Oct 20, 2019 2:49 PM
some herbs go to hell
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Hell is a casino. 

At least, this part of Hell is a casino. Not a ratty, run-down place where hope goes to die; a proper Vegas casino, all glitz and glamor and shining lights. 

The receptionist is lovely and lithe, skin only a touch less golden than his eyes. His suit is perfectly modish without making him look like a dandy. He has a forked tongue; he has very good teeth. 

“Next in line,” he says, and smiles, warm and welcoming. 

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A tall, athletic woman in a black cocktail dress steps up to the counter.

Her hair is elaborately pinned up, and she keeps pressing her lips together like she's not used to the lipstick. She has the aura of someone who hasn't slept in some time.

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"Dorothy Ueda," says the receptionist, and smiles, showing every perfect molar. "Soul sold to Buer, contract verified and notarized. Welcome to Dante's."

He slides a matte black card across the counter. (His fingernails are perfect, too.) It says Dante's in large looping gold letters, and DOROTHY UEDA in smaller, raised letters, and nothing else.

"That's your prepaid card, which starts with thirty shekels as a courtesy. It also functions as a room key. You'll be in room 25,189,486,363 -- that's printed on the back, you don't need to remember it. Please wait by the sign there and a hostess will be with you shortly."

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She flinches, briefly, at soul sold.

(It's the price she agreed to. It's worth what she bought.)

Dorothy takes her card, and proceeds towards the sign.

If she has questions, she doesn't ask them. If she has a protest, she doesn't make it.

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The young man next in line is staring around at the decor, fascinated. His suit jacket is hanging open and his tie about to slip off – it's all torn in several places. There's an inverted cross hanging from a chain attached to one of the many piercings in his ear.

"Fuck. Not a bad outcome, I guess."

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"Z," says the receptionist, and adds in a tone of polite conversation, "we don't get so many mononyms these days. Blasphemy, wrath, suicide, scandal, reckless driving, gross promiscuity, idolatry."

Card. This one, beneath the Dante's logo, just says Z.

"That's your prepaid card, which starts with thirty shekels as a courtesy. It also functions as a room key. You'll be in room 25,189,489,713 -- that's printed on the back, you don't need to remember it. Please wait by the sign there and a hostess will be with you shortly."

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"...okay, you gotta explain the idolatry to me first."

He kind of respects Hell dinging him for reckless driving.

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"I don't have your full file and you'll need to submit the proper forms if you want to have an appeal processed."

The receptionist pauses for just a moment, then gives a cultured little cough and gestures at Z's earring.

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"Oh. Nah, I'm not appealing. All sounds pretty fair."

He scoops up his card, gives the receptionist a little wave and wanders off towards the sign, tapping at his earring as he goes.

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The boy next in line is a little put out with being dead, but is coping. He smooths down the lapels of his suit and adjusts the little silver bird pinned over his breast as he approaches.

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"Sky West. Abduction, arson, assault, blackmail, extortion, false imprisonment, manslaughter, murder, perjury, rape, sexual assault, torture. That's your prepaid card, which starts with thirty shekels as a courtesy. It also functions as a room key. You'll be in room 25,189,493,019 -- that's printed on the back, you don't need to remember it. Please wait by the sign there and a hostess will be with you shortly."

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"Some of that is double counting."

He takes it anyway, and proceeds to the sign.

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The next man in line looks like he's just appeared – he's off-balance, disoriented, but quickly getting his bearings.

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"Kyou Sato. Blasphemy, idolatry, perjury, murder-suicide, gross promiscuity, crimes against nature, fraud, pathological lying, kleptomania. That's your prepaid card, which starts with thirty shekels as a courtesy. It also functions as a room key. You'll be in room 25,189,511,367-- that's printed on the back, you don't need to remember it. Please wait by the sign there and a hostess will be with you shortly."

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...yes. All of those things.

He nods minutely, picks up his card, and turns towards the sign –

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–and then he closes the rest of the distance at a run.

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Dorothy doesn't seem to know what to do with herself, when she feels his arms around her.

 

"...you idiot," she says, voice oddly unsteady. "What did you do."

 

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"I watched you die. I–"

 

"He wouldn't have lived anyway. The other driver. I wanted to make sure–"

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"You shouldn't have come at all–"

She's still clinging to him, white-knuckled, unsteady on her too-high heels.

"I told you to stop."

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"I couldn't let you go alone."

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She buries her face in his shoulder and weeps.

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...?

He holds her steady, uncertain, apprehensive.

(He's never seen her cry like this when there was another soul to hear it, not once.)

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(They're being watched, discreetly, by one of the other new arrivals.)

...well. He guesses this is the kind of thing that happens for some people when they die.

But not for him, and it's not fair.

He keeps playing with his pin.

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The hostess, when she arrives, is just as pretty as the receptionist, with hair swinging in a smooth bob and golden eyes in her heart-shaped face.

"Welcome to Dante's," she says, smiling at the group. "The games are through the double doors just there. The bar is further on -- you'll see a sign -- and the elevator there will take you to your rooms. If you can't find something you need at the bar, in the vending machines, or on the room service menu, please feel free to speak to any employee and we'll be happy to help you."

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The goth nudges another waiting soul aside to step forward towards the hostess.

"–hi–sorry, but, uh–what's all this actually...for?"

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"For your enjoyment, of course!"

She laughs, politely. A forked tongue flickers.

"Some of our guests hope to buy back their souls with their winnings. Others find they like it so much, they stay forever."

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