There was a way to tell how much time had passed when one fell asleep. Not down to an hour, but it was possible to feel it. The mind might just be extrapolating how much time passed based on how high the sun was or the individual’s sleeping habits.

When Neave opened his eyes, he felt like an eternity had passed since he died. It wasn’t like falling asleep. It didn’t resemble passing out. There was an element of oblivion that severed his existence. Now he had arrived at a place he could only describe in a single word.


When he finally opened his eyes, he was standing upright. He felt relatively well rested. There was no fatigue, no muscular pain, no hunger, and no thirst. He still felt the vague aches his body had suffered from all the beatings, but it was nothing unusual. Neave, however, noticed none of this. The only thing he felt was panic.

And despair.

Gray, smoggy clouds clouded the sky with a red, backlit by an ominous red glow. The ground was rusty red, with pools of noxious liquids scattered here and there. In the distance, there were impossibly tall, jagged mountains. There was no growth, only obsidian bushes with sharp, twisted branches—the air stank of sulfur, blood, and smoke.

And rot.

Slowly shambling toward him was a creature. A vaguely humanoid creature with gray, rough skin, no eyes, and a large, toothy mouth. Neave had read many books covering mythological subjects, and only one creature that fit the description.

A demon.

Neave ran. He sprinted as fast as he could away from the thing chasing him. As he dashed, he dodged pools of blood, rifts in the ground, abysses with jagged spikes protruding the walls with green, glowing gasses filling their depths.

He looked back constantly. He was putting the demon further behind him. Neave neither relented nor slowed down. Instead, he constantly darted his eyes over the environment, looking for whatever other monstrosities might show up.

But there was nothing.

The adrenaline wore off at a certain point, and he collapsed onto the putrid, dusty soil on a small hill. He gasped for breath, choked on the toxic dust, and took a second to calm down. The demon was far out of sight at this point. There seemed to be nothing else chasing him.

For now.

The sense of despair deepened as he looked around the hellscape.

No matter what direction, all he saw were the endless, rolling hills jagged with spiky stone and obsidian growth. The only notable landmarks made the feelings of misery worse.

Mountains so tall they disappeared into the smoky atmosphere. Pools and lakes of blood, pus, acid, and black ooze. Massive rifts into shimmering, glowing abysses filled with spikes, gas, or pure darkness.

He was thirsty. Neave felt parched from the dry air. There was no water anywhere in sight. His desperation drove him to lick the sweat off his arms. He searched around his robes and didn’t find the food pills either. Had he dropped them?

Neave had no idea where to begin. What to do from here? Where to go? He sat there frozen, desperately searching for a plan; for any shred of hope he could latch on to.

This place had no sense of time. Nothing but thirst and exhaustion could even begin to clue Neave in about how long he had been here.

Just as he thought he couldn’t get any more desperate, he noticed a small black dot moving toward him. The creature was catching up.

Neave wanted to cry, but no water could wet his eyes. They hurt as he whimpered and got up.

He ran in the other direction. Neave stumbled into pools of blood and tripped over the sharp shrubbery, cutting his legs. He bled precious drops and felt them dripping down, mixing with the putrid blood.

Several times, he just barely avoided dropping into pits of certain death.

He couldn't tell if he'd been running for hours or days.

And the thirst was driving him insane.

He felt his body stiffening. His eyes were so dehydrated his vision blurred. It was becoming impossible to breathe. The desperation finally got the better of him, and he took a small sip from a pool of blood. It tasted of despair, rot, and death. He got up and walked. His footsteps slowed. He dragged himself forward, losing all feeling, first in his arms, then his legs, and finally, his stomach.

Neave gagged. He raised his shaky hand and touched the near-black blood dripping from his mouth.

Was it his blood? Or the blood he drank?

Or was it both?

It doesn’t matter anyway.

He thought as he fell over face-first to the ground.


When he finally opened his eyes, he was standing upright. He felt relatively well rested. There was no fatigue, no muscular pain, no hunger, and no thirst. He still felt the vague aches his body had suffered from all the beatings, but it was nothing unusual. Neave, however, noticed none of this. The only thing he felt was panic.

After all, he was back in the beginning. The demon slowly stumbled towards him. Tears ran down his face. He was rehydrated. He was in one piece.

And had to go through all of that again.

Neave ran. He ran like mad, clumsily fumbling over a rock and dropping into a pit. A jagged spike ran through his head, killing him instantly..

And then he woke up. He was standing in the same place again. He felt madness creep into his mind, threatening to tear his soul into pieces. And then, yet again, he started running. He ran and ran as far as he could until he slipped off a rock and broke his neck. He didn’t die instantly but sat there, crumpled and broken, as his life slowly drained from his eyes.

And then woke up again. Ran. Fell into a pool of acid. Died.

And then woke up again. Ran. Then he died from thirst.

And then woke up again. Ran. Fell into a pit of poisonous gas. Died.

And then woke up again. Ran. The skies broke, and it started raining black ooze. It solidified on his skin, and he suffocated, unable to move or breathe. He died.

Drowned in a river of blood.

Impaled on obsidian thorns.

Melted by acid rain.

Time and time again, he woke up at the same start, ran in a random direction, and found nothing but new ways to die. But he went back every time. And ran. He explored every bit of land he could reach before dying.

After some time, he no longer fell into pits. He no longer tripped or stumbled into spiky bushes of death. He realized that when he died, the same events happened in the same order, so he knew where it would rain blood, acid, tar, or pus and avoided those places. But he could not outrun exhaustion or thirst.

He looked into his robes. The bottle of food pills wasn’t there even at the start.

His desperation clawed at him. He felt his misery deepening endlessly as the agony threatened to tear him apart. He ran at the demon and swung at it in his desperation. His tantrum punches were like soft taps on the demon’s tough flesh. It pulled its arm back and clawed his chest out.

Neave died from the injury, but in his stubbornness, he ran at the demon again.

It grabbed his head.

“No… Please…”

Its claws sank into Neave’s skull, and the demon violently pulled his head off.

Neave looked at the demon again, shaking and stepping back in terror. He vividly remembered the feeling of his spine being pulled out of his back, and he screamed.

He sprinted away again, finding the same deaths lurking behind every corner. The demon was an ever-present threat stalking him in the distance, but it could only move so quickly. Eventually, he ran slower, so he could make it further before the exhaustion and thirst caught up. Then he walked instead, slowly, in every direction. He had even more time like this and was still faster than the demon.

So he walked, now reaching further and discovering more. Eventually, the discoveries dried up. The same deaths repeated enough times to become… Dull.

The never-ending torrent of suffering eventually subsided. The constant feeling of terror and dread got weaker and weaker as Neave habituated.

So he slowed down.

He slowed down until he was walking barely faster than the demon.

Then he slowed down until the demon was walking faster than he was.

The demon slashed at his back with sharp claws, tearing Neave’s back open. Neave yelped. The demon tore him apart, and he perished.

He appeared before the demon again, taking a few steps back purely out of habit. The demon grabbed his neck and bit his head off.

Once he appeared before the demon again, he stood and shivered as the last vestiges of his motivation escaped him. The demon thrust its claws into his heart.

When he finally opened his eyes again, he was standing upright. He felt relatively well rested. There was no fatigue, no muscular pain, no hunger, and no thirst. He still felt the vague aches his body had suffered from all the beatings, but it was nothing unusual. Neave, however, noticed none of this. Not the demon walking towards him either. Not his impending doom.

The doomsday pendulum of perpetual motion completed another swing, and the reaper smiled, running laps around him.

Neave just stood there. He stood as the demon tore him apart. But he felt not the claws sinking into his flesh, not the teeth biting into his skin.

When he finally opened his eyes…

He no longer felt anything at all.


Neave had noticed he was in some sort of trance. His thoughts were few and far between, but he still thought sometimes. He wondered how long he had been here. He wondered how his father, his siblings, and everyone was doing.

He at least hoped Hunter had died. Torn apart by some monster or failed a spirit trial. Deep within him, his darkest thoughts wanted nothing but suffering for those who tormented him. And soon enough, even those thoughts faded away…

He didn’t know how long it had been. He couldn’t. You could tell when a day had passed because the sun had risen and set. There was no sun here. Or a moon. Or time. The same thing happened over and over and over and over, looping endlessly in circles. Had it been months since he had arrived here? Years? Decades?

He couldn’t confidently say anything.

Neave wasn’t moving, but the demon still walked differently each time. Just a tiny little bit. It was unusual and not very useful information. Did this mean it wasn’t time that reset, but rather the entire world and himself were just returned to the same position?

Maybe time didn’t work how the scholars thought it did. Perhaps things would still turn out differently if someone could go back in time, even if they didn’t change anything. Was it chance? Maybe it was the interference of chaos. Who knew? Who cared?

Neave honestly felt this wasn’t particularly torturous. Not anymore at least. He was so used to pain and discomfort of every single type that this felt tame. It was ironic that now when he cared the least, he enjoyed his time here the most. Nihilism was an absurd philosophy, so thought Neave of before.

But now?

The demon would stumble toward him clumsily, taking about a minute or so to arrive, and then kill him in a few short seconds at most. Sometimes instantly with a well-placed strike.

That meant that most of his time here, he didn’t feel hungry, thirsty, tired, or injured.

He didn’t feel anything.

The smell no longer bothered him either. If he put it into a ratio, his experience here would equal mostly comfortable plus a minor bit of pain every few minutes. It was so ironic. This ratio was almost better than his life before this nightmarish loop.

After he spent an ultimately unknowable amount of time standing idly, pondering, and just staring straight ahead, a stray idea crossed his mind. One that he had a few times before but was far too scared to try and put into practice.

What if he tried killing the demon?

He had suppressed this thought every time it passed his mind. He still vividly remembered how he felt when the demon pulled his head off the first time. But he couldn’t bring himself to feel that same terror again. The demon had killed him so many times in so many different ways that even that was just another death.

Just another grain of sand in the endless desert of demise.

As the demon approached him for the umpteenth time, Neave tried moving. And failed. It was like he had forgotten what mental commands were supposed to move which muscle, so all he could do was awkwardly stiffen up before the demon killed him.


Neave kept trying to move again, but it felt awkward. Strange. He’d try to move his left hand but he’d turn his head right. He would try to move his legs forward but leaned backward.


However, he slowly figured it out, and the demon approached him for the third time.

He dodged.

And then he got struck again immediately afterward.


By now, he had already slowly figured out how to walk, kind of. It was even clumsier than the demon’s fumbling, but he improved as he got into practice. Rather than run at the demon, he went for a stroll, reminiscing about his early days of running around the hellscape.

It was strange, looking at it now. He still remembered the endless terror he experienced, repeatedly dying through this landscape. Now he just felt curiosity and fascination. This place was kind of neat to both his inner and his outer child.

It seemed like the home of some demonic emperor or great monstrosity. Perhaps the realm of an evil god or a devil? Who knew? He may even eventually find out.

For now, he felt he’d done a good enough job relearning how to move and contemplated returning to the demon. He realized he was already somewhat tired, and looking for the demon was a pain so… He just jumped into a pit.


Facing off against the demon now, he pondered his options. He first walked up to the demon and tried to throw a punch.


Well, that was pointless. Neave not only sucked at fighting, but he was also incredibly weak. Not even just weak, but his body was light, which meant his barehanded fighting had almost no momentum behind it. The demon was no pushover either. Its walk may seem clumsy, but it was perfectly capable of tearing him to pieces.

So Neave looked for a weapon instead. He picked up a rock and threw it at the demon’s head. The demon paused for a fraction of a second, clearly affected by the blow. That was a good sign. Neave just walked backward, carefully so he wouldn’t step into anything unpleasant, and threw rocks at the demon.

Quite the cowardly fight this was, but Neave honestly enjoyed himself. It felt like payback for all the torment he’d suffered at the demon's hands. He almost wondered why he hadn’t done this before. The rational part of him knew why.

He was a damn kid. Naturally, he would be terrified of a place like this. It was easy to be brave now after he’d gotten used to everything. But the proud part of Neave still felt like he was a coward back then.

After pelting the poor demon with rocks for a while, Neave was tired of it. The demon looked… Bruised? It was hard to say; its entire body already had a grayish bruised hue, but he could swear that the demon's skin was looking darker now. However, one thing was quite evident. The demon was tough. Exceptionally so. Neave intentionally picked jagged, sharp rocks, but it looked like nothing he had thrown so far had pierced the demon's skin.

Neave himself, however, was in a terrible state. His soft, weak hands were chaffed, and his arms were sore. Even though he’d thrown countless rocks at the demon, the only thing he’d achieved by the end was slow the demon down a little. Eventually, his shoulder locked up. By then, he was already too tired and thirsty to keep fighting, so he let the demon finish him off.


This time he took a different approach. He grabbed a bigger rock and threw it at one of the obsidian bushes. The crash sounded like a pile of glass getting thrown off a hill. Its branches were jagged and sharp, so after shattering the bush into pieces, he carefully picked out one of the larger branches with a spiky end and tried using it as a weapon against the demon.

His earlier assessment that the demon was tough got a massive confirmation. The sharp edge of the obsidian branch was no joke, but it still barely pierced the demon's skin. It hadn't even drawn blood, assuming it had any. This was still progress, however, even though the demon knocked Neave’s weapon away with relative ease and tore his throat out.


He was repeating the same strategy this time, but he tried cutting where he assumed the demon's weak points might be. His first target was the jugular vein. To Neave’s great surprise, this time the demon dodged his strike. Dodge might be too strong a word, maybe just ‘leaned to the side’ of his strike would be more accurate. That was still massive progress in Neave’s book. Neave’s surprise however proved to be an unwelcome distraction.


This time Neave was relentless. He kept pacing backward, punishing the demon. Neave used its defensive reflex against itself, capitalizing on its tendency to move away to get a clear shot at its torso. The demon leaned too far back, and Neave put his whole body into striking its stomach.

The tip of the branch pierced its skin, causing a bit of red blood to flow out. Huh, so it bled red… For some reason, Neave hadn't expected that, nor had he foreseen the demon's violent reflex to its injury. It grabbed his arm, pulled him towards itself, and sank its claws into his face.


Neave kept repeating the same strategy and felt like he was progressing.

Not enough, however. At a certain point, he felt himself stagnating. The demon was just that much stronger than he was. It was faster, tougher, and heavier. Its claws were a much more reliable weapon than Neave’s obsidian branch, which kept breaking or cutting his own hands.

Neave was no warrior and he had no idea how to use a weapon. Through improvisation, trial, and error, he could perhaps eventually develop some sort of martial art, but he was quickly losing hope that it would matter. The biggest problem was his lack of physical weight and the poor quality of his weapons.

Not to mention the fact that every time Neave died, he went back in time. That meant there was no progress of any kind regarding his physical strength. While he could injure the demon, no matter how many shallow cuts he landed, his opponent simply refused to die.

He had even finally managed to land a strike on what looked like a major artery. The demon bled profusely for a couple of seconds, but the bleeding slowed. It seemed like he’d have to land a much better strike several times to kill the demon. Maybe that would be plausible with a better weapon, but the fucking shitty branches kept breaking. So he instead dropped the stick and decided to try a different strategy.

He ran from the demon until he reached a steep incline. Then he climbed until he reached a foothold, grabbed the largest rock he could pick up, and threw it down on the demon's head. The resounding thunk made Neave feel like the demon's skull must have cracked open, and the demon collapsed onto the ground. However, it quickly got up to its feet.

This stubborn…

Before it had the time to get up, Neave was already grabbing another stone and throwing it. The demon blocked the rock with its arm. Neave paused in shock and grabbed another one. The demon had already gotten up by now and was already walking forward. Neave threw the stone down at the demon, but it smacked it aside with its arm.

At this moment, Neave realized he was stuck halfway up a steep incline, and his only two options were to jump off and break his legs or get killed by the demon. He looked for another rock to throw at the demon but found none. His rock-resistant nemesis was already climbing up the hill.

Oh well…


Neave decided to change his strategy again. He led the demon toward a somewhat deep pool of blood. Then he approached it and tried pushing it in.


That was a stupid idea. This time, rather than pushing the demon into the pool of blood, he grabbed a branch and used it to push its head. The demon was too heavy for a small child to topple, so Neave tried to get it out of balance by striking its jugular vein, which usually got it to lean backward.


And also retaliate by caving Neave’s skull in.


Now this time, Neave picked up a relatively heavy rock, baited the demon over to a pool, and threw the large stone at its head. To Neave’s tremendous surprise, this managed to topple the demon backward, and it fell into the pool of blood. And then it just swam out.

“Okay, what the hell! I’m certain the blood is poisonous! Your big stupid gaping mouth must have gurgled half a basin of it in there! Don’t you dare try getting back out”

Neave angrily stomped over to the demon and kicked its face to get it back into the pool. The demon opened its gaping maw, bit Neave’s leg, and dragged him into the pool.


“That’s how you want to play, huh?”

This time, rather than pushing the demon into a pool of blood, he instead tried to get the demon to step close to the ledge of a pit. However, the demon simply refused to get baited into doing that.

“Okay, what the fucking shit now? Are you afraid of heights or something, you pussy? Huh? The big tough demon can’t handle a little hole?” Neave was furious. He walked over to the demon, jumped, and slapped it on its bald head.


Now this time, he’d get the demon. He would push the demon into a tar pit rather than a blood pool. He got the demon into position, threw a rock at its head, and it fell into the pool.

“Ha… Hahaha. HAHAHAHA. Serves you right! You fucking bitch. Eat my shit.” He then pulled his robes back and swung his backside at the demon with a flourish.

It rolled around in the pit of black liquid, clearly struggling to move but still alive. And to Neave’s great distress, it started crawling back out onto the surface.

“No, no, no, no, back. BACK!” Neave pushed the demon into the pit with his entire body.

However, the black ooze hardened, and he got stuck to the demon. The demon slowly moved its hand to Neave’s neck and strangled him.


Neave repeated the same thing. However, this time, instead of pushing the demon back, he let it walk back out. He forgot that the ooze hardened when exposed to air, so the demon would just get trapped and suffocate.

Which was exactly what happened. Well, the trapped part did, at least for a while. The demon got encased in the now solid black substance, but it shuffled in its black shell until it crumbled away and started walking over to Neave again. Neave jumped into the pool of tar.


This time, rather than let the demon leave, Neave had decided he would pile stones up onto the demon to keep it from leaving the pool. He did that, but the demon just refused to die. It didn't need any air, so all he achieved was trapping it. As the demon wiggled around for a long time in the black pool, Neave realized he would die from thirst again before the demon drowned.


He wasn’t out of ideas, however. This time, he had replicated the same thing with a pool of acid. After the demon casually swam back out it looked… Shiny. Brand new, even.

Neave realized that the demon was dirty. And the pool of acid was little more than a lovely bath. Its dirty, discolored gray was now replaced with a much prettier metallic color. Neave jumped, this time into the pool of acid.


Not one of the things he had tried so far had worked. Was this demon immortal? He had to wonder. He could have also tried throwing it into the pool of pus, but he didn’t hold very high hopes for that.

It would be pretty funny, though.

Spite moved Neave’s heart, and he thought back to the closest pool of pus. They were significantly rarer than all the other liquids. There was one relatively nearby after crossing that suspension bridge. It was a bit of a jog but...

Wait a minute.

The suspension bridge! How had he forgotten about that!? He just had to cut the ropes if he could get the demon to walk onto the suspension bridge!

The suspension bridge hung over a long ravine that stretched into the horizon in both directions. Neave peeked down into the canyon, failing to see the bottom of it. Quite a few jagged spikes were protruding from the walls. If his plan worked, the demon would be sliced apart and torn to bits.

Neave moved over to the other side of the bridge and waited with trepidation.

It approached. And took a step onto the bridge. Then another. And then another. And Neave then, with one of the obsidian branches, cut the ropes. The demon plummeted into the abyss below. Neave saw it fly into a jagged spike as it tore its side out. The demon fell a bit further down, what remained of its body impaled on a sharp protrusion.

It didn’t move. Neave shook in joy. He finally…



Neave turned around.

There were two demons, just like the first one, walking toward him.



Support "The Jester of Apocalypse [BOOK 2 FINISHED]"

About the author

Robert Blaise

Bio: Man do I love recursion. Man do I love recursion. Man do I love recursion. Man do I love...

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