I groaned, my entire body stiff. Although my vision was groggy, natural human phototropism caused me to look upwards, towards the brightest light source in the room. My sense of smell was what awoke next. The stench of rotting flesh and forgotten promises was almost unbearable. Attempting to get up, I realized quickly that it was an impossible task. "Oh yeah... my legs", I muttered, wincing in pain.
"So... Oliver killed Ryan? Is that what you're saying?"
"Ethan? Is that you?" I hollered, squirming around on the tile floor.
Two sets of heavy footsteps made their way towards me. "Oliver... how could you?!" Ethan's voice cried out, whipping something hard at my back.
I painfully twisted my body so that my back was against the floor. I looked up at Ethan, who held a dagger in his right hand. I sensed a presence beside him, but saw nothing. "What... what are you talking about man? I'm here to rescue you from the witch", I reasoned, looking around for the witch.
She was nowhere to be seen. Ethan walked over to me and cruelly flattened my right hand with his boots. "You killed Ryan, Oliver... I never thought... Never thought you'd be such a-"
"Hey now!" I screamed hysterically, "You were planning to trade in my soul to that old hag to extend your own life! You have no right to be-"
I felt something pierce my chest as Ethan knelt down beside me. He softly ran two of his fingers across my forehead. I was too focussed on the pain and shock to think straight, but betrayal was the dominant thing on my mind. "My dear, sweet brother", Ethan whispered. His pupils were grotesquely dilated and with every breath he exhaled, they seemed to shiver with a demonic haze.
"Am I going to die?" I suddenly choked out through running tears. I didn't even know that I'd been crying until that point.
"My dear, sweet brother", Ethan eerily repeated, as if in a sick, twisted trance.
Without any other words, my brother and murderer simply stood up and walked away. His footfalls were the last thing I heard, apart from the cackling of the invisible witch.
A single, precious moment later, twenty-one years of knowledge and wisdom left the plane of the real and entered the underlying, lesser known realm of the deceased. My thoughts, my memories, my loves and my hates, my talents and my hopes... all escaped my broken, mortal container and slipped into the realm of the deceased. In my final moment, I felt my first true sense of peace. The intense, unbearable pain died away and I was but a soul, an immaterial part of life most crucial but never seen.
That was when the torture began. Pain. Pain. Pain. The pain returned full-force, more unholy and unrelenting than ever before. Worse than the sinking of the bears' teeth into my tender flesh, worse than my death at the hands of my own brother. This pain did not affect the body, for there was no body in the realm of death. Instead, the pain was applied directly to my soul, killing me from the inside... over and over... and over. Please, oh please. Could you make it stop? Please make it stop hurting me...
Little did I know, I would be repeating those words for the rest of eternity. As for Ethan, it wasn't long before he entered the realm of death as well. One hundred years seems like a long time to a mortal human, but to a detached soul this became 100 seconds. Any human's lifespan, however long it was, was almost cruelly insignificant compared to the vastness and longevity of the universe.
But Ethan did not accompany me in the realm of infinite pain.