Macbeth and the Porter Of Hell
This is odd.
This was Macbeth’s first thought, there, lying at the cold ground. The first thought oft his, of Macbeth’s new life.
It was odd that he was still able to think. Normally, being impaled by a sword and having his head cut off should be enough to put an end to the very process of thinking. Yet, Macbeth was here, thinking about his ability to think, and glad, that he still was alive enough to be confused by that.
Pulling himself together, Macbeth asked himself the next question. Where the Hell was he? There was nothing but darkness around him, yet he was lying on solid ground. Uncomfortable with that, he stood up and went to examine his surroundings, walking in the cold darkness, soon beginning to ask himself how he got into this situation. His memories were clear. He, Macbeth, was the king of Scotland. Long had he struggled, fought, doing everything necessary to keep this position. His thoughts wandered to the recent events, transforming some of his blatant confusedness into anger. He remembered this foolish messenger, telling him about the forest moving towards his castle. He remembered loyal Seyton, informing him about the death of his wife. He remembered the battle, the screaming, the bloodshed. And he remembered Macduff, his face distorted in hatred, his hands firmly clunching the grip of his sword, driving it into Macbeth’s chest. Stunned by this paradoxon, Macbeth stopped walking – unfortunately, too late to prevent himself from falling down the edge of a huge, invisible cliff.
As it usually did, the ground put an end to his fall and it didn’t do so gently. Every single bone in his lying body aching, Macbeth supressed a scream and allowed himself to stay in this position for a few seconds. Fortunately, miraculously, the pain went away and Macbeth, being the man he was, immediately stood up again. At this point he gave up asking himself, how he got to this weird place and focused on finding a way to… well, somewhere else, preferrably without dying on the way.
Finally, he managed to see something different than darkness. A small glimpse of light, right in front of him, leading away from that goddamn cliff he just fell down. Slowly, carefully, Macbeth began to walk towards it.
Soon, the light grew brighter, transforming from an undefinable point to a somewhat ellipsoid shape. Getting bigger and bigger the closer he got, after just a few minutes of walking Macbeth stood right in front of this glowing, round… thing. Eager to get onward and find out what godforsaken place this was, Macbeth outstretched his hand and tried to touch the light.
His hand went right through.
Knowing about his depressing lack of alternatives, Macbeth took a big step forward.
After this, however short, time in complete darkness the sudden light and noise overwhelmed Macbeth. Closing his eyes, covering his ears Macbeth felt relief to have escaped the darkness. As the first shock of the noise and light fainted, he opened his eyes and looked around. His environment had changed completely. Now, the flat ground was substituted by a rocky, vast landscape as far as his eyes could see. As he looked upwards, he saw, that way up high there actually was an equally rocky ceiling. He was in a cave, brightened only by a dull, slighty reddish light.
“What is this place?“, he asked himself astoundedly. The next thing Macbeth perceived was that he was not alone. There were humans, he didn’t see very many in this rocky environment, but they were there, stumbling through man-sized circles of light that disappeared right behind them, closing their eyes, covering their ears. Macbeth wouldn’t get any answers from them. As he moved a bit to get a better view of this place, Macbeth discovered something he hadn’t seen before – a small pathway in the rocks, leading down to some kind of gate made of red metal, guarded by what looked like three human beings. With a frown, Macbeth started marching towards it. He would get his answers, whoever these people might be.
As he came closer he managed to see more details. The gate was at least three meters high and four meters wide, and two of the people guarding it were… well, they were odd, to say the least. Holding spears in their hands, their whole body was covered with red scales and sticking out of their foreheads were two, pointy horns. Macbeth froze. How could that be? What were these beings, and why was he here? He pulled himself together. He would get his answers. He was a king, at least. Even the three weird sisters were under his command and answered him when he asked, and whatever these things were, they would not make an exception. Faster than before, he continued walking.
Macbeth reached the gate within minutes.
The third man, the only one of them who actually looked human, watched Macbeth closely, as he was approaching. The man had a look of utter amazement and shock on his face. “You!”, he snarled. “About time you showed up!”
“Do I know you?”, Macbeth asked him, confused about the man’s reaction. His face seemed familiar, but Macbeth couldn’t remember where he’d seen it before.
The man seemingly became angry. He stared at Macbeth, then said: “Apparently not. Just call me the porter.”
“Well, what port is it you’re guarding? Where am I?”, Macbeth asked, eager to finally get answers. The porter’s smile was rather unsettling.
“You won’t believe, how satisfying this is, after all. You, Macbeth, great king of Scotland, are in hell.”
Macbeth took a step away from the porter. He was where? It did make sense, though. Macduff had killed him, and after all Macbeth had done…
Yet, he didn’t panic. Panicking was unworthy for a king, so he decided to try to get more answers.
“Well, who are you? Why are you guarding these gates?”
The porter’s smile went sour. “A long time ago, I was alive, just like you were. I was doing my job, the same one I am doing here, but sometimes… Sometimes the people trying to get through a gate aren’t really invited guests.
They didn’t care about the fact I was no threat to them. One of them simply struck me down with his sword, as he came through the gate they had decided to simply open themselves from the outside.
I woke up in a room, a man sitting in front of me. I had no clue, what was happening, but his smile alone was enough to make me shiver. Leaving me no time to ask any questions, he told me, he had been watching me – do you know, how creepy that sounded? – and he wanted to offer me a job I always desired.”
“You said it was a long time ago. How long, exactly, has it been since you were alive?”, asked Macbeth, interested in this odd man.
“It’s been…”. The porter looked puzzled. He turned around to one of the scaled men. “How long have I actually been here?”, he asked. With a surprisingly human voice, the guard answered: “Approximately, half an hour”.
“Oh, it’s been so short? What a coincidence, it’s almost like we two died at the same occasion”, the porter said, throwing a meaningful look at Macbeth, who still failed to see the connection and slowly began to lose interest in the porter. His counterpart, again, looked disappointed.
Macbeth tried to grasp the situation he was in. The past few years, he had been trying to consolidate his position as a king, he had been intrigueing, had been killing, had even been asking the witches about his future… yet, they betrayed him. A caesarean cut? Really? The next time he saw the witches, he would…
“What about the three weird sisters? Are they dead yet?”
The porter’s face went slack. “The three weird sisters…? Oh, you mean the witches you were asking for advice, which had literally everyone gossiping? They are not here, not yet, but king Malcolm”, he pleasurably emphasized this word, “had already caught them before he went on to destroy our… I mean, your castle. I don’t know, how they want to defend themselves, but there’s much at stake for them”. He burst out in laughter, which immediately died after seeing Macbeth’s dead-serious face.
The porter usually wasn’t taking so long with a single person. Behind Macbeth, a line had already started to form. “Get on with it, you two!”, someone shouted.
“I have one last question”, Macbeth told the porter. “King Duncan of Scotland, and Banquo… are they here?”
The porter rolled his eyes and was given a massive book by one of the scaled guards. Groaning under the weight, he flipped it open – the writing was almost unreadably small. “Are these the names of all the people, who went to hell?”, Macbeth asked worried.
“No, this is just A-D”, the porter answered, concentrating at the book. Macbeth froze. The porter saw it. “Humanity is a hopeless case”, he explained with a slight smirk. His fingers were sweeping over the lines. “No, I don’t see king Duncan here, and no Banquo, either”, he said.
Macbeth sighed with relief. Now, that everything he’d been fighting, maiming and murdering for had turned to dust in his hands, he could at least have a clearer concience, knowing, he wouldn’t meet any of his victims here. “I’m ready”, he said.
“Bring him through”, the porter ordered the scaled guards. They grabbed Macbeth, each by one arm. “Just so we’re clear: I do not have the slightest amount of sympathy for you, since it’s your fault, that I ended up in this place”, the porter sneered.
Macbeth raised an eyebrow in astonishment, and the porter sighed.