Fracking Hell

[August 25, 2023]

United Nations and Vatican Climate Crisis Joint Task Force Meeting

Geneva, Switzerland

Participants of note:

  • Dr Joanna Kendler, chief scientific officer, UN Special Developments Division
  • Harry O’Leery, chief financial officer, UN Special Developments Division
  • Archbishop Peter Weller, special envoy, Extraterritorial Diocese For Practical Application Of Theology
  • [redacted], [redacted], Vatican

Transcript extract begins:

[JK] That’s just insane, that’s what it is.

[PW] I understand your reluctance to believe us, but [redacted] is incapable of lying. Neither mentally, nor physically. Otherwise, his eternal soul would be in peril.

[JK] With all due respect, I’m not religious, so such things hold little value for me.

[HL] Please, just listen to what they have to say, Joanna.

[JK] No, you listen to me, Harry. They’re just wasting our time while the whole planet burns around us. We need to do something and praying isn’t one of them. Not unless it helps reverse this disaster.

[PW] I assure you, doctor, that we come with a perfectly reasonable solution. It will be expensive…

[HL] We’ve got that covered.

[PW] … but that is a price we all must be willing to pay for our salvation. 

[JK] Well, I’m not willing to throw all that public money at a crazy experiment that has absolutely zero science behind it.

[PW] Sometimes, all you need is faith.

[JK] *inaudible grumbling*

[PW] Doctor, are you familiar with Dante Alighieri’s work?

[JK] Only in passing. Mostly through popular media representations. What does this have to do with what we’ve been discussing?

[PW] Please, doctor, bear with me and I’ll explain in detail. Dante’s Divine Comedy is not just fancy Italian poetry from the thirteenth century. It is a travel journal, for Dante indeed visited Heaven, Purgatory and Hell.

[JK] Bullshit!

[HL] Joanna, please. This meeting is being recorded for posterity. 

[JK] Don’t lecture me, Harry.

[PW] I understand your reluctance to believe me, doctor. Yet I beg you to hear me out. 

[JK] Fine.

[PW] So, as I was saying, Dante indeed visited God’s other realms. But we are talking about the thirteenth century, when the Church had an iron grip on religious matters. Do you think his tale could have been published without the knowledge, no, the express permission of the Vatican? 

[JK] I admit that sounds unlikely.

[PW] Precisely. Before the publication of his work, Dante travelled to the Vatican to confer with the Pope about his travel and experiences. The tale he told possessed far more detail than what his published poems contain. His Holiness, Pope Boniface VIII immediately had Dante’s past investigated by his most inquisitive priests.

[JK] The inquisitors, yeah?

[PW] Most perceptive. But yes, by the power invested in them by God and his representative on Earth, the inquisitors left no stone unturned to find out the truth. And find out they did. Dante was without sin. Can you imagine that? A man in his thirties, living in the Middle Ages and not having committed any sin at all. None whatsoever.

[JK] I’m trying.

[HL] Stop interrupting him.

[JK] Sorry.

[PW] Further investigations were made. Theological debates raged behind closed doors. Dante was examined by doctors and priests of every kind. They had found nothing that would suggest influence by the Father of Lies. And most importantly, upon demand, Dante could demonstrate his ability to walk between the planes. He was essentially the first infernaut.

[JK] Infernaut? Like an astronaut, but someone who travelled to Hell?

[PW] Precisely. That was most important for us, because knowing our enemy allowed us to better protect the souls of mankind. So we examined Hell with the help of infernauts. Everything Dante had told us was true.

[JK] Let’s pretend I believe your fancy tale, Archbishop. What does all this have to do with our current crisis? Should we do nothing because there’s an afterlife and we’re going to go to Heaven anyway?

[13 seconds of silence]

[PW] I’m afraid that is not the case, doctor Kendler. Heaven is empty. So is Purgatory. Whatever happened since Dante’s time, we now have but a single destination in the afterlife. Thus, our time on Earth is more precious than we could’ve ever imagined.

[JK] Oookay. So we all go to Hell at the end of the day. If it exists, that is. You just made my day, Archbishop. But you still haven’t told us how you wish to make this insane plan of yours work.

[PW] You’ve already seen the schematics for the aetherdrill. That is something that we cannot build on our own, despite the vast resources the Vatican holds.

[JK] That still doesn’t explain it.

[redacted] We will guide it to where it needs to go.

[JK] And you are?

[PW] [redacted] is our primary infernaut. Six successful missions to Hell and back.

[JK] Pulling out all the stops, are we? Okay, so this joker’s been to Hell. It’s supposed to be a big burning pit, no? How does that help us?

[redacted] At the centre of Hell sits Lucifer, the arch-betrayer. His six wings beat relentlessly, freezing the lake Cocytus which surrounds him. He is his own prison guard. Unlike every other part of Hell, the Ninth Circle is a place of eternal cold.

[JK] Hold on, hold on. Are you suggesting we drill down into Hell, right next to Satan and use his wings as a supernatural air conditioner?

[PW] That is what we are indeed proposing.

[JK] Jesus.

[redacted] Do not take His name in vain.

[March 15, 2024]

Aetherdrill – manufacturing progress report

Personal addendum attached by Dr. Joanna Kendler, CSO, UN SDD

“We have hit some snags. Annoying ones. These Vatican fools keep complaining about the purity of the materials we are using. Everything needs to be thrice-blessed before we can even touch it. And by we, I mean the infernauts. Always smiling, always kind, always helping. Creepy, if you ask me. So anyway, despite the qualification of my engineers, I have to leave the actual assembly to a bunch of religious amateurs. And they make mistakes. Far too many for my liking. We have surpassed the predicted budget by 34% and we’re not finished yet. Harry’s always complaining about it. I told him to take it up with the CFO, who approved it in the first place. He didn’t laugh. Neither did I when our facility almost burned to the ground due to a nearby forest fire. That would have been ironic to the extreme.”

[June 3, 2024]

Memoirs of Archbishop Peter Weller [extract]

“My daily prayers go unanswered, yet I still believe in His benevolence. This project must succeed, lest Earth turn into an extension of Hell. Despite every weather model and climate prognosis, the average temperature is rising faster with every season. The polar caps are melting. Tornadoes of fire rage across the deserts. Dead fish flop their last in rapidly drying riverbeds. Lakes shrink in on themselves while the seas and oceans assail our lands with hungry, salty waves.

Our infernauts, may the Lord’s blessing follow them forevermore, come bearing the same news. Heaven and Purgatory remain empty of souls. Hell is overflowing with the souls of the wicked. And perhaps not just the souls of the wicked. 

I remain strong in my faith, yet I cannot help but wonder. Where is our Lord? How come Lucifer is claiming all the souls?”

[October 24, 2024]

Text message.

Sender: unknown, number belonged to unidentified burner phone.

Recipient: Fedrick Burghess-Goldstadt, CEO, B.G. New Steel Corporation

“New order is imminent, same items and quantity as last time. There is still room in the budget, so don’t be afraid to hike the prices further. The rest is business as usual. ;)”

[January 7, 2025]

United Nations and Vatican Climate Crisis Joint Task Force

Progress report submitted by Dr. Joanna Kendler, CSO, UN SDD

Executive summary of minority report attached to the progress report, submitted by Harry O’Leery, CFO, UN SDD

“Present minority report has been submitted without the prior knowledge of Dr Kendler. Budget inconsistencies have plagued the Aetherdrill project from its very inception. The required materials and personnel are very hard to acquire and incur significant costs. As a rule of thumb, we estimate every project under the purview of the UN SDD to go above the proposed budget by approximately 50%. However, in the Aetherdrill project’s case, we are currently 671% beyond the initial figures (including the estimated 50%) and recent orders suggest it will continue to rise.

I have launched an investigation into the project’s spending so that I may better understand the significant drain on funds. I admit I had fears that there’s been misappropriation. The thought was utterly terrifying, considering the rapidly deteriorating situation across the globe. If the project failed, we would soon have nothing to worry about.

I present my findings to the UN SDD Supervisory Board. Although it is not my place to make conclusions, I do believe the following facts will suffice to convince the Board that there has indeed been misappropriation of funds.”

[April 9, 2025]

United Nations Special Developments Division Supervisory Board Meeting

Geneva, Switzerland

Participants of note:

  • Dr. Joanna Kendler, chief scientific officer, UN Special Developments Division
  • Harry O’Leery, chief financial officer, UN Special Developments Division
  • Marieke Viljoen, director, UN SSD Supervisory Board

Transcript extract begins:

[MV] Doctor Kendler, we need results, and we need them now.

[JK] And we will deliver them! But you must understand that what the Vatican demands-

[HL] It’s not about their demands.

[JK] Then what is it?

[HL] The UN wants to suspend funds.

[JK] Are you serious?

[MV] I’ve never seen Mr. O’Leery not serious when it’s about project funding.

[JK] I don’t understand. Why are they stopping it now when we are so close to completion? I’m sure you’ve read my progress report. 

[MV] Indeed I have. But there are people higher up to convince, leaders of countries and other men and women in power. Without their support, we cannot continue funding the project.

[JK] So what do we do now? Stew to death in our own sweat?

[HL] This could have been avoided, had it-

[MV] Mr. O’Leery, please remain calm. As for your question, Doctor Kendler, the answer really depends on you. If your team can produce results within the year, funding will continue.

[JK] Results? What kind of results?

[MV] You’re the scientist, Doctor Kendler, you tell me. But it would be lovely if you could make it snow on Christmas.

[July 3, 2025]

Breach Facility, United Nations Special Development Division 

Darvaza gas crater, Turkmenistan

Memoirs of Archbishop Peter Weller [extract]

“It is finally complete. During today’s site visit, I was graced by the opportunity to lay eyes upon the Aetherdrill. It is magnificent. No, it is beyond such mundane words. It possesses an aura unlike any other artefact I’ve ever been in the presence of. I wept tears of joy at its sight.

No one outside my Diocese, save for His Holiness knows that these plans are not a recent invention. Leonardo da Vinci himself had drawn them upon waking from a dream sent unto him by the Lord. Leonardo and Dante never met face to face despite being contemporaries. Fortunately, we knew what these omens meant.

Doctor Kendler looks spent. She had dedicated all her time to the project and faced trials beyond anything she had thought possible. But with the Lord’s help – despite her belief to the contrary – she completed her task. She brought us one step closer to saving the world.”

[July 4, 2025]

United Nations Special Development Division 

Letter of resignation submitted by Dr. Joanna Kendler.

Reason for resignation: The Aetherdrill is complete, but it will never work. It lacks everything that is necessary for a complex machine to function. It is nothing but pretty cogwork and fancy liturgies.

[August 30, 2025]

Instant messaging service correspondence between:

  • Marieke Viljoen, director, UN SSD Supervisory Board
  • Archbishop Peter Weller, special envoy, Extraterritorial Diocese For Practical Application Of Theology

[MV] Archbishop, I need an explanation. We have built everything according to the Vatican’s extremely exacting standards, but the
Aetherdrill doesn’t work. Was Dr Kendler right?

[PW] No, Director.

[MV] Please explain.

[PW] The Aetherdrill requires one last component. It is difficult to obtain. 

[MV] At this point, I don’t care. I just want the damned thing running.

[PW] We will need Dr Kendler. Can you bring her back?

[MV] Why?

[PW] Because she is the missing piece. 

[December 20, 2025]

Smørfjord, Norway

Debriefing of Lt. Col. Gabriel Spillok

“Extensive investigation revealed the target’s location to be in Smørfjord, Norway. Satellite imaging showed an extensive, fortified compound. With the melting polar caps, insertion by land was impossible due to the elevated sea level. Anti-aircraft batteries prevented airlifts and flyovers. An asset within the compound temporarily deactivated the coastal perimeter defence mechanism, allowing for insertion by the sea. Squad Alpha deactivated the air defence grid with demo charges, while Squad Beta and Delta systematically neutralised security forces. Squad Omega grabbed the target. Airlift successfully removed the target from the compound. Squads retreated in order, but significant losses were incurred. I damn well hope it was worth grabbing that bitch.”

[December 23, 2025]

Infernaut Preparation Chamber

Breach Facility, United Nations Special Development Division 

Darvaza gas crater, Turkmenistan

Transcript of CCTV footage captured prior to Aetherdrill launch.


  • Dr Joanna Kendler, essential Aetherdrill component
  • Marieke Viljoen, director, UN SSD Supervisory Board
  • Archbishop Peter Weller, special envoy, Extraterritorial Diocese For Practical Application Of Theology
  • [redacted], [redacted], Vatican

Transcript begins:

[JK] Viljoen! Weller! Will any of you finally explain what the hell is going on?

[PW] We needed you, Doctor.

[JK] Stop being so fucking cryptic, you bald fuck!

[MV] Is this really necessary, Archbishop?

[PW] Yes. She must understand.

[JK] Understand what exactly?

[PW] Have you read the Divine Comedy, Doctor?

[JK] Never found the time, but how is that relevant?

[PW] If you had, you’d know that the Ninth Circle of Hell, where we are aiming to drill, is where betrayers are sent. Those who betray their family, their friends, their community.

[JK] Wh-what are you getting at?

[MV] You’re the tip of the drill, Joanna. We knew you were diverting funds to your little private paradise in Norway. And we let it happen. You betrayed not just us, but all of mankind. 

[PW] We did not do this out of spite. But it was an opportunity we could not pass.

[JK] [Censored stream of profanity.]

[redacted] Worry not, our lost sister. We will unerringly guide your soul to its destination.

[December 25, 2025]

Text message by Marieke Viljoen (director, UN SSD) to spouse:

“It worked! It bloody worked! It’s snowing in the middle of Turkmenistan, and I can step outside without the skin melting from my body! Praise the Lord!”

[January 6, 2027]


Special report by [redacted] to the Pope.

“By His will, the Aetherdrill continues to function. The Infernauts remain ever vigilant for signs and omens. Your Holiness, the temperature is rising. Hell is thawing.”

About the Author

Daniel was born on a sunny, peaceful spring morning in Budapest, Hungary. He preferred watching television over reading books. Like, a lot. That changed when his school took him to the public library and everyone was forced to pick a book to read. He chose The Princess of Mars by Edgar Rice Burroughs. Despite his initial disdain, our hero devoured the book in a few days and hasn’t stopped reading since. If you got this far, please send help, his budget (and shelves) can’t handle more books! Oh, and he occasionally entertains the idea of being a writer. The fool.