I’ve been tweaking the world of Hell for Hell’s Queen, coming up with the questions that have to be answered in order to make it work. I thought it would be interesting to post the thought process, and would love to hear your thoughts. I’ve never had a boring conversation when the topic has been “What happens after we die?”
Originally, I planned to create Hell as a separate place, occupying, well, “elsewhere” – another dimension, the bowels of the earth; the actual location didn’t really matter, since it would basically be somewhere invented. But then I came up with a general idea of placing Hell in the real world, sort of like a supernatural overlay. The Damned would be walking among the living, wreaking havoc; Lilith would believe she was the Devil.
The flip side of this is that the Redeemed (those bound for Heaven) would be walking among us, and someone would believe he or she was God. The reality would be that the true God and the Devil (in whatever form they exist) would be only remotely interested in the workings of the souls on Earth, and that they had put this sort of automated system in place to manage the souls of mankind. The Hell of the story (and the Heaven, too) would actually be more like a purgatory; Lilith and her counterpart would actually be damned (and the counterpart redeemed) souls themselves that were simply fulfilling a role, with influence only over a specific territory (Florida).
The Damned would see the illusion of their lives as on a screen on the inside of a (metaphoric) bubble surrounding them. The outside of the bubble would be another illusion that is projected to the living. Their own reality would torture them, and elicit evil deeds in response; their sins would work like a sort of battery to fuel the outer illusions with the purpose of causing chaos and sin among the living. So two goals would be achieved: torturing the damned and furthering the spread of evil.
Evil would appear as black spots on their souls, and the more they sinned (or led others to do so), the more the black would spread over their souls, snuffing out the light. Once the last of the light was gone, they would go elsewhere. Maybe become self-aware? Maybe to the actual Hell?
This sounds convoluted, but I’m condensing a lot of thought and world-building into a few paragraphs. In order to make this a compelling, believable world, I have to answer these questions:
- What’s are the goals of Lilith and her counterpart? Of the actual divine beings? What do evil and good actually accomplish for them? What’s the point?
- Is there a real Devil/God? I think there should be, but that they would be outside of the story, and wouldn’t be interfering. I like the idea that in the end, it’s mankind (living or dead) that generate the good and evil in the world.
- What’s the loophole that will allow for the redemption of both Adam and Lilith?
- How does free will figure in to the actions of the damned, if they don’t know what they are and what they’re supposed to be doing? It’s only a sin if the action was chosen.
- Every time they choose to do evil/sin in their illusion reality, that fuels an evil deed in the real world. They are like an engine or a battery for a machine of evil or temptation. Lilith creates their illusions to torture them as well as to prompt the response that will cause chaos and damnation in the world. She rewards the damned for evil actions, which also pulls them back into the state of depression/anger just this side of the edge of suicide.
- At what point do the Damned become aware that they’re dead?
- What is their motivation to corrupt the living? It’s not just for the fun of it. Is it fear? Ambition (and for what)?
- What are the damned afraid of if they’re already in Hell?
- What about the Redeemed? How do they operate? Are they self-aware?
- If the Damned (and the Redeemed) are among the living, how to account for the sheer number of millenias’ worth of the dead on earth?
- Do they go elsewhere after some time?
- When the soul is completely black, they go somewhere else. When the Redeemed have cleansed all the black from their souls, they also go somewhere else. But where?
- If the dead are on earth, how are they kept secret from those who knew them in life? Are they denied their living memories, and illusion manages the rest?
I have these questions running through my mind all day, and try to imagine this world. I think of the horrible news stories, and the way people treat each other on Facebook, and how those situations play into this world. I fall asleep to angels and demons fighting in the street. I can’t wait to come up with the answers to these questions. I’d love to know what you think!