Flesh & Blood

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Horror  |  House: Booksie Classic

Kelly thought she knew who she was.
Kelly is about to discover her own flesh and blood.

Reading Discretion is advised as contains strong adult themes.


Flesh & Blood A Short Horror Story by Lee Franklin ? Copyright © 2021 by Lee Franklin No part of this story may be reproduced, scanned, or distributed in any printed or electronic form without permission. Please do not encourage the piracy of copyrighted materials in violation of the author’s rights. All rights reserved. Lee Franklin, Yorkshire, UK. ? Kelly revelled in the pleasure of blood pumping through her body as the pavement peeled away under her feet, the burn in her lungs, the pounding of her heart, the early morning sun kissing her face. Ducks honked and fluttered off across the lake as she ran past, their indignation making her smile. After a twelve-hour shift in the ER as a trainee doctor, it was a simple joy to be out from under the fluorescent lights. A familiar, elderly man and his beautiful German Shepherd meandered along. They were a regular feature of the park, and she nodded him a hello as she ran past. It happened so fast. A snarling blur of black and gold fur slammed her down the bank and into the muddy reeds. The German Shepherd stood over her. Confusion stormed through Kelly’s mind. Never had the dog shown interest in her before, let alone aggression. Kelly avoided eye contact with the dog, attempting to calm it. Still, it growled and snapped, its teeth flashing too close to her face. She could smell the wet, rank stench of meat on its breath. She froze, her heart pounding so loudly in her ears that she didn’t hear the old man approach. “There you are, Shirley.” Kelly looked up, shielding her eyes from the sun. She sighed in relief, and as the fear faded away, anger took its place. The man leered over her, his bushy white beard and blue eyes reminding her of Santa Claus. The look in his eyes was anything but. “Get your fucking dog away from me. You can’t just let your dog—” Kelly’s body erupted in a spasm of pain. Every muscle clenched, straining against itself as she jerked in the mud. Her teeth cracked against each other, biting through her tongue. It stopped almost as suddenly as it started. Kelly lay sprawled in the mud, her muscles throbbing in exhausted agony. She willed her body to move, but it refused. A shadow swung over her, blotting out the sun. “Oh, this is going to be a lot of fun,” Santa said. A pinch in her arm and the world swam around her. Not as old as he initially appeared and surprisingly strong, the man jerked Kelly to her feet. Half carrying her, half walking her, he staggered towards a navy blue Bedford van parked along the road. He reeked of cigarettes, vinegar, and grease. “Hey, are you alright there? What happened?” a man’s voice called out. Santa froze. Kelly tried to talk, to call for help, but her mouth wouldn’t co-operate, and nothing more than a murmur broke free. “Oh, yes, can you please help me?” Santa answered. “This young woman was running along. I noticed her swerving all over the footpath, and then she just tripped and fell into the reeds over there. I don’t know what’s wrong with her. I’m thinking dehydration? These fitness types never drink enough. Anyway, I’m going to take her to the hospital. If you can help me get her to my van, that would be great.” “Yeah, of course, man,” the young man answered, putting his arm around Kelly’s waist and taking most of her weight. “Help me.” Kelly mumbled the words, once again tripping on her lips. The young man’s cologne, the safety, it sparked hope in Kelly’s mind. “Wow, man, she’s really out of it.” “I wonder if she hit her head when she fell,” Santa pondered loudly. “Nice dog, man,” the man said as Kelly heard the creak of the metal doors opening. “Yeah, she’s a good girl, my Shirley. Here we go, just lay her in there.” Kelly sensed the young man’s hesitation, and she willed him to switch on, to wake up. “You got a mattress in here?” “Yeah, I camp out a fair bit. Get away from the missus and her naggin’,” Santa explained without missing a beat. Kelly could feel the young man’s muscles ripple under his shoulders as he stretched his neck to look up and down the road. “Maybe we should take her to a house, and they can call an ambulance?” Santa pretended to consider this. “Nah, man, they’ll take almost an hour to get here. We are only a five-minute drive away. Besides, do you really think this is the neighbourhood that wants to be woken up 6:00 o’clock on a Sunday morning for community service?” The young man rocked on his feet and adjusted Kelly’s weight. “Yeah, you’re right, I guess,” he said as he lowered her into the back of the van. “You’re taking her to Fiona Stanley Hospital?” “Well, yeah. It is the closest,” Santa answered. “Alright. My car is parked ten minutes away. I’ll meet you there,” the young man said. Kelly screamed in her brain for him not to leave her, he claustrophobic smell of dog, grease, and dust washing away the young man’s scent and her hope. “Ok, yeah, sure. I don’t think you need to, but yeah. I’ll meet you at the ER,” Santa said. Kelly didn’t hear his answer as the doors slammed shut, closing her in, the darkness crushing her in its grip. The car rumbled and started. Kelly demanded her body respond, but it lay limp, rolling around uselessly as the old man made a series of short, sharp turns. The van jerked to a halt, and the back doors opened, blinding Kelly with the sunlight. “Best not keep these plates on anymore. I saw that young man take a photo of them. We don’t want any company interrupting our fun, do we?” Santa chuckled as Kelly heard the chink and clunk of him rummaging around in a tool bag. A few minutes later, he tossed the old plates inside the back with her. He grabbed her wrists and handcuffed them to the fixture points on the van floor. “Just in case I got the dosage wrong. Don’t want you getting any ideas.” “Le-ma-gah.” Kelly slurred as the words slipped and stumbled on her tongue. “Nah, waited a long time for this, girl. Time to have some fun.” He laughed, slamming the doors, and the world shut on Kelly. Kelly lost sense of time, slipping in and out of consciousness, the rumble of the van lulling her to sleep. Her wrists, arms, and shoulders ached in the handcuffs, pins and needles jarring her awake. The mattress was lumpy, pressing hard into the traumatised muscles. A faint scent of urine lay in the fabric, causing her to panic. This was planned. She wasn’t the first, which meant she also wouldn’t be the last. Fear raged through her body, exhausting her with its futility. Her phone. She still had her phone in the pocket of her leggings. Excitement fought hard against the drugs he injected her with as she pulled herself into a sitting position to reach her thigh. Straining against the handcuffs, she moved her body far to the side where her phone was. Her fingers snaked down her pocket and gripped the plastic casing. The van suddenly swerved around a corner, and Kelly was ripped off balance, her body jerking hard against the handcuffs as she swung around. Her shoulder screamed in a spasm of pain as the ligaments were stretched beyond capacity. Tears burnt Kelly’s eyes as the pain rolled over her in the inky-black darkness of the van. Bile belched from her mouth, spilling onto the mattress next to her. Breathing deep, she forced herself to refocus. She threaded the phone out of the pocket and activated a panic alarm her father had set up. No internet reception though, so she didn’t like her chances. Kelly thumbed in the 000 for emergency services, the call connecting as the van tore around another corner, throwing her around. The phone skittered out of reach. Her shoulder popped out of socket in a blaze of agony, the muscles tearing and snapping against each other. Blood dripped down her wrists as the handcuffs bit into her flesh. A cry of pain ripped out of her mouth before she collapsed on the mattress and succumbed to the darkness. A bright light pulled Kelly out of the safe spot in her mind and thrust her back into the horror of her reality. A silhouette sat over her, reeking of vinegar and grease. With the clink of the handcuffs being undone, pins and needles raced down her arm. The second handcuff came undone, and white pain blotted her brain as the arm flopped uselessly next to her side. “Whatchya been up too, lassie?” the figure grunted, lifting her arm and dropping it back down. White teeth glinted through his snowy beard. “Don’t worry. I’ll fix ya up,” he said, climbing off her. Kelly’s brain moved too slowly, and she berated herself for not kneeing him in the groin when she had the chance, if her rubbery muscles would even respond to her call to action. A bruising grip around her ankle pulled her half out of the van. “C’mon, get up. I’m not going to carry your lazy ass around all day.” Santa smiled, hanging on the side of the van door. Kelly hesitated a moment too long. Santa lifted a black baton from behind his back and slammed it down onto her thigh. Kelly grunted in shock at the impact. Barbed spikes on the head of the baton impaled her thigh, and an inferno of agony fired up Kelly’s leg as he dragged her, via the baton, out of the van. Kelly slipped like a fish onto a polished concrete floor. Landing on her dislocated shoulder, she blacked out momentarily from the pain. With a boot on her hip, Santa rocked the baton loose from her leg, tearing the hooked barbs from her thigh. Kelly found the pink muscle and ruptured flesh fascinating until it dawned on her that it was her own. She finally found the air to scream, tears streaming down her face as he leered over her with a smile and those bright blue eyes buzzing with excitement. “I said, I’m not gonna to carry your lazy ass. Now, get up and move before I give your other leg a kiss from old matey here.” Kelly scrambled, sobbing snotty tears, her hand slipping in the blood that oozed from her thigh. With one leg and one arm out of action, she slowly climbed to her feet, even as they threatened to give way from underneath her. “There’s my girl.” Under the bright lights, Kelly saw him more clearly. Bright blue eyes were rimmed red with alcohol and creased with wrinkles. He was average height but stocky. Guessing from his strength, Kelly surmised it was as much muscle as fat. His head, no longer under a hat, was bald, shining under the lights. The beard was white but dotted with specks of blood, her blood. A part of Kelly knew she was only walking toward a certain and painful death. No, no, no. She wasn’t going to be taken out by an old man who looked like Santa Claus. She was a surgeon or would be shortly. She had a fiancé and family that adored her. No, she wasn’t going out like that. Kelly threw herself at him and they both fell, sprawling to the ground. A blast of cigarette-coated air pushed through her hair as he landed. He lay winded, his eyes wide with shock as he struggled to breath. She sat up on top of him and slammed her good hand into his face repeatedly until her hand was numb with cuts bruises and her knuckles slick with blood. His nose exploded with a crack of cartilage under her assault. He let out a gasping grunt as he found air again, filling his lungs with it. A flick of movement in her periphery. Too late. The club swung at her face. Again, the barbed hooks plunged into the soft flesh of Kelly’s cheek. With an angry roar, he dragged it out of her face, pulling her along with it, off of him, the skin tearing and separating from muscle into an unidentifiable flap of flesh. Kelly clutched at her face, trying to hold it together and stop the agony as she backed away over the concrete floor. Santa climbed to his feet and stood over her, his eyes raw with blood lust. He lifted his leg, and the last thing Kelly remembered seeing was his size ten boot rushing toward her face. A punch of icy water to the stomach woke Kelly with a steady blast. She grunted and pulled open her eyes, but the brilliant white lights blinded her. Kelly tried to scream, but the water ripped the breath from her, breaking the scream into a rasping, panting, gurgle. Just as her skin numbed to the icy cold, the water stopped. She heard a chuckle before the clunk of a fire hose hitting the floor. “Hey, Dad, it looks like your lady friend is finally awake.” The rancid breath of a smoker, thick with bourbon, flooded her senses. Rough, calloused fingers tilted up her chin so he could look her in the eye. His eyes were blue with brown flecks, bright with excitement and lust; he licked his thin lips hungrily with yellow spittle built up in the corner creases of his mouth. The chains that bound her rattled violently as she shook, and Kelly’s teeth chattered so hard in her head she thought they would break. The whole side of her face was on fire, and her leg throbbed like someone had stuffed it with hot, smouldering coals. Overhead surgical spotlights beat down, forcing Kelly to look at the floor and a wide metal grate where a swirl of blood-tainted water disappeared into an inky black void. “She’s a beauty, Dad. Pity you messed that pretty up some. That’s okay. I’m not too fussy. Besides, I don’t mind them raw. I can warm her up for you.” He smiled with yellow teeth. Clammy hands slid over her flesh, and Kelly realised she was naked and utterly vulnerable. Kelly’s scream came rasped against her throat in a whimper, her terror choked up inside. He grinned as he pushed his fingers deep into her cunny. Instinctively, Kelly clamped her legs shut, bucking and swinging, trying to reject his blunt, stubby fingers. “Oh, not a virgin?” he crooned. “That’s okay, babe. There is always your tender little asshole, or maybe we just cut you a new one,” he added before reaching down to bite her nipple. Kelly’s stomach heaved as he grabbed and squeezed her flesh. There was something dark and diseased in his touch, different from the drunken, groping creeps in the pubs and bars she could silence with a slap to the face or a knee to the groin. Kelly screamed at him to stop, her voice soft and raspy, the pain bringing tears to her eyes. His head jerked to the right, and he released his bite with a yelp. “Get out of it, you little bastard. She’s mine first. You can have what is left,” Santa growled as he smacked the man around the head. A small flame of satisfaction warmed Kelly as she noticed his nose had been reset, two large bruises forming under his eyes, his lips shredded with cuts. Blood streaked his beard—not only hers, his also. “You got yours. Leave me have fun with mine. I’ve waited a long time to get my hands on this lass.” “Aw, c’mon, Dad, I’ve almost finished with mine,” he whined as he gestured across the room. Santa looked over to where he was pointing, and Kelly saw a spark of pleasure in those blue pools. “I know you like little boys. You can have a go if I can. Oh, and look,” said his son, stalking over to the other side of the room. Straining to look in that direction, Kelly saw what initially looked to be a young woman. She realised it was a young child. They had stitched his eyes wide open. The eyes stared, glazed with drugs, shock, maybe both. Bourbon Breath spun him around. Deep cuts under his arms that looked like fish gills dripped blood. “Dazza gave me some leftover bits from his woman’s butt cheeks and look, I gave him little boobs,” he said, squeezing them between his hands. “Isn’t it great?” He laughed, full of pride, as he grabbed the breasts and ground his hips against the pubescent boy’s bloodied buttocks. “Something for everyone. A little boy, a little girl, a little cock, a little titty,” he sang. Santa laughed. “You’re a funny bastard, I’ll give you that. Is he still alive?” “I think so. He’s still warm at least,” he shrugged. Kelly whimpered as gorge rose in her throat. The sickness was beyond belief, a darkness she could never contemplate in her somewhat sheltered existence. In between her large wracking sobs, she begged, looking at the child in horror. “Please, you don’t have to do this. Please don’t hurt me.” If they could do that to someone so young, what would they do to her? Santa looked at her and held her jaw between his hands. “You see, Kelly. I’ve been waiting and watching you for a long time now. I have fantasised about you. What does your fear smell like? Taste like? How can I bring you ultimate pain? Will you scream? Will you beg? Maybe, if I let you keep your tongue. Oh, we are going to have so much fun together. Well I am at least.” He showed her a baton just over a foot long, with one-inch reversed barbs around the end. Like a punch to the head, it came back to her—the van, the bright light, and those blue eyes demanding she get out. The agony that had exploded from her leg as he impaled it deep into her thigh came back to life because of the memory. Kelly looked down at her thigh and saw the mangled flesh, as if a bear had clawed her at her. She sobbed, tears streaming down her face. Still, she clung onto hope as she remembered something else. Her phone. Santa saw the flash of hope in her eyes. “You were thinking about this? Silly me, I forget you kids always carry phones on you these days. Good thing I had to get something else from the van, or we could have had more company than I’d care to.” He chuckled as he showed her the shattered fragments of a phone on a nearby table. Kelly dropped her head but prayed under her breath that the panic app would still work in a broken phone, as promised. Her dad insisted she download and use it. He had always told her the world was full of psychos, so she always ran with it, never thinking something would ever happen to her. It was the only hope she had left. “Now, don’t look so miserable, girl. We will have so much fun together. You inspire things in this old man. You bring me to life.” He chuckled, rubbing his hardened crotch against her. “We all enjoy different things. Look!” The manacles cut into Kelly’s hands as he spun her around on a rotating D shackle hanging from the steel beam above her. The room was only slightly smaller than a basketball court. The walls appeared to be polished concrete like the floor. There was only one door, which she vaguely remembered stumbling through. It was steel and double-padlocked. There was no way out, even if she wasn’t chained, hand and foot. “See, there in the corner is Kevin, straightforward, not too much fun, that old fart.” Kelly sighed with relief that she could not see that far past the lights. She knew a Kevin. Kevin was her dad’s name, and she didn’t want to hear that name again, not in this place. Her Kevin, her dad, was a man of great big warm hugs and a big, deep belly laugh. Turning her face further around to face the middle of the shiny room, she saw a man vigorously working a carving knife through what looked like a huge hunk of meat. Before she could close her eyes, she realised it was a man’s leg, thick with leg hair and layered with muscle. “That, over there, is Trevor, our resident butcher, who keeps our families in meat for a good part of the year and has an exclusive market on tender flesh like yours,” Santa explained as Trevor cut a measured chunk and threw it into one of several buckets around him. Kelly spat out the bile that hit the back of her throat. What kind of sick fucks were these people? she wondered as she alternated between retching and trying not to cry. “Did you know adrenaline makes meat more tender to eat? I’m not really into eating it. I mean, Shirley loves it. You remember Shirley, my beautiful girl.” Looking down to where he pointed, Kelly saw the German Shepherd that had knocked her over at the park. The dog lay there, licking at a clump of long, black-brown hair, blood staining the fur around her lips. Looking closer, Kelly’s stomach dropped as she recognised a small diamond drop earring; it was hers, a gift from her fiancé Simon. The hair wasn’t brown; it was blonde, thick with clotted blood, and a patch of flesh. Kelly screamed. Santa smiled and turned around, rescuing the clump of hair from the dog. Showing it to Kelly, who started sobbing, he said, “You shouldn’t have hit me like that. I tore off half your face, silly bitch. I had to clean you up a bit. I’m not as good as some skinners, but not an awful job if I don’t say so myself. I also reset your shoulder for you. I don’t know how you managed to dislocate it. But you were hanging here all lopsided and it was really annoying me. I gave you something for the pain because I didn’t want you to miss any of the fun I have planned,” he grinned. Santa tossed the matted, bloodied hair back to his dog who pounced on it with delight. “Nothing goes to waste. I have a reputation for supplying the tenderest of meats. In fact, my meat is so sweet, so tender. A body like yours, mmm, will go for a good price on the international market and will keep me financially stable for a year,” he said as he bit hard, tearing the skin on her collarbone. Kelly jerked away, shrieking in agony, fat teardrops like candle wax running down her face and snot out of her nose. He ran his fingers over the raw flesh and muscle where Kelly’s cheek had been. Kelly desperately tried to move out of his way. To hold her still, he dug his thumb in hard. Kelly slipped into the darkness, escaping as the shock subsided and pain exploded on the side of her face. It was in this place she found her five-year-old self: big green eyes, face, and hands sticky with lollies and fairy floss, a satin pink party dress and matching plastic shoes. It was shortly after her birthday party; all her friends had just gone home. Kelly felt her younger self take her hands with those sticky little fingers and lead her around the garden. Ice prickled up and down her spine. She didn’t want little Kelly to go down the side of the house. She couldn’t remember why. Panic exploded in her chest, and she jerked back into consciousness. A burst of intense pain shot through the cleft of her buttocks and snapped Kelly awake. She pulled on the chains so violently she thought she would rip her wrists off. Kelly’s body spasmed, twitching uncontrollably as her bladder involuntarily released. She heard a loud laugh, and then she felt Santa breathing in her ear. “Wait till I put my cock up your ass.” He brought his arms around in front to show her the electric cattle prod. Kelly’s entire body jittered and spasmed with the aftereffects. Her bowels relaxed, pinched, and then puckered, cyclically threatening an explosion of faecal matter, whilst her legs hung uselessly, causing the handcuffs to dig deep into the flesh, reopening the wounds from the van. Blood dripping down her slender wrists. “Don’t go napping again. I don’t want you to miss this,” he snarled, his breath smelling like a pissing trough at a pub. Santa turned her again, his hands clawing at her breasts and pinching her nipples between his fat, calloused fingers. Kelly saw a woman, spread-eagled, dead and devoid of skin. Walking around the body, with his hands intimately caressing its flesh, a seemingly handsome man intensively examined the corpse. “That’s Darren. He is Kevin’s son, a surgeon, one of those types that give the women big tits and stuff. But here he is the best, most careful, damned skinner I’ve ever met, can almost take it off in one piece now. He seems to enjoy catching up with his old girlfriends and boyfriends. It’s the wriggling and squirming when he gets started that makes it tricky. But this is how he likes to fuck them—raw, dead, but still warm.” Kelly lost a heartbeat as she recognised the man prowling around the woman. It was her Darren, her brother Darren. “Darren!” she shouted. It came out a little more than a croak. Santa noticed the recognition in her eyes and tried to shut her up with a cuff to the head, but the second shout caught the man’s attention. Stabbing his knife deep into the body of the woman he strode over to Kelly. He lifted Kelly’s chin and pushed the hair back off her face. His eyes narrowed, turning to stone, and a look of distaste crossed his face. Santa paled under his gaze. “What the fuck is going on here, Nick? That is my little sister, you sick fuck!” he shouted, wrapping Kelly in a sheet. “Dad! Get over here! Nick’s got Kelly! Give me the keys, you fucking muppet. You know families are out of bounds. God dammit, Nick, you get family photos every year, so you know who not to hunt. What a fucking mess!” Darren stormed at Santa. “I didn’t know it was your goddamn sister,” Santa spluttered as he fumbled with the keys. “What the hell is going on over here?” Kevin roared as Darren wrapped Kelly in a sheet, holding her close. “Oh my God, what the hell is my daughter doing here, Nick?” he shouted, as Santa tried to back away. Confused, Kelly didn’t know if she should feel relief at being rescued, or terror that her father and her brother were involved in anything like that. Darren carried her away to one gurney as Kelly watched her father grab a protesting Santa and lock him in the chains where she had once stood. Her dad stood in a bloodied butcher’s apron, his face collapsed in on itself, a myriad of emotions running through his features. Running his hands through his thinning hair, he groaned and turned away, unable to look his little girl in the eye. Kelly’s mind reeled to make sense of everything, but all she could hear was her dad raging in the background. “What the fuck have you done, Nick? My girl is not a part of this. Oh God, what does she think of me? You bastard.” A quiet satisfaction quivered in Kelly’s stomach when she heard Nick scream. The group gathered around Nick and Kevin. It had never happened before. There were rules in place to stop it from happening, and Nick had either become lazy, sloppy, or both. It wasn’t acceptable. A needle bit into Kelly’s arm as her brother whispered in her ear. “It’s okay, little Sis. We’ll get this sorted. You have a little sleep.” There was little Kelly, once again, pulling on her fingers, anxious, desperate, pleading for Kelly to follow her. She followed the little girl in the pink party dress, stained with grass, her little plastic shoes discarded on the lawn. Kelly looked and found little Kelly leading her around the side of the house. No, no, no, she didn’t want to go there; she didn’t want little Kelly to see, but little Kelly had already seen. Around the corner, next to Snowball’s hutch, was Darren. Darren looked furious. Angry was the only way Kelly had ever known him, consumed with jealousy of his daddy’s new, precious little angel that seemed to get everything she wanted. Darren had owned a pet guinea pig before, before he covered it in hair spray and then set it alight with his dad’s BBQ lighter. His dad said nothing but promised him one day he would get another pet. Kelly was not his idea of another pet, and when his parents proudly brought her home, cooing and crooning all over her, he ran outside and caught the neighbour’s cat, Fatty. His dad didn’t say a word when Darren came home covered in scratches and blood. Kevin dug a hole and then spent the next two weeks helping the neighbours look for their beloved Fatty. Soon after that, Kevin took his son camping, where they always brought back ‘bush tucker’ for the family to enjoy. So, there was Darren with Kelly’s Snowball. His bottom lip pushed out in concentration as he leant over the rabbit. Snowball was still alive, and Kelly sensed the little girl’s fascination piqued. Kelly woke up, bleary-eyed, praying the entire thing was a nightmare. The cold metal of the gurney and the burning pain in the side of her face told her differently. Moving to a seated position, dizziness rolled around her head, reaching into her stomach, squeezing tight. The taste of copper in the back of her mouth and a pounding headache made her want to curl up back asleep. Voices raised in argument echoed around her, and she couldn’t wrap her mind around the words. Still, she felt safe for the first time in what seemed like a lifetime. They wouldn’t hurt her, would they? She knew too much, but they wouldn’t harm her. Kelly heard a murmur of agreement, and then Darren was once again by her side. “Hey Sis, how are you feeling?” he asked, gazing intently into Kelly’s eyes. Her head was foggy, and her tongue was thick in her mouth. “I’m okay, I think. I want to go home; I just want to go home,” she mumbled, her eyes begging. “Good. I understand that,” he answered, taking her hand. "You know this is a tricky situation, but we have come up with a solution. It’s simple. You know too much, but everything must make so much more sense now.” “Where is Dad?” Kelly slurred, looking over her brother’s shoulder for him. She couldn’t take it all in; it was too much. Her entire childhood, her life, had been a shop front to a sick and depraved family. Did her mother know? Was her mother a part of it? Sunday family roast was just some kind of sick joke. How could she have not known? Did she not want to know? Was it all as simple as that? The hunting trips, the deeply private relationship between her brother and father, which, for the most part, appeared competitive in nature… “Dad, he’s really struggling with the situation, you know, with you being here. He’s ashamed. He doesn’t want you looking at him like he is a monster. He’s outside waiting for you, but he can’t face you yet,” Darren explained. “Anyway, we all agree it’s clear that Nick broke the rules and needs to be punished.” Darren frowned, but in his eyes, Kelly saw a glint of excitement. Kelly and Darren had never been close; he had always inexplicably disliked her and pushed her away. But right then, he was all Kelly had. “The others have agreed. If you kill Nick, you can walk out of here, as one of us. If you can’t do it, well…” he paused. “I will, I mean, Dad and I will make sure it is a quick death, no fun and games.” Kelly retched, her stomach searching for something else to purge, as her body started heaving in shuddering sobs. She couldn’t wrap her mind around it; it was a sick game, surely. Darren took her hand firmly, placing a cold, metal handle of a knife in it and squeezing her fingers firmly around it. He gazed into her eyes; she never realised how beautiful his blue eyes were when they looked so intense. Kelly thought she saw a predatory gleam flicker within their steel blue depths, but everything was blurry and bright, far away, yet close. “No, Kelly, we all agreed this is the only way. Please, if not for yourself, do it for Dad. Isn’t it better if you kill this fucker, instead of forcing me or Dad to kill you?” Kelly weighed the weapon in her hand. It didn’t feel like a knife; its weight unbearable as the silver-blade trembled with her hand. “Dad…what does Dad say? I want to talk to Dad,” Kelly begged Darren, trying to fight through the fog of sedation in her mind. “This was Dad’s idea, Kelly. These men won’t let you go home innocent. They have families to lose as well. You’ll be setting an example, Kelly. These guys play their games, but we know families are out of bounds. Nick fucked up, bad. And now he needs to pay the price.” Kelly sobbed. Everything was just so overwhelming. She just wanted to go home. “I would love to do it for you, Sis, but it’s got to be you. That’s the only agreement we could get. Dad is just devastated about this. He can’t even face you. Just do this man, stab at him like he is a piece of meat. We’ve covered his face, so you don’t have to look. We know it’s hard for your first one. Please, Kelly, do it for me, for Dad, for Mum. We just want you home, safe again. These men are scared; this whole group could implode, families too. We don’t want Mum to get involved,” Darren pleaded. Kelly nodded, numb with relief. Mum was not involved in any of it. She still had a home. Kelly just wanted to go home. She wanted it over with. Standing on wobbly legs and leaning on Darren for support, she asked, “Where is Dad? Is he over there?” “Yes, he is, Kelly. He can’t bring himself to watch you, but trust me, Dad is out there,” Darren soothed, his voice tightening as he held her steady. Darren’s lips twitched into a smirk, a natural nervous reaction she rationalised. Kelly imagined he was just as nervous as she was, so she just nodded. She barely had the strength to stand up, let alone walk, and she had no idea how she would hurt, let alone kill, anyone. Everything appeared hazy in front of her eyes, and walking towards the area where she was before, the white lights blinded her. The icy cold concrete floors burned through her bare feet. The tension was almost a feverish excitement, yet Kelly was numb to it all. She could sense the terror of the person in front of her, wriggling in his constraints and mumbling into his canvas head cover. The weight of their expectation sat thick in the air as they, the depraved, watched her walk towards him, holding onto Darren’s arm for support. Darren wrapped her hand in his and squeezed her fist tightly against the handle. The blade extended almost a foot long, more of a short sword than a knife. It had a serrated edge that snarled in the white surgical lights. “Now, what you’re going to do is just stab him in the middle near his belly button and push the knife upwards. It will be a quick kill and with brief pain,” he whispered into Kelly’s ear. Gasping and sobbing, her tears blurred the man as Darren thrust her hand and knife forward. Kelly heard a mumbled scream as the knife hit and jarred, grinding against bone. “Dammit!” Darren swore. “You missed. Now quickly stab him again!” he urged in her ear. Blindly, Kelly plunged backward and forwards, almost sawing into the body with the blade. After feeling so numb and helpless, she felt alive, her body dripping with power. The thought paused her in mid-thrust—powerful like she was high and untouchable. A knot of recognition starting unfurling in her belly. No, after feeling so helpless and feeble, surely any action would make her feel a semblance of control. The blood was warm on her arms and hands, and she could taste its saltiness as it splattered across her mouth. The entrails, oozing out of the slashes in his gut like a snake come to life, fascinated her the same way surgery intrigued her at work. She found herself able to step back and appreciate the wound, what she could do to save him. Except, she knew he was beyond saving. His stomach was a heaving mess of savaged tissue and flood of bodily fluids, almost as if a shark had chewed it up and spat it back out. The blood had stopped pounding in her ears. Kelly could hear the mumbled moans and screams, and the revenge she exacted excited her. It was a small justice for those before her. It didn’t take long until the noises silenced, and the body stopped its twitching and jerking. Out of breath and with sheer exhaustion, she leant against Darren. She looked at her hands in horror and relief as blood and tissue covered them like gloves. A few large cuts peeled open on her palms where her hands had slipped onto the blade. Expecting to feel rage and disappointment in herself, grief even, there was nothing. She had done it. Kelly was a killer and all she could feel was relief and joy that it was all over with. That it was so enthusiastic was because of a terror-spiked adrenaline rush, she told herself. “Well done, little Sis, well done.” Darren patted her back tenderly. “You can go home now. But just one last thing,” he added, turning her to face the corpse. Someone reached forward and removed the hood. Instead of Santa, there was her father, his lips sewn together and torn through by the thread when he had tried to shout out, blood bubbling out of his nose, an expression of terror on his face. A deep primal roar of horror and fear exploded from Kelly as she ran towards him when Darren grabbed her by the waist. Rage and grief ripped through Kelly as she snatched the baton off the nearby table. She swung it at her brother’s so very handsome face. She would never forgive him for his betrayal, for such a hideous trick. Darren cried out in shock and pain. Kelly lost her balance and fell to the floor with a jarring oomph, tearing his face into shreds as gravity pulled the baton out of his flesh. Howling in pain, he flew towards her on the floor “I’ll get you, you fucking bitch,” he slurred as his lips flapped against his jaw. Kelly found strength; he bled too. “Why, why are you doing this, Darren? You said I could go home. Why, why? Why did you make me kill Dad?” Kelly begged as she tried to crawl away from him, her hands covered in blood, slipping on the polished concrete. The other men huddled around, watching in fascinated delight at this domestic drama being played out in front of them. “Because, you little bitch, I hated that bastard. He turned me into this. You were always the perfect one; I was just ‘the sick bastard, the worst of him,’ he would tell me.” He slurred as he kicked at her jaw with his leg, missing it by millimetres. Kelly continued to back away but a concrete wall and workbenches blocked her escape. . Crying out as she tried to pull herself up on the metal countertop next to her, somebody kicked her in the torn flesh of her leg, sending waves of colours across her vision as the leg gave way. Grunting in pain and frustration, her brother leant down and pulled her onto her knees by her hair, holding her face close to his. Kelly could see the tears that raked through and separated his cheek into little strips of flesh. She could see the bone of his jaw as a mix of spittle and blood hit her in the face while he hissed. “Hey, this is fun, you know, little Sis. My perfect little sister, look at you. Hey, imagine Dad’s face when he heard you grunting like a pig as you stuck that knife fist-deep into him. You’re almost a natural. But no, Dad said you were nothing like us. We were the sick ones; you were his perfect princess. But we know the truth now, as I knew the truth then.” He laughed, heaving Kelly into standing by what remained of her hair. Kelly shrieked in agony, flashes of red and white dancing before her eyes. Darren laughed, a gasping wheeze as it whistled through the flayed skin of his mouth. As Darren was pulling her onto her feet, Kelly pulled back to swing the baton at him again, but he was too fast and caught her arm in mid-swing. Grinning, he twisted her elbow until he heard the loud pop as it dislocated. Kelly gasped in agony, then cried in hopelessness as the baton dropped from her hand. Darren kicked the baton away. Signalling for the keys and help, he chained her up, back-to-back with her dad, and pulled out a knife, small like a scalpel. “Did you know,” he began, ignoring her pleas. “Did you know that your daddy used to make me wear little dresses and play with your dolls, that he would make me his little girl? He wanted you so bad but kept you his precious angel. He never believed me when I told him. Dad always blamed me. It should have been you, too!” Darren shouted in her face before slashing the scalpel across her face in anger, narrowly missing her eye. Kelly hadn’t registered the cut, so sharp was the movement. “I knew what you were capable of, and you proved it to me and Dad today. So easy to convince you to do it, and that’s because deep down…you wanted to.” Kelly, numb to the slash across her face, looked at her brother. “Please Darren, don’t do this. I’m your sister,” she begged through her tears as she tasted the fresh blood on her lips. Darren’s eyes were like granite as he slid the blade from her armpit up to her elbow in one swift motion. He groaned in pleasure. “Oh, you are most definitely my sister. But don’t worry,” he whispered, “I’m not a sick fuck like some of these men. I won’t fuck my sister—that’s a line even I won’t cross.” Kelly whimpered as the burn lit up under her arm. “But Rory here,” Darren gestured to Bourbon Breath, the first man Kelly had seen with the young child. “And not let’s not forget your good buddy, Nick,” Darren continued. Kelly whimpered in anguish to see Nick alive and well, albeit with a few slashes across his face, but grinning from ear to ear. Nick had lost his prize, but he was alive and still enjoying every minute. Standing just inside the spotlights, already stripped naked, watching and enjoying the show, licking his lips as he was tugging on the cock poking hungrily from beneath his paunchy beer gut. “They’ll fuck you good and proper while I find out if you are sexier without this. Most women are,” Darren murmured whilst he peeled off a piece of skin from under Kelly’s arm. Kelly held on for as long as she could, locking everything they did to her far away in a part of her mind before she succumbed to the darkness. She only faintly heard the police sirens approaching the barn. She barely heard the men and her brother escape through a hidden trapdoor. She almost didn’t feel the ambulance crews fighting to keep her mutilated body alive. Little Kelly looked closer at what her brother was doing and watched in fascination when she saw him peeling the fluffy fur off her bunny’s paw. Snowball shrieked in pain. “Let me have a turn, or I’ll scream and tell Daddy. Give me a turn now!” Kelly stamped her foot and wailed. “Shut up!” Darren shouted at her. “Shut up or I’ll take his eye out,” he threatened. The baby girl in the party dress just screamed louder. She was curious what Snowball’s eyeball would look like. Would he still be alive? The boy lost his temper and poked out the rabbit’s little red eye and held it up to his sister. Kelly grinned; it looked so funny, and Snowball’s little squealing sounds were almost musical. Kelly heard her father’s lumbering footsteps and pretended to scream in horror and faint. Little Kelly felt the satisfaction when she heard her daddy throw Darren into the wall and march him off, whimpering, to the woodshed. Little Kelly rolled over and began examining Snowball, still twitching on the little board Darren had strung him up on. Giggling, she copied her brother and poked out Snowball’s other eye. Daddy never believed Darren, but it had been close, too close, and she would have to stop for a little while. Darren had already copped the blame for the neighbour’s kitten. Kelly smiled as she remembered how cute it looked as its eyes grew larger and larger, its little pink tongue sliding out of its mouth as it tried to suck air into its little lungs. Then, there was Mum’s goldfish, so funny, flipping and flopping about on the floor, their little mouths gulping at nothing. Darren frantically trying to rescue them and put them back into the tan Mum finding him with his hand in the tank and several floating fish. She had screamed in terror and anger, and Dad took Darren back to the woodshed. But seeing her mum’s terror and disgust had stopped Kelly…until Snowball. She didn’t want her Mum to look at her like that. But on the abyss of death, Kelly’s eyes opened wide; a blood lust had been re-awakened. A hidden and forgotten depravity unfurled in Kelly’s chest. She was very much her father’s flesh and blood. Now the hunters would become the hunted.

Submitted: May 12, 2021

© Copyright 2023 Lee Franklin. All rights reserved.

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