A glimpse of Hell – Kate

Kate ran, filled with a level of fear she didn’t know was possible. Through tear strewn eyes, she witnessed the decay in the dilapidated buildings as they flew by. None of them offered her any kind of sanctuary, for her pursuers would find her, no matter where she went.

The demons were chasing her down, and as confused as she was, at least Kate knew that this wasn’t the planet of her birth. Although the street was new to her thoughts, there was the nagging certainty that she had been down this road before. More than once.

A physical nightmare that kept on repeating. An eternal loop of unspeakable horror.

Kate believed she should turn and face her enemy, but she had little control over such things. It wasn’t that she was a passenger in her own body. That would have been too easy. No, everything that had defined her on Earth had been stripped, leaving a shell of her former self. That thin crust was now filled with terror, anxiety, and a cowardice that left her feeling total shame.

She had never been one to run. And yet these were her feet playing out the panicked rhythm on the moist and sticky tarmac.

Her mind insisted on lying to her. If I run fast enough, maybe they won’t catch me. Hiding wasn’t an option, because the demons who gave chase had her scent. Besides, this was their land, their domain. Flight was her only defence.

Stretching her neck, she cast a glance behind her, almost falling as a result. The monsters weren’t there yet, but they were coming.

Monsters? Why use that word?

Kate was dead, she couldn’t deny that, the truth of where she was bludgeoned its way into her. What had she become? What was this fearful, terror-stricken creature?

There had been many tales told her of what her death would mean. Some thought the end was the end, eternal blackness the result of life being extinguished. Others had felt that heaven would be their ultimate reward. Kate had never been so naïve.

The cityscape she fled through changed, the buildings drawing closer on either side. To her right, she saw a butchers with a bright display window. Instead of an array of animal cuttings, the window showed human limbs dangling on large hooks.

Kate ran on.

Ahead, a young child stepped out in the road. A boy, face filled with terror, holding up hands that had been stripped of fingers. Despite the all-engulfing night, the child’s face glowed, and not from the infrequent street lights.

Kate no longer ran. She knew this boy, recognised his features. Looking at him, she felt rooted to the spot. From behind, the howls of the damned echoed around her.

“You let the bad men kill me!” An accusation with substance.

“No, I saved you,” Kate implored, remembering those young eyes. He had been abducted by sadists, ruthless men who had killed the boy’s family before stripping him of his fingers.  “I saved you from your pain.” What kind of life could the child have had if he’d survived? A lifetime of nightmares and suffering, always afraid that the sadists would return for him.

Instead, the boy had died in Kate’s arms. She’d been too late.

“You let them murder me,” the boy insisted, stepping closer.

“And me,” another child stated, drifting out from the shadows.

“You failed us, Kate,” cried a third. “You failed us all.”

“No. I did all I could.” Her sorrow threatened to rip open her chest, and she tried to retreat, but unnoticed, black and rotting hands had emerged from the ground, gripping her ankles tightly.

“You failed the innocent.”

“You need to pay, Kate,” the first boy insisted. More children appeared, too many to count. They surrounded Kate, getting closer, their small bodies starting to mutate. “You need to pay in so many ways.” The boy’s bloody stumps began to swell, but it wasn’t fingers that grew back. Thick claws burst from his hands, the eyes around Kate now burning red.

“I’m sorry,” Kate heard herself beg, stricken by the waves of shame that hit her relentlessly.

“You will be,” came the promise, all light replaced by a smothering blackness.

Then the children were on her, clawing at Kate’s flesh.

To know Hell is to know the true meaning of pain.

 

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