In his book "23 Minutes in Hell," California realtor Bill Wiese describes his personal experience of November 22, 1998. Wiese claims that he was lying in bed at 3 a.m. when he was plunged into hell--not in a dream, but in actuality; not because he had died and was being punished, but because God wanted him to experience hell and warn others. Wiese believes that after 23 minutes of torment, Jesus came to rescue him from hell and returned him to earth, where he landed, shaking, on his living room floor. This excerpt reprinted with permission of Charisma House.

On November 22, 1998... I was catapulted out of my bed into the very pit of hell. My point of arrival was a cell that was approximately fifteen feet high by ten feet wide with a fifteen-foot depth.

With its walls of rough stone and rigid bars on the door, I felt as though I was in a temporary holding area, a place where a prisoner would await his final hours before meeting a far more terrifying destiny. Isaiah 24:22 says, "And they shall be gathered together, as prisoners are gathered in the pit, and shall be shut up in the prison" (KJV). Proverbs 7:27 refers to "chambers" of death in hell.

As I lay there on the floor of that cell, I felt extremely weak. I noticed that I had a body, one that appeared just as it is now. Lifting my head, I began to look around. Immediately I realized that I was not alone in this cell. I saw two enormous beasts, unlike anything I had ever seen before.

These creatures were approximately ten to thirteen feet tall. These towering beasts were far, far beyond intimidating. It is one thing to be threatened by someone much taller than you. But these creatures were not of this natural world. I recognized that they were entirely evil, and they were gazing at me with pure, unrestrained hatred, which completely paralyzed me with fear. "Evil" and "Terror" stood before me. Those creatures were an intensely concentrated manifestation of those two forces.

I still had no idea where I was, and I felt utterly panicked. Although I had no point of reference, no familiarity with anything I was experiencing, and no understanding of how I got here, still I was faced with the unimaginable reality that a tortuous death seemed certain.

The creatures weren't animals, but they weren't human, either. Each giant beast resembled a reptile in appearance, but took on human form. Their arms and legs were unequal in length, out of proportion—without symmetry. The first one had bumps and scales all over its grotesque body. It had a huge protruding jaw, gigantic teeth, and large sunken-in eyes. This creature was stout and powerful, with thick legs and abnormally large feet. It was pacing violently around the cell like a caged bull, and its demeanor was extremely ferocious. The second beast was taller and thinner, with very long arms and razor-sharp fins that covered its body. Protruding from its hands were claws that were nearly a foot long. Its personality seemed different from the first being. It was certainly no less evil, but it remained rather still.

I could hear the creatures speaking to each other. Although I could not identify what language it was, somehow I could understand their words. They were awful words—terrible, blasphemous language that spewed from their mouths expressing extreme hatred for God.

Suddenly they turned their attention toward me. They looked like hungry predators staring at their prey. I was terrified. Like an insect in a deadly spider's web, I felt helpless, trapped, and frozen with fear. I knew I had become the object of their hostility, and I felt a violent, evil presence such as I had never felt before and greater than anything I could imagine. They possessed a hatred that far surpassed any hatred a person could have, and now that hatred was directed straight at me. I couldn't identify what these beasts were yet, but I knew they meant me harm.

I wanted desperately to get up and run. But as I lay on that wretched cell floor, I noticed that I had absolutely no strength in my body. I could barely move. Why didn't I have strength? I felt so defenseless. Psalm 88:4 says, "I am counted with them that go down into the pit: I am as a man that hath no strength" (KJV).

I knew that it was much more than physical weakness I was feeling. Indeed, it was weakness of every form. I was mentally and emotionally drained, even though I had only been there a few minutes. Most of us have experienced a loss of strength and energy after intense weeping, emotional distress, or grief. After a time of healing, we regain that strength though it may take years. However, at that moment I felt that there would never be a time for recuperating from the literal weight that had fallen upon me—a weight of hopeless despair.

Two more creatures came into the cell, and I had the feeling that these four beings had been "assigned" to me. I felt as though I was being "sized up" and that my torment would be their amusement. As they entered, suddenly the light vanished. It became absolutely pitch black. I had no idea why the sudden and intense darkness had begun. But I sensed that the light that had been present had been an intrusion and that the atmosphere had now returned to its normal state of darkness. Lamentations 3:6 states: "He has set me in dark places like the dead of long ago."

One of the creatures picked me up. The strength of the beast was amazing. I was comparable to the weight of a water glass in its hand. Mark 5:3-4 describes a man possessed with a demon with these words: "...no one could bind him, not even with chains...the chains had been pulled apart by him, and the shackles broken in pieces." Instinctively, I knew that the creature holding me had strength approximately one thousand times greater than a man. I cannot explain how I perceived that bit of information. Then the beast threw me against the wall. I crumbled onto the floor. It felt as though every bone in my body had been broken.' I felt pain, but it was as if the pain was being somehow softened. I knew I did not experience the full brunt of the pain. I thought, How was it blocked?

The second beast, with its razor-like claws and sharp protruding fins, then grabbed me from behind in a bear hug. As it pressed me into its chest, its sharp fins pierced my back. I felt like a rag doll in its clutches in comparison to his enormous size. He then reached around and plunged his claws into my chest and ripped them outward. My flesh hung from my body like ribbons as I fell again to the cell floor. These creatures had no respect for the human body—how remarkably it is made. I have always taken care of myself by eating right, exercising, and staying in shape, but none of that mattered as my body was being destroyed right before my eyes.

I knew that I could not escape this torture via death, for not even that was an option. Death penetrated me, but eluded me. The creatures seemed to derive pleasure in the pain and terror they inflicted upon me. Psalm 116:3 (KVJ) says, "The sorrows of death compassed me, and the pains of hell gat hold upon me: I found trouble and sorrow." Oh, how I yearned for death, but there would be none.

The Living Dead

I pleaded for mercy, but they had none—absolutely no mercy. They seemed to be incapable of it. They were pure evil. No mercy existed in that place. Mercy is from God in heaven.

The mental anguish I felt was indescribable. Asking for mercy from such evil only seemed to heighten their desire to torment me more.

I was conscious of the fact that there was no fluid coming from my wounds. No blood, no water, nothing. At this time, I did not stop to wonder why. I was extremely nauseous from the terrible, foul stench coming from these creatures. It was absolutely disgusting, foul, and rotten. It was, by far, the most putrid smells I have ever encountered. If you could take every rotten thing you can imagine, such as an open sewer, rotten meat, spoiled eggs, sour milk, dead rotting animal flesh, and sulfur, and magnify it a thousand times, you might come close. This is not an exaggeration. The odor was actually extremely toxic, and that alone should have killed me.

Instinctively, I just knew that some of the things I experienced were a thousand times worse than what would be possible on the earth's surface—things such as the odors mentioned, the strength of the demons, the loudness of the screams, the dryness, and the loneliness felt.

Somehow I managed to move a bit and dragged myself across the ground toward the barred door. I couldn't see, but I remembered the direction of the door that had been left open. I finally made it to the door and crawled out of the cell. Apparently, the creatures allowed me to crawl out without stopping me.

As soon as I exited the cell, my first instinct was to get as far away as possible. Again, I desperately wanted to run. All I could think of was to get up onto my feet. However, every move to get up took great effort. I remember wondering, Why is this so difficult? After tremendous exertion, I was finally able to stand. I was thoroughly exhausted and, at the same time, very frustrated at how hard simple movement had become. Although I was now outside the cell, I could not run, and fear continued to bind itself around me as a snake constricting its prey.

I was horrified as I heard the screams of an untold multitude of people crying out in torment. It was absolutely deafening. The terror-filled screams seemed to go right through me, penetrating my very being. I once heard about a television special where a news reporter spent the night in a prison just to experience prison life firsthand. The prisoners were crying, moaning, and yelling all night long. He stated that he couldn't sleep because of all the noise. This place where I now stood was far, far worse.

Through the panic and the deafening noise, I struggled to gather my thoughts. I'm in hell! This is a real place, and I'm actually here! I frantically tried to understand, but it was just so inconceivable. Not me, I'm a good person, I thought. The fear was so intense I couldn't bear it, but again, I couldn't die. I knew that most people up on the surface of the earth did not believe or even know that there was a whole world going on down here. They wouldn't believe it. But here it existed, and it was all too real. This place was so terrifying, so intense, and so hostile that it would be impossible for me to exaggerate the horror.