[identity profile] wetandbothered5.livejournal.com
~ When the Neanderthal brow had receded and Regulus' modern-day wisdom had returned to him along with his boyish inability to grow facial hair, he had suffered a rather great and unnecessary amount of shame. To someone who - even when spending the rest of eternity in Hell - wouldn't dream of putting his elbows on a table, the memory of grunting and trudging about like an absolute brute is something that he will never remember fondly. He would take these awful muscle aches any day over that disaster, and has tried valiantly to not let Barty bring up any of his amusing behavior from the weeks past. It's hard going.

The growing pains he can stand. Truthfully, in the beginning he had rather enjoyed the stretched feeling. It had distracted him from the sizzling pain in his feet as he, with Barty always just a couple yards away, trudged on though the acidic sludge of Three. With nothing around them for miles but a barren wasteland of sludge (and hopefully, please, not any residents of this Level as there's nowhere to hide), Regulus and Barty have no frame of reference for their heights and have no idea how much they've changed. Since they smartened-up they've just been limping on and on for who knows how long, just hoping to find anything to stand on and get their feet out of the mud. Only now, finally, does Regulus see something on the horizon. ~


Please say those are cliffs and not a mud mirage.
[identity profile] bigredanhorny9.livejournal.com
~ After some time of pain and discomfort, the cause of the strange pulling sensation comes glaringly into focus. For a while it had gone unnoticed by most since Hell is not exactly filled with doorways with mother's standing by to mark how tall you've gotten, but what had begun as harmlessly sore muscles has flung into full-fledged wrenching sensations and it's become quite clear what's happening. Stretched higher and higher day by day by devilish magic, the pain gets worse and things once at eye-level now need to be stooped to be seen. Their human figures grow taller by the day, like obscene plants, growing taller and forcing them into ungainly lopes like newborn colts. At first the feeling of being pulled upwards is the main concern on everyone's mind, by what happens when hiding places become too snug to be safe? ~
[identity profile] bigredanhorny9.livejournal.com
~ Though sometimes people are told that being extraordinary is a goal to strive for, a potential to fulfill, people are predominantly excruciatingly average - much moreso than they might think. Even the stranger members of the population are more average than they are different. You see, in the big scheme of things, the norm perpetuates and any variation of that norm, if it survives, can only either fall into obscurity or become a teeny tiny step into making something ELSE eventually become the norm. Within every species there are thousands of averages - average colour, average weight, average smell, average everything. From the stem length of a particular species of flower to the length of the human penis - ALL members of every species fall into a slot on their range of averages. And even if one happened to find someone in their life who told them to be extraordinary, chances are they weren't thinking on a very extraordinary scale themselves when they advised this. Because averages exist for a reason, and if those statistics were to suddenly fluctuate, it would indeed be an extraordinary disaster.

One of these such averages, and a very important one, is height. Most children, as they get older, experience what some parents refer to as 'growing pains'. Physical aches in legs and arms and backs that keep them up at night and are just a small rite of passage they must endure as they slowly become adults. But after a certain age the body stops growing and any pain isn't as simply explained anymore, which is why the souls trapped in Hell find it quite odd indeed as their bodies begin to feel tense and strained. A peculiar stretching sensation overcomes their muscles, skin, and bones, like being the rope in a game of tug-of-war or the tender and torn feeling after brutal physical activity too much for the body's limits. On average, pain without a serious cause will eventually fade away, but what if there is a cause. What if the cause is something that, to the dead, should have stopped long long ago. ~
[identity profile] bigredanhorny9.livejournal.com
~ To the living, still walking around and going about their lives on Earth, imagining what it must have been like to be anything less than modern man is nearly impossible. Those with imagination enough to try probably get stuck around the century or so before their own if they're quite good at it, but every generation of mankind has seen THEIR generation as being the pinnacle of the species and no matter how curious or thoughtful one is about what life must have been like in the past it all comes down to the fact that living at the height of humanity's success it is rather impossible to imagine life before the advent of tools or, say, the wheel.
For the souls trapped in Hell, however, all they need to do to get the full experience of being ancient man is to think back to just the other day. Evolution takes leaps and bounds every day as thousand and thousands of years of development and trial and error is covered in a mere week to return the shades to their original states. Skulls and the brains inside them morph, bringing everyone back up to speed and leaving them with and unfortunately personal knowledge of what their chances of survival would have been if they had been born just a few millennia earlier... ~
[identity profile] bigredanhorny9.livejournal.com
~ One could call the denizens of Hell's new look 'brutish', but that would require a decent vocabulary and that is one of the evolutionary luxuries that has flown out the window - along ago along with the idea of mind over matter. Instinct is an important part of survival here in the underworld but now it seems to have completely obscured intelligence, forcing everyone to operate on their gut reactions to things and left them incapable of any real higher reasoning. From the former geniuses to those who were always rather dim, no one has been spared and everyone has become a broad-faced, dimwitted evolutionary prototype version of their former selves.

This bizarre de-evolution of the human species began with the accentuation of the brow but over time has flared into full-fledged troglodyte looks and behaviors. With these newly heavy jaws and brows, with these shrunken more basic brains, with this new herd-mentality fully taken over, Hell becomes as difficult to navigate as the old world on Earth was to man's ancestors. However though that old world was no doubt difficult, at least they didn't have to face the challenges of nine different levels of hardship. ~
[identity profile] bigredanhorny9.livejournal.com
~ It had started with the shades once considered to be the upper class, but like any widespread problem it doesn't take long for the classes to be bridged. There was a little while when the residents of the deeper Levels got quite the kick out of the comparatively pious shades from One slowly acting more like thugs every day. The humour gets a bit lost, however, as things get worse for everyone.

Language skills begin to decline, and not just in the upper class and not just the often-resented Ones, but in everyone from every part of Hell. Those who used to spin tales or speak with any sort of elaborate expression find themselves searching for words more and more often. Those who use their words to exercise any kind of authority or power or in any kind of trickery are in for a change in lifestyle. Conversation between anyone and everyone slowly turns into the most basic descriptions they can muster to get their points across.

It is probably good that intelligent verbal mockery has become more difficult, though, because the gradual physiological changes overcoming everyone would certainly be a topic of conversation. In the gnarled and more wild-looking it is less noticeable, but it's very dramatic in anyone with a once smooth forehead. Brows somehow get heavier as if the very shapes of people's skulls is slowly morphing. It makes it even stranger to watch someone try to think of how to put something, and gives everyone a thicker, dimmer general look. To further mar foreheads, even the most naturally thin eyebrows seem to be growing thicker and moving in to try to meet in the center. That's not the only hair gone wild - everywhere on the body there just seems to be more of it.
The intelligent shades all see what's happening but it's just so hard to care these days, and even harder to describe it to anyone. ~
[identity profile] bigredanhorny9.livejournal.com
~ Though the bamboo remains entrenched within flesh, once they are pruned and pulled for the final, time muscles and organs heal and the treacherous plant-life does not grow back. However, even in amidst the relief and healing, all across Hell something strange is beginning to occur.

It's most apparent in those from affluent backgrounds - the once higher class. Though, if one were to really observe keenly, everyone is being effected in small, nearly insignificant ways. Posture slumps, walking becomes heavy and ungraceful and those who once prided themselves on impeccable mannerism find they've begun, quite absent-mindedly, to pick up perfectly disgusting habits. ~
[identity profile] bigredanhorny9.livejournal.com
~ There are few, if any, benefits of being a human pincushion. No matter the circumstances. The odd, hard things felt under the flesh push their way up and out in what would be a spectacular display of speed if one did not consider their origin - after all, bamboo is the fastest growing plant on Earth, and the strangest thing about them isn't even that they exist, it's what they are made out of. Up they blossom, though organs, though muscle, though fat, though skin, poking green and live from bodies and turning them into some kind of sick, skewered garden.

The living have debated if bamboo torture was indeed practiced, but to the shades of Hell this internal version is all too real. Plus, as devastating as removing them can be, they had better pull them out before they start to get thicker and harden. Then again, who knows if that is better or worse, seeing as they WILL grow back . ~
[identity profile] bigredanhorny9.livejournal.com
~ Something is not right. It's not clear what, nothing visible seems to be the problem, no open sores or outward signs of disease. But the strange little prickling feelings that had originated deep inside the stomachs of the shades has become far more noticeable.
Regardless of if a person is confined to their Level and under watchful eyes or if they have escaped to wander, existence in Hell is far from easy. Running or defending oneself at a moments notice is just a part of daily life, so it were. Now, though, those prickles have evolved, growing more and more uncomfortable and strange until a sudden movement causes everything to change. Something as simple as ducking down to avoid being seen can be ruined by sudden stabbing pain. A wrong move at any moment can cause a lung to collapse, or a spleen to puncture, and no one can understand why. Of course in the afterlife there is no chance of dying and remaining dead, that would make it too easy, but waiting for an organ to heal itself isn't exactly a pleasant experience even if the fear of death is removed.

No one is sure what is causing their suddenly kamikaze organs, but as time stretches on and moving becomes more and more dangerous, it becomes clear that this isn't simply organ failure... something is in there. And if someone were stupid enough to go feeling around their body, depending on how long it had been since they first felt the prickling and how little muscle or fat separates their insides from their outsides, they could feel them. Something that shouldn't be poking toward the surface from deep inside them, getting more and more noticeable as time passes. Something growing, up and out. ~
[identity profile] bigredanhorny9.livejournal.com
~ As the shades of Hell regain full and comfortable control of their limbs, nothing new appears to be amiss - well, more amiss then usual, anyway. There is, of course, a curious sort of prickling - a slight shift under muscles and within the pits of bellies. However, it is only detectable if one concentrates very hard and the norm for any wishing to stay sane has become concentrating on anything BUT their physical states.

Regardless, even to those perceptive enough to take notice, the prickling doesn't seem to be particularly dire, not after the last few rounds of torture. It would be impossible to guess its origin either way, the threat truly at hand so bizarre not even the denizens of the underworld would believe it if they knew. ~
[identity profile] bigredanhorny9.livejournal.com
~ With the puppeteered bodies of the damned doing their jobs for their jobs for them, Hell's demons might as well have taken some time off.
When every moment is an uncontrollable and ill-fated surprise, shades feel trapped in a perpetual loop of agony and nerves. Only a few have managed to stay together during this bodysnatching epidemic, very few. The lucky ones have simply lost their companions, been separated by their wandering bodies, but the vast majority have watched through their own eyes as their bodies do the most horrible things imaginable to those around them, to friends and to foes and to themselves alike.
Until one day, that is, when someone makes to reach into one of the red-hot Bulls in Seven but this time when their mind screams no, their hand pauses. It's not a single incident - all over every Level desperate commands directed to hands, to feet, start working. From then on it's as though everyone's body is a toddler, it doesn't want to behave but slowly it starts to listen to direction, to recognise right and wrong. It's like learning to walk all over again, as whatever curse had come over them lifts. ~
[identity profile] bigredanhorny9.livejournal.com
~ It isn't long before all through Hell people are discovering what it must feel like to be a marionette. No longer is the biggest feat that your feet might turn right into a street full of demons when you meant to go left to safety, it's far beyond fingers unbuttoning clothes at random or ripping out your own hair, even beyond the terror of having your own hand brandish a knife at your face or being unable to stop fists from beating friends til they're bruised purple.
Things have become much more serious - entire bodies have gone rogue. Some even seem to have personalities completely unlike that of the people they have overtaken, but the one thing that unites them all is that all of them are dangerous. Hell may have been filled with swindlers, murderers, and other sinners before, but now everyone's bodies seem bent on destruction without any regard to the minds trapped inside them, fighting uselessly to take back control of their actions. ~
[identity profile] bigredanhorny9.livejournal.com
~ Seemingly innocent mishaps begin to stack up. The sentience of rogue limbs everywhere becoming more and more pronounced and malevolent. Soon the sight of shades holding themselves at knife-point, strangling their companions and inadvertently disembowelling themselves become common-place. Legs take the unfortunate for inopportune and unwanted adventures, seemingly and willfully walking toward danger. Hiding becomes increasingly impossible, and even those who manage to conceal themselves from outside threats are at the mercy of their own mischievous limbs. ~
[identity profile] bigredanhorny9.livejournal.com
~ The symptoms of previous weeks begin to wear off, allowing hair to grow back and skin to heal. The viscera-laden vomiting ceases and torture returns to its usual thresholds. The relief is so great that bizarre new habits almost go unnoticed. Shades find their feet taking an extra step they never intended to, their hands reaching out of their own accord. It's easy enough to ignore, of course - to put it off as disorientation or exhaustion. Yet every so often that extra step leads the unfortunate careening off a cliff face, or fingering a burning hot coal... ~
[identity profile] bigredanhorny9.livejournal.com
~ Bloody phlegm and a bit of nausea begin to look quite insignificant as the days progress. With every strand of hair now long since shed, skin is the next to fall victim - reddening, it begins to flake, layer after layer until blood seeps from the cracks freely. Breathing becomes heavy and laboured and waves of exhaustion render the mounting effort required difficult to handle.

Convulsions too, seem to occasionally strike, raking the shade's blistered forms - leaving them weak, vulnerable and (quite literally) shaken. Too make matters indefinably worse and rather humiliating, every orifice seems to be leaking, expelling things it really has no business expelling and leaving the air of Hell universally heavy with the scent of illness, waste and bile. ~
[identity profile] bigredanhorny9.livejournal.com
~ The headaches and the occasional sick stomach get uglier as time passes, as things in Hell are want to do. When the first shades begin coughing up blood everyone's mind immediately jumps to a collective oh great.

But that part, the bloody part, it doesn't come on quickly enough to be foreseeable. What comes first is the painful tickle in everyone's throats, the coughing that only serves to aggravate it until throats are left feeling inflamed and anyone with a friend is asking if they might peek in and see if it looks as bad as it feels. Universal disease, it seems, makes everyone a doctor. Mouths and lips and gums become tender and sore and the headaches never quit. It's only later, after people are starting to complain about their sore throats that their bodies give them something real to complain about.

And that's when the blood starts. First it's only in the coughing, flecks of it appearing in cupped hands, but soon the unsettled stomachs join the game. When nausea takes over and people duck to empty their stomachs, that too is tinted red.
A sore throat is a symptom that is nearly universally experienced, by the old and the young and the rich and the poor. No matter what life was like before ending up down here, chances are every single person has spent a few days being in pain when they swallowed. But when hair starts to fall out, coming out in bigger and bigger clumps when they run their fingers through their hair and when blood turns up in vomit, everyone knows that this is much more than anything a cough drop and some tea can sooth. ~
[identity profile] bigredanhorny9.livejournal.com
~ The rot and the decay that everyone has waited through have finally been eradicated. Hell's twisted version of an immune system has clunked back into life and made limbs return, fingers regrow, and feet uncurl. People are able to walk again and all traces of illness seem to be nothing more than a memory. As far as anyone knows, it's back to the daily, brimstone grind.

Perhaps it's just the after-effects of having your entire body turn into a lesioned mess - like the first few days after getting over a cold when you aren't sick anymore but your body still feels off-kilter and drained - but although everyone has been spared the rot, they feel tired and something just isn't quite right.
For being healthy (as healthy as one can be in Hell) there sure are several annoying symptoms that seem to be lingering inside the bodies of the citizenry. Headaches set in behind the eyes, so slow it's hard to tell they're there until they eventually get to a throbbing point where they become unavoidable. Stomachs, too, seem to be revolting against something. They churn slowly inside and leave people feeling uncomfortable and sickly despite being outwardly as able-bodied as ever.
The more delicate surrender to vomiting first, and though the more hearty shades smirk... even they start to notice a shortness of breath begin to wash over them. Yes, Hell has recovered, but anyone with half a mind has wondered if these seemingly innocent symptoms aren't just the beginning of something else looming on the red horizon. ~
[identity profile] bigredanhorny9.livejournal.com
~ The night is indeed darkest before the dawn, and so it is with disease. As the war that has been waged on their bodies reaches a terrifying peak, the pained, decaying, and mostly immobilized citizens of Hell see no end in sight.
Until, that is, it ever so slowly begins to creep upon them.
There is no telling just how long they have limped through the cyclic punishments of their Levels, barely about to keep standing. There is no telling how many Level escapees have been tracked down and captured by the demons keeping watch for them, unable to run and hide like they used to with their deadened limbs weighing them down. There is no telling what had been the source of all this and why it struck when it did. But day by day, just as what little hope the rare optimist has managed to keep fades away, so does the infection.

It is impossible to die here, after all everyone IS by default in the afterlife, but injury is never an enjoyable experience even if it is always eventually fixable. Clearly this is not to say that suffering has been extinguished - far from it. The disease seemed to stop all recovery however now the threat of their disease begins to improve as nerves start to spark back to life, bringing with them terrible pins and needles like their entire bodies have fallen asleep. It would be horrible if it were not the first time their flesh has felt anything close to life since the epidemic started taking it's toll. As days pass, torn and rotted arms and legs, fingers and toes, start the excruciatingly slow process of regrowing.

It may bring their other aches into sharper relief, but as terror fades, frostbitten noses and bleeding palms are a welcome sight after the twisted bundles of infection they had become. ~
[identity profile] bigredanhorny9.livejournal.com
~ By now, everyone's bodies have transformed at an alarmingly rapid rate into grotesque and pitiful vessels, infected and aching and wounded. Even Level One's, who were widely said to be mocking the others up in their relatively safe little ring of the world, have fallen victim to their own bodies. Perhaps more slowly than others, but that is only to do with the fact that you're safer from harm on One, and everyone knows it.

Every time fingers get caught in doorways, every time a bit of jagged metal in Seven snags on someone's trouserleg, slicing the skin underneath, every time anyone accidentally slams their arm down harder than they need to because the feeling in it has gone, and every time any one or any thing bites or scratches or attacks, the wounds struggle to heal themselves. At this peak of frightened deterioration of their bodies, one would be hard pressed to find a single finger or toe and few arms and legs that remain intact and haven't been mangled and infected. Most everyone's limbs are the most useless they've ever been if they haven't rotted away. Some shades have found ways to cover their faces and hide them from sight though most can't afford to care that much about what they look like. They have fair reason, too, as facial muscles stiffen and blinking gets more difficult some lose their sight entirely and hiding your face from the blind is much less important than trying to find somewhere to wait through the agony, though no one can ever truly die and end it.

They say everything must get worse before it gets better. This storm has gotten as bad as it can, the grand proverbial night has reached it's darkest... and everyone inside their shells of bodies wishes for reprieve. ~
[identity profile] bigredanhorny9.livejournal.com
~ Though first assumed to be isolated events, time has passed since the first appearances of the marks and it is clear to everyone now that something is not right, and it's something big. They are not innocent rashes anymore, but lesions, gracing the skins of everyone from Levels One to Nine, turning the denizens of Hell into a patchwork quilt of thick, sensationless skin.

Under their clumsy skins joints flare with pain, as sensitive to movement as their skin fails to be to touch. Slowly, even moving becomes somewhat of a challenge as hands and feet seem more and more difficult to control. Once dexterous and nimble fingers start to fumble and the more brutish movements of some of the shades start seeming neigh impossible. Nerves commit their rapid suicides, every day bringing stiffer limbs to confused and horrified people all wondering what is happening to them. Fingers and toes begin to curl, twisting inward, untrustworthy to be any good at tasks they need to be to stay safe and unnoticed by the demons wandering every Level. All the doctors, nurses, and medical minds trapped down here know that soon infection will set in, and that this can only get worse. ~

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