This is Hell?

She felt her consciousness stir and at first resisted waking. She was pretty sure the apocalypse hadn't ended yet and she had determined that she would sleep until it was over or die trying. To her the apocalypse which was bringing about the destruction of the human race wasn't such a bad thing. A virus was ravaging the world and humans were waging war while failing to contain it. The government became impotent and food and production lines were destroyed. But why should she care? No really, why should she care? She had always been working day in and day out until it made her sick. The thing she loved most was simply sleep. She had always liked sleep but after she became a working adult she became obsessed with sleep. Maybe it was simple escapism but she didn't care, it was the only thing that brought her joy. The freedom to comfortably do absolutely nothing was life's greatest gift! So she clutched tightly onto her pillow and kept her eyes firmly shut, but the ground was hard for some reason and her surroundings were noisy.

She lived in an apartment alone. Even if the neighbors were noisy would she hear it so clearly? Not to mention the feelings of hunger she'd been forcefully avoiding through sleep had vanished. She reluctantly opened her eyes to find that she and her white bunny-shaped body pillow of "Roroto" were in a strange place.

The air was somehow dense and the skies dark. The land below her was barren and infertile, the rocky ground was pocked with holes like it had been swept by a plague of destruction. The only source of light was a strange moon whose luminescence faintly penetrated the darkness. It was like she had sunk into the bottom of a deep, dead sea. As if the moonlight was flowing through stagnant water, it was beautiful but eerie.

She wasn't the only one laid out on the ground, although it looked like most others weren't sitting in their pajamas. Despite her standard white pajama pants, button-up top, slippers and messy braid, she didn't exactly stand out since the other hundred or so people were dressed in a variety of casual clothes, evening gowns, sports outfits, uniforms, or even in a state of being half-dressed. The only strange thing was that despite it being the apocalypse, none of these people looked dirty, tattered, or worn out as they rightly should. However, some of the people were crying or wailing and seemed completely dejected.

There was a man in a suit standing before all of them and it was obvious he was different at a glance. His skin was an unusual shade of dark gray and his neat, medium-length hair and nails were even more black. It seemed like he could vanish into the darkness at any moment. He held a thick dark book, wore thin, dark-rimmed glasses, and seemed like the only one who wasn't confused or disoriented. Sylvia was very close to the front of the crowd so she could see him clearly as soon as she sat up. He looked like an intellectual with his tall and slender build, he shouldn't have been that scary. However, she even felt that his aura was black and felt a chill as he looked them over one by one. He was like a kindergarten teacher checking that everyone was there before going on a field trip, except that maybe the teacher was actually a homicidal maniac who was going to eat them all.

The situation felt somewhat absurd and she couldn't help but voice her thoughts. "What the hell...?" She wondered if this was a particularly realistic dream brought about by the apocalypse which she had been attempting to ignore outside her window as she slept. She was tempted to pinch herself as was the standard in these types of situations but she could clearly feel the uneven, rugged earth beneath her. Her dreams didn't have that degree of realism.

The suited man before them looked her way as he heard her words. "Oh? How did you know? This is indeed hell." His voice was dripping with sarcasm and delight. He was surely the type of person that took joy in the misfortune of others.

A girl sitting nearby in a pink leotard, skirt, and ballet shoes had also heard him and demanded. "What are you saying? Did we die? How could I come to hell?" She seemed to not doubt that they had died but rather doubted her own lack of moral integrity. Sylvia found it amusing and hardly felt upset at the prospect of death, she was only worried that she might need to endure some tortures. Hell wasn't supposed to be a nice place right?

The suited man glanced at the ballet girl and then used his index finger to push up his black framed glasses which had almost imperceptibly slipped down. "These answers and more will come soon enough." He then flipped open the book in his hand, ignoring any and all questions directed at him. He perused each page just briefly, skimming through the contents. Although his thoughts could hardly be gleaned from his expression alone, his eyes flickered with contentment as he looked over the pages. It was as if he had gained something.

A particularly rowdy, heavy-set man with slicked back blond hair in a sweatsuit stood up. "You! If you know something you should tell us!" He demanded loudly, approaching the man in the suit while swaggering proudly with his chin up like a rooster trying to establish dominance over a flock of hens.

The man in the suit snorted like he'd seen something funny and without even looking up he said. "Bosco Tompson, died at 31 years of age. Killed by an angry mob after hoarding food. A typical R-type whose greatest regret is his failed relationship with his daughter and ex-wife. His rage is overshadowed by regret and he feels little remorse but plenty of resentment." The man in the suit glanced up and sneered. "I told you something I know? Happy?" Then he looked back down at the book with a calm expression and continued perusing the contents of several pages.

The heavy-set blondie frowned and demanded. "How do you know me? Is this really hell? Are you a devil?" But the suited man ignored him and he seemed to be too intimidated to act further. Sylvia didn't bother with them, she flopped down on top of her rabbit pillow. Sleep was the best escape. The darkness in the air itself seemed to seep into her body. She felt that... it was actually somewhat comfortable and seemed to be encouraging her to quickly go back to sleep. Her pillow seemed to be even softer than before and if she laid on top of it she could ignore the hard ground.

The suited man suddenly paused in his reading and then looked over at Sylvia once more, his book flipping open to a page without his fingers even needing to move. His gaze flickered over the top of the page. "Sylvia Somnol..." His eyes landed on Sylvia and that feeling of comfort vanished under his sharp gaze. His lips curled up in a smile as he continued. "It seems like you're the rare O-type. I'm sure we'll have more time to talk later." His piercing eyes left her and turned to the group as a whole. She didn't even have time to ask what he meant by O-Type, she was quite sure her blood type was A+. What a weirdo!

"All right everyone shut up for a while!" The man in the suit snapped the book shut and yelled loudly. There seemed to be a sort of authority behind the voice that forced everyone instantly to silence. Even those unruly types like the heavy-set blondie were instantly silenced. The suited man's face lit up with a smile that didn't meet his eyes. It was scarier than his usual expression of ridicule somehow. "Welcome to hell! I am your initial guide. You can just call me Black Lexicon. Very shortly, all your questions and doubts shall be explained. All you need to do for now is just follow me. You can choose to not come, but I can't guarantee what will happen to you later."

He turned without even looking back, as if he had no problem at all with just leaving them behind. Sylvia got to her feet and followed after along with the crowd. She heard some whispers and grumbles around her but nobody dared to be left behind. People were wondering if the suited man "Black Lexicon" was a demon or something else entirely. But it was obvious that he knew what he was doing.

As they walked carefully across the pockmarked land a giant wall came into sight before them like a beast suddenly emerging from the miasma. The thick, dark air gradually thinned out the closer they got, as if it had been devoured or displaced. They hadn't even realized how close this wall was. It seemed entirely possible that one could walk through the barren lands and never find the embers of civilization that the wall represented even though they were so close.