Coarse. Dark. As I began to awake, I tried to remember where I was. Oh, right. I fell asleep in the tree and had that weird dream about the Roman kid. And what was that silly thing he said again? Don’t drink the water? Whatever, I need to get to that mountain before long.
I opened my eyes, surprised to find myself not in an alcove within a tree at all, but sleeping on a boat. Trying to get up and look around, my sudden movements and the feeling of being on water made me nauseous. It wasn’t till this wave of sickness passed over me that I realized I really was on water. And with me was, the ever gallant, Sir Virgil.
“Awake already?” he said, surprised to see me sitting up in the rocking boat. “I have to drag most people on shore their first time around. Good thing you got up then, huh?”
“So,” I started quizzically, looking around the boat, everywhere except where he was. “Where are we headed?”
Now that I had surveyed the river, it wasn’t as menacing. Although the channel was overhung by dark red rock and stalactites, there really wasn’t anything to be really afraid of. Except the approaching shoreline,with the silhouette of a large, menacing wall.
“The first Hallway of Punishment,” replied Virgil, surprising me, as I forgot he was there. “Limbo, for those who don’t apply to a 4 year university.”
Although I immediately had several questions for him, I was cut off by the sudden jarring of our transport. I hadn’t noticed how close the shore was, but apparently we had landed. As we stepped off, that bright fellow, Hope, gave us a nasty scowl. I watched as he drifted away into darkness, my only path back home.
“Ah,” sighed Virgil. “Home, sweet home.” He spread his arms out in the direction of the large double doors that were in the center of the massive wall in front of us. As we approached I noticed a small slit in the door frame. I leaned in to examine it when it flew open, making me jump back.
Virgil chuckled and went up to the eyes peering from the opening. “Password,” came a gruff and direct voice from behind the wall.
Clearing his throat, Virgil responded clearly, “Abandon all hope, ye who enter here.” A grinding sound came from behind the gate as the two large, metal doors slowly opened. Behind it, we were greeted by the gruff fellow who had spoken to us.
“Welcome back.” The man was speaking directly to Virgil, not noticing me. He was wearing armor and something close to red cloth, and, were those laurels on his head? The most striking feature of his were his beady, staring eyes. I was surprised when he turned to look at me.
“And who might this be?” he asked to Virgil, despite staring at me with his hawkish eyes.
“Ah,” started Virgil. “He’s to be given the full tour of the Halls, and maybe more, if he’s good. On the orders of the big man himself.”
“The principal is a she now, Vergilius,” the man in armor corrected.
“Sorry, I haven’t been around recently, Julius,” Virgil replied, jokingly.
The whole scene seemed a little odd to me, seeing as how just behind us was apparently a dark river of evil water surrounded by sinister red rocks. But, at this point, I decided to roll with it. And so, we continued past the gate. Although I knew escape was near impossible at this point, hearing the thud of the gates sealing up made my throat dry.
“Well,” explained Virgil as we left Julius back at his guard post. Guarding from what, I had no idea. “This here is my home, Limbo, as I said. Poor Julius and I never went to university. Maybe then we would have amounted to something. Damn.”
We stepped forward, together, into Limbo.
And thus ends the second part of the Erudite Comedy, or otherwise known as, The Commedia Erudita!