Bane didn’t hesitate to follow, stealing himself for the agony he knew was to come, but it didn’t.
He waited and still nothing. No pain, no torment, it was safe, but he didn’t know for how long so he began to trek through the dark abyss after the boy. There was no sound, no footfalls, no feel of anything beneath his feet, but somehow he could feel an air of movement all around him though he was unsure whether the motion was him or the deep itself. The faint scent of sulfur encircled him as beads of sweat began to form on his brow from the rising temperature he was only recently becoming aware of. Both grew stronger with each passing moment while the dark faded away into a glow of red embers that lightened with each step and soon he began to feel the crunch of rocky earth beneath his feet the further he journeyed.
Before long the crimson glow lit what Bane began to realize was the sky and everything around him, but not the horizon. It was almost as if he was carrying a lantern adorned with a red bulb allowing him to see above and all around him, but only within a few feet. The sky was empty, void of stars, clouds, moon, or birds, yet the ground was full of life. What Bane took for dirt and rock crunching beneath his shoes were worms, millipedes, maggots, roaches, and other creepy crawly things darting around the hardened lava rock foundation. Almost in unison his ears and nose detected a change in the air, he was unsure of what came first, the low hum he now heard carried by the non-existent breeze or the noxious odor of burning flesh and he covered his nose to block the stench, but it didn’t help.
Bane began to turn back, he was no wuss, but he wasn’t stupid either. He loved his son sure, but this was only a dream after all, his dream not his son’s and nothing bad could possibly happen; right? It wasn’t like before; there was no barefoot guide and no internal torture, only this vast dream of a wasteland that he was in no way interested in exploring. So Bane swung around, heading to what he didn’t know but at least it was away from the something awful he knew was ahead. Still the sky brightened with the same red hue, the ground and air grew hotter and he began to see fissures of molten lava seeping up through the ground some flowing across his path forcing him to go around. He turned again and again, but it seemed that with each turn he still drew closer to that which he was running away from.
The low hum had intensified to the sound of an army unnumbered in size yelling their battle cries in the distance, but that too continued to change as each foot was placed in front of the other, mutating into such wails and screams that sent cold shivers racing up his spine even in the intense heat he found himself in. Desperate to change his surroundings, to wake from the growing nightmare Bane stood his ground refusing to move in any direction, but soon his feet began to burn and blister inside his shoes forcing him to move even slightly and this movement sent him further down the unmarked path even when he tried to walk in a circle.
Fear held him back, but the burning hot ground forced him forward ultimately reaching the first of many gruesomely unforgettable scenes. The image burned through his retinas into his brain instantly and eternally. There before him lay a lake of magma and fire with the living bodies of billions of people of all nationalities. Red, yellow, black, white, olive, no one cared who they were floating next to because all were suffering just as horribly as the next. Each ones flesh sizzled, blistered, and melted in the living fire that was their eternal resting place. The acrid odor of sulfur and burning human bodies churned Bane’s stomach continuously, but no vomit would erupt leaving him on the verge of relief with none in sight as he bent over preparing to hurl. Bane swung around to put the terrifying sight behind him and found he was starring at two bare feet.