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Excerpted from DAMNED by Chuck Palahniuk. Copyright © 2011 by Chuck Palahniuk. Excerpted by permission of Doubleday, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Also by Chuck Palahniuk Fight Club Survivor Invisible Monsters Choke Lullaby Fugitives and Refugees Diary Stranger Than Fiction Haunted Rant Snuff Pygmy Tell-All
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S H O R T. F O R E V E R.
N E W YOR K LONDON TORON TO SYDNEY AUCK L A N D
This book is a work of ﬁction. Names, characters, businesses, organizations, places, events, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used ﬁctitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events, or locales is entirely coincidental. Copyright © 2011 by Chuck Palahniuk All rights reserved. Published in the United States by Doubleday, a division of Random House, Inc., New York. www.doubleday.com DOUBLEDAY and the portrayal of an anchor with a dolphin are registered trademarks of Random House, Inc. Book design by Michael Collica Jacket design by Rodrigo Corral Design Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Palahniuk, Chuck. Damned / Chuck Palahniuk. — 1st ed. p. cm. Summary: As thirteen-year-old Madison tries to ﬁgure out how she died and ended up in Hell, she learns how to manipulate the corrupt system of demons and bodily ﬂuids. [1. Hell—Fiction. 2. Future life—Fiction. 3. Dead—Fiction.] I. Title. PZ7.P1754Dam 2011 [E]—dc22 2010044841 ISBN 978-0-385-53302-7 PRINTED IN THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA 1 3 5 7 9 10 8 6 4 2 First Edition
Are you there, Satan? It’s me, Madison. I’m just now arrived here, in Hell, but it’s not my fault except for maybe dying from an overdose of marijuana. Maybe I’m in Hell because I’m fat—a Real Porker. If you can go to Hell for having low self-esteem, that’s why I’m here. I wish I could lie and tell you I’m bone-thin with blond hair and big ta-tas. But, trust me, I’m fat for a really good reason. To start with, please let me introduce myself.
ow to best convey the exact sensation of being dead . . . Yes, I know the word convey. I’m dead, not a mental defective. Trust me, the being-dead part is much easier than the dying part. If you can watch much television, then being dead will be a cinch. Actually, watching television and surfing the Internet are really excellent practice for being dead. The closest way I can describe death is to compare it to when my mom boots up her notebook computer and hacks into the surveillance system of our house in Mazatlán or Banff. “Look,” she’d say, turning the screen sideways for me to see, “it’s snowing.” Glowing softly on the computer would be the interior of our Milan house, the sitting room, with snow falling outside the big windows, and by long distance, holding down her Control, Alt and W keys, my mom would draw open the sitting room drapes all 1
the way. Pressing the Control and D keys, she’d dim the lights by remote control and we’d both sit, on a train or in a rented town car or aboard a leased jet, watching the pretty winter view through the windows of that empty house displayed on her computer screen. With the Control and F keys, she’d light a ﬁre in the gas ﬁreplace, and we’d listen to the hush of the Italian snow falling, the crackle of the ﬂames via the audio monitors of the security system. After that, my mom would keyboard into the system for our house in Cape Town. Then log on to view our house in Brentwood. She could simultaneously be all places but no place, mooning over sunsets and foliage everywhere except where she actually was. At best, a sentry. At worst, a voyeur. My mom will kill half a day on her notebook computer just looking at empty rooms full of our furniture. Tweaking the...