A/N: This particular slice of madness came from someone posting a Tumblr conversation on Facebook. The conversation showed an image of a man with an XD emote for a face, with the caption "In hell, everyone looks like this." In a fit of mad pique and rabid graphomania, I took instantly to typing the following microfic as my response to the post. I followed it up by posting the same thing in a skype chat with some friends saying, "I accidentally horrored on Facebook today." Cue one of my best friends reading it and screaming, "How is THAT accidental?!"
In any case, I hope you enjoy this little scene. There's few things worse than a loss of identity, I think... the complete destruction of all that is you. What are we if not ourselves? What do we become when there is nothing unique left about ourselves, when we become anonymous, all just blank templates of the same species of animal? It is not a... comfortable question to ask, to be certain...
In Hell, everyone looks like a shitty text emote.
I'm not kidding, and I wish to God I was, but I couldn't make this up if I tried. There's some dreams you can't control, some nightmares you can't wake up from. Some hallucinations that are more like visions, dim glimpses of the future. Things you'd like to forget, but can't. Things no amount of vodka or tequila can erase from your memory.
Dear God, I wish I was fucking kidding.
In Hell, everyone has faces like those ex-dee text emotes. You know, the ones with the letter X for eyes, and the letter D for a mouth, the ones that teenagers send back and forth on their iPhones as shorthand, because emojis are too damn complicated. But what they aren't telling you is that it doesn't start like that. You don't look like that before you go to Hell.
You come into Hell looking normal, looking as you normally do. Your eyes blink in confusion after you wake up to find yourself in a small, dark concrete room with a single rectangular window overlooking a vast black labyrinth. In the labyrinth you see people wandering around, their faces too far away to see details, their bodies in obvious pain. You can't even tell their gender from where you're at, that's how high up above them you are. You take this bizarre parade in, alone for all of five seconds.
Then a bag is pulled over your head from behind you.
You never know who your assailants are, really. They don't talk. They don't even laugh or murmur or breathe as you're stripped naked, your hands bound with barbed wire, and you are led on a long walk to another room, all in penetrating silence. Eventually they stop marching you forward and tell you to sit back, and frightened, you do. You are shackled into the chair, left unable to move, and the bag is taken off your head.
Your assailants are doctors, but they are also faceless aberrations from your worst nightmares - though having the face of one's worst nightmare is also not unheard of. They still don't speak, they don't do anything other than stare blankly, just long enough for you to realize they've started to operate on you.
The process is vicious, and precise. First, they scoop out your eyes with a rusted prong of some kind, then they carve off your ears, nose, and lips. Your tongue and teeth are removed, one by one, as are all of the nails on your hands and feet. The care they take in doing this is so precise, so delicate, they must work slowly - very slowly, or else the pain will knock you out. They carve and mutilate your genitalia, rip off your breasts if you have them, sand down your fingerprints, remove any tattoos or piercings you have. They slice your vocal cords so you cannot speak, or scream, or whimper - it distracts them from their work. Then they stitch your bleeding wounds together with flaps of scrap skin. They take a blowtorch, and burn all of your hair off - your eyebrows, the hair on your head, your body hair, a beard if you have one. Your flesh crackles and burns, and smells like death, but you can't really sense it. They cauterize your wounds with this, so the flesh is smooth and featureless like an egg, and then leave it to heal.
During this time you are isolated, completely insensate. You suffocate until even that becomes something you can't feel anymore, until you realize there is no death coming for you. Not here. Not in Hell.
It eats at you.
You hear your own blood rushing through your body, and eventually even that stops. You begin to wonder if you are dead. And then, one day, when you are half-mad from the lack of feeling, when your wounds have scarred over and your eye cavities have filled with flesh, you suddenly feel them carve into your face again, removing just enough skin and cutting just deep enough so that the wounds never quite heal right. Then the shackles come off, and you're pulled from the chair... forced to stumble blindly forward. You feel them push you through what must be a doorway, then feel the vibration as the gate slams shit behind you. To your left, stone walls. To the right, stone walls, you can feel them if you brush your mutilated fingertips over them. There is only one route left, and that is forward. You take it, desperate to find help, desperate to escape. You have no face, no defining marks. You have nothing, nothing but a bleeding scar like some sick form of text emoticon carved into your whiteboard of a face. You turn your first corner, then another, and another... and that's when it finally hits you. You're in the labyrinth. Death will not come for you unless you ask, and even then... how can you ever hope to be sent back home if you have no identity?