365 Writing · Book · Stories

Jin and the Solstice of Blood (Part 28)

Ikiru and I began to walk down one of the dark passageways that branched off the room I had appeared in. The walls of the hallway were dark and cavelike and also ribbed like bones. I felt the hair on the back of my now ghost-like neck tingle as we progressed deeper into the depths of Yomi. Screams came echoing from down the passageway, and we proceeded slowly until the tunnel opened up and we came upon a vast expanse. The best way to describe it was underground “fields” of flame with bodies of people chained to posts, pillars, and various torture devices. Large creatures ambled between the tortured souls, sometimes whipping and adding new victims to the scene from piles of undulating bodies.

“I think I’m going to be sick,” I said, horrified but unable to stop watching.

“This is the first level of the underworld, the plane of revival. Evil souls are tortured and revived again and again until their sins are purified. Those creatures you see are the Oni, guardians, and stewards of this task. They love to inflict pain. If they catch us… well, let’s make sure they don’t ok?” Ikiru explained to me, concern wrinkling his brow. While I wasn’t used to seeing him, I could tell that he was uncharacteristically concerned.

“I agree.” I responded, “I don’t feel like turning into eternal human barbecue. I looked out over the plane of fire. “So, what’s the plan? I don’t know if I can walk across fire, even as a ghost.”

“Don’t worry.” He said his face hardening. “You just need to process me for a moment.”

I paused for a second, “I’m sorry, what?” was all I could respond.