A crystalline totem towers overhead. The Dame of Fortune marks the Granaliero’s face with the Daub of a Falsifier. It’ll thrive like a bad case of shingles until his destiny is fulfilled.

Like a fool, he stumbled onto the clear platform to await revelation of his sentence. The Dame poses a choice, “Grace or agony?” He thinks, Will I prevail, is this a chance to deal? With a self-centered rasp he replies, “I’ve scanned my options. At your behest I’m ready to bargain.”

A surge of laughter scuttles, echoing along the walls. The Dame turns to leave. He shouts, “Wait, wait, you fortune cookie.” She snaps back, “You’ll pay for your mouth’s lack of filter.” From behind something licks his fingers, he turns and sees a wolf. He curses, “Heel son of a bitch.” The wolf locks its sharp teeth onto his wrist and together they nose-dive to Hell.

For this part of his venture, the Granaliero is forced to stand hog-tied in the middle of sinners and heavy boulders. They all move in a chaotic cadence of Tag You’re It. After a partial eternity, bruised but with ego intact, he finds himself again at the Dame’s feet. She says, “Have you guessed? In Hell’s design, reasoning and timing are at my discretion. The minute you think eternity will last forever you ascend, or descend, at my pleasure.” He opens his mouth to speak but his tongue is tied. She laughs and yells, “To the pits with you!”

On the scenic trip to the pits, he thinks, I will get the worse punishment, I’m more terrible than all the others. He hears her voice say, “Whatever.”

At the pit, a lick of flames swallow him, he cries out, “I’m the best thief, I plundered millions.” The Dame replies, “Thievery is a different pit you dim-wit. Here you’ll be a voiceless flame for your life of lies.” He cries, “I’m the greatest liar!” but it was just more hot air. Nobody in Hell stops him from trying to be best.

In this eternity, the Dame roasts marshmallows over his flame and itemizes the lies he benefitted from. The other flames laugh at him. Sometimes she shows him the keys.


Eve Castle writes poetry and short stories. She sometimes enjoys anagrams. Her work is published in Illya’s Honey, Barbaric Yawp, Bright Stars, An Organic Tanka Anthology and online at Literary Juice and Gravel Magazine. She’s been a member of Gabe’s Poets, a Dallas-based poetry writing group, since 2009. She hopes to become a full-time writer by 2022. You can find her on Twitter @Eve_Castle.