Pain is only skin deepMature

I could feel Alastair's eyes on me and I swear that they were almost as sharp as the knife in his blood-spattered fingers. He had a contemplative, disappointed look on his face as he wiped the blade off on a greying cloth and then put it down. "Dean," he said. His voice was low and cold and I didn't like the way he said my name; it had a ring of familiarity and intimacy in it. It twisted my stomach. "I don't understand you. Every day it's the same goddamn thing. I carve and cut and slice and you pretend that it doesn't effect you." His lips turned upwards in a slow smile. "But you forget, I can see inside you. I can see how much pain you're in. You know how to make it stop, don't you? You know what you have to say."

  My arms were both strung up above my head and my toes just barely grazed the dirt ground of the torture room. My head was lolled forward, my chin resting on my chest and I could smell the blood that covered my torso; thick and metallic. Alastair had been with me for hours, carving me and putting me back together more times than I could count. He was paused now, in mid-session, and he was standing in front of me, too close to comfort. He put his hand under my chin and lifted my head so that I could look into his eyes. I tried to jerk away from him but his fingers tightened painfully around my jaw, forcing my gaze to him.

  "Whaddaya say, Dean?" Smile like a snake, his eyes boring into mine. "Wanna see how it feels to be on the other side of the knife?"

  My chest heaved with each breath I took and I could feel my jaw tense. "Gonna have to do better than that, Alastair. I think you're off your game today, I've barely felt anything. If I didn't know you were the one slicing and dicing, I would have sworn it was a little pansy bitch." My voice sounded harsh to my own ears, not my own voice. The voice of someone in pain that could hardly be imagined.

  Alastair pulled his hand back and he let my head drop back down. "Oh, Dean -- you disappoint me." His voice was deadpan and he picked up a large knife, turning it over in his hands. "I'm offering you a perfectly adequate solution to your little," he paused, searching for the right word, "predicament, and here you are turning my hospitality down. It's like a slap in the face, kid." He punctuated his words by shoving the knife, all seven inches of blade, into my stomach and twisting it. His face close to mine as if he wanted to inhale my own exhalation of pain.

  A guttural scream wanted to escape from my throat but I managed to keep it down to a strangled grunt even though it meant biting down on my bottom lip hard enough to draw a crescent of blood. The taste of it was familiar but far from comforting. Alastair looked perplexed, but not terribly surprised. As much as he relished my screaming, and I knew he did, it wasn't something I did a lot of. I wouldn't give him that pleasure.

  "Doesn't this hurt, Dean?" Alastair pulled the knife down through my stomach. The skin split as he did this, opening me up. "Don't you want me to stop?" He wasn't dressed the way you think a butcher would have been; his blue dress shirt and black pants were more at home in a board room then in a torture den. But the flecks of gore on the material looked like someone had been playing Spin Art with my blood.

  My body wanted to double over in pain but with my hands tied above my head, there was nothing I cold do. I drew in breath after breath and kept my head down so that Alastair wouldn't see the the pain in my eyes. If he did, he would have latched onto like a leech and made it unbearable. As it was now, I was just barely hanging on. A choked sob gurgled up and I could taste copper mixed with my saliva. I spit and saw that it was mostly red; bright red -- it was disconcerting. I didn't think blood should be that vibrant. After all, I'd seen all sorts of blood come out of me but the blood that I spit up always seemed to be the wrong shade of crimson.

  Alastair stepped back from me and regarded me seriously, like a painter looking at his masterpiece. His sleeves were rolled up to his elbows and he had the knife poised as if he was going to make another cut but he couldn't figure out just where. "You know, Dean," he said. "Every time you come in here, you make a mess of this place. Your blood, it gets over everything and then I have to clean up. Why don't you save me the trouble and just say yes. It'll be easier on us both."

  I dragged my gaze up to meet his eye and I stared at him without saying anything. He thought his taunts were weakening my resolve; breaking me down even more than the knives and the needles, but he was wrong. "You know, I would tell you go to hell -- but I think the insult would be lost on you." I forced my lips in a smirk even though smiling was the last thing I felt like doing at that minute.

  Watching Alastair's expression change was an interesting process. His eyes narrowed first, they got small and mean, and then his mouth turned into a thin line. One eyebrow arched just slightly as he rubbed his hand across his lips. "Always know the wrong thing to say, don't you?" he sneered and like a flash he was at my side again. He had picked up a new knife; this one was small and mean looking. Like a de-boning knife or something. The thin blade had just a tiny amount of curve to it and the metal was flexible and cruel. He cut with surgeon precision, slipping the point under my skin and dragging it along my chest, following the curve of my collar bone and then down the sides of my torso.

  The skin, oh God, the skin started to fall away as Alastair pulled strips of it off. He would hold them up so that I could see and then he would throw them down, his face frozen in a smile the whole time. I couldn't stop it this time, I couldn't stop the scream that tore my throat. I sounded like a wounded animal, all rage and pain and fear with nothing to lash out against. My body jerked in the bonds as I tried to pull myself down from the wall. And Alastair kept on skinning.

The End

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