A terrible burning sensation flooded through his skin as his head pounded like the beating of a drum. Lying on the floor, he noticed its heat soaking into his skin.
Where am I? He wondered.
His body felt tight and stiff, aching all over. He attempted to open his eyes, but they stuck together as if he had been unconscious for awhile. They cracked open, only to be welcomed by darkness. The surrounding room was empty, a dark gloomy cell. A fire burned in the corner of the square room, casting jagged shadows upon the walls. Bracing himself upon the warm dirt floor, he tried to stand up, willing his sore limbs upwards. His body shuffled upwards with fire running through his joints and a throbbing headache.
“Welcome, young one,” a harsh voice shrieked from behind him. “Glad you could make it.”
He turned around, facing the voice. Behind him stood a bald, wrinkly, old man. His eyes were white as milk and his smile was empty with missing teeth.
“Seems as if you aren’t quite dead yet, just look!”
Glancing down, he noticed the condition of his body. A ghostly aura of smoke was hovering around his entire being, he felt light yet retained his weight. The sensation was odd, as he could feel the pain echoing throughout his being yet appeared to be made of gas.
“Where are we?” he asked.
“Where all the bad men go,” the old man replied.
Willing himself to advance, he walked slowly to the fire in the corner of the room, hoping to get a better view of his surroundings. The room was bare except for the fire, old man, and a caged doorway.
It’s a cell.
“Still trying to figure it all out, are yeh? I’ve been here for forty years now, haven’t had a cellmate. But… I suppose today is the day.”
“This is a prison? Where? Why? And who are you?”
“Well lad, I used to be known as Alabaster Thad, but once you get in here none of that really matters anymore. Simply just another person forced to endure the fires.”
Looking out from the caged entrance he only saw the fires glowing brightly. The landscape looked like that of a movie, dark black stone and fire.
“This is hell isn’t it?” he asked with a shaky voice. The pain in his body was beginning to calm down.
“It’s about damn time. I was beginning to assume you’re dumb. But yes, alas, this is hell.”
His body seemed to be growing lighter, the intensity of the smoke growing. “But you said I was not dead yet, right?”
“The body is making the transition to its final stage,” the old man said plainly. “In other words, the forces up top are deciding your fate. The usual, which stage of hell, heaven possibly, you never know how it will end up.”
Anger flushed through him. How can I be dead? Hell? Why do I deserve this? Thousands of memories were flooding his mind, questioning why he was in this predicament.
“Listen kid, you’re not quite dead yet. There is still some hope for you, but I wouldn’t get all worked up over nothing. In the end, you’ll probably be screwed. Forced to stay here in hell with the occasional beating. Satan’s been kind of lazy lately.”
“I shouldn’t be dead, I had just gone to work.”
“Well kiddo, I don’t really care how you died, I’m just saying you’re here, so you’re probably dying right now.”
He began to pound on the walls of the cell. Pulling upon the bars of the door. The old man just sat calmly observing.
He let out a sigh.
“You probably shouldn’t do that, they’ll hear you.”
It was too late. Fire shot through the bars of the doorway. The flames licked his skin and knocked him backwards into the wall. The flames died down, revealing what appeared to be a black gargoyle. Its muscled body pulsed with rage, with steam flowing from its nostrils. Without saying a word, the gargoyle flung open the door, and pulled him out into the hallway.
“Whoa, whoa! I shouldn’t be here!”
It let out a gruff response, “You’re here. You suffer. I thrive.”
The beast’s hooved feet echoed throughout the hall as it took him into a second room. Closing the door, the gargoyle threw him into the middle of the empty room.
“It’s time for you to pay for your ignorance.” The gargoyle grabbed a whip from its belt, “you will not enjoy this.”
“NO! I’m not dead yet!”
The beast drew back the whip preparing to strike when, POOF! Nothing.
A flood of light struck him in the face, and he realized he had fled the gargoyle.
“He’s alive. Oh thank god!”
His body now hurt even more than before. The throbbing was everywhere. Once his eyes had adjusted he noticed he was in a hospital.
“It’s okay, son, you’re going to make it. You...you slipped on water in the bathroom, fell face first into a urinal.”