It was cold. As if winter had come early. Naked, on top of his mattress, the walls of the box seemed closer somehow. He couldn’t tell how long he had been asleep but the pain in his shoulder was gone. The rest of his body seemed to be healed too, so he knew Fay had to have kept him sedated for some time. But how long he no idea. It was summertime when he broke his collar bone so it was at least four months previous but that seemed longer than necessary. Then McIntosh rocked back and forth a few times to build some momentum, then thrust himself forward to sit up. When he did he leaned against the wall of his box he banged against it, misjudging his distance. As he righted himself he looked down at his stomach and saw his ribs lined up and pressing hard against the inside of his skin. He looked emaciated, but with one large scar running all the way down the centre of his torso. As if all the muscles over his ribs had wasted away.
Struggling to regain his balance against the wall he dipped his chin and looked at his shoulder. They too had wasted down to bone. It was disgusting. Even more that the stumps and the unnatural metal rods that had been implanted in them. He was skeletal. He couldn’t understand. Maybe some new drug or treatment. Whatever it was it wasn’t starvation.
“Admiring my handy work, Eli?”
“What did you… how did… Joe. What happened to me?”
“I peeled your skin off and removed the muscles around you ribs, shoulders and buttocks. It took a long time and it was very dangerous, but you’ve made a full recovery. Well done, Eli. Bravo! I did leave your spinal muscles and you neck muscles but other than that you are now lighter and more vulnerable to injure. ”
“No need to thank me.”
“Joe, you… remov… ”
“Yep. Took fifteen hours but it was worth it.”
“You’re welcome! Now, we have a lot of ground to cover today. I’ve been practicing while you rested and I’m pretty sure I’ve got the knack of this whole thing. Come on… ”
Turning McIntosh away from him, Fay hooked his arm under his guests armpits and lifted him with ease. Carrying him like a bag of sand, Fay walked outside to the tree he had lashed McIntosh’s back against on the day he first gave him metal legs. While McIntosh had been recovering Joseph Fay he fixed a hook on one of the trees high branches, some thirty feet up. To that hook he fixed a winch and through it he had fed a long length of rope. Using that rope he hoisted McIntosh up to about half way and then let him drop. By chance he hit the ground flat and didn’t break any bones but he was winded and coughed as he was raised up higher than before.
Hanging there, frail and defenceless, McIntosh didn’t even brace for the inevitable. Fay dropped him again then and the sound of breaking bones was clear as day. Twisted, bones protruding through skin, McIntosh called for mercy and begged to be relieved of his life, but that only infuriated Fay all the more. With a grimace he yanked on the rope and brought McIntosh right up to the winch and then tied off an anchor. Then, watching McIntosh over his shoulder, he walked to a crate on the ground the house and opened it. Inside, rocks the size of a fist filled the simple wooden box. McIntosh saw the crate but the pain blurred is vision to the point where he didn’t see its contents. That is, until a sharp blistering pain shot up him from his hip to his eye and cursed his flesh.
The broken bones that poked through McIntosh’s skin were his shoulder blade and two ribs on his left hand side. The rock had struck his left hip so the pain of his ribs and the hip joined and swarmed through his senses. Unable even to scream, McIntosh’s feeble weight blew in the breeze as a second rock glanced off of his right shoulder. Without a word, Fay reached into the crate again and a third rock hit flat in McIntosh’s stomach. As it did Fay was already walking to the anchor. A few seconds later the ground rushed up and smashed into McIntosh who all but lost consciousness. Everything was silent. Everything was heavy and out of focus. Then everything was white light and clenched in a rush of pierced skin tearing as Fay stomped on McIntosh’s ribs. His guest could feel the blood ooze from his but Fay could only feel the pleasure his wife was experiencing as she looked down on them. Walking to the house, Fay left McIntosh to feel the full effects of his injuries and poured himself a glass of scotch. When he returned McIntosh was coughing blood into the ground and shaking with the pain. Sitting in the dirt next to his guest, Fay sipped his drink and watched with joy as McIntosh fought through his agony.
With no arms or legs to reposition himself and with blood and urine pooling around his decrepit body, McIntosh moaned to himself. There was no way for him to make his suffering any lesser than it was, no way for him to even lift his face from the ground. The wound on his shoulder blade seeped dark red blood that ran along his skin and dribbled from him into the dirt. His ribs scared the ground as he breathed and grit clung to the bone and made a paste in the wound where they stuck out of his body. Fay leaned in close and whispered to his guest. But McIntosh couldn’t hear him, he was beyond physical pain and far into the realm of mindlessness. After fifteen minutes and another two boot stomps McIntosh lost consciousness. His body still twitched as Fay slugged the last of his scotch and dragged him back into the house and as he set to work on his guest, the master Park Castle hummed to himself, pleased and still reeling from the enjoyment. It would be another few months before he could enjoy himself again, but, as he always reminded himself, those months would give him time to plan.
To be continued…
© Stephen Fahey