Dancing On The Edge 
Of Hell: Part 1

Sheila Preisler and Seth Chambers

Copyright 2003 by Sheila Preisler and Seth Chambers


Detail of a painting by Pieter Bruegel the Elder.

It was six in the morning and already the meteors were falling from the sky. I wondered how this would affect my flight to Guam. I took a quick shower, a plague of toads coming from the spigot along with the hot water. Stepping out the shower stall I heard a loud pounding on my front door. “Yeah, coming!” I shouted, wrapping a towel about my body and rushing for the door to meet up with Page.

“Come on, Brooklyn, or we’ll miss the flight!” she shouted at me.

A meteor smashed into the street mere feet away and Page gave a jump and dashed into my house.

I threw my clothes on, my body barely dry, and we made a run for my Volvo. It was a harrowing drive to the airport, with meteors and plagues of frogs and blood raining from the sky, but we managed to make it in halfway decent time.

The ticket agent was an impossibly-tall, skeletal man, perhaps one of the horsemen of the Apocalypse, now unemployed. I cringed at the sight of him but Page stepped right up and ordered our tickets.

“Guam, is it?” said the apocalyptic horseman.

“Yes, and hurry!”

“There are delays, due to...”

“I know, there are always delays with this damned apocalypse going on. Now, if you don’t mind...”

“Yes, ma’am. Two tickets to Guam. Customs is down the hall on your left. Have a wonderful trip.” He favored us with a genuinely sepulchural smile.

“Right,” said Page, grabbing me by the arm and dragging me down the hall.

I hate customs. It’s all demons working there now, demons who will take any excuse to poke and prod us in places we didn’t want to be poked or prodded. We didn’t have anything to claim but that didn’t stop them from tearing through our stuff.

Despite delays, we had to hurry after finally getting away from the customs demons. Running down the hall, I finally got around to wondering who - or what - was going to be piloting the plane, the Headless Horseman, maybe? Or maybe some imp from the bowels of Hell?

Outside, brimstone rained down on the plexiglass ceiling of the airport, some of it melting through. Page and I glanced toward it and moved on, through the rampart and to our seats.

Finally, I had a moment to consider my situation. Here I was, a twenty one year old virgin on my way to Guam to be a stripper, during the height of the Apocalypse. The Apocalypse brought about a lot of repentance and that included me: once all the plagues and demons and brimstone started showing up, I came awake and decided to start living my life in High Gear. While everyone else was busy making themselves good little boys and girls, I was pirouetting down the primrose path of dalliance with more gusto than ever.

The trip went without incident- or, rather, without unexpected incident in these turbulent times. Sure, there was brimstone and blood-rain, but that was nothing these days. I slept through most of the trip.

We met our contacts in Guam, a bunch of horny little imps with big stashes of money. We had drinks in the bar. Page and I met more fellow strippers. Vanessa, a big-busted Italian girl, cued us in on ways to make “more money than you can believe.”

“How?” I asked.

“Dance for the Blind Imp,” she said. “Dance for him in The Room and he’ll give you gold. Gold galleons, do you know how much those are worth?”

“What room?”

“The Room is no ordinary room, but don’t worry about that. It’s an n-dimensional space where time and space loses all meaning. The imps love it. It’s like Limbo. But you go there, dance for the Blind Demon, sit on its lap, and he, or it, or whatever, will give you more gold than you will believe.”

I didn’t want to do it and I told her as much. Yes, I was there to make money but going into some space warp with a blind demon... That just seemed to much. And yet... I was intrigued with this Blind Demon and this n-dimensional room that Vanessa talked about.

“There he is,” she said, nudging me and pointing off to a dark, dark corner of the bar. This corner was so dark that it seemed the creature sitting there was actually absorbing light like some sort of black hole. I shuddered looking at him. Or it. Or whatever.

“You think I should go into some room with that?” I said to her.

“Gold, baby, lots of gold in it.”

I looked back over at the imp, which caught my eye and gave a slow, evil wink. It sure didn’t look blind. I felt absolutely horrid and... I hate to admit.... excited. Excited in the basest of ways. And I realized I had been staring at this demon for a long time, as if I could not break off eye contact until he, or it, let me. Finally, the demon turned its attention to a passing waitress and I looked away and downed the drink in front of me.

“Tell me more about this room,” I told Vanessa, but she was busy entertaining some sort of slug creature that had oozed up from the floorboards.

I turned to Page and she shrugged. There were demonic creatures all about us and she made a comment about how it had been easier being a stripper when there were only men to strip for. I asked her if she knew anything about The Room, but she only shrugged.

Was it curiosity that overcame me? Or excitement? Probably both. Or maybe it was some sort of spell or curse cast by this Blind Demon, who certainly seemed to see me just fine. Why the Hell was he or it called Blind, anyway? The damn demon had been checking me out for the past hour from way across the bar.

With my head full of questions and my body full of excitement, I had one more drink, stood up, and made my way across the bar to this so-called Blind Demon. It tilted its head up as I neared. Was it looking at me? Or through me? Or was it actually blind?

When I arrived at its table I could hear screams of the damned coming up from the floorboards. Damn, but this Apocalypse was Hell! But there was money to be made, and lots of it. These imps and demons and creatures were rich!

Standing before this immense, dark demon, I found myself coming alive. I was far from home, slightly drunk, and in some bar standing before a creature from Hell. And I was feeling free! I wasn’t even myself any more, I was free of myself!

Only when the demon stood did I see how immensely tall it was, well over nine feet. Its darkness seemed to spread as it took a step toward me, holding out one massive hand. My own hand, when I reached out, was minuscule in its. Together, we turned and exited the bar through a black hole and into...

Limbo, nothingness, nowhere. Falling upward and yet not moving at all. I screamed and made no sound at all. There was deep laughter coming from the demon who was right next to me and yet impossibly far away at the same time.

“Dance, dance for me!” the demon intoned.

So I danced, there in that Limbo, my body spread across the cosmos, the demon laughing. I was no longer my old self but some new creature, sprung from my old life into this nowhere place and I was free, free, free!

The demon no longer mattered. I could see that, here in this Limbo, the demon had an erection the size of a galaxy, but that did not matter to me. I was not dancing for the demon, but rather I was dancing for myself. The demon was an infinity away and my dance went on forever and for no time at all...

Then we were back in the bar, back in the dark corner, and the Blind Demon was handing me a heavy, cloth sack. I opened the sack. It was full of gold coins. Galleons. I looked at the demon, looked into its dead, blank eyes. I even smiled at the demon before taking the sack of gold and walking off.

That was my first dance of the evening.

There would be many more dances.

(Continued in Part 2, Paradise In Purgatory)

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