Prompt: A hell full of angels.
Source: "A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings" by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
Original Airdate: October 30, 2010
My guide led me down a narrow flight of stairs, only just wide enough to allow me passage. Before the room came into view, we were assailed by a scent rising up out of the belly of that place. The odor was of sulfur and burning flesh and other searing things I could not name.
The winding steps eventually widened into the room. My guide walking out into the chamber without hesitation, but I froze at the foot of the stairs, struck motionless at the horrific scene before me.
Fires burned in pits throughout the room, columns of acrid smoke rising from their flames. Magnificent white creatures, with wings as long as I was tall, were chained at intervals along the wall. I stared agog at them for a long time. They could have perhaps been human, but their skin was too pure in color, their eyes too wide, and their bodies too cleanly built - each one towering above the average man and rippling with defined musculature. People threaded between the creatures, using tools to pluck the feathers out of their great wings. The creatures wailed as they were thus stripped. The sounds that poured from their mouths was more beautiful and more painful than any I had heard. It pieced through me, setting my teeth on edge.
Noticing my pause, my guide returned and, placing two uniform lumps of wax in the palm of my hand, blithely explained, "This is where we collect the angel down."
Notes: This is a little bit of a play on the term "eider down" (duck fluff, basically - it's used in down jackets and other such luxuries). This piece is also inspired by Dante's Inferno and Edgar Allan Poe (shocking, right?)