A glimpse of Hell – Tom

Tom had once had an important sounding title that he could no longer remember. He’d also been considered a hero when his information and investigation had been crucial in foilingthe criminal underworld of New York City. That heroic status saw him promoted and transferred to what he thought would be his dream job. With the offered promotion, Tom had been willing to sacrifice his time as a field agent for a more politically minded career path.

He hadn’t given up on the corruption that helped his much needed retirement.

That was a mistake, and it hadn;t taken long for his world to fall apart, his corruption uncovered, and those he served with had come for him.

His last living memory was of the taste of gun metal and the discomfort as the end of the gun’s barrel scraped his palate. Then there had been the sensation, as if someone had punched him, only for Tom to be left with blackness.

Not oblivion, though.

It was thus with utter confusion when he opened his eyes and found himself upright. His memories of his life were scattered and haphazard, but he knew that this couldn’t be. Thoughts that he had somehow survived were nullified by the dark and odious environment, and the stench that scoured his nostrils and itched the back of his throat.

Tom was standing, but not from his own effort. He was crammed in a confined space with others, shoulder to shoulder, so tight it made breathing difficult. He was taller than most people, but not here. Hidden faces turned away from him, the only light coming through slats on the walls.

The floor was moving as well, which brought alarm. It took him some moments to realise he was in a train cattle car, a horrific mode for people to be transported.

He would have cried out, but the searing pain in the back of his throat prevented that. That was when another horror struck him, his skin was naked like the people around him. And his hands; they were made useless by the tight restraints that bound them together behind his back.

This was worse than any nightmare he’d ever experienced. Images from his past taunted him, flashing through his thoughts.

There was no denying he was here, filled with terror and nausea, death no escape.

It felt like hours passed before the train came to a screeching halt, the bodies inside flung against each other, the violent motion bringing Tom fully into the present. Some around Tom whimpered, others cried out loud, all in languages he could not understand. With a teeth-chilling scrape, a large side door opened, pungent air flowing in with putrid light. It acted as a pressure valve, the trapped surging out.

“Come on, you scum, we don’t have all day,” an authoritative voice shouted over a megaphone.

Tom felt himself move with the herd, apprehension and relief competing together. Some by the door fell, trampled by dozens of feet that broke bones and ruptured organs, but nobody seemed to care. As much as everyone was in the same predicament, it was every person for themselves.

Finally, he was out of the door, the platform seamless with the train carriage. With his hands held behind his back, he knew he was helpless, and he moved with the crowd, funnelled in by high fences and razor wire. Bright lights shone on him, thick, blinding beams that only acted to highlight the cold on his exhalation. Being rammed in with the others had at least given him a semblance of warmth.

Now he shivered as the low temperatures bit deep.

“No dawdling, you dogs,” the commanding voice roared. Behind the fences, faceless men in uniform watched the new arrivals, slapping their batons into open palms.

Above him, a red sky only added to his sense of dread. Realisation of where he was began to dawn. Why, Tom thought? Hadn’t he been a good man? He’d saved millions of lives and was adamant he’d adequately done his duty. Surely corruption didn’t deserve this punishment.

Hell had accepted him because he was a broken, petty, and jealous man who lacked the empathy and caring nature required for the other place.

The people began to separate into three lines, Tom taking the middle. He passed through a thin wire channel, the sides too close, tiny barbed hooks catching his arms and shoulders. There was no way to turn around, the force of those behind relentless. When he eventually emerged from the other end, his skin had been opened in numerous vicious wounds that pulsed with pain.

Everyone from the train was the same, but like the guards, none of them had a face. Instead, a gyrating oval existed where their features should have been. Tom wanted to scream, but his throat denied him that relief. Hot urine dribbled down the inside of his thigh, terror stripping him of any remaining self-respect.

One by one, the people in front stepped up to a man sitting in a booth. This man had a face, but it wasn’t human, the features sneering and demonic.

This had to be some kind of mistake. When Tom finally stood before the demon, he tried to make that known. Not a sound escaped his throat.

“We’ve got a fresh fish here, boys,” the demon announced loudly. On a metal walkway above, three guards began to bang their batons excitedly, the metal they struck clanging ominously. “Fresh meat to play with. Fresh meat to fuck.” Tom tried to turn away, but the person behind blocked his desperate retreat. Pushed onward, Tom recoiled as the demon lent forward and spat on him, thick, black saliva burning into Tom’s shoulder.

“Some lube for ya, son. You’ll be needing it,” the demon chuckled.

All he could do was continue further into this hellscape, the jeers all aimed at him.

Tom entered another wire tunnel, more barbs bringing more lancing agony, this time his motion controlled by a travelator. There seemed to be no end, which should have been impossible, and Tom considered surrendering to his fatigue. That wouldn’t save him, so he made himself as small as he could, turning sideways on.

“Face forward, you foreign bastard,” a guard on the other side of the wire suddenly shouted.

By the end, his arms were a bleeding wreck, ripped open, and burning, much of the skin gone. Tom was beginning to understand the nature of Hell, and it was then that his mind began to recount that he had made this trip before. Hundreds of times he’d stepped off that train, and snippets of what awaited him began to tease him with their possibilities.

Tom vomited, the sick trickling from his mouth.

The crowd never stopped. Forcing him towards a large building, thick double doors allowing the damned to surge inside.

“Step inside for delousing,” the megaphoned voice commanded. It wasn’t parasites that this room removed, and Tom let the panic build. At that moment, he prayed for insanity, but this was Hell. There would never be such mercy.

Despite the darkness, Tom knew the inside of the building was impossibly vast, that he was suddenly the only prisoner there. All the others on the train had merely been phantoms, scenery for this devilish play, his memories of the times before building. He was the star and the audience, and now the show was about to begin.

The restraints holding his arms suddenly disappeared.

“Step forward,” a female voice demanded. He did so, ceiling spotlights following him. All around, Tom heard the hiss of mockery, hands teasing him as they struck him from the darkness.

“Keep moving,” came another order, two firm hands suddenly pushing him. Tom stumbled and fell, sprawling on the slick ground. Things crawled there, living and chewing on discarded flesh. He knew what this was, had suffered this fate so many times.

The hands that grabbed him dragged his struggling body face down, skin scraped by broken bones and dirty glass. Infection in his wounds would be the least of his concerns here. Tom felt himself lifted, arms pulled high, only for his body to be inverted.

Thick hooks pierced both ankles, leaving him suspended, the blood rushing to his head. There would be no unconsciousness for him.

“Do you know why you are here?” a stern voice asked. Tom’s vision was limited, the only light centred on him. Whoever it was circled him, just out of reach. Unable to speak, Tom shook his head.

“You always give the same answer,” a second tormentor informed him. “The truth is in your heart.”

Another demon spoke.

“Soon we will begin the treatment you have come to adore. Days we will spend on you, your flesh healing as we tear it from you. There will be no relief, only suffering and endless mutilation.” Tom remembered it all now, the unbearable pain that had been without end. There was no way for him to recall how many times he had been here, in this place.

Something felt different, a new presence here with him.

“I think you are ready. What would you give to end this?” This voice held authority rather than menace.

Anything, Tom screamed in his mind.

“Yes, he’s ready.” Demonic faces appeared now, three of them, sneering and cold. One licked its shredded lips.

Ready for what, though?

“We still get to have our fun,” another voice promised.

“So much fun.”

“A goodbye gift.”

Tom’s body arched as the knife began to slice into his back.

“If only you could speak.”

“Beg us to stop.”

The voices were spiralling, coming from all directions.

“We might show pity.”

“Wouldn’t that be nice?” A hand gripped his hair, pulling down, the roots failing. Then the surrounding light expanded, enough to show the metal trolley with a thousand rusty metal skewers.

“I wonder what we should do with these.” From the blackness, a manicured female hand grabbed a handful.

Somehow, Tom knew that this torture would be the worst yet. How could anything he’d done in his life be deserving of this?

 

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