He focused on the black cauterized stubs where his fingers had been, staring vacantly past the syringe as the needle entered his arm. The world had become sluggish with the overloads of agony, but the pain slipped away with the ease of the needle piercing his skin. He felt the cold liquid slide icily into his veins and the bright light above him became streaked with every fractional movement of his head; his mind had become velvet lined with a familiar narcotic haze.
Later he distantly felt a second sharp prick as the needle entered his temple and by a tug as the flow was reversed. He looked blankly at the blood filled syringe as its work was finished and it disappeared back into the dark.
In the beginning he had watched every movement of the man in green scrubs, with fearfully sharp clarity and dread filled anticipation. The approach of each new sharpened implement and razor edge became a screaming terror.
He’d memorized every pore of the man’s uncovered facial skin and fell howling into the fiery green flecked eyes that watched him impassively above the white surgical mask.
He realized vaguely that the soft breathed voice had been asking him a question; the implacable demands had now become soft requests.
“Now, do you want to talk about it? Why Mr. Jarret? Why do you hate?”
The voice seemed to come from a great distance and the misshapen words tumbled in his mind as he tried to grasp at their insubstantial edges with his thoughts.
He remembered being in the car, he was angry. The whore had been back and taken her stuff (from him?), making him look like a fool. She was HIS. He would smash her in the face till she begged for his forgiveness and his humiliation was washed away in her blood.
He drove to her bitch friend’s flat, but the lights were out. The neighbours had threatened to call the police if he didn’t stop beating at the front door. It had taken him a long time to find where she had hidden.
Much later when he had and got back into the car, he had been gripped from behind and had felt a sharp pinch in his neck and then the steering wheel was rushing towards him.
His next memory was waking strapped to this cold metal table, shocked by bright circle of lights above him. As his eyes adjusted to the lights and he saw metal beams above him, draped with dust heavy cobwebs that hung like gobs of infected spittle. The warehouse ceiling was at odds with the chemical clean smell of a medical ward. Alarm had sped through him in an electric jolt, this was not a hospital or anywhere he wanted to be.
When the man dressed in surgeon green had first appeared, holding a scalpel in front of his face, he had nearly laughed aloud at the ridiculous sight. The soft granular voice had asked for the first time ‘Why do you hate?’ and he had laughed at him in derision.
As the torture began he raged against the pain, with promises of violent revenge. But the man in green was deaf to his threats and continued on with the tin snips and the excruciating removal of his toes.
By the time his feet were fully trimmed, he had begun to negotiate, to promise money, drugs or any act of violence in the surgeon’s name. But the question remained the same, as did the pain. He refused the answer, even when long stainless steel nails were hammered into his knee caps, each one shown to him with a magician’s flourish, until he could remember nothing but screaming and the breath whined painfully in his throat.
“Why do you hate Mr. Jarret?” The question came again and again.
By the time the surgeon strapped his wrists to the table and showed him the surgical saw, its blade spinning in a blurred circle. He had begun to beg, he swore to do anything, he swore on his mother’s life, even swore to the God he didn’t believe in that he was sorry, would do anything to be better person, to do whatever the man wanted him to do.
Only as the last finger of his right hand was sawn away and cauterized with the flame of a propane gas torch, did he begin to sob in earnest loss.
“Don’t hurt me anymore, please make it stop” He wept quietly “I don’t know why I get so mad, why I hurt people, I’m sorry, just make it stop”
The spinning saw appeared just before his eyes and he felt wet spray of his own blood on his face.
“Why, do you hate Mr. Jarret?” The voice was still emotionless and demanding.
“Because, I wanted to mean something, feel important and because everyone else is worthless compared to me” He felt like he was speaking aloud in his mind and was surprised to feel a burden lifted as if something had been broken free from inside his chest.
“That’s very good Mr. Jarret, now tell me why you killed her?” The voice asked softly
He had denied it for so long despite the pain, despite the agony, he would not admit it. But now he floated above his fear, all pretence in him had been burned away by the agony.
“Because I enjoyed hitting her, it felt good; I enjoyed hating her, it made me feel powerful and important. Did you know her? She was very beautiful…other men must have wanted her, but she was mine. She was mine.” He whispered in reverence of the memory, “Did you know her?” He asked desperately.
Now the surgeon leaned over him, the green eyes regarding him dispassionately above the surgical mask, while he still held the bloodied saw that had recently removed his last, little finger.
“No Mr. Jarret, I did not know the deceased young lady personally, but I have studied your life and I have witnessed your handy work on the innocent. You have lived a life of hate. But now you are free Mr. Jarret. Aren’t you?”
‘Watched’ he thought, he had known all along. This was his punishment.
“Thank you” He whispered “Will you let me go now, now I have learnt my lesson, now I will be a better person?”
“I have already set you free Mr. Jarret the last injection as well as a happy dose of heroin, sadly also contained Tetrodotoxin, a very quick working poison derived from the blue ringed octopus, you may be feeling it work about now. It is I am afraid, most deadly.”
The words took seconds to penetrate his senses and panic seemed to bloom in his brain. But as he tried to move, he found parts of his body were already paralysed, he tried to speak again, but his throat was constricted. He spasmed and thrashed before with one last lance of pain in his mind he slipped away into utter darkness.
The surgeon held his blood coated syringe up to the light and looked deep into the red fluid within the chamber, watching thin black streaks circle with angry intensity. He nodded in understanding, the entity within had lost control of its host’s sensations and emotions, he could understand the parasites loss; it was after all his gain.
He smiled as he washed the saw in the makeshift antiseptic wash, about a job well done. The prey was so often difficult to get to the surface, wrapped in the very emotions and synapses of their flesh bound hosts. But with the right application of pain, fear and timed poison, not to mention the very masterful coaxing of a virtuoso, they could be extracted. He was satisfied that he had captured all of the spirit creature from the man’s being and sent the flesh pure soul into the beyond, a service he offered the universe for free.
Humming cheerfully he injected the fluid into his arm feeling the ever familiar rush of intense pleasure as the creature was absorbed in the endless burning furnace of his ancient soul, feeling youth and power like a conflagration in his veins as he fed.
As the fire subsided he continued cleaning the blood spattered tin shears and began to sing quietly ‘C’mon baby light my fire’. By the side of the sink on a table, the hospital records of a battered young wife whom he had come across in his surgical mask, who seemed a promising lead to his next quarry. He only hoped her death would come soon enough to over excite and expose his prey.