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In February 2000 I emerged from my underground bunker, a converted passage tomb near The Hill of Tara, to discover that the world had not ended and the dreaded Y2K bug had failed to wipe out our species. I was relieved but lost. Months later I discovered a novel called Angels and Demons by Dan Brown and consumed it numerous times because the lead character, Robert Langdon, shares my name, Robert Langdon. It changed my life and gave me a purpose. I have followed Robert and Dan on their adventures ever since and have penned several stories featuring my hero, my companion, my teacher…Robert Langdon. These are my stories. I am Robert Langdon.
Hell’s parameters had never occurred to Robert Langdon as anything more than fancy and superstition dreamed up by the minds of the unenlightened and being a twentieth century man Langdon believed only in the tangible, the corporeal and the material, all other avenues led to folly.Yet here he was staring into an old moss covered well genuinely asking himself whether or not this was a portal to hell.
His tutelage under his mentor, The Deuce, had given him a rock solid base of unwavering scientific enquiry that demanded empiricism and fact yet there was always an undercurrent of darkness, of otherness that Langdon could never explain and this undertow had only grown stronger over the years until now on his first case of deep symbological investigation he found he was being pulled under and some force demanded he take the plunge into the unknown and quite possibly enter hell.
The well was around three feet wide and Lucifer knew how deep. Langdon dropped the bucket and heard it splash below after three seconds. It was deep.He grabbed onto the rope, swallowed hard and began his descent. As he lowered himself he noticed lights flickering in his peripheral vision. He stopped and looked at the stone wall as all manner of alien hieroglyphs and runes began to glow and dance all around the cylindrical portal. He shook his head and recommenced his journey.
Soon enough he was in the water. It was cold and black apart from the reflections of the symbols dancing across the surface but suddenly the water began to bubble and something beneath started emanating a cold green light that began drawing Langdon down into the murk. All was green and then all was night.
Langdon’s mind smeared itself back to light.
Time had passed.
The air was wholly alien and smelled of the Marianna Trench and rotten fruit and infanticide all wrapped up in a caul of smouldering marrow.
Langdon sat up and looked around while covering his nose and mouth. His nausea was soon replaced by utter bewilderment as he drank in the landscape before him.
The ground upon which he sat was the back of some gargantuan beast. Its size was mindbending for it took up the entirety of Langdon’s vision. As he looked up he could see the creature’s head miles above him like some terrible sun. Everywhere he looked all he could see was the beast until finally he comprehended: the creature was unnaturally spherical as if it had been stretched out infinitely and bent back upon itself, the thing had been intentionally misshapen…Langdon shuddered as he wondered what could have done this to the foul beast. There was a sharp shriek that knocked Langdon over, he looked up and saw it was the creature howling. The sound ended abruptly and Langdon stood and surveyed his immediate surroundings.
In the distance he could see what looked like a small town. Smoke wisped upwards and the clang of metalwork was audible.
He looked behind him.
No more than thirty feet away there was a creature sitting on an ancient wooden stool. Its body was a mass of boils and bizarre calcified bones pierced through skin at random. It wore no clothes and stared intensely at Langdon.
Langdon could feel the urine running down his legs as he finally registered the face. The thing had his face but a warped, pained and brutalized version of his visage. Langdon began to weep and at this the creature simply looked away, then stood and finally pointed up.
Langdon followed the hand and looked up to see the face of the mammoth above and saw now that it was of course his own face. The giant face screamed again and Langdon began to run towards the village and as he did so shit tumbled from his trouser legs such was the terror and panic that overcame him.
As he neared the village he ran past two children who had his face and an old woman with his face who cackled and pointed at him. He was utterly terrified but kept running into this hub of deformed Langdons with complete abandon.
The sight within the village was despicable. Every possible variation of himself was on show, all rutting and killing and birthing and dying and all eyes were on Langdon.This hoard of bastard selves stared longingly at him.
They began to move towards him with hunger in their eyes and spittle around theirmouths. Langdon backed up against a heavy leather tent,many more populated the village, and as the mass of monstrosities were almost upon him they stopped. All their eyes shifted to Langdon’s left. Langdon followed their gaze.
A tall man had appeared from the leather tent. He was huge. Langdon couldn’tsee hisface but he suddenly turned and looked directly into Robert’s eyes.
It was The Deuce.
Langdon blinked and he was back in the well thrashing in the waters. He could hear a voice from above shouting at him. He felt hands upon him then and could sense he was rising out of this terrible portal.
The Deuce lay Robert down on the cobbled ground that surrounded the well. Langdon sat up and stared at his teacher.
The Deuce smiled. “Robert, there are more realms in this miasma than you or I could ever know. You have been baptised in hell.”
“But…why so many versions of myself?”
“Hell is the death pit for all the could have beens, all the miracles of misfortune. Be thankful you are not counted among their numbers.”
The Deuce patted Robert on the back, stood and began walking back to his mansion.
Shortly thereafter Langdon followed suit with his heart heavy and his head dilapidated.
Robert Langdon is a neo-transcendentalist, a Sadhu of Samhain, an historic detective and a conspiracy factualist. He lives in Drogheda with his husband, wife and a dule of red eared slider turtles.