• Darkness. A wrenching pain. Unbearable agony. A scream, and then more pain. I felt a tearing, a ripping of what felt like my soul. The screaming stopped. No longer could it continue. A stamping of feet and a rustle of clothes, and then- nothing. Utter blackness, no longer just darkness. The void of all light. No sound, it was something deeper and more sinister than silence. There was no feeling against my skin, if I had any left. No light brush of air, no suction of a vacuum, just- nothing. Nothing but pain. Pain, utter torture, unbearable but inescapable. I writhed in this nothingness. I knew I flailed helplessly, but I could not feel it. Just the wrenching agony that had overtaken my being. There was no escape.
    I screamed, finally able to again, but to no avail. If anything, the pain had increased. The anguish doubled as I realized nothing I could do could alleviate this woe. My misery compounded as I felt I would be stuck in this soul-shattering pain for all eternity, for nothing could stop it now. It was impossible, I knew it as sure as the air I breathed- but then I realized I was no longer breathing. There was no air to breathe. Was I dead then? The shred of hope I had held in reserve fled as I realized my demise. No life, but this was no death, just unendurable amounts of pain. My screaming stopped. What was the point? The pain that I assumed was from my hoarse throat, ragged from all of my screaming, did not stop. I lost my control, the little I had, and screamed again. The pain had not alleviated when I had stopped, but it still grew worse as I continued. How could this be? Every moment that began to feel like a millennium to me was the peak of pain, it was impossible for it to grow! Yet grow it did, with each passing millisecond. My screaming continued, even louder than before, though I heard it not. I could feel the pain swell with my voice. Surely, there was no greater torture than this.
    Yet as the pain multiplied, my strength returned. I would not scream! I would not give into this pain, this soul-shattering agony! I was strong, strong enough to fight this fate! I would not languish here in this prison of pain and agony! I would not; I would not stay trapped in this hell for all eternity! My screaming ceased, and my struggling commenced. I struggled vainly, my resolve wavering momentarily, and then I lashed out at the darkness, stronger than before! Even as the pain increased, my determination solidified and I knew that I would make it out. Visions passed before my eyes, somehow not showing any light but somehow breaking the darkness of nothingness that surrounded this place. They were incomprehensible, but they filled me with strength and hope. Even as the pain screamed agony into my deaf ears, my resolve did not waver. I would see light again, and darkness, the shafts if sunlight, the clouds ephemeral beauty and magnificence, and any and every sight I could see. I would see light again, and I would hear again!
    Soft bells pealed in my ears. They gave me even more courage, blocking the pain that was slowly losing its once so tenacious grip on me. The chiming me reminded me of all the music I had heard, and the soft murmurs of encouragement I heard every day by- suddenly, panic set in. I could not remember the faces or names, though I knew they had existed, and the pain took advantage of my surprise and sank its hold back into me. No! I would not give in! I would rediscover those names and faces of the entities I used to know! The murmuring returned, having been lost in my surprise. I could not hear the voices or understand the words, but I knew they were supporting me. They were telling me I could make it back and listen to the sound of water gurgling in brooks, the crashing of waves onto the beach, the pounding of the waterfall onto rocks below, the soft hiss of flame as it slowly consumed the fuel, the gentle swishing of trees in the wind, and the soft meow of a familiar animal!
    I felt a shaft of sunlight on my skin, breaking into this absence of feeling and warming the flesh. I knew I would make it back and feel the warmth of the sun, the coolness of moonlight, the soft fur of the same animal, and the gentle hands that were even now pulling me back to where I belonged. I would go to them, and escape this void filled with pain! I would flee triumphantly, conquering this wretched place! I would return to the world from whence I came! I would make it! The pain had almost no hold on me now, and I could feel myself tearing away the last of its chains! I would be free! The darkness has no hold over me! I AM FREE!!!

    I open my eyes to bright sunlight. Faces float above my head, and comforting voices surround me. I feel warm bodies surrounding me, carrying me back to where I belong. I smile.