A pound of flesh

As he hung there, his naked skin cold against a bare brick wall, the shackles cutting in to his wrist and ankles, his joints burning as gravity pulled on him, towards the ground. He thought on the reason he had seen his final sunrise this morning, a choice made a decade ago, one sunny spring morning. He was not expecting his day to end up like this, he had planned to meet a young trainee doctor for dinner that evening, he was almost positive he would not be free tonight now. He chuckled to himself, and at his predicament, he knew there would be no ‘Hollywood’ style last minute escape for him, the shackles were so tight he could feel the warm blood running from the broken skin beneath,
“Alas, not serious enough to bring this discomfort to a swift end” he said under his breath, finishing with a little chuckle. He had guessed why he was here, he was almost positive he was expecting a slow and painful death.

He had walked in to the toilets, just down from his office, in a quiet corner of the hospital, for a quick wee. He was at the urinal, relieving himself, when a gentleman next to him asked,
“Hi Dr. Conner, remember me? My father was George Evans, you remember him don’t you” and all the doctor could do was just nod a weak nod of resignation. In truth he had always expected that knock on the door from a bereaved relative or officer of the law, the lack of either is what kept him going on and on all these years, eighty one victims, and counting. The last time he had seen Mr Evens son, Mathew, if his memory served him correctly, must have been eight years ago, and at that time Mathew threw all the vile, violent and derogatory words in the English language at him, through a semi foaming mouth. This time you would think he was asking an oldie if they needed help to cross the street. The last thing DR. Graham Conner remembers is a sense of a large man standing far too close behind him followed by a stinging sensation in his neck, when he awoke, some time later, he was kinda just hanging around,
“HAHAHA, I WAS JUST HANGING AROUND! HANGING AROUND, HAHAHA” he shouted at the empty room, and then repeated it, he was angry, he had done the crime, and was willing to do the time, but judging by the medical equipment, surgical tools and odds and ends of household ephemera, he could only think that a slow dismemberment was his new plan for this evening. The large barrel in the corner would be his last resting place, he guessed.

The vocalisation had attracted the attention he though it would have, and in came twenty or so people, as he gazed over their faces he knew, maybe, ninety percent of them by name, and the other ten percent or so, he vaguely had some recollection of.
“Dr.Conner, welcome back to the land of the living, albeit, briefly. You remember us don’t you?” Mathew said in a mockingly happy tone, and clapping, which caused a small wave of applause, too weakly dance through the gathering.
“Mathew, it is Mathew is it not?” Graham said in response and saw the nod of the head in reply, he knew who it was but he didn’t want that man to think he ever spared a though for him since their last meeting, finishing in abuse.
“I remember your father, he was dying, if not that day with my help, then later that year, six months, tops. Think of the parking fees I saved you at the hospital for killing him quick, bonus” Graham said mocking his captor, nothing he was going to say was going to make what followed any worse, so why not belittle members of this flock of revenge driven madmen.
“Benedict, that you over at the back, yeah I can see you, your mum was dead the moment she was diagnosed, too old, too weak too survive the year, haha, she begged me not too, I told her what I was going to do, that made me hard, you know, down below, it was like homicidal viagra. She begged and cried, just wanted a few more days, just to say hello to your twins who were due anytime, ooohhh the power to decide over who lives and who dies, it was like being the lord god almighty, stored that one in my wank bank, you snivelled and cried, how unfair was life to take her days before the birth of your twins, hahaha” he could see the mood of the gathering grow darker, his only hope was to push one hard enough to just kill him out of rage, quick and easy, or kill their strength to go through with it, a small cell would be preferable to hours of pain.

Padauk bowl. More at Bespoke Woods Facebook page.

Mathew picked up a short handled six pound mallet, walked over to where his victim was hanging, pain shot through the doctors entire body, so intense he thought his head was about to explode, as Mathew hammered a chisel in to each of grahams knees, and left them in place. The pain took his breath away, leaving him gasping for lung fulls of air, he clenched his teeth so hard he thought he could hear them cracking under the pressure. In all his years seeing people in this level of pain, day in and day out through his career, offering understanding of their woe, he realised at this moment that he had never felt pain like it, he knew it existed, but he had never even stubbed his toe. He was happy to accept that he did deserve it, but he was not enjoying it one little bit, not at all. Mathew had returned to the group by the time the stars in Grahams eyes had cleared enough to see a blurry mass of darkness, the room lit by half a dozen dirty fluorescent strips and no windows.
“Now doctor, this is how this will go, we will not be bullied in to inaction by you ridiculing us and those we loved, so don’t expect to be taken down and let free, because we cant hand you over to the police due to the illegality of our actions. We are all going to spend time making you suffer, and we have an expert cleaner to dispose of the evidence, do you remember Phillip Jones? You knew his grandmother” Mathew said in a confidant tone, commanding even,
“He has been a cleaner for a hitman for about ten years, disposing of bodies, without a trace, I can tell you this, because we are the last people you will ever see. What you do not realise is, we have been planning this for years, researching, gathering, learning and a bit of theft too. We have cast iron will to see this through, say what you like to whom ever you like, but by the time we leave here, you will be slowly dissolving in that big barrel over there, there is no way of you avoiding this end, and there is nobody for miles around, this part of town died during the recession” Mathew finished with a broad smile of a man happy with the way his day was going,
“I am guessing it was Lennie Small over there who gave me the jab in the toilets, stop skulking at the back Lennie, come show me your sweet retarded face” Graham said increasing the dose of venom in his words,
“Its Tony, Tony Franks, you fucking prick, Tony” he said stepping forward from the shadows. He was considerably taller than any of the others, and was a hulk of a man, Graham had some inkling that he was strongest man for the USA, going on to represent the nation in the world final, Graham definitely remembers him cracking walnuts in his hands with just a quick squeeze, quite a party trick,
“I know your fucking name, Tony, Lennie was the retard from ‘Of mice and men’ you know ‘Steinbeck’ or have you not graduated on to big boy books?” He said as he continued to goad Tony,
“He is just like you Tony, you autistic clown” Graham finish with a derisory giggle.

Before Tony had a chance to snap back in retaliation another figure stepped forward out of the darkness,
“Enough, that’s fucking enough, if this carries on I will personally cut your tongue from your head with a rusty blunt knife doctor” she said as she put a calming arm around Tony’s waist a led him back in to the crowed. The threat of having his tongue cut from his head stopped him from saying that Tony looked as well camouflaged as a cow in a high visibility jacket trying to hide in a gaggle of geese, he even suppressed the giggle forming inside, and all this aggro had taken his mind off the pain still emanating from the area where his knees used to be. The latest recruit was the mother of a young boy with leukaemia, he had been awaiting a bone marrow transplant, and matches seemed to be thin on the ground. Graham had taken the decision to help him over to the next life after the boy had caught a bronchiole virus, he may have pulled through it, he may have gone on to get secondary illnesses due to his low immune system. Graham had used no drugs, just injected an air bubble in to one of the boys artery’s, and from there it caused a massive stroke, killing him in hours. Grahams mistake had been to twitch as the boy spoke while still asleep, this made Graham miss the freckle he was going to push the needle in to, which would have hid the puncture wound, an over worked coroner would have given him a quick look over and put the boys death down to his ill health. While the visible puncture wound was noted, it was put down to suspicious, but the ill health of the child was given as cause of death. His mother, Jill Fenwick had fixated on the puncture wound, she had tried to open a case, pressurised politicians, chief of police, and investigative reporters, to get the answers she wanted. She was convinced there had been foul play, and the fact that on the day of little Brians funeral, a letter had arrived telling her they had found a match for her son’s bone marrow transplant. This had been like throwing petrol on a smouldering barbecue, WOOF!, inferno.

It had been the closest anyone had got to ending his hobby, he had a few sleepless nights over that, but there had been no real interest from the police to pursue it. He had gotten away free and clear, a number of the assembled bereaved had said something at one time or another about foul play, he guessed this was a more radical splinter group from some ‘sit in a circle and wallow’ groups that met at a number of church halls around the city. He was unsure wether the shiver running through him was caused by the dropping temperature or the fear of what was to come, it was involuntary, as hard as he tried to disguise it, the more it showed, unable to tense his body in to rigidity without heightening the pain from his knees, he limply hung there try to ease the discomfort, but on a plus side the pain from the shackles have faded in to the background. As he looked up he could see the group filing out of the door, this confused him, why were they leaving when they were intent on killing him slowly? Leaving him to torture himself thinking what was to come, or maybe just leave him hanging there in an abandoned warehouse, never to come back? Maybe dropping an anonymous call to the police giving them his location? This is what they wanted, for him to hang there second guessing what they were up to, as hard as he tried he could not rid these thoughts from bouncing around inside his head, blocking his path to his happy place, his roof top apartment at sunset, with a glass of something intoxicating. Now when he tried to see that view he was distracted by the image of him grimly hanging on to his balcony to avoid the fall too the street below, he lived well above the height for terminal velocity.

He had been drifting in and out of consciousness for what had seemed like hours, he had no idea of the time passing, or how long he had passed out for, his mind exhausted from the never ending stream of unanswerable questions, the pain and he was dehydrated. There had been no more sign of his captors, all was quiet, he was in the frame of mind where he just wanted to get on with it, let them do what they want to do, every twitch or shiver would send bolts of pain through out his entire body, often so severe he would blackout instantaneously, a welcome respite inside his mind free from pain, thirst or fear, snapping back to the reality of it, only to pass out again minutes later, until every time he was awake he would twitch a leg just to float away again. All of a sudden he felt as though his batteries had been recharged, every fibre, every sense and every muscle hummed with electricity, he woke to see the grinning face of Mathew. Grahams mind could not grasp the fact that Mathew was now looking down on him from above, instead of it being the other way round. Graham surveyed his surroundings, at some point he had been taken down from hanging against a wall like an advert for an artistic stage reimagining of the death of Jesus, and was now strapped to an autopsy table,
“Wakey, wakey, sleepy head, its time to get started, hows that shot of Adrenalin going down Doc?” Mathew chuckled, as he flicked on an overhead light that would normally grace an surgical theatre. Grahams eye snapped shut as he was blinded by glare, burning the image on to his retinas,
“How you doing now? You cocky cunt!” Mathew said in a chirpy voice, Graham just looked at him,
“Been off for some Dutch courage have you? Need a drink before you misbehave?” Graham barked through clenched teeth, the pain was full on now, he was feeling everything,
“We don’t need a drink, well maybe a celebratory bottle of bubbly, but we have been planning the process to stretch out your suffering” Mathew laughed back at him, lifting his left hand to beckon someone over from the darkness, Graham hears a familiar trundling sound, and then saw a young man, he knew him, although his name escaped Graham at present, pushing an I.V stand holding two bags. The young man administered the needles, without any real tenderness or gentle touch, and the needle was heavily strapped with adhesive tape.

After a while laying there, Graham had begun to feel a little more human as the drip rehydrated him. He could not see or hear anyone, but he knew out there in the dark stood a group of people who had every intention of making him suffer, he wondered what they were waiting for, he was not going anywhere. Then three men, Mathew, Tony and the drip Nurse stepped forward, Tony held Grahams head, while the drip nurse placed a gag around his head that forced Graham to keep his mouth open, then the two men then stepped back as Mathew approached with a bottle of water in his left hand, his free right hand was brought toward Grahams head, and dropped a pill in to his open mouth, he then washed it down with the spring water, Graham gagged and spluttered, choked a little and once finish the two men stepped forward to remove the gag.
“Viagra, Graham, should stiffen you up soon with a bit of stimulation” Mathew said holding a bright purple vibrator and wobbling it in his hand,
“Then what? Some of your ugly trollops going to fuck me in to the next world? Could not imagine a worst fate. Hahaha” Graham said, having a pretty good idea what was going to happen,
“Yeah, right, of course it is, no, no, Mrs Edwards has bought her favourite secateurs, they are well used, very blunt and a bit dirty she is going to cut your Jacobs off” he let out a sinister laugh as he finished and then stepped back in to the gloom just saying,
“Give it thirty minutes or so……” he trailed off as he disappeared. Graham lay there, still cold, and now, just starting to get bored, he knew they planned slow, but at this rate old age was his greatest enemy, he thought to himself.

Sometime later the silence was broken by a buzzing noise followed by indiscernible chatter, with excited undertones, and then what he could only imagine to be the snip, snip of opening and closing secateurs, the buzzing was undoubtedly the big purple vibrator. He was correct on both counts, the older woman had grey hair, stood only a little over five foot tall and on the obese side of plump, she was in a disposable head to toe white overall, like you would see on these CSI programmes, and a face protector which would mist up slightly every time she exhaled, getting more frequent the closer she got. Mathew placed the tip of the vibrator on the spot of no mans land that lay between the back of the scrotum and his anus, and on cue little Graham stood to attention,
“You see these secateurs Doctor? The last time I used these were to cut some of my husbands favourite Roses, to take them up to him in hospital, cheer him up a little” Mrs Edwards began,
“After cutting them and wrapping them up, the phone rang to tell me you had killed my husband, obviously they didn’t use those words, they just said he had passed away, but I know you did it, now I am going to remove your bits with them and have them framed, the secateurs, not your meat and two veg, although………. maybe both” she finished with a snip, snip of the secateurs,
“Oh yes, you haggard old Oompa Loompa, I killed him, I mean he was not going to go on much longer, but I killed him, I killed him real good” he said finishing in a deep southern accent, and laughing,
“Are you sitting comfortably? Now we will begin” she said with a degree of glee in her voice. Graham helpless to avoid the impending castration gritted his teeth in anticipation,
“I do apologise I am not bikini ready down there, but being from the older generation taking off your knicker must be like saying hello to the abominable snowman” he hissed at her in contempt, and his erection showing no signs dissipating. All at once he felt the icy cold grip of the Sheffield Stainless steel blade at the base of his penis, it lingered for a few seconds, Grahams heartbeat sounded like a train thundering down steel rails, echoing through his head, then they started to clamp down, and as hard as he tried he could not suppress the blood curdling scream he bellowed forth, she squeezed tighter and he could feel the blade cutting through, slowly, the dulled edge compressing more than it cut, he screamed, unable to stop it, he did not even know where it was coming from. Mathews hand then came forward to lend her some extra muscle,
“Maybe I should have sharpened them a little before hand, hahahaha” she giggled, and like newly weds cutting the wedding cake, they both squeezed the handle, oblivious of the rising screams from their ‘patient’. At some point Graham lost consciousness, only to be kick started again with another shot of adrenaline, and his life swam back in to focus to see Mrs Edwards gleefully swinging his Crown Jewels around like it was a silk purse. The pain was unbearable, and although the tears were threatening, he was determined not to give them the satisfaction.

He carried on floating in and out of wakefulness, and for the time being the gatherings response was to wander over and slap him back awake, they may have been worried about to much go-go juice killing him to quickly, both cheeks were numb after a dozen or so slaps, and some of the men had resorted to punching him. Everything hurt, not one part of Graham felt pain free, it was at an intensity he had never before felt. Then Tony stepped forward with an old tenon saw, it glinted as the light caught patches of steel through the rust as he displayed it to the cheering crowd,
“In the same spirit as Mary and her secateurs, I have here in my hand tonight, my fathers first ever tenon saw, its not as sharp as it used to be, but it was always the first saw he picked up to use, he loved it. Now I will use it to remove this sad excuse of a mans right foot” Tony said as the crowed cheered and whooped at his commentary,
“No disparaging remarks, clever lines? Have you got nothing smart to say? No clever lines? Cat got your tongue” he asked mockingly of the man on the table,
“No, I am bored of this now, just get on and get it over” Graham said in a tired voice, of man with broken spirits, he felt every thrust of the saw, the skin catching on the teeth of the saw, his teeth set on edge as it ground through the bone, but this was just a different sensation to lay along side the excruciating pain , midway through Mathew stepped forward to shoot him up, just to keep Graham alert.

To Graham it seemed never ending, he just wanted to be allowed to close his eyes for a few minutes, but they were still keeping him awake. Every couple of hours someone stepped from the darkness and remove a lump of him. Some had tools with stories, some used the new equipment, after they had dulled the new blade by using it to saw through steel, not that it was ever going too, half a dozen strokes of a blade against steel will more than dull it. The pain was intense, reaching a crescendo when having surgery, then it would fade back to unbearable. It sickened Graham to be forced to watch another of his parts submerged in to a tank of who knows what, the sound of the fizzing, the smell and any window of being discovered and set free were diminishing like his body mass. He had no sense of time, he could have been here for hours or days, and for the first time since his childhood, he spoke to god, pleaded with him to end it, but nothing resulted.

Graham knew there was not much longer to go, he was starting to feel very weak, the blood pooled all around the base of the table, and while it was impossible to guess the quantity, it looked to him to be getting close to meeting his maker. Considering this was only happening because he was a serial killer, he could not complain too much, and he had to commend the will of the bereaved to have gone through with it. No hesitation, the slow progress through flesh, fibre and bone was due not to the fear or repulsion of what they were doing, they were taking their time because they were enjoying it. They all wanted to savour this sweet revenge, the insane grins never left their faces, the sinister laughter or the cheer and ovation they got once the task was completed were just part of the standard operating procedure. Mathew had his finger on the pulse of his associates, and had predicted at the beginning there would be nothing Graham could say or do to divert a single member from completing their assignments, fair play he thought in a rare moment of peace. If the pain was not bad enough, the tickle of rivulets of blood running over his tender skin, followed the tightening of his skin as it dried drove him insane, but it gave him a point to focus on and drift back to his happy place, as he no longer had hands the image now is of him enjoying a glass of wine, but sucking it through a straw as he could not hold the glass, he did not linger on the how of getting the wine from the bottle to the glass.

They managed to keep him alive for two days, the mess and the gore was unimaginable, Graham never said another word, even his screams had died down from screaming himself horse. Every member taking their pound of flesh, the last dissection was to remove the final part of his right arm just above the top of the bicep. They all agreed it was possibly blood loss that ended the fun, but they didn’t really care, and Mrs Edwards won the sweepstake on how many hours he would last from first cut to death, she bought all the drinks that night in the bar. The episode was finished by Philip the cleaner emptying the barrel down one of the storm drains on the site, nothing left to see, no trace of the good Doctor left, This is one job that Phillip felt good about, no pangs of guilt, he had contacted Gert and her girls to clean up the warehouse. As she walked in, in his excitement, he winked at her and said,
“Alright kid, hows it going?” And smiled at her, she seemed a little taken aback that he had gone off script, and stumble over her usual,
“Hello” and she hurried off to get on with her task, it had been the icing on the cake for him after the last few days, it almost made up for missing out on the sweepstake by just thirty minutes.


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