The first installment of a story I wrote from a dream. Tell me what you think!
There was a man in the cell. He sat hunched over, cheek resting against the damp iron wall. His eyes were closed, but he was not asleep, as was evidenced by his shaking hands and the muscle of his jaw, which twitched every other second. He pretended to sleep because it was only then that the demons let him alone. Usually, they harassed him mercilessly, worming into his thoughts and dreams until he felt like tearing his skin apart to escape them. He snuck one eye open, and the guard outside his cell hissed.
The guard was a small, slimy demon of the lowest echelon. It hovered low to the ground on humming wings, its bald white frame dangling like a rotten fruit. It watched the man with beady eyes and hissed again, menacingly. A single caterwaul would bring half of Hell to the cell door.
The man-Dante, for that was his name-let his eyelid flutter close to a slit. The world was bleary now, obscured further by the lack of light. His shaking hand went to his belt, and caressed the small doll that was the only memento he had of his old world. He recalled Sophe, and her beaming face as she held the ragged doll up to him. He remembered her high voice, chirping: "For you, Daddy!" He remembered, and with the memories came a swelling of affection, of longing. From outside, the sentry squeaked, a pathetic attempt at a howl, and fell to the ground, stunned by loving emotion.
Dante stood up, wearily, and fished the keys from the guard's slimy wrinkles through the bars. He unlocked the door and let himself out. The hall was empty. The management felt secure in Dante's faked insanity. He broke into a run, through the jagged black tunnels, past oozings of acidic orange lava. He stuck to the walls, hiding in pools of shadow when the chatter of demonic voices neared him. After about ten minutes, from behind him there rose a desolate howl-the guard's caterwaul. There was no point in hiding now.
He started sprinting, running as if the hounds of hell were after him—which indeed, they were. The gate neared him, a spiked monstrosity of iron and marble. Beyond it, there lurked a faint light, where the demons could not trespass. Freedom was two hundred yards away-one hundred-fifty yards...
Behind him, a slavering mob of demons rounded the corner. His guard led the mob, shrieking, "After him!" "Faster!" In the language of his echelon. Swarms of flying demons filled the air above the mob, closing in rapidly. Dante flung himself onto a vast pillar and climbed it clumsily. His strength was waning now, his muscles weakened from the long incarceration. Demon hounds were scaling the pillar, jaws gaping, claws scratching the marble. Dante doubled over on a ledge, gasping. There was no way up, and the hounds were drooling below. He gazed desperately at the fiery vista of Hell, sure to be his last sight. Was there no way out? No way of all? Would he never see Sophe and his wife, Marlen again? He couldn’t perish so near the exit. He had come too far, suffered too much. HHHe stood up, scanned with dignity the mass of demons waiting for him at the base of the pillar, and spoke. "I propose a bargain..." And that was how he escaped.