What Lies Beyond
The streets of the intersection which I, Christine Hunter, found myself in, stretched away in wind swept concrete ribbons that dwindled and faded into the horizon-south to the skeletal bridge that spanned a river of blood.
North were the parched lands that were now graveyards, east lied the remains of a slain sea, and west was the eternal plains. A street sign, bent and weathered, confirmed I stood on the corner of Lazarus avenue, 666th street. The town was eight blocks square, four blocks in any direction from where I stood, petering out in dribs and drabs of homes that have been converted to charnel houses, or simply leveled to provide burial spots.
Further out lay the abandoned ruins of two insane asylums and a bone mill. Along down along the crimson river banks I could see the broken down stacks, and rusted out corrugated roof of what was left of a concentration camp.
I looked around slowly, making sure I wasn't in any immediate danger, resting a bit since I’d been running for what seemed like ever.
The sky over head was clouded and dark, blood rain threatening, it would probably fall before long. Although it was noon the light was so pale it seemed like dusk. The air and ground were washed clean of color. Buildings, streets, abandoned vehicles, trash and sky were a uniform shade of gray, the paint running from one into the other until nothing remained but shadows and light to differentiate any of it.
In the silence the wind moaned softly as it rose off the river and whipped down the empty streets, blowing my thigh length silk dress about me like a small robe, involuntarily flashing my naked bottom to the creatures that peeked out from the shadows and alley ways.
Twigs, leaves and debris skittered along the cracked concrete. Windows gaped dark and hollow where glass had been broken out. Doors hung open and sagged, smears of burnt flesh and dried blood stain the walls where victims had been brutally slaughtered.
Cars hunkered down on flattened tires and bare axles, stripped of everything useful, abandoned shells turning slowly to rust.
I looked the town over as one would a living nightmare, wishing it was a dream. A pack of demons came out of one of the buildings. There were maybe ten of them, red eyed, lean, and sharp talons. They studied my 24 year old body momentarily, taking my measure before moving on.
They wanted nothing to do with a lady that willingly visited such a place. I watched them disappear around the corner of a building, and then I began to walk.
I moved east toward the dead remains of a park, even though I had an idea what I'd find. I passed a bunker, tea house, funeral home, a graveyard, and stopped at a carpentry shop called Vincent's. The sign still hung over the entry; the enamel was faded and broken, but the name was still recognizable.
I quietly crept over and peered inside.
The furniture and saws were all smashed and covered in bits of flesh, the drills broken, and wood tables ripped to shreds .Blood coated the counter top, bones littered the ruined floor, and brambles poked out of the cracks in the tile.
I turned away just in time to catch sight of two small living dead children slipping from the alleyway across the street. They carried gangrenous arms in their hands, bites missing from them in places.
Their rotting bodies looked to be in the last stages of decay, their clothes ragged and stained, blind eyes crawling with maggots.
They slowed to consider me, chests expanding as they took in my scent. I waited for them, turned to face them, drawing a broken and jagged machete I'd salvaged from the remains of a hardware store weeks earlier. Grinning darkly I let a low snarl escape my throat to let them see I wasn't afraid.
They glanced at each other, growled something in the back of their throats, then moved slowly towards me.
Unlike the demons, they wanted me. I took up a duelist stance and raised the weapon level with them, standing my ground and taking a defensvie posture, balanced, poised to strike.
With slow, halting movements they staggered toward me, like bizarre marionettes free of their strings. As they neared the point of my blade I stepped nimbly to the side, slashing at the exposed neck of the closest zombie, cutting it clean off just beneath the chin, where it fell with a sickening squish to the pavement.
The creature stumbled forward a few strides, before tripping over its own feet and falling in a tangled heap of arms and legs.
The second zombie lunged at me in a tackle, arms spread wide, a leering grin on its decaying face. I quickly dodged the clumsy attack and thrust my sword point into and through the back of its head, twisting the blade sharply before withdrawing it. A thick pudding like fluid gushed out and bathed the thing's back in a sticky spray, before it fell to its knees, clutching at the spurting hole in the base of its skull.
Wiping the gore drenched blade off on the ragged remains of its clothes I turned and continued up the street, the sound of my shoes a hollow echo in the midday silence.
Office buildings and shops gave way to homes. The homes were empty as well, those that were still intact. Many were burned out and sagging, settling slowly back into the earth. Pricker bushes grew everywhere, even through cracks in the concrete of the streets.
I wondered how long it had been since anything had been to this section of hell. Counting the pack of demons, the zombies, and one or two other denizens that linger in the hopes of fresh food how many were left here?
In some sections there was nothing. Only in the largest of cities did the evil forces band together and actively pursue the lost souls to their final destruction.
I've been to one of those cities and seen what it has to offer. I already saw the fate of another soul that didn't escape.
He had the skin removed from his body layer by layer, and bathed in salt between each one.
Once his skin was gone he'd had slow worms inserted through the orifices of his body, his eye lids removed so he could watch them eat his flesh from the inside out.
Once he died his soul went deeper, to one of the other planes of pugatory.
How many there were I knew not, only that this was the first, and most pleasant. You had a chance to evade capture here, for a while at least. It wasn't like there was anywhere else to go.
Those that found themselves here were already dead and the demons had eternity to capture them.
I'd met some who claimed they'd been here traveling these wastelands for almost five years, living off the flesh of the slain, and that maybe someday they'd be let free.
I see how much they're coming to resemble the creatures that hunt them, and how, in a few years they will become the demons, and hunt the newcomers.
Drugged or insane travelers wind up here, or those too stupid to listen to the warnings. I guess it's what you call hell.
According to the insane mutterings of a corpses shadow, this was the recycling place and torture chamber of the soul.
An infinite place of pain and agony. Where you can die countless times, and each death feels worse then the last.
One seer that had escaped from down lower claimed they'd infuse you with life, keep you on the brink of death for months, continually torturing you, subjecting you to every form of pain and humiliation possible, before letting you slip to the next level, which is even worse.
Where what happened the level before is pleasant compared to the new torture. I'm not sure if I dare to believe her, I'm too scared she may be telling the truth. But this level was bad enough.
People having their ankles shattered, then placed in cages and forced to stand on them 24 hours a day, fed and kept alive until the broken bones became infected and they died of blood poisoning.
Others calmly accepted their fate, or tried to take their own life, which I've been told inflicts even worse pain on the next level.
I've never been one to accept things I didn't like. Besides I had someone who needed me desperately in the normal world; someone whom loved me more than existence itself, and whom I also loved dearly.
I feared if I didn't rejoin her soon, she would risk her own life and wind up here.
I knew there was a way out, there had to be. If I gave up that hope then I was already lost.
The last thing I remember was being knocked down in the alley, feeling that beasts hot sticky breath on the back of my neck, the corded muslces of it's furry body like steel cables against me.
When it growled its furred yet humanoid paws ripping my panties off I began to scream, and it howled, the beastial cry of an animal in heat.
The rest of what it did to me is a haze of pain and ectasy that ended with me choking on my own blood before becoming engulfed in darkness.
When I woke up I was here, in what I guess is hell. I'm not really sure how long I've been here, a week maybe, or possibly a month.
My throughts of the past faded behind me and I stopped at the edge of a cemetary and looked off into the shadows beyond, the cool breeze once more tickling the bare skin underneath my dress and blowing my hair about me in tornado of golden locks.
I am here I suppose, because I have no better place to go.
I am here searching in the vain hope something will lead me in a direction that points outward. So far I have only decided to follow my heart, and go where it leads me, make a living as a scavanger.
And so I journey on, in this place where the sun never rises nor sets, with only distant plains and mountain tops give me direction.
I pray that among them I will find a way back, to be with her once again. If not in body, then at least spirit. For she needs me more than any other.
Thunder rumbles in the distance, a sure sign blood rain is coming, along with other things.
I take a long slow breath, my pursuers will find me again soon enough, but perhaps not this day.
So I will walk onward still, and write again in this lost diary that will become ether my epilogue in the event I fail, or my story of success.
The yellowed grass came up to my ankles and rustled softly as I walked through it, the impending blood storm looming over me in the sky like a constant companion, promising damp deluges of crimson rain and dissolved flesh, admist the purple lightning bolts.
The flat rolling grasslands spread about me like a never ending carpet, broken only by distant mountain crags and cliffs in the east, barely any closer, even though I had been traveling toward them almost since I've arrived here.
Like the bullet from a gun, the storm struck, breaking loose in a sudden rage, engulfing me in its fury, the red drops of blood and slimy strings of entrails raining down from the sky reducing my vision to only a few scant feet.
Ducking my head against the sharp wind I hunched my shoulders and clutched the hilt of my blde, my dress instantly soaked and clinging to me in places those living would have stared at.
Ahead among the downpour I saw movement, a darker patch among the growing shadows. I stopped, and peered closer, trying to determine if it was merely illusion or some new menace created by the storm.
Again the hulk of blackness moved, seeming to detach itself from a large shape and flow towards me in a smooth ripple.
I drew my blade in a flash, backpedaling, then slipping on the blood slick grass, the weapon flying from my grasp, lost in the raging storm.
As I fell the darkling lunged toward me in a twisted knot of what appeared to be leeches and sailed over me by scant inches, the fringes of its essence brushing against my out stretched hands.
It only touched my finger tips, but that touch was colder than the iciest winter, and seemed to freeze me to the core. When I landed my side came into contact with the hard earth suddenly, knocking the breath from my lungs with a sharp hiss.
On my back I rolled sideways, toward the area my sword vanished into, heedless of the entrails wrapped about my legs; concerned only with escaping the living cloud of evil that approached me.
The dark mass angled thin black tendrils or squealing worms toward my legs, I barely twisted away and getting to my knees I crawled away from the looming void, the kiss of a leech across the back of my legs bringing a scream to my throat.
Ahead, scant feet to my left lay the machete, half buried in blood drenched grass and greasy hunks of flesh.
I leaped in a final desperate attempt at salvation, and felt its blood slick hilt between my fingers, along with pieces of grass and clods of bloody earth.
Spinning around I slashed at the murky shadow, a spray of bloow and severed body parts my reward. As the monstority recoiled I turn and ran, stumbling and slding down the hill, the shaowed form vanishgin into the storm behind me.
My breath coming in ragged gasps I struggled to my feet, pulled my dress back down around my thighs and journeyed forward.
A while later, (I can only assume it was hours, but may have been merely minutes) the blood and pieces of raw meat gave way to ice cold water, which chilled me to the bone, even though it did wash the blood and bits of organs out of my hair and dress, as well as cleaning the cover of this diary slightly and my blade, which I could then put away.
The rest of my trip across the lost plains was thankfully uneventful. Until once again a city crouched on the horizon, like a lurking predator, waiting to consume the unwary.
This is where I stand now, some distance from the city of demons, writing in this pocket diary with a red pen.
I still consider how fortunate I am to have found this partly intact diary and dirty pen among the ruins of a schoolhouse. As for food and water I still find no desire for either, even though I have been here for over two weeks by my best guess.
Other bodily functions associated with eating and drinking have also ceased, but to no discomfort. A survivor I met in one of the larger cities said that's the way it is with new comers, they are but spirits with no need for food or drink.
Yet once they consume either in this forsaken world their soul becomes dependent on it to survive, and without it will quickly perish in a matter of weeks.
That would explain why the demons force feed those few they capture, before doing other things too sickening to mention.
As for sleep, I still need it, and can feel fatigued after exertion, but a few hours slumber restores my body completely.
Even so I don't sleep much here. When I sleep I dream, no, dream isn't the right word actually. I experience nightmare so heart stoppingly terrifying that to awake in this purgatory is a blessing in comparison.
I will write again soon but I must hurry onwards for to linger here inthe open is a danger I can ill afford.
* * * * *
I've been floating on this hourglass shaped barge for some time now, the slow sluge of a river snaking through the burnt landscape like a bleeding scar across the earth. I've pondered the logic and sense of this place on many a slepless night, yet can't seem to comprehend why this place exists. Hell with no heaven?I t makes no sense.
Yet I've spoken with others who've been here longer than I have, and new comers that recently arrived. The older ones claim the innocent and criminal alike come here, the newer arrivals laugh at what I tell them I've seen, and say it's a test of their faith and but an illusion.
Those ones don't live long. Other new comers go insane at finding themselves trapped in a world of unending torture. One man a officer of the law even tried shooting me with the pistol clenched in his hand when he had died. I barely managed to strike first and send him a level lower with my opening strike.
The pistol rests securely on my hip, the thirteen rounds within my only hope against the greater evils of this place.
Only one person did listen to me, an orphan a little younger then myself, about 14 or 15, wearing school uniform and carrying a book bag.
She said she was at her school and there was a drive by from local gang, three men with guns opening up on the playground. She turned to run then everything went dark and she woke up here.
I told her about this place, and what awaited her here. She ran into a small building and lost herself within. Said she was going to spend eternity dreaming about her boyfriend and parents.
Nice idea. She should be able dream to for quite a while until the building she's hiding in finishes digesting her. She wouldn't let me tell her about the places without doors, the living houses that eat intruders.
Pity, but life here is so tragic and horrible there's no time to cry for the lost. After all, we all are lost, forever, in an unending hell.
I find myself wondering how my dearest love would take to this place? If she'd be overjoyed at being with me forever, or if she'd turn into a gibbering mad woman.
For now I can only try my best to stay one step ahead of the things that dwell here, and hope maybe someday even escape them entirely.
Additional Ideas (10)
They seem so inviting, these seemingly intact houses with their doors gaping open invitingly, but they are deadly traps and demonic beings in their own right, although their intelligence is more at the plant level. First, their cupboards and fridges are stacked full of food;this is genuine, but eat or drink here and you will need food and water to survive, and these things are not all that common.The baths and beds are deadly-the first will turn acidic once you are fully covered in *water*, the second turns into a toothy mouth as soon as you sleep and crunches you up. The thing can read your mind and makes the bed look the same as your own in the human world down to any toy anmals. Die here, and you wake up in a nastier level of hell. Stay here too long without being digested, and the curtains and carpets turn into tentacles with sharp poison claws and swipe at you.
How the zombie children formed is unknown but they start as ones who do not look dead at all.In this stage, they are no more evil then most children. However, they must eat human flesh every 24 hours or they start to rot. First just looking pale, then their veins and arteries go green and purple and then the whole body rots. The more the body rots the hungrier it becomes, both like a wild animal hungry for meat and because it knows if it does not feed for a month it's body will fall apart and the soul will end in a deeper, fouler, level of hell.Once it eats it's body resets to the level of freshness of the human flesh it has just started eating...only to start rotting all over again.
Thomas and Sarah
Back on Earth Thomas and Sarah were deeply in love and others envied the couple. Sadly they were attacked by zombies within a matter of days and although Thomas was able to chop them down with the sword he had with him when he died back on Earth Sarah was not so lucky and died slowly of her infected wounds. So much in love with her was Thomas that he has insisted to himself that she is still alive and he drags her dead body with him everywhere he goes. Even though the once-pretty brown eyes are now full of maggots, the once fair skin is purple with decay and the body stinks,Thomas insists that she has got a bit lazy and sleeps a lot and will wake given time.
He kisses her, talks to her often and asks her what she thinks about new people,and should anyone or anything try to take her from him, either to bury,, burn or eat her, he will fight to the death to protect his *princess.*
The geyser is cold and very refreshing...only those who give in to the urge to drink from it,an urge that grows stronger the more you look at it until you take your first gulp. It is not poison, it does not heat up in your stomach and boil it from the inside...but it does make you need to drink. And eat. And excrete. And food, water (away from the geyser) and toilet paper are not very common in this hell world.
A group of troopers over two hundered strong,armed with the sabre, the Colt pistol and the Springfield rifle, 1872 make, dressed in the blue uniforms of the 7th and riding on horseback, led by a blonde haired man who calls himself Custer. To each other they are loyal and will never leave an injured man behind, but to others they are robbers at best, murderers at worst. Some ogf their favourite torments include committing rape, tying people up and leaving them helpless for demons or undead to find, or just forcing them at gunpoint to drink from one of their water bottles,leaving the luckless person now needing to eat,drink and excrete and in danger of thirst and starvation.
Reverse Death Camp
The crematorium here is allways burning but instead of destroying bodies, it creates them in bursts of extreme pain for the victims as their body unburns. After being brutalized a little by the guards here, they are set free to roam the realms of Hell.
This five year old girl,clutching her teddy bear,just wants company, but anyone or for that matter, anything,demons included,that get within seven feet of her fall prey to a foul disease that makes their skin and flesh slip off their body.It is the fact she carries it without it hurting her that has kept her alive for the three days she has been here.Humans who get this disease will die within hours, but demons within minuites.Even House Maws slam their door jaws when she comes near.The most mighty Demons shy away from these seemingly harmless girl, unable to get close enough to kill her without dying themselves.
And yet the very thing that stops her being eaten very quickly makes sure she is friendless and alone and unhappy all the time,looking for friends but forever without them and unhappy.
This large cow sized spider demon captures humans and binds them tight in webbing, then orders them to sing for him.Those whose voices he dislikes end up sucked dry of blood and their souls are sent to another nastier level of hell, those who sing well are held indefinatly, their muscles slowly wasting away as he allows them little or no excersise.
A small group of thirty or so survivors who have so far avoided the many ways to die or go insane here. Each has a weapon, be it club or blade or bar of iron, each is determined to protect not only himself or herself but the others too. It was once a larger group but they had a run in with the 7th and lost many to the 7th's bullets. Indeed, the two groups detest each other. The rules of the Company are few...
Never leave a living member behind
Even when in dire danger, one must allways help one of your own escape if nesscessary, never leaving them to the mercy of the demons, Undead, members of the 7th or anyone or anything that might kill or hurt them. If possible, rescue the bodies too unless it could lead to loss of life, as bodies left behind have often ended up as Undead which have to be fought and forcibly put to rest.
I will follow my brother or sister in peace as in war
Never hurt,steal from or otherwise harm one of your fellow members. If you have a problem, talk it out. Don't fall asleep if on sentry duty. Don't have anything to do with the hated 7th. Don't lie to each other.
Violaters of the rules are disarmed, forced to drink water and left alone at the mercy of whoever wants to attack them.
He is dressed like a county sheriff,with a gun,taser,can of pepper spray, baton and set of handcuffs on his back and drives a police car that works, unlike most of the cars in the region. Often he will help people under attack by Undead and the like, putting bullets into the Undead and offering the person under attack a ride away from that area, but instead of safety, he hands them over to a Greater Demon as food.And when they die they end up in an even worse level of Hell.
Also, he sometimes rapes the girls he *rescues* before handing them over to his Master. In life he was a cop who was so evil that when he died he was allowed to serve his new infernal masters instead of being tortured by them.