Frank woke up and thought he was dead.
Nothing had changed from the day before. The sun was shining through his window. The compressor in his refrigerator was rattling as it had been for the last month and a half. There was even a slight smell of Lily, his cocker spaniel, who died years before but somehow still stayed with him through a faint smell of wet dog that would always gladden and sadden Frank when he woke up. Lily was there to remind him of the unconditional love he once had.
But he still thought he was dead.
His day-to-day existence had all the elements of Hell, an eternity of isolation, left alone with his own thoughts that were turning increasingly more negative with each passing day, hoping for a salvation that would never come, praying for peace.
Hope had left him as he walked endlessly in his walk around his home, feeling his feet against the cold wooden floor. He knew all the changes in textures of the floor so well it seemed like his toes had memorized them. Little cracks by the door. Bits of food that were not picked up by the vacuum. Crumbs too small to recognize made his heel feel as if there were splinters in it. This part of the rug always seemed wet even though there was no reason for it to be so.
Hell seemed unnecessary. Why would you need a constructed place to torture souls when if you just isolated people, they would torture themselves much more efficiently. No burning, no brimstone, no creatures with a taste for human flesh. Sartre said that Hell was other people. Frank thought other people were unnecessary. Each person is thoroughly capable of torturing himself.
Frank stared up from his bed. The popcorn on the ceiling changed into that Hieronymus Bosch painting about Hell. All those little images of how people would be tortured after they were gone.
It was a stupid painting. Did human flesh even exist after death? Of course not.
Does the soul feel pain?
Emotional pain maybe but once you have left this earthly plane, your attachments to the nouns of the world evaporates. And things that you once held so dear no longer have any power over you.
But if the soul still believed it was amongst the living, then all the attachments would still exist. Frank looked at the ceiling fan above his bed. The fan was turning slowly, and dust hung from the blades. He could not remember the last time he cleaned the fan. It must have been years. If he cleaned it now, dust would fall on his bed. He could not remember when he washed his comforter. Probably the last time he cleaned the fan. Why would he need to wash the comforter? He had bed sheets which generally covered his body at night. He hardly touched the comforter, maybe his arms or his hands but he usually took a shower before bed, so they were clean.
He continued to stare at the fan. A piece of fluff seemed to be hanging on to the blade as it continued its journey around and around. He should be here when it fell, he thought. Only then would he know the precise time of it’s descent. Why that seemed important, he could not tell. But in hell everything is important.