McIntosh awoke again in his little wooden room some time later, jumping from the mattress in fright and banging his face against the wall. His foot was shackled again. And when he reached out his hand to pull on the chain he saw it. His right hand. It was destroyed, but healed. There was half the thumb left and half the palm. The rest was gone and a jagged gnarl of skin had healed over the bone. He tried to move the fingers that were gone and what was left of the hand churned with odd lengths of bone beneath the skin clunking in motion. It was too much. He could remember standing outside, but he must have been unconscious for weeks for his hand to have already healed. He couldn’t understand at first. He could see, but his mind couldn’t connect what he saw with what had happened outside.
More tears flowed and as they did a loud clanking noise rattled his brittle nerves even further. It was mechanical and cold. It was near, but he couldn’t place it until the chain attached to the shackle around his ankle started winding into the hole in the wall dragging him across the small room until all the slack was gone and his leg was two feet up off of the floor. There wasn’t any pressure on the ankle because the hole for the chain was too small for the shackle to fit through, but after a few minutes the blood drained out of his foot and it went numb. It was bearable for the first hour or so, but after several hours the numbness had turned to shooting pain the reached from the sole of his foot up into his hip, around his ribs and all the way to between his shoulders. There was no comfortable way to sit. And he couldn’t stand because the shackle was locked tight at a horizontal angle. Massaging his leg did nothing and he couldn’t sleep for the pain, so he focused on his destroyed hand. The scar where the skin had reformed was intricate and unique and as he moved the muscles in his hand he manipulated the scared mess of skin to fold and weave itself into strange shape that no hand should ever be able to make.
After a while the pain became almost too heavy a burden and he almost passed out, but he forced himself to bear it. He refused to be weak. Being weak was what had gotten him into that oversized coffin in the first place. Just like with the prison population, he resolved to stick out whatever Fay was going to do to him. He had had dignity and identity stripped from him in prison and had been wound and molested and traumatised so much that for those few hours between when he was released and when he woke up in the back of Fay’s van he had been considering committing another crime just so he could get back inside the prison walls and back to what he knew as normal. But Fay had seen to it that he wouldn’t get the chance. He got a cell, at least, but it wasn’t prison. It was hell. And Fay was the ruler of his nightmare. A smiling Satan.
To be continued…
© Stephen Fahey