Deeper Than the Grave

08/03/23

The filth beneath his fingernails might never shift. The grime-coated skin of his palms feels taut. He rubs a patch against the ball of his thumb, but the layers beneath offer the same. He flings a clod of earth towards the cavern’s lip; another bawled obscenity bounces off the walls.

He wonders whether his colleagues have begun enquiries.

This is neither the fault of avarice nor ambition. Nor care of a special dedication to duty. He’s here because of Theresa – Gregor Dawson’s Theresa. Like Mary Millington danced off the screen and perched on a nearby bar stool. Legs to her arse and perky tits, with a flirty smile prompting battalions of illicit thoughts.

He yanks the chain for the umpteenth time, marvelling at the lack of give despite days digging around the plate. Then turns to Dawson’s gift.

“You’re a man not averse to a risk for a chance at the finer things. Let’s see how far the right motivation brings you.” The hacksaw landed at Pearson’s feet with a thunk. Dawson smirked, no doubt believing that ‘right motivation’ might never roar loud enough. But maybe. Just maybe it would. 

Pearson visualises crawling up the cavern’s slope to freedom. All he must do is…

“You eyeing me, Bobby Pearson?”

“Just admiring is all.”

“Don’t admire too hard! Or you’ll have Gregor on ya!”

All he must do is …? He works the trouser-leg up past the cuff. The ankle bone’s already bruised from the iron. Ripped trouser leg forms a tourniquet half way up the calf. Cutting side-on will give a measure of the pain.

The first runs of the teeth leave scratches and a barbed inner-accusation of cowardice. A sullen teenager manages better below her elbows. He grits his teeth as blood dribbles from his calf and plops into the earth. The pain from these superficial cuts, a mere first course compared to the later entrée, terrifies him.

They’d do it in her kid sister’s back bedroom in the afternoons; Gregor was promptly over by tea-time, she warned. And when he went out after dark, he’d station one of the boys outside in the car. To see she was safe. 

Pearson, trembling, sputters a rather unmanly whimper. Flesh catches between the blade’s teeth, tearing it from the bone. He stops, his breath rasping, ready to throw up.

He thinks of Dad’s yarns about doctors in the war removing limbs with hacksaws. He lets out a hiss, checks naively if the slickness from the wound might help slide the cuff over the ankle bone. He won’t have long before the blood loss, added to the hunger and the thirst, leaves him unfit for climbing. “Nothing to do but keep going.” His words come out slow and deliberate, mined for inner strength. No more chasing criminals fir Bobby Pearson. But he might live.

He was counting mattress squeaks to last longer. Gregor stood in the doorway, his smirk at odds with how a cuckold should feel. Two lads cleared the mattress in one bound, almost knocking him through the window. Still half-hard, the johnny flopping off the tip of his cock and trousers around his ankles, they bustled him downstairs and into the car. “Not just that she’d fuck around like, but fuck a copper,” Gregor said mournfully while Pearson sat wedged naked as a jaybird between his two glowering keepers. “Imagine me falling for such a tramp.”

Pearson grits his teeth, closes his eyes. And pictures doe-eyed Theresa staring up at him from the pillow. He saws. Through the skin and muscle, the tendons and ligaments. By the first squeal of blade on the tibia, the taste of vomit is on his lips. Stop now, bleed out, die for sure. Out of the dark, Gregor Dawson’s smirking visage twitches, his forehead’s creased, an etch of worry forming around the eyes, his mouth a thin line. If Bobby Pearson’s enough of a man for this…         

These thrusts have found a rhythm; the copper stench of blood rises to his nostrils. The sound of splintering bone is drowned out by his screaming out a woman’s name. 

~ fin ~

liamring

L.P. Ring is a writer and teacher from Cork, Ireland who’s currently based in Ibaraki, Japan. He’s had crime, horror, and weird fiction published with Bag of BonesKaidankaiThe Bombay Literary Magazine, Mythaxis, Black Beacon, and Fleas on the Dog. He lives with his wife and a cat which is always around at mealtimes.