A glimpse of Hell – Mary

Mary was surprised when she woke up. She could still remember the blows and the searing pain as the knife had been thrust into her, the terrifying memory of her neck being opened up forefront in her thoughts.

How the hell was she still alive?

The air around her felt clean, a crisp chill caressing her nostrils. There was something on the edges of it, an odour that was alien to her. The inhale irritated her throat, a cough threatening, only to never materialise. It wasn’t just her breathing, either, her whole flesh seemed to be filled with itches and tiny torments that niggled at her.

A white ceiling met her eyes, and she moved her head to take in the unfamiliar surroundings. White walls in a room with no windows or furniture other than the bed she was in. The door to the room was partly open, which was reassuring. An open door told her she wasn’t a prisoner.

From outside that door, she could hear voices.

A thin sheet covered her body, and she pulled it aside to find herself naked. There were no signs of the injuries she had sustained at the hands of her attacker, her pawing hand finding no bandages or lacerations in her neck.

How could this be?

Was she in some sort of hospital room? She saw no monitoring equipment, but the sterility suggested a medical facility, which would make sense considering what had been done to her. The feel of the knife plunging into her jugular flashed into her mind, Mary’s hand shooting up to her neck. A gasp escaped her lips. The memory had been associated with very real pain. Withdrawing her hand, she held it up, shaking before her face, the fingers mercilessly free of blood.

Somebody walked past her room, the figure briefly visible.

“Hello?” Mary shouted. Had the person heard her? Slipping her legs over the side of the bed, she gingerly stood, wrapping the thin sheet around her. The floor was cold, and despite the visual evidence, it felt wet, as if it had been coated in a thin jelly. The sheet also looked clean, but it felt dank, as if it had been left in a dark and damp basement.

Nothing felt right here. Nothing felt comfortable.

Above her, the lights flickered. The disruption was accompanied by a sound, a harsh clanging that resonated all around her. It wasn’t loud enough to cause her physical pain, but it was of sufficient volume that you couldn’t ignore it. Briefly, the lights in her room went out. Still partly illuminated by the corridor, she felt more than saw the room shift around her.

When the lights came back on, the room had shrunk, the bed having disappeared. The moisture on the floor, as invisible as it was, became older, the sheet now giving off a foul odour. Her makeshift garment still looked fresh and clean, but it felt rank, so much so that Mary chose to let it fall to the floor and expose her nakedness.

As unbelievable as it seemed, the discarded fabric began to twist and gyrate when it hit the floor. It slithered off into the corner of the room, where it began to fold in on itself.

The lights winked out again. When their illumination returned, the room had shrunk even more, the sheet no longer present. The light was different now, harsher, leaving shadows where none should be possible. The pristine whiteness of the walls was also gone, a deep black mould spreading across every surface.

Mary knew she couldn’t stay in this room. Despite the madness of the situation, she had no choice but to take her naked self into the corridor.

The corridor was a complete contrast to the room she had left. The floor was dry and warm, a pleasant breeze circulating. The corridor was pure white and long, stretching off into the distance in both directions. She turned her head each way, unsure of which way to turn. There were hundreds of doors along both walls, some open, but most closed. Mary turned to look back into her room, but the door she used had been replaced by a blank, sterile wall.

“What the…?” How was that possible? How could a door disappear like that?

“What do you think?” Mary jumped in fright, her nerves already on edge. There was a woman next to her, naked as Mary was. Mary stepped away, the wrongness of the woman evident. The distortions in the stranger’s features were subtle but devastating to any normal concept of beauty. The eyes were too wide apart, the nose too broad and flat. Even the teeth seemed a fraction too long. And the more Mary looked at her, the more the stranger seemed to insult what the human form was supposed to be about. The hips were too wide, the knees too high.

“Where am I?” Mary begged. The surrounding breeze had lost its pleasantness now, a strong stench of rot percolating everything.

“You know where you are,” the stranger offered. “You’ve always known.” A memory clawed its way into Mary’s mind, an image of untold agony inflicted. Mary fell to her knees, vomit demanding to be free. But nothing came, merely dry heaves that felt like a dozen razor blades churning through her chest.

“This can’t be,” Mary managed through tears. The light seemed to be brighter, burning into her eyes.

“Are you ready for some more fun?” the stranger enquired. She was kneeling too now, her hairline shifting and meandering, the facial features in subtle flux as they warped from one abomination to the other.

“What are you?” Mary could barely comprehend what she was looking at.

“You ask me that every time,” the stranger chuckled. “You will remember soon enough.” Mary scrambled to her feet, terror claiming her. She’d never felt anything like it, so all-consuming and monstrous was the sensation. Without another word, Mary took off, her feet slapping on the polished floor.

“Where are you going?” the stranger demanded. Mary didn’t answer, and she didn’t look back. Instead, she ran, her soles protesting the abuse they were receiving.

The problem with running was that the corridor seemed to be endless. The doors were all uniform, hiding their secrets. At times, the floor became slippery, and Mary nearly lost her footing. But still she ran, despite the futility, despite the dawning awareness that she had run down this corridor hundreds of times before.

You know where you are, the little voice in her mind warned.

“No, it isn’t true,” she screamed through her tears and her desperation.

You know exactly where you are, the voice said again. Her right foot came down, only this time the floor wasn’t warm. It had turned, in an instant, bitterly cold. Momentum propelled her on, but the skin of her foot stuck to the surface, ripping off and exposing the muscle beneath. Then the left foot landed, and this time the floor was scorching, the meat of her foot cooking on impact.

The agony caused Mary to lose her balance, and she slammed to the floor, cold and heat torturing her flesh. She screamed and writhed as the body of the stranger towered above her.

“Why?” was all Mary could beg through her agony.

“You have proven yourself worthy of the torment you honour this place with,” the stranger said. “Your sins are returned to you a thousand-fold. A second on earth is the same as a decade here. But you know this, for I have told you this countless times.” Everything around Mary went black, her whole body consumed by numbness. When the brightness finally met her eyes again, she was no longer on the corridor floor. She found herself strapped down to a surgical bed, her arms pulled painfully over her head, legs spread wide in merciless stirrups.

Towering over her, two women stood, dressed in white latex nurse’s outfits. Their mouths were hidden by masks, but Mary knew they both sported leering smiles.

“Let me go, please,” Mary pleaded. She remembered now, remembered it all. She’d been here before, had suffered at the hands of these fiends.

“You will never be free,” the two nurses said in unison. “You will return here endlessly, witness to the skill with which we perform our art.” This was Mary’s fate.

Here she would scream and suffer, her skin a million times more sensitive, her injuries always self-healing to allow fresh atrocities to be performed. She would come here again and again, to pay the price for her earthly wickedness.

 

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