recently, my relationship with Starla ended on such bitter terms it made my head spin.   
And what of Billie, the next one? She looked eerily similar to Starla, right down to a ‘space nebula’ tattoo on her shoulder. What does it all mean?
All I know is that I need Eurydice more than ever. The line of her jaw, the fierce shape of her mouth. Soulful eyes set beneath a stormy brow. In Hell, people try to make their own little religions, and scrape tiny bits of meaning from pure horror. Eurydice is beyond all that, and her companionship would be like a rocket ship escaping clean into space.



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