The Super Wizard From Space #27

"To Hell And Hell And Hell And Hell And Hell And Back Again, Part 3" by

"Once upon a time, five dark lords of multiple underverses made the mistake of signing a series of magical contracts in an attempt to insure some level of trust between them. Inevitably, all five of them went back on their words and now the tangled wording of those contracts have trapped them in the stone sepulchres of Quinto-Hell."

Super Wizard From Space was unsympathetic. "Understand me, Devil. I would be happy to leave you and your four brethren in the prison you have made for yourselves. But I bound by the cosmic challenges forced upon me by the seven super civilizations of the universe. I only agree to assist you because I see no other way to collect the Super-Devil's black circlet."

The Devil raised his hands defensively. "Understood. Circuitous circumstances. An entirely temporary team-up."

"This is not a team-up," the wizard said angrily.

The Devil silently nodded with a mischievous smile.

"I presuppose you have methodized some differentiating conveyance for our capitalization?" asked the Secret Living Language, like a sticky wet idea that hung in the air unwelcome. Though there was no real sound when it spoken, there was still the slithering feel of a hungry snake around the words.

The Devil led them outside where a yellow cab was idling. It was old and battered, having seen an incredibly long amount of use. Coughing brown smoke spit out from the tailpipe, an uneven belching shook the hood, and the words 'First Circle Taxicab Company' adored the doors. Inside, driver waited impatiently, a grisly old man, pale and hunched over with a ragged mess of a beard and fiery eyes.

"That there is Ron. He's an old hat at this, ain'tcha Ron?" the Devil said cheerfully. The driver replied with an obscene gesture.

As the sentient notion leaked into the cab, the wizard grabbed the Devil's shoulder and whisper in his pointed red ear. "We cannot trust this conceptual monster, even chained by cosmic law as a passive witness to the challenge. It is a dangerous creature, hungry and envious and infected with space-greed. It has stolen incalculable knowledge, drained countless societies and left them to wither as it has grown fatter and bolder. We cannot trust it."

"We need it. You can't challenge for the circlet without the Language. Its own powerful crown will force it to toe the line. It cannot resist the weight any more that you can." The Devil smiled and patted the wizard on the back as they got into the back seat, "Besides, don't forget who you're talking to."

"This peripatetic brancard is demarcated to terrestrial purlieu. Will this inveterated quadruped be proficient to superintend us to our terminus?" asked the Language once all the doors slammed closed. It was everywhere, almost suffocating with its presence, filling up all the nooks and corners of the interior.

"I've already told Ron where to go. He'll get us there as long as he gets his fare." The Devil reached into his top hat and pulled out a single golden branch lined with auric leaves. Ron accepted the payment, shifted into gear, and drove the car down the empty street.

They were in motion only for a handful of moments before their surroundings started to peel away. The road, the storm filled sky, the ragged vegetation, the abandoned buildings, it all broke apart and curved away, replaced by a thickening red mist that seemed to claw and yank at the car. The cab shook violently, like it was rolling downhill on a gravel road, passing through seven and eight and nine disc-like dimensions. The empty planet and its empty universe was left behind, up and out and far away from them.

The car suddenly lurched to one side as its tires lost their grip. The temperature dropped, a frost form on the windows, and the vents dribbled out cold air and pentagram-shaped flakes. The red mist lost its grip on the cab and dissipated suddenly, revealing an angry red sky in the midst of a slow lazy snowfall.

Ron fought with the wheel, trying to keep control as the ground under them became a vast, icy glacier. With a violent curse, he slammed on the brakes, skidding the car sideways to stop just a couple yards before a massive cracked canyon.

The wizard and the Devil climbed out of the car. "I always told myself I wouldn't come back here," muttered the Super Wizard From Space, gazing over the icy plain. { The Super Wizard From Space #4 }

The Devil shivered uncomfortably, flipping up his lapels and tucking his hands under his armpits for warmth. "Okay, as you can see, this is Hell. A fifth of the way there. This is a route Ron does all the time, unfortunately."

"I suppose there's a catch to continuing on? Something you neglected to mention until now?"

"Like I said, Ron knows this route, but the rest of the way down is more of a rarely traveled road. We'll have to show him."


"The underverse of Double-Hell is a terrible place reserved specifically for the punishments and sufferings when the denizens of regular Hell pass on. It's Hell's hell, and its gates only open when evil from here... dies," the Devil reluctantly shrugged.

The wizard stared at him, unhappy.

"Hey, don't look at me like that. I don't make the bloody rules. We paid the full fare but we don't have directions. Only way to get there is to kill someone from here and condemn them to Double-Hell. And when there, we'll have to kill someone else, condemning them to Triple-Hell so we can follow that route, and so on and so forth." The Devil sighed. "Look, I'm sorry if I put you in a spot, I know you might be reluctant to..."

The Super Wizard From Space raised his hand, pointing at the Devil. The glow of star-fire emanated from him, blinding the surroundings before wrapping itself around his arm and ejecting from his finger. A lancing bolt of fusion rammed into the Devil's chest, vaporizing his torso and liquifying the rest in atomic fire.

As the corpse vaporized, the hellish landscape behind peeled open in a pentagram shape. The red mists leeched from the hole, a cracked asphalt beaconed them inward and downward.

The wizard got back into the car. Ron wordlessly stamped on the gas pedal and launched the cab into the portal as it started to stitch close.

The fresh new mist again grabbed at the vehicle, dragging them down past fourteen, sixteen, and eighteen sphere-like dimensions at a faster and faster speed. Sound was nonexistent, light was nonexistent, but them could feel the glacier, the red clay plains and black crags surrounding it, all of Hell tumbling up and out and away.

The mist broke suddenly and a new world solidified them. They were on a gritty road that lead to the fantastically massive fortress wall of Double-Dis, infinite in length and height. Made of black iron and reinforced with ugly scratchy stone, towers and ramparts jutting out illogically. A thousand winged creatures scurry along the top edges, yelling crassly at the new intruders.

The road ended at an impossibly huge wooden double-gate, closed tight and barred by beams thicker than continents. The car rolled up to the gate, where they could barely make out two figures at its base. One was lying stock still on the ground. The second loomed over it, its head a strange mass of shifting lines.

The wizard tapped Ron on the shoulder. The gruff driver stopped the car before the two dark silhouettes and turned on the headlights.

The prone shape was a statue of the Devil, made of rough hewn rock. It was flat on its back, hands out and eyes wide in surprise. The chest was black and charred and cracked, as if a campfire had been lit on it then stamped out.

The creature standing over the statue was of womanly shape, of a medium height and pleasing shape, but it wore a ragged white toga, torn and dirty as it she had rolled about on a muddy floor. She was drenched completely in blood, none of it drying despite the harrowing heat everywhere. And instead of hair, she had a writhing shifting mass of snakes, the crazed heads all trying to snap and launch themselves at the statue, venom spattering from their fangs.

The chorus of winged shapes along the wall called down to them, chanting and jeering in unison, "Double-Hell is closed! Closed to all! By twice furious command of Megadusa!"

Author's Notes

I felt the need to sum up the exposition of last issue at the beginning of this one, though I'm not certain it was necessary. It feels a little redundant but perhaps it helps clarify the convoluted circumstances drafted for this arc. Plus, I'm a big fan of the old comic troupe where comic characters had to blurt out the situation in the first panel of a continuing story, just in case the reader hadn't picked up the last issue ("If I don't find a way to disarm this bomb in the next two minutes, the city is doom!").

My estimates on the arc length is getting fuzzy, as I want to inject some fisticuffs into the middle of it. Action scenes are fun to write but can chew up a huge word count as I try to clearly describe what is happening. I think it's a good idea to keep practicing that, though, trying to maintain that clarity while keeping it moving quickly, to get that feeling of fast-paced action.

It also struck me that, if this series is to continue past the current tournament-crowns bit, I should probably think of where I want to go with it.