The story happened to one man named Zhao Tai during the reign of the Western Jin Dynasty (265-316). It is described in a collection of Buddhist stories.
At some point, Zhao felt a severe pain and immediately lost consciousness. The man’s body remained warm, so loved ones waited for him to wake up. This happened only 10 days later. After “returning”, Zhao told what happened to him.
Immediately after losing consciousness, a horseman arrived at him. Two escorts led the Zhao to the east, where a big glorious city was located. There were thousands of people who, together with the hero of the this story, descended to the underworld. A man in a dark red robe asked what kind of sins he had committed. Zhao replied that his father and brother were officials, that he studied at home, did nothing wrong and did not commit crimes.
The man was the assigned to command the prisoners in hell. Some went with punctured tongues, others were hugged from red-hot iron, and others had their body part boiled in cauldrons. If a person died during these trials, they were instantly brought back to life. All punishments corresponded to crimes.
If a criminal could cope with all tortures, the next stage would be rebirth and reincarnation. Killers and thieves became pigs and sheep, which the owners eventually slaughtered for meat; people who led a decent life turned into birds and animals; those who did not repay their debts during life turned to horses and donkeys for hard work.
In order not to go to hell, a person must constantly improve and not commit evil deeds. In the underworld, they knew that Zhou was allotted another 30 years, so they released him into the human world.
Exciting (fairy)tales, aren’t they?