Author's note: This is a project that I did for an English class where we had to write a Dante-an style canto of a circle of Hell of our creation. The rules were to have yourself as a traveler, your own guide, a circle of Hell designed for punishing a specific type of sinner, and a beast guarding that circle. The "Plague Doctor" is a spirit much like Virgil, who was sentenced to Limbo, the first circle of Hell and was called upon to be the traveler's guide. Although characters are changed, this canto takes place just after the main story line of Dante's The Inferno. One final rule was that you had to have "stars" be the last word.

Canto XXXV

And so we climbed down Satan’s scaly back,
And at the tip we found ourselves falling 
Into an inky black sea of nothingness.

The faint light of Cocytus disappeared
From our sight and we were surrounded by
An eternal and perpetual darkness.

We could not feel the force of gravity here.
We were no longer at the center of God’s 
creation. I felt no disgust at unholiness 

As this place was neither holy nor was
it unholy. God was absent from this place. 
The dark felt absent of both life and death. 
The Plague Doctor shined a light so we could
see better, and before my eyes, countless
Souls were aimlessly floating with us in here

Most were motionless, some were flailing their
Arms and legs. But every one of them lacked
Any features. Their faces were blank like an

Unpainted canvas. I, holding on to the
Plague Doctor's hand so that I may not float
Away, asked him why they were featureless. 

“In life, these damned couldn’t afford to be alone
In quiet for even a second. They spent
Every passing moment indulging in 

Any form of entertainment they could 
Find, so they could quell their boredom. These damned
Couldn’t be with their thoughts, so now their mind 

Is all they have left. Their senses are all gone. 
The human mind can deteriorate into 
Madness without any stimuli in

Such a short time, and these souls are denied
It for all eternity. Their minds are left 
To rot,” said the Plague Doctor. We floated 

Close to a soul who was completely still.
Just like all the others, its face was gone.
I softly grabbed its hand with my own to see

If it would react, but it did not stir. It 
Couldn’t feel me. Upon realizing this,
I was overcome with a deep sadness 
Greater than all that I felt in Hell. These 

Souls were suffering completely and utterly
Alone in their own minds. They likely 
Believed they were alone in this place

As they couldn’t speak, see, or even feel each
Other. The Plague Doctor asked if I would like
To speak to a soul. I said yes. He waved

A hand in front of the face of the soul 
Who’s hand I was still holding. Suddenly 
A mouth and ears formed on its face. There was

A moment of silence, as if the soul had
No idea of what was going on,
Then the spirit erupted into a 

Scream louder and more agonizing 
Than any I’d heard in Hell. This realm was 
Endless, and its screams did not echo. 

No other soul reacted or changed their
Motion. The wailing continued unabated.
This poor soul had been trapped in its own mind

For God knows how long. It seemed like the screams 
Of a mind that had long since tore itself 
Apart would never end. The Plague Doctor had 

To step in. “Silence you damned fool!” I was
Taken aback at the doctor’s harshness
Toward this soul, but it worked. The screams stopped. 

“You may speak to it now,” the Plague Doctor
Said to me. “What is your name?” I asked the
Spirit. “I can hear you,” it spoke. “I can 
HEAR you! Am I not alone in this place? 
I thought for so long I was alone here!
Oh joy, oh joy, oh joy!” “What is your name?

I interrupted. After a moment 
of silence it spoke again. “My surname 
Is Hsieh. I cannot remember my

First name.” I proceeded to ask it why
It was damned here. “I wasted my life away
In search of preoccupation with

Entertainment. Video games, I played
Video games. I remember now. I 
Passed away from life in a cafe. 

I played those damn games for so long. I drank 
No water nor ate any food. I lived
For the game. It was my purpose. Of 

Course I wasn’t sleeping, and after some 
Time I dozed off, only to find myself 
Stuck in an endless nightmare. Only this

Isn’t a nightmare. I know I must have 
Died and I’m now in Hell.” Hsieh said. “Not 
Hell. We’re past that.” The Plague Doctor replied. 

Hsieh’s mouth made movement as if to 
Speak again but it suddenly closed up 
And disappeared along with his ears. He

Started flailing around rapidly but
My attempts to calm him down were futile.
Hsieh was back to his numb state. Just then 

A figure floated out from behind him.
It was a dark, tall, foreboding being.
Even before it spoke, I got the sense 

That it was old. Very old. “Who are you?”
I asked. The being responded in a 
harmony of voices all mashed together.

Some voices sounded young, others sounded 
Ancient. “I am The Void,” it said. I
Felt extremely frightened of this being,

More frightened by any demon in Hell.
I hesitantly asked The Void just 
What it was. “I am the empty. I am

Nothing. ‘Nothing’ does exist. I existed long
Before your God. Unlike him, I was not
Born. I have always existed. I was

What all there was before your God and his
Creation. I am neither holy or 
Unholy. I just am. I am the Void. 

Without the universe, there is just 
Emptiness, and that is what I always
Was.” I pondered for a moment, then I 

Asked why these souls were damned here and not in
Hell. “The Void is most fitting for them. Their
Minds wither away into nothing, as

They themselves are in nothing. There is no 
Hope for them. I am eternal. I have
Existed before God, and I will still

Exist after God’s death. The Void has always
Existed, and it will always exist. 
Therefore these souls will always exist here.” 

I was startled by what it said about
God. “God will die too?” I asked. “Oh yes, God
Will die too, along with all of his creation.

The Void will be all that’s left in the end.
Only there will be no end as I have no 
End,” the thing replied. I shook at the thought

Of God’s death. Finally my guide spoke up.
“Will you help us great one, we need to get to
Purgatory. Do you know of it?” “Yes,” 

It said. And with that, a light appeared below 
Us. “Maybe I’ll see you again someday,”
The Void said to me as The Plague Doctor

And I floated through the portal. Upon 
Exiting this light, we found ourselves at
The gates of Purgatory, and although 

I was still shaken, I was glad to be 
Out of that place and to be back in God’s 
Creation, where I could even see the stars. 

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