(( Gratuitous Ratmance gore! Standard David/Ratmance/Hell warnings apply. ))
Rachel woke up with grass prickling the back of her neck.
She leapt into a crouch, half-feral, ready to lunge at him now that her hands and feet were untied, but the meadow was empty.
It also, she noticed, her stomach twisting in anticipation of deceit, was almost certainly not in Hell.
There was the air, for one thing. Too clean, too cool, no smell of blood or terrible screams carried over from the free-for-all racks. And there was grass under her feet, and trees all around. Nothing grew in Hell, nothing lived in Hell.
Her breath caught, her stomach leapt. She knew, she knew this wasn’t possible, she was never getting out of Hell, she’d promised her soul for eternity, and yet—
A twig cracked in the trees behind her, and before it had even registered consciously she was running, running, bare feet slamming on grass and crushing wildflowers. She wouldn’t let him take her back there, she’d run herself to death first. The meadow seemed to stretch on forever, the forest sprawling out close on either side, and she was sure she could hear footsteps behind her, or maybe it was just the pounding of her pulse in her ears. Her foot caught on a gopher hole and she went down. It seemed to take her forever to hit the ground, falling for an eternity until the sod came up to meet her. Her stomach was heaving, aching; it had been a long time since she’d run this hard.
She tried to scramble to her feet, and the pain in her stomach caught and flared. Falling back into a crouch, she clutched at her abdomen, realizing now that she could feel something wriggling, writhing, and the skin seemed to swell beneath her fingers. The thing inside scrabbled to get out, she could feel tiny little teeth and tiny little claws scratching at her, nibbling biting chewing oh
The burning was unbearable now, the skin beneath her fingers trembling and swelling until suddenly, with a cold flash of agony, she felt stickiness, and a small warm snout nosing at her palm …
She was fading, falling, her vision narrowing to an unfocused tunnel of gray, and the grass beneath her vanished and there were screams, far far away, and not all of them were hers, and he stood over her grinning, laughing, leaning.
No, she tried to say, no, no, but there were rats in her stomach and Hell under her back, and David stood above her, and laughed.