Jesus felt the final pangs of pain as the electrical activity in his body ebbed. He was nailed to a cross, his head hanging down, blood and drool oozing from his mouth and then suddenly he was falling down a well.
There was nothing but black for a long time, and then he fell into a sea of emotion and the emotion was anguish. His mind began to construct images to match this emotion, and so he found himself floating over a city of torture, with millions upon millions screaming in agony. Unearthly figures of infinite variety strolled the streets of the city, adding to the despair of the reprobates.
He envisioned a palace in the middle of the city and directed his consciousness there. He found himself in a large throne room, the walls lost in shadow, some daunting characters on the edge of his vision, and a throne of iron and bone in front of him. The master of this domain was sitting at ease, looking and Jesus’ tortured body drip blood on the floor, an ironic smirk not leaving.
“Welcome, Son of God,” said Lucifer.
“I come before you,” said Jesus, realizing his voice was trembling with fear and excitement, “To make one demand. Let my people go.”
Lucifer changed position. Jesus realized what he thought to be part of the throne was actually a pair of wings.
“I see you have been preparing for this moment,” said the master of hell.
“In my visions, I could see this encounter come to pass. I could never see the outcome, but I am certain the heavenly power will crush the forces of darkness.”
Lucifer laughed briefly, “Tell me, do you really believe what you are saying?”
Jesus lowered his head. He was not certain what to believe. Satan continued:
“Do you think I have some bind over these poor people? I stole them from heaven? I keep them here even though your Father wants to have them by his side?” he paused, “Does anything happen against his will?”
“Then what do you think is happening here?”
Jesus now realized that there was something familiar about the lord of hell, some recognizable element he could relate to, something they both had in common.
“You are a Son of God as well,” said Jesus, “Just like me and all the angels, right? Then you must be doing His bidding. Do you keep the souls here so the Lord of Heaven can use them as nourishment? What manner of being is He, in truth?”
Satan laughed again, this time long and hard, and the half-visible host of horrors laughed with him, filling the hall with a sense of insanity.
“No,” said Lucifer finally, “You are wrong again. How can you be so deluded.”
“What is it then?”
“There are no souls of people. There is no hell. There is no everlasting life. And there is no God, good or evil. Do you know why you just recognized me as kin? Because I am you. And God is you as well. Figments of your imagination born from indoctrination you have been subjected to since birth, fueled by your need to make sense of reality. It is all you and it has always been only you.”
“What is this trickery,” shouted Jesus, his strong voice echoed through invisible hallways of the palace, “You try to deceive me, demon.”
“Deceive? If anything, you are trying to fool yourself. You are not dead, merely slumbering, recovering from the torture of the past day. The wound to your side, though devastating, was not lethal.”
“You are trying to trick me because you know I will destroy you.”
Jesus took a step forward and Lucifer gave the signal. Suddenly hosts of demons were upon Jesus, grabbed his arms and legs, immobilizing him.
“Take him away!”
They carried Jesus out of the throne room, through a labyrinth of cells and torture chambers, into a solitary room, and laid him on a stone table. He tried to resist as they tied him down with linen and wrapped his face with cloth. He was suffocating, he struggled, until he finally calmed himself down and regained breath. He just lay there for an eternity, alternating between anger, helplessness, and ease.
He woke up slowly. His arms and leg were no longer bound, but still he could hardly move them. He was numb all over, except for the wound to his side which sent pulses of sharp pain.
Somebody removed the cloth from his face and he found himself no longer in hell, but in a dark tomb. He gave out a moan. John, his former disciple, was standing over him.
“So you are alive. Who would have thought. Can you move?” John waited for a response, but Jesus could not move his chapped lips. So John ordered his servants “Pick him up, we have work to do. But careful, we may still need him alive.”