Hell To Pay
'And if your heart stops beating
I'll be here wondering
Did you get what you deserve?
The ending of your life
And if you get to heaven
I'll be here waiting, babe
Did you get what you deserve?'
-My Chemical Romance, Dead!
He awoke to darkness. The sky, it seemed, was black. It was an unusual experience for him – had he fallen asleep outside? But there were no stars out and he couldn't think of a place near where he lived where stars wouldn't be visible.
He moved to get up and realized that the ground wasn't as he had expected, it was hard and rough – wood. Sitting up fully, he saw that he was in fact in a boat.
Ciel looked around curiously. He seemed to be in some sort of a tunnel, and looking down he could see that the water was not a midnight blue as he had expected, rather a blood red decorated by white lilies. Where was he?
He was feeling more panicked by the moment, and his instinct to flee kicked in. He leaned very carefully over the edge of the boat and reached into the water to try and paddle the boat along, but he brought his hands back to himself in shock when he felt the liquid. The consistency felt wrong, it felt more like – no but that was ridiculous, where on earth would one find a river of blood?
Maybe you're not on earth?
No, the idea was preposterous, Ciel Phantomhive did not believe in myths, he believed in fact. And fact was that it was impossible for someone to wake up on a boat that was sailing through a blood river.
It had to be some sort of illusion, perhaps the lighting just made it look red – but there was no lighting – or the liquid had been polluted with something to make it so thick – he knew of nothing that could do that, though.
"This is ridiculous," he mumbled to himself, "where could I be?"
This could just be a very realistic dream, or maybe someone was playing a joke on him? That had to be it, this was some elaborate prank. "Okay, this isn't funny," he called out, standing up and crossing his arms across his chest with a frown.
"I'm not going to get freaked out by something as ridiculous as this, it's over now."
He huffed, frustrated and listened to his own voice echo. It seemed as if the tunnel was rather long.
As the sound he had made began to die down, Ciel became aware of other noises, unsettling noises. The first he noticed was an almost mechanical sounding creaking that made him jump slightly. He had to strain his eyes to try and see what it was that was making such an unusual sound and what he finally saw made his eyes widen. The walls of the tunnel were moving.
The second sound he could hear was a subtly eerie one – it was whispering. He did know what the whispering was, it sounded like there were dozens of people leaning close to his ear simultaneously. He couldn't separate one sound from another; it melded together like white noise.
What kind of place was this? There was no way this was some kind of joke, no one he knew would go through so much effort. Which meant, by process of elimination – this was either a dream or reality. Ciel was far from ready to accept the latter; it must just be a dream.
Of course, that explained it all – when did dreams ever make sense? He just needed to hurt himself, that was what people often said about being in dreams – pinch me, wake me up! He gently raised his left hand, clutching some of the skin on his right forearm between his thumb and index finger. Ciel applied the pressure and almost yelped when he felt the pain.
He was less upset by the pain and more by the fact that he could feel the pain. You're not meant to be able to feel pain in dreams, are you?
"This is ridiculous," he spoke aloud, as if that would make his thoughts create sense, "there has to be some kind of a reasonable explanation for this."
The sound of moving water followed by a loud thump that vibrated the boat made Ciel jump and look towards the source.
A hand. A freaking hand was clutching on to the side of the boat, dripping with the red river. Rational thinking decided to evade Ciel and he jumped back with a shout, tripping himself and landing in a seated position in the boat. At least he didn't fall over board.
He was frozen, stuck watching as the hand was joined by another and finally yet ever so slowly, a body pulled themselves up from the water and climbed into the boat. The figure stood and Ciel gaped at the unusual looking man.
He was clothed in black, with long grey hair and pallid features. The man laughed in a way that made the boy's hair stand on end. But Ciel was quickly overcome with reality. He was Ciel Phantomhive, how could he possible act with anything but dignity? He heaved himself up so he was standing, the two were now facing each other from opposite ends of the boat which was only a little more than two metres long and half as wide.
"Identify yourself," Ciel demanded, his voice surprisingly steady.
The man laughed creepily. "Ah, so sorry I'm late, I was busy feeding Cerberus, you see. Most around here call me the Undertaker, but where you're from I do believe Charon or ferryman are more familiar terms."
What was this – Greek mythology class? This man was obviously quite unwell in the head. "What is it you want from me?" Ciel asked.
The Undertaker chortled again. "Well, if you don't pay me for my services, I won't be able to stop the tunnel from rebuilding itself in a never ending cycle. You'll sail the river for eternity, as many others have been doomed to." He spoke as if this were the most amusing thing that could happen and Ciel shuddered, reaching into his pockets for anything yet coming up with nothing.
"I don't have any money on me," he stated, his mind already concocting ways for him to evade his supposed fate.
The man laughed. "It's a silly human myth that says I request a coin, what I really want is…" the man leaned forward and Ciel felt a moment of anticipation, "A good laugh."
"Okay, now I'm certain this isn't a dream. There is no way that my mind would create something so ridiculous," Ciel mumbled, more to himself than to the man.
But that left only one option on Ciel's deductions, which meant this was… "Wait!" Ciel looked the Undertaker straight in the eyes and frowned, "You, Charon the ferryman are asking for a payment after feeding Cerberus? And if this isn't a dream nor a joke but reality then that means…"
The Undertaker continued his laughter. "You only just figured it out?"
"But I don't remember dying. And this all, is just a fairy tale, a myth. This can't be happening."
"Yet it is."
Ciel scowled, realizing the man was taking great pleasure in mocking him. "No. I gave up the idea of this when I gave up on ridiculous things like Santa. I'm sixteen. I don't remember dying." He reasoned, before it hit him.
"This is a hallucination, right? I must have been in some accident and the drugs are making me react. Of course. I can probably wake myself out of it by a shock." But how to shock himself?
Ciel smirked suddenly, the metaphorical light bulb going off in his head. "Well, this is good bye then, Undertaker. It's been… weird."
And with that, Ciel closed his eyes and let himself fall overboard.
He had expected to wake up, not to choke on the thick liquid of the river nor to be dunked under and to struggle pulling himself back up. It was an odd experience, for he felt like he didn't need the air and yet his common sense was telling him to breathe. He felt almost disconnected from himself, as if he was changing his shape. He felt something clutch onto the back of his shirt and he would have tried to fight it off had he not been so disorientated. Although it was probably a good thing he hadn't tried to fight as he was heaved onto the boat again, coughing and spluttering.
The Undertaker laughed so loudly that Ciel thought that the echo of it would continue for hours. "My, my, that was definitely a good laugh. No one's ever been stupid enough to jump into there before. You're lucky I saved you or you would have surely turned into a lost soul like the rest of them."
Ciel coughed and glared at him, "You were swimming in there before."
"Yes, but if I were to become lost then there would be no one to ferry the dead, you see. I am necessary to the underworld and so it does not try to swallow me."
Ciel sighed. "So I'm definitely dead?"
"As dead as a… coffin nail!" He chortled.
There was nothing else he could think of, Ciel had realized that the most likely outcome of this was that the strange man was telling the truth and everything that Ciel had been so confident in believing was a lie.
"Very well then, you've had your laugh so take me to wherever it is that you're meant to take me," Ciel requested.
The man held up his left hand and clicked. Suddenly, the sound of the walls moving ceased and the boat was plunged into darkness.
It could have been minutes or hours that the boat drifted through the blackness, but eventually another click was heard and simultaneously light appeared as a dozen wooden torches blazed with fire. The river had run into a small lake, it seemed, at the very end of which was a small patch of barren dirt that was before two things.
The first was a huge gate, set into the stone wall so that what was beyond was unseen. The second was a dog and Ciel knew within an instant that this was the infamous Cerberus. It was huge, at least four times his height, white and had three big heads. It watched the boat carefully and Ciel felt that the only reason that it was subdued was because he was with the Undertaker.
"Well then, my newly deceased boy," the Undertaker laughed, "Welcome to Hell."
[END OF PART 1, CHAPTER 1]
A/N: Just a heads up, this story is a mish-mash of Ancient Mythology, Modern Mythology and things I make up. Reviews for the author?
MYTHOLOGY (Feel free to skip/skim read)
Here's a few facts that I've used/modified in the story, it's mostly from Wikipedia because I couldn't be bothered using my own words.
-Cerberus in Greek and Roman mythology, is a multi-headedhound(usually three-headed)which guards the gates of Hades, to prevent those who have crossed the river Styx from ever escaping.
-In Greek mythology,Charon or Kharon is the ferryman of Hades who carries souls of the newly deceased across the rivers Styx and Acheron that divided the world of the living from the world of the dead. A coin to pay Charon for passage, usually anobolus or danake, was sometimes placed in or on the mouth of a dead person. Some authors say that those who could not pay the fee, or those whose bodies were left unburied, had to wander the shores for one hundred years.
-The river and the moving tunnel I basically made up, I'm not sure if there is anything resembling them in mythology