"Pride makes us artificial…humility makes us real" - Thomas Merton
Hell is weird.
'That, my little brother, is understatement of eternity' I could hear Dean say.
We fell for an eternity, but only for a few seconds.
The hole we fell into was pitch black and blazing white and burning cold and freezing hot and weird. We were falling and floating and rising and falling. Always falling. Ass over ears to nowhere, headlong into hell.
As we fell, deeper and deeper into hell, into the cage, towards the deepest part of hell, we fell past holes and tunnels and plateaus and burning black billows of demons and beasts and souls deformed by their own arrogant evil. I heard screams and howls and bellows and the terrifying laughter of mania and insanity.
And the farther we fell, the worse it all grew.
The evil and ugliness and howls and hate and despair grew stronger, more oppressive, the farther we fell towards the bottom of the cage.
"It's your mother's fault, you know." That was Lucifer, inside my head. "She made that first deal, she cursed you to this."
I thought about it. I had the time to think about it.
"If I'm here because of my Mom, then my Mom is one of the reasons you're back in your cage."
He didn't like that answer, if the lightning bolt of agony bursting inside my skull was any clue.
"And your father. The life he dragged you through. It wasn't any life at all, was it? You were never as important to him as anyone he thought needed saving."
I had no way of knowing how far we'd fallen, or how much farther we had to go, but hooks and knives and claws began to reach in towards me, catching and slicing and tearing me open. And the farther we fell, the more there were and the closer they came.
"Dad taught me that the most important thing is family. And that family is anyone who needs saving. And the world needed saving, from you. So he's another reason you're back in here."
The pain from another burst of lightning made me gag, and made me wonder if my skull really was coming apart.
"And poor Jess…" He went on, sounding like he pitied me. "Such a lovely girl. So sweet, so innocent. Such a waste."
"Jess – losing Jess -." Talking – thinking - wasn't exactly easy anymore. "Loving Jess is why I lost her. And losing Jess is what got me back hunting. And hunting led me to you. And you're back in your cage."
The lightning this time sizzled my eyes and I gagged again. The hooks and claws and knives were so close and numerous now it was like falling through a food processor. Each slice and gouge and fragmentation, I accepted, though. I welcomed them as proof of a job well done. I had gotten evil back in its cage.
"Even Adam." I decided to not give him the chance to go there first. I looked around, but the hole was dark and dazzling and I couldn't see Adam. "If Adam hadn't decided to say yes to Michael, and been used as bait, then Dean wouldn't have had the chance to tell Michael to kiss his ass and -."
"Your brother -." Lucifer cut in. He sounded pissed. Ha. "Your precious brother Dean is topside right now, not even thinking about you. He's gone on with his life. He's gone on with your life, the life you wanted. Picket fence, rugrats, the little woman. He doesn't think about you at all."
"Good." I didn't mean to say that so earnestly, so emphatically, but – good.
Gee, I guess I surprised somebody.
"Yes, good. He's doing what I told him to do." The agony peaked in my head again, burning and boiling like animate road flares. I had to force myself to keep talking. "He loves me enough to do what I asked him to do."
"Dean's the reason you're here."
"N-n-no. I'm the reason I'm here. Dean's p-p-part of the reason you're here. He g-g-gave me the s-s-strength to – to – jump."
If I thought the pain in my head had been bad before, this time it was incomprehensible. I'm pretty sure I screamed.
"Doesn't it make you angry? Dean broke in hell. Dean opened the first seal. But you're the one everyone blamed. You're the one here now. You're the one suffering."
"It's – what – I – deserve." I choked out.
"You killed yourself, you know. You chose to jump in here and kill yourself. That's suicide, that's a sin, a big no-no Upstairs."
I had no clue where he was going with all this. To make me angry? To make me despair? Sin? Really? Here's a clue – I'm already in hell.
"N-n-no. I chose to put you back in your c-c-c-cage. M-m-my death was – was – an un-un-unintended consequence." Thank you, Pastor Jim, for the lessons in articles of faith. "It's not – not – a sin."
And the pain kept on. It seemed to be concentrated now at the top of my skull, where I parted my hair, when I parted my hair.
Like I said, hell is weird.
"You were the best, Sammy. Out of all of them, you were the best, the smartest, the strongest. Your Dad, Dean, Bobby, even Castiel - they have nothing over you. And you threw it all away. You wasted your best gift, Sammy. You wasted all that power that was inside of you. You were the best, and yet here you are."
"No. NO. I'm the least of any of them."
"Do you want to be here?" His voice became so shrill, it was the lightning inside my head. "You'll suffer for eternity."
"I w-w-want you here. And if m-m-my s-s-s-suffering is the price of that, so be it."
"You think being here is good?"
"No – but it's right."
And then my head did crack open. Or at least it felt that way. And as the hole to hell blazed in blackness, I saw something even blacker pour out of the top of my head and speed down away from me, shrieking and wailing and guttural.
And suddenly I was on a street corner, under a burned out street light, watching Dean through a dining room window. I was whole and clean and fine.
And very, very confused.
I searched through my mind, needing to know, needing to be sure, but I found no trace of Lucifer inside my mind or soul or body. I was me, just me, for as good as that could ever be.
And Dean was thirty feet away from me.
My legs worked better than I thought they would and in a few seconds I was at the front door. I couldn't seem to get my hand to knock though. Then I couldn't seem to knock loud enough. And then -
And then the door was open and Dean was there.
Dean was there.
"Sammy?" I saw him reach his hand to the back of his jeans, then come back empty. He wasn't armed and he wasn't sure that I was who I knew I was. I needed to convince him, to reassure him, to let him know that I was me. So I said the first thing that came to my mind.
"Hell is weird."
He looked at me like I was crazy, then he grinned, then he grabbed me in a hug that couldn't possibly last long enough.
"That, little brother, wins understatement of eternity."