Suggested Audio Candy:
 Combichrist “Shut Up & Swallow”
 Suicide Commando “Die Motherfucker Die”
Tom McGillis deserved a slow painful death. Right now, he was getting exactly what he deserved. Both his metatarsals had been severed rendering him immobile and he had spent the past thirty-six hours shackled to an iron chair in a dank basement, the coordinates of which, he had no idea about whatsoever. That had only been the start of his suffering; a gentle introduction to a much larger plan which involved him being callously chastised for the numerous wrongs he had committed during his sorry life. Both of his nipples had been removed with a scalpel, the wounds then burned closed with a red-hot poker, and his torso was littered with gashes and abrasions from countless lashes with a rusted machete. He was in bad shape; but any blood loss was being combated by a questionable transfusion he was receiving through the arteries in both wrists and, try as he did to bleed out and cease his anguish, such escape was evidently not being facilitated.
His aggressor had remained ambiguous to this point; whoever it was that had taken exception with Tom wasn’t ready to be revealed just yet and hadn’t uttered a word as the agonizing pain had been distributed. He had attempted to plead but his nothing he said seemed to make a blind bit of difference. If anything it had worked against him; as the gag currently pulled taut between his teeth was particularly troublesome, especially given the fact that the both sides of his mouth had been sliced approximately an inch wider and the tip of his tongue removed and discarded on an alloy tray within eye-shot. His mind was racing; that was the one freedom remaining to him and he wasn’t about to surrender that without first gaining clarity. Who would do such a thing; act so hideously and without so much as a shred of remorse? The options seemed plentiful; he had pushed away every single person who held him dear and habitually double-crossed those who placed their faith in him to boot. He had been far too much of a realist to believe in karma; right now he was paying for his inability to fathom the wake of destruction he had left behind him.
Tom always had a plan B and the fact that, in his current predicament, he was without an available exit was hurting him most of all. He wasn’t short of cash; nearly $60k in savings would ordinarily act as sweetener but not on this occasion it appeared. All the money in the world wasn’t likely to save him from a torturous end here as negotiations broke down at around the time that a serrated blade was driven with some forced into his left thigh. However, if he could deduce who was punishing him this way, then perhaps he could talk his way out of any further injustices. It seemed like a long shot but that had to better than no shot. His thoughts were at high tide and he knew that time was not something in abundant supply. Infection had begun to set into a number of his wounds and he wasn’t expecting due medical attention any time soon. This conundrum represented his final throw of the dice; if he didn’t work some shit out with acute haste then he would be heading for the mortician’s slab.
His first consideration was as to whom he may have wronged recently. This was likely a reflex-action; somebody still reeling from a fresh discrepancy. This kind of fucked up affair was probably something to do with the workplace; an embittered colleague or cut-short affair. He had been culpable of crimes belonging to both categories over the past month alone. Being responsible for a sworn enemy getting canned because of loose lips and blatant deformation of character may well be enough to push Neal Denby over the edge; his wife and two kids would likely have had a rocket waiting for Neal when he returned home to enlighten them as to his festive dismissal. Bad blood had run freely between the pair ever since Neal stole a lucrative contract from under Tom’s nose and Tom repaid him in kind by sleeping with his fiance and generally making life miserable for Neal ever since. Despite their mutual hatred of one another, Neal just didn’t seem like the type, if there was indeed a type. He didn’t seem capable of such unrestrained retribution; by all accounts he was a wuss. Whoever had been draining his resolve along with his sanguine fluids for the best part of two days certainly couldn’t be accused of wussiness.
He had been dating Lindy for six weeks and told her he loved her after barely three. She fell for his heartfelt pronouncement and was already picking out colors for their proposed shared condo when he unceremoniously dumped her for her so-called friend Carmen and boasted about his indiscretions to Barbara in financing knowing full well that a problem shared is swiftly halved in her estimations. Lindy hadn’t turned up for work since the whole debacle; Tom hadn’t seen hide nor hair of the girl and presumed she had been binge-eating in front of Beaches. She wouldn’t have the first clue where to start when it came to getting even. Nevertheless she certainly had motive; perhaps she would pay someone to do the dirty work on her behalf. That was a factor gnawing away at Tom’s psyche more with every passing moment. She was well off enough to come in 50/50 for the deposit so what was to say that she wouldn’t share the wealth again if for a decent enough cause. Was the punishment fitting of the crime? He suspected not.
Come to think of it; there was another female who had reason to despise Tom. His sister Courtney had been cut out of their late father’s inheritance on account of poison being dripped into his ear as he lay on his death-bed. In Tom’s opinion she hadn’t deserved one red cent; a view not shared by Courtney as she was already a month behind with rent and struggling to make ends meet with her paltry wage as a waitress. At the funeral they almost came to blows and her partner Daniel had to stand between them ripping each other’s throats clean out. He was a weasel but who was to say that he wasn’t a sleeping giant. His sibling knew how to stoop down and dirty but, all things considered, either one of them would have reasonable cause for being disgruntled after his shameful lack of family virtue. He wasn’t ruling them out but the further he traversed through his memory banks, the more others began to enter the fray.
There was Curtis Brampton. Tom and Curtis had been friends ever since elementary school until which time as Tom had seen fit to ruin his family Christmas by drinking too much and telling him a few painful home truths. Curtis was completely oblivious to any hardship between them but it had been building within Tom for some time. The fact that he felt this amount of contempt towards his buddy was one thing; the fact that he chose the dinner table to make his feelings known, entirely another. Curtis promptly ejected him and swore blind he would never forget such a display of ignorance and misplaced vitriol. The pair hadn’t spoken since and Tom knew that there was no love loss there but again he just didn’t seem justified given the amount of disenchantment being exhibited. Sticks and stones came to mind and Curtis seemed least likely to be responsible for such vile acts. Surely he was missing something; as much as all these bearing bugs had reason not to send a Christmas card, none of them fitted such a nefarious bill.
Tom was clutching at straws by the time he arrived at his next potential sicko. The old widowed man who lived down the way became a shoe-in for dementia after having his last scrap of dignity stripped from him on account of another mistruth. Tom was sixteen when the incident occurred and, while Leslie Blake admittedly crushed on the boy, he never would’ve dreamed of acting on his occasional impulses. No formal charges were ever compiled but Blake’s good name was tarnished forevermore after the grapevine became rife with rumors about iniquitous touching. To Tom there was amusement to be gleaned from messing with the old guy but never once had he spared a thought for the recipient of his slanderous Chinese whispers. Blake was now agoraphobic and never so much as drew his drapes in the morning as there would invariably be fresh graffiti to scrub away. Pedophile, kiddie fiddler, sick old fuck; he’d had them all. However, he was just lonely; when Tom’s visitations became more frequent, he welcomed the company. It had been the first time he had felt alive since his wife passed fifteen years prior. He had every reason to punish Tom although his posture alone would have given him away by now as he was far too frail to drive a blade into Tom’s flesh and would barely break the skin.
There was only one other who could have harbored a grudge and this seemed the most improbable of all considering it was based on an admittedly potent disdain from when Tom was merely fourteen. Miss Jessop, his late middle-aged history tutor, despised the child from the first time she laid eyes on him. Sometimes, no matter how esteemed the teacher, there will be just this one kid that rubs them up the wrong way. Tom did perpetually and was solely responsible for a public meltdown after ribbing her about her sexuality in front of his classmates one time too many. She lashed out and was promptly shown the exit for pinning him against the classroom wall and informing him of her plan to see he never graduated. He did; but Caroline Jessop wasn’t around to witness it. The last he had heard she was living downtown with some biker chick called Alice and turning tricks. How the mighty fall; that thought gave him a crumb of consolation which was swiftly removed by the cellar door bolt sliding across behind him.
He felt no closer to learning the identity of his antagonist and, instead, had just received an unwanted refresher course on why anybody positioned slightly to the left of their right mind would wish to see him snuffed out. There was nothing Tom could do to right that many wrongs and, even if he could, he probably wouldn’t out of stubbornness alone. Sure, he was a piece of shit, of the highest order it would appear. But he’d had a lifetime perfecting the art of fuckery and thus felt no remorse for his actions. It was like a sick tick which Tom enjoyed scratching and he saw no reason to change the habit of a lifetime. Whoever was responsible could burn in hell as far as he was concerned; he was too close to dead to care any longer but still it needled him that he hadn’t found clarity. Even now, with death looming large to his rear, he remained belligerent; the most important thing to him now, the one thing he was clinging onto, was the need from control. It had been snatched from him in every other conceivable way but not in his mind. He had to know or his entire life would have been for nothing; when the inescapable fact was that it was already the case.
He knew the voice the very moment it cut through the silence.
“You really are a piece of work, did you know that? How stupid of me, of course you know that. You know exactly what a piece of work you are but, the fact is, you don’t care. It matters not to you how many lives you poison, how much cruelty you’re culpable of, how much negligence you exhibit. I’ve known you for long enough to know exactly how your twisted little mind operates and that is why I’m assured that you believe that you have done nothing to warrant this. What’s a little human suffering eh Tom? You’ll be alright. It’ll never end up back on your doorstep. That’s all other people are to you isn’t it? Casualties waiting to happen. Victims of Tom. Those you have shafted. You’ve built up quite the list Thomas”
His sister was the only person who called him that although he had worked that one through long before the end of her spirited monologue. Courtney unzipped her mask and threw it into his lap.
“Feels good to get that off Tom. As you know I hate anything over my face. Or had you never realized? How foolish of me. There was me thinking that you knew everything about your younger sister. Weren’t you burdened with the task of looking after me? Being there to protect me at whatever cost? Isn’t that what a big brother is supposed to do? I believe it is. So why then, and please pull no punches, have you decided to make my life a living misery? Oh I’m forgetting, you can’t tell me. I’m fine with that as I don’t give a festering fuck what you have to say right now. It’s all just odious. You’re a miserable excuse of a man Tom. We’re supposedly bound by blood. That’s why I want mine coursing your ventricles as I snatch away that last breath from your lungs. The thing is brother dearest, I couldn’t do something like this without a little moral support. It’s a big deal when all is said and done. I’m not sure I would be able to pull off such a well-conceived plan without a little outside influence”
With that, a second figure appeared from the shadow to his right and positioned themselves at the opposing side to Courtney. Tom strained to see who this fresh intake was but the penny dropped the moment his assailant twitched. Daniel Wakeford; he should have known and, indeed, the thought had crossed his mind although never in a million years did he expect the pair to be in such callous cahoots. Daniel too slid off his face gear.
“You stole something which was rightfully mine. Your own flesh and blood and you ensured I was cut out of the will for what reason? What reason could there be for something so utterly heartless? Daniel dear, do you have an inkling?”
“No Court, other than that your brother is a sick little puppy”
“The sickest. You know that in some countries theft is a crime punishable by having one’s fingers removed? It never made it to the U.S. We’re too civilized for that kind of stuff. We would never remove all ten of your digits for what you’ve done. Maybe not. But Daniel has agreed to five each and it’s just so much easier with a spotter”
Both parties produced a pair of bolt cutters and commenced to clamp his fingers one by one. They staggered their removal; working in vicious rhythm as they pinched the handles and another pinky dropped. Tom’s screams were so heartfelt that the fissures around his mouth separated wide and the gag slackened enough for his yelps to become public knowledge. This suited Courtney and Daniel down to the ground as they were finding every subsequent snip more than a little moreish.
“How does it feel Tom? Please tell me it hurts. A nod or wink will suffice. Just something to describe exactly how it feels right now. You see, we all have a vested interest. Not just Daniel and I. We were just front of the queue. It would appear as though you’ve ruffled some feathers brother”
A third person stepped forward and this party was only too happy to get up close and personal. Starting at his temple, Lindy dragged her long tapered nail along his flesh, with enough conviction to break the skin and leave a crimson track in its wake. She wasn’t hidden behind a veil and neither did she vocalize her disdain; instead she grasped his member in one gloved hand whilst revealing the cheese wire in the other. Pulling the slack taut around the belled end of his dick, she circumnavigated the tip and tightened, lopping it off in one precise motion.
“Got my keepsake”
Tom had lost sight of the pain barrier and was barely holding onto consciousness by the time perpetrator number four and five made themselves known. Curtis and Neal had never previously met but were in tandem as they made a b-line for his feet and began sizing them up with their ten inch jigsaw blade. Each of them commandeered an end and began to rock the serrated teeth through the epidermis, muscle and ultimately marrow of his ankles. To add insult to injury they engaged in small talk as they nonchalantly removed both feet from their respective legs.
“We may have an opening at work…Neal is it?”
“I’ll keep you posted. Jot down your number before we finish up here and I’ll get back to you in the week”
I really appreciate that thank you”
While Tom was overjoyed over the pair’s blossoming friendship, he was far less elated by the fact that he now didn’t have a leg to stand on. As he began choking on his own metallic bile, another surprise revealed itself. Leslie Blake stepped forward to claim the prize already unwillingly donated; the excised tip of Tom’s tongue. However, considering it had been this muscle which had robbed him of any public standing and left him broken, due to the barefaced lies which had rolled straight off it, he decided to remove the source. He untied Tom’s gag and, for a few seconds, the room became filled with expletives and hissing rage. Using a barbecue fork to lance the stump of his licker, he wrenched it forth and twisted the prongs until which time as they afforded the leverage to yank it straight from his gagging gullet.
“You really ought to learn how to respect your elders son. Children should be seen and not heard, isn’t that how the old saying goes? Well, thanks to my cataracts you’re all a bit of a blur right now. However, there’s no issue with my hearing. Sounds like you really want to say something Tom. it must be so frustrating for you not being able to voice your concern. Never mind boy, there’s always sign language. Oh how insensitive of me, you don’t appear to have any fingers. Well you know what else they say…silence is golden”
“It certainly is”
A final visitation confirmed to Tom that his day was only going to get worse from hereon in. It was Miss Jessop and she was clutching the machete with a gleeful glint in her eye.
“You should have learned a little about cause and effect by now. Thankfully, once a teacher always a teacher. I’ve got one more lesson for you Tom but this one doesn’t feature in the curriculum. For every action there’s a reaction and it would appear that the worm has finally turned for you young man”
She placed the blade against his Adam’s apple before continuing.
“The most important lesson we learn in life is to always use our heads. Well seeing as you seemingly have no use for yours I thought would look divine on my mantle piece”
Tom’s eyes were bulging as she prepared to bring the blade into play. Miss Jessop began carving, puncturing his larynx and causing a warm jet of fluid to vacate his throat.
“Our school experience is supposed to set us up for later life you know. It’s where we find our identity. To your credit Tom, you always knew what you wanted to be when you grew up and for that I applaud you. The problem is that nobody likes a bastard. I’m most disappointed that you didn’t figure that one out for yourself. Therefore, it is with heavy heart, that I inform you that you have failed your mid-term. There is a consolation. It would seem as though everybody wants a piece of you sonny boy. Well, a mind is a terrible thing to waste”
She wrestled with his head with one hand as the other pushed down on the machete, until which time as it made contact with the gurney beneath him and his head came loose in her palm. She hoisted it high and brought the blade into play a second time, this time scalping his disembodied head to afford access to what was inside. Tom’s legs were still twitching, despite the fact that his ravaged body was no longer receiving instruction. What goes around had evidently come back around; his life choices had become his dying follies. Seven embittered acquaintances had each found their own resolution and, as they worked in unison to clean up the almighty mess he had left behind, they did so without any verbal interaction whatsoever. Leslie stayed behind to feed any silage to his basement burner and the others filtered out in single file, each grasping their own bloody keepsake.
Tom McGillis learned a valuable lesson that day. Karma was indeed a bitch and, while any single punishment would have seemed ill-fitting of his crimes, the fact that he habitually ruined the lives of those around him had come back to haunt him in the most heinous manner. The penny finally dropped, around the time that the last droplet of life force was draining through his ruptured epidermis. Sometimes in life a second chance is facilitated but you have to catch it in time. His decision not to heed the signs had taken its toll after all these years and, if there was one positive to be drawn from this whole sorry mess then it was that others finally realized their own potential to move on.
True to his word, Curtis managed to secure a position for Neal at his organization and the two went on to become firm friends and Curtis the best man at his wedding to Lindy. Courtney and Daniel finally caught up on their rent and moved into an upscale apartment in the more monied part of town. Mrs Jessop began teaching again, only this time, as a lecturer in Biology. As for Leslie Blake, he died of renal failure while he slept in his bed around a year later. However, for the last eleven months of his life he conquered his agoraphobia and met an old dear named Ethel at bingo who made those few months pleasurable. In some bizarre way, Tom helped bring these people together. While it was painfully clear that would have been far from his intention, he finally achieved a good deed.