Lina: Written By Stephen Fahey – Part 9

Being dragged by his one foot was painful at the best of times, but after having been beaten to a tenderised glob of meat it was agony. It seemed that every rock and thorn in the woods was lying in wait for McIntosh that day. The pace grew as Joseph built momentum and then began to jog, McIntosh’s moans bursting into screams as the pain took full hold of him. Joseph loved that sound. He had spent years dreaming about it and now that he was the cause of it he revelled in the music of McIntosh’s pain. Because McIntosh was without an arm and a leg, and was underweight from the constant amputations, it was no problem for Fay to drag him along on a rope, even at jogging pace. McIntosh’s back was soon raw from scrapes and peppered with thorns and grit and soil. Then, McIntosh fell silent.

Of course, this infuriated Joseph who stopped and turned around to an unconscious McIntosh. Looking down at him Fay thought how McIntosh looked like a shredded rag, filthy and lifeless. There was no pity, only annoyance that he couldn’t continue his fun. But he knew that he had McIntosh. He knew that he could continue his mission the next day. And he did. Every day Joseph took Eli for a “walk” as he called it, dragging him. He also took to beating him on a regular basis, but even this didn’t work well in the long run because McIntosh hardened to the beatings. Then, one random morning, McIntosh woke up with the wall of his slid open and Joseph Fay nowhere to be seen.

The van was gone when he looked out the window. At first he thought about trying to escape, but he knew that he wouldn’t get far. So he made some breakfast and took one of the books from the shelves and sat at the kitchen table. When the his breakfast was gone he kept reading, and reading, then he thought to himself how he was free to do as he pleased. That though hadn’t crossed his in what was almost two decades at Park Castle and another seven years in prison before that. McIntosh’s condensed fear of everything contracted further when he realised that he could do anything. It was too much responsibility. Too much power. And so, he tended his chores and then crawled back into his box.

Lying there on his tattered mattress, McIntosh tried to remember life before prison, but he couldn’t. He tried to remember his parents, but they were lost to him too. Then, he tried to remember his hometown, but that was gone too. He startled, not being able to remember, but there was a comfort in that for him. He was in a world that he understood – a cruel and brutal world, but it made sense to him. And so he sat and waited. And waited. And day after day he stayed, alone, in Park Castle. Until, after weeks of isolation and a dwindling pantry, McIntosh felt like a walk would be good for him. He too the broom and wrapped a towel around the head of it and used it as a crutch. It was much easier than just hopping. He even felt that he could make it to the main road, and then the thought of escape came.

At first he denied it, not knowing any other life than being mutilated, beaten, stabbed, strangle and set on fire. But his heart begged for more. Even if he died trying, at least he would die free. Or least that was his thinking. His head, however, begged him to stay. He was already free at Park Castle without Joseph Fay there. He hadn’t seen him in weeks and if McIntosh could get more food then he could remain at the house and away from other people. Other people. He realised then that he had forgotten about the public. There was a world full people out there. That was the deciding factor. And so he promised himself. Tomorrow, he would escape to the main road and make his way to anywhere but Park Castle.

The following morning McIntosh packed a satchel with the last of his food, extra clothes, an extra sock, matches and a blanket. Then, with all that was left of him, McIntosh took up his makeshift crutch and headed again to the main road. He got half way to the road when he had to stop from pain and because night was falling. He hadn’t slept outside since he was a boy but the night swam in around McIntosh’s campfire and then wafted away as dawn purchased the world from darkness once more. McIntosh was on his way early, filled with courage he didn’t know he possessed until then. The air seemed colder than usual and yet freer too. He hobbled along as fast as he could, tripping and staggering back to his foot over and over – but never without determination. He was sure that he could make it. He was going to make, until, that is, he stumbled forward a hop or two and felt a heat in his shoulder. Then, glancing down, a bloody crossbow bolt protruded from his right shoulder. He couldn’t feel it, but he could see it and touch it with left hand. The blood was thick and warm, but it went cold quickly. Then he felt light headed. They he collapsed onto his face and slipped into a dreamless sleep.

To be continued…

© Stephen Fahey

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