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by on July 8, 2014

She had gotten lost, somehow. Hadley Baxendale had tried to stay close behind Rain as they crept through the howling corridors and descended through pit after pit, but somehow they had been separated. It was so easy to get lost in the dark.  Now Hadley had no idea where in the hell she was.  (This was literally true: she had a vague sense that she was in one of the infernal region’s lower circles, but she didn’t know which, and hell had a deplorable lack of maps.)

“Okay,” she said bravely to herself. “We’re headed to the same place, anyway, right? I just have to keep going down, and I’ll catch up!”  Hadley was trying not to think of where she was headed. Rain had been all too clear. To find out what was going on, why the bunnies were loose, why her planet had been destroyed, they had to go to the source. The Big D. You Know Who. Old Scratch. Hadley knew of half a dozen other names. She didn’t like any of them.

She moved on, through the shadows, wishing that she wasn’t a living shade of mauve. Mauve wasn’t the stealthiest of colors. The funny thing was, so far she hadn’t been stopped. Hadley had thought hell was more crowded. Ever since she had lost Rain, she hadn’t run into a single demon, or monster, or human soul writhing in eternal torment. Even the bunnies had gone.

She cautiously rounded yet another corner into yet another corridor, and quite unexpectedly ran into someone. “Oh, I beg your-”

It was the snake again. The same one she had met before. “You again,” it rumbled. “Miss Baxendale, I’m a little occupied right now.”

“Back!” Hadley shrieked at it. “Back, you foul thing! You’re the Dark Paint Stripper!”

“I am not,” the snake said wearily, “the Dark Paint Stripper. Or whatever name you choose to give him. I am only a deputy undersecretary. If you want to make an appointment with Our Father Below, you’ll have to call our receptionist department, between 3 and 4 A.M. on Tuesdays. Then fill out Form 876-9B, in triplicate, and sign it, and then initial your signature.”

“That’s awfully complicated,” Hadley said.

“We’re Hell. You expected good customer service?”

“Yes. Well. I really need to see You Know Who sooner. It’s an emergency.”

The snake chortled. “You want to see Our Father Below? The Dark Paint Stripper himself? And what do you propose to say?”

Hadley plucked up her courage. “He’s obviously unleashed the bunnies, and he’s destroyed my home planet!”


“And that’s wrong! And he should stop! Or else!”

“Or else what?”

Here Hadley had a problem. She had assumed that Rain would handle the “or else” part of the mission. Failing that, she had hoped that perhaps she could talk the Big Bad into seeing the error of his ways. She was beginning to think that wasn’t going to work.

“Listen,” said the snake. “I am only a deputy undersecretary, but I can see you are in over your head, Miss Baxendale. I can help. I can get you out of here. In fact, I can put in a word for you with my superiors. We can restore your home planet. We can even do more.”

Hadley was unused to dealing with the denizens of the lower regions. She didn’t realize her peril. So, she asked what seemed a simple question. “More? Like what?”

Suddenly everything blurred. Then sunlight, the first real light she’d seen since entering hell, spilled around her. Hadley gasped.

She was standing in a quiet gap between two rolling green lines of hills. It was the same spot where she had seen Casey last, where she had almost gone after him. They had argued, again, and he had walked away. She had meant to call the next day and explain. But she hadn’t. It was the only thing she regretted. She could just see the familiar Gray form leaning against a tree.

“Oh come on!” Hadley exclaimed. “I know what you’re up to, I’m not completely naive. Even if I wanted to go back to Casey, I couldn’t. We moved on. He’s with Jolene anyway. Jerk.” Hadley muttered a few uncomplimentary things. She’d never liked Auburns much. Especially not that Auburn.

“We could…” whispered the snake, “do something about Jolene.”

Hadley hadn’t considered that. “Could you? Well….”

For previous entries in Hadley’s Story, go here. Thanks for reading!

  1. Ooh, a new heroine? Hadley’s adventures sound like fun … at least if “fun” means horribly scary and dastardly. 🙂

  2. Strike a deal with the devil? The beginnings reminds me of the bits of Dante’s inferno we used to study in schools.
    Congrats on the good post!

    • I listened to an audiobook of the Inferno last summer, and I think it stuck. 🙂 Thanks for the comment!

  3. Such imagination and intriguing dialogue! Good write, as usual. 🙂

  4. I like how you bring hell to life in each installment. It is engrossing and easy to follow.

  5. Uh-oh. She sees the temptations in hell. Next thing he will probably offer her a piece of fruit, you know, just for a little snack…

  6. Don’t do it! It’s a trick!
    I’m way to emotionally invested in Hadley here and I sense trouble brewing.

  7. Oh, trouble is definitely brewing, that’s for sure….. #dundundunnnnnn.

  8. Meg permalink

    Yay! The return of Hadley and Rain! I love that hell has a hell of a bureaucracy and a lack of maps. When is this coming out in book form? I just love this story to pieces.

  9. That’s the worst thing about hell, truly. No maps.

    Hadley’s story probably won’t be out in book form for a little while yet, as I have to finish her story arc first, and that could take another couple weeks. Rain, however, has her own solo adventure which is out in e-book form. It’s the backstory of how she became the incarnation of Death. 🙂

  10. I’ve got to get a Kindle so I can read Rain’s backstory! However, Hadley remains my favorite. It’s wonderful how you incorporate the prompts into each week’s installment. Good work!

    • Thanks for the comment!
      At some point I will do Hadley’s and Rain’s stories (and a few others) in paperback as well. 🙂 I do so love serial stories.

  11. “We’re Hell. You expected good customer service?”

    I am still laughing at that line. And I have to say, that snake is growing on me, which probably means he’s up to no good. Hadley’s familiar with the consequences of accepting gifts from serpents, right? 🙂

  12. I’m intrigued by the unleashed bunnies… Not sure if they’ve been referred to in earlier parts of the saga as this is the first instalment I’ve read, but it sounds like very fluffy kind of apocalypse 🙂

  13. The bureaucracy in hell made me laugh. Intrigued to see what happens next with Hadley!

  14. Oh Hadley Hadley… I love your writing style in this series, including but not limited to your characterization of hell has having a “deplorable lack of maps.” You tell great stories and I’ve enjoyed every one I’ve read yet!

    Also, noticed a typo that I wouldn’t bother pointing out except that it has great potential as a Freudian slip: “human soul writing in eternal torment.” Although, maybe it’s not a typo so much as a wink at your fellow writers, eh?

    Either way, you’ve done it yet again – great stuff!

    • Yes. of course. Absolutely I meant that. 😛

      (in truth, it was a typo; I meant writhing. On the other hand, maybe it was a Freudian slip. Who can fathom the mysteries of one’s subconscious?

  15. What fun I had reading this. I suspect it is part of a larger hell, sorry whole. Wonderful.

  16. Hah! Deplorable lack of maps!

  17. You know what? That makes a lot more sense. So I’ve read all of this series as of writing these words. All I can say is GG… Genuinely Genius.

    • Thanks! I hope you enjoy the rest of the story arc as well, though I can’t promise anything. I don’t know what’s going to happen next. Perils of the “making-it-up-as-you-go approach.”

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