Downhill, Uphill, Hereabouts

This one starts like this.

There’s a big cheesecake. It’s delicious. It’s yummy. And it goes to Hell because, well, it’s apple. And it used one of those apples. And if someone slices up one of those apples and uses it to make cheesecake, then, first, the cheesecake is going to be pretty knowledgeable on matters of morality, and, second, it’s going to Hell. Ain’t nobody ever died for the sins of a cheesecake, whatever Marie Antoinette might want you to believe.

So, anyway, this cheesecake meanders down to Hell, and pretty soon the demons are all tasting it. And they’re saying, “Wow, this is pretty good.”

And someone, and it’s best not to say who, has the bright idea, “We should give some to the sinners.”

Everyone discusses this for a while. It’s kind of unusual, but, you know, they’ve gone through a lot of suffering—you know, with the boiling oil, and the fire, and the ice, and that room full of moths with really big heads. And it seems reasonable to everyone that maybe the sinners should get just a little bit of a break, because, hey, cheesecake.

So they make a rule.

“Okay, everyone. Eat a slice of this cheesecake. Savor, if you want. Enjoy. It’s good stuff. Then back to the torture!”

And a day passes. And word starts getting around. No one’s eating. Oh, sure, some of the damned had eaten . . . a bite or two. But then they put it down.

“What’s up?” somebody asks Cain. He was the first human there, so he has seniority.

“I’m savoring,” he explains.


It’s pretty good cheesecake, so that isn’t unreasonable. But another couple of days pass, and still, everywhere you go, there’s cheesecake. It’s starting to look a bit less savory, what with the fire and the boiling oil and the ice and the moths with really big heads—y’know, even if there aren’t any of those things in the designated non-torture regions, they do make themselves felt. There’s heat. There’s cold. There’s little baby moths with wide cute eyes and little kawaii fangs. Hell is no place for a pastry.

“Listen,” explains the Vice-President in Charge of Corrections. “We can’t torture you if you won’t finish your cheesecake.”

“Oh,” says Cain. He looks embarrassed. “I didn’t realize.”

He doesn’t pick up the fork, though.

So time passes, and it’s all still the same. The damned are just kind of wandering around. You can’t stop them. They didn’t eat their cheesecake. Except for that guy, Saul or whatever his name is. But you can’t run a whole Hell on torturing Saul. For one thing, he’s got these horribly reproachful eyes. For another, and don’t tell anyone else, but there’s a rumor going around that the Vice-President in Charge of Corrections made him out of dried macaroni and glue. He does kind of have that look, you know?

“Some decrease in productivity.” That’s the report that went upstairs.

They gave it to a girl, and she got in an elevator, and she’s rising and rising. Someday, she’ll reach Heaven.

13 thoughts on “Downhill, Uphill, Hereabouts

  1. You gotta wonder what property of knowledge it is that the Damned don’t want.

    Or maybe the cheesecake is so good, its heavenly flavor would be taunting?

  2. And the fact that the demons won’t start torturing them until they finish does not seem to be the reason they aren’t eating. In fact, the sinners don’t seem to know that this is the case — that’s why Cain looks embarrased when a demon points it out to him. There’s something else about the cheesecake.

    But what? This cursed, tricksy cheesecake…

  3. Wait, which girl was this? Shouldn’t we be able to figure that much out?

    Given all the revelations recently about the Hitherby world, this is solidly in specjulation territory. So who wants to bet it’s not Melanie?

  4. “Speculation territory” too of course. I was obviously distracted by cheesecake.

  5. except this is neither a story nor a history. It’s a show, unless she just forgot to number the thing.

  6. Heeheehee.

    I should say something useful, but all I can say after rereading the legend is “How do you like them apples?”

    OK, something mildly useful!

    When Jane talks about fish, she’s usually thinking about the people of salt. And so on and so forth. That doesn’t necessarily mean pondering things like who this girl is will be fruitful—anything you find will be an easter egg at best. ^_^

  7. Huh. I’d previously noticed that the old comments (from before Imago?) all had the same fake date. But I hadn’t noticed that that fake date approximates the present. This makes causality mildly confusing.

  8. It looks like the fake dates keep updating, possibly when upgrades/updates to WordPress or ComicPress are installed?

    Also, if I’m understanding Dr. Moran right, she’s implying by the fish/People of Salt comment that when Jane talks about cheesecake, she’s really talking about something else. Or perhaps just milk products, or just cakes. I am failing, however, at completing the analogy: Fish is to People of Salt as Cheesecake is to ________.

    I mean, I think the whole fish/salt thing is that many fish live in salt water, so, in a sense, those fish are a People of Salt[water]. And, many wind up suffering at the end of a hook until they die and are then gutted (hollowed out) and then made into gods. Err, I mean, food.

    But cheesecake? What does it represent beyond the delicious treat that it is?

    As for the girl, between the talk of hell and ascending and giving a report to the Man Upstairs, I can’t help but think of Ink in Ink Ascending.

  9. I think cheesecake is part of the general cake and pastry set, symbolically, although the cake part isn’t as important here as the fact that it’s made from the apples of the tree of knowledge of good and evil.

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