Chapter 9

Carol’s scream thundered through the room. I hadn’t realised that Michael had joined us until Jack looked up from hacking Carol’s left hand off with a blunt, old saw and said, “Hello Doctor, so happy you could finally join us. I’ve been expecting you.” The smile on Jack’s face froze the blood in my veins.

And then I noticed the gun sticking out of Michael’s pants’ pocket.

“Why the hell did you bring that back in here?” I shouted, trying to keep myself from punching him for being so bloody stupid.

The shocked look on his face was quickly replaced by one of complete and utter confusion.

“I threw that away for a damn good reason, and now you’ve brought it back in here where that bitch can use it on herself or me and now you. Fuck!” I felt hysteria building. I wasn’t sure how long I would be able to keep a lid on my emotions and keep a cool head.

“I’m sorry,” Michael stammered. “I just saw it there. I don’t know why I picked it up.”

“There’s a good boy,” Jack said, standing in front of him. I hadn’t even seen him move. “Give it to me,” Jack said with his hand out. Michael obeyed without a word and placed the revolver in Jack’s hand.

“So, Jack,” I said, trying to distract him from Michael and give Michael a chance to catch his breath and come to terms with the insanity he was witnessing for the first time. “Been watching a few Saw movies, have you?”

“Yes, but none of the sequels quite compare with the original. Don’t you agree?”

“I only watched the first one.” I tried to avoid looking at Carol’s agonised face. If I looked at her, I wouldn’t be able to keep my mind focused on Jack and survival. I couldn’t save her, but with a bit of luck, I’d be able to get Mike and me out of this alive. I also wasn’t sure I wanted to save her, not after what she’d done to Byron. No matter how much I tried to reason that Jack had driven her to it, I just couldn’t get over the fact that she’d killed him.

“You’ve been missing out, darling,” Jack said.

“I don’t need to when I have my own personal walking horror movie that won’t go away,” I said and crossed my arms in front of my chest and gave Jack a pointed look.

“Moi? Not go away? I left you all alone for two whole years. And look at what happens. You get involved with that.” Jack gestured towards Byron’s corpse.

“That was the man who wanted to marry me,” I whispered.

“Yes, hence the reason he’s dead. Why do you think I organised this little intervention? I couldn’t have you marry that sack of meat.”

“This is your idea of an intervention?”

“Sorry to interrupt but you said, marry? I didn’t realise you were that serious.” Michael’s voice sounded small and unsure. It was as though he was trying to hold onto some semblance of sanity by talking about the mundane instead of focusing on the impossible reality presented to him.

“Yes, he was going to propose this weekend. I wasn’t supposed to know, but I found the ring hidden in his suitcase,” I said choking back the tears. I looked down at Byron’s body. Grief threatened to overwhelm me.

“You don’t appreciate that I’ve saved you from a fate worse than death. You would have been bored,” Jack said, as he placed the revolver on the kitchen counter.

“I would rather be bored with Byron than have you in my life,” I shouted through tears.

“That really cuts me to the quick. I think I’ll take it out on poor Carol.” He kicked the bloody stump where Carol’s hand had once been. A scream burst out of her mouth and stung my eardrums.

My mind exploded with guilt and grief. I didn’t know what to do. All I knew was that I had to think. I had to survive. Turning my back on Jack standing over Carol’s prostrate figure, the saw back in his hand, blood dripped from its blade onto her face. I couldn’t bear to watch. The look on Michael’s shocked, stunned face told me all about the horror being inflicted on her.

*

Carol didn’t think it was possible to feel anything more without dying from the pain. Jack had taken his time sawing through her wrist. She’d felt every stroke of the blunt, dirty saw. He’d done it slowly, stopping between each thrust so that she would experience each cut. He didn’t want her to become numb to the pain. Jack wouldn’t allow her to pass out. Every time she came close to losing consciousness, he threw a bucket of cold water over her. Where he got the bucket or the cold water from was a mystery to her.

Her discarded hand lay on the floor next to her. Jack placed it within her sightline as a reminder. Strangely enough, she wasn’t bleeding a lot. Carol had expected more blood. She’d expected the kind of arterial spray she’d seen on so many horror movies. She’d also hoped to bleed to death, that way Jack wouldn’t be able to do anything more to her. But he’d made sure she’d live through it. It was only the beginning. Jack was having too much fun for it to end now. Making her live through whatever he had planned was probably her punishment for going after Sarah. She thought she was so smart finding Sarah, but now she wondered if it hadn’t all been part of some elaborate plan of Jack’s and she was just a pawn in his cat and mouse game with Sarah. It was all about fucking Sarah. Probably in more ways than one.

Jack sat on the arm of the couch, looking down at her while smoking a cigarette. He seemed as though he were contemplating his next move. Before she had a chance to breathe, his burning cigarette touched the bloodied stump that had once been her slender wrist, sending another wave of pain and nausea through her. A twisted scream exploded from her mouth. Carol didn’t recognise the sound as her own voice. It sounded more like that of an animal being tortured, not a human being.

Her vision started to blur when she caught sight of Dr Brink. A wonderful feeling of nothingness began to envelop her, she wondered what he was doing there. This would seriously mess with his theory about there being no such things as demons. Would he start prescribing himself all those drugs he’d been giving her? She heard herself sigh as a blissfully warm and enveloping nothingness took hold of her senses. Was this it? Was this how it felt to die? And then the ice-cold water hit her.

*

Carol’s screams roared through Michael’s brain and with them came incomprehension. He refused to accept the idea that what his eyes were seeing was in any way real. It had to be a shared hallucination of some sort. He couldn’t admit that the man standing over Carol with the yellow eyes was the demon, Jack, that both Carol and Sarah had spoken about during their respective sessions with him.

He’d theorised that Carol had latched onto Sarah’s delusion and made it her own warped version, but now that he was experiencing the same hallucination, all his theories were being turned upside down. Was he crazy as well? Had insanity all of a sudden become something you could catch, like a virus? Had he somehow latched onto their delusions? Was this all in his mind? Was he now the one who would end up in what Sarah termed ‘the loony bin’?

“Would you please just stop,” the man he assumed was Jack, moaned. “I’m trying to concentrate, and those ridiculous questions are distracting me. All will be revealed in time, Doctor. Now if you don’t mind …” Jack turned back to stubbing out cigarettes on Carol’s bloody stump.

Sarah’s reaction to the situation was the most shocking of all. She quietly sat on the couch, with her feet propped up on the glass coffee table and scowled. Didn’t she see what he was seeing? How could she be so calm? The love of her life was dead. Carol was being tortured, and she just sat on the couch with her feet up. None of it made any sense. This wasn’t the Sarah he knew. Was she used to seeing this sort of thing? Had she become so jaded that she didn’t feel any empathy for Carol’s plight? His mind felt as though it was about to turn to mush and the pancake he’d partially eaten for lunch made its way up from his stomach and exploded out of his mouth, depositing itself on the tiled floor.

*

Bael lay trapped in darkness, unable to speak, or see, feel, or think. It was as though he’d ceased to exist. He was nothing more than a useless speck in the void. He wanted to scream but found himself unable to do even that. It felt as though hours turned to days, and days turned to weeks. There was no way to tell how long he’d been left in the dark, in the nothingness.

A sudden flash of light almost blinded him. He blinked and tried to focus on the faces looming over him. He realised that one of them was saying something, but he couldn’t hear the words. All he could hear were his own screams.

Once he stopped screaming, he noticed that one of the faces looming over him was one of his own. He watched as blood dripped from his severed neck.

His tormentor grinned and waved down at him as darkness seeped slowly into the periphery of his vision. He was back in the inky blackness, unable to hear his own screams or feel the loss of one of his heads or whatever other limbs had been severed. He waited in the nothingness, not knowing what was being done to him and unable to stop it.