Day 3: I still have no idea why I am here, and my wounds just won't stop bleeding...

Barking. screaming, growling, tearing, chewing, breaking. It's a wonder Roland can concentrate long and hard enough to scrawl a few simple lines in his worn and tattered notebook.

I think I'm sick, very sick.

Rotting carcass, dead carcass, bleeding carcass, breathing carcass. His heart beat to a cadence all its own. chanting, chanting, incantation... Don't fight. Can't fight. Yes fight!

He screamed, throwing his pen and tossing his notebook aside. The voices in this place- or were they in his head?- were maddening. Why wouldn't they stop? He brought his knees to his chest and sobbed. Living in this insanity was more than he could take. "Funny thing is Roland, buddy", he thought, "you don't even know where you are." he scoffed, then laughed through his sobbing because it was true. This place was like a nightmare. He wasn't sure how he got here or when he could get out or even why he was here, but it was dark and held a horror movie quality in its atmosphere. And he only wanted out of it. Desperately.

Rotting, dead, bleed, breathe. Foolish, foolish man. Get out? Cute joke, cute, cute, foolish joke. Could you, would you on a foolish wish get out? Ha! Dying rot and blood breath of your carcass...

The darkness of this place was one thing. There was just enough light to see his notebook, and even that light didn't seem to be light. It was more like illuminated darkness. The darkness was so thick, so heavy, so tangible. When Roland drew in a breath, it was as if he breathed in the darkness instead of air. That was it. There was no light. Everything here illuminated darkness from inside itself. In this illuminated darkness he could see the gnarled trees around him, his notebook and pen slung carelessly among their twisted roots, and he could see the pool of warm liquid he was lying in. Most of it was his own blood, some of it was his tears and saliva, and still some was his urine. Roland didn't care. He knew he was dying. He awaited death. He would greet death with a kiss. Soon, he hoped.

If the darkness wasn't enough, there was also the smell of this place. Dank, musty, sweaty, rotting, like back seat solicited sex or cheap whiskey vomited on the bathroom floor, dirty, bloody, urine, rotting, carcass, carcass, CARCASS!
The voices here! They never stopped! Roland slammed his hands against his ears, begging them to silence.

"No more voices!", he cried. "Please no more!" Voices, voices, the voices. He could never determine where they came from. They were just there. And they were loud. They picked at his insides and ate away at his sanity. They were relentless. "Helter Skelter!", screamed one.

"Cockadoodie dirty birdie!", shouted another.
"I'm coming. I'm coming. I'm coming!"
"Come play, Roland!"
"Tick tock. Tick tock. Tick tock!"
"Rotting carcass, dead carcass, bleeding carcass, breathing carcass!"

These voices were the worst. All blended together in one defeaning, chaotic, terrorizing roar. Roland rocked back and forth, crying, gasping, breathing. Breathing. "Dear God! Why am I still breathing? Why is this happening!?", he thought. "What have I done!?"

Then, suddenly, in the midst of all the chaos, silence blanketed the forest of darkness. Every voice hushed, all at once, immediately cut off. There was nothing, only a faint whisper among the trees. "Rumrr...", it whispered. "Rumrralond..."
Roland froze, afraid to breathe. His eyes darted around him. What was happening? Horror and dread began to fill him as he listened to the whisper in the trees.

"Rroollanndd...", the whisper growled. "Roooolllaannnddd. I am heeerrreee."

Everything stopped. His heart, his breathing, his sobbing, everything. The soul inside of Roland seemed to freeze in ice cold terror. This voice did not speak to pierce his silent heart with fear; this voice spoke to wrack his now shivering body with eternal agony. Something inside Roland told him that a fate worse than death was approaching. Why did all the other voices stop?

Because the Head Hell hound himself, the Lap-dog of Satan had arrived. And he required absolute silence.

"No", Roland cried. "No."

Doom.

"Did someone say that?", Roland asked in his mind. Doom. Louder this time.
Roland's head snapped in the sound's direction.

Doom. Doom. Doom.

"Dear God, who is saying that?"

Doom
. Roland's eyes flew open in sudden realization. It wasn't a voice. The voices had long since stopped. The sound didn't have the special quality of a spoken word. Loud at first, then slightly muffled... It was more like... footsteps. Heavy, determined, bone-chilling footsteps.

The Hound himself had come.

How did he know that? How could he trust anything that happened here? He was having a bad dream. A nightmare. That's all it could be. No place anywhere on earth like this could possibly-

Doom.

-exist.

Roland's icy cold eyes teared up, spilling the salty liquid over the barren ground. It was over. No, no, no. It was only just beginning.

DOOM.

Then, silence once more. No footsteps. No voices. Roland couldn't even hear the beating of his heart. It, too, had silenced. He wrenched his eyes shut, twisting his face into a rough and rugged terrain of wrinkles.

Gasping. For breath, but only breathing in. The darkness.

It was only minutes- or was it seconds? hours? maybe days?-he had been sitting there, curled up into a shivering mass of a coward. Gently, softly, came a breeze. A hot, thick breeze. In regular intervals. It felt like the draft you might feel in an undercroft. Very... unnatural.

Rott. You, bastard. Die. Bleed, you son of Satan's bitch! Breathe. Face him.

It wasn't audible, but someone spoke it in a rough, stony voice. Like a dusty tombstone whose letters are no longer legible. Ancient...

"Ahh... Hrahh... Hrahh..."

It was the sound of the breeze propelling forward. The sound was deep and throaty. Roland discovered with great terror that it had always accompanied the breeze. With even greater terror, he realized this meant something far more important than the sound itself.

This was no breeze.

Dare he?

He did.

Forced, but he did.

Roland's eyes roared back to life in twisting agony. They flew open to meet the maker of this world. The One Who Resides in the Shadows. He Who Laughs at the Stillborn. Victor when Death Prevails. Cerberus. Lucifer's Saint. Him.

Looming above him stood The Hound of Hell. Gigantic. It's skin was the color of darkness, not black. Darkness.

The color black absorbs all light, Roland recalled, but there is no light here. there is no light in him.

The hound's face was that of a gnarled German shepherd. His ears stood pointed and sharp. The hound had ebony claws that glowed and pulsed red like embers in a fire.

Then, the hound smiled. Teeth. So, so many teeth. Rows upon rows of elongated, spear-like teeth. Were they... stained? Yes. The thick rim of his teeth where those white spears met moist fleshy gums were stained with the color of scarlet red. Deep, scarlet red.

This dog of Satan was actually smiling at Roland. He was pleased.

Roland froze. His vision was clear and then blurred, clear, blurred. His head felt so light. His heart felt so heavy. All of the organs inside him sank down to his toes. A throbbing sensation pulsed awkwardly throughout Roland's body.

The hound's head lowered to meet Roland. Oh, dear God! Too close! Those! Eyes!

They were only darkness, unending pits of more and more darkness that burrowed into the hound's sockets. But screams radiated from them. A green fog drifted out of those pits. Roland's eyes tried without much avail to adjust to the horror of those eyes when he noticed something about them. Little shapes were forming in that green misty fog that oozed out of those eyes. They took the forms of men and women. Children, even. All broken, mangled in disgusting ways. All screaming.

Voices in the atmosphere roared back to life in a high, piercing wail. A large, wet tongue dripping in saliva emerged from the jowls of Satan's purebred. It dragged across Roland's face in a deadly kiss.

He cried.

Roland.

Cried. Wept.

The hound lashed out. A great paw pinned Roland's body to the hard ground. The hound released a mighty howl to the sky. How great was that howl! How empty yet so full of hate! It was summoning something deep and ancient and ominous.

The man beneath the paw did nothing. He did not struggle nor did he beg. What could he do? What could be done to save the one who is condemned to such a fate?

He thought back in time. Wasn't there something he could do to protect his soul?

"The Lord is my shepherd", he began shakily, "I shall not-"

A splitting sound erupted in his ears. A massive, earthquake of a sound. It was like the earth was pulling itself apart. The earth had gone mad and was tearing itself in two out of grief. It groaned and moaned like a lover in miscarriage. A large crevice streaked across the surface of the dusty, dry earth and plummeted deep into its core.

The smell that came from the fracture was like nothing ever experienced by humans. Many little bodies were rotting down in those depths. The stench caused rains of tears to flood Roland's eyes. It stung, it... burned. The odor clawed the back of his eyes like a kitten would rake a scratching post. Mixed into the smell, Roland could make out burning hair, rotting flesh, vomit, sweat, and blood.

He had sensed them before he saw them arising to meet him. They were the eyes of his nightmares, the ones who watch small children from the closet, they were the icy chill in his spine. From the depths of the lowest levels of Hell came little demons rising from the spilt the earth had made.

The child demons pranced happily on all fours towards the man beneath the paw. They growled. They laughed in grumbling voices. There were so many, many of them.

As they approached, Roland could make out a familiar form they shared. Their bodies began to morph from shapeless nightmares propelled by arms and legs and claws into the bodies of... dogs. Puppies. Large puppies.

They swarmed him, carrying with them that awful, unearthly smell. Some had unseeing, glazed eyes. Others had twisted paws that forced them to run shakily on the calloused stubs of their bent ankles. Still the rest were ridden with scars, tears, tumors, and deformities.

One had an overly large head that forced it to totter as it galloped toward the man beneath the paw. Every couple feet or so, it would stop for no real reason and begin to violently twitch all over. It smiled a gruesome, happy smile when the twitches began. Drool flew in all directions. Roland heard the sickening pop of bones breaking. The demon mutt had shaken so violently that it caused his neck to snap.

The demons began their ritual rites. Some were picky eaters, but most plunged their broken, jagged teeth into any piece of pink, moist meat that their eyes saw as lovely dinner pieces.

Pain, and so real.

A heat wave soaring through Roland's foot told him a demon puppy had torn the meat from his heel in stringy bits. He watched as another tore the elastic white tendons from his arm. His calf was ripped from its anchored bone.A pinky finger popped from his skeleton.

Torment. Firey pain scored through his being. Endless. Why had his body not passed to death?

A single fingernail was slowly pulled from the vulnerable meat under it.

Yet through the suffering, Roland could make out something incredible about these dark friends of Satan. The demon dogs had written words carved into their bodies. They were rough carvings and some still bled as if they were fresh wounds. Roland began to read them as the mutts continued their sacrificial feast.

"Greed."

"Unforgiveness."

"Hate."

"Bitterness."

He laughed. He laughed! It was funny wasn't it? This was it. That mockery that the church told him about. Hell! This was it! He was dead! And this was it!

He recalled that night in the hospital. Ahh, it was some terminal disease he couldn't even pronounce. Those idiots quacks had given him another few months to live! But here he was. Gone to sleep and woke in a different world!

Roland laughed and laughed and laughed until one demon mutt abomination decided to pull his vocal cords from his throat.

Still, he laughed. It turned into a gurgle as his voice filled with burbling blood. Big bubbles of the crimson liquid formed and popped with every chuckle. Warm blood spilled onto the ground and rolled down his chin in dribbling rivers.

Then, there was pressure on his chest as a big female mutt stood atop Roland's laughing bosom and stared down at him. She growled. There was a distinct tear through her ear. One hip protruded abnormally from her side. Her right eye was a terrible sight: torn through the cornea so the black jelly of her pupil hung in a drooping blob from the organ.

He shuddered at the sight of her, but she snarled and reveal the word carved into her rotting pelt.

"Helen"

The name of.

His wife.

Helen.

A spark ignited in Roland's being. He remembered!

The time she forgot to pay the electric bill and he struck her with the kitchen knife. It slit her ear open in a gash that needed twelve stitches to mend it.

He remembered!

The time he shoved her down their home's flight of stairs and it caused her hip to shatter irregularly.

He remembered!

The time he locked her in their bedroom and beat her until she gave him exactly what he wanted. And his intensity nearly cost her the precious gift of her vision.

The demon child wasn't her, it couldn't be. Was it the personification of every terrible deed he had done to her? Was she the reality of Helen's own hate for him. Was that possible?

Helen smiled down at Roland. The man she had loved. Adored even. She had done everything for this man who was still beneath the paw. But he didn't love back. Not the way he was supposed to. He loved the bottle more than her. He loved those pretty cards of red and black more than her. He promised to love her more. But. He. Didn't.

He even loved that other girl more. She was prettier. She was easier. Her curves were perfect, and that long, wavy blonde hair cascaded down them perfectly. She only wanted to be loved one way. He could give that to her. He loved giving that to her. She wasn't like Helen who wanted love for her spirit as well as her body.

Helen was too hard to please. Not easy. So, he loved this other girl, too.

And Helen was enraged.

She delicately lapped at the blood pouring from his throat. Roland shivered.

She was so hideous, but her feminine curves were undeniable. Helen, the demon hound of suffering, was appealing to him.

He gurgled with disgusting pleasure as she gently nibbled his ears. She had some strange sexual pull on him. He felt it was so forbidden, horrific.

That was what made it so cruelfully blissful.

Helen sensually slid her pink tongue over his entire being. Over the bold veins of his neck. Down his naked chest. And then... pleasure like he had never had before. Better than the human Helen. More exciting than that girl he loved on the side. More than he could do for himself.

Helen purred with satisfaction at giving him exactly what he wanted.

Now for what he deserved.

Jolts of terrible pain shot from his genitals to his heart in a surprising shock. He bolted up in horror, but the paw refused to let him move. A scream that ripped through the sound barrier exploded from Roland.

Helen had clamped her curved fangs into the soft flesh of his testicles, touching jaws and violently snapping her head back and forth. She took it from him. His manhood. All of it.

She took from him what he took from her.

His face drained of all color. He tried in vain to push her away from him. Roland's body was set ablaze with the icy fires of pain.

Helen didn't stop until it was all removed from him. And when she took it, all the meager five inches of it, she placed it in his own howling jowls.

They tasted like grimy bath water.

The demon mutts then fled from him, back into their home beneath the crust of the earth. And Helen happily trotted along with her brothers. She knew that she would see Roland again, and very soon.

The sky bled crimsonand purple.

Quiet once again dominated this odd little plain of Hell.

The man beneath the paw did not stir as the hound who held him down took his body in his jaws. The man did not flinch as teeth as large as the kitchen knife he struck Helen with bored into his back.

He remembered that night. He had power over her. She didn't fight back. She never did. Helen was so beautiful in her green sundress. It really did bring out the color of those soft, glowing hazel eyes. Her light coffee hair danced in weightless curls. She was stunning with the sunlight catching the shine of her skin.

The man now in the jaws remembered too, his own father. The harsh brute who taught him that the man was the dominate creature of earth. The man who locked the three of them, himself, Roland, and his quiet mother, together inside his bedroom and showed his son how to beat a woman. How to show her who is really in charge. The man who let Roland try out this new lesson on the boy's own mother. And on the dog he had.

He remembered that dog's name. It was Darling. She was pregnant at the time.

The man in the jaws was lost in these memories as the hound known as Judgement carried him to the split the earth had made out of grief. Because the earth had to give up another soul to the burning core below it where the demons played.

The man in the jaws, whose name was once Roland, did not notice as he plummeted to his fate. He only thought of the day he beat that dog.

She was pregnant.

Her name was Helen.