I’ve been down and out with diverticulitis again; resulting in several days of bedrest, difficulty sleeping, and a liquid diet. Let me tell you how fun it’s been! Shortly before this I was going down the rabbit hole of communal world building with things like the Mystery Flesh Pit National Park and The Backrooms. As I was randomly searching for something — anything — to distract me from the recovery that I could just listen to, I happened upon the realm of Narrated Creepypastas, and in particular the fantastic work of The Dark Somnium.
The first one I landed on was titled “How to survive in Hell” and like, how could I not click that?! Based on a 2017 creepypasta from user Ratrotted on r/nosleep, the story is told by someone already in Hell as a sort of guidebook to the eternity of the damned. Somehow I did fall asleep for parts of it, but not from lack of interest! Waking up several times I would rewind and catch up on the deliciously deviant explanations of the areas and entities of this particular hellscape.
I’ll leave those details to anyone interested, but the basic concept is you wake up in Hell and “live” for as long as you can defend yourself. As there is no food in Hell, other people are the only source of sustenance making everyone an inevitable target. When you die, you’re reborn again, drowning in the same birthing sac you started in, clawing your way back to “life”. Repeat ad infinitum.
Between dozing and dreaming about this existence it dawned on me that this Hell was an awful lot like a Battle Royale, or, even more so, the survival style of Rust or ARK. Obviously, this isn’t a fresh take on the story as one of the very first replies from 2017 says “this would make a stellar video game”. But after a lifetime of Luving games the story hit me in a way that probably should have all those years ago in Sunday School: Hell… would suck.
One other conceit of the story is that you’re born into Hell with the body you died in. So, like that naked man in Rust or a Lv.1 character in Fortnite, my chances of survival are forever going to be grim. Thinking about the billions of fit soldiers that have died across centuries of war and conquest, you can imagine how little chance any of us modern humans would have of surviving for long.
The narrator’s longest streak was almost one year but that’s still a year of sleepless trauma and unending atrocities to see, and enact yourself. At some point a decade of ceaseless drowning in a birthing sac might just be preferable, but eventually you’ll claw your way back out of the Battle Bus and then what?
Eeesh. I’d rather not experience that myself but it makes for a compelling story and maybe a more relatable tale of morality (and mortality) than even Dante’s 700 year old story.