^ The Fifth Circle, about six months before the London Underground was completed. The lone boat was just not enough to accomodate the growing number of sinners.
At some point in the 1860s, Hell was brought kicking and screaming in to relative modernity. Down on the Fifth Circle, colloquially known as Anger, the river Styx had become backed up. With the only mode of transport being Phlegyas taking people across the Stygian marsh in his run-down skiff, congestion was at an all-time high. As fortune would have it however, a decade prior, the Metropolitan Railway had been granted permission to build a new underground network after the streets of London had become mired in human excrement and disease thanks to The Great Stink. After a few meetings between Hell CEO Lucifer H. Satan and the Met Railway, it was decided that it would be in the best interests of both Hell and the capital city to establish the London Underground.
It was there in the Circle of Anger where the Tube (so named after being likened to a catheter for London’s waste) was first opened and remains to this day. Indeed, in the 21st century, Londoners still find that their current emotions subside to sheer, indelible rage as they enter the sub-terrain railway. At rush-hour, the sweltering masses funeral march their way in to the metallic hate-carriages that line the network, granting the desperate commuters a daily vision of their future damnation. Crammed in together like satanic sardines smoked by the permeating heat rising from the lower circles, personal space remains the refuge of those brave enough to steer the demonic trains.
And yet, there are passengers who try to engineer as much room for themselves as possible – not in some noble plight to ensure that they can breathe better or help someone else out. No, no. These damned-to-be cretins need enough space to read their free copy of Eternal Retribution Daily (commonly referred to as “Metro”) or to watch the latest instalment of Scripted Reality TV Show on their tablet. It’s almost as if they’re oblivious to the fact that everyone else is already standing cheek to cheek in every uncomfortable sense of the word. But maybe things wouldn’t be quite so bad if there wasn’t some heretic leaning up against the handrail in the centre of the carriage, therefore preventing anyone else from clinging on for dear life as they hurtle through Styx at an unreliable speed. Or if that vast expanse between all the seats had been filled by the wrathful who staunchly refuse to move down the carriage. No, that would all be far too reasonable for the Fifth Circle and its visitors.
Indeed, the London Underground is the price we must all pay for our constant daily trespasses. It serves as a reminder of the sins we have committed in our wicked city lives, preparing us with a glimpse of our eternal fate. It shuffles us from the outer-regions of the Big Smoke right in to the central toilet bowl remnants of the Great Stink so that we can continue to waste our fleeting remaining years on middle-of-the-road toil and stress, all the while preparing us for our ultimate fate.
What is that fate you ask? Damned to spend eternity below the surface, surrounded by nothing but other commuters.
Truly, Hell is other people.