seemed to be void in this dark land of nothingness. But then, heat. Heat radiated fromeverywhere and a steady red light grew below the man.A great fire was below him, it seemed, and he was headed right for it. He could see itnow. It was a large bubbling pit of fire, right below him; hungry for flesh. He tumbled down atthirty-two feet per second per second, with no hope. The man closed his eyes and tensed. Theheat grew unbearable. It scorched, seared, and then — stopped. A crashing, and tumbling of rubble echoed as if in a large space. The man was unconscious and knew no more.When the man awoke, he was in a large heap of stones and rubble. Everything wascovered in dust. He was not dead, and this startled him, for death was certain last time he wasconscious. It was deathly silent, but he remembered the screaming. He hurried off in search of the voice, although hope was little. The space he was in seemed to be devoid of all recognizablefeatures. All was dark. All except for one door. One wooden door that was white and yellow. Hestrode up to it and tried the handle. It opened.He walked in to a dimly lighted room. It was a bedroom by the looks of it. It had a bedand a dresser and a lamp that gave the only light. There were things strewn all over the floor.Clothes, furniture, and bottles. The man walked through these things in shock. Just then, thescreaming voice was heard. It fluctuated in anguish. The man looked around in dismay. Therewas another door on the opposite side of the room. He ran over to it and opened it.A gust of wind and rain hit him immediately, and the door was blown shut behind him.He was standing on a large stone bridge that connected two large, looming, stone edifices. Belowhim was black, immeasurable distance. The man looked about him in perplexity, with dark rainand wind battering him; ever with the scream in his head. He struggled along the bridge, his facedown to avoid the rain. After ten feet of slow progress, he looked up, and halted in amazement.There before him was a fit, well-dressed man with his right hand extended. The figure wassoaked and was furiously yelling something that was drowned out by the wind.The man was holding on to the cold, wet steel that rose up from the side of the bridge.The well-dressed person had hard, penetrating eyes that gazed at some object faraway. The manapproached in a hesitating, halting step. When he was feet from the person, those dark, hard eyessuddenly turned on him. The man cowered in pain as the person yelled. A rumbling
rangfrom the depths below. The man started to yell, and the person approached. Cold hands grippedhim. At this distance, the yelling was just above the roaring of the rain. The words were meantfor someone else. They were words rejection. Words of pain. Words of anguish. Words of disappointment.
Another rattling quiver echoed, and then a grinding, crushing sound. Thehuge tower in back started crumbling. The man struggled with his captor, gripping him aroundthe throat.
They were both knocked apart. The man, finding himself free, ran for the other edifice. As he approached, a sturdy wooden door appeared amidst the gloom. He entered just asanother tremor shook the bridge.All went silent. The door revealed a room that was lighted decently with artificiallighting. The man dripped water on the well-worn wooden floor. In the middle of the room, therewas an empty table that was slightly damaged. There were smashed and broken metallic thingsscattered all around. The man strode up to the table and discovered name plates etched into it.
“For excellence of ...” “To the most honored ...” “In recognition of outstanding performance ...”
Each one was accompanied by the name
The man staggered back, as if