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Glass and Steel, Part 11 - Edict of Worms
Posted By: Random 14-Year-Old<i-rule-2008@comcast.net>
Date: 24 February 2006, 2:49 am

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Glass and Steel

Part 11: Edict of Worms

Ren wondered what Hell was like.

Taking a break from his painful slumber, Ren rolled over onto his quivering stomach to think about Hell. It was probably the most excruciating place in existence. The ground was probably hotter than the sun, and flames would snake up out of cracks in the earth to barbecue your feet. There wouldn't be any plants or animals—they would all fry to death and their ashes would spiral into a black inferno. In Hell, the sky would be the color of blood, painted that way by the eternal suffering of the people there.

And in Hell, every so often, a wave of painful terror would sweep the bitter air and char your skin. You wouldn't be able to escape it—you wouldn't even be able to move at all—and so you had to just lay there and take it, gritting your teeth and coughing up blood.

No... No. That couldn't be what Hell was like, because if it was, then that would mean Ren had been living in Hell for a long time now. Yes, he had suffered the pain that he could only associate with Hell. He had burned his arms and legs on the white-hot ground. He had felt the raging flames that jumped out of the cracks in the ground. He had seen with his own eyes the animals that caught on fire and burned to swirling ashes.

Ren looked up at his blood-red sky. Giant monsters loomed above the horizon like unforgiving demons. Could they be what caused the painful terror that swept the air and charred Ren's skin? He didn't know—but that's why he wondered. He wondered because he didn't know.

So if Ren was still alive, able to see his own flesh and blood, then how could he be in Hell? He had always thought that Heaven and Hell were the two possible destinations after death, but he had never considered paying a visit while still alive. Ren was alive ... still clinging to life...

But—if he was alive, how was it that he was suffering so much unimaginable pain and not dying? The only explanation was ... he was already dead ... and he had been sentenced to Hell for all eternity...

... all eternity ...

No. Pull yourself together, Ren. Those demons that loom above the horizon? Covenant warships. That painful, sweeping terror? A plasma shockwave intended to wipe out Planet Luther.

Then why—why—was Ren not dying? Damn it, even Hell was probably more comfortable than this place. Ren wanted to die, but for some reason his body still lived on. Blast after blast of excruciating plasma, Ren did not die. His flesh tore off and melted away—and what skin was left simply turned dark and crusted. Whether he survived or finally died, Ren just wanted it to end. He wanted it all to end.

But—there had been a reason, a long time ago, for him to stay alive. He had wanted to cling to life for a single purpose—only, Ren couldn't remember what that purpose was. If he could recall the reason he had swore to himself he would never die, he would fight to survive this hellish experience. But ... if he couldn't recall the reason ... well ... may death come quickly.

Ren stopped looking at the sky—it was too horrifying—it looked like more of those giant demons were appearing... So he turned his eyes to the ground in front of him.

There, just lying among some blackened rocks, was a long strip of fabric. It had once been white, but was now charred and gray. Ren knew it was a clue to his past, a clue from the world he had lived in before Hell had set in. A strip of tape? A small banner? A ... bandage?

And Ren remembered. He remembered why he had promised himself never to die, always to protect the person who mattered most to him. He would always be alive and well, even in these unthinkable circumstances, so that he may protect her ... save her ... love her.

An overwhelming wave of hope and joy filled Ren's heart, and he was forced to laugh so that the joy would not suffocate his lungs. He remembered—he remembered why he had a purpose in life! Strength once again nourished his muscles, and pain was a thing of the past. Ren pushed himself to his knees, and then stood up.

Hope, strength, and purpose. They had all returned to him. Hope he would save her from this Hell. Strength to make it happen. Purpose—Ren's purpose was to shelter and love her.

"Ariana, where are you—"

Ren looked around, straining his eyes.


Ren's replenished soul vanished. His hope, his strength, his purpose—it all crumbled.

She was gone.