Hell Bound

Craig Peters didn't know where he was; all he knew was that it was dark. He could see nothing around him except for pitch black. He tentatively stuck out a foot, and it ran into a hard object, like a wall. The other foot yielded the same results. Rather than panic, Craig assumed that he was in some kind of dream.

Craig cocked a leg back and kicked the wall with all of his might, and then winced at the pain. Okay, maybe this wasn't a dream after all. He gave out a tentative, "Hello?" He cocked his head as his voice echoed back to him, but other than that, no sounds came. His hands felt around him, to see if he could find a door in the darkness, one that would lead him, well, anywhere else.

Panic started to rise in Craig's throat as he realized he was trapped. Was he going to suffocate? Where was he? Just as Craig was going to let out a yell, a path lit up on the floor in front of him. For a moment, Craig was confused; he had tested all of the corners of the darkness he had found himself in, and there had definitely been no place to go. His mind began to circle back around to the dream theory.

After being stuck in the dark, he was grateful for somewhere else to go. Besides, he reasoned, maybe there was some moral at the end of this dream, or nightmare, that he was supposed to learn out of all of this. So, he followed the path until the end.

What he saw when the path ended were three impossibly tall, burly men. They towered over Craig's six-foot frame and had more muscle tone to them than Craig had ever known existed. All three of them had red skin, and as they shifted on their spots, the skin rippled in an almost fire-like way. As Craig's eyes traveled upward, he noticed that they all had two short horns on the top of their heads, sticking out of their hair.

Two of them looked to be very old, with long, white hair and beards that almost touched the floor. The other one, in Craig's opinion, was kind of handsome. He was younger than the others; in fact, he didn't look much older than Craig's own twenty-three years. He had long black hair, coal-black eyes, and a short goatee.

A sudden pull on Craig's body startled him from his staring. An unnatural force was tugging on Craig, giving him no choice but to follow. He was dragged before the trio. The three humans—or creatures, Craig wasn't sure which—looked him over. Craig tried to take a step back, suddenly intimidated by the weight of their gaze. He tried to will himself to wake up, but that didn't work, either. He let out an audible sigh when he realized he was trapped.

The three stared at him for what felt like an eternity. Craig could tell just by looking at them that they were having a silent conversation. It was subtle, but every once in a while, one would cock his head toward Craig or the other two. It felt like they were sizing him up, and trying to determine what would happen next. Finally, the man on the left—the handsome one—stood.

The man crooked a finger at Craig, giving him the signal that he was to follow. Craig had learned by now that there was no other choice and dutifully followed the strange man. They walked into the darkness; the only thing Craig could see was the back of this man. After a few moments, the man stopped, and finally a light flooded the space.

Craig took in his surroundings, and was surprised to see himself in something of an interrogation room. The walls were gray and non-descript. In the middle of the room sat a stool with a single light overhead. It was as if someone had seen every police movie and used every single cliché.

The man motioned for Craig to sit on the stool. It was a request that Craig quickly complied with, as he was eager to find out where he was and what was going on. By now, Craig fully believed that he was stuck in a dream and just wanted to find out where it led him.

The red man circled Craig twice before his rough, deep baritone filled the room. "What is your name?"

"Craig... Craig Peters. Who are you?" Craig answered.

"They call me Karawan, but I suspect my name will be of little importance to you. Do you know where you are?"

"No. In a dream of some kind. I must have had too many drinks tonight." Craig chuckled, and if the other man noticed, he gave no indication.

"I can assure you, this is no dream. Do you honestly not know what has happened?"

Craig searched his mind, trying to recall the past few days. He soon realized that he could recall nothing beyond waking up here in the dark, Defeated, Craig shook his head...

"You have expired," Karawan said simply.

Craig's head snapped up at this news. Dead? He couldn't understand it, but try as he might, the only thing he could remember about his former life was his own name. Well, he still knew stupid facts like television trivia and the good sports teams, but as far as his own life? It was all a blank. An irritating pain had begun to grow inside of his chest, almost like a slow heartburn.

"What? How? How did I die? What happened?" Craig sputtered out the questions as fast as he could think of them, but Karawan silenced him with a wave.

"Do you not think that 'how' is not the most important question right now? Do you think that perhaps, the ‘where' might be a better question?" Karawan began to circle Craig once again.