Chapter 12, The Dead Boy and the Scary Girl
[BY JANE D’LOGIRAM]
“They got away.”
I look down at the pathetic excuse of a man. Even from atop the stairs and behind my desk overlooking the grand foyer, it’s hard to miss how much he’s shaking. Normally, I’d respond by showing everyone the consequences of failing - hence the shaking I assume. But to be honest, I don’t mind that my cousin and her gang escaped. For once, I’m actually glad.
To the man’s surprise, I smile at him. “It’s okay. If I was to crush the North, I wouldn’t do it under such mundane circumstances. No... The day I destroy my cousin should be much grander,” I announce, “Is there any news about the wedding?”
“We’re waiting for our spy’s return, but I fear that if it’s taking this long, he might have already been captured,” the man informs.
“Hmph, give him another hour or so before you kill his wife. And make sure it looks like the North did it,” I instruct.
The man bows his head before leaving.
Even though I’m happy the North’s end will be met at the wedding, I can’t help but feel like a complete idiot for letting my cousin escape with her wretched inner gang. It’s an insult... If father was here... I don’t even want to think about the disappointment on his face... Where has he gone off to? I feel anxious not knowing where he left to or why. Was it to keep some information safe? Or has even my own father come to fear my face.
What a terrible thought... To have the man who made you who you are, fear for his own creation...
I feel myself getting worked up again. If I don’t release some anger, I’ll never get that annoying noise out of my head!
“Nixon!” I call.
Nixon doesn’t waste a moment to appear before me. The large man has his beard in braids today and for some reason, it’s annoying the hell out of me. I contemplate ordering him to shave. “The man that punched me in the face last night. What’s his real name?” I ask. I can still feel my swollen cheek sting a little and if not for makeup, a bruise would probably show.
“I believe you’re referring to Daniel Lansford. He’s one of the North’s inner gang members. I’ve met him before. He might not look like the brightest guy, but let me tell you, Xavier Jilten isn’t the kind of man to keep someone close unless they’re of use,” Nixon answers.
From everyone here, Nixon probably has the most experience. He’s served Sterling for about thirty years I’d guess. And even though he has a bit of a temper on his side and his cheekiness makes me want to skin him alive, I can’t ignore the fact that he’s valuable.
“When we ambush the wedding next week. Make sure to kill him first,” I instruct.
“As you wish,” Nixon sighs before walking away.
I need to get that noise out of my head... I need to let off steam. “Where’s our prisoner being kept?” I ask out loud.
One of the men standing by steps forward and bows in respect. “He’s in the basement, Miss D’logiram.”
“Well then. Suspend all further meetings until further notice,” I say as I get up from behind my desk. “I’ll be questioning him for a bit.”
Straightening out my blazer, I descend the stairs and head for the basement. Everyone I pass in the mansion makes sure to bow, but I know what they’re all really thinking. They’re all probably just plotting to oppose me. If I hadn’t merged with the South, I’d have been dethroned already. Spineless cowards. All of them. Everyone who stands in my way.
Why is this house always so noisy?
When I reach the stairs to the basement, I inform the guard to not let anyone in after me. He nods his understanding and closes the door behind me. The basement doesn’t have to be so dimly lit, but I prefer keeping my prisoners in the dark. However, what makes me uneasy isn’t the lack of light, but rather the horrid smell that overwhelms me. It’s a miracle that this stink hasn’t invaded the rest of the mansion yet. Carefully, I walk down the stairs and round the corner - revealing a spacious room with a singular pillar in the middle. Attached to that pillar are chains and attached to those chains is...
“Sean Shavel,” I greet.
Though he shares my age, the mess on the cement floor represents a boy rather than a twenty-year-old man. His dirtied grey T-shirt looks way too big for him and sticking out from his undoubtedly soiled shorts are legs about as thin as my arms. If it wasn’t for his heavy breathing, I’d think he was a corpse already.
“Hmph, I thought I told my men to keep you alive. But you seem to be on death’s door,” I remark.
Sean doesn’t answer - I’m not sure if it’s because he’s defiant or too weak to even know I’m speaking to him. I glance down at my side and notice the plates of untouched food - rotting away. There’s a bucked of water right next to Sean, but it doesn’t look like he’s been drinking from it. And... Ahhh, that’s where the smell is coming from. There, on the far corner is another bucked that I don’t doubt serves as his toilet.
“You’re disgusting,” I conclude as I crouch down.
Sean’s dark hair covers his face, so I can’t read his expression, but the closer I get to him, the more disgusted I am. A sheen of sweat covers him from head to toe and the grease in his hair makes me want to take a shower.
“I can’t torture you like this. I’ll get my clothes dirty.”
Still, Sean doesn’t reply.
Annoyed, I roll my eyes and straighten up again. “Fine, be like that. We’ll see how tight-lipped you’ll be once I get started.”
I remove my Blazer and roll my sleeves up. Next, I fetch the apron hanging by the left wall and put some of the knives on display in the front pouch of my apron. Taking my time, I put on the available gloves and blow a pale lock of hair out of my face. Glancing at Sean again, I go to pick up the bucket of water next to him and proceed to dunk the cold content on his shivering figure.
Sean lets out a sound of shock, but still, no words escape him. Come to think of it, except for the sound of dripping water and ragged breathing, this room is awfully quiet. Soundproof perhaps? I should remember it for when the world gets too loud again.
“Come on, lift that chin of yours,” I say as I crouch down and angle Sean’s head towards me. His bangs are long since due for a cut, so I’m forced to swipe it back - thankfully with his hair wet, his hair stays slicked back and oh... there it is. I could see his face maybe once being kind of cute, but at the moment he looks like he’s one missing meal away from being a skeleton. His cheeks are completely sunken in and the circles around his eyes make him look like he’s wearing eyeliner or something.
“What a pitiful sight. I almost feel sorry for what’s coming next. Now, try not to bite your own tongue when you start to scream,” I instruct as I take his hand.
To my surprise, Sean doesn’t pull back. He... he doesn’t even look scared. His head merely sways to the side as he looks at his hand with lifeless eyes.
“Well... here we go,” I say as I bring a knife to his hand. “Shall I skin you? Cut off your nails or...” I turn his hand so his palm faces up and immediately I pull back. “What the hell!?” I exclaim.
Sean just continues with his heavy breathing. And I... I can’t take my eyes off his pale arm. The once tender flesh of his inner arm is so mutilated and carved up, I would’ve guessed he was burned as a child, but upon closer inspection, it’s obviously horizontal lines covering his skin. Without thinking, I turn his other arm over and it’s the same...
“You’ve been tortured before?” I ask.
He doesn’t react.
“Hmm... no. This is the only part of you that I can see has scars... Is it self harm? How pitiful. I hate people like you,” I comment before picking up his hand again. This time, I don’t hesitate when I start pressing my blade into his finger. Slowly, I start angling my blade down - carving a neat line down the length of his thin finger.
There’s a slight wince that escapes Sean’s mouth and I get excited for a moment. However, as quickly as the small reaction came from him, it also leaves.
Usually, this is where prisoners start talking...
“Uh... What do you know of Amber Marigold?” I demand.
I sigh. “If you don’t answer me, I’m going to start removing some limbs,” I warn.
“I don’t mind,” he says. The words are so soft, I almost think I imagined it or someone snuck up to whisper it in my ear, but then Sean turns his head and those dead eyes stare right at me.
A challenge then? I can tell when someone’s bluffing.
Amused at the situation before me, I stand up and head to my table of tools. There, I select a steel mallet before walking back towards my victim. Without saying a word, I pull his right leg - straightening it out before me. “Fine then. We’ll see how long you last,” I smirk while raising the hammer. And with fierce accuracy, I bring the hammer down hard onto Sean’s leg. I’m not sure if the crack of bone or his scream is louder. The sound of it mixing together however makes my heart fill with joy. I broke him! I knew he was bluffing!
But then he stops screaming.
I look up confused and Sean’s face is back to being slack and unimpressed.
“Hmph, your pain tolerance is quite high, but the fun is just starting,” I smile. I grab his broken leg and start twisting. Expecting another scream, I look up at Sean’s face in anticipation, but... All I find are dead eyes.
“This is no fun,” I say.
How am I supposed to get answers when this guy doesn’t even react to anything I do?
Frustrated beyond belief, I lunge forward and rip his shirt open with my knife. He doesn’t move, but out of habit, I go to sit on top of him so he can’t struggle back. I start carving onto his pale chest - drawing a broken heart. Blood oozes out of the cuts I make before slipping and sliding down his jutting ribs and onto the cold floor. And still... Still, the idiot does nothing but breathe.
Gritting my teeth, I move down to carve more but halt as soon as I see his hips... Covering those sickly hip bones are more scars...
I look over at his chest and the bloodied heart I carved looks like no more than a cute tattoo compared to what he has done to himself.
“How... how can I hurt you?” I ask.
Surprisingly, Sean shrugs. He looks up at me - water still dripping off him and his shirt in ribbons behind him. “Maybe try removing an organ. Or cut off my arms and legs,” he says.
What mockery is this? Is... is he bluffing? Treating me like an idiot?
“Don’t think I won’t!” I warn. He doesn’t take his eyes off of me and the direct eye contact makes me uneasy. Nobody ever dares to look at me like that. Not even my father...
“You aren’t scared of me?” I ask.
“Why should I be?”
“Well... Because... because I’m Sterling’s leader. And I’m Southern Sterling’s Co-leader.”
“So, I’ll... I can... I can hurt you and everyone you care about.”
“More than I can myself?”
I stare down at the corpse of a boy. He hasn’t stopped bleeding and the blood has started to mix with the water. His hair is mostly still brushed back, but some wet strands have made it to his brow. With him nearly naked, I can fully see how fragile and broken he already is. You’d think he has been tortured his whole life. I don’t even think cutting him in half would phase him as he is now.
“This is madness. How can... How can you not fear me? I’m so...” I push myself away from Sean before I remove my apron and chuck it across the room. Completely displeased, I sit on the cold floor of the basement. “I’m so embarrassed,” I admit. I’d never say that to anyone upstairs, but this boy won’t live long in anyway so it doesn’t matter.
“Embarrased, ey?” Sean snickers as he tries to lift himself into a sitting position - he winces when he moves his leg, but honestly it doesn’t seem like I broke him at all. “Funny. I’ve never heard of a torturer being embarrassed in front of the person they’re supposedly torturing.”
“Stop mocking me!” I order.
“Well? Are you going to finish me off or what?”
“I haven’t gotten any information from you. It would be pointless to kill you until I’ve got something out of this.”
“Hmmm... You might find some fun in killing me?”
“Fun?” I scoff, “There’s nothing fun about this. You don’t even react properly.”
“I could pretend? Do you want me to scream for you?”
I can’t believe this guy! “It’s no good if I know you’re pretending,” I sulk as I cross my arms. Never in my life have I ever been so humiliated before. This is worse than anything Amber has done to me. I... I feel like a child that can’t play with her toys because somebody else broke them.
“Ah, perhaps I shouldn’t have said that I’d pretend. Ok fine, I won’t put on an act. Just cut off my fingers. It’s my weakness.”
“Really?” I ask a little excited.
But alas, the sheepish grin on Sean’s annoyingly dead face makes it clear that he’s just pitying me right now.
“You’re driving me crazy,” I grumble.
“I’ve always been a good driver.”
“A good driver? I’ll remember that. Maybe I can bring you out and have a car slowly drive over you,” I contemplate,” There might be some fun in that, but...” I look Sean over. He’ll die before I can get him up the stairs.
“I’ve always wanted to die in a car. Haven’t considered dying under one though. It might be interesting. Poetic in its own way,” Sean comments to himself.
Surely this dead boy is either mad or taunting me. I stick my nose up and let out a dissatisfied sound. “It’s no fun breaking something that’s already broken,” I say before getting up.
I dust myself off as best as I can, but the few minutes I’ve been in here has already made the smell of this disgusting place stick to me. I’ll have to take a shower. A nice cold shower to put me in a better mood.
“I’ll be back when you have more meat on your bones for me to cut,” I say as a goodbye before pivoting and heading back towards the stairs.
“I look forward to it,” Sean says in a dry voice before he goes back to his heavy breathing.
Feeling utterly defeated, I head up the stairs and open the door. I turn to the guard with the promise of blood in my eyes just as I slam the door shut again. “Clean up that dirty basement and make sure he eats his food! I don’t want him dying before I get information out of him!” I exclaim.
The guard breaks out in a cold sweat as he bows down. “Yes, Miss D’logiram! We’ll have the basement cleaned up as soon as possible.”
I start making my way back to the foyer, but stop in my tracks. Quickly, I turn to the guard one last time. There it is. The look of fear... Everyone’s afraid of me. Sean is just too busy dying to realize he should be afraid of me. As soon as I have him looking like a living person again, I can break him thoroughly. And yet...
“Make sure to wash him as well! I don’t want to dirty my clothes,” I instruct before turning and leaving.
And before I have more time to wonder about the dead boy downstairs, the world becomes too loud again.