I regained consciousness in a short, sharp gasp, my lungs filled with air that was not previously there and my chest heaved, my eye's wide, yet all I could see was nothingness. No light, no dark, no crimson, no people. Nothing.
Some smells stay with us forever, and right now it stunk. I could hear a constant buzzing, the buzzing would grow in volume until it was like a shriek, then it just stopped. I couldn't even see my hand in front of my face it was so dark. Or at least that's how I perceived it. Did I even have hands? What were hands?
It was like in a video game, when the character moved to quick for the computer to handle, and things would randomly appear. Suddenly I had a body. Suddenly there was a ground and that ground I stood on was floating. Walls spawned, walls that were grated like a cage. Beyond that cage was another room, yet it wasn't a room in conventional terms. This was a room, with a floor, and no walls at all. The floor drifted into the distance, trees made up a wall, yet my gut told me beyond those trees was pure nothing.
Hollywood would have you believe that when a man or woman 'Appears' it was glorious; CGI putting it's thumb print on a film, but no. This man just... Appeared. He was standing, wearing a suit. I went to talk, my voice choked on my tongue. I had a tongue. I had a face. I reached up to touch it with my hands- four fingers, one thumb, I was sure of it.
"Now." The word cut through me and vibrated in my core. "You may think because you've forgotten that you're forgiven. That you're born again." I looked up from my own hands to look at this man who was talking. He was so strange. I couldn't put my finger on it. He had a nose, he had a mouth, his mouth had lips and teeth, a tongue and his nose had nostrils and a bridge which lead to his eye-brows. His eye-brows were above his eye's and bellow his forehead. His blonde hair was combed neatly to the side but there was just something so, so wrong about him. "Well." He continued, his voice was so indifferent, like it was my own. I didn't notice it, but I heard him. "I'm here to remind you that life is not all it's cracked up to be, and I'm going to start with some harsh realities. Raymond, you are dead." That was my name. Raymond.
"Are you threatening me?" I responded.
"Raymond, Raymond, RAYMOND! It's always about you, isn't it?! How can I be threatening you?! I'm saying you are dead. Not you're going to die. Use your brain, or did you forget everything they taught you at school?"
"How can I be dead, I'm right here? I'm literally standing right here."
"But are you? Do you believe in God, Raymond?"
"No, the idea of an all seeing deity's insane."
"I want you to imagine that everything you've ever thought about religion is opposite. Imagine you're a devout Christian. So you believe that God is everywhere, blah blah, and now I want you to pair that with your scientific knowledge."
"... OK..."
"So hypothetically it's more than possible that God can and will **** with your atoms." His random burst of anger reflected mine. "I'm not saying God is real. I'm not saying you're wrong; I'm not saying you are right, Raymond, what I am saying is you need to open your eye's and see the bigger picture."
"Life is complicated. There's a lot of questions that need answered and I feel answering them with "God did it" is so... Inadequate."
"RAYMOND!" He burst, his voice filled with un-tampered rage. Fire flashed before my eye's, and yet I was the fire. I was on fire. My body was burning, seering. But it wasn't painful. It was... Infuriating. "You are not an individual little snow flake. If you approach everything scientifically then chances are you are not special. You never were anything. You never left a foot-print, a finger-print, and out there in the vast vacuum of space is someone exactly like you. Why? Because it's what science tells us. Science tells us that people don't have emotions; that we are animals grovelling in our own filth-" He barked, angrily yet with an air of calmness, stepping towards the cage as he talked. We were practically eye to eye. I could see every detail in his face now, and it was still strange. I'd noticed his breath did not feel of anything when he talked- no breath emanated from his mouth. I launched at the cage, grabbing it. "WHAT IF WE ARE?!"
"Think about what you're saying Raymond." I hadn't noticed it until now but my own name was foriegn. It wasn't my name. It was an echo. "For us to continue this you need to accept, not fear, that God does not like you. God has never liked you."
This news felt like a punch to the crotch. The man backed off, he took strides backwards, his hands were behind him. "Do you know where we are." He said it in such a way it sounded rhetorical. "A room surrounded by trees."
"No Raymond. We are in somewhere a little bit more special."
"What, does this cage represent me or something?"
"Do you remember your wife? Your kid?" I felt my head spinning, suddenly my feet did not feel anchored. "I- I had a wife?" I was unsure of my words for the first time being here. Suddenly I felt more presences, I could smell them, it stunk of sweat and the iron of blood. I turned around. I expected people to be there- I heard them now, I could hear them chanting inaudible screams, but as I spun I only noticed one man- him. In his suit, staring me in the eye's as I span, not moving. Just standing there. Smiling. Walls sprang from the forest, closed us off into another room whilst still being within the cage. People appeared, fat, hairy men, thin heroin addicts, all of them cheering, screaming at the cage, at us. No, not us. Them. Who were they? One of them had a mop of brown hair, his hair long and uncaring. They were both topless, neither had the bodies like in movies- there were no six-packs here- and yet neither of these men were fat, they were both thin, with some muscle. They were circling each other, their fists raised. The man with the brown hair had a thin face, his cheek bones were pronounced, his nose was nothing but a flick and his eye's were sunken. "Why are we here?" I asked.
"I wanted to show you something. The man with the brown hair and the black suit trousers is you, Raymond." Everything I was seeing in here was like being reminded of something you'd forgotten, the smell was something that reminded me of something I'd smelt before and now it made sense- because that was me. I always thought to meet myself it would be like looking in a mirror but seeing myself move was strange. Seeing myself without being aware of myself was unsettling. Everything went slowly. I took a punch from the blonde man who's face seemed to flicker between his own and something I couldn't quite make out. He swung in, a proper hay-maker, his fist slamming into my face, it knocked me back, his left arm swung under and caught my jaw. As this was happening the place he would smash into would tingle- on me. I was feeling.
I wondered why I hadn't asked how we were going by unnoticed. Yet I felt it was a meaningless question. The other me's cheek split and blood came flooding out, he fell to the ground, lying on his back, propping himself up with his elbow. Suddenly he was booted in the stomach, he choked on his own blood. "Why are we here, why am I here I mean?" I said, flustered, as he was booted in the stomach again everything flashed black. The blonde man kicked again, I saw the darkness, in just a flash. I saw a young boy, with a mop of brown, thick hair, in the dark. He opened a door to be confronted with a crimson light which flooded the darkness like my blood flooded from the wound. He stepped into the room.
"Follow him, buddy." Said the man. I complied, I didn't even know what I was walking on, it was so dark with only that crimson light to lead me. I entered through the white door, the door was covered in scratches and looked metal, but painted.
What had I just walked into? What was I watching?
The little boy with the brown hair and the sharp cheek bones was with an older man. They were smiling. This smile was not fake, or stupid. The man held out his hands. "Knock knock." Said the man in the suit- he had a hanker-chief in a little triangle in his pocket, he had a hat and a tie, his top button tied up. Not a scuff. "Who's there?" I said in unison with the boy, I smiled gently. I was enjoying this.
Another kick to the gut. The scene flashed for a second. The man with the perfect suit suddenly wasn't so perfect. It was like a slideshow- all I saw was pictures. The man was lying on the floor, his nose blooded and his suit messed, his jacket askew and his lip burst, his eye bulging. His shirt ripped and covered in blood. I inhaled. It's all I could hear. As quickly as it flashed up it vanished, and we were back in the room with the man and the boy. "Cash." Said the man. I smirked, I couldn't see the little boys face but my very fibre told me he was smirking too. "Cash who?"
"Cashew? I always knew you were a nut!" He said. I felt something cold in my eye. The little boy stepped up onto his fathers shoes, and took his hands. "Today I'm going to teach you to dance."
Another kick to the gut.
"C'mon honey, you have to dance, it's our wedding!" Said a female voice.
"I don't dance."
"Now is as good a time as any to start!" I felt angry. I felt betrayed. But what bothered me the most is I didn't know why.
They waltzed. Across the crimson sky- they danced, and weaved and it was brilliant.
Another kick.
"He's suffered enough." He was being forced to watch, he was flailing around in their arms.
"No, no, no, stop it. No!" I said. I knew they couldn't hear me. They were holding the beaten man up, they had a razor in their hands, they were holding the little boys tear filled eye's open. They wouldn't stop. The man, the dancing man was surrounded by men with suits on too- they had his blood on their suits. They had a leader. He had missing hair, and his hair was slicked back almost as if to bring attention to the fact he'd lost his hair. His hair still had colour to it.
They were forcing the child to watch. They wouldn't stop. They pulled the man back to give the child a better view, the child was in hysterics. He wouldn't stop screaming whilst the man stayed quiet apart from his rasping, broken breath. In a quick, sharp movement of the hand, the throat was slit, and blood poured out. The crimson sky returned and the boy was dancing again. But he was alone. And crying.
Suddenly I was back in the cage, sitting, curled up in the corner. I was crying. "They kept him you know. They kept you, Raymond."
"What did they do to me."
"That man you saw. He kept you as his son. He trained you. You did horrible things." The man said. "Are you the man?"
"Who are you?"
"I... Am the perfect human."
"There's no such thing."
"My looks are flawless and my personality is exactly what you expect the perfect human to be."
"The opposite of myself."
"I am your own self loathing."
"Then why are you even here?!" I asked.
"We need to watch now." He said, and like pushing the play button on the DVD player, it all started again. With every boot to the stomach flashed an image, an image of a man that I slowly remembered as my loving father dying in a pool of his own blood. Then he stood, the brown haired man on the floor stood and pushed the blonde man back. The blonde man suddenly became a vent for every shred of rage in his body, he flew like a rabid dog, smashing and punching, blood spewed from the mans face, the bridge of his nose broke and snapped and his teeth flew like marble being smashed with a hammer. Every smash was a smash to kill. This was the man who killed his father, this was the man who killed every hope and dream he'd ever had. This was the man who'd... Done nothing wrong.
I could see it in my own eye's when I watched him, battering the poor boy who was lying on the floor, his face wasn't visible for the amount of blood. The brown haired man pulled back. Raymond pulled through, and spun to the other side of the cage, holding the cage.
The crowd began to de-spawn. Everyone began to vanish except from Raymond, and the blood stains of his opponent.
I suddenly heard a familiar voice.
"Not long now, buddy." I glanced to the side, and there he was, in a dressing gown and all his glory. His name was Frank. He had curly hair and had been my friend since childhood.
I remembered after my dad had died I was sent to a boarding school where I suppressed all the memories with badness. One day, the sun would sprinkle through the windows. I was so young and that scar on my innocence had scabbed over.
I was still a loner. No matter what I did. So I did the only logical thing- whatever I wanted. The teachers there didn't care so just gave me lines and the task of cleaning up whatever mess I'd made. I was stood outside the principles office, it was past curfew. I held in my hands a brown paper bag. It was so cliché. The place was still lit up by the sun, it was summer. I heard footsteps, they were only small ones. I knew it was another kid. He approached- I felt his presence but I didn't look. When I knew he was standing beside me, about the same height, I turned my head, he was already grinning at me. His curly hair larger than life. He held in his hands a brown paper bag too. We looked each other in the eye's and just cracked up. It was the first time I'd laughed in ages. I had a new song to sing. He made everything better. "Got a light?" He asked. I flipped out the little red light- I thought I was hard as nails. We lit the bags, but the principle had heard our giggles, and the fat bastard pushed the doubles doors open (as he couldn't fit through just one. We both stared up at the big whale and without skipping a beat Frank said "We're gonna need a bigger boat." Before we simultaneously dropped out flaming bags of **** and bolted down the corridors. From then on we were inseparable.
He was still standing there, holding the cage. Raymond I mean. The Perfect Man reappeared. The blonde man I now hated with all my body and rage approached the cage. The old balding man in the suit. "Do you want to know why I'm so angry you threw the fight tonight?"
"I did not throw the fight."
"Listen. This is not professional boxing, the only time there is a winner and a looser in life is when someone dies and when someone survives. Like Lia... She was a looser."
"It doesn't matter. You want to know why I chose you?"
"Go for it."
"I think it's about time we came clean." He said. "Tonight, as I walked here, I made a detour. First I walked into your home. I killed your wife with a steak knife." He was so casual about me. It made me retch. The very notion filled the interpretation of Raymond with rage, he launched at the cage, like I did earlier when the Perfect Man told me the truths of humanity. He grabbed the chains and he rattled them. He hissed and he spat and he cried. "Then I made a detour, and I killed your friend, Frank."
"WHY ARE YOU DOING THIS TO ME?!" Raymond yelled, sliding down the cage.
"Why? It's simple really... Well... When you were a child and I was brutally murdering your father I saw a little sparkle in your eye... Whither and die. And I saw myself in that dead sparkle. Y'know, all my life people have been taking and taking and taking. First the war took my dad, then cancer took my Mum-"
"So you killed everyone in my life who's ever shown me any... Love because life hasn't been to nice to you?!" Raymond launched at the cage again. I could feel my very spirit breaking as he lay on his knees grabbing at the cage. "Y'know, a lot of us humans refuse to believe we're sick in the head. Not me. I relish in it. I saw you, small and innocent and I wanted to twist and mangle you." He said, this suddenly became darker, the whole room became eerie and the old man glared down into the eye's of the man he'd destroyed. "I want you to be UGLY, I want you to be CORRUPT. There's this disgusting vain of decency in you and I want to STAMP ON IT WITH MY BOOT." He screamed the last lines.
"I WON'T LET YOU!" I roared back in unison with the other version of me. I whimpered.
"I will kill you... But I don't think you want me to have that honor. I'll leave you some time to... Think about it." The man said, backing out the door. He just left.

The scene darkened. The lights went out. "No, no, that can't be it! What happened to me?!"
"You became dehydrated. You died." Replied the Perfect Man. Suddenly I was back in the cage.
"What now?" I asked. Suddenly the door was forced open, light shone in. Frank was stood there, I hadn't noticed but he had a steak knife sticking out his back. "What we do now Buddy, is we go through this door and hope for the best." There were tears in my eye's. I knew the lies. I knew all this was a figment of my imagination. "I have questions for the Perfect man first."
"Ask away."
"What lies behind that door?"
"I don't know."
"Does God exist?"
"I don't know."
"Then why are you even here?" The Perfect man smiled.
"I've been waiting for that question all night." He stood and walked up to the cage, he reached inside his suit and pulled out a set of keys. He reached down and forced the key in the lock. The door swung open. I took long steps out of the cage, I could breath cold air. I could feel love. "There's so many loose ends. What about the bad man?"
"I'm sure that this... Limbo here won't be as kind to him as it was to you." I continued to walk towards Frank, who was grinning like a maniac. "Wait, Raymond." Said the Perfect Man, I turned and looked at him. His eye's were wet. "Have fun." He smiled. I smiled back. The door closed. The Perfect Mans connection to me cut off. My memories faded, he choked up, the cage disintegrated, the floor turned to ash and everything was dark. The Perfect man fell to the floor, his face pressed against it. "I love you now, Raymond." He said.

The End.