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Deal Maker, part 3 "Hope"

Pain.

"That is all my existence is now." thought the man, "An endless trial of pain and torture". The man forced his eyes open, even this little act sent mental needles stabbing into him. The thing that was scaring him though, was it was getting easier to ignore it. His dark brown eyes flicked back and forth, taking in his surroundings. It was unchanged from the first time the Devil had put him here.

Where ever here was.

The man did not know anymore. He had lost all sense of location, and time, and awareness. For a while, he even thought he was going to lose his sanity. The loss of himself seemed to be the whole purpose of his hellish setup.
The room, though it seemed more so an open space, was dark like moonless winter night. The temperature seeming to vary between a heat that could burn the skin in moments, leaving nasty blisters and sun spots, and an intense cold that bit into the center of his bones and froze everything inside of him. The walls, if they could be called walls, seemed to be of solid flame and in a constant and maddening motion that warped vision and overwhelmed the senses. Spitting forth from the flames were ranks upon ranks of barbed chains, each ending in some form of needle, or clamp, or hook. Each end of chain found a home in some square inch of his skin, tearing and pulling at a form already ruined by blister and frostbite. To further shred the nerves, as the flame that made up the walls moved, so did the chains, twisting and pulling them. As the minutes, and hours, and days dragged on, and his body, nerves and senses grew more and more dead, the man realized this is what the Devil meant when he said no one survives this.

In the beginning, he cried and screamed and fought it all. In the end though, even his intense stubbornness wore thin, but just when he thought he would break physically and sanity-wise...

She came to him.

She had to be a figure of his mind, for he hate to think that his love was somehow sharing a room in Hell with him. She had been there though, a most beautiful glow radiating from her form. She wore just the simplest of gowns, hair flowing freely as her piercing eyes met his and her hands gently rested on his ruined form

-William-

Her lips did not move, but he could hear her in his head despite the jumbled mess of pain and insanity it was. Just hearing her seemed to cut thru it all, clearing his mind.

-Remember my love, why you are here...remember me-

He tried to respond, but by this point no sound would come from his throat and all he could do was silently scream in rage in being unable to talk to her. One of her fingers touched his lips, and he grew still, almost relaxed.

-It's ok William, you have to fight this and you have to survive this. Remember why you are here-

In his mind, he saw her. Saw all the memories he had of her. How his heart would thud like a drum when ever he saw her. How her lips were a most glorious heat upon his, making the world melt away to just the two of them. How she would softly whisper "I love you" in his ear.

That's what did it. That bundle of memories. Those most lovely thoughts of her and her touch. The man named William felt his heart and soul re-steel and his mind re-focus. His eyes glanced up at her and he saw her smile and nod approvingly. His eyes had told her everything. She leaned in and kissed him so very softly and for a moment, all was right in his world.

-I love you William- he heard her whisper in his mind as she pulled back and started to fade away, the fiery walls of his prison coming back into focus.

-Come find me...-

After that, everything changed. The man hardened his heart and steeled his soul. After that, he stopped trying to figure out how long he had been there. It didn't matter. After what could have been an eternity, or could have been a moment, the Devil appeared.

But he was not alone.

"Well, you are quite the impressive mortal, you know that?" the Devil remarked as he circled the man, the chains popping free of his form, allowing the Devil to pass close by. "You know, I thought there was a point you were going to just, pop, like all the other ones do. Most impressive. I knew you were the man for the job." The Devil laughed as the ruined form of William dropped unceremoniously onto a summoned table. "Now, the real work begins," the Devil said as his swept a hand out, motioning to the four hooded forms against one wall. "These fine artist here are going to give you a new paintjob per say, slap some good ol' Hell made ink on your skin." The Devil turned to leave as the hooded figured approached, but paused, "Oh, and by the way, you might want to continue holding on to that image of her. Like all tattoo trips, this might sting a bit." And with that, the Devil made his exit.

Hell made ink does more than just "sting a little", but as the hooded beings worked, the man hardly felt it at all. His nerves were nothing anymore and pain was just a friend to be greeted and entertained. As more and more of the ink was burned into his skin, creating odd shapes and designs, William felt his form beginning to pull itself back together. Gashes and punctures started to close over, bones began to mend, and in his mind, the black fog that had settled in it started to clear.

Once again, he had no idea how long he lay there, becoming covered in tattoo after tattoo, but at the end of it, William did something he didn't think he would ever be doing again as he slowly sat up, ignoring the scream of his still raw ink job and freshly mended scars.

He smiled.