A Selfless Act

By Genevieve Cogman


There is a rumor which is suppressed in Hell.

There is a hope which is held in Heaven.

For every soul that goes to Hell has surely met his or her fate, but never touched destiny. And in Hell they must languish for ever, or until God overturn the order of the settled universe and bring the darkest places imaginable to the light.

But some say that a man's destiny may change even as he changes, and that those who suffer in Hell may yet escape it. If only a man can repent -- truly repent, they say, without hope of release or desire for surcease of pain -- and know that he sinned, and wish that it had been otherwise, and perform one selfless act . . .

Why, then, he is no longer bound by Hell.

Some say that such souls are reincarnated, having reached both Fate and Destiny, and gain a new chance to achieve Heaven. Others say that for their suffering in that most dire of places, they are released to the Higher Heavens, beyond the tales of angels whom we know, for they have purged themselves with a drink more bitter than wormwood, and still sought for something better. For such a thing cannot be done for hope of salvation, nor tallied up as if a dozen good deeds will earn the way to paradise. It must be done from the heart's true desire, an act of selflessness, a thought of repentance.

But in any case, such souls are not seen again.

In Hell they deny such rumors -- no, they do not even mention them, and the Game scours them from the tongues of traitors. In Heaven, they believe and hope in them.

And where the angels gather to sing, they praise the name of He who is merciful.


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