It was 2:31 a.m. exactly; I remember that from glancing at the clock on my nightstand just before I grabbed the revolver from beneath my mattress. My girlfriend, Ashlyn, was startled by some noises she’d been hearing from the kitchen, so she woke me up to check it out. “Cullen, there’s something in the kitchen!” I remember her whispering to me, like whatever it was would hear us. I let out a sigh, and, not sure what to expect, I crept downstairs, my weapon ready. As I rounded the corner at the bottom of the stairs and glanced into the kitchen, I noticed nothing out of place. Ash must have just heard the house settling. But I couldn’t go back upstairs without being able to say that I had thoroughly checked it out. So, now fairly sure that it was all clear, I stepped into the kitchen. I wasn’t on edge at all, so the gun was down at my hip. I mean, the house was old; it made weird noises all the time. I had only grabbed the revolver to comfort Ash. She had just moved in with me and was just getting used to things, so I felt it natural that the sounds of the house would spook her. I looked around lazily, noticed nothing, and then headed for the stairs. As I was about halfway up, I heard something. It was the turning of the doorknob to the pantry in the kitchen. At this point I was scared out of my mind. With the gun ready, I crept ever so carefully down the stairs, trying my very hardest to not to make a single noise. When I reached the bottom, I peeked around the corner, and there he was: A man, about as tall as me, with a huge black bag, rummaging through the cabinets. I was struck. I stood there dumb for about 10 seconds before the man closed the cabinet he was in and headed for the den in the next room. I wasn’t about to let him steal from me, yet at the same time I was scared out of my mind. It’s hard to recall the next few events properly, but I will try my best to remember. I slowly followed the man across the kitchen, walking ever so lightly. He then crouched down to go through a drawer in a large cabinet full of expensive metals and decorative plates, when he turned his head out of nowhere and stared straight at me, all the while my gun pointed straight at his face. “Hey, man, don’t shoot.” His voice was deep yet frightened, “If you let me go I’ll never set my eyes on this place again, I swear it.” I had no idea what to think or say, so I stood there for about 5 seconds before replying with “Just get the fuck out of my house before I blow your brains out!” I said it quietly so I wouldn’t disturb Ashlyn, but I felt like she knew something was going on by how long I’d been down here. I’d probably just tell her I prepared a quick snack, I remember thinking. Yeah, that’s how it went. I’m recalling this all now. Because that was when she walked in. I had no idea in hell what she was doing, but she said nothing. She just fumbled in and grew a grim and petrified expression as soon as she saw what was going on. “Alright, get on now, you’d better hurry off before I call the police, you son of a bitch.” I remember saying. “All right, all right, just let me pass.” He stood upright, sat the bag on the floor, and then slowly began walking past me toward the door. After that moment I remember nothing but waking up on the ground. This is where things get messed up. I still don’t know if this was just a nightmare, or if this was all for real, but what I do know is that I remember it vividly. I woke up naked on the ground. Black grass, black dirt, everything was black. It was also deep into the night, so the mixture of all the black just made it very difficult to get a good look at things. When looking up I remember seeing a black sky with no stars at all. I was in a state of panic- I got up and looked around frantically. “Ash? Ash?!” But it was no use. I couldn’t be heard. I shed a tear, and then noticed a path of black gravel. I followed it with my eyes and noticed a flickering flame in the distance. I immediately got on the trail and ran. It must have taken 10 minutes, but after an intense while of running and walking, I reached a massive black staircase leading down with two torches on each side of the entryway. It looked absolutely terrifying. I peered down and saw nothing. It was a massive, black abyss, but I knew I needed to go down, for there was nowhere else to go. With much effort, I took my first steps down the black, stone staircase. Everything here took forever, because I swear it must have taken 5 hours for me to reach the bottom. I was exhausted, and I could swear that it was getting hotter with each step. When I finally reached the bottom, I noticed a figure- naked, of course- standing with a large spear. Before I even approached him he spoke. “You are needed all the way down the hall, keep going straight until you get there.” That was when I noticed what had just spoken to me. It was shaped like a man, muscular and tall, but his skin was pitch-black. I’d never seen a human with such black skin. But the most terrifying part of the man was his face. No nose, but instead his entire face was taken up by one, long, vertical mouth, with razor-sharp black teeth. No eyes, no nose, not even any ears; just mouth. It was the most terrifying thing I’d ever seen. I cowered as I quickly bolted past him, and began walking as fast as I could down the hall, but I was in no house. I looked up, no ceiling, but no sky, just a black abyss. I look around and see black stairs leading off of the main hallway on both sides, which was about 10 feet wide, and I have no idea long. Torches sat on the top of each set of railing for the stairs, which was the only thing keeping the place lit. Different staircases were all up and down that hall. As I kept walking my mind was numb with fear. I had no idea where I was or why the hell I wasn’t in my house. “It must be a lucid dream. Yeah, just a dream.” I remember telling myself over and over. After a while I noticed that there was a man further up the hall. I could faintly hear him crying, and if I recall properly, it wasn’t just an average shedding of tears, the man was bawling his eyes out; but he kept limping forward. Yes, he was limping. Though he was so far ahead, I noticed he dragged one leg behind him, like it was broken. After a bit more walking, I saw the man begin to go up a small flight of stairs that had appeared just ahead of him. I figured that was where the creature by the entrance told me to go. Wanting to know what was going on, I sped up my pace, and by the time he had hobbled up to the top, I was close enough to see and hear what was going on at the top. There were two more of those spear-wielding creatures standing on either sides of a tree, but it wasn’t just an average tree. It had pitch-black bark, and long, jagged branches. The tree was covered in something, but I couldn’t tell what just yet. By the time I got to the bottom of the stairs, I could hear intense crying, and probably the most menacing and shrill voice I’d ever heard. It brought an intense chill to my spine, which was how I came to the realization that this was probably no dream. This was very likely happening to me. I couldn’t handle this; I was confused and totally unsure of where the hell I was, and I remember breaking down right there. Over my sobs I remember hearing the man begin to scream, and it was the most blood-curdling scream I’d ever heard. At this I began to climb the stairs quickly, wanting to see the fate of the man so I could prepare myself for my own. When I reached the top of the stairs, what I saw scared me more than anything so far. I remember it very clearly; the man was standing in front of the giant tree, and between two spear-wielding creatures, which were standing next to large torches. But now I could see what was covering the tree, human bodies. At the massive trunk of the tree was a very large, naked, and fat man, who sat just above where the roots collected themselves. But he wasn’t sitting on the tree, the tree trunk went up the ass of the massive man, and continued out the mouth. The man had no jaw, and the front of his neck and chest were ripped open for the trunk to emerge from his body. The very sight made me cringe and vomit multiple times, and during this I paid no attention to the man, for tree had taken my full attention. When I had collected myself enough to look back up, I noticed that the man was still very much alive. I recall him slowly and shakily raising his arm to wipe the tears from his face, which continued to pour from his dull, gray eyes. As I looked at the rest of the tree, I noticed the other people hanging from the tree. Every person had a branch of the tree go into his or her body somewhere, and going out somewhere else. I remember seeing a woman hanging upside down, with the branch going into her anus and continuing out her vagina. This seemed like something that would kill a person, but she was still very much alive, I could tell by her quivering. Like the man at the trunk, her eyes had lost all color as well. I remember that after a while of observing the others on the tree, I looked back to the man. The tree then spoke again, “It would seem like the only suitable punishment for one such as yourself, would be to reside here, with me.” Which was followed by a blood-curdling and shrill laugh. Shortly after this, I remember a branch flying out from the back of the tree. The branch flew straight at the man and stabbed itself straight through his neck and appearing out the other side. It then twisted itself around his neck- like a collar- before picking the man up off the ground and retracting its way back to where it had sprouted. “Step forward” Hissed the tree. I had no idea where it was speaking from until I looked straight up and saw a figure- or tow- dangling from a branch right in front of where I stood and about 10 feet from the ground. There was a man and a woman, both white and naked, but their foreheads met together to form one, and on it was a mouth like the ones on the creatures; but this one was horizontal. They were hanging by branches wrapped around their necks, like nooses. I remember this all so clearly. I stepped forward onto the bloodstained ground, and asked, “What’s going on?” It let out a laugh. “Haven’t you heard of the afterlife, human? I know your kind has been ranting about it back on Earth.” Now, I had never been religious, and still aren’t. But then I had realized that those Christians had been right about something, and I’m guessing that was the Hell they spoke of. “Yes…” was my reply. “Well then, you know exactly what’s going on here.” His voice was terrifying, how I ever managed to speak to it is well beyond me. “I know well about what you do, Mr. Hipskind” It knew my name. The way it said it still gives me chills. “You’ve been double-crossing honest people for years. Doesn’t seem very honest to me, does it? Wouldn’t you say you’ve stolen great amounts of money from people, or been greedy in the past? Well now, now you’ll pay it back.” This was followed by a laugh that made my ears screech. I dropped to my knees holding my ears. I was an insurance agent. Sure, I cheated a few people out of a few bucks here and there, but it was business. I guess that damned tree thought otherwise. The next thing I knew, those hideous creatures were hoisting me up by my underarms. I remember to this day the shockwave of fear that shot through my body. I fought back, but to no gain. I wriggled, but they threw me on the ground and both- in perfect unison- thrust their jagged spears- which were jagged pieces of the black wood pointed with long, sharp black blades- into either side of my torso, piercing my spine, and I felt it all. I didn’t pass out, I felt all of it. I cried like a newborn infant, I screamed as tears shot from my eyes. I tried to squirm free, but my legs wouldn’t move. Panic ran through me like nothing else. All while this went on they had picked me back up and began carrying me behind the tree, and continuing in that direction. They dragged me for what seemed like an eternity with the pain I was in. Finally, after walking through a plain of nothingness, we reached a field of grates on the ground. Square, large barred grates in rows reaching as far as the eye could see. But sticking out of these grates, were flames. They were like ovens coming out of the ground. All around I heard faint screams. I was scared shitless. We continued walking for a few minutes before we stopped at one. The one holding my left arm let go of me and pulled up the grate, opening it. He seemed to be unaffected by the fire. The fear that went through me was immense. I knew that they were going to put me in there, and my screaming resumed. The one holding onto me dragged me to the edge and kicked me right in. There is no way to describe the pain of the 3rd degree burn, especially when it engulfs your entire body. It must have been like that for an entire day, me sitting in that pit of fire, in pure pain, non-stop screaming. At one point I pulled myself away from the pain for just long enough to think that I should be dead, or well out of my mind, and then, the pain stopped. Though still engulfed in flames, I felt nothing. I stopped screaming, and backed myself to the corner of the small pit. I looked down at my hands and the rest of my naked body. My skin resembled that of the creatures; it was pitch-black. But, I could clearly see where the creatures had pierced my sides, blood had probably protruded at one point, but the fire got rid of that, I guess. I knew at that moment, that in this whatever you call it, I was immortal. Then, the flames stopped appearing, and I got a look at the chamber I was being held in. Black stone. Plain. Simple. It seemed like only a few seconds had gone by before a red mist appeared at the floor of the pit. I thought nothing of it. That is, until it began to take the shape of a man. I stared straight at it until it manifested the shape of what looked like your typical depiction of Satan- tall, with horns and blood red skin. My eyes were heavy, so I closed them shut tight to avoid looking at the foul creature. Then, almost instinctively, I curled up in my little corner. It spoke no words as it unfolded my body and attached my wrists to chains that I suppose stuck out of the wall. I had no idea they were even there; I had never looked. After it was done, I squinted to see what it was doing. It just faded away, just as easily as it appeared. Then, the moment it was fully gone, the flames came back, and the pain continued. How I’m not mad, I have no idea. For how long this went on, I haven’t an idea either. All I can say is that it felt like days- weeks even. It seemed like an eternity. I felt no hunger, I felt no thirst; only pain. And it was indescribable. At one point somewhere in there, I thought away from the pain, about Ashlyn. About the girl I’d left back at home. I thought very hard, as to distract myself from the pain. I remember seeing the ceiling of my den, and the top of the entryway to the kitchen; where I’d been standing, only I was sprawled on the floor staring up. I couldn’t move, I could only stare, and I couldn’t even move my eyes. Then, I faded back to the cell of fire. Days passed. I kept thinking and seeing the same thing, and I could only hold the thought for about 5 seconds. But one of those times, I concentrated hard, and what I saw was at a different angle than before, and I recognized two figures; Ashlyn and the burglar. Only, the burglar had my revolver, and he held my dear Ash by the throat against the wall of the kitchen with the gun to her temple. I thought harder, and harder, and the pain in the background faded. My feeling began to return, my eyes began to move about my kitchen; and I sat up. I looked over and immediately shot up off the ground and awkwardly tumbled onto the burglar, for I hadn’t walked or moved at all in weeks. My hands grabbed at the gun and he fired a shot, but not before I knocked it up, pointing over Ashlyn’s head. The bullet flew and nailed the refrigerator. He turned his head and looked right at me, then bashed my nose with his elbow, causing blood to spray all over my chin and mouth. I was knocked back and fell over onto the ground, for I was still very wobbly and not used to walking. The man turned to me and pointed my gun straight down at my face, then cocked it. But just as he did so, Ashlyn grabbed at the gun and tried to pull it from his grasp. They both tugged at it for a bit before I realized that I had my legs back. I looked down at the mans legs, and flung mine at his, knocking him right on his ass, and sending the gun dropping right next to my head. I think we all know what I did, but for the sake of sick entertainment, I’ll describe, because it was incredibly graphic and haunting. I picked up the gun quickly, aimed it right at his forehead, and as he was sitting up and reaching out to grab it from me, blasted him, right between the eyes. I saw it like it was in slow motion. The bullet pierced the skull with a sharp and quick “CRACK” and formed what resembled a sinkhole on the man’s forehead. It then pulled the eyes, the top of the nose, and the beginning of his hairline down, too, before it flew out of the back of his head and at the cabinets beneath my sink, taking his upper-face and brain with it. It was a bloody, gory mess. That was 2 months ago. Ash later told me that the man had grabbed the barrel of the gun and forced it into my face, knocking me unconscious. I told her about my experience, and how it seemed like weeks, when in reality it was only a few seconds. I feel like I know what happened at this point, I died for a brief moment, and in the afterlife, a moment can last a month. But, I jolted back to life with my efforts while dead. I can never be sure, though. I quit my job and have been in therapy since it happened. I still can’t even walk right because I’m so used to being paralyzed and chained to a wall. I’ve put this on here to get my story out, because Ash told me it’s quite interesting and people might like to read it. But it kills me knowing that I’d gone to Hell, and almost let my Ashlyn come with me.