Part One: Anger
The name my parents gave me was Helena Constance Jaclyn Haddock-Underwood but most people just call me Saint.
Or, if they're being formal, Saint Helena.
It's kind of a funny story, really. I'm not a real saint, obviously. You have to die or be tortured or something to be a saint and neither of those things has happened to me. I'm not religious either—the last time I was in a church was my cousin's wedding, three years ago. Simply put, I got the name Saint for being a goody-two shoe.
I say please and thank-you. I bring an apple for the teacher. My favorite phrase is 'no offence'. I don't steal, swear, lie, drink or do drugs. My friends joke that I've never sinned in my life—and as modest as I am, they might just be right.
That's why it was so weird when I ended up H-E-double hockey sticks (see above, my 'no swearing' statement).
And—the weirdest part yet—I'm not even dead!
Well, at least, I don't think I am.
You see, when my parents decided they wanted to live the 'northwest' life we packed up our home in Lebanon, Kentucky and headed to Oregon. Greaseland, Oregon, to be precise, home of the best fries on planet earth.
Despite the name, Greaseland is really a neat place. Besides the giant child-sucking holes in the ground.
There were rumors at school—stories about the weird things that happened in Greaseland. Whispered tales of children swallowed up by the earth in the middle of the night.
I became one of them. One of the Vanished.
It happened before I could shout for help. My foot got stuck in a pothole when I was crossing the street to the In-And-Out Market. The asphalt burned at my skin, widening bigger and bigger so it could swallow me. And as I fell I saw the hole close up, sealing like a wound.
After that, I remember the heat. The darkness. The voices.
And then I remember no more.
"Hey? Hey, girlie, wake up. Hello? Hello?"
My eyes flickered open.
"Uh, hello? Um, you might want to, er, get up. Before, you know, the Hedgehogs come."
The boy who crouched over me blushed as I stared intently at him.
"Sorry," I mumbled, sitting up. "But where am I?"
Instead of answering the boy ran a hand through his black hair. What had looked like dandruff, I could now see, was ash. "I'm Dim."
"Nice to meet you Dim. I'm Saint. Well, the name my parent's gave me was Helena Consta—"
Dim shook his head, almost irritably. "I know who you are. Come on, can you stand? I've got to get you out of here."
"Oh!" I nearly swooned with happiness. "You're taking me home?"
Dim bit his lip. Now that I was on my feet I could see the tears in his clothes, the welts on his skin, the shadows around his eyes. "No. Not really, I mean, er…Oh, we've got to go!"
He grabbed my hand are started pulling me along at a quick pace. I started sweating—it was hot, wherever we were. In the sewer of Greaseland, I assumed. The pavement must have broken open and—and—
And that was just wishful thinking.
"Where am I? Where are we going?" I asked Dim. It seemed as if we were going lower, the cave-like walls black as ebony.
"Listen," Dim spun around, suddenly fierce. It surprised me and I cowered back as far as I could, supposing he was still clutching my hand. Tightly. "You, Saint, are in Hell. Well, in Hades, supposing 'hell' doesn't exist. But Hades is close enough, and, er, it isn't pleasant. We're going to talk with Charon and see if we can get you back home."
Hours of history class came back to me. "You mean the ferryman of the dead?"
"Do you know any other Charons?"
I didn't. So I kept my mouth shut.
"Oh, and also," Dim said, turning to look me in the eye. "Don't eat any pomegranates."
That much I remembered from history. "Yeah, yeah, I recall. But, honestly, this is all a mistake. I'm not bad. I don't belong here!"
Dim resumed yanking me along. "Well, I know. Neither do most of our residents. Wally, for example—"
"No!" I dug my feet in, stopping both of us. "You don't understand!"
This, you must know, is about the rudest I've ever been in my life. I glared at Dim.
"Saint, listen to me—"
"Don't talk to me!" I screamed, backing up. "Don't talk to me!"
Dim's face contorted. "Oh no," he moaned. "It's already happening."
Anger burned hot and fierce through my veins. "What's happening?" I snarled.
"You know the Seven Deadly Sins?"
"That's a completely different religion then Greek Mythology."
Dim shook his head. "It doesn't matter. Listen to me. 'They who are pure are the first to fall.' Saint, Hades is affecting you. It's making you…er…evil."
"No," I whispered, his words sinking into me like ice, cooling my boiling blood. "I'm not evil. I'm not—"
Dim closed his eyes, loosing his urgency. "Do you know the Seven Deadly Sins?" he repeated.
"No—wait, isn't one of them Lust?"
"Yes. Anger, Pride, Envy, Gluttony, Lust, Greed and Sloth. You, I think, have just committed the first; Anger. If you commit the others, Saint—"
"Dim?" I breathed softly when he trailed off. "What is it?"
"If you commit the others, you'll never get home."
I stared at him. Never get home…
"Down here!" a voice called from a tunnel nearby. "I heard voices over here!"
I looked frantically at Dim whose eyes widened. "Dim, who is that? What are they talking about? Who are they?"
"The Hedgehogs," Dim said in despair.
I was about to laugh but the smell of sulfur filled my nose.
"Shouldn't we run?" I asked, holding my nose but the air was suddenly hot and smoky, burning my throat.
"Too late," Dim said just as They spotted us.
And then things got ugly.
Okay, so it sounds odd. And yeah, maybe it is a little odd. But if you're into the Hedgehogs of the Underworld then read http:// www (dot) fictionpress (dot) com/s/2394216/1/ and http:// www (dot) fictionpress (dot) com/s/2394969/1/
Next up: Greed.