I woke up, surprised that one could go unconscious in death. I expected more true horror—frying pans, shat out of giant monsters, the works but I found myself standing on a giant conveyer belt.
In front of me were all kinds of creatures and beings in shackles, looking down in the dumps. Who could’ve blamed them? I looked down and took notice of my simple, breakable handcuffs. How surprising. They didn’t detect much of a threat within me—I’d find a way to make use of the advantage.
This appeared to be some kind of processing line—and balls, it stretched as far as my eye could see. We appeared to be a giant building of red stone lit by lamps and torches. The conveyer belt moved at a steady speed. There didn’t seem to be any guards. The floor looked of solid stone.
Upon careful observation without moving to attract any attention, I saw no traps whatsoever. That meant whoever’s in charge here didn’t care or was highly confident. I’d go with both, just to be sure. That bastard Oni must’ve dumped me off to some demon at the gates, collected whatever currency they had in a hellhole like this, and fled. What an asshole. I made a mental note to pay him back whenever I got the chance.
Shit, guessing it’s do or die at this point—if I got processed into this Infinite Prison, it’s over. If I’m not already eternally fucked, that is.
“Hey, you, can you tell me what’s going on?” I said to the guy in front of me.
He was a tall and buff blue-skinned demon of some sort, with short and scruffy white hair, dressed in a black tunic shirt and white cotton pants. The purple-eyed gaze he gave me was neutral but at least he spoke.
“I take it you’re new around here,” the demon—I’m using the term vastly—said.
“You could say that,” I said. “If you don’t count eight years on the surface.”
He gave me a look of skepticism.
“You’re in line to be processed into the Infinite Prison, but judging by the look on your face, you guessed that much. They’re going to look at you, assign you to a cell, and off you go to enjoy a prison life for an eternity. I’ve heard it’s like the human way but with the demonic touch.”
“You don’t know any means of escape?” I said. “We can’t just stay here to take anyone’s shit.”
The demon slightly shook his head.
“I’ve heard this shithole is inescapable but that’s probably an exaggeration. There are things set in place to prevent escape. Not that it matters much anyway. Even if you do make it out of here, you’re headed where? The good ole comforts of the depths of Hell? The city is probably hundreds of miles away from here.”
“The city?” I said.
The demon’s eyes widened.
“Oh, come on, you’ve never heard of Ghost’s city? It’s the only place in this damn sadistic paradise that supposedly mimics the human’s plane. A dimension inside of this dimension, according to the thousands of rumors.”
“Interesting. How’s that even possible?”
“I wish I knew,” the demon said. “Big power, big things I guess. Maybe Ghost created it out of frustration. Probably after fighting the gods or something like that. If you’re as powerful as him, you make the rules as far as I understand.”
I wondered if I could get Sin to spit out more details about his father. Well, can’t get much done until I could get out of here. There were so many things I wanted to do, to accomplish, and overcome. But none of that would come to be if I’m stuck in down here. No more hesitation, it was time to make a break for it.
“Thanks for the info,” I said to the blue man. “You’re the first being down here that didn’t shit sadistic torture-agenda on me. That being said, I can’t afford to be stuck. I’ve got unfinished business at my old world.”
“That resignation…no, resolve, in your voice means you’re about to do something stupid,” he said. “Listen kid, I wouldn’t do that if I were you. Trust me, it’s not worth it.”
I wasn’t listening. No, instead, I broke my cuffs, hopped off the conveyer belt, and bolted. Minutes passed by, but no seemed to care. There were a few stares, but most of the depressed beings kept their eyes on the ground or forward. Some of them looked as if they’d attempt suicide at any second. Yeah, we’re past that ability, no way out, no choices—but to run.
Why didn’t anyone else attempt to escape? Oh well, none of my business. You can’t expect those that gave up hope to accomplish much anyway. Still, I didn’t feel comfortable casting a net of assumptions that wide on all of them. What did they know that I didn’t?
I shifted into a full-on sprint. I could see what appeared to be an exit ahead. A further push and I’d make it. With the clue the blue man gave me, that city had to be the distortion Selina meant. Did that mean Paradise Realm had no idea that Ghost created a freaking city in the depths? I should’ve asked for directions. Oh well, no use worrying about that now.
Just then three beings covered from head to toe in black and red armor appeared in front of me. A metallic kick was the first round of pain I received before it sent me flying backward. No. I’ve gotten too far—no more getting my ass handed to me. Power disadvantage or not. I rolled over from a guard’s stomp.
“It seems this one needs to be the example,” one of them said.
“Yah, dah zample,” another said, his voice coated with some kind of thick accent. I attempted to manifest something—anything—a bat, a sword, a gun, but once again, it was just impossible. Nothing formed.
“You haff no powah hur,” Accent said as he stepped forward. I only then noticed the giant fucking metal pole in his hand.
He swung, I dodged, then shot force at his legs. That did nothing. Well, the armor isn’t for show. That sucked. I couldn’t get away—they seemed to have the ability to teleport. The guards were definitely at an advantage of strength for now until I could figure something out.
This led me to the conclusion that I dreaded. I’d have to surrender. At least play along until I was ready to unleash a plan that would get me out of here.
An idea formed already. If I broke out once, I’d break out again. I held up my hands in surrender. The guards looked confused. Well, I guessed they were confused—but the only thing I could see within the helmets were glowing red eyes.
“I surrender,” I said. “I’ll follow the rules.”
The guards looked briefly looked at each other, as if uncertain.
“Fine, just don’t try that again,” one of them said.
“No, we muss zample him firss,” Accent said then picked me up. “To dah torture chamba.”
My kicking, screaming, and demanding from the release of his grip to get back in line did nothing. To my horror, I realized that’s why no one attempted to make a break for it. They either knew or saw this happen. The blue man tried to warn me but I didn’t listen.
I was taken to a room, chained to a hospital bed, and forced to look up at a ceiling of nightmares.
“You’re lucky this is all you’re getting,” a gruffy voice said into my ear. “The warden let this one go because of your surrender. Not many people are so lucky. Nevertheless, I’m going to enjoy teaching you what happens to those who are a little slow. To make the Goraus get involved. You don’t want that kind of impression, mortal.”
I saw the spiked whip for only a few seconds before the super-intense pain lit up my face. Enraged, I didn’t scream. I wouldn’t give these sadistic fucks the satisfaction. The torture session went on for an hour, shifting from whippings to electric chair sessions to beatings with maces.
The demons probably got bored because they kicked me out and back in line, in the same place behind the blue man. I was reeling with anger. I’d blow this entire place to smithereens. How dare these lowly scums of demons do this to me. After everything that I’ve been through, the one thing that came to mind again was that I needed power.
“You’re not the first and probably not the last to try that,” the blue man said. “The Goraus are beyond your capabilities, so I—”
“I’ll play along for now,” I interrupted. “I don’t plan to be stuck in here for an eternity.”
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Alvin Atwater is a man of humor, a starving author. With a unique writing style that can outshine even Jim Butcher, Patria Briggs, or Kevin Hearne, he is a character-driven lovable lump of mass. Born in Florida, he's on a mission to defeat his arch nemesis, Florida Man, once and for all.
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Author of the Blood for Soul series and a secret coming-of-the-age epic fantasy. Lover of anime and manga: so yeah, weeb shit? Fun. Sue me haha.
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