Abrupt. Forth I am thrust into consciousness, no period of awakening or transition. I wake the instance I breech the surface. Sharply I inhale, and all at once a foul wretch fills me. The filth and sludge forces its way down my throat, coats my lungs. All around me is thick ooze, no solid ground or handhold. Panicked. I kick my legs and wave my arms, yet the oppressive toxin holds me at half speed, slows my movements. The foulness sits heavy in my lungs, now enters my stomach. I open my eyes to a cold blackness, an abyss unrivaled by tales and sights of men. All around me is the sludge. This place is devoid of light.
Feral. I surge with all limbs, heave with all I have, yet all is still dark. I remain submerged, fighting for air. I am as an animal, wild and fear-stricken. Is there an end to this sludge? I feel the toxin press me on all sides. Panic recedes from my limbs, only to intensify in my mind. My heart beat slows. I find I can no longer fight; downward I sink as the toxic ooze bleeds through my skin, permeates every bit of my body. I curl up, try to fend off the advance of the sludge, but I am powerless. I find I am naked, hairless, utterly exposed. Defiled. This putrid stew fills me, encompasses my entire being. The deeper the blackness seeps, the more my skin crawls, tries to force itself from me. I claw at my flesh, desperately fighting for a way to rid my body of the sludge, fighting for some release. My efforts are fruitless, yet this merely drives me on. I claw, I tear, I rip. I peel at the wounds, compelled by some sickening madness. It is a most unholy mandate that drives the nails deeper and deeper into the flesh. My will is not my own. Ravaged. Body and mind ravaged, my hands slow their efforts, my arms grow ever weaker. I loosen up, begin to realize how starved my brain is for oxygen. My whole body becomes numb, still against my will. I fight for control, but lose, no longer reigning in my own mind. My eyes roll into the back of my head, my entire body becomes limp. Consciousness slips from my body. Every bit of my will screams in defiance, yet still I lay, all the while wasting away, and my oxygen-starved body slowly rots and decays into frigid, irrevocable death. I distinctly feel a warm embrace. Defeated. Tender arms enclose me. Body and mind are granted peace, just one moment of serenity.
The arms decay, become emaciated husks of their former comfort. They speed me on and on, finally heave me upon a rocky shore. I crawl, a homogenized beast stripped of all identity from the foul blackness that swallowed me. I wretch over and over, clearing the sludge from my gut and lungs, yet it lingers within me, clinging to more than just my body. Compelled by that unholy, unwavering will that so perverts my mind, I drag myself farther and farther ashore, until I can physically go no farther. The rocks beneath my palms are gray under the abyss that has swallowed the once-familiar sky.A howling wind pierces right down to the bone. Barren, desolate trees pierce the ground and reach towards the sky like bony, undead hands reaching upwards for a salvation that never comes. My vision is blurred and my breathing is frantic, choked. I feel the very presence of corruption directly in front of me. I no longer control my mind, my body is entirely broken and my very will is bent. I feel as if my very soul has been defiled. Corrupted. Inspired once again by that supreme force of malevolence, my voice carries a horrendous rasp as I try to form words.
“Wh- where,” I break into a fit of coughs again. The fit won’t subside, yet the cruel power drives me on, spurs my curiosity. I simply must know. My voice portrays every ounce of fear inside me.
“Where am I?” A swift kick in the gut serves as my response. I groan and roll over onto my back, clutching my naked stomach. The gashes in my flesh seer as they contact the rocks beneath me; my skin crawls as the presence in front of me draws nearer. I see a tall, gaunt man. His face is pale, like that of a corpse washed ashore days after death. His face is dominated by two hollow sockets where eyes never were, more black and abyssal than the sludge behind me or the blackness that swallowed the sky. My eyes meet his, beg for some reply. It is his will that has made an animal of me, his command now to speak once more.
“Where am I? Where am I, damn it! Where am I!”
He smiles in reply to my pitiful state. “Welcome to Hell.”
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