I wasn’t sure how long I’d been suspended in the room. I couldn’t remember the last time light had elucidated these claustrophobic confines, nor exactly when I realized I was trapped within them. Vague outlines surrounded the silhouettes of objects filling the room, slightly blurred and perfectly still. These things themselves were not strange, but when I saw them, my mind whispered dissimulation: “This is a dream.” And as I listened to it, figures of shadow formed within the depths light didn’t dwell. They were staring at me with quite a malignant intent for being hallucinations.
I was cold in a peculiar way, not like the familiar, fresh Autumnal chill of things to come, but with an absent numbness. My physical being and my consciousness were inexplicably disconnected, possibly even entirely disembodied. I could not move a single piece of me I felt, remaining perpetually static within a room in which nothing moved. Panic rose, panic like waking up in sleep paralysis greeted by hollow whispers of languages unknown. The voices are otherworldly, of a surreal type that was so unreal it was tormenting. But they also murmered with an eldritch disdain.
And they know about the paralysis.
The ubiquitous darkness of the room pervaded all of my vision so deeply I would forget that darkness was something I could look at. An impulsive subconscious recollection that the opposite of darkness did exist would flicker briefly every once in a while until, growing faint amidst the abysm of black, it would be snuffed and forgotten. Innumerable times.
How long have I been in this place?
There were edges sticking out in the dark of the room, very reminiscent of mannequins. The limbs were splayed strangely , however, and unnatural contortions within their forms induced feelings of sickness: they looked like people. They weren’t breathing.
I could not move my face to see the rest of the room, but I could hear a muffled, sluggish breathing off to my side. It was heavy, deep, droning, over and over. Incessantly ceaseless. It was the only thing I heard besides the strange auditory hallucinations. There were so many low hums, different pitched beeps, echoes, sometimes footsteps. And the long, eerily spectral cry. It was toneless, ghostly, and instilled within me a primal, intrinsic fear that I was in the vicinity of something I needed to escape. A predator.
I smelled the results of a death, which were putrescent, and ripe with decay. The air was filled with necrosis, that explicit malodorous stench of cadaver, and it’s very decomposition seemed eternally anchored in my nose. I had lost my sense of taste, and I could not feel a jaw, tooth, or tongue near what I thought to be my face.
Time passed. I was never sure how long, but it was what I always imagined a sentence in Hell would be like: eternally alone. And then, after time immemorial had gone by, in just a single instant, a door opened. The first perceivable change I could ever remember happened.
“It’s right through here,” A man uttered, anticipation flagrantly noticeable in his voice. A pair of shadows entered. The door closed quickly and light spilled through the prison. As it hit my eyes, it felt like my retinas died. There were no eyelids to bring back the sweet darkness. How I beseeched my nocturnal mistress to come steal me back again.
“Wait – what the fuck is this place?” I heard a voice, different from the first man. “What are these things?” He said, realization slowing his speech down. Trepidation trembled the beginnings of his words. As he spoke, I imagined the horror shooting adrenals through his nervous system. I could hear the beat of his heart, thunderous, echoing through the room, immersing us in his terror. I could feel the very essence of his sadness, his dread, his defeat, they all dispersed and seeped inside the corners and cracks of the room. Inside my pores. I swore I heard him thinking.
“This is the end.” This is the end.
My eyes began to acclimate, and instead of sterile blinding light I could now see figures standing. Their details were indistinguishable, but one was wearing black and the other white.
“This is-” And then a repetitive sawing noise, the white-clad murderer moving a limb quickly towards the victim’s head. I heard the dull blade repeatedly pushed through the neck, slowly cleaving flesh, arteries spraying across the room and raining upon the stone ground that was already covered in blotches brown and dark red. The stains of past encounters. Vertebrae of the spine ground against metal, and then, finally, the figure convulsed to the ground. I could see crimson flood the floor, growing inky as my eyes adjusted to the light. The blood was thick, coating the stone, streams diverging in and out of itself. They looked almost like veins.
The figures closer to me began to take shape. They looked like mummified corpses, the first just a torso propped upon a pole in the ground, the other trapped by a chain around the neck connected to the ceiling. They didn’t move, but they looked like people. No breath. The man in black has stopped convulsing.
There was a loud wheezing, that continuous attempt for air. It was deep, and the only thing breaking the silence. Then the man in white stood above the effortlessly slaughtered man in black, and began intonating peculiar pitches, growling foreign words in a feral speech. I cannot tell how long this goes on. The body on the floor was still, until what sounds like a death rattle is released and the man in black floats up slowly. The man in black is still entrapped within the husk of his former body: his eyes are darting from corner to corner as his head is forced to look at the man in white, from murderer to grave. The man in white was manipulating the carcass with his hand.
“Are you wondering what this place is?” Said the man to the corpse. I could see the dead man’s eyes, incredulous and in fear. In fact, they shined with vigor, with life! I felt the strength of vitality in him. This man in black was young, twenties, and ready for a long life until his head was almost entirely severed with a blade.
“These are what I consume.” He says, voice empty and wintery, gesturing to the bodies adjacent and throughout the room. And me.
The man who feeds off me looked dead himself. He was thin, gaunt, wizened and gray-haired. He was skeletal, his movements were deliberate and bore an air of ill-boding. He polluted his presence about, a miasma of toxic negativity, very stagnant and almost moribund. Memento mori. I could hear his intentions without a word, ululating inside my head, he was screaming, he was screaming that he was going to fucking drain me. Until I was nothing more than scraps for scavengers. I’ll disappear. Blackness. Forever damned. I am forever damned.
“Do you see this mutilated being? I once convinced the one inside that he had a son that was kidnapped and brought here. The effects left some of the most satisfying psychological scarring I’ve ever had the pleasure to enjoy. I removed his skin, jaw, and tongue, his ability to live and, unfortunately, some nerves. Sadly, he will be dry soon,” The man’s voice was so cold, it was listless yet shockingly misanthropic, a refined manner of speaking both eloquent and full of a primordial hate.
I began to remember. My son. What was his name? Did I not have one? How can I not have, I remember him. I remember the day he was born. September thirteenth. It snowed that day, and I remember it was so strange for it to be snowing in September. Or do I? I remember college. I was falling in love with. . . Her. Her? I remember her. I remember? I can’t remember.
I remember out of nowhere one night, after falling asleep, I was creeping in to the derelict house, fearful for the fate of my insidiously fabricated son. I was not very lucid at the time and let my subconscious control my body, like in a dream. I was just there to get my son. I was enveloped by phantasmagoric darkness, trying to figure out if I was just really stuck in a nightmare. Down the stairs. The seconds were slow. There was a low, droning, strangely organic sound, rhythmic and cacophonic with disturbingly xenophobic vibes.
And then I open the door and there are so many of the dead, they’ve all been explored, defiled and destroyed. The flies infect them with colonies of maggots, entire colonies, growing and thriving beneath the sallow skin. A hand is swiftly forced in my mouth, and then back out with my lower jaw. The pain is instantaneous, the sickness intolerable: my body was being terminally destroyed right in front of my eyes.
Dying was not easy.
The torture was illimitably horrific. He froze all the muscles in my body, forced hooks through my muscles, all the while unnecessarily prolonged, with pleasure. I could feel him feed off my experience. He knew of the darkest of emotions that inundated my lungs, oh God it hurt me so much as the blade removed the flesh. Second after second I regretted ever existing, every second he sliced my skin and pieces of muscle off, every second I was waiting to be dead. He then stole my innards, arm through the abdomen, he reached around and started pulling, and I could feel pieces of me slide out. The lungs, however, had to be ripped out.
And then it was over. I was hung up to be sipped away, and it hurt so bad to watch him savor me. How many of the others here have I seen ravaged to and beyond death’s threshold as I studied them? There were so many times I’d seen this before, and every person that butchered reminded me of how good it felt to not be them.
So many times I’ve forgotten and remembered when the man in white would sneer as he eyed me like a trophy. How many times he came down here just to observe me as I died slowly. I can feel myself die.
I feel myself atrophy.
The man levitates the newest addition for his menagerie out of sight, and decides to allow him use of his vocal chords again. The dead man begins to scream, begging for forgiveness, for mercy, for anything that might end the unbearable. I see small tributaries of cold blood snake across the stone floor from a different area in the room, smearing another shade of gore upon the mosaic composed of bodily death. Much time goes by. I study the two figures I saw in the dark earlier.
One has had his body removed from the hips down, marked with the ferocity of enjoyment. A saw was used, leaving hewn chunks of flesh that had rotted to a gangrene. The body of the man was impaled upon a browned pole cemented into the ground. I can remember when he was placed there, and how much he bled as he was torn inside by it. The other had splinters of bones broken through skin everywhere and muscles stretched and sewn to other pieces of the body. He was hanging limp by a chain hooked through the neck of the throat. But this looked like a child. A boy.
More time passes. The screaming has died, and now the man groans heavily, sputtering as electric tools come to life. The deep, droningly sustained noise I’ve heard every second since I’ve been in this room doesn’t fail to disturb. It sounds like someone gasping with water in their lungs.
The newly blood-bathed torturer leaves after some time, turning off the light. We’re alone again. The darkness is amazing, I was beginning to forget what it was even like, even doubting there was such thing as an absence of light.
I’m slowly beginning to forget everything. It has to have been hours now. The pitch blackness is boring into my brain, crushingly numb me. Wasn’t someone trying to kill me? Why couldn’t I move?
This room was the bottom of the ocean and I was a buried at sea. No light. No warmth. These depths are oppressive. What did the absence of darkness even look like? When was the last time I had seen it?
When did I realize I was in this room?