One day as a man is walking along he trips, stumbles and falls into hell. Being hell it’s very unpleasant—the worst place the man’s ever been. In fact he can’t bear it, it’s that terrible. He peers back up the way he came but he can’t even see it. He looks all around. He’s desperate.
He spots one of the birds of hell. It’s huge, filthy, has a nasty-looking beak on it. All the man sees are its powerful wings. He approaches it boldly. “Can you fly me out of here?” he asks.
The bird sizes him up. It’s always hungry. “No problem,” it assures him. “But what will you give me?”
“Whatever I’ve got,” the man promises. “Whatever you want.”
“Well then, every so often I’ll have a little bit of you. And then maybe a little more.”
What would you do in these circumstances? “Done,” the man cries, climbing onto the bird’s back. It unfolds its wings and soars up into the air. Soon hell is hidden from sight under clouds of smoke.
But the distance back to the surface is far, and what the bird failed to mention is that it can only get part of the way there. When it reaches the halfway point the bird levels off and begins flying in a circle, around and around and around. Every so often it turns its head over its shoulder and has a little bit of the man, gives the matter some consideration, and then has a little more.
The man doesn’t care about this. As long as he’s out of hell he’s happy. Or if not happy, at least he’s not in hell.
2 thoughts on “Emblem 049: Just so long as it flies”
Wow, this reminds me of the Harpies. I associates the Harpies with Hell, too, because of Dante’s Inferno. It’s one of the few mythological images that seems truly nightmarish. In 2006, I woke up in ICU after an accident, hallucinating that I was in hell and being eaten alive by the Harpies. It wasn’t my favorite day.
“The Harpies, feeding then upon its leaves,
Do pain create, and for the pain an outlet.
Like others for our spoils shall we return;
But not that any one may them revest,
For ’tis not just to have what one casts off.
Here we shall drag them, and along the dismal
Forest our bodies shall suspended be,
Each to the thorn of his molested shade.”
Harpies! My soul is angry at me– what will appease it? Originally they weren’t terrible but lovely–