Scratches.

Her name was Bloody Mary. She, or rather it, was a being that lived on the other side of every mirror. Behind the glass was a different plane of reality, a separate world full of creatures twisted beyond recognition. From that point it silently watched every single move you made from behind the mirror, just waiting for a chance to attack. To bring the thing out just for curiosities sake was deadly. All it took was one simple chant and when it was free, Bloody Mary would salvage a specific part of your body to keep as a demented trophy.

The face and the eyes were what it sought and craved for. Many different stories exist as to how she was formed. But how could a woman by the name of Mary, who was in life a human, become a demon upon death? Nobody could say for sure. Perhaps she had been surrounded by severely negative energy in life that allowed her to be this monster in death. Or maybe upon repeated summons the deformity that passed through the glass was given a name. Many variations existed pertaining to the birth of this eternal spirit. None could be proven conclusive, but some were far more believable than others.

Nothing of her childhood was known, but it must have been unsettling due to how she acted later in life. She lived in a small, dirty rented home in a solitary neighborhood where few people spoke to each other. There was no major crime in the area, but a huge invisible fog of depression hung over everyone's head. Mary had been obsessed with keeping her face just right. The simplest activity such as going for a walk was made complicated by her as she stared into a dirty panel of glass, sorting her purse and clawing through various types of expensive make-up. Everyone had to find her pretty, but no matter how much she powdered or applied lipstick, she always saw a viciously ugly face gazing back at her.

In fits of anger she would often punch the mirror, breaking it and scarring her knuckles. She had lost count on how many times she'd had her bathroom mirror replaced. Nothing worked. There was such a vast amount of makeup in the world, but none of it could make her look any better. She was hideous. Perhaps one day she would be able to get her face just right so that she would be able to look into the mirror without fear. When that day came, there would no longer be anything wrong with her. This thought kept her from completely breaking down despite how misguided it was. Mary was average at best, but not quite as terrible as she perceived herself. The truth eluded her, caught up in the vast disturbances that kept her mind from seeing anything in a positive light. Her world was dark. Hopeless.

One day Mary would find the perfect way to keep her face, since a face wasn't very presentable without anything fancy applied to it. She equated a plain face to a piece of raw meat, uncooked and unprepared. The face was simply a hunk of pasty white flesh on its own, but every female had something on her that could be highlighted or expressed attractively to other people. For Mary, it was only her nails that she treasured. They grew long and beautiful naturally and she would often stare at them in admiration, applying polish carefully. Nobody was interested in them, though. After all, why should one notice if they were not chewed or chipped?

Constantly she wished to be given the opportunity to trade her pretty nails for a perfect face, but such wishes were seldom granted. Mary was but herself, and there was no changing that. She had no way of accepting that it was not her face that held her back, but her disturbing mentality and lack of self-confidence so she was left to experiment with her features. Each test ended in failure. She would toss her head into the sink and wash off all the paste and lines. This procedure took hours at times until she became so frustrated that she gave up completely. It was always the same result, but Mary could not help herself. She had to keep trying. What she did afterward was equally unsettling. To compensate for not being able to apply makeup like all other woman when her attempts to do so failed, she turned off the light and sat on her toilet, trying to envision herself as pretty. It took ten minutes to get into the proper mindset and once that was finished, she was ready to face the world.

When she did go out, Mary usually traveled around at night with a small group of friends. After all, anyone could find a friend, even if they were as unstable as she was. Mary insisted on wearing a black veil over her face to hide it from prying eyes as she did not want it to be seen when it was not ready. In places with light she would automatically look for dark, and if ever the veil somehow was taken off, so was her composure. If by chance she saw her reflection while in the lie her mind believed, Mary would fall even further into despair and walk home, terror struck, covering her face with both hands. Eventually many broke off all social contact with her, some faster than others, and she deteriorated even more rapidly.

Mary blamed the fact that she had no friends on her looks. It was a long time coming, but eventually she hit the bottom. On that fateful evening she again returned to the mirror, her worst enemy, and gazed into it dully. The light above her was broken, so she lit an old candle and placed it on her yellowed sink. Almost emotionlessly Mary marked off pieces of her face that she found unneeded. A smaller nose, less fat on her cheeks, and perhaps a smaller chin would suit her better than ever. When she finished, black marks decorated her appearance. Silently she closed her eyes, hearing the voices in her head pelt her with insults more fiercely than they ever had before. If everything that was marked was somehow removed or altered, her problems would be over with.

Without enough money to pay a doctor to do such surgery for her, that dream would never be met unless she did it herself. In a trance she searched her apartment for the proper tools. A few knives, a pair of scissors, plenty of bandages, and half a bottle of disinfectant. While in that state of nearly being possessed, Mary cut herself. Repeatedly. The pain was intense, but her desires were fiercer. As a piece of her nose fell into the bloodied sink, Mary's confidence shot up further. Off came the fat from her cheeks, a large chunk of her chin, and nearly all of her eyebrows. Mary skinned off a beauty mark near her mouth, which proved to be a little tricky. A small wart was beneath her earlobe was viciously removed. The noise of flesh being cut by improper objects was the only sound next to her heavy breathing. Tears burned every open wound as blood poured down her face.

But despite every sickening slice, she couldn't turn back now and since she only had one chance to do this, it was best to do it right. Finally after an hour, her deed was finished. She dare not look in the mirror at this moment, since nothing was healed and everything would look raw. Quickly she turned on the faucet to wash all the blood down the sink. Mary removed any piece of flesh that would not fit down the train and tossed them into the toilet, knowing they surely would be disposed of that way. Then came the fun part.

With a shaking hand Mary blocked the sink drain and poured the disinfectant into the bowl. This was to clear up any possible infection she might catch since she was unaware of how dirty the cutting utensils were. Better safe than sorry. Taking a deep breath, she submerged her head into the burning liquid for a full minute until reeling back out. More meat floated in the bloody water afterward. Mary restrained from grabbing her searing hot flesh as pain racked her entire form. After five minutes, the pain brought on by the peroxide ceased, but the rawness of exposed muscle tissue still throbbed at half the initial intensity. Mary then took the towel and gingerly wrapped her work up to prevent staining her carpet with fluid.

For two solid weeks she did nothing but sit at home and recover. Not once did the bandages come off. Flies managed to find their way through the folds and lay offspring in the rotting tissue hidden from all eyes to see. Gnats also swarmed their way in, feeding along with the thick maggots on a banquet truly set for a king. Mary didn't really notice. Even if she did, she would find the maggots useful in getting rid of what was not needed. The horror of what she had done to herself never hit her, for her mind was deep within her own lie. Now at long last true beauty had finally been obtained. When the towel came off, all would find her exquisite. None would scoff any longer about minor details and never would she have to wear irritating pastes and creams to hide imperfections.

Sadly, the thoughts and assurances she gave to herself held absolutely no merit. They were the thoughts of demonic insanity, which had been achieved faster through a certain illness she contracted from using the sharp objects. Home remedies usually are foolish when used in extreme measures, and her case was no exception. Septicemia set in quickly, shooting through her bloodstream and quickly entering her brain, which baked under an incredibly feverish heat daily. What was left of her sanity slowly gnawed away. Mary was sick, but did not realize it, even when it came time to take the covering off her face.

Standing in front of the mirror, Mary closed her eyes and let the makeshift bandage fall. And to her grateful surprise, an indescribable face of true femininity reflected back at her. If it were not for the fact that she felt so weak, Mary would have strolled around town, parading her accomplishment. Tears fell, each of them joyful. At that moment there was a knock at the door. It was a friend of hers with the name Veronica, the last that had deserted her. She was full of guilt and worry, mad at herself for letting Mary be alone. Veronica knew Mary needed professional help and it was on that evening that she planned to try and warm her up to that concept.

When Mary opened the door, she stood with her back to Veronica. She wanted to hide the surprise for as long as she could. Veronica immediately knew something was wrong. The atmosphere in the room was malevolent. Something far darker than evil itself had occurred. Veronica briefly examined the room to try and figure out what, but then the smell hit her. The scent resembled a sweet sticky bun mixed in with defecation that had been left to fester for days in sweltering heat and Veronica knew without previous experience that it was the scent of rotting flesh. She questioned Mary, who replied that at last she finally had the perfect face. Mary turned to display it, and Veronica's eyes widened in horror.

The amount of disbelief combined with severe shock made it impossible for Veronica to do anything but utter brief gasps. She felt herself turn white and break out into a cold sweat. Crusty scabs, pus filled holes with bits of shriveled yellow skin curling out of them, and a small maggot feeding ground near the ear were some of the features that decorated Mary's face. Her lips had been twisted in some kind of sardonic smile, probably due to an accidental cutting on her part, but Veronica did not know that. Instead she figured that perhaps Mary had been raped or savagely attacked by some vicious dog.

Veronica recovered quickly and backed away from her former friend a couple of steps, trying to make sense of the entire ordeal. Without even having to ask, Mary explained herself in full, which added to Veronica's initial surprise. The stupidity of Mary's decision ran rampant through Veronica's core values, as did the madness of it all. Enraged, Veronica made the mistake of venting her anger at Mary's self mutilation. Such an outburst proved to be a very dumb decision. Mary's reaction was sudden and instinctive. She grabbed Veronica by the throat, sinking her nails deep beneath her skin.

Her strength proved to be a little bit too much for Veronica, who felt as if she were being attacked by some sort of demon. In Mary's mind, Veronica was jealous that she could not make it to Mary's high standard of beauty and this made her angry. Uncontrollably angry. Mary's infected brain justified her next action, which was to scratch Veronica's face clean off with her pristine nails. After three slashes, Veronica was in pretty bad shape but her screaming grew harder to muffle. Taking a pair of scissors, Mary rammed them into the side of Veronica's neck, cutting off the loud screaming into faint hissing.

Mary then set to work at removing everything from Veronica's face. She skinned it like cattle, even taking care to rip the eyes clear off their stalks. Upon finishing, Mary tossed the bloody body to the floor and turned to face one of her neighbors, who didn't hesitate in the least to put a shotgun round into her gut. He had heard the screams and had come to investigate. His presence had gone unnoticed by Mary. At first he thought that he was facing some kind of deranged lunatic, but there was still some recognition left in Mary's form. It was quite obvious that Veronica was dead, so the man did not bother checking her. He reported the incident to the police. When they arrived, they could not find Mary's body.

Veronica's brutalized corpse remained, but all that was left of the other women was a messy trail of blood and tattered intestines leading to the bathroom mirror, which was now completely shattered. The faint indention of the mirror itself was still on the wall. Newspapers coined the term Bloody Mary and gave the bizarre story to the public. Nobody knew what to make of it. What had happened to Mary? In any case, a corrupted devilish being resided behind every mirror, daring anyone to summon it.

X

On a dreary school playground, Stephen held a crowd of interested listeners with the urban legend. Some had heard it before in different contexts, but were still captivated by it, thanks to the curiosity everyone has for the unknown. Trevor was among the group, dismissing the tale as sheer rubbish but enjoying it nonetheless. Just like everyone else, he too wondered what exactly would happen if the demon was invoked. Stephen finished his rehearsed monologue with the rules of the little game that supposedly summoned it. First one had to be in a room that was completely dark. Only candles could be used for lighting. Then, her name must be mentioned three times. After it came, the only way to be rid of it was to switch on a powerful light.

Stephen strongly cautioned all those present to do this with a friend and to have quick reflexes. There was no telling what might happen if the formula worked. Trevor nodded in thought at the warning. A thing like that probably had more than one trick up its sleeve to prevent itself from being banished back into its layer before it finished whatever it was that Bloody Mary did. To whoever was brave enough, surviving such an encounter and actually having proof that the creature paid a visit would equal much popularity and playground dominance.

Never again would Trevor need to wait in line for the swings or not be able to eat because he forgot his lunch money. In either case he could simply say he'd made friends with the demon and would command it to chase after whoever didn't obey him. It was sort of a glamorous outcome, but there was far too much risk involved. Knowing the story had been concluded, all the listeners disbursed and went about their own business. Stephen grinned slightly, satisfied that he'd been the center of attention throughout the tale, and departed. A few weeks passed and Stephen continued sharing his knowledge of dark concepts to those who would listen. He was quite the storyteller even if most of his tales were heavily based in folklore.

Trevor and Stephen developed a small friendship out of this practice. Trevor learned that above all else Stephen was most interested in Bloody Mary because few had ever seen the thing or documented what it did. Vampires and succubus' enjoyed a favorable following, but Mary did not. It was like the boring book in the back of the library that nobody wanted to take a poke at. Upon questioning Stephen on where he learned so much about these taboo spirits, Trevor learned that Stephen's mother was partly to blame for having books on the subject at home.

For some reason the answer chilled Trevor to the bone, but he didn't show it. It was in the way the sentence was said that bothered him. Several undermining possibilities lingered beneath the words, and Trevor didn't dare consider one of them. There were rumors that a particularly dangerous cult was forming in town that saw outsiders useful for what they worshiped. Thankfully Trevor and his parents had been born here, so they were immune. Besides, it was only gossip. Still, one could not help but wonder if there was a dark little secret floating about and maybe Stephen unintentionally knew it thanks to his mother.

Trevor was prodded by interest to ask hypothetical questions on the subject but refrained and instead made it a point to not be in the same room as Stephen when the lights were turned off. His initial fear was fierce in the beginning, but eventually dwindled down and lay dormant until it was awakened again when Trevor accidentally tripped and fell while running to class during a rainy day. His old shoes, which had lost any trace of traction they originally came with, were to blame. He fell flat into a thick puddle of mud that splashed and dirtied his front side. All his peers laughed and jeered, but Trevor paid no attention to them, knowing that it would not be worth his time.

The initial pain passed, and Trevor tasted blood in his mouth. A great deal of it. With a shaking hand he gently touched his front teeth, seeing that the blow had pushed two of them in. Luckily this made them loose so Trevor ran off into a nearby bathroom to get rid of them while covering his mouth to not drip any blood. Flicking on the light cast a dismal ray into the dirty restroom. It buzzed, flickered, then returned to a somewhat normal state. The light failed to provide visibility for much of the room. A few roaches ran for cover across old plastered tile, which creaked under the weight of Trevor's feet. The walls around him were painted dark brown, giving the room a sense of entombment. He stood in front of a dirty mirror that was covered in several long stains and many different fingerprints.

Trevor dared not look the mirror in the eye and instead kept his head down and focused on the faucet, which turned on with a great squeak of protest. The pipes rumble, and a moment later cold water slowly turning warm spewed forth. Quickly he washed his hands with what little soap was left and forcefully removed both teeth, shaking due to how unpleasant he found the situation while doing so. Baby teeth had to be removed at some point and he was a little behind. After discarding the teeth, he shut off the faucet and looked for a paper towel to apply pressure to his bleeding gums. They wouldn't let him back in the classroom if he were bleeding. All teachers had some odd conception that all drops of blood contained disease and just had to be cleaned up before anything else was done or permitted.

The dispenser was empty, so he turned to the stalls. Each toilet paper holder was empty save for the one way in back. While rolling off a small brittle piece, Trevor heard the door open and someone step in. Shrugging, he went back to his business, not bothering to acknowledge whoever was there with him. Only when the light was flicked off did Trevor become suspicious. The words that followed in the darkness left him frozen in fear.

"Bloody Mary, Bloody Mary, Bloody Mary!"

It was Stephen; undoubtedly so. His voice was nearly unmistakable. There was a brief pause followed by the noise of a hasty retreat out of the restroom, which was followed by at least three other people laughing at Stephen's failed attempt. Not only had Stephen forgotten to turn the light back on, he had also left Trevor completely alone to deal with whatever had just been called forth. Normally Trevor held up fairly well in tense situations, but this was quite different. Fear was nearly inescapable, fear of the unknown. More importantly, fear of the dark. No longer was it merely a curiosity. Now it was a reality.

In the back stall covered in the inky darkness, Trevor took a deep breath and held it, swallowing hard. There was no such thing as Bloody Mary. Every single evil thing was always made up in the mind. People who had encountered ghosts or anything like them were simply victims of over active imaginations. Or maybe they believed in the concept so fiercely that it actually materialized itself. There was only one small light source in the entire bathroom, and that was what crept beneath the entrance, but the intensity was quite weak and only managed to light up the bottom of the floor, casting an eerie yellow glow across dirty stained tiles. In fact, everything in the school was somewhat filthy. Trevor abruptly began to take notice of this to try and get his mind away from the growing fear. The classrooms were discolored, the playground was full of rusty equipment, the lockers all had paint peeled from them, and even the cafeteria had its fair share of problems. Nobody really seemed to care all that much. Wasn't that unsafe? At least his parents were nice to him. Other children said. . .

Trevor snapped out of his stupor and knew that it was time to escape. He would need to bolt out of the stall and run like hell in complete disregard for anyone but himself, but there was a noise that stopped him. It sounded like tiny shards of glass falling over each other repeatedly. It was almost as if the sound of a mirror breaking had been turned down. What followed was another noise that was not quite as gentle. A female voice was whispering quickly, too low to understand.

Mixed in with the many whispers was a louder sound of another female breathing heavily in pain. Trevor quietly crouched on top of the cracked toilet lid to reduce his chance of being spotted. As expected, the thing drew near as each stall next to Trevor was slowly opened and observed. Soon it reached the very same one he was hiding behind. The whispering appeared to grow more intense, as if whatever it was had sensed him. Trevor shook fiercely in terror as the door to his stall was slowly unlocked from the other side and opened, rusty hinges creaking eerily. Before it opened even enough for the two to see each other, the process halted and the whispering stopped.

Time stood still. No sounds were heard. Trevor didn't dare even to breath. After three agonizing minutes, Trevor gathered the courage to get down from the seat and make a mad run out of the restroom since sitting in one spot wouldn't do him any good and he had to escape. Nothing was physically in the bathroom, but he still felt a suffocating presence which engulfed the entire area. As fast as he could muster, Trevor lunged for the exit. Once out of the room, Trevor looked back to see if it had perhaps followed him. Even though he knew well enough that light was on his side now, there still was a possibility that the only method of escape was inaccurate.

A sharp screeching sound greeted his double take.

It resembled nails being dragged across a chalkboard. The noise grated for ten seconds and then ceased. Licking his lips, Trevor felt an urge to go back into the room and examine what had just happened. Stepping carefully, he slowly opened the bathroom door and flicked on the light, gazing intensely at the mirror. What greeted his eyes was impossible for him to believe. Five scratch marks were imbedded deep into the glass. Cautiously he went up and touched them, finding that they were quite warm. And then it came to him. If he'd have tripped or had taken just a simple second longer than what he had done to escape, he probably would have encountered the nemesis.

The bathroom door opened and Stephen stepped in, face hard set in determination until he saw Trevor's pale complexion. Stephen blinked a few times, trying to figure out why Trevor was so ghostly, but he then saw the claw marks on the mirror, which helped him greatly in putting two and two together. Instantly he apologized to Trevor about having summoned the demon without knowing that he was there. He was going to give it another try alone to see if he was man enough, but after seeing what had happened he thought otherwise. As Stephen continued talking, Trevor blotted him out when he looked into the many shadows of the bathroom.

They were moving.

It seemed whatever was lurking heard Trevor's thoughts because not more than five seconds later the lights were switched out again. Trevor uttered a sharp gasp and discovered Bloody Mary had a third rule. A trick. A very cheap one at that, Trevor further concluded. The first instinct of both boys told them to turn toward the mirror and check for danger, but through the little light in the room they saw only themselves. Stephen gulped and began slowly backing away toward the exit. He was far too terrified to go any faster. Trevor also followed suite warily. A large hand shot forth out of the mirror and grabbed Stephen around the neck so quickly it cut off his squeal. Long nails sunk deep into his skin. The whispering sounded off again. Feverishly.

Trevor gawked and stood frozen for a second, not believing what was going on. The hand was not attached to any body part. It floated. In appearance, it was far from normal. This particular limb was bony and severely stretched as if the skin were pasted on super tight. Each nerve ending showed quite clearly, so every move the hand made right down to the inner workings was quite visible. Though it only was one solitary limb, it looked as if it had a fair amount of strength, because no amount of struggling helped Stephen in the least. Finally getting some sense back, Trevor turned around, ready to flick on the light switch.

But he met her. Bloody Mary. Her appearance was even more gruesome in reality. Trevor recalled how he'd pictured the shattered face and found little to compare with how accurate he was. The sick grin and maggot feeding grounds were still there, along with the torn up face and flayed muscles. Her head was attached to something black that rooted itself into the ground. This thing had no limbs at all, just a hunched body that ended in the floor. Her head moved slowly, turning in random directions, keeping focus on several different things. The color of its eyes were a malevolent yellow.

The teeth were razor sharp and dirty, but otherwise in good health. A hole was near the throat, which moved like a pair of lips and uttered the same whispering noises and labored breathing that was heard before. The terrible thing noticed that Trevor was looking at it. Mary opened its mouth, letting out a deep hiss. Trevor stumbled backward and fell on his rear, backing away from Mary and at the same time glancing back at Stephen, who had passed out. No sooner had he looked than the disembodied hand dragged its victim into the mirror, causing a small rippling effect to vibrate across the mirror.

Trevor's fear increased even further. Now Stephen was trapped, stuck in the mirror for good with no hope of escape. Trevor backed away, not knowing what to do or where to run. The body of Bloody Mary followed him slowly, making a smooth shuffling sound as it moved. Trevor backed into a wall and curled up into a fetal position, shaking violently and begging not to be hurt. It stood over him, not ceasing with any of its noises and obviously feeding upon his terror and misery. Then the most peculiar thing happened.

Mary did not attack Trevor. Instead, two hands appeared and floated in front of Trevor. One grabbed him quite forcefully by the chin and straightened his head so that he was now looking directly into the peculiar eyes of his predator. With the other it traced his face gently, as a mother would do to her child. He couldn't figure out why, but it appeared as if Mary was sparing his life. Or so it seemed at first. Without warning the hand that held him securely by the throat lifted him off the ground and slammed his head into the cement wall he was cornered in.

Trevor fought no more and quickly passed out. Knowing nobody else was in the immediate area, Mary took her second victim back to her lair.

X

The thought of being captured by a demon brings to mind several very negative outcomes, all of which are true. Trevor came awake slowly without sight, feeling a very painful sting burrowing into the back of his skull. Instantly he shot his head up, trying frantically to look at his surroundings, even though he had been blinded somehow. When he attempted to call out, all that followed was a muffled grunt. Trevor was without sight or sound, but he could hear and feel. To his relief he could still feel his eyes trying to work as they moved around, slamming into his eyelids. The demon hadn't removed anything from him, but it had obviously taken him.

In the background was a singular noise. The faint sound of a hidden ventilation system. Next to that was his rapid breathing. Trevor's hands felt tied up and forced into his chest and his feet were stiff. His entire body was warm like it had been covered up in some sort of blanket. He figured that whatever had taken him this far probably secured him with a straight jacket, but at one time he had seen a person wiggle there way out of the tight coat on television, so Trevor instantly began imitating the escape artist. His thrashing made him sway back and forth, which let him know that his body was suspended upright from some type of chain that looped around something located on his back.

After what seemed like twenty minutes of moving, twirling, and listening to the chain grind against his struggle, Trevor began to feel as if his fight was useless. Shaking uncontrollably, he began trying to think how long it would take for him to die and what way he'd prefer his end to come. Starving was the obvious choice; since there was no way he'd simply pass away in his sleep. Whatever was keeping him certainly would most likely find it more pleasant if he were awake during death. Thoughts began racing through his head at unstoppable speeds. Fear, despair, sadness, and pain rushed through his imagination.

No single thought connected or finished. They all broke off or became too complicated to understand or too frightening to face. It was like being in the middle of a busy highway, trying to lunge out of the road but only being met with another car to worry about. He was going crazy. Images raced through his mind. Stephen, without a face or eyes, mouth open in a death cry. Hanging from a hook just as Trevor, but instead it was buried into his back, gripping his spine. So many other people probably suffered the same fate. Death. Mutilation. Trevor breathed out forcefully, willing the thoughts to leave before he totally lost it.

His mind stung and he felt very faint, like he was on the verge of passing out. Instead Trevor focused on the somehow soothing noise of the far off vent. After a couple of minutes, he secured a grip on himself and continued trying to break free of his bondage. With the noise of the vent rumbling through his mind, Trevor assured himself he had all the time in the world. All the time he would need to escape. His captor probably was busy with other prisoners and would leave him alone for a while. Trevor's right arm came loose and whipped out of the jacket. Immediately he ripped the sticky dark tape that covered his eyes and mouth and let them drop to the floor, which Trevor was relieved to see directly beneath him.

Escaping out of the cocoon lost all its difficulty and he soon dropped down unto the broken tiled flooring. Assessing his cell was easy enough. The only thing in it was the suit that kept him still, which now dangled from a red chain that went all the way up into a tiny hole in the ceiling. Helping him to observe this was a very dull light. The dullest he'd ever seen, in fact. Why it hadn't burned out was a mystery. Grimy walls surrounded him, and there was a large sheet of glass that only showed his reflection. No visible exit existed. Trevor began feeling the dirty walls, trying to find a switch of some kind that would open up a hidden door.

All that he was able to trigger was a very harsh guttural growl of disappointment from above. The suit Trevor had been in was jostled a couple of times and then quickly pulled up into the ceiling through the small hole. Neither it nor the chain appeared again. A loud click sounded and a door slid open behind him. He carefully stepped toward the dimly lit opening, noting that whatever creatures existed in this world probably knew he had jumped off his hook, judging by the invisible thing above that he'd irritated.

He knew that stealth was required above all else. Nothing he had seen before in video games was of any help, but Trevor considered himself sneaky, or at least capable of finding the exit to this place by running should he be discovered. Stephen. Trevor gulped and knew that he owed it to his friend to try and save him, if Stephen were still alive. While he really hated the idea of slinking around this world any longer than he had to, Trevor knew he'd never forgive himself and neither would the nightmares if he didn't at least try to liberate anybody he found along the way.

Slightly determined but still terrified, Trevor stepped through the exit, which slid shut behind him. Without missing a beat he spun around and pushed on the wooden wall that blocked his way. No good, it was sealed tight. Something soft was beneath his feet, and the hallway he now stood in was very hot. Insulation lined the entire passageway; with small lights of the same quality he'd experienced moments before jutting out from the floor every few feet. The insulation bore no markings and was silver in color, with yellow foam jutting out from damaged areas. It was very hard to see anything but the floor, and complete silence encompassed everything. As Trevor slowly crept along, dust rose off the silver padding in mounds.

Soon clouds of tiny little dirt particles obscured his vision and Trevor stopped, refusing to cover his eyes no matter how much they stung. Moments later the swirling brown mist became bearable again and he pressed on, reaching a point of severe interest just as soon as he began again. Bloody handprints were stamped on the wall. They suggested that someone had been hit and turned around, slammed into the wall, and then fell. Smears helped paint a bleak picture of a severe wound, and the immediate area was torn up. Foam had soaked up most of the blood, which was now dry, but whoever had been in here was attacked.

Walking forward was no more difficult, for a trail of old blood lead the way. Patches of insulation were damaged in a circular fashion. Someone had obviously tried to grab hold to try and slow down his impending death but could not. Trevor reached a T intersection and saw the blood leading right, so he wisely went left. Another wooden door slid from an unseen opening in the wall and slammed shut, blocking off his path. As he reluctantly turned around, he saw an opening that hadn't been there before.

They were toying with him.

Whatever governed this little game obviously thought little of Trevor and his preposterous notion of actually leaving. Bloody Mary's odd behavior flashed before his mind again. Did they find him cute because he was a boy? Trevor figured they were leading him along to show him something. Or maybe they were marching him along to his death, feeding off of his fear in the process. It was probably the later, but they wouldn't kill him. No, he fiercely decided against that. Most of his initial fear was now slowly dissipating. Trevor had seen so much up to this point that his mind was numb. He could escape. He had to escape. Dying here would be humiliating.

Trevor pressed up against the soft wall and peered out into the chamber that lay before him, which was pitch black. No lights at all. But the venting sound he'd heard earlier was louder here. And the bloody trail stretched on into the inky blackness. He switched views and instead focused on the chamber he was already in, which seemed to stretch on further ahead of him. An entity squealed behind him, as if it had been severely agitated by Trevor's indecisiveness. A powerful clawed hand seized him from behind and spurted something throaty before hurling Trevor forward into the new area.

He landed on his face hard and instantly scrambled to his feet, turning around to see whatever had jumped him, but he was to late. No longer could he see the dim lights of the insulated tunnel. Trevor now focused on the room he had been placed in. The floor beneath him was cold and clammy, like stone. A hideously gut wrenching smell crawled up his nostrils. An inhuman grunt cut through the silence like a knife and a light was switched on. What Trevor saw next filled him with new fear. Stone was beneath him, he was right about that. Insects that ate decayed flesh scampered along the ground, as did a couple of obese wolf spiders with egg sacks clinging to their backs. Hundreds of faces lined the walls, all different shapes, sizes, and colors.

Naturally the eyes had been removed, but the mouths had been fitted in such a way that they hung open in a silent scream. Trevor gagged and grabbed his mouth to suppress a loud gasp, realizing exactly where he was. It was a trophy room. Bloody Mary must have taken its victims here when it was done with them. Making matters worse, in every corner there was a multitude of dead bodies, each of them rotting openly. Huge maggots and flies swarmed around the mangled pile. All of their faces and eyes were missing, torn away. In one section a stacking project was going on, but it looked as if the priority to do so was low. Furthering the disgusting display was the many different jars of severed eyes scattered all over the room. Each container was stuffed to the brink with eyes of the same color, floating in brown juice. A poorly built bookcase was under construction, and one shelf was already finished, but that was it. It probably was going to be used to organize the eyes so they were not all on the floor.

Something huge and misshapen entered the room. Its head had no recognizable features and somewhat resembled an old prune. The skin coloring was deathly pale and it emitted an odor so powerful it brought tears to Trevor's eyes. It had small arms with massive hands and one normal leg while the other seemed to have a massive tumor slowly growing inside of it. Yet it still seemed to function and slowly went over to the pile of corpses, picking up several of them and stacking them over its shoulder. It did not seem to notice Trevor at all, even though he was standing out in the open, frozen in sheer terror.

It picked up the dead body of a naked female teen-ager, looking it over with what seemed to be lust. Without warning it's head split into two parts, revealing a large, red, extending mouth that had razor sharp teeth lining it. Savagely it began to devour the dead body, shivering with delight as it swallowed some of the finer parts. Once finished, its maw closed but small chunks of rotting skin dribbled out from between where the split had come from. After picking up an armful of cadavers, it turned and finally noticed Trevor, who couldn't bear thinking twice about what he'd just seen. It was a complete and utter sensory overload.

Trevor snapped out of his stupor when he noticed the thing coming right at him. Again he was backed up into a corner, noticing with irony that a pattern was developing. The thing crouched down to Trevor's height, examining the boy thoughtfully. It appeared to know something that Trevor didn't, and in a quick motion it grabbed him and secured him tightly over it's other shoulder. Instantly Trevor began to struggle fiercely, not bothering to beg for his life. If the stench this thing had was powerful before, it was unbearable now that he was on it. The stench of the ghoul was absolutely unbelievable. Noting that kicking and punching did nothing; Trevor bit the thing in the shoulder as hard as he could, still receiving no reaction.

What he did get was some inner fluid, which tasted like raw sewage and was twice as chunky. The monster didn't even flinch, but Trevor did as he vomited over the side, trying to spit up every last trace of taste. Dark black blood oozed out from the tiny wound. Three undeveloped bugs crawled out from it, scampering down the monsters side, suggesting that eggs had been laid underneath the monstrosities skin. A throaty chuckle came from the thing as Trevor further unloaded his stomach. It began walking out of the room and down a long hallway. Trevor's body was positioned so that he could only see what was behind the creature.

Things. More things.

There was no other way to describe them. In a way, they were more pleasant to look at than the corpses over the other shoulder of the creature carrying him. The things scampered about in every direction, some more hideous than what held him now. An incredibly fat one with a pulpy human head sloshed from side to side as it moved, chewing idly on a torso as it went about its business. Another had long blades for arms and a body so rotten that the insects eating it seemed to control the movement through some odd puppet like manner. Trevor wondered if he was now in hell. The mysterious whirring noise that had previously helped him remain calm became louder. They were nearing it. The creature came to a sudden stop in a circular room with grated flooring.

It emptied the dead bodies down into something Trevor could not see until he was held over it by what felt like a mere finger. Down the dead bodies went into a huge, razor sharp fan that instantly sliced the cadavers up into mincemeat. A sick chopping noise emitted from the contact. Creatures from below emitted a joyful cry as they gathered under the raining meat, catching tiny edible parts to stuff their faces full with. What these things looked like, he could not tell. They were too far down.

Trevor gritted his teeth and held his breath, trying not to move for fear of falling into the blades due to the weak grip the thing had on him. Just when he began to feel that it was his turn next, Trevor was again placed over the ghouls shoulder and carried around. The next room they passed through resembled a cafeteria. Long broken tables were placed haphazardly around the area, and a long line extended from a small window in which food was given. What was eating gave Trevor the chills. People. Just like him.

Both old and young and with hauntingly vacant stares, all were served different types of food. Some ate what could actually be considered normal food and others munched on things Trevor dare not dwell on for too long. They were being kept alive for some reason, just as he was. Half were naked, and some had very vicious torture injuries. All ate in silence in a mechanical fashion, none really seeming to taste what they were eating but eating still because it was part of their punishment. Hellish abnormalities dined here as well, most snacking on human meat while others tried actual food that they simply threw aside in disgust.

One who rejected what looked like mashed jumped on a middle age woman minding her own business at a table. It tore her apart within seconds right there on the floor, obviously preferring this meal to the last. Trevor swore that before her throat had been forcefully removed she thanked God for the release. None of the actual people made a move to stop this thing and neither did Trevor, who was beginning to accept what was happening around him. It was a horrible thing to admit too, but his senses were slowly being burned out. His hopes for escape were dwindling.

Sanity came to him once more, so hard it made him jerk. What was he thinking? Accept all this? There was no way he could do that. Quickly Trevor began searching the room for a weapon of some kind, but all the eating utensils were plastic and there was nothing he could pick up and throw. Besides, he was still within the firm grip of the creature carrying him. They exited the large cafeteria and then walked through a long, dark area. No lights were here as before. What Trevor couldn't see he heard and the noises coming from this hallway strongly suggested it was better if he couldn't see what was going on around him. After a long walk, they entered a room bathed in candlelight. His carrier threw him down forcefully and left, closing and door and locking it.

Could this be it? Were they finally done playing with him? At first all he saw was an unmade bed, caked over in dust and grime. Next, he saw Stephen, which made him blink in disbelief. Stephen hung from a rope that held him upside down. His face had already been removed, and his eyes were missing as well. Worst of all, he was still alive, begging to be spared, stating that his mother was a member of some kind of group that would reward well in sacrifice should his life be sparred. At the far side of the room was a large mirror set into a beauty booth. Makeup and all sorts of other utensils populated the desk.

The mirror itself was dark blue, rippling like the ocean, seemingly innocent. Then, two young ladies appeared in the mirror. They called on Bloody Mary. After the fourth try with no results, they gave up, dismissing it as sheer rubbish. The mirror reverted back to a calming blue vortex, quite possibly the exit of this hell. Trevor thought it over, looking around for Bloody Mary. It wasn't in the room. Had his carrier been stupid enough to drop him off when it wasn't around? Either way, that mirror looked oddly transparent. Where Trevor would wind up on the other side he had no way of knowing, but anywhere was better than here.

Hard set on his decision but fearing the consequences, Trevor untied Stephen from the ropes that bound him. Stephen began sobbing joyfully as Trevor assured him he was now safe, but nothing came out of the empty sockets. His friend might live, but he'd probably lack sight forever. It'd be a horrible existence, but so would being stuck down here. When Stephen was released, he floundered about, falling down a lot. It was horribly pathetic to watch. Not wanting to waste any more time, Trevor grabbed him by the arm and then ran for the mirror, jumping into it.

X

Run. Running. Faster. Run faster. To dark to see. Squirming.

Trevor stopped, tired. He could no longer feel Stephen's arm. Perhaps he'd lost him along the way. What a pity. He couldn't go back there. They knew he was around. It would be best just to leave Stephen and just keep running. He felt hot, constricted. Just as he'd felt in the suit on the hook. He opened his eyes wide, pupils dilating. In front of him stood Bloody Mary. A hand floated in the air, holding up a rather large mirror. Trevor was in the suit. Back on the hook. How it happened, he could not even begin to comprehend.

Trevor began to struggle, tears flowing down his eyes. He'd failed and worst of all, he realized what was going on. They showed him his new home. To think he could have escaped from it was foolish. He looked at Bloody Mary, noticing that all sympathy it had before was gone. Before it had looked assuring. Maybe it had thought of him as a puppy to take home and care for. He was unlike anything in this place, and nothing seemed to be bothered by his presence.

Perhaps that's why no demons had attacked him, but now things were different. He could sense it. Trevor had done something bad and he was about to be punished. Trying to escape was unforgivable. Malice was all over the creatures face. A bony finger pointed to his cheek and the mirror was drawn closer to his face. Trevor looked. An odd symbol had been tattooed on his cheek. When Trevor noticed, Bloody Mary used its thumb to wipe it away. He knew he had just been disowned. Now he was no different from the other lost souls trapped down here in this hellish dimension. A mechanism started that slowly pulled him up into the ceiling. Bloody Mary waved him off in a mocking fashion.

Breathing harshly and trembling freely, Trevor accepted his fate as he entered up into the darkness and was carried along slowly to a different area. It wouldn't be long now before the end. What little life he'd lead had been good, but probably would never have been any better. He would have died alone, anyway. Trevor was left to stew in these thoughts until his ride finally came to an end. A small hole opened up and he was dropped down. Trevor closed his eyes, too frightened to see what was going to happen next. The chain jerked to a stop when the slack ran out, which caused him to swing back and forth for a while until he finally lost all of his momentum.

Eventually he had to open his eyes. Beneath him was a pit and what he saw dwelling in it made him loose his mind. It was a being so unfathomably horrendous that it blew away every bit of sanity that Trevor had. The being came for him. Bloody Mary watched from afar as the fun began. This was truly the worst being it could have handed its former prize off to, but perhaps it would find another victim to pity. It was too late to take him back now. Mary clearly knew that. His screams elicited no remorse from Mary. In fact, they were amusing. Fresh screams had such a different tone to them before the mortal figured out that they were trapped in this dimension for eternity. It was not their body that they sought, but the soul.

This was how things were done down here. Humans were tortured and forced to lose their minds. When they weren't suffering, they were placed in rooms just like the one Trevor had started out in. While being allowed to rest, their negative energy would spiritually feed all of the inhabitants of the realm. Meat could be digested, but that would only provide nourishment for the body. The inside, however, needed something more intense. It needed the wave created from pain and fear. While thinking of what it knew to be common knowledge, Mary felt an unexpected twinge of remorse. Trevor was such a beautiful little boy. It could not bring itself to remove his face. He had been far too innocent to harm. If only he had not tried to escape. It shook its head in a final glimpse of sympathy. Done with watching Trevor's current punishment, Mary left and headed back for its room.

There would always be another.