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Poke the Heretic
Chaika? Yes Chaika

A Guide to Hell

My version of Dante's Inferno, Tolkien-style.

 

One day, while I was walking in a forest in medieval Italy, I saw a poet with a weird nose right in front of me, and a really funny joke came to my mind. "Watch", I said to Bqggz, who was walking with me, and I hit the poet with a large tree trunk, so that he fell unconscious. "Now obey him, you communist fool", I said.

Bqggz gave me a blank stare. "Why?" he asked.

"Because", I said amidst much chuckling, "he is now the coma'n'dante!"

Bqggz groaned. He has no sense of humour, you know. I sighed and just was about to give him a lengthy explanation of the pun, when a Roman poet appeared and cursed me with Latin words I didn't even know existed. His name was Virgil, he said, and he just was about to show Dante through Hell, Purgatory and Heaven, but as the poet showed no sign of waking up, I had to take his place. And so Virgil lead me to the entrance to Hell, where those go who sinned against Tolkien in their miserable lives.

***

Know then, dear readers, the nine circles of Hell:

The first circle is named Limbus, and is actually a quite pleasant place. Here reside those who, through no fault of their own, never read Tolkien. Limbus is divided into three regions: Limbus Senum, where those went who died before Lord of the Rings was published; Limbus Puerorum, for children who die before they learn to read; and Limbus Pauperis, for those unhappy souls who in life were too poor to afford Tolkien's books.

In the second circle the real punishment begins. Here I saw the souls of those guilty of lust, who, instead of reading Tolkien, wasted their time watching internet porn. A little bit further down, gluttony is the sin punished in the third circle. Here are those who read Tolkien too quickly without allotting adequate time to ponder his messages, and thus never reached enlightenment. Those who only watched the films are here too; and whether they go to the second or third circle is determined by whether, whilst in the cinema, they drooled more over Arwen or their popcorn. Little does it matter, for the punishment is the same in both circles, and it is adequate: Audio books of James Joyce continuously boom from huge loudspeakers, spreading eternal boredom.

Dante

The fourth circle houses the miserly, who, despite having the money to buy Tolkien's books, downloaded illegal e-books of his works. This circle resembles a huge bookshop stretching into eternity. Here the souls have to spend eternity in sight of their redemption - which would occur if they bought the books proper - but that will never happen, because the queue at the cashpoint never moves.

In the fifth circle the slothful are punished who distorted Tolkien's words through laziness, because they never bothered to check the facts. They are locked in tiny boxes which represent how small their horizon was in life without the knowledge that comes from Tolkien. The boxes are sized according to the scope of their ignorance. I saw several empty boxes waiting to be filled, and Virgil told me who they were reserved for. A big box like a packing case was waiting for Peter Jackson. A shoebox was waiting for Ralph Bakshi. I also saw a matchbox, and when I wondered how a soul might fit in there, I learned that it was prepared for Jules Bass, producer of the animated versions of The Hobbit and Return of the King.

In the sixth circle, the city Diss is built. Here, logically, are those who dissed Tolkien in his life or posthumely. These heretic souls are kept in pits filled with their own means of mockery. Here is Hugo Dyson, the Inkling who would roll around on the couch when Tolkien read his works and moan "Oh God, no more Elves!" He is kept in a pit full of scantily clothed nubile elf girls. I actually think this punishment isn't too bad, however, Dyson disagrees. There is also a pit I found much worse, filled with dozens of ferociously arguing and bickering atheists; this pit is still empty. From a small sign on it I learned that it is reserved for Pullman. Diss is guarded by an especially vile disser who started out as a soul to be tormented - in a pit filled with clueless internet newbies - but he turned out to be so talented that he was elected mayor. He now resides in a palace of cheese, and his name is George Freeman.

The seventh circle houses the violent. It is full of those German soldiers who shot at Tolkien in World War I, including those who just fired at the general trench area where Tolkien was stationed. For they could not know where exactly he was, and thus risked accidentally killing him, which is completely unacceptable. The Minosaur guards it, who is a bull wearing the One Ring.

The eighth circle is named Malebolger, because it is guarded by an especially vicious hobbit. This circle has ten bolgia or "pocketses", and the souls are tormented by constantly having to guess what is in them. The fraudulent reside here, scholars who willfully distorted Tolkien's words and spread lies about him (in contrast to those in the fifth circle, whose lies came from knowing no better). They are forced to write lengthy FAQs about Tolkien day and night, and whenever they are finished, the vile Bolger presents new facts to them that completely falsify everything they have written, and they have to start all over again. Additionally, the letter "C" does not exist in this circle, so every time they write "bo Ceven", it comes out as "bo Geven".

The ninth circle, Cocytus, is a frozen lake of ice. Here the traitors are punished, people whom Tolkien personally trusted and who misused this trust for evil deeds. Satan is at the center of this lake, and he has three faces and three mouths. In the left one, he chews the soul of Donald Allen Wollheim, editor of Ace Books who printed an unauthorized US edition of Lord of the Rings in the 1960s, depriving Tolkien of well-earned royalties. In the right one, he chews on Åke Ohlmarks, who not only botched up the Swedish translation of Lord of the Rings, but also slandered Tolkien in the vilest words. Finally, Satan's most horrible middle mouth is a beak, and the face is feathered. It chews on the first person ever to write a Lord of the Rings film script, Morton Grady Zimmerman.

***

After this horrible sight, I yearned to see happier lands, and Virgil led me out of Hell to show me Purgatory and finally Heaven. However, I had to find out that there was a restraining order against me in both places. In fact, when I approached Heaven, a mob of about 5,000,000 angry angels (indeed angel, etymologically, comes from anger) intercepted me and beat me senseless with flaming swords.

When I awoke, I was once more lying in the forest where I had started. Bqggz was there, and he had just successfully revived Dante from his coma. However, the poet had suffered from severe amnesia, and his writing skill was completely gone. For the rest of his days, he produced nothing but long-winded and extremely dull crime novels under the pseudonym John Grisham.

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