Prologue // revised 4.6.21
I think that I died and no one remembered to tell me.
I am dead and this, this is most certainly hell. This 'institution', with its crumbling walls, cracked tile floors, destroyed wings, and the heavy stench of death. This place, with its ghost-faced nurses who only appear every few hours to force multi-colored pills down my throat and serve me a grey substance they claim is food.
This place is hell and I am here for all eternity.
There are others here, but they are dead as well. Their skin might go flush upon the notice of unwanted stares and their hearts might skip a beat when the entry doors swing open but these are just rouses; there is no real trace of life inside of them. They are hollowed-out shells of who they used to be, shuffling the halls aimlessly until they are ushered in a different direction.
Not everyone here is ready to admit that they are no longer among the living; they cling to the last sliver of light that dares to remain inside of them. They claw and scratch at whatever they can get their hands on, desperate to fight against the acceptance of their afterlife. They scream, cursing a diety I no longer believe exists. They carve into their own skin, screeching when the nurses come to clean up their blood because, with it, goes their reminder that flowing blood means life.
The dead can still bleed but they do what they need to feel alive.
The guards might be the only living beings in this place but they are certainly not human. They move too quickly, speak too softly, and stand so still that they could be mistaken as statues. They keep their faces shrouded in dark masks, large guns hung over their shoulders as they guard the heavy metal doors because there is absolutely no escaping hell.
At night, once everyone has been rounded up and give their nightly medication, they trap us inside of our rooms. If ever there was the hope of escaping, all of that would go out the window at the sound of those four thick locks sliding into place.
I refer to it as a room but, in reality, it is no bigger than a closet. They shoved a bed into the corner, slapped a window on the wall, and called proper sleeping quarters.
I can hear everything in this place and, sometimes, I think about asking the other dead if they can hear it too. Can they hear the rush of the water as it speeds through the pipes? Can they hear sound of the wind rushing through the trees at night? Can they hear the hum of the electrical system in the wires? Can they hear the frantic heartbeats of everyone around them?
I am too afraid they might say no.
Life around here is different when the sun goes down. There are no rules when the locks are secure and, to pass the time, the halls come alive with stories of what what is rumored to be going on outside these walls.
Stories of an uprising like no other.
They all begin the same, starting during a time when natural disasters plagued every corner of the world. Hurricanes, floods, and fires wreaked havoc wherever they could. A time when entire cities were shaken off the map by the sheer force of the earthquakes raging underneath them.
They say that's when the angels began to fall, their massive bodies hitting the ground at such great speeds that everything around them shook. Supposedly, by the time the last one fell, the world had gone silent, leading everyone to believe that they had come to save them.
They say that from the moment they fell they hated us.
The angels that they speak of are nothing like the ones in old books that can be found laying around the common room of the institution. Those books are misleading, speaking of glorious creatures with white wings, shining halos, and cherub-like faces.
No, these whispers speak of malicious creatures with fiery red eyes, chiseled bodies, super speed, and an unrelenting need to kill any human who crosses their path.
The stories tell of how quickly our numbers dwindled under their reign, dropping the population from over seven billion to under three thousand by the end of the first year.
Now I say 'the whispers', 'they say', or 'the stories' because, as it has been told, all of this went down six years before I was born. Well, six years before I was born if the date I was given is actually my birthday. It could all be one well-thought-out story, brought to life by the slow decline of a dead person's brain.
I often catch myself wondering if these stories hold any truth or if there is something else going on outside of these walls.
I suffer from amnesia, or at least that is what I have been told. There could be a whole chunk of my brain missing and I would be none the wiser unless someone told me otherwise.
The first real memory I have is of waking up in the hospital, my body covered in wires and tubes. The heart monitor next to my bed went crazy and, within seconds, the room was full of white coat-wearing medical professionals who stared down at me in complete shock.
The doctor who came forth to speak informed me that I was going to be considered a 'medical miracle', but I am sure he would be willing to take that back if you were to ask him now. He also told me that I had been involved in a car accident, found only a few feet away from the destroyed vehicle half-dead and covered in blood.
I was told that in the condition in which I had arrived I shouldn't have made it through the night, let alone the medically induced coma I had spent the past three months in. I had surpassed all of their expectations, waking up to find myself covered in a series of oddly shaped bruises but no longer suffering from the life-threatening injuries that once put me at risk.
A series of questions later it became clear to the that I would be of zero help when it came to finding out how I ended up on the side of that road because, as luck would have it, I couldn’t remember a thing prior to waking up. My brain was a clean slate, wiped clear of anything that might have scarred it in the past.
After awhile they stopped asking me questions and chose to focus more on gossiping in the halls with each other about some rumor about ‘growing numbers’, but I was never able to catch more than a few snippets of what they were saying.
According to the doctor, I only had one item on me when I arrived: a small identification card similar to ones that were given out at state fairs. Despite the fact that the card was weathered with time, it provided them with enough information to know my name and that I was thirteen years old at the time of the accident.
Once again I am going strictly off the information given to me by others. I am yet to see that ID card or my medical records.
The quickness in which I healed should have been a hint to the staff that there was more to me than meets the eyes. I mean, seriously, who heals six times faster than the average person? What kind of person is ejected from a car, bounces several feet down the road, basically ruins all of their bones and organs, and then wakes up three months later with just a few bruises?
Me, that’s who.
I guess they were just so happy to see someone surviving for a change that they didn’t think to question how or why it happened.
I bet they regret that now.
I don’t remember the events leading up to it but I will never forget the look in the nurse’s eye the first time electricity sprang to life on my skin. She didn’t have a spare second to cry out before the bolts jolted into her, her eyes rolling into the back of her skull before she hit the ground with a sickening thud.
That is the last thing I remember of the hospital and, I’ll be damned if I am wrong, but I am fairly certain that they killed me for what I did to her because, when I reopened my eyes, I was in this place.
When I opened my eyes, I was in hell.
Now, you might think I am being unnecessarily dramatic but you would be wrong. If anything, I am not being dramatic enough. This place is literally hell.
Every morning I am ripped from my bed by some protective suit wearing guard, dragged down a series of long hallways, and then experimented on for hours on end. It has been three years since I arrived in hell and, almost every day, they have found a new way to punish me for the sins that I committed when I was alive.
I have been pumped full of adrenaline before being tossed into a tank full of frigid water, observed closely as it triggered my electricity. I was observed as my own bolts turned against me, giving me an all too realistic example of how that nurse felt; only without the relief of death.
I have been hooked up to a generated and exhausted to the point of blacking out, all just so some woman could see how long I could power certain types of machinery.
As of lately they have been testing my healing. They have been testing to see how much damage I can sustain and how long it takes me to heal from that damage.
I tie another knot in my bedsheet, tugging at it to test the strength. I am not sure how much I weigh now, being that mirrors are banned from hell, but I need to be certain that this thing holds up.
I don’t need it tearing before I run out of oxygen.
Someone in one of the rooms down the hall lets out another ear splitting scream and I jump, my eyes jerking towards the small window in my room. There is no sign of light outside but that doesn’t mean that the morning isn’t approaching. That doesn’t mean that they won’t be coming for me soon.
Sometimes they begin my day well before the sun rises and I don’t need my plans ruined because I have been trapped inside my own thoughts for the past few hours. ‘
After days of consideration, I have decided to kill myself.
Or at least attempt to.
The thought has been dancing around my mind for quite some time now, my brain always questioning if I can die twice, and I have decided that it is a worth a try. I would rather see if I can come back from oxygen deprivation rather than spend another day in this place.
The walls around me being to tremble, small bits of concrete falling to the ground as I skitter back into the closest corner. The wall to my left explodes, raining down large chunks of debris across my skin.
I close my eyes, breathing heavily as footsteps draw closer.
Is this real or am I seeing and hearing things again?
Hallucinations are a long term side effect of being trapped in hell.
The footsteps stop and I open my eyes, glancing up at the shadow that looms over me. I eye the large weapon strapped to their back and let out a relieved sigh.
Their ocean blue eyes meet mine and my heart skips exactly two and a half beats. I grin, thankful for this lovely-eyed creature who has come to kill me.
They extend a hand to me and my smile grows wider. I slip my hand into mine without a moment of hesitation.