The man in question was massive, plain and simple. He was a dominating eight feet tall and generally shaped like a giant which basically intimidated the hell out of the two friends.
Gabrielle stared at the 'man' with wide eyes before asking again "who are you? What do you want?"
The 'man' looked down at the pair with what appeared to be distain on his face before shrinking to a human size. "I'm Charon," he said before snapping his fingers.
Gabrielle was about to ask more questions but her leg started to burn once more. She looked down to see some sort of ooze forcing its way out of the wound on her calf. The pain made tears come to her eyes but she fought desperately to keep them from spilling over and instead just held onto Alex for dear life.
"What did you do to her?!" Alex screamed at Charon as Gabrielle was close to crying. Gabrielle had never cried in front of him no matter what happened. They had been friends since they could walk and even when Gabby had broken her leg and the bone was sticking out the side of her leg she never cried. He remembered the closest she got to actually crying was when they were playing golf, she walked behind him mid-swing and he accidentally hit her in the nose. There had been tears that time but that happened to anyone who got hit in the nose.
"I'm healing her," Charon said in his less than empathetic voice. "Those demons are poisonous. She would have died within the hour."
Alex didn't really believe the man but he had to admit the 'demons' did look dodgy. Perhaps they were poisonous. Her leg wasn't bleeding and as she wiped the ooze away from the would the skin had healed over the deep wounds. Damn. Now Alex looked like a prick for freaking out on the man.
With her mind now clear of pain Gabrielle looked up at the newcomer, completely ignoring Alex and as he was about to apologize for his words Gabrielle talked right over him. "Your name can't really be Charon. That would mean that we're dead AND that would imply that you are actually the ferryman that takes us across the river Styx and Acheron which would require us to pay you in gold coins which are no longer in circulation. AND to top it all off that would mean the my severely religious wingnut of a step-mother has misplaced her beliefs and had whacked me over the head with a bible for NOTHING!"
Charon merely stared at the young woman who so nobly spouted his mythology without any reason to know it while Alex stated, "maybe it's not him. I mean I don't see a river anywhere here and isn't the underworld supposed to be dark and dreary? That's what I always figured."
"You also thought you could make fireworks with gasoline," Gabby said sarcastically.
"Well it kind of worked," Alex muttered quietly.
"If you're intention was to lose your eyebrows and have your girlfriend of that week draw them on then yes it worked," Gabrielle retorted.
"Now that's just not fair," Alexander snapped back, "Sara was a nice girl."
"Amy was the one that drew them on genius. Though that does rest my case on your intelligence," Gabby said before looking back to Charon. "Now you were saying?"
Charon blinked rapidly, unsure as to what to say to the bickering pair of mortals. "My name is Charon and thanks to your damn religions I lost my cushy job as the ferryman and am now the guide for you two bickering weirdo's."
"Wait," Gabby exclaimed. "My religion? What on earth are you talking about?"
"Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, Judaism," Charon said in a rather depressing tone, "they took over in popularity. No one worships us anymore so we get all the jobs no one else wants."
"So every religion is right?" Alex asked which got a surprised look from Gabrielle given that this was the first time she had seen Alex pay attention to anything other than women, sports and video games.
"Yes and no," Charon replied to Alex's question. "They're real. All religions are but they're not as great as everyone thinks. God's have a funny way of screwing mortals over for fun."
"But I thought God was supposed to be kind and loving to all," Gabrielle asked as Charon turned and began walking, gesturing to the two to follow him.
Gabby and Alex looked at each other with a look of confusion before following along behind Charon. He was their best bet at getting out of this place or at least finding the exit.
"Well he's kind and loving provided you've entertained him enough as a mortal. If not the Christian god had a bad habit of reincarnating people as cats just to get more funny cat videos."
"You can't be serious," Gabby replied, stunned. "I've been hit over the head with a bible for that?"
"Well if it makes you feel better you wouldn't go to that afterlife anyways," Charon said nonchalantly.
"Not that afterlife? Why not? We're both baptised in the Christian church," Alex chimed in. He never really believe in Christianity or anything else but at this point he'd believe anything.
"You don't belong there," the ferryman told them as he stopped and began looking around for something.
"You mean we're going to Hell?!" Gabby exclaimed. "No way! I am not going with you! Come on Alex! We're leaving!"
"Well if you don't follow me you'll just end up dead and stuck wandering here for eternity. Ghosts have it the worst of us all," interjected Charon, not really wanting them to stay with him. If they left his task was done. If not, well then he had a long journey with the inquisitive girl and rather dim-witted boy.
"Wait you mean you're not taking us to our final resting place as it were?" Gabby asked.
"No," was all Charon said back.
"Well then where are we? In some fucked up dream?" she snapped at the ferryman.
"You're in Limbo. Your bodies are alive but unless you deserve to make it back into your body within the time limit you will end up in the after life," Charon told them in a very fear mongering way.
"And what's the time limit?" Alex asked, his competitive nature coming out.
"Well," Charon replied, "If you want to be exactly as you remember you'll have two minutes in the real world to complete the tasks which is about one hundred and twenty days here. And if you don't mind a little bit of memory loss you have five minutes in mortal land which is about three hundred and fifty days. After that you either give up and face the jury or you complete the task and live out your life as a vegetable."
The humans stared at Charon with fear clearly etched on their faces.
"So- so," Gabby stuttered, "so one hundred and twenty days is a lot of time. I'm sure we can manage it."
Alex gave Gabrielle the best smile he could muster, "of course we can. We've played video games. Now its time for us to be the hero."
"I'd have a better chance as Commander Shepard," Gabrielle muttered. "At least she has armour."
"Yeah, but you have me and I'm a bad ass," Alex teased in an attempt to make Gabby smile.
A slight smirk crossed her face at Alex's optimism. Plucking up her courage Gaby stared Charon straight in the eye and told him, "lets do this."
Sighing heavily Charon reached up and pulled back what Gabby thought was just nothingness but it parted like a curtain revealing a dark grey area. "Fine," Charon muttered, "lets just get this over with."