Welcome to Hell: Freshman Orientation

Jenn Knott
Aug 6, 2019 · 4 min read
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Photo by moein moradi

Ok, everybody, simmer down now!

I know we’re all excited to be here — or maybe not! — but we’ve got a lot of sulfuric ground to cover and you’re not my only damned group today.

I’m Erebos, your Resident Demon, and I am the only soul on this cursed campus of constant suffering who isn’t out to deceive, trick, or otherwise cause you harm, so listen up. The following serves as the only guide you’ll ever receive to TU — The Underworld — your new home, torturous home for the remainder of eternity.

You all come from different backgrounds: some of you were privileged socialites, some were schmucky morning DJs, a handful were powerful, murderous dictators, but most of you were just your everyday, street-corner assholes, flicking your still-lit cigarette in the gutter as you shoved past the decrepit old woman with the hunchback so you could reach the next curb about ten seconds faster.

But nobody cares exactly what you did or who you were to earn a spot at this institution. We all worked hard in our living years to be the worst, we all had the same abysmal Moral Rectitude Test scores, and now we all share the identical future of a hereafter of gratuitous, excruciating persecution. Down here, you’re not special. You’re just like everyone else: fucked, forever.

All clear so far? Wonderful.

Now it’s probably a little warmer here than you might be accustomed. Chancellor Mephistopheles likes to keep it at a steady 200ºC, or right around 400ºF for you Americans. To maximize your unbearable agony, you’ll be purchasing mandatory full-body down feather onesies in our official dominion color, Crayola purple pizzazz, which looks horrific on absolutely everyone. Before you ask: yes, the down is irresponsibly sourced, black market quality from geese who were force-fed garbage and slaughtered in the most inhumane manner possible.

Your obligatory sweatsuits are available at the bookstore, where you’ll also find the complete works of Ann Coulter, the Twilight series, endless copies of Hannah Montana #6: Crush-tastic!, and nothing else.

You need to have your ID-card on you always as this is the only way to prove you’re enrolled here and not a visiting wayward soul or a deep-dive investigative journalist. It’s also the only currency you’ve got: a tally of your purchases is stored up in the brimstone cloud and at month’s end your debt is physically deducted via merciless lashing of your naked, wasted body. It’s called Corporal PayPal, developed for us by the Taliban’s old IT guy.

Any questions so far? Keep them to yourselves.

So here’s the run-down of the place: campus consists of four separate quadrants, specifically your pits of endless despair, your cesspools of disgusting filth, your reverse panic rooms, and your chambers of aggressively positive children’s characters.

If you fear dogs, you’re in the pit of despair teeming with rabid toy poodles.

If shellfish makes you break out in hives, you’re treading water in the cesspool of expired clam juice.

You like linear storytelling, yours is the reverse panic room with loop screenings of David Lynch films.

And anyone who answered their Death Admissions essay prompt with something like, “My greatest weakness is my perfectionism” automatically lands in a chamber of chipper, bubble gum pink unicorns endlessly shrieking along to “Bananaphone.”

Check your admissions form to locate your particular corner of infinite damnation.

And what about our cafeteria? Good news: it’s called the Marketplace and offers exclusively organic, luscious fresh fruits and vegetables imported from California; thick cuts of Kobe beef and busty, plump French chickens; yeasty German beer and crisp wines from the Champagne region; and pastries made from grass-fed butter and Valrhona chocolate that would give you another fatal heart attack. Bad news: it constantly shifts location and is only open the one hour of every day you guys are tending the Big Fire as part of your work-study slavery. Sorry, not sorry.

So that’s about it for the basics. Welcome to Hell, freshman! This is the first day of the rest of your eternal fate. Get ready to close your tortured minds, make some forever enemies, and languish for the rest of perpetuity.

Let me tell you, you’re going to hate it here.

Jenn Knott is a parenting and comedy writer based in Bavaria, Germany. She’s written for The Belladonna, Slackjaw, RAZED, Points in Case, & Little Old Lady Comedy and contributes regularly to German parenting site Hallo Eltern. Find her on Twitter @jkusesherwords or at jennknott.com

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Jenn Knott

Written by

Connoisseur of quiet, makes exceptions for dance parties. Writing in McSweeney’s, American Bystander, The Belladonna, Slackjaw. Tweeties @jkusesherwords



Medium humor. Large laughs.

Jenn Knott

Written by

Connoisseur of quiet, makes exceptions for dance parties. Writing in McSweeney’s, American Bystander, The Belladonna, Slackjaw. Tweeties @jkusesherwords



Medium humor. Large laughs.

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