When the needle slid into your vein, and your muscles strained against the straps, and the doctor’s glasses, briefly reflecting the lamp above you, were a harsh white glare, you knew what was coming. Darkness, and then hands.

Claws, talons, pincers, gripping and cutting, pulling you down, though your body lay there on the cold table. Each laceration was a reminder of your crime, each crushing grip a reflection of yours, locked around your wife’s throat as the life went out of her eyes.

Down, down, down, a tunnel of black and red and fire and ragged stone, with horrors at the edge of your vision, leaving a trail of blood and flesh as they took you deeper, their talons ripping, forcing you through holes and crevices, always down.

An eternity of tumbling, screaming descent, and then a terrible impact.  You can feel your bones – your mind cannot release its bodied self even now – splinter and split, and you bite off your own tongue when your teeth are driven together with enough force to shatter in your mouth.

You lie, a mewling pile of blood and viscera and agony, before they drag you up and forward, to a small room.

Inside the room there is a chair, and a television, and a Super Nintendo Entertainment System. There is one controller, and one game.  They fling you into the chair and shackles snap shut. The controller is in your hands. Then, the claws and pincers are gone.

You are laughing.  Pain, physical pain, and this? This is it?  This is your punishment?

The television turns on, and the game. You hear a voice:


You see the title – Smartball – and your broken hands begin to move on the controller. It is not long before the screams begin.

In the deepest, blackest, coldest infernal pit, Judas himself looks up from his indescribable torment, hears the notes of your suffering, and shudders.

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