As loud as existence itself a deafening hum shakes the universe. Multiple. In sync. One note. And then they quiet to allow the tortured screams to drown the universe. A roaring gargling growl drowns the screams and wakes the boy.
Dancing flames encircles Sebastian. There’s nothing but the concrete within and the everlasting dark without. What he sees doesn’t make sense. Neither does how clear his thoughts are.
“Where am I?” he asks out into the nothing, voice quivering with his shaky jaw. Agonized screeches ripple the air, but no answer. “Where am I?!” Again. Sebastian can’t help but pace the confines of the flames, ears perked up for a response.
He begins to question whether or not he really even heard a voice to begin with. And with the passing minutes he continues to ask. Hopeful. But as the hours gather and all that exists is this place within the ring of fire, separate from the rest of the universe, hope withers and he goes catatonic.
Curled into the fetal position he stays in the center of the ring for hours and hours. And then a day. And then two days. And then three.
A week in this prison of emptiness, this most awful of places, Sebastian gets up. He’s still trapped. The screams are infinite. Everywhere. Everything.
And two weeks go by. Sebastian has not yet seen or heard anything but the screams and the roars and the gargling and the tortured pain.
And three weeks go by. Sebastian screams in agony. In hate. In anger for being aware of being in this place. Stuck in this hell. He’s attempted to end his life by going into the flames, but it doesn’t burn him. It behaves like a wall on contact.
Weeks turn into months. Sebastian is beginning to forget what anything before this place was like. There is little memory of anything. The loud demons and unresting souls calm the boy. They assure him he’s somewhere familiar.
The months stack to a year. The child sits dead center. Unaged. Unstarved. Meditation in harmony with the voices, the screaming and the torture. He’s learned to tune it out. To empty his mind of all thought. And his focus has led him to feel and understand the energies within this sacred realm he’s in. To familiarize his body with holy energy. He meditates most of the time.
A year and a month.
An unfamiliar sound disturbs Sebastian’s meditation. It came from everywhere. Brief and quiet. The realm of darkness shakes viciously.
Sebastian is quick to his feet. “What’s going on?” The first words he’s spoken in months. Through the thick holy energy, as if he were it and it were liquid, he feels something approaching. Moving through it in his direction. To his exact spot. To his part of the sacred realm.
Up until this moment Sebastian was sure he knew all that existed in the universe. He could feel every bit of it through his skin. But this energy isn’t holy. It’s different. It feels similar to Sebastian’s.
It feels identical to Sebastian’s.
A silhouette with a physical structure similar to Sebastian appears in the center of the ring. And it darkens and darkens until it’s so dark it’s solid. And the silhouette gains color.
A creature similar to Sebastian appears before him. It came from somewhere outside of the universe he considers home.
“Kid, are you okay?” it asks. “My name is Isaiah. I was sent here to rescue you. Do you understand me?” he says, approaching.