Rolland awoke to a splitting headache, a pain like stakes driven through his skull, stabbing his brain. He opened his eyes and saw a blur of red and grey, slowly coming into focus. A cold draft ran across his body. He realized he was lying naked across a cold, stone surface. With a groan he tried to sit up, but his muscles didn't respond. He was paralyzed.
The room was small with walls carved from rock. An tall, misshapen silhouette stood at the foot of the slab on which Rolland lay. He squinted, trying to make out the figure, and its horrifying visage came suddenly into view. A monstrous demon stood there, grinning with a row of dagger-like teeth. Two long, twisting horns extended up from its temples. Red skin was pulled taut to its skeleton, ribs and spinal column visible through thin flesh. In place of a nose, it had only two large holes into its head, spewing puffs of smoke with each exhalation. The demon stared down with yellow reptilian eyes, the slits of its pupils narrowing as it leaned forward.
"Welcome to hell." The demon spoke with a deep growl. It grinned as it lifted a metal pitchfork. "Let's begin."
With a swift motion of the demon's arms, the serated prongs of the pitchfork found their way into Rolland's exposed body. The metal sank into his torso, burrowing deep into his stomach. Rolland cried out. The serated edges caught his flesh as the demon slowly withdrew the weapon, dragging skin upwards into mountainous peaks, until tearing through with a splash of blood. Rolland stared helplessly at his paralyzed body, witnessing with horror his own mutilation. A gaping hole now occupied his torso, blood pooling onto the stone slab on either side. The pitchfork trailed Rolland's innards, dangling just above the open cavity now below his ribs.
The demon twisted the weapon, slowly winding intestines around the prongs like noodles around a fork. Rolland screamed as his insides were pulled from his body with each deliberate twist of the metal tool, little by little. With a sudden jerking motion, the demon lifted the quivering mass of Rolland's innards and brought them to its gaping maw. The dripping organs jiggled on the end of the pitchfork, tethered by a single rope of intenstine that led from Rolland's open wound. The demon's jaw snapped shut on the mass, and Rolland felt the pain of a hundred teeth burrowing in. The creature bit down and ground his teeth, and Rolland screamed.
"Rolland!" a voice called out to him. "Remember why you are here!"
His looked to the source of the strange voice, across the chamber. He saw another stone slab, laid out alongside his own. Splayed across its surface was the blue alien Zoojin, lying naked and prone. Rolland locked eyes with Zoojin.
The demon turned its attention to Zoojin. "Silence," it growled, mulched innards dropping from rows of teeth. "You are next."
"Zoojin!" Rolland managed to gurgle through the blood pooling in his mouth. "Do something!"
"I can't!" Zoojin yelled back to him. "There is a force holding me!"
The demon made its way towards Zoojin. Cloven hoofs clacked against the rock with each step. The demon positioned itself beside Zoojin's paralyzed body. "How does this one taste?" A long red tongue flicked around the demon's mouth.
"Rolland!" Zoojin stared up at the demon as he called out. "Help me!"
The demon thrust the pitchfork down. Metal prongs tore through Zoojin's slender frame, burrowing deep below his ribs. Zoojin screamed out as the demon pulled out the weapon, its barbs ripping through flesh and skin.
"I enjoy the sound of your screams." The demon twisted the pitchfork.
Zoojin coughed up blood. "Rolland!" Zoojin strained to speak as the demon twisted the fork, winding organs out from the wound. "You have the power inside you!"
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Angels and WormholesScience Fiction
A star-faring religious cult has created an army of robotic zealots designed to follow holy scripture. As the robotic menace spreads across the galaxy, it takes prisoners to be 'excommunicated': hooked into a neural simulation of eternal torment. Ca...