I am now midway along the road of my life’s path, lost in a metaphorical forest of winter where the heat has gone off, and facing down the three beasts of snow, ice and pure cold. A sickness begins to fall over me, as I realize where I must go, what threshold I must cross. I teeter on the Verge, ill, and know that I must descend down into the depths of the Underhouse, otherwise known as my basement. It may as well have a sign saying "Abandon all hope, ye who enter here," but I have no choice but to descend, to deal with the daunting inferno that is my boiler.
On the first level, there is Limbo. It is a liminal place which exists halfway between our world and the next. It is neither the pleasant surroundings of the house, nor the torment of the Underhouse proper. Limbo is the first circle as one descends the stairs, no longer safe in the living room, but not yet fully amidst the dirt below. Limbo also involves ducking under all the spiderwebs that hang from pipes that hang from the ceiling, Trinidadian music optional.
The second circle is Lust. It is a raw unchecked desire for the heat of passion, or really, any heat at all, because when the boiler stops working, one’s desires quickly run unchecked. In the circle of Lust, I race to entwine my body with that of another, again, mainly because it seems like a feasible way to keep warm.
The third circle is Gluttony, wherein I give myself over to a self-indulgence involving copious consumption of hot food and drink. The blazing curry flows down my gullet, followed later by hot cocoa, with no regard for anything but satiation of my appetites.
Entering the fourth circle, Greed, I see that my attitude toward material goods is in vain, and yet I am unable to control my own ceaseless avariciousness, as I begin to hoard all of the blankets and shawls available, interested only in claiming these promises of warmth for myself, with no regard for my fellow humans.
Wrath is the fifth circle, where I worry that my boiler itself might literally explode with anger, from burning far beyond safety after the automatic water feeder has failed to refill it. I dis the infernal device, now consumed with my own Wrath, wondering if the machine’s failure will be my downfall.
Is this Heresy, the sixth circle? To ignore the automated water gauge and just manually refill the boiler myself thrice a day? It is an affront to how the blasted things should work, to all we hold holy.
I embrace the seventh circle of Violence, attacking the water feeding gauge with a wrench, hoping to loosen whatever accursed profligates and demons are preventing the proper flow of water.
The eighth circle is Fraud, and I wonder if the automated gauge has been deliberately lying to me for some time. It sits, a pocket of evil amidst my water feed pipe, but water appears to once again pass through it when needed.
Woe is me! I find myself in the ninth circle, where Treachery abounds! The infernal water feeder, while I was sleeping, has flooded the entire boiler and well beyond. It takes half a day to empty the tanks and bail out the water, half a winter’s day during which we have no heat.
To escape this cold, I would climb down the very fur of Satan himself ...
I just can’t. Oh.
Seth Brown is a humor writer, the author of "It Happened In Rhode Island" and has a terrifying basement. His work appears weekly in the Transcript, and weakly on RisingPun.com.