“Is it me, or is the ground getting steadily cooler?”

The voice sighed from behind, sounding almost disgusted, “It’s not you.”

There was more forthcoming, as though the voice didn’t want to speak or even consider offering him a better explanation. All around him the landscape was still a mix of hellish reds, burning orange, and a sickly, pale yellow that was expressed by fumes that blew about every so often. But it was becoming, thin, for lack of a better word, as though it was fading out slightly, perhaps even disappearing. It could have been his imagination, but the air quality even seemed to be getting better.

Upon arriving here, he didn’t know how long ago-

“Three hundred and twenty-two years on earth, if that’s really what you want to think about,” the voice said in an almost chipper tone, “You’re wife and kids’ bodies are dust, as are your descendants. Cheery thought, isn’t it?”

The news should have hit him like a hammer blow, but it didn’t. So long as he could think that-

“She’s in the other place? Oh yes, she didn’t squander her life like someone else I could name. Your kids went on to become decent people but rarely ever talked about you, and more than that, she remarried and was genuinely happy for once. Would you like me to go on?”

That kind of hurt. He’d done everything he could for his family, he’d-

“You killed yourself in order to keep them from suffering the fate that was falling on your head,” the voice almost laughed, “Get over yourself. The only thing you did for anyone was open the door to give them a better chance at happiness.”

Now that was depressing. But his feet kept moving forward, ever forward.

“Why not look back and at least glimpse how happy they are?” the voice chided, “See just what your cowardice allowed them? It’d just take one quick glance and then you could continue on whatever road suits you.”

He was tempted, so tempted in that moment as he felt his steps slow just a tiny bit.

What could one look hurt?

(to be continued)

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