Road to Hell
I was walking down a road at night. The air was uncomfortably warm, yet I was freezing. I could feel beads of sweat forming on my forehead, while all my muscle mass was shrouded in shivers. The hotness of the surrounding air was spiked with bursts and waves of cold energy. My hairs were rising on my forearms and the back of my neck. Something was happening. Something was wrong. I did not recognize anything around me. Not even in me. Not even my own body. My soul was the only remnant of a familiar self I could cling on to.
What was this place?
I kept on walking in near darkness. On watch. I looked around and wondered what was wrong with this place. Why did it feel so creepy? Most of all, how had I landed there?
I felt something latch on to me, clawing at my back, yet I could not see nor touch anything. I closed my eyes and screamed in pain. Something was biting me. I tried to shake it off. I tried to grab at it, but I could not move my arms. I could feel its sharp claws digging into my flesh. Its teeth working on my collarbone. I felt a warm fluid slide down my spine. I was powerless. A prey to whatever creature had set its aim at me.
I opened my eyes and still could not see anything. There was no blood on my back. My clothes were intact. I was still on the same road. Walking ahead. Robotic, automated steps. My body seemed unharmed. As if nothing had happened. Yet I could feel the pain of the bite and the rough claws grasping at my flesh. Again and again, stabbing at my back, echoing the aggression I had just undergone. I could not be imagining such vivid pain. I had never felt anything like that before.
Still my body kept on walking. Both hands hanging by my sides. I tried to command it to turn back, retrace my steps to a point of origin. I could not. I tried to move my arms and reach out to my back. I could not. I could only move my eyes. My shell was set in motion and I could not do a thing about it. I was jailed. Prisoner of this walking corpse, forced to feel, yet unable to act, nor even see clearly.
I could sense a presence hovering over me. Something brushed against my bare skin. Rough scales, cold as ice. Leaving a burning itching rash in their wake. I felt threatened. A wild animal too slow to run, limited by the set pace of my body, and trapped in a shell. Slow as a turtle, yet defenseless. I could not even find shelter and hide under my carapace. I was exposed. Far away from any known territory, lost in a land I did not recognize. Trapped in a mass of walking flesh that was not even mine. I felt waves of panic rising in me. I closed my eyes. Tightly. Hoping I would wake.
Minutes later, the air I was breathing felt different. Softer. More temperate. I could not feel my legs stride forward anymore. Instead I could feel pins and needles waking in my calves. Intrigued and hopeful, I dared open my eyes again.
I found myself sitting in front of a desk in an otherwise barren room.
Everything around me was blurred. It felt like I was surrounded by some sort of invisible smoke that caused disruptions in the atmosphere – the kind of vapours that emanate from sun bathed asphalt in the summer.
There was a wooden box sitting ajar in front of me, an open padlock, and a mirror. I looked up. Uncertain of whom I would see.
This time, the face that was staring back was mine.