A pain shot through his back, running up his spine and into his brain. Floating in a dark void, that pain was all he knew. The pain reached its climax after what seemed an eternity, and then began to recede, until there was nothing, nothing but a slight chill across his skin. His mind retreated into itself, away from his corporeal self, and into a whole new plain of consciousness. At first, he could comprehend nothing, it was not unlike a blinding light, but as his brain made sense of his new surroundings, it was able to translate images into a more recognizable form. Fire. So much fire. Burning all around him, unidentifiable entities within the hideous fire, writhing from agony. Screams. So much screaming. And the fire, now it was working its way ever closer to him. The heat was enveloping him before the fire ever touched him. And so he too added his screams to the eternal cacophony.

Ten days after the Back-Alley Massacre (as the press was calling it), the police finally received search warrants for the houses of all those killed in the massacre. The most acknowledged reason for the massacre was that it was the bloody conclusion of a gang war, and the police hoped to find evidence supporting that. Unfortunately for them, they found no such thing. What they did find though, was a plethora of corpses strewn about a poorly concealed basement. This raised even more questions, and prolonged the duration of what should have been a fairly simple case.

The flames reached him then, and pierced his flesh, as instantaneously as if he'd been doused with gasoline. He fell to the ground and hunched into a ball, screaming pitifully. The flames split his flesh and layers of muscle below, revealing charred bone and his eyeballs burst in their sockets and fell out through the slits of his eyelids. The fire continued to burn and the pain was not subsiding. The darkness was suddenly replaced by those hideous flames, and he saw once again the incessant flames slowly splitting apart his flesh, and the charred bones beneath, until a sharp pain stole away his vision again. His eyes burst out this time, and a thick gelatinous substance splattered on the ground before him. As his vision returned, he realized he was still screaming. He tried to weep, but could not, for all the water in his body had long since evaporated.

The house was rented out to two men. One, Bill Monaco, was killed in the Back-Alley Massacre, and the other, Ted Kirsch, had no job, no known friends, no bank account. In other words, the police had no leads on him. Before increasing manpower for the search of Ted Kirsch, the bodies were removed from the house and positively identified. All the victims were thirteen years old. The police were in a panic to quickly locate and capture Ted before he could renew his killing-if he hadn't already.

Blood streamed out of his eyes, and the pain was beyond anything he possibly could have feared, yet he wouldn't stop, he continued in hopes of destroying himself. He would do anything, if it meant the pain would end. So he continued to claw out his eyeballs, and once they were out he scraped out whatever pulp was left in his sockets. Before he could finish though, his eyes began to grow back. He would rip out what he could, but the eyes were growing faster than he could rip them out, so in the end, the eyeballs grew around his fingers. He pulled his fingers out, but the eyes stuck around them, and slowly ripped apart, spraying a thin, clear liquid. He finally gave up, and howled into the darkness.

When the police finally found Ted, he had indeed resumed killing. At the time of their entrance into his house, he was dousing a thirteen year old girl with gasoline in his backyard. He wasn't worried about her screaming and alerting anyone as he had ripped out her vocal cords the night before. Now her throat was poorly stitched, and prone to breaking open should she make any sudden movements. He was unaware of the police's presence in his house, so he was in no hurry. He dropped the match on the girl while the police were searching his house for him. The fire was slowly consuming the little girl, she was thrashing wildly on the ground when the first cop came outside. At first the cop was horrified, and didn't act, but Ted did. He ran at the cop, hoping to tackle him before he could call out for backup, but Ted wasn't fast enough. Within seconds cops were charging out the door and on top of Ted. The girl died before the police could call for an ambulance.

The police weren't satisfied though, and searched the house more, and finally found the entrance to the basement. The first thing they saw was a little girl laying on shards of broken glass, her body was severely cut in several places and her blood was splattered all around the chamber. In the next chamber, there was a pile of ten horribly mutilated corpses. In the final chamber, a boy and a girl were chained to the wall, just barely alive.

His vision returned, the same as always. The accursed flames, and other entities writhing within the flames, the same as he. And the pain, the unimaginable, unending pain. The fire split his flesh, and his eyes burst out from their sockets. He screamed, no longer for the pain, but because it would never end.

The Ted Kirsch trial didn't last long. Everyone knew he was guilty, and no evidence was brought forth to contradict that. In the end, he was awarded the death penalty. Two months later, he was strapped onto the table, and prepped for lethal injection. The execution went exactly by the book.

He stood up and ran around screaming. He couldn't bare burning in the same place any longer, so he ran around in circles waving his arms about, falling down only when his body was consumed by the flames, but he'd get up and resume running when it regenerated. As he did this, his mind began to lose focus, and he'd wonder why he was there.

Jim woke up with a start. He was sweating, and his sheets were all messy. He had a nightmare for the first time in years, only he couldn't remember any details. He closed his eyes uneasily, and tried to get back to sleep. He remained in bed for the rest of the night though he knew he wouldn't be able to sleep. When light first came through his window a couple hours later he got out of bed, thankful that it was the weekend.

He stood up and resumed running. After a minute he decided to stop running in circles, and run straight. His flesh split apart and he fell face first to the ground, his eyes fell out onto the ground and burst apart. When he could see again he got up again and ran in a straight line. And he began to think. He thought that there had to be a way to escape. His thought was interrupted by a now familiar searing agony. As he lost his vision, he continued to think about how to escape, and just before his vision returned, he thought he saw something else, somewhere else.

Jim was slightly dazed the entire day, and by the time he went to bed, he was barely able to keep his eyes open, even though it wasn't even 8 pm. He was asleep within minutes of laying down. And an hour later he woke up, startled by a feeling of immense heat. He thought at first the house was on fire, but when he got out of bed he realized it wasn't warm enough for the house to be on fire. He looked around nervously, sat on the edge of his bed, waited, then laid down, and went back to sleep.

It was dark, but not the usual dark, this was different. He knew, this was the key to his escape. But before he could figure how to use that key, his body regenerated. He lay on his back, calmly ignoring the pain, and trying to concentrate on escape, but he was at a loss for reasoning. He couldn't possibly understand it. All he could do was wait for his body to be destroyed, and for the blackness to return.

Jim flailed his arms about, screaming in pain and terror, and yelled out "NOOO!!" Then he realized it was over. He was safe. He was gasping for breath. He got out of bed, turned the light on, then got dressed. He wasn't going back to sleep. He paced around in his room, wondering what was happening.

Just then his mom rushed in, and when she saw him pacing, she asked what was wrong.

"Nothing...mom...." He replied nervously. "Just a dream I guess."

She clearly didn't believe him, but after a few minutes of Jim telling her it was alright, she finally left. He stopped pacing and sat down on his bed. He couldn't think of any logic explanation to expend unnecessary energy at a time like that.

His body convulsed as the flames devoured his body. As soon as his eyes burst out, he concentrated on the image again and within seconds it was back. He was sitting on a bed, his heart was beating faster than normal, and his forehead was covered with perspiration. He tried to stand up, but was unable to move. And then the image began to fade, replaced by endless fields of fire. The pain was returning. No. He wouldn't let that happen. He concentrated as hard as he could on the image. His vision lingered, unchanging. And then the flames began to recede. And he was in the cool room again. He fell backward on the bed.

Jim lay still for a moment, then sat up carefully. He looked at his hands, moved them around. After a moment, he started laughing quietly, but he was losing control, and his laugh grew louder and louder.

He thrashed about wildly on the ground as the flames pierced his flesh. He screamed. The flames slowly burnt deeper and deeper into him, and shortly his skin was cracking, and then splitting, and the layers of muscle split too, revealing charred bones. He closed his eyes to this horrific site, but his eyes burst then, and fell out through his eyelids, splattering on the floor. The pain endured though, even through the darkness, and then his vision returned slowly, blurry at first, until it was as good as new. The flames were still consuming him. Soon his flesh was splitting apart again. He tried to scream for mercy. Instead, he simply screamed.

Jim's mom came in again, apparently just to make sure he was alright. Smiling brightly, he assured her that he was, and added that he was feeling better than ever. After she left, he stopped smiling, and waited for a few minutes. Then he too left his room in search of the kitchen. But more important than the kitchen, he was looking for a sharp knife.