Today, I want to share a guest post I once penned for a defunct blog named Road To Hell.
Hello everyone. I’m so excited to be today’s guest blogger at Road To Hell! I’m Thomas Winship, author of Væmpires: Revolution and Væmpires: White Christmas. Both books are part of a new, ongoing vampire series that explores the question: what if vampires evolved?
As I said; I’m excited … but I’m afraid that my mother won’t be. In fact, she’s going to be terribly upset to find out that I’m officially on the road to hell today.
You see; she had such great hopes for me …
I hate to disappoint her. I really do. As a matter of fact, although you aren’t reading this until today, it was actually written on May 14th—the day after Mother’s Day—so my regret is even more poignant.
Nevertheless, the disappointment won’t stop my wonderful mother from reminding me that this was the very thing she warned me about for so many years.
As if I want to go to hell.
As if anyone in his/her right mind wants to go to hell.
Hell just isn’t a place that appeals to people. Even strange people—lunatics, fanatics, the co-worker who keeps stealing your yogurt (your Greek yogurt, goddamit, and they’re not cheap!), or that one cousin you just can’t seem to figure out—don’t want to go to hell … and some of them deserve to!
Hell isn’t one of those quirky places that a small portion of the population absolutely adores while the rest of us shake our heads in disbelief. It isn’t one of those second-rate vacation destinations where people end up if they’re lazy, cheap, or into ritualistic self-punishment, either. It isn’t even one of those places for destination weddings that you know will at least have tons of great food and top-shelf liquor.
We’re talking about hell!
No beaches, no ski slopes, no frozen drinks, and the only entertainment is endless karaoke by musicians who’ve committed suicide.
As if that isn’t bad enough … remember: the punishment is personalized. If screaming kids with apathetic, selfish parents get under your skin, you’ll be trapped in the “child care” section of hell’s gym. If you’re a vegan, you’ll be the head chef at hell’s Waffle House. If you really can’t stand the lack of moral values in today’s world, you’ll be trapped in a room of televisions broadcasting continuous viral videos and Kardashian reruns.
So, no one wants to go there—although some of us are headed there. Let’s be honest about it.
Still, most of us who are headed there are on somewhat of a passive trip. We’re kind of meandering, getting there one step at a time (and I am, in no way, poking fun at those self-help groups that promote that very thing. I, personally, don’t care if a person gets to hell one slow step at a time or by leaps and bounds … provided they don’t drag me with them), although not every step is in the direction of hell.
Because of this, you can be quite a way along the trip before you realize where you’re headed. It would be nice if there were signs along the way—not necessarily warning signs; just a sign that says “Hell 75 mi” will do—but I’m not sure they would be of much use even if there were.
Imagine the scenario: you’re driving along, minding your own business, cruising down the road at a comfortable seven miles above the posted speed limit (because you know the police are unlikely to stop you). The only reason you’re wearing a seat belt is because the blasted sensor keeps going off, but you’re smiling (because you’re taking a picture that you’re gonna post on Facebook). Your iPod’s playing new stuff you illegally downloaded last night and you’ve got a full tank of gas (because you charged it with a credit card you have no intention of paying).
All is good.
Suddenly, you see a sign. “Hell 75 mi.”
You’re pissed because you should’ve taken a picture of it to put on Pinterest, but you’ll settle for tweeting (because you’re trying to push up your Klout score, anyway).
You send the tweet and check to see who favorites it before popping another Xanax and washing it down with a Red Bull. You only had fourteen hours of sleep last night, so you need to stay alert.
Your mind’s on the latest The Voice controversy, so it’s understandable that the sign’s implications don’t sink in until you see the next one—“Hell 50 mi.” Realizing that it’s no joke, you squelch a burst of panic. The Xanax helps, of course. Plus, you once took a yoga class for, like, three weeks, so you’re an expert at finding your calm center.
You want to turn the car around, but you can’t. It’s one of those roads we’ve all been on, where it’s only two lanes wide—and the lanes seem to be a bit thinner than the typical lane so you already feel kinda crowded. But there’s no shoulder and guardrails hem you in on both sides.
You can’t see a car for miles in either direction, but you don’t dare try a three-point turn; you know that as soon as you get in the middle of the turn, when you’re most vulnerable, a semi’s gonna come from out of nowhere, hauling ass (like a bat out of hell, perhaps) and heading straight for you. So you wait for a legal turn, but the miles pass and a turn never comes.
And now you’re getting kinda jittery—despite the Xanies and yoga—because you’re not really paying attention to the road as much as you're obsessing about turning the hell around.
And the next sign comes. “Hell 25 mi.”
Well, that story went off the rails a bit … plus, we all know how it ends, so let’s move on.
If signs won’t help us, perhaps we should make public service announcements. Remember those wonderful PSAs?
“Kids who play sports stay out of courts”—I liked that one, although it’s only partially correct. What about basketball or tennis courts?
“Don’t be a fool, stay in school”—Those words of wisdom were courtesy of Mr. T, the guy who beat up Rocky Balboa, killed poor Mickey, and sexually harassed Adrian (all in less than thirty minutes!) … not to mention his various crimes (domestic and international) as part of the A-Team.
Where are the hell-related PSAs?
“Ne’er-do-well’s end up in hell.”
“Don’t kiss or tell or you’ll end up in hell.”
“Learn how to spell or end up in h-e-l-l.”
Okay, I admit that they’re not very good. And I don’t suppose they allow for a true separation of church and state, either … although I might argue that that separation hasn’t been proven to be very effective, anyway. Just like the members of a band after a break-up or a couple after a divorce—it’s hard to tell whether they’re better off post-separation, or not … but it’s too damned late to go back.
Still, the intent was good.
Wait a minute … now I’m upset with my mother.
She always told me that the road to hell was paved with good intentions.
If that’s the case, how did I end up here?