The flames finally stopped, and all that remained was a burnt totem of flesh that was just moments ago a living, breathing man. The ray of light disappeared as the disk of light above the grotesque smoldering statue eclipsed. The remaining five men in the dimly lit dungeon room stood and stared at smoking remains. The group showed little emotion. They had become desensitized to such an occurrence since five others had perished similarly in front of their eyes ever since they found themselves in this nightmare.
“Maybe it’s hell?” one of the men spoke up as the others started to move around from their stricken stance of staring at the now blackened figure.
“Yeah, for some reason, we are in a realm of hell together for whatever our sins of the past. I know that I used to drink something terrible and treated my family horribly. What about you guys? What did you do?” this scrawny man continued his hypothesis for the explanation of their current situation.
“We ain’t in no fuck’n hell, man. I don’t ever recall dying,” spoke up wide bulging muscled man.
“You don’t ever recall dying asshole, you just die, then you’re somewhere else, and I’m telling you we’re in hell.”
Another man walked up to the blackened smoking body, still standing in a position of agony with mouth opened wide as if in a scream. He reached out and poked at the chunks of charred flesh with his forefinger. Pieces of blackened flesh flaked and fell off, exposing bone and cooked sinew beneath.
“It’s amazing how the light burns them like this. The burnt always remain standing. How does that happen? Why the light? I always remember sunlight being rejuvenating except for sunburns,” the curious man with the probing finger commented.
The stocky muscled man answered, “It’s dark enough in these rooms and passages, barely enough to see to get around. Maybe because we are in such darkness, the light just fires us up. Poof! like a bundle of newspapers!”
The scrawny guy replied mockingly to Muscles' explanation, “The light fires us up like newspapers. That’s the stupidest fucking thing I’ve heard from you yet muscle head. Why don’t you just keep doing pushups like you been doing while we’ve been roaming around here!”
“Keeping up my strength may be the thing that makes me survive this nightmare, thin boy. Like you’ve had anything to add during this. Might as well be like that retard over there,” Muscles stretched out his thick arm, pointing toward a young man in a corner. The figure in the corner stood half crunched, holding his hands partially to his face with bent fingers. The boy was maybe in his early twenties and impaired, but he managed to follow along with the others at a struggling pace.
“Leave that boy alone!” the man that had poked the smoldering flesh spoke up. “If you want to pick on anyone, you should start with the silent guy over there. That guy never says anything!” as he looked over at a man wearing a wife-beater tank top and sporting a goatee. The silent guy stared back through dark eyes without a word, just a look that would scare away most people in polite society.
“Here we have it; the five of us left: muscle head, silent creep, thin man, disabled, not fucking retarded,” he said, looking toward Muscles, “and me. What do you call me?”
The thin man spoke, “Curious George. That’s what you are. Always poking at shit and burnt bodies. Wasn’t it you that got that fat guy killed by playing around on the walls, then the light appeared above him, burning him up?”
“There is no proof that me searching the walls had anything to do with the light appearing above fatty. Somebody has to try to figure out what the hell is going on. Also, my name isn’t George. It’s…”
“Ahh…ahh…ahh. No names. I don’t want to know your name nor anyone else’s. I think we should all agree on that. We are dying off too fast, and knowing names isn’t going to make things any easier,” Muscles spoke out.
Thin Man disagreed. “Well, my name is Curtis. Screw your muscles! Knowing people is a good thing. Maybe it’s you’re just an ass….”
Before Thin Man could finish, a circular portion of the ceiling above him became a beam of light that encompassed his entire person. He instantly began to catch fire, and the fire stayed contained within the beam of light. No particles of his torching body drifted outside of the cylinder of light enclosing him. Still, embers and ash drifted upwards toward the ceiling from where the beam emanated.
There was no sound of him screaming, the crackle of flame, or the sizzling of flesh. Everything that involved the consumption of his being stayed confined within the tube of brilliant light. The process was over within seconds, then the light vanished from the floor up back into the ceiling above the now smoldering blackened corpse. The smell of burnt human flesh filled the chamber instantaneously. The remaining four men choked and gagged at the stench filling the air. Still hacking from the odor, Curious George spoke up.
“Maybe we’ve been here too long,”-gagging and coughing- “Let’s get moving. How about that hall over there,” he pointed to an exit leading to a hall just behind Thin Man’s burnt remains.
“I don’t think we’ve been that way. We came from the one over there, right?” as he pointed at the other entrance behind them.
Muscles perked up, walking towards the hall that Curious George had pointed towards. The disabled boy was approaching the same exit.
“I don’t know. I kind of got sidetracked since two people have been cooked since we been in here. Remember a while back before fatty got it? That hot chick with the big titts walked into a hall and got zapped. I got an idea. Hey, retard, come here!” Muscles grabbed the young invalid by the shoulders as he moved towards the hall door. The disabled boy gave a slight struggle as muscles shoved him into the darkened hall.
“You jerk!” Curious George ran towards Muscles as he tossed the kid into the darkened door. He got to Muscle’s side and was ready to struggle with him but was taken by the look on Muscle’s face as he gazed into the darkness of the exit.
“He just disappeared! What the fuck? Hey! Hey, tard! You in there?” Muscles shouted into the darkened hall. He looked at Curious George, who was now also staring into the darkness in amazement,
“Where did he go?”
“I don’t know, man, but he isn’t there. Hopefully, he’s somewhere better than around your psycho ass!” Curious George spat at Muscles getting right into his face. Muscles grabbed Curious George around the throat. And pushed him up against the wall next to the opening into the hall that the boy disappeared into.
“You want some of this Curious George? I tell you what. You’re next!”
Just then, there was a loud thwack sound, and Muscles’ head jerked violently. His grip let loose of Curious George’s throat, and Muscles dropped like a sack of potatoes. As Muscles fell, Curious George saw Silent Man standing behind Muscles, holding a rock in two hands that he had just slammed into the back of Muscles’ head. Silent Man just stood looking at the prostrate body on the floor. Blood was streaming from the back of Muscles’ head, and his body was twitching from involuntary reactions.
Silent Man dropped the stone next to the figure on the floor. And put his hands up to his face while bowing his head in them. He couldn’t believe what he had just done.
Curious George stepped slowly toward Silent Man and reached out, touching his wrists. “Hey…hey… it’s… it’s ok, man. That guy was bad. You saw what he did to that kid. For all, we know he killed that kid, throwing him into that hallway like that. You did the right thing. Thank you. And you should thank yourself, that guy would have killed any of us to save his own ass.”
Silent Man slowly took down his hands from his face and looked at the body, then at Curious George. He opened his mouth and pointed at his opened orifice, then shook his head, indicating that he couldn’t speak.
“You can’t speak!” blurted Curious George at the same time, giggling. Silent Man shook his head in concurrence to Curious George’s observation.
“But you can hear, though,” Silent Man shook his head in agreement again, starting to smile. “Sorry, I don’t mean to laugh. It just explains a lot why you haven’t been speaking. This whole time, I thought you were the evil one until the Hulk lying there showed his true colors. Haha…haha…haha”
Silent Man began laughing as well, making no sound but blowing air through his thwarted vocal cords and having the facial expression of hilarity. They both shared a needed laugh for a moment, then recomposed themselves and stared back into the darkened hallway that the disabled kid had disappeared into.
“Well, it’s the only other way out of here other than from where we came, and I don’t recall any promising leads back that way, only five other dead people. Maybe the kid disappeared into an exit out of here?” he looked toward Silent Man, who just looked back and shrugged.
“Well, here goes nothing,” Curious George started to step toward the doorway to the darkened hall when Silent Man reached out and grabbed him by the wrist, spinning him around. Silent Man was shaking his head no then pointed at himself then toward the entrance.
“You want to go first?” Silent Man shook his head yes, then raised his hands to both ears, cupping them behind each ear in a hearing stance.
“You can hear really well?” Silent Man shook his head again and slowly started approaching the doorway to the hall. Curious George watched him enter nervously, reaching his hands out toward him as if he could grab him back from oblivion somehow. Silent Man entered the hall a few feet, slowly turned around facing back toward Curious George, and shrugged again.
“Wow! You’re still there. No sign of the kid?”
Silent Man shook his head no and looked back down the hall. He turned back toward Curious George and pointed two fingers up to his eyes then ears, then pointed down the hall indicating that he saw and heard something ahead. Curious George stepped into the hall coming up beside him.
They proceeded down the aisle together, Curious George just beside Silent Man. They could see some light toward the end of the hall as if it were opening into another room maybe 5o feet ahead of them, and Curious George began to hear the splashing of water. They proceeded in nervous caution. Cautiously looking about at the floor and the walls for any indication of anything out of the ordinary.
All of the rooms and halls they had been in were all made of smooth granite-type rock. The passages and rooms looked like those of an old castle dungeon. There was not much light, dim enough to see by but not bright enough to make out great detail. Where the light came from, they could not ascertain. It was similar to a horror movie where people go into dark rooms and there always seems to be enough light to see.
When the light beams appeared, burning people, there was never any distinguishable opening within the ceiling from where it came from. The roof just became a circular portal of light that had the diameter size of the person that it enveloped then vanished once the person was scorched to death.
How this was happening, they could not determine. Still, it seemed that whatever was controlling it was forcing them to keep moving because if they stayed in one place too long, people started dying. This is what they had learned from starting with ten people, and now it was just Curious George and Silent Man.
How long they had been in this adventure was uncertain. There was no way to determine time other than the feeling of their own biological clock. Any cellphone anyone had was dead, and any watch piece such as a wristwatch had all stopped at whatever time they had started.
No one even remembered how they had gotten to where they were. They were just there. It was almost like they were all at work together and had gone from one room to another. Once they had got to the next room, it was made of stone, and all the people in it were people you had never seen before. Any attempts they had made at determining how they got there came up empty.
Curious George and silent man made it to the next room that opened up at the end of the hall. The room was roughly 40 feet by 40 feet square. A pool was located in the center of the floor. And a trickle of water streamed from the ceiling to the center of the pond. The pool was about 5 feet in diameter and 1 foot deep. A small wall ringed the pool circumference and was wide enough to sit on.
They both sat on the edge of the pond and eagerly began lapping up the water and splashing it on their faces. They were thrilled at a cool drink of water of which they could not remember their last.
“Boy, that is great, huh?” Curious George looked at Silent Man as he was gulping down a double handful of water. Silent Man began coughing, dropping the remainder of the water in his hands and spitting up more from his throat.
“Easy ole boy!” Curious George began slapping him on the back, trying to get him to clear his airway.
Silent Man kept coughing and choking, and it began to get serious. The look on his face was that of a man that couldn’t breathe, and his face became purplish in color. His tongue stuck out from puckered lips as he frantically pointed at his mouth and holding his throat with his other hand.
Curious George got him up and performed the Heimlich maneuver to the best of his ability trying to get him to breathe again to no avail. It wasn’t long before he was jerking back on a limp body that was no longer choking but drooling from out the corners of its mouth. Silent Man’s face was blue and his eyes were bloodshot.
Curious George laid Silent Man down against the wall, partially propping him up to look into his face. His head hung to one side, and no movement came from him. Curious George reached up and closed the man’s eyes to at least remove the horrible look from his bulging bloodshot eyes.
“I’m sorry, my friend. I didn’t even get to know your name,” he then felt overarching anger take over him. He stood up over the body of Silent Man and yelled upward, “God damn you! What is this? What do you want?” shaking his fists skyward, spitting as he screamed.
Just then, a beam of light extended down from the ceiling to the floor in a corner of the room. The light appeared to be just like all the other beams that had scorched the poor souls within it, but this time there was no one standing under it, and the light stayed on. Curious George stared at the beam for what felt like minutes but was only seconds. He began walking toward it.
“Maybe this is the only way out of here? Walk around aimlessly through corridors and rooms that lead nowhere but to death or be consumed by the light. Step into the light,” he begun muttering that phrase as he slowly advanced toward the column of light. “Step into the light…step into the light…step into the light…” He entered the conical beam ultimately.
He was frozen from movement once entirely emerged within it. He felt no pain, but he could see flames appearing all over his arms and body. He could see his flesh blacken as ash and amber began flaking off his body and rising into the air toward the circle of light in the ceiling. Then he heard a voice all around him, “You have been chosen!”
The room around him disappeared in blinding light. Then he saw in front of him a lush garden landscape stretching out as far as the eye could see. The landscape was green and neatly managed to perfection with blue streams, fountains, and fruit trees. It looked like some picturesque garden from an aristocrat's palace. The sky was clear, and the sun shined warmly from above, and he felt no fear to step out into the sunlight.
Nine people appeared in a 40 foot by 4o foot room that contained a circular pool of water in the middle with a trickle of water coming down from the ceiling. They looked for a moment when a large fat man spoke out, “What the hell is that?” pointing toward a burning figure in a pillar of light in the corner.
A cute young female with large breasts let out a squeal as she noticed a dead man propped against the wall around the pool. The strange thing was the body was naked, and its face was distorted to be unrecognizable. A man with a large muscular body stepped up beside her.
“Where the fuck are we, and who the hell are you, people?”
One person, a man, formerly known as Curious George continued stepping into the sunshine.