In life, we are plagued by the uncertainty of an afterlife, and it is often expected that when we die, everything will suddenly make sense. But when a group of strangers, similar only in their time of death, find themselves in the afterlife, they are faced with more questions than ever before. Are they in Heaven or Hell? If they’re in Heaven, why is there a Nazi wandering around? Why are there no children? If they are in Hell, what universal law did they break? Is there a way to repent and move on to a better eternity? At least one man seems to have some answers. Marcus, a Roman dead for 2,000 years, gains the group’s trust by leading them through the perils of their new reality. But soon it becomes clear that Marcus is only telling them half the story.
L. A. Barnes is public librarian in the southern US. She is a Nerdist podcast listening, South Park loving, Twin Peaks conspiracy theorizing, Stephen King reading and Joss Whedon worshiping geek. The Pit is her first novel. She plans to explore the Watchmaker’s universe through four more novels.
IN SID, NADIA, HEINRICH AND Pati’s absence, Alex’s Tribe grew. The 50 Japanese tsunami survivors joined them after the fight with Marcus and the guards. In this context, ‘joined’ refers to inserting themselves into the tribe uninvited and replacing the dominant language (English) with a new one (Japanese). Regardless of the verbs involved, the new tribe members intended to accompany the original group through Hell.
First Nadia stood up on a boulder and announced that Heinrich would be coming with them. This was met with cheers and then translated into Japanese to be met with more cheers. Next, Nadia announced that their destination was a fire approximately a mile from the Camp. There they would meet Deborah, Misha and their group. Nadia stressed the importance of this opportunity to learn from someone who was trying to help others repent. This was met with somber nodding all around. Finally, Nadia reminded them of the original mission of the group back on day two, in the Pit. They were searching for answers. Even with more answers to seek out, Nadia expressed her hope that this group become something else as well. They chose not to accompany Marcus. Those with bodies in the Pit chose to bring them to the river. For these choices they’d already lost several members to the Gate.
“What we are, that Marcus’ people are not, is repentant,” she explained. “We intend to travel through Hell, find our bodies and take them to the river. For many of us, this will not close our crimes. We may continue to regret them. But this universe gave us a means of contrition, and we would feel inadequate if we ignored that.”
After the translation, Sid offered a suggestion. “Alex is gone. I’m betting most of you don’t even know who he was.” There were small nods. Obviously this man meant much to the founding members of the group, but that didn’t change the fact that most of them had never met him. “It’s not fair to everyone who’s new to call ourselves Alex’s Tribe anymore, no matter how much I like calling us a tribe. Perhaps a better description for us is The Repentant.”
It took a day to organize. With Marcus still out there, presumably wanting them destroyed, they had to be cautious. First, Heinrich gathered the uniforms to settle on a defense strategy. They chose one similar to the rotation Fox used on their trip down the worn path. It provided the added benefit of Heinrich showing respect for Fox’s leadership, which the uniforms who’d answered to both men appreciated. Next, to avoid being snatched, they decided to tie each person to someone else. Sid complained that they would like a kindergarten class on a museum visit. Despite this uncool association, the plan was enacted with shoelaces and bits of cloth. Finally, they planned on learning a little Japanese on the way because what is a road trip without entertainment. Once it was all done, The Repentant Tribe headed further into Hell via the long dark road.