This is my entry for the October WCC. Prompt: 'Maybe this world is another planet's Hell'. Read the other entries and vote for your favs :) Reviews are welcome!

Not once had he been happy in this world. It had always treated him cruelly, devouring his wishes and hopes like a hungry black mouth. He could see the same torment in the monsters, too, the suffering in their sunken eyes and their fingers bit by the cold, and he shared their pain. He knew that it was desperation that drove them to hurt him in an attempt to feel better themselves; yet, even after all his suffering, he refused to do the same.

So, instead, he dedicated his life to help those who harmed him. Yet even when he succeeded, even when he hauled the monsters out of the spiral of torture they had fallen in, it didn't make him happy. He realised that no matter what he did this world would always find someone else to destroy, so that they would destroy in turn… every day he lived with the anguish of knowing that in the end, his entire existence would be in vain.

But then, he met her.

At first it was just the dreams – short, lovely ones which he would forget in the morning, but which left him with a familiar mixed sensation of happiness and nostalgia. He would lie on his bed, immobile while he watched the rays of sun slip through the blinds, savouring the moment. He didn't try to remember the dream – he just enjoyed knowing that he'd gotten it again.

But soon it became more than that. He saw her in the reflection of the moon on his window and in the shapes the wind drew with the clouds. He saw her when he tasted sweet vanilla, when he felt the smooth caress of the snowflakes on his skin. He could not stop thinking about her; even the others noticed how his eyes would occasionally turn glassy and distant, how he would slowly drift away from them just to see her.

That was exactly what he was after: drifting away. He wanted to escape from the cruel reality that he'd been thrown in for reasons that he ignored. He clung to her image desperately, wishing she would take him to a higher place, but at the same time not allowing himself to hope; he had learned that much.

One day she was out in the street, floating above the crowd with her transparent dress spread behind her like wings. He watched from the window, wondering if she would notice him. She did; in a motion that waved her hair down her shoulders as if it were made of water she looked up and their gazes met. His breath caught. His heart started pounding against his ribs like a hammer. Slowly she floated up to his window and placed her open palm on it from the other side of the glass, all fingers outstretched.

He was so fascinated by her that he didn't realise he was crying like a child. With trembling fingers he undid the clasp on the window and opened it; the cold air of outside made his tears turn to ice, but he barely felt it. They stared at each other in silence for a moment, and then her lips stretched into a timid smile.

"I finally found you," she said. Her voice was like a murmur, like the muffled noise of the wings of a butterfly. It reminded him of another world all made of white, and he didn't speak in fear of making the picture disappear, though he had many questions. Why was she here? Why for him? She had not sinned; she did not belong with the monsters.

She outstretched her hand towards him, still smiling, and then said the words he'd been waiting to hear his whole life. "There's been a mistake. You can come back." And when he took it he felt his own body turn transparent and ethereal. He closed his eyes, knowing that his pain was over.

He was allowed to go back home.