Excerpts from Give Up or Weak and Powerless
When I was much younger (younger meaning when I was still not a teenager; somewhere between ten and twelve years old), I once read a book that contained a series of horror stories. It maybe had seven or eight total, each one drastically different from the other. My sisters and I were very much into horror/slasher films, so reading about gore and the supernatural was only the natural progression in our minds. Don’t get me wrong; movies ruled. This is about the time that Freddy and Jason were just embryos in the horror genre; not having reached their iconic stature of this day and age so we were fresh minds to frighten and we accepted the challenge of the bizarre and bloody without any hesitation. But every now and then, a book would cross our paths dealing in the same subject matter and we were drawn to it like flies, keeping our eyes glued to the pages, our imaginations running wild with the words taken from its contents. One such book held my curiosity more than the others previously. It dealt with vampires in one story, a haunted house of some sorts in another, and a psychopath in yet another but those aren’t the ones that stood out for me. There was one unlike the rest that had an obvious villain or the same old storyline.
This book dealt with the subject of Hell. It focused on one man’s determination to find Hell itself and the lengths at which he was willing to go through to get an answer to if it really existed. Growing up, he had heard all the adults in his life speak of it as if it was the worst place on Earth; someplace you went to when you were a bad child or an out of line adult. Hell was revered as the no man’s land, littered with fire, lost souls and of course, Satan. He believed it to be a place of no return for the damned and the eternally condemned. The man’s quest led him all over the world, his search spanning over the seven continents, both poles and even uncharted areas of the planet untouched or seen by the eyes man. The journey drove him mad because although he did find several signs of inherit evil, he never came across a true Hell; only pockets of mankind’s selfish, greedy and cruel nature. He returned to his homeland after several years of disappointment a twisted and sick man having been consumed with the idea of a Hell on earth and never finding it.
In an act of rage and frustration, the man took his life savings and invested in a huge estate which he had renovated by employing the weak, the diseased, the severely deformed and the psychotic. In exchange for their servitude, he housed and fed them and they being grateful for someone to watch over them after society had cast them out as rejects and undesirables, came to know him as Master. The windows were blackened out, the bedrooms converted into torture chambers, the floors smeared with the blood of neighboring livestock, and the very foundation dug up in the center of the home and converted to a massive fire pit with a single steel bridge spanning over the flames below. But the home wasn’t enough; he needed people to see his work in action. In the dead of night while the residents of the countryside slept, he would send his minions out to kidnap unsuspecting men, women and children, bringing them back to the estate where he bound them to the various pain inflicting torture devices, eliciting hours of non-stop brutality upon them until their blood curdling screams could be heard for miles around. His victims never left the estate once there. Their families knew the reputation of the estate and once a family member was gone, they said the appropriate payers to God wishing their lost loved one safe passage to heaven as they knew in their hearts that they would never be seen again. The man and his army of henchmen came to be the stuff of legend, scaring young children and adults alike into cherishing the lives that they had and praying daily to ward off the evil of the man who in time became known as Satan himself.
See, the man had made his own Hell which others recognized as the actual underworld. We can make our own Hell. We do it all the time; we just don’t recognize our handiwork. We can work at a job which we cannot stand; being ostracized for wanting to be a professional and not giving into gossip and drama, yet not being rewarded monetarily for our efforts, only seeing the low end of our earning potential. We can be in an unsatisfactory relationship, going through the motions of relations while despising the other party involved. Ten, fifteen, twenty years may go by as we stand by idly, watching our lives being sucked out of us by someone who if given the opportunity to choose again, would not be in the picture. Years wasted on being polite, years never replaced once you realize that they are not the one. It can even be something as simple as where we chose to live: do you stay in your hometown where everyone knows your business and you are stuck having to choose the locals as friends, or do you branch out, seeking refuge elsewhere in the world where you are a complete and foreign stranger?
There is also the Hell our mind creates. We cave in to the pressure of perfection; always putting ourselves before those who we look at as beneath us, but never truly satisfied with our own lives, be it our physical makeup or the materialistic things we long for, crave. We worry about what others think of us, be it strangers, co- workers, family or the on-line community where in reality, there is no one thinking about us as much as we are thinking about them. It’s the sad truth but we put ourselves through Hell mentally concentrating on how we appear to others. An outrageous dollar amount is being spent on beauty products (in the billions) that may temporarily sate our desire to feel better about ourselves, while millions of people starve and thousands die daily around the world who could eat for months on what we spend on ourselves in a week. This worrying takes hold of us not only mentally, but physically, altering our body weight and diet, making us indulge in an unhealthy consumption of all that is not good for us. That yearning for acceptance, the worst kind of Hell there is.
Such is the way of man. We are damned from birth, with our only salvation being what we do here while we are on this planet. That is our only saving grace. Tread carefully in these precious years that you have here for Hell is only a house away. You could be living in it now, your own private Hell on earth. God have mercy on your soul.