SFX – Low and steady heartbeats that are drowned out by crowd noises growing progressively louder followed by the thump of a body falling onto the floor

Narrator: ….Ah. It seems that we have another guest. Welcome, dear traveller. Incidentally, how  long are you going to stay down there? The floor here is…rather unhygienic, if I may say so  myself. 

SFX – Shuffling sounds of someone getting to their feet followed by shoe squeaking on linoleum floor

Narrator: Now now, I hardly think that’s the tone to take when you’re asking someone a  question, don’t you think?  

Narrator: That’s more like it. Do take care to mind your p’s and q’s from now on, won’t you? 

Narrator: Well, in regards to your question of where… 

SFX – Fist grabbing collar; interspersed with muffled grunts of effort

Narrator: Dear traveller, you know that you can’t strangle me with a belt, so please cease your futile attempts.  

Narrator: As I was saying before I was so boorishly interrupted…This is the in between, the  place between the living world and the different afterlives. Since you don’t have a religion, you  don’t have a determined afterlife, which means that you get to choose – with my help, of course. 

SFX – A hand slams down on wooden table followed by a muffled cry of pain

Narrator: A…hidden…camera prank? I’m afraid that I don’t know what that is, but by all means,  believe it if you wish. 

SFX – two claps resound loudly

Narrator: Well then, now that we’ve established that, shall we proceed with the tour? 

SFX – running footsteps that gradually increase in speed and volume

Narrator: (voice fading) …Dear traveller? Wherever are you running off to in such a hurry? Dear traveller?  

Announcer: We’ll be taking a short break now, and we’ll resume in a moment.  

Music – Trumpet, Tune and Air

Announcer: And now, we return you to your regularly scheduled podcast. 

SFX – loud panting in the foreground

Ambience – distant sounds of a plane taking off interspersed with muffled crowd noises

Narrator: You didn’t really think that you could make a break for it, did you? Our security is top notch. (to security guard) Thanks for helping me out. I owe you one. 

SFX – grunt of assent, wheels screeching

Narrator: [sigh] Well, this isn’t the place that I had planned to start the tour at, but I suppose that we’ll just have to make do. 

Narrator: If you look over here-don’t turn your head, look-we have Terminal 3, dedicated to the Greek afterlife, Hades.  

SFX – sound of automatic door opening

Ambience – muffled greek music

Narrator: Oh, you don’t know what that is? I bet the god of the dead would roll over in his grave  if he heard you say that.  

SFX – ba-dum-tss

Narrator: Why are you rolling your eyes, dear traveller? Was my joke not funny? It seems my humor is wasted yet again. 

Narrator: Ahem. At any rate, you should know that the underworld is split into three major  parts: Tartarus at B∞, Asphodel on the ground floor, and Elysium on L∞. We’re currently on  Level Five, so we’ll have to take the hellevator down if you want to get a better look. 

Narrator: You don’t? No matter. Well then, if you’ll lace your hands behind your head and follow  me, now…  

Narrator: Don’t be silly. Of course you’re not a prisoner. These…(chains clanking) are merely some extra precautions, that’s all. (handcuffs clicking) After all, it’s always better to be safe than sorry!  

SFX – lift dings once to indicate arrival

Announcer: Level 1 – Asphodel. 

Ambience – wind whistling, rain and thunder, ominous music

Narrator: We’ve arrived at the Asphodel Meadows. Charming place, don’t you think? I personally feel that the perpetual bad weather and gloominess really add to the atmosphere.  

Charon: (distantly) All aboard, all aboard! 

Ambience – rushing water noises; muffled crowd chattering

Narrator: Ah, wonderful! It seems that we’ve arrived just in time to catch the 9 o’clock ferry. Charon, old boy! How are you today? 

Charon: Oh, ya know – same old, same old. Are ya here to stay for good this time? 

Narrator: No, no, just passing through today again.

Charon: A damn shame, that it is. Who’s this ‘ere? ‘Nother heathen brat? Got lotsa ‘emcomin’ through lately. 

Narrator: Oh, they’re just a tourist, for now. They haven’t decided yet, so go easy on them, will you? 

Charon: Tourist or not, you still hafta pay up for passage. The fee’d be 2 obols for the both of ya. 

Narrator: Do you have your wallet with you? No? It can’t be helped, then. Since I just got my bonus, I’ll treat you this time. 

SFX – two coins clink on each other

Narrator: Watch your step, now. You wouldn’t want to fall in here, trust me. Well, you could certainly take a swim if you were so inclined. That is, if you’re prepared to endure the burning  pain and possibility of having your soul ripped to shreds. So far, only one person has managed  to come out with their soul intact-Achilles, the hero of the Trojan War. He was a special case, though. I, myself, don’t know how he managed to survive. It probably helps that his mother was  a powerful water nymph, but either way, you still shouldn’t go around dipping babies in toxic rivers. That’s child abuse. 

Ambience – motor noises, water rushing

Narrator: Right now, we’re crossing the River Styx, which encircles the whole underworld. When you come here, it’s definitely the number one must-see attraction. I mean, where else are you going to find a river echoing with the screams of vengeful sinners and broken dreams? The Thames doesn’t even come close, for all the garbage it’s clogged with. As you’ve already guessed, it’s deadly poisonous to any unfortunate soul who happens to fall in, so I would advise that you  maintain a healthy distance from the sides of the barge at all times. If you go overboard, even a  life jacket won’t be able to save you.

SFX – boat bumping shore, crowd noises

Narrator: And it looks like we’ve arrived! Come along, now, and stay close to me. You wouldn’t want to be mistaken for a trespasser and eaten by Cerberus, would you? He’s friendly most of the time, but it’s still better not to get on the wrong side of his three sets of sharp fangs.  

SFX – Cerberus’s three heads barking and whining madly 

Narrator: Hello, Cerbies One, Two and Three! Who’s a good boy? You are!  

SFX – snuffling noises; fabric rustling

Narrator: (laughing) No, stop! I’m working! I don’t have any treats for you! Now, where did I put my special access card again…ugh, gross! It’s all covered in dog drool! Note to self – get a card replaced at the general office.

SFX – loud beep of card being scanned

Narrator: Oh, ew. Do you have any hand sanitizer? None? Well, can’t be helped. 

Narrator: The souls here have to pass through this detector before they can enter the afterlife, since they’re not allowed to bring any material possessions with them. Since I have a special  access card, I can bring whatever I want, though. Sometimes, I smuggle in human-world snacks  to sell to the Elysium residents. The food there is nice and all, but it’s just too…healthy. MSG and flavoring is definitely where it’s at. Oh, don’t tell anyone I told you that, though. 

SFX – blaring alarm goes off

Narrator: Speak of the devil. That soul over there – you see those jewels he’s trying to hide under his clothes? It’s all going to be confiscated and offered as a tribute to the gods. Since you’re here with me today, you don’t have to line up for the detectors, so consider yourself lucky. These lines can stretch over a mile long – and that’s on a good day. If you want to be judged, come prepared with rations and a sleeping bag. 

Narrator: After they pass this trial, the souls are brought before a panel of three judges of the dead-Minos, Rhadamanthus, and Aeacus who decide their fate and send them to either Asphodel, Elysium, or Tartarus.

SFX – gavel sounds three times

If you look over at that wall, you’ll see the deceased’s memories being played back for the judges to view. 

Ambience – clicking noises at regular intervals

Once they’ve viewed all the important  moments in the person’s life, they’ll take a vote to decide where the soul should go. 

Narrator: (bitter laugh) Funny, isn’t it? That three people have the power to pull the very memories out of your mind and decide your fate in a matter of minutes. Like a production line. At any rate, I’m here to give a tour, not to stand around and judge them. Let’s proceed with the tour, shall we? 

SFX – footsteps

Ambience – grass rustling under feet, wind blowing through leaves

Narrator: This here is Persephone’s grove, where the most delicious ruby-red pomegranates are grown. Apparently, they’re sweeter than honey and brimming with juicy seeds. 

SFX – sound of pomegranate being plucked from stem followed by a loud and clear slap

Narrator: Ah-ah-ah, not so fast. Let me finish my explanation first. Legend has it that if you eat or drink anything in the underworld, you won’t be able to leave and will be trapped here for all eternity, like the beautiful queen of the Underworld, Persephone.  

Narrator: Persephone was kidnapped by Hades, God of the underworld, who fell in love with her at first sight and carried her off to the underworld. She would have been imprisoned there forever, if her mother, Demeter, hadn’t threatened the world with neverending winter if  Persephone was not set free. Before being set free from the underworld, though, Persephone was so hungry that she finally gave in and ate six pomegranate seeds, and thus was forced to  stay in the underworld with Hades for six months out of the year.  

Narrator: Still feel like having a bite and becoming a permanent resident here? No? I thought so. I enjoy a juicy, ripe pomegranate myself, but I certainly wouldn’t give up half of my life for one, even if it was the best pomegranate in the world. 

Ambience – footsteps; rushing water noises grow louder

Narrator: (shouting) So this is the Lethe, the river of oblivion! Just a single drop (water drop noise) of its milky waters can cause you to lose all your memory and become like a newborn child! The souls here in Asphodel drink from the River Lethe to forget their previous lives and live in eternal mindlessness. 

Narrator: Now, mind that you don’t get too close! Lethe -not the river, the goddess- is going to murder me for making more paperwork for her – she can barely keep up with the few sheets that she gets right now. 

SFX – paper shuffling; pen scratching

Narrator: Lethe? To be granted, her paperwork is always late, she never returns the money I lend her, and always calls me by the wrong name, but…she’s nice enough, I suppose.  

SFX – throat clearing sounds

Narrator: L…Lethe! You were here? I didn’t see you there…haha… 

SFX – crickets

Narrator: I was just…giving our dear traveller here a tour of the place…I suppose that we’ll just be on our way (SFX – gun cocking)nooooow!  

SFX – two sets of running footsteps interspersed with grass rustling

Narrator: Dear traveller, would it be too much to ask to tell me when there’s danger?! Well, I suppose it doesn’t matter to you, since you’re already dead…. 

SFX – bump

Narrator: Oh, I’m terribly sorry, sir. I wasn’t paying attention to where I was going. Here…up you get, then. 

SFX – sounds of him getting up from the grass; grunt of effort

Narrator: That was one of the resident souls here. Apparently some people find their blank expressions unsettling, but I, personally, don’t find it off-putting. 

Narrator: Well, they may seem like this now, but when these souls were alive, they were people  just like you, with family and loved ones. They deserve respect as much as you or me. 

(silence as protagonist thinks) 

Ambience – grass rustling

Narrator: It’s quite alright, dear traveller. Anyone would find it hard to empathize with these shells unless you knew what they were like when they were alive. 

Ambience – two sets of slow footsteps on dirt

Narrator: Anyhow, there’s no point dwelling on the past now. Shall we make our way to the next stop, or do you need a moment to rest? I understand that this is a lot to take in.

Narrator: Alright then. Just sit tight under this poplar tree, and I’ll go and get you some water. 

SFX – shuffling footsteps slowly grow fainter

Protagonist: (muffled voice that slowly becomes clearer) Wow, I didn’t think he’d actually leave me unguarded. Top notch security, my foot.  

Protagonist: If that psycho tour guide thinks I’m just going to “sit tight” and wait for him to come back, he’s got another thing coming to him. This is a golden opportunity to escape. No way am I going to just let it pass by. 

SFX – footsteps over dry leaves

Protagonist: Seriously, this entire place gives me the creeps. The sooner I get out, the better it’ll be. 

SFX – “one hour later” (reference from spongebob)

Protagonist: Okay, where the hell am I? I have been walking for an entire hour and I’m completely lost. How did that psycho tour guide do it? Does he have a GPS implanted in his brain or something? Hmm. Maybe I should try asking for directions from someone. 

SFX – wings flapping

Protagonist: Um, excuse me. Miss…Bird Lady, would you happen to know where the exit to this place is, by any chance? I seem to have lost my way. If you could give me a map, that would be great too. 

Alecto: Bird lady? How rude! Do you not know who I am? 

Protagonist: Um…nope. 

Alecto: I’ll have you know I am none other than Alecto, one of the three Furies and the deity of vengeance!  

Protagonist: Alright then, Bird Lady Alecto. Would you happen to know where the exit is, by any chance? 

Alecto: I don’t have time to take a puny soul like you there now. Apparently, a soul escaped from the guide a while ago, and he enlisted our help to hunt -sorry, locate- it. 

Protagonist: An…escaped soul? I…really don’t know what you mean. Maybe…it ran over there? Way over there…far away from me…haha.. 

Alecto: (suspicious) Are you sure? I searched over there half an hour ago…. 

Protagonist: Of course! In fact, you should probably fly over as quickly as you can, right now, in case it escapes. As for me, I’ll just go now… 

SFX – wings flapping

Megaera: That’s him! The escaped soul! Grab him, sister! 

Alecto: Yoooou! You tricked me!  

SFX – running footsteps

Protagonist: (panting) God, that was close… it’s a good thing I had a head start. She should be gone by now… 

Alecto: You thought you could run from me?! (whip crack) I’ll have you pay! 

Protagonist: What the…how did you get behind me so fast? 

SFX – whip crack

Megaera: (SFX – bird screech) Seize him! Seize him, sister! 

Protagonist: Two on one isn’t fair! Especially when you ladies have wings and I don’t even have my running shoes on! What happened to sportsmanship?! 

SFX – scratching noises followed by sound of denim fabric tearing

Protagonist: Owww! What’s with… why does she have claws?! If I don’t get killed now, I’ll definitely die from rabies sooner or later.  

SFX – wild shriek

Protagonis: I can’t outrun her. I have to find somewhere to hide for now. 

Protagonist: (voice echoing) She probably won’t find me in this cave-whoaa! (multiple thumps, branches breaking) Why in Hades is there a bottomless pit here?!  

SFX – thudding footsteps

Narrator: (distantly) Dear traveller! Grab my hand!  

Protagonist: You?! How did you find me here? 

Narrator: Is now really the time to ask such redundant questions? Hurry and take my hand! 

Protagonist: How am I supposed to do that? You cuffed them behind my back! When I get out of here, I’m going to…ahhhh! (voice fading]) 

Narrator: Dear traveller! …(SFX: long, drawn out sigh) I don’t get paid nearly enough to do this. Well, down the rabbit hole, I suppose. 

SFX – footsteps breaking into a run followed by a jump; stones clattering down a hole

SFX – “ten hours later” (reference from spongebob)

Ambience – wind whistling

Protagonist: Um, how long have we been falling for, exactly? 

Narrator: Well, they say it takes an anvil nine days to reach the bottom of Tartarus, so — taking into account our combined weight — around ten hours, give or take? 

SFX – two loud splashes of bodies falling into a river; followed by a loud sizzle

Protagonist: Oww! Oww! Why is it burning so much? Is this lava?! 

Narrator: This…owww…is the Phlegethon, the lake of fire! According to legend, it…oww…keeps the wicked alive…so they can endure the torments of the Fields of Punishment! (splashing)

Protagonist: Yeah, no shit, Sherlock! I had no idea at all, given that we’re burning to death!

Narrator: (coughing) Quick…we have to get to shore…

SFX – body dragging on gravel

Protagonist: (hoarsely) That…sucked.  

SFX – slap

Narrator: Dear traveller, are you an idiot? What in the world possessed you to jump down into Tartarus, of all places? You could have run to the grove. You could have hidden in the fields. But no, you had to choose the most dangerous location possible. Are you asking to get your soul torn apart? 

Protagonist: Why do you care what happens to me? Worried about your work evaluation grade? Scared for — god forbid — your end-of-year bonus? 

Narrator: (frustrated) Would you listen for once?! We are in the Tartarus, the deepest, darkest pit of the Greek Underworld, where the worst souls are sent to be tormented for all eternity. My access card was melted in the Phlegethon, so we can’t take the hellevator out either. 

Ambience – crickets chirping; water rushing

Protagonist: I…Oh. So…what do we do now? 

Announcer: This has been the first episode of “Airport of the Afterlife”. If you would like to support the author, you can go to www.patreon/airportoftheafterlife to make a donation. Follow us at our official instagram @airportoftheafterlife for regular updates and sneak peeks. On behalf of the entire team, we thank you for listening and hope that you have enjoyed the  story. 

Music – Trumpet, Tune and Air


Adobe Stock, Getty Images, Istock

Lara Chen (Class of 2022) is a Film student at SOTA. She was part of the second batch of Literary Arts.