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From darkness, comes consciousness. The first thing that I notice is a throbbing ache in my head. Oh, no, not another one of my migraines, I haven’t had one in years. Back in my Freshman year of high school, I’d decided to get my gym requirement out of the way and our teacher, Mr. Byle, would make us run laps on Wednesdays and Fridays. The deal was that if you ran the whole time on Wednesday, you got to relax on Friday and do whatever you wanted, but if you walked on Wednesday, then you had to make it up and run on Friday. I decided to just bite the bullet and do my running. I didn’t mind the physical activity too much, but it was the optical migraines that I got afterward that I detested.
They’d start with optical disturbances, like when you rub your eyes and see the auras. The auras would expand and contract, making it hard for me to see very well. Next, the throbbing would begin and first one side of my face would go numb, and then the other would follow suit. Waves of nausea would follow, roiling on my already unsettled stomach to make me even more miserable. When I’d get home from school, I’d go right to bed and sleep for a few hours, waking up with a sore head, but otherwise fine. I did eventually discover that if I ate a little something and/or threw up, the headache would cease. They were probably from low blood sugar and over exertion. I haven’t had one since the penultimate day of Freshman year.
I groan as the nausea washes over me, trying desperately to work itself up my esophagus. I absolutely loathe feeling nauseous, but thankfully I don’t often throw up, not nearly as often as I did as a child; I’d cry every time I puked because I couldn’t breathe and it frightened the shit out of me.
I open my eyes and am relieved when I note that my vision is clear, free of any auras. Not a migraine, then. I look around the scantly lit room and I try to piece it all together in my foggy mind. Where am I? This definitely isn’t my room back home, nor is it Erasmus’ bedroom.
I sit up and a light flares to reveal Don standing before me, and suddenly, it all comes flooding back to me. Some demon in Don’s body had kidnapped me and I am in Hell. I remember approaching Lucifer’s palace and attempting to overpower the Don demon, only to be knocked unconscious. That explains the headache. I’ve never been punched before today, so it’s an unfamiliar sensation for me.
I still can’t see much in the scant light, other than Don. I’m on a bed—not entirely uncomfortable—against a wall. Whether the wall is painted black, or it’s merely darkness encroaching upon me, I cannot tell.
Don is leaning against the wall, but stands up straight and starts walking toward me, regarding me through his frog-like brown eyes. I know that this isn’t really Don, but I can’t separate my tormentor from the demon that is currently inhabiting his body.
“Finally awake, I see,” he chirps, staring down at me.
“How long was I out?” My throat is tight, my voice hoarse. I need water or something to drink, but, no, I can’t, not if I don’t want to damn my soul to the underworld for all eternity.
“Most of the night.”
So, I’ve been here for at least half a day; only a day and half less. I can do it. I have to do this.
“Lucifer is going to be pissed at you when he hears that you cold cocked me.” Just talking makes my head hurt even more than it already does.
“He gave me strict orders to deliver you to him under any means necessary, short of murdering you. I’ll be richly rewarded.”
“Good for you. What will happen to me?”
The Don demon sits on the edge of the bed I’m lying on and I’m brought to mind of the early years of our time living in Port Huron. My mom had started working again, this time at Yonkers and didn’t get home until after my bed time of 9 o’clock. Don would pick me up from my afterschool day care—Prime Time—make us dinner as I did my homework, and then after a bit of play time and a bath, he’d put me to bed. He would never sit and read to me from one of my comic books like my mom would, instead, he’d make me read to him from one of my simple reading assignments.
“If you submit to Him, it will be over. If you’re a fool and resist, you’ll be subjected to intense torture to sway you, and don’t be fooled into thinking it won’t be that bad. This isn’t where you’re from, there is no such thing as cruel and unusual punishment down here. You could be tied up and roasted over a fire like a pig. You won’t die, of course, so every agonizing moment will radiate within you.”
I shiver at the thought. I have always been deathly afraid of fire. I’m not quite sure where the fear draws its roots from, but I do not that watching the Messenger: the Story of Joan of Arc definitely exacerbated it all. After all, the move does show Joan of Arc literally on burning alive, fire eating away at her feet and raging up her body. Another wave of nausea hits me. Oh, God, please no! I silently beg. Anything but fire, I can handle anything but fire.
“How will you keep me alive if I’m burned alive?” I find the courage to ask.
“The Dark Lord works in mysterious ways. He doesn’t want you dead, he just wants your powers.”
“Why? So he can become omnipotent?”
“Partly.” Don sniffs. “He wants to use your powers to free Himself from this treacherous place. He wants to corrupt the Earth, blackening the souls of every living being; he wants to get revenge on God for exiling him from paradise, damning him to spend eternity in a glorified volcano.”