I don't own South Park, which belongs to the almighty Trey Parker and Matt Stone.
If you think the couple portrayed here doesn't click, I'd be more than happy to explain why. :) They have both endured hardships in their lives and feel trapped by their financial and social status. One seems somewhat unstable, the other is the voice of reason. The story should also give light to it; I know this particular couple isn't often used. As a matter of fact… it hasn't really been used at all hyah. This story couldn't have existed without the inspiration from Saeto's beautiful Digimon stories and the imaginative South Park fanart on DeviantArt. I love you all!
Here I am, again. Yes, I had to endure the orientation session and the usual "Abandon hope, all ye who enter" speech that I had long ago set to heart. I had gathered with hundreds—even thousands—of people I hardly knew. They had no idea why I was here except for the fact I was never baptized into the Mormon faith. They had no clue of my potential to grant myself salvation for another week. What was I to do? Check into the sleazy motel on the shores of the River Styx, of course. I had visited Hell so often that there was a motel room reserved especially for me. I could navigate that room with my eyes closed—every thread on the striped, stained sheets; the blood and excrement smears on the vomit-green walls; the brown carpet encrusted by not-even-God-knows-what; the rust in the toilet.
I wish I could have converted when I had the chance. I had only gone to Heaven twice… and then I committed two mortal sins that prevented me from returning. The first time was when I drowned myself in the Reflecting Pool in Washington, D.C. Who knew that suicide was considered a mortal sin? I tried to convince St. Peter that the Scient—er, Blainetologists had inhibited my judgement, but he was unmoved and sent me to the great lake of fire.
Then my second chance was ruined forever when I sold my soul—yes, sold my soul—at age thirteen so that my parents could have enough money for a second chance. Which they presently spent on inebriating themselves into drunken stupors, the alcohol feeding the fires of their rage. The shouts rose… the slaps and beatings, which were routine, were amplified… and then my own father took the only working gun and, aiming for my mother, hit the neon sign on the wall. Glass shards blew everywhere, piercing my skin and biting my eyes, and the eruption of sparks set our house—our only shelter— into a roaring fire. As the flames swallowed up our belongings… they took my brother Kevin with them. I could still hear him screaming for his life, and I tried to save him, but the smoke filled my lungs and caused me to pass out. When I awoke at my friend Stan's house, all we had left of my brother were his tarnished braces.
Those screams still haunt me at night, three years later. Especially here, where the screams of the damned are like the wind of Earth, and every demonic shadow could be that of Kevin, ready to seek his revenge.
This is truly Hell now. Why did it have to be Kevin? Why couldn't God have taken my soul away, instead? I could have died instead of Kevin, and come back that next week out of nowhere. But I remember Chef once telling me that God loves killing people because he lives on children's tears. I reach into my pocket, feeling the smooth, sharp wires and the rounded bumps of my only reminder of my brother. I wish I could still talk to Chef, but he was killed by wild animals and resurrected as a perverted cyborg, more mechanical than man. No more advice was going to reach our little ears.
My thoughts are interrupted by the master-of-ceremonies placing his firm hand on my shoulder, as if to pull me out of my despair. I look up at him. The firelight reflects off his glasses.
"Kenny McCormick?" he inquires, reminiscent of a receptionist at the doctor's office telling me I was ready for a shot.
"Yeah?" I ask, brushing the loose strands of blonde hair—and my tears—off my face.
"Satan would like to talk to you."
Like most people, I was far from frightened of the crimson demon with his sharp, twisted horns and overly bulging figure. I had once helped Satan in a time of crisis, and he was in debt to me, so he had sent me to Heaven a long time ago. "Where is he?" I ask.
The emcee points at a place among the fire and lava, and Satan appears in a puff of smoke. He was so familiar down here—especially among those with alternative lifestyles—I didn't even need to guess. I had to crane my neck upward to see the devil's menacing face.
"Hi, Kenny," says the king of Hell. His deep voice was unusually effeminite.
"Hi, Satan," I reply casually. "What is it you wanted to see me about?"
"Kenny…" Satan digs a rut in the ground with his hooved foot, as if he were about to break up with Saddam right before their wedding day. "I know that you have been… uh… visiting us on a quite regular basis, but…"
A lump forms in my throat. I know what's about to come; this was the day I have dreaded since I was banned from Heaven. All I want is a second chance… please, God, give me a second chance! "…But what?" I whisper.
"Your time has come, Kenny," admits Satan. I swear I can see tears of sensitivity well up in his eyes. "You're here forever, and this time it's for real."
I feel like I'm trapped on a sinking ship with no life preserver and all exits have been blocked. I'm speechless. Hell spins around me like a drunken vision. Why did I have to accept Eric's hundred-dollar bribe to do such a stupid thing? Why must I always succumb to a fat dickhead like Eric Cartman, even when Stan and Butters convinced me otherwise? I would bet the rats are scraping my bloody, mangled remains off the asphalt as I speak. "But… but can't you convince God to let me come back to Earth? You did it once, when I was nine, and I was trapped in Eric's body!"
"I'm sorry, Kenny, but that move was to save Rob Schneider's career," expains the devil. "Your cremated remains were released into the river to avoid people drinking them, and God won't give me any more freebies. Not even for you, Kenny."
I can feel the stinging tears. "But—"
"I sincerely apologize, Kenny."
No one should see me cry, especially not the Prince of Darkness! Without thinking, I sprint over the path of coals and brimstone into the park. The claws of the dead trees there seem to grab at my heart and squeeze it until it's no more… not once would I be able to see my friends again… my dreams will be haunted by my brother Kevin…
I loosely drop down onto a slab of ash-covered rock by the tallest tree. That was my place here, and it had been since I first died as a young child. All I have to look at are the spewing torrents of flames grabbing at the darkness above it; the pools of magma bubbling in the disance; and the half-destroyed souls enduring torture beyond my wildest dreams. I know that I'll be one of those soon.
I bury my face in my hands, feeling the tears eat away like acid, burning me from the outside and within.
I was there a good hour or so, still in shock, comprehending life without Stan or Butters… an even Eric. Somehow a life without Eric seemed empty. The agonized screams and moans in the background provided a white noise, and I thought nothing of them. Any one of them could be Kevin…
My friends are gone until they die… but what if they could have avoided the pit somehow? Hell is so immense, we could be here for an eternity and still not lay eyes upon each other.
Suddenly, another sound fills the air, blending with the choir of screams, and I spend a good few minutes realizing that it could not have been a scream; it was so gentle, and… dare I say beautiful? I thought it had been at first, and somehow I can't bring myself to look at it. What if it was Kevin, or possibly my ex-girlfriend Kelly? Personally, I hardly cared for Kelly, as her clinginess turned me off, not to mention she picked her nose.
No… it can't be a scream. It just can't. Where have I heard that? Where? I cease my sobbing. The sound is more clearly audible than ever. The tone transitions from one pitch to another, and the long notes hold a hypnotic vibrato. It's too lovely to even be a human voice… could it be a violin? Everything floods back to me. I was given a violin for the elementary-school orchestra a long time ago, but I was far from a child prodigy. This violin must belong to someone who once was…
I open my eyes, searching for the one who sculpted the melody with his fingertips… the oranges and yellows hurt my eyes, and it takes me a moment to adjust to the lighting.
And then I see him, standing within my sight, and my heart flutters with excitement as I realize I know him! I remember his soft strands of blonde hair hanging in his face; his wide grey eyes; his face that would have been beautiful if he just weighed more. In third grade, he had been second-shortest to Kyle, and second-skinniest to myself. He seems to be taller and thinner than ever, for his crimson velvet overcoat fit loosely and his royal-blue shorts reveal his knee-length violet socks falling down around his shiny black shoes. I remember that grey tweed cap, all right. I feel ridiculously underdressed in my oversized, stain-covered, jailbird-orange, hooded sweatshirt, baggy shit-brown pants off the Goodwill rack, and tattered tennis shoes held together with silver duct tape, not to mention my unruly strawberry-blonde fright wig of hair. I was fortunate that the free-lunch program and my performance as a sprinter on the track team helped me fill out to a healthy weight. He had clearly not been as fortunate as I had been.
His hair flutters as his nimble fingers guide the violin bow. He is clearly absorbed in the music as I gingerly slide off the rock and wander towards him. What if I was mistaken?
I hear the final notes of the composition, and the lingering vibrato on the last final chord. He gently lowers the violin, and I decide it is my chance to talk.
"Pip?" I ask. "Is that you?"
Pip turns around. "Kenny McCormick?" His grey eyes are wide with surprise, and I can still hear the traces of his British childhood in his accent. "Is that you?"
I'm still shocked, and the next words seemed to escape on their own. "Yeah! It's me! When did you… I mean, how did you get… I'm sorry…"
"No," says the English boy. "I know what you mean, and you don't need to apologize." He hangs his head, and the strands of hair flutter in front of his face again. "I died two years ago today… ironically, in a bus crash on the Denver Orchestra tour. I was fortunate to have held onto my violin long enough to take it to Hell with me."
I had not been aware of that at all. We had been in every elementary-school class since third grade, and then when we went to middle school, we took completely different classes. I was placed in the intermediate level with Stan and Butters and most of my third-grade classmates, so I had seen them every day. I maintained contact with Eric, who had been unfortunate enough to repeat fourth grade. I remember Pip and Kyle had been placed in the advanced level of classes with Stan's ex-girlfriend, and Kyle and I slowly grew apart. By high school, we were no longer friends and Kyle had found a different crowd, but sometimes I wish we still were…
"We hit an icy patch in the road," Pip was still reminiscing. "We swerved violently to the right and smashed through the overpass… and then everything went velvety black."
"Wow," I say. I wish my death had been that dramatic. "So… is your violin-playing some sort of… hobby?"
"It helps me channel my agony and heartbreak," replies Pip with an air of sorrow in his voice, much like he hasn't purged himself of his teenage angst yet.
"What heartbreak?" I wonder.
He sighs. "A love lost many years ago."
I start to walk, and he lingers a bit, then finally follows. "I… know what you mean. I lost my brother three years ago, when I was thirteen."
"I know," says the English boy. "Kyle Broflovski told me when you lost him. Kyle still wanted to be your friend again, you know, he talked to me about you every day…"
My heart sinks to my feet and through the ground.
"You are more than welcome to stay with me," I hear Pip saying as my thoughts remain in third grade. "Come, I'll tell you everything over dinner." He sounds kind of rushed, as if he's holding back a flood of tears like I had been. Maybe he saw something that upset him… He brusquely places the violin and bow in their velvet-lined case and clicks the latches shut, then picks it up and holds it as if it were his child, then walks out of the park as if trying to be inconspicuous while eluding an enemy. I pick up my pace and follow. It's easy when you've run varsity track for two years.
I turn around to be overcome by déjà vu—a Gothic boy I swear I had seen before walking across the path, linking arms with an attractive girl dressed like a cross between a Goth and a lady out of a Dickens novel. I wonder if that has something to do with it as I see Pip hiding his face and run away.
He should have definitely joined the distance team if he had been alive for track.
The couple glances at me, and the boy looks at me. There was something about him I swear I had seen before, and I'm sure he's trying to figure out the same about me…
"What in the name of Mephistophiles are you staring at, boy?" the boy wonders, even though I'm the same age as him. I can see he created a streak down his cheek with black eyeliner, as if to imitate tears.
"I've seen you before," I reply softly, my cheeks flushing red with humiliation. "A long time ago." I can still see Pip within my eyeshot, and I hurry up to catch up with him.
"Strange little rectal belch, don't you think?" I can hear the girl remarking in her English accent, which makes things even worse. Now this truly was Hell.
Pip's home was a three-room condominium on the top floor a large building overlooking the River Styx. Everything seemed to have a Gothic, macabre, Dickensian feel to it. The walls were dark red, like a wilted rose, and gold-framed paintings of people I could only guess were Pip's former family and old English figures adorned them. The curtains were made from black velvet, giving me the impression of funeral attire. On the wooden floor of the living area was a large black rug with gold tassels and covered with a dark rose. The wooden doors to the other rooms, which I guessed were the bedroom and bathroom, were closed. There was a living area with two chairs and a bookcase filled with old books, a dining area with two chairs, a table, and the essentials for cooking, and an area with an ebony desk covered in papers that must have been compositions. The only source of light was a tiny chandelier on the ceiling.
"Nice place," I said when we entered and I digested what I saw. It was out of good manners, even though I thought it was a little fruity.
"Thanks," replied Pip. "I didn't even do anything; Chris and his friends furnished it. They also love making clothes for me. It makes me wonder if they're trying to turn me into one of them." He laughed. "Personally, I don't mind because it makes Hell slighty more bearable. You have no idea how lonely things can get."
I'm still getting used to my surroundings as we finally sit down to our small supper of nothing more than buttered bread and weak tea. I have always been used to hardly eating, given my family could barely afford anything outside those God-awful frozen waffles, but ever since I started working at the mechanic's last year, I could afford to eat out for breakfast and dinner… sometimes. Of course, I convince myself, it shouldn't really come as a surprise. I can feel my stomach growling, and I decide to feed that beast and stuff half the piece of bread into my mouth—French bread, which is kind of ironic since Pip's old nickname was "Frenchie." It's pretty good, and the tea had cooled down enough to help me wash it down. The bitter taste intermingles with the bread, and I immediately reach for the sugar bowl and dump the contents into my teacup.
Pip starts laughing. "It takes some getting used to, chap!"
I can feel even the roots of my hair turn red from embarrassment, and I quickly swallow. The nasty aftertaste still lingers in my mouth. "Did I tell you how I died?"
"No, I don't believe you have," he promptly replied.
I feel more relaxed about telling others about my death. After all, there have been less dignified ways of doing so. "Well, Eric Cartman offered me twenty dollars to cross the street blindfolded."
"Yeah. Well, anyway, I turned down his offer because I knew I was going to get killed out there, and Butters suggested there should be an incentive of more money."
Pip's eyes get wide. "Butters? Leopold Stotch actually suggested you do that?"
"That's right… right after you died, he got a restraining order from his parents and moved to a foster home. Then he really started to loosen up… you know, partying all night, sneaking into R-rated movies, getting inked, even being the first of us to lose his virginity… to Lexus, the Raisins girl. It figures. But… sorry for getting off-topic."
"Quite all-right," Pip assures me.
"But Butters suggests that I should be offered more money, so Cartman decided to up the amount to fifty dollars… if I walked across the street blindfolded and naked."
"Yeah, but I still wouldn't take it. So Cartman offered me one hundred dollars to walk blindfolded, naked, and with Stan taping it. Well, I finally realized that any amount of money from Eric Cartman, as you know, is really hard to come by, so, like a jackass, I did it."
"And you were run over," says Pip.
"You would think." I turn red again. "But I was mauled to death by a fierce dog that had escaped from its yard. And the worst part was, Stan got it all on tape." I notice that he hasn't touched any of his food, and I decide to change the subject to something less humiliating for myself. "How come you're not eating?"
He shrugs despondently, as if there were something heavy on his shoulders. "I don't exactly feel like it… things have not gone so well lately. Usually I spend my lonesome hours composing violin music in hopes that the love of my life hears it, but unfortunately…"
"Who is the love of your life?" I wonder.
"I don't wish to talk about it," Pip replies in a soft voice. "My one true love is dead to me, entangled in the arms of another member of the opposite sex." He rises from his chair, takes his violin in a flash, and shuts himself in his bedroom. Thirty seconds pass, and I can hear the strains of music sliding through the crack between the door and the floor. This was the same piece I had listened to earlier, and hardly a piece by any composer; it was free and moving with his emotions, its complex melody reminiscent of the dark Baroque period with freestyle, Romantic-era measures mixed in. (I had learned about this from my vocal training in Romania.) I listen to the music and hear a high-pitched whine, obviously a symbol of his own agonized cry… and Kevin.
I see Kevin replaying in my mind… his clothes had been set on fire, and he rolls on the shag carpet to quell the flames, but the alcohol absorbed into the fibers only made it worse. I hear him scream for Mom, for Dad, for me as the flames grab and claw at him. I can still feel it scorch my eyes, making it feel like they're melting… Kevin screams "Kenny! Kenny, save me! I won't steal your food again!" As Mom and Dad rush through the front door, I know I have to save Kevin as quickly as I can… I run back into the flames to meet a wall of choking smoke that stings my nose, mouth, and throat so badly… I have replayed this scene over and over, and the last thing I remember was falling into a dark tunnel and waking up in Stan's sister's bed, delirious and dazed, feeling as if my cranium had been split in two.
"You are fortunate that Kenny held onto his life, but Kevin was not so lucky. He burned to death in the housefire… we did all we could…" Dr. Doctor's voice still echoes in my mind.
Here come the tears again. I reach into my pocket and feel the braces over again and again, though I was able to navigate every wire and metal bracket. "Kevin…" I mutter.
I meditate on the music and stare out the window. Somewhere out there, my brother was burning half to death in the hellfire.
My violin has always been my refuge, but somehow it can't take away from the most important thing in the world to me… my lover. After dinner, I felt so upset I played until nine in the evening. I felt horrible about abandoning Kenny there, but I knew he was still in my home.
Every day, I witness them strolling casually down the path, arm in arm, as if they would lose the other to a so-called succubus such as myself. Everyone knows that Damien and Estella have become the "it" couple down here—he the prince of darkness; she the heartless bunny-killer who had once set out to curse men everywhere. I had known both of them, but neither of them had taken too kindly to me, exactly like everyone else I knew. It's difficult being an outcast in a small town like South Park, but it's even worse down here. I could move away from South Park and back to England if I wanted to, but I'm down in Hell for an eternity.
And then there's Kenny. I'm glad he found me, but he seems a bit too inquisitive for me to consider him a true friend. I don't want to tell him I am in love with Damien. When he and Estella had first met each other, I was initially furious at Estella for choosing Damien over me, though she had once told me she loved me. It was as if I no longer existed to them. I spent hours watching their every move and composing music for her, yet somehow watching Damien was more enticing. I don't know if it was his wild black hair, or how he smeared his eyeliner in a tear-stain, or his Gothic clothing covered with flaming crosses and chains, or something else I had no idea of, but somehow I came to the realization that I was mesmerized by the son of Satan, and that I was jealous of Estella for reasons unknown. It was my neighbor, Chris, who outed me to myself.
"Chris, I can't stop thinking— or dreaming about Damien. And whenever I see him, I have this strange feeling like someone's clenching my stomach and I feel flushed. I figured you were the right person with whom to discuss this…"
"It's perfectly normal, Pip. It seems as if… well… you're attracted to Damien."
"It seems to me that you have an attraction towards Damien."
"You mean… you mean I'm…"
"You're gay, or maybe bisexual. There's nothing wrong with it; I'm gay, and that hasn't been a problem for me!"
I felt absolutely horrible, as if I were going to vomit. I was on the same level as such abominations as my former teacher, Mr. Garrison. I could see myself as a closed-minded paedophile in denial, channeling my gayness through a puppet. And then, after going through three sidekicks, I'd get a sex change and become Mrs. Pirrup. Or what if I became a total whore like Mr. Slave and resorted to shoving gerbils and Paris Hilton up my ass like he did? The thoughts were absolutely unbearable. I refuse to be anything like that. I can't do anything like they did. If I were gay, I'd be attracted to Damien for the sake of love, for the sake of spending eternity with him by my side.
I let my heart guide my fingers, which guide the bow, and my melody plays. I set the notes to mind, hoping that I could still finish my opus for him. It was almost complete except for that blasted ending I could never get, and I had everything planned for the night I did so, down to the last threads I would wear. I gently set the violin and bow on the velour bedsheets and wander over to the closet. I see the beautiful black velvet overcoat and finger the soft material and the golden, embossed cuff links. Someday…
Kenny knocks on the door, and I quickly shut the closet door and sit on the bed, running my hand over the cool, forgiving wood of the violin. "Come in," I say, feeling more pain than I let on.
The door opens with a creak, and Kenny pokes his blonde head inside. I can tell he's honestly concerned for both himself and myself, as his expression is soft, and his deep blue eyes are halfway closed. "Pip, you've been in there for three hours!" he exclaimed. "Is everything OK?" He sits on the bed next to me, and I won't look at him.
"It's fine," I reply, noticing my voice was a tad higher than usual. "I've just been absorbed in my playing, that's all."
"Geez, you must be starving to death! Are you sure you don't want to get something to eat?"
Is that all he ever thinks about? "I'm fine… I had a jolly good tuck-in at lunch today," I fibbed.
"Lunchie munchies, eh?" Kenny jokingly elbows my ribs. It seems that no one has forgotten the things I said as an optimistic little boy. I lost my spirit years ago. "Feels like you could use some more lunchie munchies."
Somehow I find that amusing despite the obvious remark about my weight, so I decide to let the much-needed laughter out. "What exactly have you been up to? Looking for girls with big fat titties and big vaginas? They're a dime a dozen around here."
It's Kenny's turn to laugh. "You still haven't forgotten that line, have you?"
"Just payback for 'lunchie munchies,'" I joke.
Kenny's expression turns serious. "I was actually thinking about Kevin. I'm kind of worried about him."
"I don't blame you, Kenny. Sometimes I worry about my family. They passed away right after I arrived in Colorado as an exchange student." I still remember hearing the news from Mr. Jaggers, my family's lawyer. "But I know that I have eternity to find them, and I know that they think about me every day, the same way I think about them. I wonder what they'd think about me now?"
"They'd be proud of you," replies Kenny, which was the most shocking thing I had ever heard him say. "Hell, you're a total violin prodigy, plus you're really friggin smart."
I recover quickly, his words still ringing in my head. "I bet Kevin would be most grateful that you have thought of him every day."
"I bet he's pissed at me."
"Because…" Kenny traces an invisible pattern on the bed with his finger. "Because I couldn't save him in time. I… I actually sold my soul, for… for money for my parents, and they just got drunk instead of making something of themselves, and my dad accidentally set the house on fire when he got really fucking drunk, and…" I could see a tear drop onto the cover and make a dark stain. "…and Kevin died in the fire…"
I couldn't stop myself from hugging Kenny, despite his filthy sweatshirt and the fact that I barely knew him. I'm surprised to feel him hugging me back and crying into my coat. "Kenny… you didn't know. It was not your fault. You did it out of love, so that they could be happier."
"No, Pip. It's all my fault!"
I can feel the tears coming on. "Kenny, you tried to compensate for your mistakes and save your brother out of love. I'm sure he would be proud of you for at least trying."
Kenny says nothing. I don't coax anything else out of him. I won't. I can't. Ever. I just cared for him too much as a friend.
It's getting late. "Kenny, you may sleep in my bed as long as you want, and I'll sleep on the floor for the time being, at least until I can get a new bed."
Kenny lets go, and I do the same. "You… you don't have to do that on my account."
"You're my friend, Kenny. You're… you're the only friend my age I have down here." I don't want Chris to feel left out. "I'll have no problem sleeping in the next room."
But when the time comes to go to sleep an hour later, I can hardly close my eyes, as I lay awake thinking of Damien. He loves women, for Pete's sake, and of course, Kenny's as straight as a ruler, what with the way he talked nonstop about girls in elementary school.
It was time I released my emotions the proper way. Damien was staying at Estella's house, and now was the chance to prove myself. I slipped out of my silk pyjamas and quietly donned the forest-green, gold-patterned jacket over a white shirt, tight brown trousers, shiny brown shoes, and light brown cap that I was planning to wear the next day. I loved the fact that Chris's male friends—also gay—had made my clothes in hopes that Damien would notice me. They supported me wholeheartedly. I quietly tied a thin green ribbon around my neck, took my violin case, and slipped stealthily out the door.
It was a long walk and had taken me almost half an hour to reach the brick mansion covered with dead ivy. It was reminiscent of the Havisham Estate in a way. I stand outside the stone gate in the midst of the flames, letting the warm ashes rain down on me, take out my violin, and play, play to my heart's desire, praying that I wouldn't be seen, but heard. Someday, my dark prince would come. I close my eyes and lose myself in the melody, but this time… it seems different.