Lina: Written By Stephen Fahey – Part 22

The next day Fay woke McIntosh with a white hot poker, pressing it against his forehead. McIntosh awoke with screams of blind pain that screeched though the air. He writhed and thrashed, but he was unable to move for Fay’s knee on his chest and unable to swat away the poker without arms. After a few seconds Fay lifted the poker and put his hand in his pocket, then removed a handful of salt and rubbed it into the wound. Again the screams he so loved to hear came billowing from McIntosh’s mouth. Again the air chilled with the might of Fay’s vengeance and again McIntosh kicked the legs he no longer had. Again he swatted with the arms Fay had taken. But of course they were phantoms of his former self. He bucked and swayed but not so much as to even cause Fay to struggle in containing him.

Then, when his guest finally floundered to a halt, Joseph Fay tied the rope to him and walked to the centre of the basement. Again he dragged McIntosh up the stairs and outside. But he didn’t walk him into the woods again. Instead he walked along the trail that they had walked a year or so before. The trail that Ola and he used walk and that Lina walked just before the end. It was long, but Joseph Fay was strong and willing to endure any pain to cleanse that trail and all the memories he had of it during the good times. For hours he dragged his guest over sand and rocks and grass and dirt. For hours he heaved him up over boulders and kicked him down hills. He dragged his through a river at one point and though McIntosh hadn’t arms or legs he thrashed twisted himself, gasping and coughing to Fay’s delight.

Never once did Fay shy from his duty. Never once did the slightest wince of pity pause his will. And all along. As he consecrated that most personal stretch of earth, Joseph Fay hummed Lina and Ola’s favourite songs. He hadn’t been able to ever since Lina died, but on that day his hummed and sung and skipped along his way set to his task. Lathered in sweat, with raw and bloodied hands, Fay slung the rope up over a branch and hoisted McIntosh up off of the ground until he was hanging some fifteen feet up. The he tied off an anchor around the bottom of the tree and walked away without a word.

Hanging there with the rope cutting into his ribs, blood and filth pasted to his torn open skin and his bones bruised and chipped, McIntosh soon felt the full pain of his injuries. Once his adrenaline wore off the agony set in. A numbness of thought washed over him and although he sweated profusely, the grime coating him only stung all the more. Night came and in its mysteries the woe of true lay itself upon him. There would never be an end to his suffering. Fay would never let him go. All the years of his life would be spent in the most severe of torture. Every second of his existence would be the violent pleasure of his host’s vengeance. Never again would he know the gentle kindnesses of a calm evening. Never would he sleep in peace. And never would he pay the debt he owed.

And so, wracked, McIntosh resigned himself to his fate. He embraced a father’s love and anger and waited to be hauled back again to endure whatever punishment followed. He consigned his body and his mind to the weight of his guilt and numbed his soul until dawn came and with it, Joseph Fay.

“Good morning, Eli. How are we?”

“… J… ”

“SHUT THE FUCK UP!!”

Out of nowhere Fay began to wail on McIntosh. His fists thumping into his guest’s flesh and bones at random, scourging him with the heaviest blows he could muster. After a flurry of punches Fay undid the anchor and let McIntosh fall from where he had been hanging. He clattered into the dirt with a moan and an audible snap as his collar bone broke.

“Hush up now, Eli. I didn’t come all the way back out here to listen to you blubber.”

And so, in a thick fog of anguish, McIntosh bore the pain through gritted teeth until he passed out. When he came to he was hanging in the gorge again, the pain of his collar bone eviscerating his mind as much as his body. The pounding water made a constant gushing burning in his shoulder that grew to the rest of his body. Trying to turn in such a way as to alleviate some of his suffering, McIntosh twisted his shoulder too far and the bone pushed against his skin from the inside. Screams did nothing. Fay wasn’t there to ignore them anyway. So McIntosh struggled for air as long as he could until he woke up in his box.

To be continued…

© Stephen Fahey

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