The sound came first, reverberated in his head, echoing from the top of his skull; a sound like grinding a cigarette butt on a gravel path. Then the hurting started, a fiery arrow penetrating his eyes, setting his brain on fire. Marcus had lost count how many times he had been punched in the nose by now, but it would be a safe bet that there was no bone left to brake. A steady trickle of mucus mingled with blood ran down his throat and made breathing increasingly difficult.
His jaw felt disjointed and a small chainsaw was spinning in his guts. Most of his teeth were gone, too, and that was when he shat himself for the first time. Getting pliers shoved into your mouth holds a unique kind of terror. The rope that tied him to the chair was so tight, his ankles and wrist could by now have been abraded down to the bone without him noticing; his brain had a hard time focussing on the main centre of the pain and ignored minor injuries. He probably wasn’t going to die in the cellar – Benny was averse to dead people on his patch. On the other hand, he had the temper of a three year old on steroids.
Right now, Benny was panting, his hands resting on his knees, small drops of sweat dripping from the few strands of hair left on his head. Giving someone the complete work-over was hard when you were nearing sixty.
“I’ve seen something on the telly, Marcus.” Benny said in his broad Geordie accent after he had caught his breath. “In one of these David Attenborough shows, I think. They had this incredibly large tank with a white shark in it. Mighty dangerous looking fucker. Then someone threw a clownfish into the tank and the shark speeds off, thinking ‘Whoa, fuck, a snack’; but there is this thick glass slab right in the middle of the tank and the shark, boom, he does his head in.”
He fiddled a Benson out of a packet.
“So they take Nemo out of the tank again, wait a bit, throw him back in. Now sharks, they aren’t very bright. He bangs his head again. And again. However, here’s the catch. When they try it for the sixth time, the damned shark stays clear of Nemo. Looks like the big fuck has a shitload of respect now when it comes to clownfish. Catch my drift?”
Marcus spat a foamy pink ball of mucus on the floor. “Averschon scherapy.”
Benny grabbed the sorry lump of flesh that once was a nose and twisted it. An electrical whip scourged his spine and Marcus stiffened, his back straighter than a Roman Catholic on a Sunday. “That’s not aversion therapy. It’s not as if you were afraid of creepy crawlers and I showered you with spiders, asshole. This is about me putting the fear of God back into you. – Bring her in.”
The steel door creaked open and someone shoved the woman into the room. She had been crying, but she didn’t look hurt. Of course not. Benny wouldn’t lay a finger on her or his precious daughter.
“This is about you fucking my wife.” Benny screamed and landed a straight punch on Marcus’ left ear, shattering his equilibrium. His eyes were bursting, his nerves twitching, his synapses exploding.
Then, out of nowhere, the hurting stopped. You can take a certain amount of pain before your brain decides to call it a day and sends the body into shock and Marcus had reached his limit. He closed his eyes and darkness engulfed him, a sweet, soft, velvet blanket of black wrapped tightly around his body and soul, soothing and comforting. He wanted the feeling to last. There was no way he was going to leave this cosy, quiet peaceful place in the middle of nowhere.
He forced himself to open an eye and looked at Benny, swallowed, tried his best to get out the words.
“Ben.” He coughed. “Tell you what. Your daughter was a better lay anyhow.”
Then he closed his eye again, waiting for the darkness to wash him away.