The stairs wandered to the right – old wooden stairs. With the first step they groaned, and she hesitated. Small candles sat on the steps, spread out – only one every four or five steps. They oozed lifeless blood that pooled at their base and coagulated into white scabs. She broke one free and continued the ascent, tilting it so that it bled on the steps. The stairs seemed to go on forever and the flickering darkness reached out to her from beyond the candlelight. The shadows behind mocked and taunted her by name, while the shadows above beckoned her with false hope. More than once, she thought she recognized a shape – a person or animal – in the shadows, only to have the light flicker and send the phantom away. Slotted windows perforated the outer wall every few feet, staring at her with cold lidless eyes.
She passed a rough wooden door with an iron handle. It was not her destination, so she continued. On her journey she passed many such doors, but never opened any. She thought she might reach Heaven soon. Her feet hurt, her knees hurt, and her heart pounded with cold dread. Each footstep echoed in the empty stairwell, answered by moans from the wooden steps. She wanted to flee – to turn and go back. But she couldn’t. She must continue. Sweat leaked from her body, matting her clothes to her skin. A bitter breeze drifted through a window and she shuddered.
Finally, the endless line of candles stopped before a door just like all the others she had seen and passed. She reached out and brushed the handle with the tips of her fingers. It felt cold. Cold radiated from the door like heat from a furnace. Evil waited beyond this door… expecting her. She could feel it, and the instinct to flee seized her stronger than ever. Every hair on her body stood rigid, and she trembled with anticipation. Her arms and legs numbed, but she knew she must enter. Here lay her destiny – her calling. She grabbed the handle, took a deep desperate breath, and pushed.
Inside was a round room. She hesitated before entering, heart pounding. In fact, she no longer desired to enter. Fear grabbed her and wouldn’t let go, and her knees threatened to buckle. Never had she seen such a sight.
It was the door to Hell.
Blood flowed down the walls like cascading waterfalls. Blood rained down from the ceiling like a summer shower. Blood pooled over every inch of the floor like glassy oil. It was as if she had stepped into the very bowels of Hell itself.
In the center stood a man. No… not a man. A demon. The grotesque black creature reached out a scaly and bony hand to her. It smiled and revealed long pointed teeth.
“Winterrrr,” it hissed, calling her by name with a roll of the final R. “Winterrrr.”