A sliver of light, p.4
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       A Sliver of Light, p.4

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  #9 could tell the conversation (what there was of one) was over and he sat down, the smile gone and his face turning greyer than Stephen thought possible.

  Some of them were quiet, some of them cried. Only Stephen and one of the women seemed to still have their wits about them. She was #10 and Stephen had noticed her several hours ago when this all began. In any other forum, Stephen would have had no other option but to approach her and talk to her – she was, physically, exactly his type. All of his girlfriends had similar characteristics and this #10 was fitted into that category perfectly.

  She wore a plain T-shirt and a pair of jeans – both tight fitting which showed of her lean figure. Stephen was, like all hetero men, drawn to her breasts which showed no sign of being affected by gravity. They looked firm, full and he would love to hold them, cup them with both hands as he held her from behind. Her shoulder length blonde hair was tousled, messy, a stray strand straddled her face, obscuring her dark brown eyes. Stephen was transfixed, mesmerised.

  This didn’t happen to him? Well, at least, not for a long time anyway. Not since...

  He waited for the demon to interject, but it was silent. Stephen knew that it understood he was waiting for it...the demon prolonged the torment by staying silent.

  But there must be something wrong with her – otherwise why would she be there? Then the demon piped up.

  Don’t you think you have more pressing things to worry about?

  Leave me alone will you

  No! I will NOT leave you alone. You are mine – I own you, I’m IN you! And this woman’s issues are none of your concern. She certainly doesn’t give a shit about a wretch like you

  You don’t know her

  I know her type – and I know that you are not worthy of her that’s for sure. But that’s not the first time is it?

  Once again, the demon had come into Stephen’s head and burrowed into his consciousness. He felt sure that someone else must have heard this as plain as day – as clear as he did. But everyone seemed oblivious to it.

  And now she sat there, just like he did, taking in the whole scene and those around her. But her eyes did not meet his, as if she were avoiding looking at him. This intrigued him more and he made to go over there and talk to her about this when he felt someone’s hand grab him on the arm.

  “Where are you going?” It was #3. “Don’t leave me – you’re all I have here”

  “What do you mean?

  “I don’t know anyone else here. Don’t leave me with these bastards.”

  “They’re not going to let me leave. I was just going to talk to someone else. You’re sitting there crying, feeling sorry for yourself and covered in your own shit – though I’d leave you alone for a while.”

  “You can’t leave me. I know you’re my killer, but you’re all I have.”

  Stephen looked into the eyes of #3 and saw the fear that the guy felt – he was hiding nothing.

  “What’s your name?” Stephen asked, knowing he was breaking the rules.

  “Franklin.” The man’s eyes were still glazed with tears but now there was some sliver of hope in them.

  “Franklin what?”

  “Franklin Bletch,” and Franklin held out a soft puffy hand for Stephen to shake.

  “Stephen Sharp.” Stephen shook hands with Franklin. The man gave him the handshake he expected – soft, pudgy, no power or strength in it whatsoever. “Wish we could have met under different conditions, Franklin.”

  “Outside of here, I probably wouldn’t have even looked at you.” Franklin was deadly serious and he began crying again, occasionally emitting phrases like: “I’m not a nice guy”, “I wish I could have a second chance”, and “I promise to be better.”

  Watch this prick, he’s an evil bastard. He’s trouble. He deserves

  everything he gets

  He’s been tricked, he’s being tortured, he’s suffering

  That’s nothing compared to what he’s done to be here. Retribution

  is a bitch

  The omniscient, all-knowing demon again – invading and pervading. The demon’s insight confused Stephen, muddled his mind. But it was rarely wrong.

  As Franklin continued to feel sorry for himself, Stephen looked again towards #10. She was now standing, looking towards the orgy that continued on in the adjoining room. From side on, Stephen could see the her curves and a longing to simply hold her close to him whilst she sat in his lap overwhelmed him. The desire for intimacy drowned out the monotonous melancholia that emanated from Franklin beside him.

  The orgy continued.

  Groans of pleasure, laughter and giggling, whispered gratification and screams of delight. They all rang out and Stephen turned around to watch what was going on. As he caught sight of naked flesh, he felt a sharp crack on the back of his head and paid seared through his skull.

  “Turn around and wait for your weapon!” The tall blonde guard had smacked him with the butt of his 9mm pistol.

  Derek’s controlling voice filled the room again: “Round 2 begins – place your bets.”


  As the tenth member of a surreal team of players, Carly Wilson sat and watched as the body of #7 was dragged away – a sanguine trail the only evidence of what was once life.

  In this room, this little den of iniquity, there was such a bizarre pocket of humanity that her fascination was sated ten-fold. She saw all shapes. She saw all sizes. She saw it all.

  Carly could see so many square metres of skin that she didn’t bother to try and estimate it. The nudity and the shamelessness was not what piqued her attention – but the folds. The way the skin folds over upon itself, gravity performing a natural stretch, like Papa Giulio making a perfect pizza. When she was a kid, she stood at the counter of Papa’s Pizzeria and watched those fat stumpy fingers push into the dough, flipping it over, spinning and tossing it into the air. The counter had a soft white covering of flour which fell like light snow when the pizza dough spun in the air. The dough fell back onto those dumpy hands and stretched out, sometimes so thin that she could see through it – a doughy veil as it spun in the air, Papa’s animated face angled upward following the track of the UFO shaped pie.

  The skin in front of her in this room had that same stretched out feel to it, a saggy bag of fatty tissue hanging downward as the person it was attached to indulged in a fantasy attained. The fat beneath the skin, its mass dragged downward adding to the weight stretch. Skin had no muscles, so it stretched. Like an elastic band, the more you stretch it, the longer it got. Each time the pressure was taken off the elastic, the band sprung back – but it was always a little bit longer each time.

  The skin – a bag full of meat.

  Stretch – release. A half inch longer.

  Stretch – release…another inch.

  Year after year, stretch and release…sag and bag. The skin, a bag full of fat, muscle and blood. Each year that bag stretches and gets longer, further from its origin.

  The man the saggy stomach belonged to was indulging in sexual gratification at a level Carly wasn’t interested in anymore. She used to be, up until recently, but now her pain was such that all sexual feelings that she had have paled into insignificance. How could she desire an orgasm when her bowel felt like it was splitting? How could she desire the feeling of complete oneness with another human being when her bones wanted to shatter inside her skin and fly outwards, shredding her?

  After tonight, she’ll never have another orgasm.

  Due to her condition, Carly Wilson didn’t desire these things anyway – but she sure used to. For her, sex was an escape. It was a goal that she sought and achieved on every occasion. She knew that there were deeper psychological reasons for her behaviour; there is a reason behind everything we do.

  What we do and where we end up – if we knew the answers to this when we were, say, 21, would we still do what we do? Is that what they call fate? That, even if you knew where you’d be when you were, say, 50 years old, would you still
do the same things?

  And, if you didn’t do those same things, would you still end up at the same destination, just via a different route?

  In Carly’s case, she knew the answer. Her fate was pre-ordained. Organically implanted in her via inheritance. Carly’s destiny sealed with a kiss from her mother when she was plucked from her womb and placed upon her inflated belly, bloody, cold and completely disoriented.

  Birth stress causes ambidexterity – maybe that’s why Carly could write with both hands. She was equally good with the left as the right, although she choose to write with her right hand because she got ink all over her hand if she used her left. Those who decided English should be read from the left-right weren’t left handed that’s for sure. Carly could do most things with either hand – writing, apply make-up, anything really.

  After tonight, she’ll never apply mascara again.

  The left hand – the devil’s hand. Biasness towards the right hand goes back to ancient days, but the Christians perfected it. The Right Hand of God, the Devil was Left handed. Evil spirits and angels always portrayed over the left shoulder. Carly’s ambidexterity was an inner conflict between good and evil – a conflict that probably was within most people to a certain level.

  Carly’s body fought its parasitic invader, constant turmoil between good and evil, left and right. The pain this war produced, its war pollution, had taken a hold of her every-day and it denied her the pleasures and the gratuities that she once took for granted. This had been a long time coming, Carly knew, but she didn’t want to know about it in the past. Carly used to think that maybe this wouldn’t happen, that it might skip a generation…but she was only fooling herself.

  She can’t fool her cancer.

  It was a devious bastard.

  After tonight, she’d never need a pap smear again.

  And as it microscopically ate its way through her cells, mutating and deforming/reforming, she sat in a room full of misfits and losers waiting to see who will blow each other’s head off first – all the while surrounded by groans/grunts/wails/shrieks of pleasure and pain.

  A man had his back to her, the bald spot he had painted with Fabulan Spray. His activity made him sweat and the black goo ran down the back of his neck.

  A woman performed fellatio on a young man. Her mascara ran as she forced her mouth further down the shaft, spittle formed a swinging vine towards the floor. Her cheeks went dark rouge/red.

  Hair matted on the chest of an hirsute swinger, sweat clumped the hairs together – salty smells emanated from him from somewhere.

  Those were the little things that interested Carly, always had. Things that made others uncomfortable, unsaid things.

  A woman bent over and, in the matted hair in her arse, Carly could see a hint of shit, one small dag. The man (her lover) saw it too – he ignored it and penetrated her anyway.

  A hand slapped an arse, not always accurate. The dom-guy hit the sub’s thigh, his finger snapped hard on the bone. Carly saw him withdraw his hand, the pain evident on his face. Unwanted pain, un-sexual pain.

  Carly smiled again.

  These are the things she’ll miss when she’s dead.

  But after tonight, she’ll not miss having her period. Or nursing a hangover. Or listening to some lame guy’s lame pick-up lines in some lame club.

  After tonight, the things she’ll miss and the things she won’t miss won’t matter at all anyway.

  After tonight, Carly won’t miss her cancer.

  Spoils of War

  Earlier, when the room started to fill up and the music was playing, drinks were being drunk and people were getting drunk. It was Zoran who suggested they introduce the drugs in to the party and Derek was glad he did. Drugs such as cocaine and speed add a new dimension to people, what they wanted to do and what they could tolerate. Derek was never going to touch the stuff, but he did get pleasure out seeing how the drugs affected others, transformed them.

  The orgy had kicked off as usual, a variety of mini porn dramas played out below before him. Derek saw one woman who was the centre of attention with three guys. She was on her back and had a cock in her mouth, the guy above here forcefully fucking her face and, even from his vantage point hidden in the ceiling of the warehouse, Derek could see her gagging on the penis. Her left hand was wrapped tightly around another guy’s member, tugging on it harshly whilst he pinched and tweaked her nipples. The third guy was on his knees and fucking her, her legs over his shoulders and he squeezed her neck, depriving her of even more oxygen as she struggled with the cock in her face.

  And she loved it!

  Scene after scene played out below Derek and, after a while, he tuned out of it. The sight of all that flesh, all that sex...it no longer stimulated him. His motivation to be here had gone. The motivation was never the sex, it had always been Sonja. He knew she needed time and that was what he gave her.

  Now he was jaded, finished with it all. He knew, after this time away, that it was her that he wanted all along.

  That, and to bury the past as best he could.

  Derek had seen his first few games of Russian roulette back in Bosnia in 1992. He had been in the SAS for 6 years and, after a variety of “assignments” all over the world, he’d left the army to go freelance. He still enjoyed the thrill of the battle and the chase, still enjoyed the feeling of domination and victory – but he couldn’t abide the hierarchy of an organized military. Derek knew that he would either be a part of the system, broken back into a part of the machine – a cog in the giant wheel of the military – or he’d be kicked out for belting some bastard who desperately deserved it.

  So he left to pursue other options, a life where the rules were his own.

  And then he met Zoran.

  When Derek first met him, Zoran was a skinny nut-case running around Bosnia with the newly formed Croatian army – rounding up and killing as many non-Croatians as he could find. Derek had just started up with the Serbian Army – the “Army of Republika Srpska”. As a freelance contractor, he was able to infiltrate into any part of the army that he needed to – but mostly they gave him advance patrol duties and “special missions” which invariably meant undercover assassinations and terrorism acts.

  Then Zoran came Derek’s way. He managed to capture him as Derek needed a Croatian vehicle to get through to a local mayor that the Croatians had set up in a small town outside Novi Travnik. The mission was to kill the mayor and get out – the idea being to let the Croatians think that the Bosnians did it and keep the local Croat guys occupied for a while.

  Getting the jeep was easy but as he was about to kill Zoran, something made Derek stop. He could see that Zoran was scared but he didn’t scream or cry, nor beg for mercy. He gave Derek a look that told him that even if he died this day, he would still find a way to get him. It was a look Derek never forgot and, against the instincts of his training, Derek decided to keep Zoran alive.

  Zoran was still a kid back then, only 19 years old – but he had seen and done far too much for a young man of his years. Derek was quite a few years older and they talked – sharing stories and ideas. As soon as he realized Derek wasn’t Serbian – hell, Derek wasn’t even from Europe! – Zoran was smitten with him. Derek held Zoran’s attention and captivated his imagination. Up until then, he’d rarely met anyone who wasn’t from the old Yugoslavia. And now, here Zoran was, spending time with a career soldier from Australia.

  That war was extreme in all sense of the word. The ethnic cleansing, rape as a weapon of war – it was disgusting. Derek knew that some people felt that he had a twisted view of morality – after all, he was a trained and practicing killer. However, that was always done for a reason. He had never killed anyone who either wasn’t trying to kill him, or hadn’t done something that deserved him being there to kill them. If Derek was there to kill you, there’s a very good chance you did something to deserve that.

  Being a contractor, he could refuse a job if he felt it wasn’t right – not that he refus
ed too many. Derek wouldn’t kill children and wouldn’t rape anyone. Even a trained killer has limits. Derek didn’t have standards, but he did have some morals.

  As a result of meeting Zoran, that Croatian mayor was the last person he killed for Serbia. The Croatians paid just as well as the Serbs did and Derek had no allegiance one way or the other – at that stage in life it was all about the money and the glory. He and Zoran formed a formidable team.

  The first time he saw Russian roulette was not long after this. It was in a Croatian camp in central Bosnia. Derek couldn’t even remember the name of the town, they all rolled into one after a while. Zoran had a few friends of his from the Croatian army and Derek had managed to con two French guys (that he had met in Rwanda when he was there with the UN) to form an advance team for the Croatians to gain control of areas that they felt was historically theirs.

  The whole history of the war was so long, complicated and pointless that it was no surprise to him that no one really knew why he or she were fighting or what they hoped to ultimately gain. All they knew was WHO they were fighting and that it would be over when only one of them was left.

  Their troupe entered this town and realized that it was a camp for the Serbs that had been captured. Zoran and his countrymen wanted to see the prisoners – their hatred was clear to Derek. They had heard stories about how the Serbian forces used torture and rape games as methods of terrorism but, even in Derek’s time with them, he’d never seen any of that. Mostly he worked alone or in very small teams, so was never privy to that sort of stuff.

  Derek tried to explain to Zoran that those stories were mostly legend, myth... war stories to scare the population and galvanise national fervour. But Zoran and his men wouldn’t listen – they wanted payback.

  These prisoners were housed in appalling conditions – they were weak, malnourished and defeated – you could see it in their faces. But Zoran wanted that final humiliation, the degrading nail in their coffin that would take the last essence of humanity out of them.

  Derek saw Zoran beat one of the prisoners with the butt of his rifle, the man’s head spouted bright red blood as he hit the ground. Zoran stood over him and urinated on the man, the prisoner’s flimsy clothing soaked it up as he tried to crawl away from his tormentor. Other prisoners tried to come over to help but that sparked an orgy of violence that was like something from a Hieronymus Bosch painting. Bashings, slashed bodies, parts cut off.

  Derek saw cleavers used, knives, metal poles. One prisoner was impaled upon a black metal star picket, then his head was stamped into the ground by several steel capped boots.

  Zoran dropped to his knees, undid his trousers and raped the bleeding prisoner. He didn’t even ejaculate – to him the penetration and the humiliation was enough. Zoran changed that day and Derek knew that he was a dangerous and deranged individual – but he also knew that he was the only one who could control him.

  All the anger and the hatred that he and these other Croatians felt boiled over into a blood lust that Derek had never seen before. He stood back and watched it all happen – Derek and the two French guys were voyeurs to a sickening frenzy. Zoran was rushing about with no pants on, his erection flapping about with blood and faeces on it as he raped and penetrated as many living guys as he could find. He would slash the throats of the men he was raping – and then, once they stopped moving, pull out and find the next victim.

  There were six living prisoners left after an hour of the most obscene acts of torture, rape and humiliation Derek ever wanted to witness. Zoran then took six 9mm revolvers, emptied them, and placed one round in each. The Russian Roulette began and so too did their fascination with it. There was a psychological, almost anthropological element to it that fascinated Derek – how people reacted in these types of extreme conditions; especially when they had time to think about it.

  He saw it back then in Bosnia in 1992; and he saw it as he watched the participants of his own private death camp arrive onto the arena all those years later.

  Zoran was more reserved nowadays, much more calculated. That day in central Bosnia not only changed him forever, but it allowed him to release some of the hatred and the pain in his past. The dark hole within him still gaped, still yearned to be filled with whatever pain and suffering he felt could satiate it, fulfil it, nourish it. But he worked for Derek now and Derek controlled him – used him for his own ends.

  That was part of the thrill for Derek too, to have power over someone like Zoran – like a lion-tamer controlling the great cats, a snake charmer transfixing the cobra.

  Over time, that thrill faded, tired. Other factors came into people’s lives and, for Derek, that factor was Sonja and all that she represented.

  A life away from “the life”.

  A chance at normality once and for all.

  One body down and more to come tonight. Zoran had done a great job in keeping the numbers of participants to a manageable level for tonight’s game. Derek was always fascinated to find out how it ended.

  This time, that end couldn’t come soon enough.


  Judith Scruth knew that they couldn’t see her – no-one ever did. She was the invisible woman, the ghost that took up space or got in the way. Her skin, betraying her, surrounded a non-person in the eyes of the world. Not just the world that had congregated in this little den of iniquity, but in society in general.

  She was involuntarily hiding in plain sight, invisibly placed in the circle of death – a bizarre yet thrilling end to her life. Even here though, even here she had no existence, no being. She has filled a gap, a space, yet no-one seemed to notice.

  They couldn’t see Judith and they didn’t want to. Judith felt that people generally only saw what they wanted to see. What they didn’t want to see was an old lady like her fumbling for change in the line at the supermarket express line.

  Don’t hold me up, they think.

  Just my luck, some lonely old tart wanting to have a chat, they think.

  Come on, I’m in a bloody hurry, they think.

  Just because they are young, it didn’t give them a mortgage of being in a hurry, thought Judith. She was closer to the end of her life than the beginning – if anyone should be in a hurry, it should be her. She just didn’t move like she used to.

  Judith couldn’t believe how light the gun was. She was expecting it to be a really heavy thing where she’d struggle to hold it steady, let alone shoot it straight. She honestly didn’t know what to expect actually. It was a little more confronting than she thought it might be, but the initial shock of the scenes had dissipated somewhat and she was a bit more relaxed now. Barely anyone had seen her, let alone spoken to her. Maybe they were used to people in their 60’s playing this game?

  And what a game it is. When she found out about this, Judith was shocked to learn that there might finally be a way out for her, an opportunity to leave this world with a relatively clear conscience and an opportunity to round things off. Meeting Alex was a major turning point in her life.

  After tonight, she’d never be invisible again.

  The last turning point – exactly what she needed.

  In life there were momentous occasions, times where we could look back and realize that this person, this act, that event, or that decision changed the course of our lives and propelled it into a new direction. It certainly has happened to Judith a few times and she didn’t like to think how boring her life would have been if they hadn’t occurred. With her, it had always been men.




  All A’s and all three of them had taken her life where it needed to go. And, hopefully, where it will come full circle and finally end.

  After tonight, she’d never feel pain/anguish again.

  She wasn’t totally invisible of course. The man in front of her and the sick looking woman behind her were both acutely aware of Judith’s existence; especially the man in front. He looked like a soul of the damned,
his skin literally a bag of bones. When she saw him earlier, his eyes had dark raccoon rings and the pupils were almost black. His bloodshot eyes told the story of addiction, abuse and rough times. She wondered what his story might be – how it is that someone so young could end up in such a state.

  Was it his fault? Or an abusive/neglectful family? Addictive personality? Blah blah blah…

  It seemed to Judith that nobody took responsibility for their own actions anymore. If people spent less time blaming others for their problems and more time looking within themselves to find the source of their problems then they’d sort themselves out. But it was easier for them to blame others rather than admit to themselves that they were too weak to give up drugs, or that they enjoyed shooting up so much they can’t stop.

  Judith was convinced this was the case – that responsibility had gone the way of the dodo.

  In he life, Judith too had been through hard times – times when life itself was difficult and almost impossible. There had been times when she could have blamed someone else – but she was of a generation that didn’t do that. You don’t live over 60 years in a bubble letting the world and life pass you by. Well, maybe some people do – but she certainly didn’t. And now, here she was, aiming a gun at the head of some twenty-something about to snuff out his meaningless and pathetic life.

  After tonight, she’d never feel this way again.

  She’d not feel the pain of the past come back to haunt her – the ghosts of history wander into her subconscious to remind her of the times she had. They were memories, mental seraphim that reminded her that she was old. Old and alone.

  Their presence turned the screws just one more notch, increasing the lament and hardening her resolve that this was her “out” – her salvation. One quick snap of the trigger and her pain and suffering would be over in less than an instant. She only hoped that the pathetic creature behind her had the wherewithal to actually pull the trigger. She was clearly here under duress, which made Judith nervous that she might actually miss Judith’s head altogether.

  Stress can be good. It’s amazing what you can achieve under pressure. Sometimes that’s where you do your best work. Judith hoped that was the case here.

  To see that man’s head explode in the red mist was a relief as much as it was a shock for Judith Scruth. It was a relief that this was real – it was serious and it was what she had wanted for the last 12 months. Alex was true to his word – not that she doubted him anyway, but it was nice to know that her gut instinct with him was spot on. He had brought her comfort and assistance when she needed it most.

  And now he brought her release.

  Seeing the first one happen showed Judith how unfair this was too. Unfair that some of these people had either chosen this way out (or they’d given up resisting). Maybe some of them thought they’d actually survive this thing – walk out of here a multiple murderer and then get on with their lives.

  Alex told her that there would be other volunteers here, people like Judith who had lucked upon this little soiree. There would also be the unwilling, those who thought that they’d come for an orgy only to find that they were the main course. Some of the drug-addled would be here under the pretence that they were to perform whatever sexual or depraved acts the group wanted in return of money and/or drugs. Both were of equal value to them and interchangeable.

  And so it turned out to be. As she looked around the group, she could see several people who clearly didn’t want to be there. They weren’t like the others from earlier who tried to leave. The ones left behind were the gutless, the weak, the dismal excuses for humanity that roamed our streets, filled our work places and hid in any nook-n-cranny they could find. These people hid in plain view, keeping their nefarious activities to themselves (or a select few), waiting to pounce when the opportunity arose. They were the ones who were now crying, feeling sorry for themselves and trying to bargain or barter their ways out of a situation of their making.

  These people do not blame themselves for where they are or for why they have ended up where they have. These are the people that blame others for their predicament – the duplicitous bastard who brought them here under false pretences, the evil Zoran who used violence and threats to make them do these things.

  But there were a few others in here that Judith couldn’t classify – they were there voluntarily, like she was. She wondered what their reasons might be?



  Assisted Death.

  The rhetoric would remain but it’s all the same thing. Even Judith, brought up in a Catholic school, raised by Catholic parents, knew that this was still suicide by proxy. She had voluntarily entered into a game where the very point of it is your death. That’s suicide by Judith’s count, no matter how much she justified it or dressed it up as a game, an experience…a means to an end.

  Judith looked over Stephen and Carly, noticing how young they were in comparison to herself. She made some assumptions about Stephen but she had learnt over the years that assumptions can be dangerous. There was certainly a black cloud over him though, he had that aura of doom that was hard to pin-point. A troubled soul indeed.

  Carly looked totally out of place here to Judith. Maybe she should be in the orgy – most of the men would love to hold her naked body for their pleasure. She was a pretty young thing, petite, gorgeous. She reminded Judith of someone from the past – a memory that instantly made her gloomy with regret. She reminded Judith of herself.

  Judith was sure Carly had her reasons for being there – for participating in this sick game of chance. But did she want to find out?

  Well, did she?

  The sad thing was, she didn’t. She didn’t care.

  Judith Scruth was there for her own reasons, purely selfish and the rest of these people can go to hell. They’re all going there anyway after this night.

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