Down through Limbo, the Gluttonous and the Wrathful. Over the River Styx, pausing briefly to see the Heretical and the Violent. Moving on, down again we come to the Treacherous and Traitorous and then, just left of the Ninth Circle, was where the really bad ones went.
A demonic guard was patrolling past the barracks for damned souls when he heard a strange low evil laugh - well, evil for beginners. And let's face facts - in this place - everybody was a beginner.
The demon stopped to have a look through the window. Inside he saw a well-dressed German fighter pilot consulting with a shadowy figure in the corner - he spoke with a Russian accent... The guard did not stop to hesitate - this had to be reported immediately!
"Wgfmle!*" mumbled Lucifer.
The Demon Guard dared to crack a shrug with what passed for its shoulders. The Devil spat out the remains of Judas who limped off for a coffee break.
"An evil alliance between The Red Leicester and the Red Baron!!!" The devil began to stomp around his thrown room flinging fireballs at the various damned souls that were hung around the hall. Slowly however, he began a slow and a sinister evil smile came over his already evil face so the whole effect was really very evil indeed.
"I think, I can use these two to recapture Rasputin, then I'll teach that monk to trick his way out of Hell!" he said in a rising crescendo, so that as he said 'Hell' all the windows in the great hall broke and flames erupted from the floor fricasseeing a few more sinners.
"Bring then before me now!!!" He barked.
The Demonic guard turned and ran off to fetch the self-styled 'ReD or DeaD' alliance....
Unaware of the diabolical forces ranging themselves against him, Rasputin settled with a sigh into his new jacuzzi, letting the bubbly water soak onto his greasy, matted beard.
"So, Natasha," he enquired, "did you have any more questions?"
The reporter from the press conference earlier just giggled, and wriggled in a most provocative way.
"Why are all the good men bad?" she mused.
In an adjoining room of the penthouse floor, Tim sat on his hard little bed and flipped through the huge manuscript his boss had given him; the first draft for 'Rasputin: In His Own Words', the autobiography which would soon be bribing its way to #1 in the NY Times best-seller lists.
He opened the first page:
"Worse than the ordinary childhood is the ordinary Russian childhood; worse still, the Russian Orthodox childhood; the
worst is surely the Russian Orthodox peasant childhood..."
It went on like this for several chapters, a long whinge about eating raw turnips and getting eczema for Christmas. Tim
flicked through it, glancing at the pages as they went by:
"... until she cried Uncle. And that is how I became the confidante of the Tsarina..."
"...imagine his surprise when I lunged up and grabbed his throat. Yusupov let out a strangled squeak, and backed away..."
"...strange recurring dreams about a cast-iron laundry wringer, which he assured me were symptoms of extreme Oedipal anxiety. I wasn't so sure..."
"...sure showed them , didn't I? And where are the Romanovs now? At the bottom of a salt mine in Ekaterinburg! I often felt I could have learned to like the Bolsheviks..."
Throwing down the book, Tim flicked on the TV to see the latest polls. They were depressingly positive. Dan Rather glowered out of the set at him.
"The polls indicate that Mr Rasputin's slogan of 'Peace, Land and Bread' made a far greater impact on voters than his opponents 'Compassionate Republicanism'. However, with the introduction of butterfly ballots countrywide, the result of this election will be a surprise for all concerned. And now to the sports news...."
Tim felt sick in the pit of his stomach. He had never particularly wanted to be an agent of evil, sure, he'd become a hired hitman for a megalomaniac ex Mafia Russian super-villain, yet now found himself working for what was probably the most evil creature on earth.
Something had to be done.
He steeled his nerve, and took another shot of vodka. Through the connecting doors he heard raucous laughter and a bawdy Russian folk song being sung at full volume. Something had to be done.
His head was a miasma of conflicting thoughts and fumes, Tim gently toppled backward onto the narrow, hard bed, and slept.
A monstrous landscape opened up before him.
He stood up high overlooking a pit of fire, bridged by thin ledges of rock.
He was drawn forward, his movement seemed not to be his own, and traversing the rock down he landed on a flattened area and looked up.
The sky was brazen, the colour of a bruise. Beneath his feet lay the skulls of the slain. Among them grew black flowers that stank of decay. A distant cry of agony assailed Tim's ears and the shrill shriek of tormented laughter drifted by and was swallowed by silence.
"t i i i m m m..."
The voice was barely a whisper yet it rung in Tim's ears like a Bell.
The air was getting heavier and tasted bitter, the smoke from the burning pits rose up like a shroud.
"T I I I M M M M..."
That was when he saw him.
Kneeling between iron spikes, manacled with red-hot chains that seared the flesh...The Red Leicester sat in eternal torment
illuminated by a shaft of fetid light that bore over him like baleful eye.
Trying to shield himself from the flames that now began to roar all around him, Tim ran to his master. The scourge of many, Tyrant of the weak: The Red Leicester, head bowed, hair matted and bloody, stirred fitfully in his prison.
Tim reached out a hand to help and it was seized by Leicester whose chains dissolved away like false courage. His emancipated hand now became a talon, oozing ichor from the wrist as the skin burned away entirely. Another great claw gripped Tim by the throat and the Red Leicester rose, seeming to double in size and strength.
As Tim's own life ebbed, Leicester snapped back his head, revealing a mess of features, bloody and distorted; his remaining eye shone red with the fire of the Pit.
The hideous creature screamed and roared all at once.
Tim screamed and threw himself from the bed, landing awkwardly on his front. Panic stricken streaked with sweat, he could still feel the press of the elongated nails into his neck and the stench of that demon as it breathed on him.
The words haunted his mind.
And he knew what he had to do: he walked over to the mini-bar and poured himself and excessively large drink to calm his nerves. Second on the list was locating a copy of the Yellow Pages and looking under the section for 'Witchdoctors'.