She ran as the night thickened into complete darkness. They had hunted her for months and were closer than she ever imagined. It was as though they could sense her and had slowly pulled their net tight around her. Claire did not have anywhere left to run. Her home and family were the first to fall to these creatures. Her friends were next. She was alone in this scary rat race which she was quickly losing.
She turned the corner and ran straight into the creatures she ran from. They looked human by all accounts. They walked on two legs, had two arms, and a head the same way any mere mortal would, but they could not hide their shadows. In their shadows was hidden their true form. Claire never was sure how they changed their appearance, but she had seen their shadows, with their tails curling, and was glad they remained in human form.
“Why do you run when you know the inevitable?” asked the first creature.
“We do not wish you any harm. On the contrary, we need you to free us,” added the second creature.
Claire screamed as the two creatures grabbed her arms and hauled her off the ground. The streets echoed as her cries of terror filled the empty city. They walked for miles past empty homes and deserted cars until they finally reached the outer edges of the city.
As the buildings and homes began to fade into the distance, the prisoner and her captors came to the edge of an enormous crater. Claire had seen pictures of the construction site on the evening news before this horrible nightmare began. Large diggers and bulldozers could be seen along the edges of the crater, smashed and broken in what could have been described as a battle field.
“What have you done with the others?” Claire demanded of her captors.
“You will see. You will see them all once we get there, but we have a long walk down,” the first creature informed her. “Humans! You do not even know what you have done. Never even considered what you would unleash upon yourselves, did you?”
The second creature smiled at his friend’s remark as they began to descend into the crater. “They deserve what has happened. She is the last one to take to her new home and then we can enjoy our spoils. Enjoy what the humans had forsaken.”
“Yes, God thought us unworthy of Earth so he locked us in Hell. Now, we shall show you all where we belong. We were trapped in Hell because of this balance God created between good and evil.”
“I don’t understand,” interrupted Clair. “How did you escape Hell? Why would God let you loose now?”
“Didn’t you see the place we entered these caves, foolish child,” mocked the first creature. “Your fellow man dug a hole straight to Hell and set us free. Since we have refrained from killing you pathetic humans, we are able to switch spots, in a matter of speaking, and maintain the balance. God may not even have noticed what has happened.”
It was in that moment Claire began to feel the heat coming from the tunnels below them. The screams were the next thing she noticed. The cave suddenly opened into a vast pit filled with tormented souls burning in flames so hot Claire was forced to look away before her face was burned.
Claire became terrified as images of her own body being thrown into the fires flooded into her mind. “You said I had nothing to fear! That is worse than dying!”
“You don’t troublesome human,” began the second creature as he chained Claire next to a small opening in the pit. “Those are souls of the dead who were sent here to suffer. Those souls must have someone, or something in your case, to inflict their punishment. We have filled our positions for thousands of years and now it is your turn. So, welcome to eternity and you had better start shoveling that pile of coal there next to you before someone notices your fire going out.”