There was strong stinging in his nose, it burned as he leaned forward, his hands submerged in a thick and warm substance. He felt an intense ache throughout his body as he winced as his joints bent and he looked out at the foggy images ahead of him. The color red was apparent, but he couldn’t make out much more but the notice of the smell which burnt in his nostrils and made him choke. He slipped as he tried to make it to his feet, his hand splashed at the dark fluid and it landed on his mouth. The taste of it was metallic and caused him to gag. He looked down and noticed himself covered in the dark fluid, the look of his stained clothes were familiar but he felt as if his head was burning as he looked at them. His thoughts were hazy, and he couldn’t hold a thought. The heat was sweltering, as his legs sifted through the muck, and he fell a couple more times as he started to make ground.
It all was dark and a strange color of deep red as far as he could see, his head pounded as he squinted to make sense of any of it. A groan poured out from his lips, he licked at their dry surface as the heat around him strangely seemed to intensify. He scratched at his arms as his breathing began to heavy while he made his way up to a collection of strangely formed rocks grouped onto a platform in the center of the nearly waist-high lake of fluid. As he neared closer he noticed that the rocks seemed to resemble shapes, although he couldn’t make them out through the haze of his eyesight. They were rough on his fingertips as he scaled his fingers across the surface of one of them, a monkey he thought which it slightly seemed to be referenced from. He didn’t understand the point, it was simply another symbol of confusion brought about by his surroundings.
A child suddenly flashed in his mind, he leaned against the statue creature and placed his fingers on the pulsing vein on his temple. It seemed about to burst, as sharp pain and a flood of images reeled like a flip book through his head. The child was a young girl, but he couldn’t make out her face. The dress she wore, black with polka-dots seemed familiar but he didn’t know just why.
He was walking forward now, he shook his head and realized he had left the platform and was back in the depths of the blood-like substance. His vision had cleared enough for him to make out rock-textured walls in the distance, he strafed through to avoid randomly grown pikes of stone as he sifted through the sludge. His eyes expanded in his head, there was something before him, he hadn’t seen where it had come from. The dress was soiled in the muck, but he could still make out the little yellow circles patterned about its fabric. His legs sped forward into stride seemingly on their own, and he slipped. Another mouthful of frothy-solution. He was getting closer, he could almost make out her eyes. He turned and spat, but when he turned back forward the figure of her standing before him was gone.
A hand reached out for the now missing figure and gripped at the air. His actions were almost involuntary, he didn’t know why he did, he only knew of the pounding pain he felt between his ears at the loss. Suddenly, he felt something below near his feet, a pressure bound his ankle, it grip was tight on him. His leg jerked forward from under him, and he entered the fluid with a large splash. He could only think of panic in the split second, it was only darkness as he was rapidly dragged submerged within the solution.
After what seemed as an eternity he stopped, the constriction released and his body burst from the liquid, although it was only halfway to knee-length now. He coughed fluid as he fought to get his lungs to find the air, he sucked uncontrollably at its returned abundance. Once he caught breath he looked forward, after wiping the muck from his eyes he took note of a rustic looking table which was centered a few steps from him, there were three chairs with the fourth against the ground with one of its legs cracked and broken. He noticed that it seemed out-of-place, the scenery was different and dried red walls of rock partly enclosed the area.
Liquid from his fingers trailed at the surface of the table as he wiped his fingers across it, it was smooth and warm. A crack on the far end of it caught his eye, as it was vaguely familiar. There were butterflies in his stomach, a result of anxiety. He took a seat. The chair leg began to crack, yet it stayed sturdy. His eyes rolled back in his head, there were more flashes which passed through his mind. They seemed as memories to him, but he didn’t know the names of the places or the faces he saw. He peered out to the distance and noted that it was mostly darkness with the popping of small embers on the surface of the still liquid solution he had waded through to get here, there was also a musk of rot in the air. He had made his way up onto a higher level which seemed to him like a plateau just before a cave. He saw that there was an entrance to a walkway amidst the bareness around him, nothing told him of any sense of the table being here. He looked down at his hand as it started to feel warmer, he then noticed that the chair he had been seated at was nothing more than a bolder, and the table nothing more than a strangely formed flat rock.
A whirling sound broke him from his concentration at the sudden transformation, he turned and saw a large bed of flame growing from the distance and creeping towards him. He sprinted for the tunnel entrance, and lunged onto it just before the flame swallowed him whole.
His back felt burnt however he had just missed the burning kiss of the flame. A dim glow was his only sign of direction now, using his hands and knees he climbed up the jagged formation of stairs towards its sign. Visions of a life he couldn’t recognize played on the narrow walls beside him, they disoriented his climb and he found it hard to concentrate up the path. His head collided with the side of the wall and a sharp rock jabbed him in the forehead. He cried out in a muffled yell of anguish as his cheek found the floor, he then felt something soft which rose goosebumps on the back of his neck.
The soft fingers of a woman trailed across the side of his head, their touch was warm and welcoming and something about them made him feel at home. He darted up to meet the owner of the soft touch but only the bumpy surface of rock welcomed him. There was then a second touch yet it wasn’t as sweet. A soft, strangely warm, and wet, textured object coiled around his bicep, then slithered down to his wrist leaving a trail of slime as it did. A feeling of warm breath came upon him next, however he didn’t look to see what it was this time. Quickly, he fumbled up the jagged stairs bumping himself on its hard surface and scraping skin, he ran in defence of his unknown visitor at top speed.
Panting for air he burst through the exit welcoming himself to brighter sky and fresher air, it smelled of greenery and water and it was a fair relief to his breathing. He collapsed onto the ground, and it hit him in a thud that took a little of his breath, it pained him slightly but it had seemed to him that he had escaped whatever had been tailing him. His movement was slow from this point, using his elbows and knees he dragged his body forward while he noted the pink sky above that he noticed was a little off. With his lifted head took note of the vastly different surroundings, a spring where all was sepia in color but yet sweet-smelling as any lush forest. He rose on his palms and lifted his head over the beige water which reminded him of beer, and saw his reflection in it. A skull face looked back at him, and he threw himself back away from the realization. When he took a second look the face of a man looked back at him, it was certainly something which was more welcoming than the prior image.
His face was weathered and his hair was rough, but he couldn’t recognize who he was looking at. He couldn’t remember himself or if what he was looking at was actually correct. He realized that there was nothing that he could remember and that the place he was he had no idea how he’d gotten here. An icy chill trailed down his back and a tinge of his headache stung in his skull. He felt to cry, but no tears came.
Suddenly as he turned he saw a broad dark figure standing center of the grass freckled land. Its stillness unnerved him as it seemed to be staring directly at him. Beads of sweat began to form at his temple and he suddenly noticed the labor of his own breathing. His mind raced, he thought of this place which seemed nothing but a horror and wondered how in the world he could have gotten himself here, and why exactly he couldn’t remember who he was. The dark figure was coming closer, and he had scooted as far to the edge as he could, he wondered of the danger of falling over in comparison to the alternative.
He looked over his shoulder at the edge of the ledge to the shimmering spring, he thought to jump, but feared for what might be lurking below. Whatever was happening he didn’t know what options he had, and if he was in danger he would be in complete disadvantage to the looming figure. He could hardly breathe now, his fingers clenched at the gravelly surface and his nails dug into the dirt, the figure was nearly upon him. His eyes trailed up from the hooved feet of the creature up to its tightly muscled legs. Its skin was a deep burgundy and appeared rough and thick as the muscles bulged while it stalked toward him, he quickly averted his eyes as he caught a glimpse of its furred genital details and up further to its chest. Dark crooked, and straight bars were impaled amongst the torso, a large rebar was taught straight through the heart area. He had never seen something so horrendous, his eyes jerked around in search for any area of escape yet there were none.
Dark, barren eyes gazed down at him, a mouth full of snarled black teeth bore its anger. As he sat awaiting what might happen he began to shake and jerk sporadically, he felt as if he was drowning from lack of air.
He let out a loud cry and burst from his seated position, and bolted past the wide stature beast in full stumbling speed. His legs pained him as his ragged and wet shoes beat against the hard rock surface, his sprinting energy was fleeting and it felt like he might keel over in mid-stride. He managed a quick glance over his shoulder, but in the snap of his neck he no longer saw the figure in the distance. One of his shoes flung from his foot as he ran, exposing the grey tube sock that tugged down his ankle. The path was shifting before him as he ran, an unnatural event of surface plates of land extended before him and he leapt from the main island to the new platform. His feet were bloody, and his lungs wheezed for air but he didn’t stop, he ran forward on the platforms until he reached a height where he saw nothing over the last platform but an ocean moving blackness.
A voice called out from behind “Daddy!” It said. He spun around and saw her standing straight behind him, the little girl. She was unlively with pale bloodless skin, her clothes were ragged, and the polka-dot dress she wore was ripped viciously. He shivered as his loss of strength pulled him down onto a knee as he fought to catch his breathing. A flash of a vision came back to him and felt like a breeze of cool air on a hot summer day, and he suddenly he knew.
“Daddy, I’m sorry did I scare you? I didn’t mean to, I just wanted to make the most of our new home. It’s really hot here but there are some funny animals here. Mommy seems to like playing dress-up.”
His memory had come back and he knew everything, the accident, the fire, the explosion, and the pain of it all. A figure started up behind the girl, a dense creature with a feminine figure and long stringy hair. His mouth drew agape as he saw it, and the two began to walk towards him. He looked over to the dark ocean below and was frightened to see that it was now a pool of corpses. His eyes bulged as his glance darted back and forth between the two. There was loud rumble, and a quake began. Walls began to draw up from the waters and the ground, rising far above them. A ceiling closed on top of them, and the surroundings began to resemble a family home. He couldn’t believe what was happening to him and now felt suddenly trapped within as the two continued to move to join him. The mad and crazy eyes of the feminine figure were unnaturally darting in all directions while she smiled with perfect full lips. He heard sounds of a giggle which was slightly muffled by the intense ringing in his ears.
“Are you going to help me dress today again Daddy? Am I not to tell Mommy again?” The girl spoke, a loud booming roar erupted from the female creature as its muscles bulged and the two inched ever closer for him. “I’m sorry Madeline! I’m sorry Rebecca! I wish I had never- Please don’t-”
In the next second the two were upon him and the large creature’s large snarling jaw latched onto his groin and ripped away. A burst of fluid from it flooded the room and soaked up in the carpet as he screamed in agony. His mature screams gradually turned to high-pitched cries and he began to shrink as the fluid continued to fill the room. Through his eyes he looked up as his shrunken, and fattened body floated at the surface while his child and wife now looked at him in the human bodies he had remembered them living as. Tried as he might he could only wail the cries of a helpless babe as tentacles latched to his shortened stubby limbs and began to pull him down.
In his last looks at the surface he looked to them both and could barely hear her words against the gurgling of liquid in his ears.
“I would tell you to go to hell Joshua, but it would seem that you’ve cursed us all here already. Before you go, just know that I’ll always be here to love you, babe.” The casually dressed woman said and started out into a cackling laugh.
The face of his pouty-lipped and teary eyed daughter was the last thing he saw before he heard the loud horn of a car and then saw the oncoming lights just before it mowed them down and crashed into him.
Then all was complete darkness.