Furioso looked first at the ghosts of Alexa and Megan, then at that of Tiffany.
The first two of the three female spectres were in a kind of agony that made Tiffany’s pain seem almost like relief.
You shouldn’t be too surprised at the heightened pain you are feeling, Furioso said to Alexa and Megan. The vengeance you wreaked on your victims far outweighs their past cruelties to you when you were in physical form.
I wanted them…to know…what real pain is, Alexa said.
Her apparition was melting into a lava-like blob, as was Megan’s. The skin of theirs that wasn’t melting was flaking off into thousands of tiny pieces of ash that were blown all about in the steaming hot air of Hell.
They already knew what real pain is, he said. Everyone on Earth knows what real pain is.
I wanted them…to know…what my pain felt like, Megan’s ghost said. To be raped…by the one…you love…while another watches…and laughs at you. She and Alexa were groaning in pain, twice as loud as Tiffany’s groans.
They didn’t kill you, he said. Nor did they kill the ones you cared about.
Since when are you,…a demon,…lecturing us…about right and wrong? Alexa growled at him. It was your idea…to have us…get our revenge…on them…in the first place!
They made us want to kill ourselves, Tiffany said. Our own parents didn’t care about us. They all taught us that the whole world is uncaring; with no one to care about us, we found ourselves with no one to care about.
You killed innocent children, he said. People who had done you no harm. I never recommended that you do that.
We were innocent, too, Alexa said. We’d never done…any of them…any harm…before they hurt us, including our parents.
Still, he said, you are now so far in blood that sin will pluck on sin. When I offered you a chance for revenge, I’d never imagined you would go to such extreme lengths of cruelty. Instead of you enduring the suffering of Hell while gaining satisfaction from contemplating your tormentors’ own suffering, your new sins have added to your own suffering in a way that makes your revenge seem to have not been worth it.
As awful as I feel, Alexa snarled, it was worth it.
I agree, Megan said.
That is because your hate has grown to such a size that you imagine it will shield you from your pain, Furioso said. That shield will be only temporary; you will feel much worse later, for it will be your hate that makes you hurt.
I feel nothing but hate, Tiffany hissed. Hate for a world that hated me so unjustly.
I feel…the same hate, Megan said.
As do I, Alexa said. There is…no other feeling.
The world gave us nothing other than pain and hate, Tiffany said. It will make no difference to me to feel Alexa’s and Megan’s greater suffering; but vengeance will give me the satisfaction that at least Faye Oliphant and George Kelly will suffer, too.
Are you sure you want to do this? Furioso asked Tiffany. I advise you not to carry your revenge too far.
I’ll do what I have to to get my satisfaction, Tiffany grunted. Take me to where Faye and George are! I want them!
Very well, Furioso said.
The demon disappeared with Tiffany’s ghost, while those of Alexa and Megan continued their grotesque degeneration into disfigured, molten piles of unimaginable pain.