Pardon me in advance for the poor spacing in this for now
Circle 10: The DAYDREAMERS
By Forrest O. Gulden
Circle 10 The Daydreamers
Dante and Virgil continue across the ice towards Satan. However, just as Dante turns to view the King of Hell, all the ice around the poets shatters. The bodies of the damned, once frozen in ice, now flow freely but cannot change their course. They are swept up in a giant wave that eventually swallows both Dante and Virgil. When Dante recovers, he is in a land of Hell unknown even to Virgil. Here Dante sees a spirit whom he recognizes, KATIE PERKINS.
Dante questions Katie as to the purpose of this level. He discovers that it is for the DAYDREAMERS, those souls who, in life, both dreamed of greatness and yet did nothing to achieve the goals they sought. It is the level for people who waste God's gift of life by doing nothing with it. It is for those people who shun God's gift by rejecting the world he created for a false dream land. It is for those people who, while living, had no purpose, no meaning, and no sense of God.
The punishments in this level are strange and unique. Each person is forced to live out a nightmare, which begins first as a blissful dream but quickly degenerates to death. For Katie, she is kissing a handsome movie star, only to have him transform into COREY SESIN, a demon of Hell, and be devoured. For SHANNON LOWE, a childhood friend of Dante's, it is to be walking in space, only to have her face mask crack, leaving her without oxygen and with only pain. For TIM HOFFMAN, another friend of Dante's, it is to be living a dream of being a hero, fencing against a large number of opponents, until being fatally struck down.
After learning all he can from this level, Dante looks to find Virgil, whom he was separated from. Unfortunately, JANA LANCIONE, the demon who presides over this level, has deemed Virgil to be a dreamer, and has begun to torture him by putting him into the Odyssey, his own play. Virgil becomes Odysseus, and is forced to hear the wails of the sirens. Unfortunately, being a nightmare, Virgil heads towards them. Dante, after arguing with Jana, risks his life to pray for divine intervention. Beatrice herself appears and saves Virgil. For risking himself to save a soul from pain, Dante is given one wish. Dante, recognizing the debt he still owes Virgil, requests that Virgil be allowed into Heaven. Beatrice agrees, but states that Virgil must first spend a long time in Purgatory. Dante concedes, and all three continue to Purgatory.
"On march the banners of the King of Hell,"
my Master said. "Toward us. Look straight ahead:
can you make him out at the core of the frozen shell?"
And I turned my head, filled with dreadful thoughts,
5 wondering what kind of terror I would see,
if I would die, my courage all for naught?
But I never saw Satan, or any other demon like;
instead I felt a tremble shaking the ice.
I saw the ice shattering and breaking in piercing spikes.
10 My master and I wavered, holding balance on an iceberg
as we watched the souls of the damned fall
into the icy tempest that beneath us surged.
We saw them crack, snapping in the bluish glow
that the water held. Free to move for the first
15 time in countless eons, they could not, terror held them so.
And then a wave, a wall of fire and ice, came.
It swept up the souls that were in its path, and too
late my Master noticed we too were game.
It swept us up, I bundled in Virgel's arms to protect me.
20 But that did not save me from hearing the tortured
wails my Master let out as we tried to flee.
My head spun wildly, just as the water swirled.
I could not take it, so I hurled.
When my senses were regained and light shone in my eyes,
25 my Master pointed out to me a most placid sight.
It was, no doubt, some demon in disguise.
A beautiful woman, clad in shimmering white,
stood before my Master and I. She pointed to me,
and the world dissolved, and instantly I was filled with fright.
30 I lost all sense of sight, of feel, of taste and smell.
I had nothing but my memories from the past,
And my nightmares of the future; my dreams of Hell.
My hearing and sight came back quite soon, but move I could not.
I saw the white demon in her flowing robes and hair.
35 I wondered how one so beautiful could burn in a place so hot.
And smiling cruelly at my unspoken thought, she stared.
I followed her gaze, and what horror I saw!
I had to wonder how badly this soul must have erred.
I saw a spirit, one I recognized from
40 days gone past. Katie Perkins, a little vixen
from my youth, lived here for what she had done.
She was kissing a tall and handsome man,
with black hair and a gentle caring look. I
remembered him as a movie star; she had been a fan.
45 She kissed him deeply, passionately, seeming to
draw the fire that burned so deep in Hell to their
lips. They caressed each other, touching as lovers do.
But then the man began to change. His face, once
passionate and gentle, became a mockery.
50 A mockery of a face, of a man, of Katie's love.
His transformation continued, with his lips locked
on Katie's. His hands no longer caressed, but pulled
and tore at her skin. He couldn't be stopped.
He finished looking like some great gargoyle,
55 complete with wings, claws, and a horrid stone face.
It was a terrifying sight, and my blood boiled.
He ripped her apart, pulled her limb from limb.
He ate her, swallowing her arm, then her leg
and all the while she was screaming in the dim
60 light that Hell permitted. Last of all he tore
off her head, and, hand grasped about her hair,
lowered it into his gaping mouth. The more
she screamed, the more he smiled. He swallowed and
she was gone, except for the burbling of the demon's
65 digestive juices eating away at her head.
A few minutes later she was back, and I,
having found my voice, attempted to question her.
She gladly agreed, because here in Hell she would die.
The demon in white permitted, and when it spoke
70 I knew at once who it must be. It was the forgotten
beast of Hell, a changer of shape, a terrible joke.
"You may talk, my living friend, so long as you
do not try to ease her pain. She got here for what
she did, and I am sure that is nothing that is new."
75 I nodded at Jana Lancione, the demon, knowing what
it meant, knowing that Katie deserved her punishment.
It was painful to have to watch her torture, but
I knew it must be so. Thanking the demon,
I turned to Katie, fighting my pain, thankful
80 I did not have to live with hers. A strong woman,
I thought to myself, as I began to question her.
"What is this place," I said aloud, "that causes you
such torment? When my marshmallows in cocoa stir,
even they seem scarcely as pained, despite the fact
85 that the spoon is their nightmare, the embodiment
of their fears, the vicious swirler, the gruesome hack?"
"Ah, Dante, its amazing how true your metaphor
stands to this place. For this land is indeed the worst
nightmare of its inhabitants. It's filled with gore,
90 blood, monsters, heights, whatever is needed to inflict
punishment on those who live here. You saw my last
dream, with the Sesin demon covering me with spit
as he swallowed me. That was one dream, and bad as
it may be, it is but one, one of all eternity.
95 It is a nightmare where all I can think is, 'it has
me.' I know it is just a dream, but that does not
lessen the fear or ease the pain that rips across my
soul. Oh, why did I send my soul to this horrid lot!"
And she fell to sobbing, and no more could I ask.
100 Instead I looked around, and saw what I could see.
Everything there, in pain, seemed to bask.
I saw a soul, Shannon Lowe, hovering in the air,
her body suspended from unseen strings. And
as I looked, I saw a suit, all white and bare.
105 Inside it was Shannon, in the space suit I saw,
but the glass at the front was broken. She struggled
for air but none was there and I saw her fall.
Her lungs had burst, her eyes exploded, no light
of life filled her hollow shell. She died in a dream,
110 A horrible dream, for her life had formed her plight.
I looked away, and immediately my mind
looked into another dream. I saw Tim Hoffman fencing
against a score of others, fighting out of his bind.
He was powerful, and aggressive, striking
115 away the swords of his opponents, winning
the match with a sharp sword and a tongue that was biting.
And suddenly he was stabbed from behind. Down
he fell, his body bleeding as his enemies' swords
continued to pierce his limp form. He seemed to drown
120 in his own blood. It flowed from his wounds like water
from a spring, like blood in a river, like liquid
pain. His suffering was so extreme I had to falter
And then the true and complete nature of what
was here sprang out at me. This place was for the dreamers,
125 those souls who in life dreamt of greatness but grew a gut
In their pursuit of not pursuing what they could have.
It was for those who did nothing to achieve their
dreams, for the fools who didn't know what they could have
if they would have worked in life as they worked in
130 their dreams. Those people who wasted God's gifts, who
sacrificed their future for a cheap garbage bin.
If a man used a dream to escape, so he is here.
If a man dreamt of a better life, where he himself
was God, so he is here. Everyone for whom drinking beer
135 was an escape from God's gift came here. Anyone
who dishonored God or did not love God's gift of life
came here in death, to see what it is like to be shunned.
This land was quite literally the worst nightmare
of its inhabitants. It was for the dreamers,
140 those who lived treating reality as life's spare.
This land was for those who used their imagination
to escape their lives. It was for those who shunned
God's gift in pursuit of a nicer station.
This land was for the daydreamers, the ones who
145 lost all sense of life, of purpose, and of God.
It was for those for whom nothing was all they could do.
Concluding this, I turned to find Virgil, from
whom I had been separated. But see him I
could not. He had vanished, and my heart fell numb.
150 "Do not worry," Lancione said to me.
You will be allowed to leave. Though you may come back, it
would not be right to kill you here; I will let you be.
"Fiendish demon!" I cried. "I do not worry what
you might do to me! I worry for Virgil, my guide
155 and Master, who taught me well and built my hut."
"Then still, you do not need to worry," she said
in a voice that made me shiver. "You can do nothing
to help him; he is mine as surely as he is dead."
"How is he yours? He lives in Limbo, and although
160 he is a pagan, he is a virtuous one, and this place is not
for him. He must come with me when I turn to go."
"Truly not, handsome poet, for he is a dreamer,
and as such he stays here. If you try to take him,
you also will remain here, you foolish beaver."
165 And at that I fell to my knees and prayed for help,
for I knew I could not save Virgil on my own, and
that even for praying I could be killed like a whelp.
I don't know for how long I prayed, with the threats
from the demon sounding in my ears, but however
170 long it was it was worth it. I owed Virgil a debt.
A great light opened up above, searing the eyes
of all who were used to the thick darkness of Hell.
It was a light, pure and white, like a star in the sky.
Out of the light strode a figure more beautiful than
175 any I could imagine. A proud woman, strong
and delicate, walked toward me. Tall and thin,
I knew at once who she must be. "Dear Beatrice,"
I cried, "Thank your blessed heart for not abandoning
me. I thought the fires of Hell would burn me to a crisp."
180 "There was nothing to fear, Dante, as your will is
mine. Whatever you want, I want, and wherever
you go, I go, and will protect you. Everything's His,
for He made everything. And as I serve him, all
that is his is mine. You are mine, O wondrous
185 bard. I will let nothing in Hell cause your downfall."
"Thank you sweet lady. But pray, tell me if there
be something you can do to help Virgil, my guide,
my Master. If he is tortured my spirit's bare."
"Fear not, O brave one, he will be saved. This one
190 who offends both of us so will be punished,
and then your will, my will, and God's will will be done."
And suddenly Virgil was before me, and Jana
was gone. She vanished into a dream of her own,
to be peeled and eaten like a giant banana.
195 Virgil, who had been gasping, quickly quieted down.
He told us of his dream, living in his own story,
of hearing the Sirens and being lured to their pound.
Of hearing music wonderfully pure, of seeing
glories untold of before. He spoke a volume,
200 one I would that I could remember, but being
flustered and quite terrified, Virgil's greatest work
might well have then died. But still I learned how he had
been drawn towards them, how their songs had been a jerk,
a sudden pull on his soul that brought him near pain.
205 There is no place, he tried to explain, for reason
inside a dream, it is simply the wrong domain.
Beatrice, dear sweet Beatrice, recognizing my
generous act as the heroic one it may have
been, offered me one wish. I easily knew what to buy.
210 "May I have the freedom, the freedom of joy
and eternal bliss, that was to be mine given
away? For surely I have been hero less than boy.
I owe Virgil my life, and he owes me his soul,
but I do not want his soul beneath mine. I
215 want him with me in heaven, that is my goal."
"Thy will will be done, courtly poet. But there
is a price, and that is Virgil's repentance. For
a long time he will have to stand in Purgatory,
and for a long time you will wait for him."
220 "I do not mind," I replied, "For I have all
eternity. And if he is happy, it is him
who I owe my thanks to. I would not be here
were it not for him, and I would not have myself
in heaven were he not coming to join me there."
225 "So be it," she said. "It will be so. Then come
Dante, come Virgil, we will travel together, for
I am happy, and need companions to help me hum.
So we left the kingdom of eternal night,
Singing a song of our future, of our glorious flight.
This level is the level that made Dante famous for using modern terms and slang. Indeed, Dante goes so far as to write this cantos in English using slang terms conceived almost eight hundred years after his death. That is part of the allure of this cantos, and it is also one of the reasons why Rush Limbaugh has taken to calling Dante a liberal alien who went back in time to promote letting criminals off the hook easily.
The more widespread source of appeal for this cantos deals with Dante's frequent lapses in sincerity. In parts, Dante's dialogue is hilarious and, while not witty, does provide the reader with a good laugh. Also, this is the cantos where Dante promotes himself even more than in all the other cantos. In fact, Dante recently admitted to Connie Chung (in an off-camera moment) that he was considering writing a part where he denounces Virgil as a "garbage-scraping dirt-feeding bottom dweller of the poet community." Virgil was then to reply, "Only when compared to you, learned bard." However, Dante's decision not to include that invariably increased his popularity, so although some of Dante did not translate to the paper he wrote on, enough of it did for the entire Inferno to be a good story. In fact, the only bad thing ever written about Dante's last cantos is that it has a tendency to ramble on in the "NOTES" section.
Line 23: hurled
Hurled is a term from the late twentieth century meaning "to vomit."
Line 40: Katie Perkins
Katie Perkins was a school yard friend of Dante's.
Lines 48-65: Corey Sesin
This is the demon Dante uses to devour Katie. Oddly enough, Dante
does this to Katie not to degrade her by having her in Hell, but to
punish Corey Sesin, who, like Katie, was a childhood friend of
Dante's. Historians believe Dante made Corey a demon because he
believed Corey had supernatural mental powers, as well as a really
weird tendency to somehow explode and reform when he got mad.
Line 75: Jana Lancione
Jana was another friend of the young Dante who he put in here for
lack of another name.
Lines 83-86: the Marshmallow routine.
This seems to have been Dante's idea of a joke, but we're not sure.
Line 103: Shannon Lowe
Shannon was, once again, a friend of Dante's. She is here because
she had a tendency to be really spaced out in some classes, and also
because she didn't care if Dante used her name.
Line 112: Tim Hoffman
This was definitely Dante's idea of a joke, as Tim Hoffman was
anything but a dreamer. However, if Tim, a good friend of Dante's,
did have dreams, apparently Dante thought that Tim would see
himself as a superhero of sorts.
Line 116: Biting tongue
This does not refer to any penchant of Tim's but to his ability to
always have something witty to say.
Line 123-146: the Explanation of the level.
This is the part of the cantos where Dante explains what he has
called, "My greatest Masterpiece." Although it tends to ramble,
Dante realized that, to mirror the subconscious he was trying to
reflect, he must make this section disorganized. Apparently, if that
was his real goal, he succeeded.
Lines 147-164: the Argument between Jana and Dante.
This is where Dante sets the stage to call himself the greatest
hero and the greatest poet in the history of man. The actual
events are self-explanatory.
Line 155: hut
In this part of the Cantos, Dante refers to his mistaken belief that
Virgil invented poetry. Dante means that if Virgil would not have
invented it, he would not have a house, or hut, to live in.
Line 164: beaver
This refers to the animal beaver. As far as historians know, it has
little or no special meaning whatsoever. However, it has been
suggested that Dante believed in reincarnation and he thought he
was a busy little creature in another life. Unfortunately, this idea is
not very popular.
Lines 165-170: Dante prays.
This is the one and only part of his trilogy where Dante
admits that he is not omnipotent. However, Dante more than
makes up for it by having a high angel call him all sorts of
Line 194: banana
This reference to Jana Lancione's torture refers simply to the fact
that banana is the just about the only thing in the English language
that rhymes with Jana.
Lines 170-229: the Big finale
This is where Dante flatters himself more than in all other
literary works (not counting his) on the face of the Earth.
However, due to the wonderful beauty of this cantos, Dante
may have deserved it.