“Oh my God, ew!”
The others turned around and saw Strawberry, covered in viscous brown liquid, covering her red dress and dripping down her face. It was falling from up above as all things do.
“Ew, ew, ew!” Strawberry shivered in disgust and wrinkled her nose, not daring to smell the liquid. She shook her hands, sending brow droplets flying all around.
“Hey, watch it!” Cheeto said as a speck of brown hit his cheek. “No need to get the rest of us filthy!”
“Get it off me!”
“Chill, sister,” Taco said and wiped the liquid off her face with his hand. He put some in his mouth and tasted it, causing Strawberry to nearly vomit. “It’s Nutella. The cheap one.”
“Hey, look at you,” Pork said. “Quite the food expert, huh?”
“I’ve been around,” Taco shrugged. “Wouldn’t believe me if I told you how close I got to being drowned in Nutella myself.”
“Okay, that’s just weird,” said Cheeto and scooted away from Strawberry, who was shaking her body like a dog. “God, will it stop pouring down? How much did He have?”
The brown liquid kept pouring in, gathering in a thick blob at the center of the cavern. Everyone moved out of the way, not wanting to get caught by it.
“I haven’t seen anything like this since 1954,” the old Hot dog said. “Back then, sugar and sweets were a luxury, not like today, when every punk with a dollar in his pocket can gorge himself to death with them!”
“Chill, amigo,” Taco said, as he turned to the Hot Dog. “You seem like you’ve been here for a long time.” He looked around the cave. “Do you have any idea what this place is? Where are we?”
The old man shrugged. “I call it The Pit. It’s where everybody lands eventually.”
“The Pit?” asked Pork. His beefy posture stood out from the crowd, a stark contrast to the little Cheeto standing next to him. “You mean, like, some Hell?”
“Nah,” Hot Dog shrugged. “Hell is that way,” he waved a hand at a dark tunnel at the end of the cave that led somewhere deep down. “This here is the Purgatory, I reckon. It’s the place where we wait for our fates to be decided. We either get pushed down to Hell or we ascend upwards to the Heavens.” He pointed at the hole from which the Nutella was still pouring, though a little less fiercely. “Rarely does anyone get selected to go back up, but it does happen. Often with those loud boys and girls, the pesky rabble!”
“Hey, no need to get rude old man,” a young jock called Beer said. His form was not that solid as the rest of them, but was more flowing, like liquid, held together by unknown forces.
Beer looked at the folks gathered around at the Pit. “Shall we get this party started, people?”
“I don’t want to party,” Strawberry hissed. She was wiping the Nutella off her arms and legs with some wrapping paper she found. “I just want to get out of here!”
“Me too!” chimed in Cheeto. “It’s so dark in here…”
“Is there a way out, old man?” Taco asked.
“Sure,” Hot Dog answered. “Down that hole or up that shaft.”
Taco scratched his chin. The last drops of Nutella fell from the hole on the ceiling. It looked impossible to climb up there, not with the walls of the cave so slick and slippery.
“I don’t like the sound of Hell,” Pork said. “How do we get up there, out where we came from?”
“It ain’t up to us, fool,” Hot Dog snorted. “It’s for Him to decide. All we can do is wait. God knows I’ve been waiting for a long time here…”
“How long-” Cheeto’s words were cut short by a sizzling sound, coming from the corners of the cave. Everybody turned around and noticed how fluorescent green fluid began oozing from the walls of the cave. As it touched objects scattered on the floor, it began dissolving them.
“What is that?” Beer shouted.
“Oh, that happens every day,” Hot Dog shrugged. “The acid comes and dissolves you bit by bit until there’s nothing left. Most folks melt right away, but some stubborn bastards, like myself, are just too tough!”
“Acid?” Strawberry exclaimed. “Are you serious?”
“Afraid so, little lady.”
“I don’t want to melt,” Cheeto said. “Surely there’s something we can do about it?”
“Yeah,” said Taco. “What about that tunnel over there? We could hide in there.”
“But, that’s the road to Hell, like the old geezer said,” Pork said.
“Who you calling a geezer, boy!” Hot Dog snapped.
“Hey, maybe we’re resilient,” Beer said. “I don’t know about you guys, but I’m quite tough.”
“Then go, put a finger in it,” said Taco. “Let’s see, yes?”
Beer shrugged and walked over the nearest pool of acid that already gathered in the corner. He paused, inspecting the bubbles and the fumes rising from it, as it covered a few dried up Frenchies. Their bodies burned away in a puff of salt and carbohydrates.
“On second thought,” Beer said. “I think I might not be that tough. If the rest of my pals would be here then we’d surely beat this sucker.”
“Typical guy talk,” Strawberry said. “Acting all tough and then pussying out at the last moment!” She stomped angrily towards the acid.
“No, what are you doing?” Cheeto exclaimed. “You’ll get dissolved!”
“I can’t stand this icky Nutella,” Strawberry said and kneeled by the pool, hovering her arm over it. The acidity of the fumes was enough to start peeling the layer off.
“See?” Strawberry said and turned with a smirk. “It’s not that bad…”
As she wasn’t paying attention, a large bubble formed in the acid from the dissolved Nutella, and as the others yelled a warning, she turned, but too late. The bubble burst and threw acid all over her body. It dissolved the Nutella alright. Along with Strawberry herself.
“Guys, we need to get out of here!”
“Hot Dog,” Taco said. “Have you ever been down that tunnel?”
The old man thought for a second. “Well, He did try to fling me there a few times, pushing insistently… But I always managed to hold on!”
“Well,” he looked at the rest of them. “We’re gonna take our chances with the tunnel. The acid seems a certain death, so whatever may lie down there can’t be worse than this, right?”
“I ain’t sure about that, lad.”
The acid began to pool in all around them. Where they stood, next to the old man, they were on a small rise, but it would soon get flooded if the acid kept oozing from the walls.
“Christ, it’s melting away the Nutella pile!”
The brown viscous liquid in the middle of the cave started to sizzle violently. It popped and formed bubbles, throwing acid everywhere as they burst.
“Would you look at that,” the old man Hot Dog said and whistled. “It’s like the fourth of July!”
A fluorescent green speck flew through the air and hit Cheeto’s cheek. The acid burned a hole in his face, causing him to scream in agony.
“Okay folks, time to go!” said Taco and reached to pull Hot Dog up. “Come with us!”
But the old man snapped his arms away. “I’ve been here for over fifty years now and I ain’t going nowhere!” Taco looked at the old man, who was missing half his body already, with the other half all wrinkled and half-digested. Good God, he must be made of plastic or something, he thought and left the man rest.
“Let’s move it, people! To the tunnel!”
Taco, Beer, Pork, and Cheeto ran towards the pitch-black tunnel, illuminated by the sickly green glow of the acid behind them. Taco turned once to regard Hot Dog, and he could see him chilling by the edge of the acid pool, his leg stumps slowly being eaten away, but resisting the acid remarkably.
“How on Earth are we going to fit through there?” As they entered the tunnel, it soon narrowed to prevent anyone who wasn’t chosen to go further.
“That’s what she said,” Beer chuckled.
“Who’s she?” Cheeto asked, confused.
“Guys, no time for jokes,” Taco said. “We gotta push through!” He went to the right-hand wall and began pushing. Luckily, for some reason, these walls here did not ooze acid.
“Alright, let’s do this!” Pork stretched his bulky arms and began pushing on the left-hand wall. “Come Beer! Help us out!”
Beer sighed. “If I had my mates down here, this would be done in no time…” He went to help Taco. Cheeto, being the smallest of the group, went to the front and tried squeezing himself through the narrow opening.
“Guys, the tunnel widens up ahead,” he said, peeking through. “We just need to push past this narrow gap.”
Taco, Pork, and Beer all put their backs to it, pushing as hard as they could. The walls bulged a tiny bit, but nowhere near enough. Cheeto forced his body deeper through the narrow gap and then stopped.
“Um, guys, I think I’m tuck.” His voice came muffled as his mouth was on the other side. He effectively plugged the hole.
“Damn, brah, this shit is tight!” Beer said and tickled Cheeto on his dangling feet.
Taco stopped pushing. “Do you feel that?”
Pork kept working at the wall, falling into the zone, muscles flexing.
“Feel what?” Beer asked. “The finality of death?”
“No, fool,” Taco answered. “It’s the air. My ears are clogged up and I can’t pop them.”
“Pressure!” Taco exclaimed. “It’s building up! Cheeto’s butt must have plugged the hole completely and now the melted Nutella gas can’t escape. If it builds up enough then perhaps the hole will widen and we can get through!”
“Whoa, dude,” Beer backed off. “Lay off the science man! I’m not a professor.”
“Cheeto,” Taco said. “Hold on! Whatever you do, don’t get out of the hole!”
Pork kept pushing and the walls began to bulge. “Look!” he exclaimed. “I’m doing it! I’m pushing through!”
But it wasn’t him. It was pressure. The acid was creeping up to them and soon it would be at their feet.
“My brain is going to explode!” Cheeto yelled from the other side.
The pressure was getting tighter and it began pushing in around the eyes and mouth. Beer had trouble keeping a humanoid form and was more of a melting snowman. Taco felt his features squishing up and even pork seemed to be tightening.
And then, the walls gave way.
There was a deep rumbling sound, like mountains ripping apart and a hurricane of wind propelled Cheeto and the rest of them through the now widened tunnel. They were flung down deeper into the darkness, bouncing from wall to wall, until eventually, the wind wave rushed past them and the walls closed up behind them again, leaving them in near darkness.
“Everyone okay?” Taco asked as he stood up, dusting himself off.
“Whoo, let’s do that again!” Pork shouted.
“How about no,” Beer said.
“Guys, I’m not feeling that good.” It was Cheeto. The three of them didn’t see him right away, but they followed his voice. And they found the poor fellow squished and crushed like an empty soda can that was kicked down the streets, stepped on and run over by a truck.
“Oooh, that doesn’t look good…” Pork said, shaking his head. Cheeto’s body was crushed by the pressure.
“Can you walk, amigo?”
“I can see light,” Cheeto said, his eyes swimmy. “Did we make it? Are we out?”
The three exchanged looks. It was almost complete darkness.
“Yeah,” Taco said. “We’re out. Thanks to you, brave little Cheeto.”
Cheeto smiled, his head slumping. Taco leaned closer, but there was no more breath in him.
He was gone.
Pork sobbed. “He was the bravest of us all. Rest a piece, little Cheeto.”
“It’s rest in peace,” Beer said.
“Guys, let’s go,” Taco said. “We’re not out yet and let’s not waste Cheeto’s sacrifice.”
The group continued through the dark tunnel, walking over bumps and lowering their heads from the bulges in the ceiling. The tunnel led them on a winding path through the bowels of Hell, going in all ways; sometimes straight, then down vertically, other times back up at an incline. They had to work together to pull each other up on climbs and hold each other when descending. Beer had the most problem, as his body wasn’t that strong, but Pork helped him.
They spent hours climbing in near darkness and from time to time, a gust of hot gas, tasting of acid, would rush past them. With each gust, they thought they could hear old Hot Dog cursing the quantity of Nutella.
After what seemed like an eternity, they came to a part of the tunnel that seemed to straighten out. It was pitch black in there, and they could hear voices whispering, some weeping, others laughing like crazy.
“What is this place?” Pork hushed.
“Hell,” Taco said. Even the air itself was foul. “These must be the voices of the tormented souls, who got trapped in here. This could be us if we don’t get out.”
“I can’t stand it here,” Beer said. “It smells disgusting! And these voices are driving me crazy!”
...So close, just a little more… Clog, clog, clog… Push, if He would only push… Let me out! I want to see my family!... Food, we’re nothing but food!...
Listening to the voices was agonizing. As the trio walked forward, they felt like their legs were plowing through mud, and it was warm around their feet. They had to feel the walls with their hands because they couldn’t see anything and the same warm mud covered the wall as well. It was everywhere. And it smelled devastating.
“What a shithole!” Beer grunted.
“Shh!” Pork shushed him. “Have some respect for the dead.”
“Oh no,” Taco sighed. “Dead end.”
“What did I just say about respect?”
“No, literally,” he said and felt at the wall with his hands. The mud formed a barrier, filling the whole tunnel, preventing further advancement. “I think we’ve reached the lowest pits of Hell, amigos. And there is nowhere else to go.”
“What? No! I won’t die in here, not in this crap!” Beer pushed up to the front and began pounding his fists on the mud blockade. “C’mon guys! Like we did before! Push!” But his hands dug deep into the mud, threatening to suck him in.
“Perhaps if we dig,” Tacos said. “If we can dig our way out…”
“Yes!” Pork said. “Brilliant idea!”
With nothing else left to do, the trio buried their hands deep into the mud and began carving a hole. They threw the excess mud behind them and tried ignoring the tormented voices. Somehow, it felt like they weren’t digging up mud, but the bodies of the deceased.
Then, another gust of pressurized gas slammed on them, shutting their ears and pressing their eyes. Beer’s form began to quiver.
“Oh man, I don’t think I can hold much longer! The pressure is too much!”
“The mud is too solid,” Taco said. “We’d need a shovel or a pick!”
“Guys…” Beer suddenly burst. His form faltered and he spilled on the floor like a popped water balloon. The pressure crushed him.
“Beer! No!” Pork wailed and reached for the pool that was his friend not long ago in the darkness.
“No time to mourn, amigo,” said Taco. “Beer’s death can help us. We can use him to soften the mud!”
Pork hesitated, but with the pressure rising, there was no other choice. Taco and Pork used Beer’s remnants to soak up the mud and dig into it with their hands more easily. And slowly but surely, they were starting to make progress. The more they dug, the softer the mud became, until they reached a point where it felt like some plug was breached and the whole tunnel began to shake. The mud began moving.
“Look,” Taco said. “I can see my hand. Light! We’re breaking through!”
The voices around sounded excited, sensing that relief was close. There was a loud roar, that ripping of mountains again and then everything started moving, taking on speed.
“Whoa, this is it!” Taco said.
“This is it!” Pork repeated and clasped Taco’s hand. “Whatever happens, I was glad to know you, Taco.”
“Me too, Pork.”
The tunnel arched downwards, like a slide. The mud rolled upfront and more of it came pushing from behind. It threatened to crush them if it were to catch up.
A flash of white burst into the tunnel, illuminating the blackness to be a brown Hell and the mud indeed bodies of lost souls, twisted, melted, and maligned. But despite their horror, Taco and Pork felt hope. There was a light at the end of the tunnel like the saying went.
“Here we goooo!!!”
The two of them shut out from the hole, bodies all around them, accompanied by a gust of gas. Taco turned around to see the Hell they'd escaped and it loomed over them like a behemoth, a giant creature, a living prison of torment, with a hole in the middle of two vast ridges. Below them, a heavenly pool of serene waters, the surface of which was being broken by the crash of other bodies.
Even Hot Dog emerged from the Hell hole, riding the second wave of mud behind them.
Finally, they were all free.
PLUNK! PLUNK! SPLAT!
Pablo took a shit, finally, regretting his every choice.