Redeeming Aphrodite: Son of Adam (Part 7)

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Continued from Part 6

Prologue

Where the Hades should I go now?

All the people I care about aren’t here yet.
Jesus warned me I only had a brief time with the Master Key of St. Peter.
How the heck am I supposed to empty out Hell?
Which one person could I reach or succor that could make an outsized difference?

Oh. Duh. I guess there’s a reason I bear his name.

Adam


Hell is surprisingly… clean.
Each individual building seems pristine and perfect.
But there is no organizing principle, or sense of community.
And at least in this section, everyone is alone.

There are no maps.
And nobody I’d trust for directions.
But surprisingly, there is what looks like a Garden not far from the Office of Hades.
I head over there.

And am surprised to find it surrounded by a fence.
With the gate guarded by a cherub holding a flaming sword.
Fortunately, he simply bows and opens the gate when I hold up the Key.
Unfortunately, after I enter he locks the gate behind me with a solid “thunk.”
Hmm.

This place…
It doesn’t look like Hell.
It looks like Paradise.
If Adam is here, does he really need to be rescued?
Is anyone even here at all?

Earnest: Adam, where are you?
Adam: Shhhh!
E: What?
A: Not so loud!
We don’t want her, er, them to hear us.

I look around, confused.
Finally I see a hand waving to me from behind a fig tree.
I walk over and see the most perfect human being I could imagine.
Like a Greek God — except smaller and darker.
Also, he’s cowering like a 10-year-old playing hooky.
I crouch down and join him in peering through the leaves.

E: (whispering) Um, whom are we trying to avoid?
A: Nobody! I mean, everybody.
I mean, you know what it’s like when you’re famous? And their ancestor?
How everyone wants to meet you, and blame you for their problems?
E: And sometimes thank you?
A: Heh. Not “here.”

E: About that. Isn’t this place Paradise?
A: Yes… and no.
At first I thought it was.
In fact, I’d spent my whole life dreaming of returning to the Garden.
I never said it again to her face, but deep in my heart I knew it was Eve’s fault we’d been kicked out.
I couldn’t help wondering that if I somehow outgrew her sin, I could come back.
Sure enough, one day I went to sleep beside her as a fur-covered old man.
The next thing I know, I woke up here, as young and naked as the day God created me.

I can’t help risking a sidelong glance to confirm, that yes, he is (thankfully) again wearing fig leaves.

He notices my glance, and blushes.

A: I mean, I couldn’t stay that way.
Not once people started coming around.
E: So you get a lot of… visitors?
A: Hecklers is a better word.
It seems like everyone who knows me starts their death here.
Many of them yell and scream at me for screwing everything up.
A few try to break in, but almost nobody gets past the cherub.
The worst, though, are those that just stare at me, then break down into tears…

E: Wait, you said almost nobody gets in.
Who else did?
A: Well, Jesus of course.
That was a great day.
We talked and laughed.
For a while there, I actually thought He had pulled it off.
He had actually redeemed my terrible folly.

E: What… what made you change your mind?
A: The people.
E: Which people? The hecklers.
A: Yeah.
At first, it was easy to ignore them, because clearly they didn’t know about Jesus.
But then…
E: Then even people who knew about Jesus starting ending up here, and still blamed you.

A: Yeah.
I mean, I want to believe.
Jesus made such amazing promises.
When He was with me, everything seemed possible.
Everything…
But now, at least in this little corner of Hell, it feels like nothing has changed.
Or ever will.

E: But wait!
I have a key now.
You can escape!
We can escape!!

He looks at me sadly.
I suddenly realize that Hell, like Heaven, is not a where.
It is a who.

I suddenly realize that Hell, like Heaven, is not a Where. It is a Who.

E: You’re looking for Eve.
Dreading that she will end up here.
Terrified that she will blame you.
But knowing, deep down, that it really isn’t Paradise without her.

A: Yes.
That is my greatest folly of all.
Thinking she was the one who kept me away from Paradise.
Never realizing that she was the only part of Paradise I kept with me.
The only one that really mattered, if I had had eyes to see.

E: Huh. Okay then.
A: Okay, what?
E: It sounds like we have to go find Eve.


A: You can’t be serious.
Hades is literally infinite.
Most people literally keep walking forever, convinced that other people are the source of all their problems.
She could be anywhere.
How could you possibly know where to look?
E: I don’t know. (Holds up key) But I know who does…

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