May 122012

Popee the Clown. Popee the Entertainer. This thing goes by many names. One of those names is likely Popee the Lord of the Flies.

Popee is in Hell. It isn’t quite the sort of Hell we see in Dante or whatever. I’m sure this is one of the lower circles of Hell, but this isn’t a matter of people joining together in mutual suffering– their punishments streamlined and mass-produced to be appropriate for a wide range of similar sins. This is a personalized Hell, not unlike the punishments of Greek myth. If you piss of the Gods with your hubris, they create a custom scenario of suffering that only you will ever suffer.

Popee and his dog companion must have been amongst the greatest of mortal sinners, since they’ve received an elaborate set-up for their eternal torment. They’re isolated at a circus, seemingly oblivious to the fact that they’re even dead, much less in Hell. Their only constant companion is a frog who is likely some demonic familiar placed there to keep watch on them when the various Princes of Hell are unable to pay attention. Each day Popee and his companion go about their business, playing games and training for the show that will never come. But their antics always lead to an escalating series of assaults, backstabbing, and murder.

These two souls are incapable of going about their day without turning on one another and attempting to kill one another, or at the very least “innocently” and “inadvertently” placing one another in harm’s way, and it never ends well. Without fail, someone is maimed, dismembered, or left for dead. And the next day whomever died rises back up, only to repeat the same sequence of slaughter again.

This is the sort of unending, inescapable punishment along the lines of Sisyphus. That dude pushes a rock up a hill every day, only to have it roll back down. Popee and his dog murder one another, only to come back the next day ready to die and murder again. And this isn’t Looney Tunes. They don’t stretch out and bend and flex with each blow. They bleed and cry and shudder in fear with every incoming bullet. They aren’t just doomed to kill one another, they’re also doomed to feel that impending dread that comes with facing one’s fate.

But their suffering doesn’t end here. Satan himself has taken a liking to these souls. He takes the form of another “performer” or “clown,” taunting his prey with the obvious allusion to his guise as Lucifer the Morning Star by wearing a sun-like mask. And with his appearance the punishments doled upon Popee and the dog only escalate.

Before Lucifer’s appearance, the suffering demonstrated was relatively tame. Sure, swallowing a bullet and shitting it out, only to have your friend swallow said shit bullet and shit it out again, is pretty damn freaky, but it’s also self-inflicted. Popee and the dog only have themselves to blame for that sort of torment since they chose to play around with guns. Once Lucifer arrives, there’s that looming presence of the other . Lucifer chooses the form by which today’s suffering will manifest. Saw oneself in half with a chainsaw? Popee would never dream of such a feat, but Lucifer’s taunting results in just that.

But the most horrifying act happens in episode 20 of the series. Lucifer hypnotizes the other characters to act like birds. Innocent enough, but once Popee gets into the act it becomes a duel of wills. Popee tries to make Lucifer act like a dog. Lucifer counters by trying to turn Popee into a cat. They start to stab themselves with daggers in order to ward off the hypnosis, turning the ordeal into an orgy of self-mutilation. Their hypnosis attempts de-evolve, as they try to make their enemy into increasingly primitive life forms. Finally, they hypnotize one another into worms, and the aforementioned “birds” swoop down and devour Lucifer-as-The-Worm. Popee is able to turn his own hypnosis upon the “birds,” mesmerizing them into skeletons, but the resulting celebration reveals that Lucifer’s eyes are still alive, and their last action is to hypnotize Popee into becoming Lucifer.

Bam. Popee is no longer himself. On this day, he learns of the worst form of suffering: losing one’s very existence. Popee isn’t just killed, he’s robbed of his very existence as Lucifer’s being imprints itself upon his very soul. Sure, Popee will rise back up the next day with his identity intact, but he has suffered a fate worse than death.

And Lucifer smiles.

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