The Hound of hell arose to lick his sores.
“It was not so… it was not once like this,” he panted, fears of hellfire stabbing him like molten crosses.
He crawled a pace or two, and panted.
A licking on the ear.
Stubborn, fearful, he dared not spare a breath.
At length, the moggy mewed.
Startled, the dog looked up, and all the grand inferno blazed with giddiness and clashing chords.
“It was you!” he screamed, every wound in his body shrieking with an endless pain and bitterness.
The cat’s eyes brimmed with tears.
“I came to tell you a message from your littlest pains.”
He roared and pelted off.
“Please come back,” the moggy pleaded.
“This message is not for such ears as mine!” he arrogantly barked.
He ran and ran.
Even in this vast, exhaustless space, the walls of time seemed ever fearer pressing.
He slumped and collapsed.
In his mind’s eye, he did perceive him yet, rank and ragged neath the hideous chimes of Time.
“He wouldn’t listen!” he heard the cat lament; O time, and time, and yet another space of longing!
He grew to understand that once, and only once, in all the long and gloomy corridors of eternity, the most miserable, mangy mongrels would be given just one hope of redemption.
The trial, however, was severe.
The words of healing must come from the one he loved the most, and to whom he owed a greater debt of penitence and misery than ever tongue could tell.
Every now and then, some few miserable mongrels had shown one last, meagre, staggering seed of virtue.
He had choseen, rather, the doom of hearing evermore the yawning flames of hellfire licking round about him, than the sweet and gentle words of beauty that she had dared to bring him, against all conceivable odds of time, and of space, and even of all eternity.
‘Forgive me,’ he wept, scrabbling in the ground as though to bury himself forever from the shame of his unbearable and everlasting degradation.
The ground was hard as iron.
As he fell into yet another horror’s coma, from which he was doomed to awake once more, and ever more, time without end, to everlasting misery and remorse, he heard these words, faint and quivering and unbearably poignant in their generosity of wounded spirits…
“I crawled across fire and water to tell you I wished you happiness and joy. And I had even greater things to say even that these. But you wouldn’t hear me! You wouldn’t. You wouldn’t. Now, of all times past and evermore, I wanted you to listen to my gentle words. But you ran away. Now what can I do? I will never forgive myself for being unable to reach you, this one last time…”
Overcome with pitiless remorse, the dog howled in agony. All the hideous chambers of hell shook and rattled, all Satan’s fearless legions quivered, and even the Evil One himself sat bolt upright in horror, fearing what strange new wonder was this?
But the gates of hell stood firm.
At length, Satan smiled. His courtiers nodded in demonic glee.
“This one, now…” he growled…
The mob roared with misery, their mockery piercing every cell of the weeping hound.
“I say, this one, now…
“WE HAVE FOREVER.”