THE BOYS IN THE CABIN
Three old bourbon barrels had been prepared, each wooden cask had been outfitted with nails so that sharp ends peeked out at you from the dark hallow void of each casket. Phillip and the two men, Buck and Charlie waited for the three young boys to climb inside of them. Of course they were hesitant, that was why Buck and Charlie had joined Phillip for these tasks, and Phillip found that their size and double barreled shot guns pursued cowardly and rebellious children.
All three boys peered into the barrels and immediately started backing away from them, behind Phillip there was the unmistakable sound of Buck and Charlie engaging their weapons. Phillip looked at the two men and held a hand up motioning them to hold their fire. Phillip walked over to the boy named Thomas, who had unintentionally ended up being the leader of the little trio. Thomas looked up at him with his large brown eyes, Phillip noticed that the boy had also developed more freckles since he had arrived, Phillip attributed that to all the fresh air and sunshine they had been getting since their arrival to the cabin. “Thomas, you know the drill, get these two to climb into the barrels, the sooner this is over with, the sooner we can get back to the cabin and have dinner” Phillip told him. Thomas looked at Phillip, not bothering to hide his disgust then he turned to his comrades, Dalton and Hunter. Hunter, the eldest of the group, but the smallest, shook his head the moment Thomas made eye contact with him, his large blue eyes widened and his wheat blond hair that had grown out a bit swung wildly as he vehemently shook his head. Hunter began to step back again. It was the other boy, a black haired boy named Dalton that came to Thomas’s aid. He put out an arm to stop Hunter from backing away further. He then turned Hunter so that Hunter was forced to make eye contact with Dalton. “If we don’t do this, then they will shoot all of us…do you understand that?” Hunter’s eyes shot to the barrels with apprehension, this is when Thomas stepped in “It will be over before you know it” he reassured the fearful boy. Hunter looked from Thomas to Dalton and finally conceded. He nodded his head in agreement.
Phillip helped each boy into the barrel feet first. They all reminded Phillip of Russian dolls as they stood in each barrel with their height differences. Phillip grinned at the thought, out loud he told them all “I would use my hands to protect my eyes and my temples” he lifted his hands and covered his own eyes and temples to demonstrate what he meant by this. He only hoped that they followed his instructions once they were crouched inside the barrels.
Buck and Charlie ordered the boys to do this now, each boy carefully crouched inside their assigned barrel now and Phillip could hear the sounds of the sharp nails protruding from within the barrel snag at their clothing.
Once the boys were fully submerged, Phillip, Buck and Charlie began to place the lids on each barrel, each of them holding them down tight in case one of the boys suddenly came down with a sudden case of claustrophobia and panicked. Buck, using one hand to hold his lid down, reached into the tool belt that was secured around his waist and produced more nails and a hammer; he began to nail the lid into place. Then after he was sure his lid was secure, Buck did the same to the lids that Phillip and Charlie were holding in place. Once they were done Phillip asked them “Are you guys ready?” he couldn’t hear the muffled replies from within the barrel, but that was alright, because the answers didn’t really matter much.
Phillip, Buck and Charlie began to tilt the barrels and carefully laid them on their sides in the grass. The boys could be heard now as they let out piercing yelps as some of the nails pierced their skins. Phillip ignored their cries of agony as he began rolling his barrel.
A few feet away there was a minor hill, once all three barrels were lined up at the summit, Phillip gave the barrel one last, powerful push and the barrel went toppling down the hill, beside him Buck and Charlie done the same.
“Let’s bet on whose barrel reaches the bottom first” Buck suggested, he grinned at Phillip which caused him to cringe. He didn’t dislike Buck, but was always a bit appalled by the man’s massive dirty grey beard that housed a mouthful of black and rotting teeth. Charlie laughed and clapped Buck on the back.
Phillip watched as one of the barrels began to come apart when it had only partially completed its trip. The barrel seemed to hit a rock which caused the rest of the barrel to come apart and out came tumbling Hunter, bleeding and looking a bit dazed. He did a few tumbles down the hill before his body came to a full halt. “Lucky little shit” Phillip cursed as he made his way down the hill to retrieve the boy.
Philip began making his way down the hill towards Hunter, he could see that the other two barrels had come to a halt now and still remained tightly sealed. He saw Hunter began to sit up. Philip looked up behind him and saw that Charlie and Buck had already left the summit and most likely were taking the easier rout to the foot of the slop to release Thomas and Dalton. Philip cursed them for not assisting him first then his eyes went back to the area where Hunter had been. To Philip’s surprise, Hunter was gone.
He hurried to descend down the hill, his eyes rapidly scanning the surrounding area. He had not been careful about his footing and felt the toe of his sneaker catch onto the rock, and then Philip had no choice but to brace himself as he lost control of his body and felt himself being thrown and thrashed down the remainder of the hill. After a few moments he finally rolled to a stop. He had had his eyes closed during his tumble, but he could hear chuckling above him. He opened his eyes to see Buck and Charlie, each with a boy by the arm, standing over him jeering. Philip felt himself humiliated and enraged as he hurried to his feet. “Stop laughing you dumbasses” he told the two older men as he swiped angrily at the grass and dirt that covered his clothing. He saw Buck’s eyes darken as he said this; but that expression turned to worry when Phillip pointed to the hill and said “Hunter is gone” both men had been too busy watching Phillip that they had not noticed that they were missing one very small blonde boy. “Shit” Charlie cursed as he shoved Thomas at Philip and readied his shot gun.
Philip reached over and grabbed Dalton by the arm. “Take them back to the cabin and try not to lose them” Buck ordered him. Philip watched as Buck and Charlie, weapons ready, made their way through the high grass and into a nearby wooded area. “What’s going to happen to him?” Dalton asked in a tiny voice. Philip looked down at the boy who was looking up at him. Dalton was bleeding from numerous areas and one of his eyes was blood red. Philip would have to get them both back to the cabin before he could determine if one of the nails had pricked his eye or if he had just simply busted a blood vessel. “I don’t know” Philip lied, he knew very well what was going to happen to Hunter when Charlie and Buck found him, but he didn’t think it was a good idea to tell Dalton or Thomas, not while they were still out in the open anyway. He didn’t need these two running off too. “Let’s head back” both boys exchanged a look; they knew this was an order and not a suggestion. Phillip saw Thomas looked worriedly back at the woods. “He’ll be fine” Philip told him as he gave his arm a hard yank, indicating that it was time to go and that the show was over. Thomas paused for a second and Philip was afraid that the boy may decide it was time to act brave. Philip often worried about Thomas, he had been betting that Thomas would have been the first one to grow a pair and attempt to skip off, never in a million years would Phillip had put his money on Hunter to be the first to attempt to flee. To Philip’s relief, Thomas relented and the three of them hiked back to the cabin without incident.
Once Philip had the boys back inside he ordered them both into the bathroom to strip and get into the shower. Philip felt no joy or arousal as both of the boys hurried to do as they were told. Harvey, the man that was in charge of securing and delivering the boys liked watching the young boys shower together, but not Philip, he liked girls, but he had not been in contact with one for over four years, when he himself had been abducted, but there was a television in the cabin and once in a while Buck and Charlie carelessly left behind some of their pornographic magazines which Philip then squirreled away into the room he had to himself at the cabin. He was supposed to share with Harvey, but Harvey preferred to take the evening shift and would often sit up all night in the room where they kept the boys, just watching them all night. Thankfully Harvey had been chemically castrated or else Philip would have the added annoyance of hearing the boys cry all night.
After the boys had showered most of the dirt and blood off of them, they patted their bodies dry in the bathroom, wincing once in a while when they hit a particularly sore spot. Philip watched them with little sympathy, he too had endured the trials, and he had managed to survive them, he knew that if the boys toughened up like he had then they would make it until the end. Philip was never quite sure how long the trials would take, once a week they bused the boys to the lab, and after all the tests, scan and blood work was done then it was the doctors there that would determine that the boys could be relieved of their tasks. Philip was not sure why they had to complete the trial or what the doctors were looking for, but he knew the next stage was easier, Philip himself was usually just subjected to some scans and blood work, and once in a while he was given a shot that made him feel funny for a few days. He had also began to feel something else, even after the shot’s disorienting factor had worn off, he felt an insatiable craving for something, what it was for he did not know, he had noticed other changes too. He was experiencing one now as he watched the boys dab at the blood that had been permitted to flow more freely now that there was no grim or cloth clotting the small puncture wounds that dotted their bodies. The sight of the blood made Philip hungry, no not just hungry, he was suddenly starving. “Hurry up and get dressed” he barked at them. Both boys scurried to pull on the shorts and oversized tee shirts that had been provided for them, once they were fully dressed Philip led the way into the kitchen.
When the two boys were seated at the table Philip began to search the fridge and cabinets for something to make them for dinner, most of what was provided was canned and easy to microwave food, Philip felt dissatisfied with this, because he would have killed for a steak. Buck and Charlie often provided the groceries and often came back with a load of cheap canned and box items, Philip suspected that they were given a generous budget for provisions, but just shopped for what was cheapest and pocketed the rest. Philip finally decided on canned raviolis and macaroni and cheese for dinner.
He began to open cans and boil water for the noodles; he could hear the two boys at the table whispering to one another. “Cut it out” he warned them without bothering to turn around. The boys feel silent then after a few moments Thomas spoke up “Hey Philip, I have a question I want to ask you…” Thomas paused as he waited for Philip to give him permission to continue. Philip had made a point to discourage the boys from speaking to him. He was often rough and made it clear that he was not their friend and had no plans in aiding them in escaping. Philip had learned long ago that their presence here was only temporary and Philip had no desire to become attached to any of them. It was not hard to feel detached to them and to only view them as blood and bone, he knew eventually it would be Dalton and Thomas’s bloated bodies that he would be digging a hole for, sooner than later if Buck and Charlie didn’t locate Hunter soon. Philip was bored though and wanted to distract himself from imagining what the consequences for him may be if Hunter was not retrieved. “Go ahead and ask” he finally told Thomas. “How long have you been here?” he asked Philip. Philip didn’t have to think about it “It will be five years this winter” he told Thomas as he dished food into paper plates for the three of them. He began passing the plates around, then sat down himself to eat. Now he was absolutely ravished, he saw that Thomas wasn’t eating. “What is it now?” he asked impatiently, Thomas was just a little chatty Kathy tonight. “Hunter isn’t coming back is he?” it was more of a statement than a question, Philip shot Thomas a look and his eyes darted over to Dalton, whose face wrinkled as he fought off tears. “He should have never tried to run, now shut up and eat” Philip said impatiently then focused on his plate and began to shovel the rest of his meal into his mouth. Thomas opened his mouth as if he were about to say more, then shut it again and began to eat. “That’s a wise choice kid” Philip thought as he finished his meal then downed a glass of ice cold water he had poured himself from the tap, it was at this moment that he heard footsteps on the porch. “Finish your dinner then go back to the room” he ordered both of them as he stood up and walked over to the front door. The front door was bolted with three locks, it was handy when it came to keeping the kids in, but a pain in the ass when he wanted to get out, he located the keys he needed then let himself out onto the porch where Charlie and Buck were waiting for him.
They stood on the rickety front porch, big, burly and ugly. Charlie looked a bit disheveled and seemed to dart his eyes away in an attempt to avoid Philips gaze, Philip noticed that Buck was glaring at him. “What happened?” Philip asked the two men, Charlie shuffled his feet and looked uncomfortable “Oh shit, he didn’t get away did he?” Philip asked as panicky crept up his spin. To his relief Buck said “No, we found him…Didn’t we Charlie?” Buck said gruffly attempting to catch Charlie’s eye. Charlie shot him a look but said nothing. Philip felt that he was missing something. “Alright then, what seems to be the problem?” Buck continued to look hard at Charlie who was suddenly shy under Buck’s hard gaze. “You will see when you bury the body” Philip looked at the two of them perplexed for a moment, but had no time to question them because it was already late in the day and he had no intention of digging a grave in the dark. “Where’s the body?” he asked them. Buck pointed to the west which pleased Philip. The plot had a lot of shade and he wouldn’t have to suffer in the sun the entire time. “I’ll get my gear and head out that way” he told them.
A few moments later Philip trailed out to the west of the property, at first he couldn’t see Hunter, and then he spotted a white canvas shoe poking out from the high grass. Philip made his way to where Hunter lay in the grass.
When Philip approached Hunter he was face down in the grass, his wheat blond hair was matted with blood and tissue. Phillip didn’t shy away from the scene though, he figured that he was simply just desensitized from that sort of thing, something else caught his eye though, and that disgusted him. He saw that the rear of Hunter’s pants was also stained with blood, Philip’s mind wondered back to his recent encounter with Buck and Charlie and it didn’t take him long to come to a conclusion. “Sick fat bastard” Philip cursed Charlie aloud as he dug his spade into the earth.
Philip had dug so many holes over the years he no longer had to guess how deep he had to make a grave for it to be deep enough not to draw too much wild life. After he had dug the hole roughly five feet deep he had dashed to a nearby shed to retrieve some lye to sprinkle onto Hunter’s remains. After he was done he began to cover the body back up with dirt. It was starting to get dark now, and even though his muscles ached he pressed on until the job was done, once he had patted the earth back into place and had kicked some vegetation around, Philip stood back to admire his handy work, pleased, he picked up his shovel and the water jug he had brought with him, he decided it was too dark to make his way back to the shed with the lye so he left it there, planning to replace it the next day. Philip made his way back to the cabin.
Some of the cabin lights had been turned on and so had the light that was outside on the porch. Philip could see the shadowy figures of Buck and Charlie, having a beer and enjoying the now cool air. Philip stomped onto the porch and unceremoniously balanced the shovel against the cabin wall “Can I have one of those” Philip asked referring to the cooler filled with ice and beer that Buck and Charlie had brought with them. Buck tossed him one and Philip caught it and began to chug it down, digging was thirsty work and he had drained his water hours before. “You sure your old enough to be drinking that?” Charlie joked. Philip finished the beer and crushed the can in his fist. “I didn’t think age made a difference to you Charlie” Philip retorted. It took Charlie a moment to realize what Philip was referring too and he made a move to attack Philip but stopped himself. Philip stood his ground undeterred. He had once been afraid of Charlie and Buck, but something inside Philip had changed. He no longer was afraid of the two brutish men or of the guns he carried. Philip wondered if he subconsciously yearned for death that was why he no longer felt fear. Buck stood up so that his body separated the teen from the man “Why don’t we all call it a night?” Buck suggested. Philip shrugged and tossed the empty beer can into the cooler “Yeah, sure, thanks for the beer” he told Buck. He then turned and let himself back into the cabin and secured the locks.
Once he was away from Buck and Charlie he felt that he could allow himself to relax a little bit, he saw that Thomas and Hunter were looking at him from where they both sat on the couch. The television was on but the sound was so low that Philip doubted that they had been watching it. They both looked at him expectantly. Philip was tired from digging all evening and he had no patience to coddle the boys “Your friend is dead” he told them both. Thomas looked down at his hands that lay in his lap and Dalton turned away from Philip so Philip wouldn’t see his tears. Philip had no regrets, but felt that he should still say something “He’s better off anyway, trust me” he told them as he marched into the bathroom.
Philip left the door open as he showered, he hated feeling so exposed, but it was what he had been instructed to do. He stepped out of the shower and listened for a moment; he could hear the two boys whispering but only caught a little bit of what was being said. It seemed as if Thomas was attempting to sooth Dalton. Philip decided that neither of them were an immediate threat and began to get dressed.
Once he was clean he gathered up the clothing into a bag which they would take with them tomorrow to exchange for a new bag of clothing. Philip was not quite sure what they did with their dirty clothes, but once a week when they would visit the lab a lab tech would take the dirty bag and issue Philip another one with fresh clothes for all the boys. Now that Hunter was gone Philip supposed the bag would be a little lighter that was until Harvey returned with the new boy. This was another thing that was weighing on Philips mind, Harvey was suppose to return nights ago, once in a while he was a day or two late because he had to wait for the perfect opportunity to snag the new kids, but he was almost a week late by now and that worried Philip. He wondered if Harvey had been leering at some kids at a playground and had been picked up. This has happened before so Philip assumed that Harvey had not learned his lesson the first time.
Philip made his way back into the living room, the two boys had been deep in a whispered discussion which ceased the moment Philip entered the room. “Time for you two to get to bed, we all have to take a trip to the lab early in the morning” he told them both as he lugged the bag of dirty clothes over to the front door to ensure he didn’t forget them in the morning. Without protest both boys got up and Thomas went over to the television and turned it off.
Once both boys were back in their room Philip began to turn off the lights in the cabin then made his way into his bedroom.
His bedroom was located across the hall from the boys, and because they had painted the windows shut and an alarm would sound if the boys were to mess with them, Philip didn’t need to worry about watching them all night. He sat an alarm and would check on them every three hours. He not only did this to ensure that they were still in their beds, but when they went through particularly dangerous trials he had to check to see if they were still breathing. Once in a while a kid would suffer a contusion to the head and die later in his sleep. It was unfortunate when this happened because it meant that Philip had to drag the body outside in the middle of the night and bury it at dawn. He really hated when that happened.
Philip was not completely unsympathetic to the boy’s plight, he too had gone through the trials and he knew what pain that they endured on a regular bases. He had only been one year older than the Thomas and Dalton when he had been abducted.
Philip had been twelve and living with his grandmother at the time. The majority of his life he had been parented by his grandmother, he had never met his biological father, and he doubted his mother even knew who he was. His mother was only in his life periodically. This was usually when the latest boyfriend had beaten her silly or had been arrested. When she was home she spent most of her time prowling the bars at night and sleeping during the day, then one night she would meet a new man, return only to pack her things then she would be off again. She usually did this in the middle of the night so she could dodge the disapproval of her mother, but she did often stop by Philip’s room to drop a kiss on his forehead before she would disappear from his life once more.
Philip didn’t have it so bad though, his grandmother was often kind to him, made sure he had decent clothes on his back and plenty to eat.
His grandmother was also convinced that not enough air and sunshine would stunt his growth, Philip would have rather stayed in the house playing video games, but his grandmother would often shoe him outside, insisting that he enjoy the nice weather. It was his grandmother’s concern over his growth that had led Philip to the skate park that day, making him easy prey for Harvey.
He had been at the skate park that day, he had his board with him, but since Philip had not yet developed any real skating skills at the time, he was watching other boys perform neat tricks on their boards. His constant trips to the public water fountain had given him the urge to urinate and he had gone into the restroom at the park to relieve himself.
He had been at the urinal when he had felt a rag being placed over his mouth, after a short struggle, Philip’s world had gone black.
Philip had woken some time later, not at the cabin, but at a warehouse of some type. In the beginning it had been just him and Harvey, and unfortunately for Philip, Harvey had not yet been chemically castrated. That had happened later, after one of Philip’s checkups at the lab, it had been then that Harvey had been taken away for some time and Philip had been introduced to Buck and Charlie.
It had been those two men that had put Philip through his trials, and they had not been as gentle with him as they were with the other boys. It had been after some completely preventable deaths that the trials had been changed. Philip had asked one of the lab techs one time why they had insisted on torturing him and the lab tech had just shrugged “I don’t know kid, I’m just here to draw blood and mind my business” Philip didn’t know exactly what they were doing, but he eventually accepted that it had a purpose. Soon enough, after a lab visit, it had been determined that Philip was no longer needed to be subjected to the trials and they had begun to bring new boys in.
The first batch had not lasted more than a couple of weeks; it was another year before they had rotated the second group of boys in. Philip had learned from each of the boys that they had all come from different backgrounds and social status. There seemed to be no pattern to which boys were chosen or why, at least none that was apparent to Philip. At first he was just relieved that he himself no longer had to complete the trials, and in the beginning he had felt a pang of guilt when he saw the other boys bleeding or heard them scream in pain, but eventually that began to vanish and he had begun to think of the boys as a necessary means to an end. He wasn’t sure what the end was, but he was pretty sure it was coming soon. He had a gut feeling about this.
He listened at the door attempting to detect movement from across the hall. The cabin was small and the floors creaked so it didn’t take much movement to cause a ruckus, especially at night. Philip heard nothing but silence, deciding that it was safe; he went to his closet and retrieved a laptop and a cell phone he had concealed underneath some spare blankets on the shelf. He plugged the phone into the charger and checked to see if Harvey had left any messages, seeing there was none he sat the phone aside then opened his laptop.
He logged in and begun to check his messages there. None of them were from Harvey, but he had quit the collection from a girl he chatted with online, Clarissa. Philip had been chatting with Clarissa for several months now, and had told her that his family were farmers and often used it as an excuse as to why he had not been in contact with her. Clarissa seemed to accept the explanation easily enough, Philip suspected that Clarissa was a bit lonely and this was the reason why.
Clarissa was a thicker girl, but not unattractive, she had a pretty face and full flowing brown hair. Philip also liked her because it didn’t take too much persuading on his part to convince her to send him a sexy picture, they were never the nudes he requested, but they were often of her in some type of lingerie and in provocative pose, which Philip supposed was better than nothing. Philip felt a stir in him as he thought about those pictures and decided to message Clarissa.
Philip had to wait for about ten minutes before Clarissa messaged him back “How is my farm boy?” she asked him. Philip thought for a minute then type “Worn out from digging post holes all day, how is my baby?” he waited as Clarissa typed finally her response popped up on the screen “Just fine, laying here alone, missing you” then a picture was sent. It had been a month since Phillip had spoken to Clarissa; it appeared as if she had lost a few pounds. The picture she sent him was the sexist yet, she had all of her long hair piled up on top of her head and she was wearing a lacy nightgown. She had arranged the nightgown so that it treated Phillip to a tiny peek of her more intimate places. Philip felt himself become fully aroused as he looked at the picture, something else happened to his body too.
The feeling wasn’t unpleasant, but startling. It felt as if all of Philips pores had opened up at once, it was a heady sensation. Philips entire body shuddered in pleasure for a moment and when the wave subsided he intended to type once again that was until he noticed his hands.
Black hair had sprung onto his knuckles; it was tall and appeared too thick. Philip raised a finger eye level and touched one of them. It felt rough and spiky and without warning, the new hair began to wave as if it were algae in an ocean. Philip was so surprised by this that he toppled over in his chair.
Once on the floor he noticed the same black course hair had sprung up on his arms also and all seemed to be moving as if in a hypnotic dance. Philip watched the hairs sway back and forth, hypnotized by their movement, he could vaguely hear the insistent dinging from his messenger alert, but he ignored it. Philip didn’t have a mirror in his room so he began to strip off his clothes so that he could inspect the rest of his body.
Sure enough, the black spiky hair covered his entire body, all moving and dancing to some beat that Philip was unable to hear. He looked at his screen and saw that Clarissa was not going to cease messaging him. Annoyed he typed a lame excuse to her and logged off of the computer.
He felt another sensation then, he lifted up his arm and saw as the hair had began to slowly retract back into his skin, soon enough his body had returned to normal and it appeared as if the incident had never happened. Philip’s returned to Clarissa then, he wondered if her picture had been what had provoked the hair to spring up in the first place. He turned on his computer again, he had older pictures of her that he had saved, and he found them now and watched as the gallery popped onto the screen. He then selected one that was an old favorite and enlarged it so that it filled the screen.
He stared at it for a moment and let his natural urges over take him, sure enough that pleasurable sensation overtook his body and the little dancing hairs covered his body once more, this time they were abundant and dancing more wildly.
Philip opened the door, still naked and crept into the bathroom, once inside he shut the door behind him so he could examine himself in private. That moment it concerned him very little if the boys did attempt an escape, he had bigger issues at the moment.
Philip’s reflection in the mirror shocked him and he was taken aback for a moment. The reflection in the mirror was not his usual pock marked scarred face, but resembled a puffer fish. The black spikes covered his face and the only contrast was his cool blue eyes that looked back at him from the mirror. Phillip stuck out his tong, it too was covered in black hair, he reached up with his fingers and touched it, it was finer than the hair that covered his body, but it swayed underneath his fingertips. Philip focused on the mirror and after a few moments the hairs slowly receded and soon enough he was greeted by his own reflection. He had suddenly transformed into an unremarkable sixteen year old boy with messy brown hair, bad skin and sharp blue eyes. He stuck out his tong and the hairs there had also receded.
They had a visit to the lab tomorrow, Philip briefly wondered if he should mention this during his check up, but then immediately decided against it. He had seen firsthand what happened to kids that failed, and if they thought for one moment Philip was going crazy, they would have no problem terminating him. He decided to keep this to himself, just until he could learn more about what was happening to him. He didn’t have much contact with the outside world, for all he knew this may as well be a common affliction, he decided he would do a little research before he told anyone.
Philip returned to his room and decided to call it a night; they had to be up tomorrow to get Thomas and Dalton ready for the lab, they were already going to be in trouble for losing Hunter so it would not be wise to be late for their appointment.