Sector 2

Jess Whales thought she had Hell all figured out. She had her condo, her daily routine, her best friend, and her knowledge of the place. She knew not to venture to Sector 4, where the evilest of the evil resided. She mostly ignored Sector 2, where the people who were good (but not good enough) lived. Sector 1, where the crème de la crème resided, was completely out of reach. She was fine in Sector 3. Hell, she'd even come to like it.

That is, until Jeremiah Williams showed up. She's never expected to have to think about him again, much less show him around his Afterlife. She hadn't given him a second thought since she left home, her sophomore year of high school.

Yet, there he was. And there she was. And she knew that there was no way in Hell their encounter would end without heartbreak of some shape or form.

***Note: If you couldn't tell by the fact that I'm writing a story literally set in Hell, there WILL be language in this story. Don't say I didn't want you.

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3. Morning of Day 846

I toss and turn in my mildly uncomfortable bed, staring at the pitch black ceiling. Well, I'm not completely positive I'm staring at the ceiling, because the darkness in the room is so suppressing that I wouldn't be able to see my hand a foot in front of my face if I tried. I glance over to my nightstand and grab my digital watch. Pressing a button on the side, the LED lights tell me that it's one in the morning. I sigh. Day eight hundred and forty eight, here we come.

My first few days down here, I had trouble sleeping. Hell, the first few weeks down here took a lot of adjusting. By now, I've learned to ignore the occasional shrieks coming from Sector 4. I'm far enough from that end of the spectrum that it's simply background noise. During my first few weeks, however, I couldn't help but pity the poor souls that ended up there. Except for the damned vegans. They deserve it.

I roll my eyes in the darkness, chastising myself; I'm not a complete idiot. I know most of the vegans are likely in Sector 1, but I'd like to imagine that at least a couple made their way down to the bottom. 

I squeeze my eyes shut, hoping to force sleep. Closing my eyes is useless in the pitch black darkness, but it's worth a shot. Unfortunately, at this ungodly hour, I don't think I've ever felt more awake. For a minute, I try to think about why the hell I'm awake, but then I stop wasting time. I know why I'm awake. 

Jeremiah Williams. 

That's a name I never thought I'd say again, much less think about. 

"Jeremiah Williams," I whisper, testing his name out on my tongue. I immediately smile. It feels natural, rolling out of my mouth and into the mostly silent night. 

He and I were never truly close, but he was someone who was never cruel to me. There aren't a lot of people that make that list. He was always kind, and more often than not, he would do his best to make me feel comfortable and safe in the God-awful place called high school. I never would've thought that I'd see him again. Honestly, I'd never given him a second thought since the day I left Minneapolis. 

He's the first person I've run into since dying. I've never met someone from my previous life since I came down here. I've searched high and low for my mother, but I've never been able to venture into the second Sector to find her. That's where I know she is; she was kind. She put her entire heart into anything and everything. 

I'm not quite sure how I found Jeremiah. Like I said, this place is like a giant spectrum, with baby-killing murderers on one side, and orphan-saving vegans on the other. I'm near the middle. The center line, I guess, or the X-line, would be Main Street. I know, right? You'd imagine that, even in Hell, they'd be able to come up with a better name. What about Highway to Hell? Demon Drive? Afterlife Avenue? 

Being near the red line, my little condo is right on Main Street. I was walking home from work, as usual, when I saw him. Wandering the street, eyes puffy from previous tears, with a confused look in his chocolate eyes. 

"Jer?" I had called out, obviously not trusting that the person standing a mere ten yards from me was anything less than a mirage. Some sort of practical joke. 

His head had whipped up, shaggy hair flopping with the motion. His eyes had widened. "Jess?" He'd exclaimed. "What the hell are you doing here? What is this place? Where am I? What happened?" 

I'd sighed. He's going to be this type of newcomer, I thought. There are different types. There are the stoic, silent ones who wait patiently for an explanation. There are people like Jeremiah, who ask a bunch of questions and basically freak the hell out. Then there are the violent ones, who attempt to attack the nearest person. Doesn't matter who it is. Then there are the people who never get an explanation, and wander Main Street forever until they eventually get trapped in the bottom sector. Like I said; if you're in a Sector that's not your own after the sun sets, you're stuck there forever. Well, unless you're a second Sector kid visiting Sector 1. Then you get your ass kicked down to 3. 

I'd brought him into my condo, not trusting that my neighbors wouldn't take an interest in the obviously innocent and naive newcomer, and sat him down. Based on his puffy eyes, and the fact that he was an emotional guy when I knew him in high school, I'd imagined that he might have to sit down. I'd carefully explained every little detail of his life in Hell. I'd explained what'd happened to me. 

Like the sarcastic bitch I am, I'd tried to joke about the situation. What can I say? I'm Jess Whales. That's who I am. I joke, I laugh, I make light of situations that are heavy enough to break my shoulders. It's what I did in life, it's what I do now. If you ever need a class clown, I'm your woman. If you need a shoulder to cry on? I'll tolerate it, but don't expect any encouraging pep talks. I'm not an NFL coach. 

Jer's apparently the type of person who needs an NFL coach. Whatever. He's in Sector 2. There's plenty of kind hearted encouraging people over there. 

I sigh to myself, bringing myself out of my previous thoughts. While he may talk to me for now, simply because I have answers and I'm not afraid to conceal the truth to spare someone's feelings, there's no doubt in my mind that he won't soon abandon me for the kinder, better, and overall gooder Sector 2 people. 

Yeah, yeah. I know gooder isn't a word, but I'm in Hell. It's not like I have to go to school. It's not like I ever paid attention, even in life. In all my eighteen years of hellish life, English class never benefitted me once. Same goes for my eight hundred and forty six days in Hell. It's never made much of a difference for me. 

Jeremiah Williams. His name suits him. Kind of shaggy, kind of awkward, but put together at the same time. It works. Unique, but not strange. Soft. Kind. Comforting. 

Jessica Whales. Pretty name, I guess. But that's not my name, not if you know me. 

Jess Whales. Hard, choppy. Doesn't really roll off the tongue. Doesn't stand out, but doesn't exactly blend in either. Kind of just... there. Unimportant. Short. To the point. The name suits me, too. 

I check the time on my watch once again. It's now just past three in the morning. 

Did I dose off without realizing it? I doubt it. My thoughts can keep me preoccupied for hours without noticing. My first few days here, I spent a lot of time reflecting on my shitty life, just simply thinking. Before I realized, three days had gone by, and all I'd done was have the majority of my questions answered. I hadn't explored, I hadn't talked to anyone but Brooks. He's my next door neighbor. After being assigned my condo, I'd sat on the front steps and watched people walk by. He'd introduced himself, and calmly explained my situation without me asking him. I was one of the calm newcomers. I was stoic. Silent. That's who I am. Then, I'd retreated into my condo for days. 

I cringe at the memory. Not my finest moment. 

I sigh. Well, there's no chance for sleep now. It's late, but my eyes are far from tired. I roll out of bed, switch on the light, and grab my leather jacket from its hook by the door. Reaching into the pocket, I'm satisfied to find a box of cigarettes and a lighter. Smiling, I head outside, pulling my jacket tight around me to protect myself from the stubborn cold. 

Lighting a cigarette and bringing it to my lips, I allow myself to breathe in the chemicals. My muscles relax immediately. I breathe out a puff of smoke, watching it dissipate into the indigo sky. I wish all my issues could disappear that quickly. I scoff. If my issues could disappear that quickly, I never would've run away in the first place, and I'd never be in this mess. Well, technically I'd be here, but not now. I'd still be living. I'd be in college, by now. Graduated? No, I'd still be in college. 

I take a long drag and blow out a gargantuan puff of smoke. There's no point wallowing in 'what-if's'. My life is long gone, replaced by the dreary hell that is simple existence. There's nothing more to it. My punishment for a sub-par life is being damned to eternal existence. Every night and every day identical to its perspective yesterday and tomorrow, every person like the next. 

Except for Jeremiah Williams. Of course, just as I was settling into my eternal rut of death, a little bit of life has to appear. Why, though, did it have to be him? Why did it have to be someone that I didn't actively hate?

I'm certain nothing but pain will come from his appearance. With his kind personality and large heart, I'm positive that I could grow to like him. If I grew attached to him, as I'm surely capable of doing, things would end with nothing but unpleasant farewells. I have no hope of ever joining him in the second Sector, and I could never ask someone as kind and caring as himself to trap himself in the third with me. He deserves better than three. Anyways, I'm sure that as soon as he's done with me, he'll be happy to upgrade to the much kinder souls in Sector 2. 

I'll definitely have my heart broken, regardless if I'm victim to a lost friend or lost love, so there's no point in continuing to speak with him. Later today, when I meet him by the line, I'll explain everything to him, and then bid him farewell. I'll stay on my side of the line, he'll stay on his. 

I sigh, knowing that my declaration of separation is pointless. He's a determined bastard, and I'm terrible at following my own orders. And, like I always say, things rarely go as planned. 

 

 

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