Hello, travelers! Welcome!
I hope you found the climb invigorating, though I somehow doubt that you did. I know, I know, many of you are perhaps a little out of shape. Don’t be ashamed! Everyone who comes here enters like you, sweating, wheezing, quietly cursing that last hateful breakfast streusel under his breath. Calm yourselves. You’re done, for now. With that, at least.
By now, you may have noticed that your corporeal coils have been shuffled off. All that’s left you now is your slovenly, out-of-shape soul. Yes, it’s not pretty to look at. But that is why you’re here.
Now. Settle in. And listen up. And listen closely! I have made this very speech over one hundred million times, and you can only imagine how much I’d loathe to repeat it to you individually because you couldn’t keep your mushy, torpid brains focused for ten damned minutes.
Do I have your undivided attention?
This is orientation.
My name is not important. Just know that, in life, I was like you: worthless.
I died fat, useless, wrapped in satin sheets, heart filled with plaque and mind with cysts from disuse. I was a slug, physically and spiritually. Which is why my penance is to zealously guide you from the mountain of Purgatory to your salvation. It is a job that I do not take lightly.
And on that note: We’re glad you all made it to Purgatory. The temporary fire that you will soon experience is a damned sight better than the eternal flame experienced by those whose actions were irredeemable in life. Nor is your lot as desirable as those who lived pure lives, and whose reward began immediately upon ceasing to live. No, you are part of the great, unwashed average. How proud you must be, you perpetual c-plussers. How lovely to have made the cut! You squeaked by, just barely.
Let me explain something about sin. These mortal sins, these deadly sins, are the blueprint for this impossibly high Mountain, this vast machine whose purpose is to purge, and these sins, as the virtues that mirror them, are all borne of the same thing: LOVE.
Yes. You heard me, love. Sins come from love. Virtues, of course, are created when love is directed properly toward good and honest ends. Sins, however, are created when that love is misguided. Those whose love was directed toward evil things, the wrathful, the envious, the prideful, are on the three terraces below. Those whose love toward good things was too perverse, the gluttonous, the greedy, the lustful, are above. Everyone on every other terrace loved the wrong way, loved too strongly. But you. Your love. Was not misguided, per se. It was merely… deficient.
Because of your tendency toward the median, you now find yourself on the Fourth Terrace of Mount Purgatory, the very middle, that place reserved for those whose sin was Sloth. That incredibly middle-of-the-road, vanilla sin.
If Lust was a color, it would be a dark crimson, pulsing with life and slick with the frenzied glandular discharge of passion. Wrath would be the deepest, most unfathomable black. Envy an acid, vivid green.
Sloth is beige.
You are here because your inability to get off of your fat asses in life rendered you all completely incapable of committing worse sins than this. It kept you from feeling anything too strongly. Your laissez-faire attitude toward existence kept you out of real trouble, while the rest of humanity was off overeating and looting and fucking strangers and snorting and shooting up and generally having a better time than you.
Nope, no hard sinning for you! No, instead you chose the easiest route, the sin of inactivity, of inertia; you slept in, refused to put on pants in the morning, you lay in your filth on the sofa each day, allowed your bank accounts to deplete, your loved ones to wander off into the world in search of men-of-action! The lethargea was just too intoxicating for you, wasn’t it?
Well. Here we are, at any rate.
I’ll now explain the penance that will eventually purge you of this Sloth, and allow you to pass through the Garden of Earthly Delights and into eternity. It may seem somewhat cruel on its face, given your current state. But it is for your own good! Think of it as a very long, uninterrupted workout.
First: You are to be chained to treadmills. Yes, we have treadmills here. For a long time, we just had everyone run in a one big circle until they’d made up for all of the steps they didn’t take in life (times one thousand), but we found that it was too difficult to keep track of and was hell on the carpeting. So, as soon as the technology was available, we bought five billion treadmills. The noise is a little distracting at times, but we’re sure you’ll manage.
Once you are securely fastened to your treadmill, we will turn it to the highest speed and place it on what might seem like a sadistic incline. Again! This is for your own good. I take almost no joy in watching.
You will notice that, attached to the handlebars, you will find an e-reader with the biography of every person-of-action who ever lived, from Alexander the Great to Amelia Airheart to Camillo Torello, inventor of the Western Seed drill. These were people who never experienced the torpor of Sloth. These people were driven to move forward, divinely inspired, to create and conquer. These people felt a deep and passionate love for the world, and worked to better it.
You will read their Biographies. All of them. In chronological order.
You will then write in-depth reports on each individual. These papers must be not less than twenty pages per, Times New Roman, twelve-point font, single spaced. These papers must follow MLA Handbook Standards. Any paper found lacking for any reason shall be rewritten. Spellcheck, people.
You are also expected to learn every love song ever written, and- at appointed times- you are to sing. You are to be note perfect. No discord will be permitted.
You will be given no breaks. You need not eat, you are beyond that need. You need not urinate, nor defecate. You only need to run, and to read, and to write, and-by all things good and holy- you need to sing.
And, finally, you are to meditate. While performing these other duties. Your subject of meditation: what a worthless piece of shit you were while alive. This is mandatory, of course, and perhaps the most important aspect of your penance. Because as you begin to understand yourself, and your sin, as you begin to see what set you apart from your betters, as you sweat and toil, you will come to understand why your love was deficient.
And in understanding, you will find acceptance. And in acceptance, you will finally properly love. And this finely honed LOVE will purge you.
Ask no questions; I do not understand the will of those above me any more than you do. I myself am still mid-struggle. I, like you, shall do as I am told. And I will do it with a passionate fervor, as directed. I am still in the process of understanding my own sin. And like you, I hope one day to purge myself and enter through the front gate of Heaven to Blissful, Ego-free Eternity.
Now, everyone find your station. Are you ready?
This is going to take quite some time.