The darkness engulfed him. He knew how his tale would unfold like a TV rerun or a record skipping backwards. He had been here before, and he would be here again. His Hell was eternal, his torment timeless. The man looked around at his torment. He was young, barely a man, but more than a boy. The hooks sunk through his wrists and connected to chains that disappeared into the blackness. He could see no further than a handful of metal links. He knew struggling was fruitless, but still, he tried. He hung star-shaped, his ankles gouged with more hooks connected to chains. The ground could not be seen, yet it must have been there, mustn’t it? Even if he could have escaped, where would he go? Would he fall into the abyss of obscurity below? Falling forever? He pulled his left arm, just the tiniest of tugs. The tissue tore a little, and the pain was excruciating. In life, he was sure that pain like this would have caused him to blackout. In death, it was endless. Repeating time after time again, he had no idea how long he had been trapped here.
To the man, it was a demon; it would always be a demonic creature. To us, it was a Phaborg. A hellish creation created to terrorise and torture the damned. A creature not just from the depths of hell, this was from the rotting bowels. It shuffled along, drawing its foot on an invisible floor. The scraping of its foot sounded like metal scraping upon metal. The creature itself was as close to flesh and bone as possible. The floor was not there; the man had repeatedly seen parts of himself fall into the darkness. Yet somehow, this beast walked upon nothing. This was the Phaborg’s domain; the rules of humanity did not seem to apply here. Dead-faced without a glimmer of emotion, the three eyes scanned the man’s bindings. The creature nodded at the tearing of skin from the left wrist. The Phaborg missed nothing. The fish hooks that grew from its skin rippled with hunger as he acknowledged the wrist. It reached with long skeletal pinchers to the man’s broken skin that had torn and pulled at it. It peeled six inches of the skin as quickly as you could peel PVA glue from plastic. After the six inches, it quickly snapped the skin free. Tearing it from its host. The man screamed out in pain. He wanted to blank and fall unconscious, but he could not.
The Phaborg placed the flap of skin into its mouth-like hole. It sucked half the length of the stolen skin. Slurping it in with a soggy wet glug, it paused halfway, pulled the remaining out, and pinned it onto his hooked flesh. The Phaborg had been here before. The man had been here before. They both knew the ritual. They both knew the routine. One enjoyed it, and one found it Hell. That was, after all, the point. The Phaborg grabbed forwards, and its pincers clamped vice-like on the man’s lips. This time it was quick, fast, and just as painful. It ripped the lips from the man. Both lips tore free at once, leaving the teeth and gums behind, staring through the blood-soaked hole like a cat’s eyes through a hole in a box. The lips were dropped, discarded, and fell into the darkness soundlessly. Disappearing into the nothing that existed below. Opening his mouth to scream was instinctive. The pain that followed was hammering from his lowest point and into the centre of his mind. The neurons snapping with electrical sparks enticed and tempted the Phaborg. The man’s pain teased and begged it for more.
Clapping forward and snapping like a bullwhip, the Phaborg’s two pincered arms came and clasped at two of the man’s teeth. One on either side, like a sadistic dentist it twisted at the teeth slowly. Turning, the nerves and bones crunched as the pincers and arms turned at a near three-hundred and sixty degrees. Eventually, it pulled the teeth and then dropped them. They too fell into the darkness like snowflakes on a starless night. The rest of the front teeth followed at speed. It seemed only to enjoy the first two; the rest were an afterthought. To the man, each hurt as much as the other, and his mouth was left with blood-filled craters. A few roots still clutched at the gums even after being beheaded. The Phaborg was noiseless during the whole procedure. Never muttering any word or sound in either amusement or excitement. The only sound the man ever heard was the noise from his body being abused and his screams that echoed around his mind and the chamber.
Driving with a pincer, the Phaborg grabbed at the open wound that had once been protected by flesh. Pulling at a tendon in the wrist, it let go, and it snapped back like a guitar string cracking back into place. Twang. The creature let it settle; it then grabbed it again and yanked it. Breaking it and leaving it hanging free like cords on a hoodie; thick red blood dripped into the nothingness below. The Phaborg reached into the hole that was its mouth with its pincers and slowly pulled something out. It always took its time with this. It enjoyed the pain it inflicted. The visual torment and horror were as bad in many ways as the actual torture. Leg by leg, it pulled a large centipede-type creature. Circular division by circular segment was pulled from the moist hole and handled with great care. Inch after inch until all twelve parts were finally revealed. The forceps that made the final part were the worse. The pin-sharp snapping wire-thin semi-circular tools that this thing had been born or engineered to grow. The Phaborg held it gently like a newborn and leaned forward towards his victim’s ear.
The creature wiggled into the man’s ear. It itched at first and felt just like an irritation of loose hair. A hair that may have escaped the ear trimmers that would have been used by an older man, used by a fully mature man. One that could have been easily brushed free, only this one burrowed deep. The man heard and then felt the pin forceps scratching on his eardrum. The tearing was all he could hear and feel, scraping like a pin down a balloon. The pin poked through the thin skin, and pain and noise popped into his head; he threw his head and body forward, tearing at both wrists. He dry urged and retched from his empty stomach. The tearing of the eardrum eclipsed the pain in both wrists. The itching digging of the creature pin scraped its way onto the middle ear. The Phaborg did not stop while this was continuing. It drove its pincers into his lower body. Missing every organ, it penetrated the skin, and once it had dug deeply enough, it opened the pincers. Splitting and shredding at the skin, muscle, and flesh. The very centre of the pincers where they joined the Phaborg had a small hole. From the hole, thousands of small ten-legged spider-like creatures emerged. Eyes drooping like a crabs on stalks, they flooded into the open chamber that was the man’s body.
The man could feel the itching, tickling sensation of the spider-like creatures as they made their way around his organs. Grasping and picking at parts of his body that were never meant to be touched. He could feel the ten little legs crawling around inside of him. An infestation of creepy crawlies that would feed on him. The earapead burrowed through his ear and into his head, and the Phaborg continued to rip the skin from his body. Consuming some of it and hanging other parts like trophies from its face. The pain was relentless, stamping upon every inch of his being. The tearing, crunching, cutting, eating, and tickling both inside and out. But then, abruptly, it all stopped. Like a fuse blowing, the pain went from excruciating to nothing in less time than it takes to even think about it. Everything was unmoving, this timeless Hell had run out of life, and nothing moved. Even the Phaborg was motionless, stuck in a bubble of time and frozen in space. Its eyes, which had been forever moving and scanning, stood silently suspended.
This was new. This was something different. All the time the man had been abused here this had never happened. He had a moment to access and think things through, to dissect the situation. A thousand thoughts paraded through his mind, stepping one thought forward and the next. They moved in much the same way the spider crab-like creatures once had. One image would pop to the front, only to be stamped upon by the next. A final vision of a staircase came to the forefront, but before he could grasp it, the Phaborg exploded. Ten-legged spiders, earapeads and creatures he had not seen and never wanted to see flying into the darkness, and with them came light. He had expected nothing, but had he been pushed; he would have picked darkness. But, from the monster, from his demon came light. A light that grew and showed him the full extent of the chamber. The realisation of what had been happening hit him as hard as any torture.
As far as the man’s eyes could see, and in all directions, he could recognise copies of himself. This had not been in a timeless space; had he been experiencing himself getting tortured time and time again at the exact same moment? Each of his time clones had a Phaborg exploding before them. Blowing up like dominoes in a series. Each of the copies was suspended by chains, and they all had a look of shock on what was left of their faces. The light started to dim as the parts of the Phaborg drifted into the nothingness. He was left with what he had seen engraved into his mind. His future, past, and present all merged into one mangled reality that surrounded him. When the darkness finally descended upon him, he was happy and welcomed it. Sometimes it is better not to know. Sometimes asking a question can lead to answers you do not want to hear.
A wisp of mist started to appear in the space the Phaborg had relinquished. A tiny insignificant fleck of nothing seemed to multiply and grow into a large plume of grey smoke. The larger the plumage grew, the further back it moved. It was soon so large it filled the dark horizon. The pain never returned, and he strained his neck to look upwards at the forming vapour. It had started to split like a cell in a test tube and soon, what was once one, became four. The four pillars of smoke stood hundreds of feet in height. He looked down and then upwards and could see no source or end. They slowly morphed and turned from the smoke into human figures. The four floated before him, taller than anything he had ever seen in his life. Two men and two women. One tall, one small, one fat, and one slim. They all looked down at him in unison, dressed in black suits and ties.
The pain and physical torture may have departed, but now fear has replaced them. He could feel something worse in these creatures than anything he had experienced thus far. There was a dark power that seemed to emanate from them. They had quickly taken control of this Hell and banished the creature that called it his domain. Now they just looked at him with dead eyes. They all opened their mouths simultaneously, and a voice projected from them all in concert and asked, “Is it revenge that you want?” He waited for just a moment and then moved to reply. He had forgotten momentarily the injuries that now made his mouth, but moving was painless. “It is all I ever want,” the man replied in broken words. The reply was repeated in the voices of his copies from all directions. The chamber went dark, and all that was left was the emptiness of nothing.