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Title: Lasciate ogne speranza, voi ch'intrate Part One
Author: Vivien/ [livejournal.com profile] kirsteena
Artist: [livejournal.com profile] reynardin
Rating: PG-13
Word Count: 13,226 total (4,468 this chapter)
Warning/s It goes a little bit dark =)
Summary: Sam thinks he knows what Hell is like; that is, until Hell decides to pays him a visit
Disclaimer This is a work of fiction. Any events similar to real life are a coincidence and I don’t claim any ownership of characters portrayed.
Thanks to my wonderful betas [livejournal.com profile] snowbunny22 and [livejournal.com profile] verdantgt. Many thanks to everyone who has given me support in the time it's taken me to write this.



Sam had always known what his vision of hell looked like. Fire, brimstone, Satan - all of it the usual stereotypical nonsense you hear from the pulpit designed to frighten you into submission. At least, that’s what he had been brought up with. As he looked through tired eyes at the dull scene in front of him, he wondered which deity he had upset, because all of his previous thoughts on the underworld had neglected to include 9:00 AM policy briefings.

“Okay, I want you to have a think about what we have discussed today.” Sam looked up as the facilitator began to wrap up the briefing. “Violent crime affects all of us, and how we deal with it is important. We’ll reconvene tomorrow at nine.”

With that everyone in the room stood up and left as a group except Sam, who had been staring into space. He reluctantly dragged himself back to the present. Ever since he had recovered from his coma and returned to work, he had seemed to be stuck in one endless meeting. The powers that be wouldn’t let him do any ‘real' police work yet, not until he'd been through a barrage of tests to assess his competence to retake the post of DCI, but they didn't want to waste all the money they had invested in training him and wanted to utilise his skills in policy forming. The dreaded desk job, hated by every copper who actually wanted to do some good. Is that what his life had come to?


Sam walked through the door into his flat, sighing to himself as he looked around. After his dream, and the grungy, unhealthy nature of 1973, the sparkling clean apartment was his idea of pure bliss. He dropped the groceries he had bought on his way home on the kitchen table (the one thing he changed about his apartment as soon as he got back home – he could still see the bloodstains on the floor if he thought too much about it), and wandered over to his answering machine. He was unsurprised to see that there were no messages. Maya had been to visit him once in hospital, but hadn’t been in contact since. He’d heard rumours that she'd started dating again and he accepted it. He wasn't sure that after he woke up, he could have dated her again - not after flirting with her mother, and after Annie.

He wandered to the lounge, idly flicking through his CD collection (typically for Sam, alphabeticised), looking for something to suit his slightly melancholy mood. Since he had recovered from his coma, his tastes had changed, and there were more 70's classics appearing in his collection. However, as he ran his finger over the T’s, he stopped at one particular CD - definitely suitable after today’s hell. He pulled it out, and placing the disc into the player, giving a wry smile as the harsh electronic sounds assailed his ears.

Perfect.

Tangerine Dream had been an odd choice to take Maya to see on one of their rare London weekend breaks and in the end they had both hated the concert, however Sam had wanted some kind of reminder of their weekend in London and got the bootleg CD of the concert. L’Inferno, he thought, amused as just how ironic that had been. Broken air conditioning. An audience full of restless people. Warm beer at the Festival Hall. It was just one stop short of a truly hellish evening. He listened to the music for a moment before heading back to the kitchen to cook.

Dull.

Domesticated.

Alone.

After eating, he spent the rest of the evening idly flicking through a book while sprawled out on the sofa. As it rolled round to late, he got himself ready for bed. Slowly, he drifted off into a deep sleep.


Sam became aware of his surroundings gradually. It was night, and he appeared to be in a dark wood. Stepping down from the mound he was sat upon, he looked around. Where was he? As he glanced around, he noticed a faint light in the far distance. He picked his way through the dank undergrowth, placing his feet carefully for fear he would trip over something, drawn towards the tiny light. After walking for around fifteen minutes he suddenly stopped, too stunned to speak. There, perched in the boughs of a rotting tree, with the light surrounding her, was the child of his nightmares, dressed exactly as he had seen her back in 1973. Everything was the same as he remembered: the red dress with the white collar, the long blond hair with the red headband, right down to the toy clown she was carrying in her arms. He looked down at himself for the first time since arriving here and saw he was wearing his usual 70's garb – Cuban heels, flared trousers and his leather jacket.

“Wha... what the hell is this? I thought you all went away when I woke up? You were all some kind of dream my coma brought on.”

“Oh, Sam,” the Test Card Girl said sadly. “Did you really think you could get rid of me so easily?”

“But...why now? I’ve been awake for weeks. Why not earlier?”

“I had to come at the right time for you. Your somewhat morbid choice of music tonight made it so easy for me. So, here you are! Are you ready?”

“Ready? For what?”

“A journey. One you need to go on to make sense of it all. Wouldn’t you like to understand why you feel like you do, back home, in the future?”

Sam stared at her for a moment, then nodded. He walked forward, holding out his hand to help the little girl down from the tree, and together they set off across the suddenly materialised bridge in from of them.


“Midway upon the journey of our life, I found myself within a forest dark, for the straightforward pathway had been lost.” The Test Card Girl’s face took on a look of rapture as she recited the words, her voice taking on a sing-song quality as she spoke. Sam turned, staring at her in bemusement.

“You’ve never read it, have you?” the girl asked, amusement evident in her voice.

“This is what, my dream? And you’re telling me to read more? You sound like my old English teacher.”

“I wanted this to be the full experience for you. You know, that sense of anticipation as you know what is coming. Well, terror, probably.”

“Given how strange this is likely to get, I’m not complaining.” Sam muttered. “So, where are we... and - do you have a name?” he frowned at the girl.

“I beg your pardon?”

“A name. You have been visiting my dreams for how long now? All I know you as is ‘Test Card Girl’,” or more properly, ‘oh shit, get the fuck out of my mind,’ he thought to himself. “If I’m talking to you properly, I’d like to call you something other than ‘hey you’.”

The little girl in front of him stood with her head cocked to one side for a moment.

“Alice,” she said eventually.

Sam stared at her, and then laughed. He had an image of the classic drawings of Alice falling down a rabbit hole. It was exactly how Sam had felt the whole time he was in 1973. “Appropriate, I guess. Well then, Alice, where are we?” They had moved from the wood, and had somehow appeared in a hallway. Sam stared around him, trying to figure out how things had just changed. In the end he just gave up, and took a step forward, Alice beside him.

“We are at the beginning, Sam. This is the start of the experience. It's not going to be easy. Are you ready?”

“I... I think so.”

“This way.” The pair carried on until they arrived at a gateway. With a sense of foreboding, Sam looked up. Above the doorway were carved letters.

Lasciate ogne speranza, voi ch’intrate


All hope abandon, ye who enter here. The words were familiar. Sam swallowed hard, and then made his decision. Taking Alice’s hand, he stepped through the doorway, not looking back. He gazed around him as they exited the hallway and stepped into a grassy plain. He blinked rapidly, as his eyes adjusted to the sudden bright sunlight.

“Welcome to Limbo.” Alice said quietly.

“Wha... you are joking, right?”

“Why would I joke about it? The first circle of Hell, Sam. It does exist. Come on.”

“This is Hell?” Sam looked around, taking in the scenery. “Not exactly the decor I imagined.” As they walked across the spongy grass, Sam breathed in the air. It was fresh, dew-laden; the pure kind of smell you can only get from being deep in the countryside and far away from traffic fumes or any other pollutants. The sky was a vivid blue, with small white fluffy clouds playing a game of chase above him. He smiled to himself. “You know, you don’t look like Virgil.” Sam commented to Alice, but couldn’t bring himself to feel too worried. The surroundings were too perfect, and he didn’t get a sense of danger from anything around him.

“But I can be poetic when I want to be,” she grinned back up at him. She pointed off into the distance where Sam saw a medieval castle. “That’s where we are headed to first.”

“What’s there?”

“It’ll spoil the surprise, silly!” Alice skipped off towards the castle, dragging her toy clown behind her. Sam watched her for a moment, then started to follow. As he approached the structure, he could see groups of men and women gathered together outside. He found Alice in the middle of a group of aging men, obviously enchanted to see a child in their midst. For her part, she appeared to be just as happy to see them.

“See Sam, not so bad,” she chuckled at him.

“No.” Sam agreed. “So, who are all these people?”

“We are, if you like, the faithless ones. At least, in the eyes of God we are.”

Sam whirled at the sound of a familiar voice. He stared into the friendly face of Nelson, and a smile broke out over his face.

“Nelson! What... how?”

“Did you really think we’d let you take this trip on your own, Sam? No, my friend, people will be here to guide you on your way – well, that and show you a few things. After all, what are friends are for?” Nelson gave a toothy grin. “Still, you can enjoy yourself while you’re here. I’d offer you a drink, but, y’know, no pub here. Bit difficult to pull a pint without a bar.”

Sam looked around for Alice, who was still in the middle of the group of adults. As he noticed their faces, he shuddered as he realised that some of what he saw were the faces of philosophers of old from engravings from books, though he couldn’t put names to their faces. He’d only studied it briefly during secondary school, and it wasn’t something that interested him. Nelson saw the direction he was looking and smiled. “They don’t get many new people here, and a child... well I can’t remember the last time we saw a child ‘round here. She’ll be thoroughly spoiled while here. Although it won’t be for long.”

Sam frowned at Nelson. “Why not?”

“Well, as much as seeing you again is nice, you’re here for a reason, and I can’t hold you back from that. This is merely... a pleasant interlude until you move onto the rest of this place.”

“So, it’s real? The circles of Hell and all that stuff? I thought it was all just a product of overactive imaginations.” He stopped for a moment, then shook his head, embarrassed. “Well... it still could be I guess.”

“Sam, I’m not here to tell you what is real or not. That is what you have to work out. Right now, this seems real enough, but you have to make that choice. Either way, it’s good to see you again, my friend.” The hand that Nelson placed on Sam’s shoulder certainly felt real, and he turned and smiled at Nelson.

Alice had extracted herself from the crowd of people and walked back over to them. “Hey, Nelson,” she said to him, waving, then turned to Sam. “As fun as this is, we need to go, Sam. Lots to see tonight.” Sam looked at Nelson, who nodded.

“Okay, let’s get this over with,” he replied. Nelson punched him on the shoulder in a friendly gesture, then pointed towards a slope in the distance.

“That way, man. And Sam? Take care.”

***

The slope which Nelson had directed them to wound down for quite some time in a slow, lazy spiral. Within a few minutes, Sam had completely lost his sense of direction, and was just hoping they were going in the right direction. After what seemed like forever, but in reality was only about fifteen minutes, they suddenly stopped.

Appearing in front of them was a wide river, with a low wooden boat ready to take them across. Sam frowned as he realised the boat had no one to steer it. Alice led the way, stepping quickly into it. As soon as Sam had taken his place beside her, it moved, slowly bringing them to the other shore. Sam glanced around as they journeyed. Behind him, he saw the slope fading in the distance. The river itself was clear, the bottom easily visible. Instead of fish floating in the water, as he expected, there was hundreds and hundreds of white dots. He thought about asking Alice what they were, but something in her expression made him decide against it. He shuddered, turning away from the water and looked towards the bank they were approaching. Once there, and being careful not to rock the boat too much, Sam helped Alice out, then he himself disembarked. Suddenly, a man, the very vision of classical Greek stereotype, was in his path. Sam warily looked at him, noting with some degree of horror that he had a snake coiled around him.

“You are alive,” the man said without preamble.

“Minos. We are expected.” Alice said before Sam had a chance to reply. Sam watched as she curtseyed to him. He tried not to let any surprise show on his face.

“Ah. The ones I am not permitted to judge. We have been expecting you.”

“Is all ready?”

“As ready as it will ever be. I give you permission to pass through the gates as living beings, unjudged, free to travel. You may visit each level once, then you must leave. Next time you come before me, I will choose the level you remain on eternally. Is all understood?”

Alice nodded, then poked Sam in the ribs. After a second, Sam nodded, hoping he was appropriately solemn.

“Very well.” Minos gestured once, and a large, ornately decorated gate appeared behind him. “When you are ready, step through. You will not be able to exit until you reach the bottom, and our secrets are revealed. May you find what you are looking for, and pray you do not appear before me again.” With that, he turned his back on them, waiting for the next group of souls to arrive for their judgement.

Sam glanced once at Minos, before stepping in front of Alice, opening the gate, and allowing her to step through. He followed closely behind.

When he checked behind them, the gate had vanished. There truly was no way to go back. As he looked around, Sam was struck by the fact that for the first time since this dream had started, he could feel the effects of the weather. The increasingly violent wind that seemed to pound him from all directions literally took his breath away for a moment.

“What the hell is this?” he asked, meaning it.

“Officially, the Second Level of Hell. This is the first level where punishment actually takes place. Limbo was just a safe introduction, you could say. A warm up.”

“Punishment?”

“You thought it was all tea and crumpets? Souls come before Minos, he judges you and chooses which level you end up on for all eternity.”

Sam swallowed. “Each level represents a different sin, right?” Alice nodded. “Ok, so which is this?”

“This, Sam, is lust. The classic seven deadly sins are represented here, of course. Come on.” Alice led the way. “We will have to cross each level, to reach the path down to the next. We have been promised safe passage, so we shouldn’t get attacked, but some might try to stand in our way, argue with us.”

“Shouldn’t isn’t exactly encouraging, you know. And that’s it? I do this, get to the bottom, or the top, or whatever it is, and then I get to wake up, go home?”

“Something like that.” Alice smiled up at him. “Of course, what we see on the way... well who knows about that? This is, after all, your journey.”

“So, we walk?” Sam asked. Annie nodded, and in response took Sam’s hand, tugging him into motion.

“We walk, and we see what we see. Lot of ground to cover, Sam. Let’s go.”


Sam walked beside Alice, glancing round constantly. He wasn’t sure what he was expecting to see here, but after seeing Nelson, he was wary. The wind whipped round them both, catching Alice’s long blonde hair, making it move around her head like a fluttering halo. As they slowly walked along, Sam became aware of people appearing on both sides of him. They appeared to be moving, continually buffeted by the wind, but being drawn to one point that always seemed to change. They would never get there. It was obvious that the weather was affecting those trapped here more than he or Alice. As Sam watched them, he realised that their faces were pained, that they were always moving, never given a moment's peace, forever driven onwards. He idly watched as the people went past him, then suddenly gasped as he recognised the face of one of them.

“Maya?” The woman in front of Sam looked down on him in an expression that was close to pity. Her hand reached out to Sam, but even as he tried to touch it, she was pulled out of reach as she was carried along once again by the wind. He cried out, reaching for it, but she vanished out of sight quickly, lost amongst the mass of souls.

“Sammy... oh Sammy, how you’ve grown.” A familiar voice made him spin round just fast enough to see his mother brushing past before she too was taken beyond his grasp.

“No!” He looked for her, but she had gone, lost amongst the seething mass of people. He stared at where she had been, then whirled to confront Alice. “Why them? Maya and... Mum? Why bring them into this?” Alice didn’t say anything, merely took a step closer to Sam. “It isn’t bloody fair. Leave them alone!” His head dropped, as he tried to get the memory of the two people he loved out of his mind. After a moment, he looked at Alice, silently asking if they could move on. Alice nodded, and gently took Sam's hand. He followed her as she led the way, keeping his head down, desperately trying not to look out for Maya or his mother. He caught a glimpse of a vibrant red out of the corner of his eye, and he looked up. To the side of him was a woman like so many others, dressed in a sumptuous red velvet medieval gown, tied about the waist with a gold belt. Entranced, he watched as she fought valiantly against the wind, then faced him. Annie. Sam gasped. Annie was the last person he had expected to see here.

He shook his head sadly. “Oh God, Annie? Why you?” Annie reached out and gently caressed his cheek, in a mirror of his touch in the past.

“Oh, Sam,” she whispered, smiling at him. “You never wanted to see, did you? How much I wanted you...” Before she could carry on, Annie was swept away by the wind, lost in amongst the sea of souls being pulled towards the cliff face.

Sam stared after Annie, too stunned to react. "Why did you bring me here?" he asked, whirling on Alice angrily.

"Bring you here?" she asked him. "Sam, I’m just the guide. I didn’t bring you here. You brought me here because you wanted it. This is your dream, not mine."

He looked at her, then his posture slumped. "If only I knew," he said quietly.

"Do you think it would have made any difference? They made their choices, Sam. Knowing wouldn't have helped."

"I might have saved her."

Alice didn't answer, but took Sam's hand once again and led him through the sea of souls, towards a specific point on the other side of the circle. When they reached that point, Alice pointed to a slope, leading the way down to the next level. Stumbling, Sam followed Alice as she led the way. All the emotions he'd suppressed since leaving Annie in the tunnel to face Johns threatened to overwhelm him.

“Sam, snap out of it.” Annie said sharply. “It’s all part of the journey, and we can’t stop here. We have to carry on.” Sam sat down, inhaling sharply.

“Just... give me a minute. I’ll be ok, just let me catch my breath.” Annie nodded, and sat down beside him. After a moment, Sam looked at her, his misery evident on his face. “Why? Why now?”

Alice looked at him for a moment. “Who can say, Sam?” she replied sadly. “There is something here you need to see. I’m just here to guide you. I only ever had your best interests at heart.”

Sam stared at her, then suddenly laughed. “All these times you told me to give up, that you were my only friend – that was in my best interest?” Alice merely smiled at him, then stood up.

“Of course. Let’s go. Only seven more levels to go.”

“Marvellous.” Sam couldn’t quite stop the sarcasm.


Sam noted the change in the weather as soon as they stopped descending. There was a chill in the air, and Sam could smell snow. He started to fasten up his leather jacket, but stopped and looked at Alice in her short sleeved, knee length dress. She peered up at him, sensing his gaze on her.

“Your jacket would drown me, Sam,” she said, sensing what he was going to offer. “Besides, I don’t really feel the cold.”

“I feel it colder here, I don’t believe you can’t feel it.”

“It is colder than it was, but we feel the temperature differently here. It’s part of what Minos did when he allowed us in here. We are the living, we need – insulating – against some of what we see. Part of that insulation is a literal one.” Alice grinned up at Sam, who reluctantly smiled back. She was right. It was cooler here, but not as cold as it should be with the worsening conditions.

“Even so,” he said, “it’s still colder than it was.” Stifling a small shudder that he suspected was purely psychological, he slid his jacket off his shoulders, picked Alice up and wrapped her in it, carrying her while they walked along.

“Be careful Sam, It’s slippery here.”

It was a bizarre experience, walking through this level. Sam knew he should be affected by the snow and freezing rain that had built up around them, but he couldn’t feel it. Still, he couldn’t help the unconscious movement pulling his jacket tighter around the little girl nestled in his arms as he walked through the snow.

“So, who resides here?” Sam asked as they walked along.

After a moment, Alice spoke. “This level belongs to the gluttons. But there are many kinds. Mostly, the ones who let their greed – all kinds of greed - get the better of them.”

Sam’s eyes idly drifted to the sides, where he saw people huddled together in the snow. He caught sight of what he assumed was the guard of this level, a monstrous, three-headed dog. Alice saw him looking in that direction.

“Cerberus,” she stated, then paused. “Hellhound.”

Sam watched as the heads swayed from side to side slowly, always moving, processing what was in front of it.

“We don’t have to go near him, thankfully.” Alice seemed pleased about this, and Sam found that for once, he agreed with her.

They slowly made their way across the level, Sam stepping around the people trapped here. People were lying in the snow, unable to pull themselves free. Hail, rain and snow lashed down, all at once. Misery was all around them. Sam stopped, catching sight of someone else. A man on his own, sitting up in the snow, watching them approach with a look of derision on his face.

Sam couldn’t help but howl with laughter at the sight of DCI Litton ensnared in the slush. His hair was plastered to his face, his plush velvet smoking jacket ruined by the weather, the white shirt he was wearing partially stained by the effect of the slush. He looked an utter mess, and sneered at Sam.

“Tyler, stop bloody laughing at me and get me out, or so help me god, we will have another rematch.”

Sam gently set Alice down, and towered over Litton. “Dream on Litton. This – is priceless! If only Gene were here to share it, he would be killing himself laughing by now...” Sam tailed off at the mention of Gene’s name, but tried not to let it show on his face.

“Ah yes, the wonderful Gene Hunt. Wonder where he is here. He will be so glad to see his wonder boy wandering free, gawking at everything. Never mind, Tyler, you'll get what is coming to you.”

Sam shivered - a bone deep shiver that had nothing to do with the cold around him. “I’ll be sure to pass on your greetings when I see him,” he snarled back at Litton.

“You do that, Tyler. And, any time you fancy a rematch, you know where I am.” The smug look on Litton’s face triggered something in Sam. He couldn’t help the foot that suddenly swung out and caught Litton in the stomach. Nor could he help the smile that crept over his face. All accidental.

He took Alice’s hand, gestured onward to her and they moved forward together. The path led round the level in a graceful semi-circle, until the point where they could leave it behind.

Date: 2011-09-18 07:39 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] edzel2.livejournal.com
I think I know where this might be going... :-) *rushes away to read the next part*

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