*Huff, Huff, Huff*
"Our father who art in Heaven…*mumble mumble…*
*HUFF, HUFFF, HUFFF*
Blinding lights shine in through blinking teary eyes.
"Damn lights," says a man's voice, "stu…"
Blinding white, darkness, endless darkness and…rocking motion.
"Water?" says the man opening his eyes.
"My arms?" he says looking down in the dim light, "no restraints?"
"My legs too," he says after a moment.
He scratches his itchy skin…
"What the fuck?" he says grabbing at the burlap material that has replaced the orange jumpsuit he had been wearing everyday for the last twenty years.
He looks around, and rocks back and forth in the tiny thing he's in.
*splish, splish, splish*
He fumbles about the bottom of…
"A boat!?" he yells out, his voice echoing in the darkness.
Fumbling about he finds a flash light amongst some rope and what looks to be a small net, a bucket, and some kind of really cheap wooden fishing pole.
He turns the light on and shines it about,
"yep," he says, "I'm in a very small boat, what the fuck."
He shines it into the water,
"Holy shit!" he screams as he jumps back, nearly toppling the boat over as the ugliest fish he has ever seen, something eel like with a face covered in teeth snaps out of the water at his light.
"You shouldn't do that," comes a woman's voice from far away, "those worms are attracted to light, if you get too many around you one of the bigger fish might gobble you and your boat up. It's not fun to go out like that; and you'll have to go back to start."
"Who the fuck are you!" yells the man into the darkness shining the light around.
"Woah," he says as massive rolling waves, knock his boat up and down.
He hears *girly laughter*.
He shines his light in that direction but only sees a massive pillar of some sort with a blue or purple cloth like covering or covered in drapes perhaps.
"Woah shit," he says as the massive pillar moves and the waves knock his boat around again, his light falling back in the boat. He picks it up and shine it again, but now only sees some huge jagged rocks. However he can't be certain it's the same spot, as he just now realizes as the rocks move…no he is moving. The water is moving in a steady current; and there is a light up ahead through a small metal pipe like tunnel. He exits out a moderate opening into a much larger body of water, one far more illuminated; and an impossible distance up he can see a ceiling, like a cave ceiling. And all around he sees other boats each with a person in them dressed in burlap material, he too is dressed the same way. They are all confused and calling out to each other; but the current is getting faster as they approach the impossibly huge entrance, the source of the light; which seems to be like a wall blocking their view of what ever is beyond it.
"Fuck this," says one of the people in one of the other boats and jumps out, no sooner does he do this however than a catfish like creature with a beak…not to mention is the size of a whale gobbles up that man and his boat.
The man watching this scene who has just come from the pipe looks on and remembers the words of the mysterious woman in the darker room. He sits still, as do now the others as they quickly approach the light.
Any discussion, any who, where, what the fucks of this large group of strangers sitting in boats wearing what amount to clothes made of burlap is cut short as they pass through the wall of light. For those who exit into the open day light are struck silent and horrified by the scene before them.
The shore is lined with boulders and grass taller than a man, however beyond these are gargantuan creatures; human like in continence, however some have pink skin, blue skin, some have pointed ears, various configurations of horns upon their heads; and even a few that are humanoid yet have skin like a gelatin with no real external features and appear to be clear skinned and filled with various colored gelatins.
"I want that one mommy!" yells out a little girl, about the size of a building wearing a black Victorian dress; with blue skin, pointed ears, and dark grey curved horns on her head above her ears.
"Very well dear," says a gargantuan woman of much the same appearance only mature and very lovely.
The child scoops her hand down and grabs up a boat holding a blond woman who is so terrified that her attempts to scream come out muffled.
"Lets get her home dear," says the woman, "and into some proper accessories for your doll house."
The girl skips a little behind her mother, a broad smile on her face clutching her prize.
Other giants are now reaching down into the river scooping up the boats nearest the shore.
"Fuck this!" screams a man as he tries to paddle away from the shore only be grabbed up by what looks to be a man with blue scales and a face resembling a snake.
The man (the one we are focusing on) is somewhat relieved that his boat is near the middle of the river and out of reach; not to mention the current is quickly moving him away from the crowd of giants around the entrance who are content to ignore those boats the move by and focus on more that exit the curtain of light. More boats coming out than he had seen inside originally.
"What the fuck was that?" says a large man in another boat.
The man looks over realizing he is talking to him; but all he can do is shrug.
The man's boat bumps into another as they head downstream; the number of boats dwindling as boats head off down side currents, some of the people grab at the roots of the giant trees at the shore and climb from the water; most in fact are trying to get off the water. It has been several hours now since they exited the cave, he's been chatting now with a rough looking man in a nearby boat. The man looks behind him at the boat he bumped into to see a teenage girl curled up in the middle mumbling, "it's just a dream, just a dream, just a dream…"
"What the fuck is wrong with you?"
"She can't accept that we're dead obviously," says the rough looking man who grabs onto his boat and ties his rope to it, "If we want to get out of this Hell alive I suggest we do something other than split up or just let this fucking current take us to where ever the fuck its going."
The man shrugs and ties his own rope to the girl's.
The girl looks up, "Who are you?"
"Greg," says the man, "So why are you in Hell?"
"This is a dream," she says, "not fully convinced,"
"Man," says the rough looking guy, "go easy on the girl okay, girl looks like she's been through Hell."
He starts to laugh.
"We're not in Hell!" screams the girl surprising them both, "I wouldn't go to hell, I was at a party…" she drifts off silent again and plants her face between her knees.
"What the fuck!" exclaims Greg, as water splashes down on him.
He can't see the source of the explosion; but he does notice that there is no more current, and no river is much wider now.
"I think we entered a lake," says the rough looking man pointing back where they came in, "right off the main river."
The girl looks around, seemingly un-phased by the explosion just mumbling, "just a dream, just a dream, I'm high that's all, high dream."
"Great," says Greg, "the girl ODed at a party."
"I didn't OD!" snaps the girl, "I'm not dead damn it!"
"What ever bitch," says Greg.
"Dude," says the rough looking man.
"Hey," says Greg, "I've spent the last twenty years in prison, and the last thing I want to put up with…in Hell…is some whiny bitch in denial about being dead, so excuse me if I don't watch my words…what is God going to make things worse."
"Over there," says the other man, "something fired from that….giant row boat!"
Indeed hidden behind giant bush limbs is a massive vessel, whose shape and large wood grain clearly depict the form of a gargantuan row boat, a row boat with cannons sticking out of portals on its side.
"Hey!" yells out Greg standing and waving his arms, "stop fucking shooting at us!"
Inside the massive boat a surly pirate grimaces through the porthole.
"They look promising," says a woman in a red pirate captain's attire, "bring them aboard."
It happened rather quickly, one moment they are in a cave, the next facing a gauntlet of giant demons grabbing up boats, the next going down a massive river. And here these three strangers are, standing on the deck of a pirate ship like something out of a movie, being lined up and sneered at by pirates.
The girl continues to mumble "its just a dream" over and over.
The pirate queen slaps her across the face, "Felt real right kid? That's because this isn't a dream, but it is the worst nightmare imaginable."
She paces back and forth, "don't know if you three guessed it or not, but you are in Hell…one of the Hells at any rate. I am Captain Cor…Kathryn, Captain Kathryn. As you can plainly see my crew and I have acquired a row boat from one of the giant demons and rigged it into a worthy sea vessel. We fully intend to leave this swimming hole and exit back out into the river. With this vessel we need not fear the monsters that would pick us off and send us back to start…where we'd have to face…"
Her eye twitches,
"Those demons…" she sneers, "trying to use us as toys…and slaves…and toys…like little dollies…"
"Captain," says the stubbly first mate.
"Right," says Captain Kathryn regaining her composure, "you three are the first in a
good long while to wander into this little pond."
She stops in front of Greg, "and you show some promise for a little action figure, so tell me, what is your name and….how'd you die?"
"My name is Greg, and I was finally executed after being in hell for twenty years; so trust me babe, all this fresh air and open waters; this aint hell for me."
The crew laughs, "Sounds like another Boris," says the Captain.
"One of our hands below deck," she says to Greg, "was in a Russian prison for forty years before his cellmate killed him."
A very large man steps forward and says in a thick Russian accent, "Don't worry captain, a few days scrubbing and peeling will get the ego out of this one."
"And you," she says to the rough looking man, "What's your story?"
He shrugs, "The name is Mack, I lived, I wandered, I think someone shot me."
She chuckles slightly, "and what about this pretty little thing," she says to the girl, "you got a name or should be just call you Barbie Doll?"
"I…" she says, "I'm Emily."
"Oh," an Emily, "So which one of you men wants to play with our new Emily Doll?"
Greg and Mack expected boisterous laughter but instead the crew is dead silent.
Captain Kathryn tilts the girls chin up and moves her head from left to right, "Lovely complexion, nice brunette hair,"
She practically flings the girl away, "Stubs"
"Yes captain," says the first mate.
"Take Emily to my quarters, I will find her some proper attire; and remind the men if anyone touches her I will have their dicks dangling from my door."
She waves a dismissive hand, "and put these other two to work."
Captain Kathryn rummages through a closet filled with many fine dresses, and pirate costumes.
"This will do," she says picking out a steam punk costume, "you will nice in this one. Get us some variety around here; besides we only need one pirate queen on this vessel."
"Take it!" yells Captain Kathryn to the mostly still girl who now grabs the outfit.
"Well," says Captain Kathryn, "are you going to thank me for giving you one of my outfits to wear instead of that burlap sack you have on?"
"Th…thank you," says Emily
Captain Kathryn sits down behind the captain's desk, "There is a fold out on the wall if you want privacy when you change. You don't need to worry; I'm not into women…or men for that matter."
She takes out a bottle and takes a swig, and says to the girl behind the fold out, "are you thirsty? Hungry perhaps?"
She hears Emily has stopped rustling about with the clothes for a moment.
"Didn't occur to you did it?" says Captain Kathryn, "not hungry…not thirsty…we dolls don't get hungry or thirsty."
"D…dolls?" says the girl poking her head out.
"Guess you really are new," says the captain, "examine yourself…"
"Not like that…well like that too if you want…you aren't made of flesh…not normal flesh anyway…its more like a fancy super-advanced….eh….plastic…sort of…real fancy stuff. Although you're lucky doll, we are all fancy like you here; either upgraded by our…I mean changed by those demons, or are new enough to be all fancy. Meet some older types and you'll see folks made of cloth like talking voodoo dolls, or porcelain or some weird shit…it aint pretty all the time in Hell…heh that just sounds funny no matter how you try to spin it."
She takes a swig of the bottle as the girl comes out dressed in the odd leather Victorian costume, like a cross between a western costume and some weird sci-fi Victorian sort of thing.
Captain Kathryn looks her over, "guess you don't really need the goggles, it'll do. We dolls have to look nice…so I hear. So doll what you in for?"
Emily looks away.
Captain Kathryn pauses as she goes back to her desk and taps on a chair opposite it for the girl to sit down; which she does obediently.
"You don't seem the type to be in Hell," says Captain Kathryn, "last doll we ran into had a mouth on her and first chance she got jumped ship. So come on…Emily…do you even remember how you died?"
"I…" says Emily, "I was at a party…and…then I was in a dark cave and alone and surrounded by all these people and…*sniff*"
"Eh," says Captain Kathryn, "don't be crying on my clothes doll…that shit aint salt water it's some kind of lubricant or something stupid like that. Don't worry…we dolls have to stick together down here."
"You act like you never picked up a mop before in your life scum!" yells the large Russian man as he kicks Greg over, "now scrub the god damned floor properly, or you don't eat!"
"I'm not hungry" growls Greg standing up to the man easily twice his size.
"Good," says the giant Russian, "then you keep scrubbing and cleaning, and working till you are or I decide you do something else. You work or we throw you overboard for the fish."
"I'm working, I'm working," says Mack.
"Good," says the Russian, "I don't want to see you stop."
"I am so sick of this fucking place," growls Greg while mopping the mess room floor after their dinner of giant blue gills they had to shoot with cannons and haul on board earlier.
"Its not so bad," says Mack, who is mopping up along side him.
"Not so bad?" says Greg, "How long have we even been here? I swear to God the sun never fucking sets, its day and night when that bitch of a captain says it is; and that kid we brought with us; some good she is; she's the captain's little bitch now…fucking aye, we clean, we eat every so often even though we're never hungry and…" Greg looks at his hand remembering the day before.
Greg hadn't eaten anything in what they were told had been three days; even though he wasn't feeling hungry for some reason he was still pissed off. After trying to sneak a strip of fish from a table the large Russian man had grabbed him, slammed his hand down and cut it off with a sword.
Greg looks at his hand again and clutches his fist remembering how his wrist had spluttered out a clear fluid and his hand after a little twitching vaporized; only for a new hand to grow back quickly.
"Ya know," says Mack, "for Hell its not so bad…"
(All hands prepare to set sail! And get your asses on deck!) comes the Captain's voice over an intercom system.
"Except," says Mack, "for the totally un-authentic use of an intercom in a pirate ship."
The crew is gathered on deck, as Captain Kathryn, First Mate Stubbs, and Cabin Girl Emily stand behind the captain's wheel.
Captain Kathryn holds up a scroll, "Today we set sail! Using this map of the River Styx we will sail out of this pond, back into the river, and down clear to the southern end of this island continent…"
"Island continent?" murmurs Greg.
Mack just shrugs.
Captain Kathryn continues on, "and into the portal of the Land of the Dead; we will escape this retched place; not to another Hell, not to some Limbo, but back into the cycle of reincarnation; back to life. Forgetting this nightmare ever happened; to live again!"
The crew hollers ecstatic.
"Now some of you," says the Captain, "those of you who have been with me the longest remember how we escaped the house of the devil while she slept, how we turned this rowboat of hers into a ship, and set off…almost a year ago."
"They did this in less than a year," whispers Greg, "just a few of them by themselves?"
One of the other crew does a double take at Greg and looks back at the captain; as though the thought never occurred to him before.
"and as you remember," she continues, "we ended up getting stuck in the reeds on the opposite side of the pond; but now we have cut free of them; and we have gained new crewmembers over the last six months. Today we are free of this wretched place."
Captain Kathryn turns to Stubbs, "Stubbs, take a few men down to the motor room to help load the batteries, Eric, Emily, and myself will operate the controls of the front of the ship."
Stubbs calls out, "Boris, Nathan, all three Gregs, and Mack come with me; the rest of you man the cannons and the oar positions to push us off the reeds and rocks",
As those others, and one man Greg assumes is Eric head away from the Wheel; Greg in curiosity follows a little behind and sees them pulling a tarp off a giant radio controller with the Captain at the wheel and telling Eric and Emily to man the joystick controls for speed and Emily to help her turn the wheel joystick in the middle.
"You there," shouts out Stubbs, "I said all three Gregs now get a move on!"
"Seriously, what the fuck is this?" says Greg as he and the others are carrying giant C-batteries and loading them into a massive plastic outboard motor that was hidden in the back of the ship.
"Havn't figured it out yet?" laughs Boris in his thick Russian accent; "we little here; just tiny people made of fancy plastic and rubber…ha haa haa haa."
"Humbling isn't it?" asks Stubbs in a sarcastic tone, "demons must think it's funny to turn us into their play things…but I am done playing pirate; we're leaving finnaly; and thankfully before that bitch woke up."
"Demon's sleep for weeks, sometimes months on occasion," says one of the other Gregs as he lifts a battery into place; "I've been in one or another of these Hells for years…decades maybe; we got lucky we stole this playhouse pond toy and made…"
"Shh," hisses Stubbs, "new guys don't need to know that."
Greg smiles and says, "figured as much" as he loads another battery in place.
Greg is below sitting next to Mack as they man the oars along side at least fifty others; most of whom Greg had never seen before; figuring by their chains they were less cooperative than he was; and noticing none of the none-chained men are sitting near the chained men.
The boat moves, he can hear the motor, and the man leading them telling them to look out this way or that way with the long poles so they can tell which way to push if need be.
"Holy shit!" exclaims Greg as the boat suddenly dips and rocks about; most of the men falling off their seats from the sudden upheaval.
"To the cannons!" yells Stubbs over the intercom, "everyone who is able grab a weapon and get to the deck!...no…damn you!. Noooo…." His voice trails off.
"Out there," yells one of the men.
Greg looks out the porthole to see Stubbs swimming in the shadowed water…a shadow that is moving and making a flapping sound. Greg tries to look up through the small opening but can't make out much more than there is something massive on the deck.
He is thrown back as the ship upheavals again and the shadow is gone. Everyone rushes to the deck. As Greg gets there he sees the man called Eric helping Stubbs back on board via a rope ladder.
"Where is the captain?" asks Stubbs.
"She got them."
"Them?" asks Stubbs.
"Yes…" says Eric, "It was….Rossette, she…she grabbed up the captain and the new girl."
"Fffff…Fuck it all!" yells Stubbs, "I bet that demon bitch was watching us wasn't she?!"
Stubbs grabs Eric by the collar, "Tell me? What the fuck is the point then? What the fuck is the…point."
Stubbs falls to his knees about the cry.
"We still have the map," says Eric.
"Let me see that," says Greg grabbing it.
"Hey!" yells Eric as Greg opens it…
"What is this shit," says Greg,
Boris looks over his shoulder and grabs up the map, "This is it?" he says, "It like England…only smaller…Hell is really this tiny?"
"This Hell," says Eric, "a calm tiny Hell with a big wide exit right at the bottom, look."
"Whirlpool?" says Boris who tosses the map aside where several more men who had never seen it stare at it in disbelief.
"I believed her," says Boris, "she was going to get us out of Hell…instead she wanted to drive boat into whirlpool?"
"That is the exit," says Stubbs standing up, "fine, the devil only took those two, didn't get us…we…sorry Kathryn…we can still leave…"
Eric leans down and grabs up the map and walks over to Stubbs, "We can't use this ship anymore, we'd have to use the little boats unless you think we can row out of here."
"What," says Stubbs.
Greg yells out, "She took the toy remote didn't she?"
The crew look at him confused as Greg walks up the stairs to the captain's wheel.
"How many of you know were are all six inch tall toys?"
"None of you? Some of you? All of you? Well here's the reality. I helped load fucking batteries into a toy motor to propel this fucking thing, they were piloting it with one of those little controllers you get from Radio Shack for your RC cars and shit. And am I the only one who noticed there is a latch on the other side of the boat and hinges of this side? The whole fucking top opens up. We aren't in some row boat turned into a ship?...maybe…unless….fuck it…no we are in a toy ship…made by hand or not…its still a fucking toy we were escaping in. I don't know about you people, but I am fucking sick of playing pirate. I was a condemned man in life, I lived the last twenty years in prison, so fuck this ship, fuck your captain, and fuck going back to the real world. I don't care if I get eaten by a fish and have to return to start or what ever. I am getting the fuck out of here! So long!"
He runs and jumps off the side closest to shore. The crew looks over as they see him swim the short distance, get up on land, and disappear in the grass.
Meanwhile, Captain Kathryn and Emily are set down by a giant pink skinned hand with long fingernails, belonging to a gorgeous woman in a weird tight red leather outfit with corset; a cross perhaps between a pirate costume and steam punk….a steam punk pirate perhaps. This woman sets them down in a massive doll house where three other women their own size are seated around in chairs in Victorian costumes eating tiny cakes.
"Look who is back," says the giant demon through her ruby red lips, "Captain Coroline has returned from her stay at sea and brought a new friend with her…I think I will call her…hmmm…oh yes Engineer Sally…such a cute name for our little Steam Punk princess…that reminds me, better retrieve your…luggage Captain Coroline, don't want those rough and tumble men getting into it do we…tee hee."
As she turns Emily sees the giant woman's horns poking back from above her pointed ears framing her short pink hair that stops just above the nape of her neck, and her giant tail with its heart shaped tip waving back and forth. As she walks out the front door in clear view of them she sprouts wings and flies off towards the pond…also in straight view of the house.
Emily looks about to ask but Kathryn cuts her off, "We're up a hill, you can't see this summer cottage from the pond."
"So," says one of the Victorian dressed women, "how was this attempt to escape?..hmm, Captain Coroline?"
"My name is Kathryn," she says, "and you know it Betty, or do you prefer Duchess Lisa, who has a thing for Captain Coroline as a strong woman in uniform, but is afraid to admit it in the strict Victorian society?"
"Point taken," says Betty dropping the Victorian accent, "but seriously Kathy you couldn't really think you and those…action figures could just sneak out of here with Rosette's remote control and take her jimmy rigged toy boat with out her knowing. She's been watching you all everyday…did you know she had cameras in that thing…"
"Impossible…" says Kathryn.
"Indeed," says another woman in a red Victorian dress, "The demons have access to some very advanced technology; you know that; remember when she visited the Mecha Hell with all of us; she bought some nano-cameras there…she even has them in this doll house."
Kathryn looks out away from the doll house as Rosette is dragging the entire ship up the hill on a wagon, much of the crew on the deck; as Rosette turns to take the wagon to a shed Kathryn slumps down into a chair, "Emily, you might as well take a seat…"
She follows up in an exhausted tone, "Welcome to the doll house collection of Mistress Rosette, our demonic Overlord."