Hell Ain't a Bad Place to Be

by Bulletproof

Sin City

During his final moments of life, Sombra felt an intense, burning pain welling up within his body. He looked down at his hooves, only seeing them for a brief moment before they, and everything within his sight, were replaced with a white light. He started to scream, but his cries of agony quickly faded into silence as the pain lifted, and Sombra started to feel light.

A shape started to form in the light in front of him. It appeared to be a face; rather, it appeared to be his own face, looking back at him.

Sombra suddenly became aware that he was lying down on a smooth, cool surface, and that the face was nothing more than his reflection. He stood up slowly, his body strangely already in tune with its newfound lightness. Though his hooves were planted firmly on the ground underneath him, he felt as though he were floating in the air at the same time.

As he looked into the reflective surface, he noticed that he was no longer wearing his royal cape or his crown, and his eyes were no longer glowing with his dark magic, but were instead their normal, red selves. His mane and tail had also lost their smoke-like quality. The only oddity about him that remained was his horn, which was curved and pointed and red.

In addition to himself, the surface also reflected the seemingly endless whiteness that surrounded him, making it look and feel like he was floating in an infinite void. The only oddity in the void aside from him was a tall white throne with golden edges. It was smooth and flawless, and its back came to a point, on top of which something like a small star (that is, an actual star from the night sky, not the crude five-pointed representation thereof) rested, shining brightly.

Sombra could not say for certain if the throne had been there the entire time, nor could he say if the alicorn that sat on it had been sitting there since the throne appeared (if it did, in fact, appear). She was a tall mare, taller than even Celestia, with a coat to match the white surroundings. Her mane and tail were both a deep red, and floating in front of her was a brown book that had to be larger than he was, with brilliant golden lettering on the cover. He was not a humble stallion by any stretch of the imagination, but even Sombra felt compelled to kneel before her awesome presence. While he may not have believed in her during his life, he knew that this mare could only be the goddess.

"State your name," she said. Her voice seemed to echo in the nothingness, making it sound as though she was speaking with a thousand voices.

"My name is Sombra," he replied in a deep, calm voice, "ruler of the Crystal Emp—“

“You are ruler of nothing here!” the goddess said, her voice continuing to rumble like thunder in the distance long after she finished speaking. The book that floated before her opened up, its pages magically turning by the hundreds until finally coming to a stop. “Your title in the mortal realm means nothing to me here. The only things that matter to me are your deeds, good or bad, which are recorded in the book.”

Sombra rose and looked into the eyes of the alicorn. “Then I suppose that book of yours will have quite a lot to say about me.” He smiled.

He did not notice when it started happening, but the star that sat atop the throne began to change color, from a whitish-blue to a light red. It seemed to point towards him like a spotlight, surrounding him in its light, cutting him off from the calm white light of the void.

“Sombra,” the goddess started, ignoring what he had said, “do you feel any remorse for your actions against the crystal ponies?”

Sombra’s smile vanished as he stared intently at the goddess. “No.”

“Do you have any final words before you face your eternal punishment?”

After thinking for a moment, Sombra said, “Do you know what one of your precious crystal ponies once told me?”

The goddess looked on, blankly.

“He told me that my existence was proof that you could not be real. That no loving goddess would ever allow somepony like me to do the things I did all those years ago. He was a good kid, but after he lost his faith in you he committed his life to wickedness. He died in his sins, and I am certain that I shall meet him again where I am going.”

“What is your point?”

Sombra chuckled, as though the answer should have been obvious. “I agree with him. How could a loving goddess such as you allow your ponies to suffer at my hooves the way that they did? Were you powerless to stop me, or did you just not care to?”

While the goddess continued to look down at him, saying nothing, Sombra felt the floor beneath him start to grow warm as a ring of fire appeared around him.

“The way I see it, you deserve to go to Hell just as much as I do. Your inaction alone has caused far more suffering than I could ever have hoped to accomplish.”

If the goddess ever did reply, the roar of the flames drowned it out as they engulfed Sombra completely, leaving nothing behind.

He wasn’t sure exactly what he should have expected, but Sombra was definitely surprised when he appeared in what he naturally assumed to be Hell. All the stories of the place led him to believe that he might have been chained to a rock while countless demons gnawed at his flesh for all eternity, or that he would be thrown into a lake of eternal fire.

Instead, he found himself standing on a dirt path, which lead to a large city wall. To his left and right, the grey stone wall seemed to stretch into infinity, while behind him there was a vast expanse of flat, dying plains. The grass was brown and trampled, and there wasn’t a sign of living vegetation in sight. The sky was red, no doubt thanks to the sun, which was the color of blood, and number of thick black clouds which resembled smoke drifted slowly through the air.

The temperature was mild, though it was a bit humid.

It certainly did not look like a pleasant place, but it was a far cry from popular visions of Hell.

Sombra almost did not notice the wooden door in the wall. It was a rather large door in and of itself, but compared to the overall size of the wall it might as well have been a speck of dirt. With no other option in sight, he walked towards the door, and saw that there was a unicorn guard standing on either side of it. One was a mare and the other a stallion, but beyond their gender-specific physiques they looked almost identical. Their coats were orange, their manes and tails were made of fire, and they each wore a set of coal-black armor, complete with helmets. As Sombra approached, they walked towards each other, meeting near the middle of the door and crossing their spears in front of him. As he got closer he could see that their eyes were red and shaped like a snake’s eyes.

“State your name,” said the stallion.

Sombra growled. “Didn’t I already go through this with her?” he asked, pointing upwards.

“The goddess only determines whether you go to Heaven or Hell. We still have to get you properly sorted here.”

The former king sighed and told them his name. The guards looked at each other for a moment before the stallion declared, “Noes goes!” and placed his hoof on his nose.

“What!” the mare exclaimed. “We can’t decide everything with noes goes!”

The stallion, still with his hoof on his nose, chuckled. “You’re just mad you didn’t have it when you were a kid.”

“No, I’m annoyed because it’s an extremely juvenile way of doing things.”

“Yeah, well, how should we decide things? Arm wrestle?”

The stallion flexed, and while his muscles were not much to speak of the mare still conceded, rolling her eyes and groaning. “Fine.” She looked toward Sombra. “Alright sir, if you would please follow me.” She turned and knocked her spear against the wooden door, looked back at him and added, “But not too close,” as the door started to open.

This was, Sombra thought, Hell’s last chance to impress him. He was almost certain that on the other side of that gate he was going to find tortured ponies lying on the ground, or trying to run away, while devils and demons flew around striking them with long, flaming whips or jabbing them with pitchforks.

He was almost disappointed by what he actually saw.

The gate opened, revealing a grey cobblestone street, lined on either side with similarly colored stone or wood or brick buildings, built close together. Above the doors of some of the buildings were hanging signs, denoting it as a place of business. In his immediate line of sight, Sombra spotted a barber, a small grocery with mostly-fresh fruits sitting outside on display, a post office, and at least seven bars.

But what was more surprising than the street and the buildings were the ponies; there were dozens of them, walking down the street, going in and out of the shops, talking amongst each other. Little ponies, their coats and manes as bright and colorful as ever, trotting around without a care in the world. It was almost as though they did not even know they were in Hell.

Sombra blinked. Come to think of it—

“I know what you’re thinking,” the guard said, “and yes, this is definitely Hell.” Sombra raised an eyebrow. “No, I’m not a mind reader. Everypony thinks it. Even I did when I first got here. I’ve even had some poor souls start rejoicing because they thought they got sent to Heaven by mistake.”

They walked as she talked, and as they passed through the gate Sombra saw that the sky from within the wall was just like the sky outside the wall. He didn’t know why he thought it would be any different, but he couldn’t exactly say he was already seeing what he had expected to see.

“So if this place is the eternal punishment for our sins, where exactly is the punishment?”

“Oh, don’t worry. It’ll come.” The guard stopped in front of a chariot, which was attached to two pegasus ponies that had an appearance similar to that of the guards. Her horn flashed yellow, and a piece of paper magically appeared before her, which she examined for a moment before saying something to the pegasi. She then got on and gestured for him to do the same. She continued talking as they were lifted into the air.

“At first Hell might not seem all that different from being alive. Oh, it takes a little bit of getting used to, for sure, but it beats having little ponies in red pajamas poking you with their horns for all eternity, right?”

Sombra looked out over the city as they flew. It seemed to stretch on in the same fashion for an eternity. He guessed that it would have to be a big city for all the damned to live there.

“But it isn’t that simple. Your punishment might not be obvious at first, but it slowly sinks in that there is something about living here that just does not seem right to you. They never tell you what it is, of course. You have to figure it out on your own.” The guard sighed and looked out over the cityscape. “Your number one desire might be denied to you, and while you might think that you’d be able to cope, the longer you stay here the stronger your desire gets. And a pony can only last so long before they finally snap.”

“And what happens then?”

“Once a pony’s finally snapped, he has to leave the city for good. Those ponies are sent out into parts unknown.” The guard shrugged. “Who knows what happens to them out there? All I know is, once they’re sent out, they never come back.”

Most of the rest of the flight was spent in silence, and Sombra took the time to ponder all that the guard had told him. From what he’d seen so far, he gathered that he would be living as a lowly civilian, which might have been a far cry from his status in life as the ruler of an entire empire, but his real punishment could not be that simple, could it?

“We’re almost there,” said the guard after several minutes.

“Where, exactly, are we going?”

“To your new house, of course.”

The chariot landed on a street below. It was indistinguishable from any other street that Sombra had seen so far, as all of the buildings in Hell looked mostly the same.

“18351 Andras Lane,” the guard said as she gestured for Sombra to exit the chariot. She walked up to the door of a two-story wooden house. It was an awfully narrow house, with another similar-looking house on either side of it. The wood was rotting and the curtains on the windows were tattered. There was a staircase on its side that led up to the second story. There was no yard at all, but only a sidewalk separating the house from the street.

“I know that this isn’t exactly what you are used to, but there are worse places to live here. Well, if you could call it that.”

Sombra scoffed. “At least it has two stories.”

“Oh, about tha-“

The guard was cut off when a bucket landed on her head, splashing water on the ground around her.

“Haha, yes!” somebody exclaimed from above. Sombra looked up to see a creature, which was in and of itself a jumbled mess of various other creatures, leaning out of the second story window. Before he could react, it jumped down and landed in between him and the guard. “Let’s just try and see this city keep me from having fun!”

The strange newcomer nudged Sombra with his elbow, which looked as though it belonged on a lion rather than a… whatever the hell he was. “What do you think? Should we ditch the fuzz and head on down to O’Hurley’s for a couple of pints?”

Sombra was about to say something when the bucket on the guard’s head suddenly exploded. The guard’s horn was glowing yellow and orange, and she looked quite pissed. “Discord, you’ve been given warnings about this kind of thing.” She took off her helmet, her appearance magically changing while she did so. Now, she was light purple-coated with a white mane and tail, both of which were streaked with lavender, and her eyes were light pink. She checked over her helmet for a second before putting it back on, her demonic look reappearing with it.

Discord crossed his arms. “Yes, and they are all thoughtfully filed away in my cabinet under ‘Things I Couldn’t Care Less About.’”

The guard’s horn glowed again and a small slip of paper appeared before her. “Well here’s another one. Pretty soon they’re going to stop being warnings, you know.”

The paper levitated towards Discord, who snatched it out of the air. “You know, I still think it’s bogus that your powers work, but mine don’t.”

“That’s because I never used mine for evil in life.”

Discord snickered. “Oh yes, you used other things for your evil, didn’t you?”

They continued to argue about something, but Sombra wasn’t paying attention after what the guard said. He looked down at the ground and spotted a small rock. He concentrated as hard as he could, but try as he might, it would not move.

“No,” he muttered to himself. “Not even a pebble?”


He looked back up, but did not respond.

“As I was trying to say earlier, you don’t exactly get the whole two-story to yourself. It’s kind of crowded down here, and so we have to split a lot of the properties up amongst ponies. Discord here is living on the second story of the house.”

“Whoa whoa whoa, hold your horses!” Discord exclaimed. “Sombra? As in, the Sombra? You’re going to be my downstairs neighbor?”

“I suppose I am.”

Discord slapped his knee and laughed with glee. “That is so great! I am a huge, huge fan of your work. I think you and I are going to have a lot to talk about.” He put an arm around Sombra, who glared at his new neighbor with contempt.

“One more thing before I go,” the guard said, once again magically summoning some paper, which she gave to Sombra. It was a somewhat thick booklet, which read “Welcome to Hell” on the front.

“This is our welcome packet. You should read it so that you’ll know a little bit more about this place as you get settled in.” She stepped back into the chariot. “My name is Charmer, by the way, and, well… Welcome to Hell.”

With that, the pegasi took off again.

Sombra looked at the welcome packet and opened it to the table of contents.

“What are you doing?” Discord asked.

“Reading the packet, like she said.”


Sombra silently asked himself the same question.

Discord took the booklet away from him and tossed it down on the sidewalk in front of the house. “Nobody here wastes their time with this crap. Come on, you and me are going to go and get our drink on! I’m buying!”

Sombra, against his better judgment, went along, wondering why he could not command his hooves to stop as the two of them walked three doors down to the bar.

“Master! After one thousand years, he has finally arrived!”

The cloaked figure that the pony was addressing did not turn around to acknowledge him, but instead very quietly stated, “I thought I asked you to never call me that. It makes me uncomfortable.”

The pony stammered. “O-of course. I apologize.”

“It is of no matter.”

The cloaked figure stood silent for a moment, as the mare looked on, waiting patiently for him to speak.

“Very good. I am quite overjoyed by this news,” the figure said, stoically. “Let us get somepony on our side close to him, shall we?”

“That is the best part, mas- urm… What I mean is, somebody on our side is already close to him.”

After another moment of silence, the figure said, “This pleases me. Now please, leave me be. I wish to be alone for a moment.”

The pony bowed, and exited without another word.

“Well well,” said the figure, looking out over the city of Hell through cracked glass. “It took you long enough to get here, my king.”