Authors’ Commentary on "The Rapture Elevator"

Lawyers in HellAuthors’ Commentary on
»The Rapture Elevator«
a story in Lawyers in Hell

zur deutschen Übersettzung In five short stories and one novel, I have been exploring the world and concept of Hell, as created by Janet and Chris Morris in the Heroes in Hell series.

"The Rapture Elevator" expands on an idea first developed in "God's Eyes" (Masters in Hell) and "Madly Meeting Logically," a short story originally written for Masters in Hell but later pulled so it could be expanded into my novel, Bridge Over Hell.

Can the damned escape hell?

Lawyers in Hell "God's Eyes" and "The Rapture Elevator" have a character, the Biblical Job, who functions as the Ombudsman. Job has chosen to be in hell because he believes that God, or Y*WH, contains both  good and evil. Building on a thesis explored by Carl Jung in his essay, "Answer to Job," the character Job does not trust the God of Paradise and would rather serve in hell. Job also believes that despite God's alleged omnipotence, God does not understand — or refuses to accept — this truth about his divine character.

Satan has empowered Job to advocate for hellions who petition for release from hell. As in most prisons, every damned believes himself to be innocent and thus worthy of release. To torment the damned further, Satan perpetuates the belief that some can escape hell. Now and then, some damned do escape — or so it would seem.

In "The Rapture Elevator," Kinmont Willie, a 16th century Border Scot, attempts to escape Hell. Willie broke out of the toughest castle in Northern England, Carlisle Castle, and so believes that he might escape hell. His plan? To enlist the legal assistance of Dick of the Side, also of Scottish Border stock, known more commonly as Richard Nixon. Willie petitions Job to have a hearing, with Dick of the Side as his advocate, in the Ministry of Injustice. When a holy witness comes to see if one damned soul might have gained enough grace to leave, Willie plans to escape on the shaft of light the angel rides down to hell — the Rapture Elevator.

Michael ArmstrongSome Christians believe that living sinners may avoid hell by confessing their sins and accepting Jesus Christ as their savior. Could a sinner damned to hell gain release by acts of kindness and grace? In Jungian terms, could the shadow all souls possess be purged in hell so the goodness remaining might be enough to offer escape? Can souls have a duality, one part in hell and one part in paradise? Can the lesser be left behind in one domain or another? In my forthcoming Hell novel, Bridge Over Hell, this idea also gets explored.

In short, can the damned better themselves even in the midst of their torment? Can acts of heroism, true heroism where hellions perform great and selfless deeds, lead to escape; or, if not, at least to a lesser torment? I see the long story arc of Heroes in Hell as an exploration of that idea.

Of their characters, the science fiction writer James Blish advised writers "to make it hard." Stretch a character's capabilities and make them real by giving them great challenges. In Heroes in Hell, all characters face the greatest challenge of all: enduring hell. In hell, where the damned have already died and "death" means transformation, that which kills you cannot make you stronger. The twist on Nietzsche's aphorism thus becomes, "That which can be endured makes you stronger" — or perhaps gives the noble damned a greater touch of grace.
The Rapture Elevator, © Jason Cordova; Perseid Publishing, 2011
© Lawyers in Hell (Janet Morris), 2011, all rights reserved

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