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“The Scarlet Abattoir” By Thomas Stewart

I cannot tell whether it was the scent of the blood or the feces that first roused me. My eyes were very slow to adjust. The world was a cloud, a dark, shapeless cloud that reeked of nameless corruption and rot.


Cold air stung my apparently naked body. I tried moving my arms and legs, only to find them shackled. As well as this, they also ache horribly, along with everywhere else on my body. I was about to lose consciousness again, able to do nothing else, when my head shot up at the sound of footsteps approaching.


When the footsteps stopped, so did my heart. I still couldn't see anything, but I could hear growling from ahead. I imagined it, deep and vicious as they were, coming from the largest wolf or perhaps even a tiger, yet there was another quality to it that didn't much resemble an animal at all.


I noticed whatever it was was moving on all fours, but that their impact on the ground was far heavier than the padded paws of a feline or dog. This was a human being, I realized. My vision slowly started coming back to me.


There wasn't much to actually see, but what there was in front of me was a stone room, splotched in various places with blood and God only knew whatever else. The path directly in front of me where I was hearing the growling was completely dark past the first two or three inches. Soon, I watched a hand come out of the shadows, landing on the floor in front of me.


Another soon followed. Then a head-- or what was left of one-- emerged from the shadows. The creature continued to growl at me while slowly creeping forward. My vision fully recomposing, I saw this creature resembled a human being, albeit not any I or any other would've recognized. They were covered in numerous lacerations and their mouth appeared split from one ear to the other.


They appeared starved, their rib cages damn near protruding from their skin. Their exposed teeth were those of sharks, jagged and almost filed down to a razor tipped point. I realized who or whatever this beast was must be a woman with the appearance of breasts and, though thin and wispy, torn on one half of her scalp, long brunette hair that hung down the side of her head.


The creature was blind, a metallic, razor rimmed sort of visor covering her eyes. She leaned forward, about to creep forward when she stopped suddenly. It was then that I heard the rattling of chains and she was jerked backward. Coming from somewhere in the shadows in front of me, a thunderous voice demanded, "Stay!"


The creature attempted to lunge forth again, only to be jerked back again. She growled and thrashed about for a moment before stopping. The chamber was still for three seconds before I heard the chains rattle again and the she-beast get jerked all the way back to the shadows, with the voice demanding, "Return!"


I only very faintly heard the growls and rattling of chains trailing away before the chamber silenced once more. My head lolled down to look at my own body. All across my flesh, I found bruises splotched across my front. They were also covering the lengths of my arms and legs.


Though I could see clearly, my head throbbed horribly still. I closed my eyes and strained to remember what happened or what led to where I was now. Whether due to the yet unknown head trauma I'd received or something else, I had no recollections whatsoever.


I had fragments of scenes, of a garden, a beautiful woman smiling at me with two young children by her side, and a cottage by a hillside. I couldn’t distinguish any of it or tell if any of it had any signifigance to me, but I could see them. When my eyes opened again, it was at the sound of chains rattling again. This time, however, no she-beast or person emerged from the shadows before me.


Instead, it was my own chains being raised higher and higher, lifting me from the stone floor. I was lifted until the chains stopped, leaving me dangling almost five feet above the floor. I hung from my wrists, further straining the muscles, which already threatened to break at any moment now. My legs dangled limply, bearing no strength whatsoever, as though they’d been stripped of bone or muscle, leaving them as mere empty sacks of flesh to hang below my waist, utterly useless.


Then, from the shadows approached a series of far heavier footsteps than those of the she-beast before. Like her, the first things to emerge from the shadows were a set of black boots, rimmed around the bottoms with steel lining. Then, slowly, the muscular features of a man revealed themselves to me. He was tall, broadshouldered and built like a barbarian, but over his face, he wore an iron helmet that concealed all features from view. All that is, save for his left eye, which was grey and dead.


In truth, I had originally thought him blind because of this, until I watched him hold up his hand to it which brandished a cat o’ nine tails with nails tied to each and every end. Though I could not see his face, I could imagine his grin being as wide as the she-beast’s was. He had not spoken a word, nor made a motion, yet merely by looking at him, I knew for certain his only goal was my intimate suffering.


“Wh-Who are you?” I asked in shaking breath. He stared silently at me, still holding the cat o’ nine tails up.


“Someone who knows you all too well.” his booming voice declared. Before I could even think of asking him just what in Hell that was supposed to mean, he stomped forward, causing the entire room to shake. My head lolled around loosely atop my shoulders.


He brought down the cat o’ nine tails and began twirling the ends of it in a circle in the air. “I am someone who knows your soul.” Another earth shaking step came toward me. “I know your deeds.”


The nails flashed in the dim lighting of the chamber. “I know your soul. And finally, I know of your sins.”


“My sins?” I asked him. He stomped toward me twice more, coming to within a mere two inches from my face.


“Yes, Issac. Your hands reek with the pain of innocence lost.”


“You are mistaken! I-I am--”


“You are what? “Innocent”? Are you truly so delusional?”


“I do not understa--” My words die in my throat at the sharp snap of the cat o’ nine tails on the air.


“What you do not understand, Issac, is atonement.”


“What have I to atone for? Tell me!” The behemoth then bellowed a noise which I could only think was supposed to be a chuckle. “You laugh?”


“How could I not, Issac? You refute me on innocence as though I wouldn’t know what you’ve done. You feign ignorance as though I have not already seen your crimes.”


“I don’t understand.”


“You don’t want to understand. You wish to think this is as simple as mere torture of the body, but this is so much more than that, Issac.” He stomped forward again, now only a hair’s breath from my face.


In a flash, the whip whistled through the air before searing pain jolted throughout my body. The action itself didn’t even last a full second, yet the pain resulting from it was the kind I’d thought only occurred after a lifetime of torture. It was the pain of hot glass shards being driven into you. It was the pain of needles being dragged across every available patch of skin, slowly and intimately.


I looked down to see a gruesome looking gash opened up across my stomach. Crimson streams ran down the length of my stomach, down my legs, and pooled onto the floor below me. I actually caught the very instant a drop of blood hit the ground as, when it had, a horrible migraine took a hold of me. Now, coupled with the agony of the gash in my stomach, I also felt the pressure of a boulder crushing the inside of my skull.


With this came more of the aforementioned visions. This time, however, they weren’t serene as the former. Instead, they were horrifying, depicting what appeared to be murder of the woman and child. I saw them cower, I heard their cries. I watched the woman be thrown to the ground, battered, bruised, and even cut! From an unknown source, I watched blunt objects being thrown at her, striking her, bludgeoning her.


I saw then the child, tears in their eyes. He, too, was thrown rudely to the ground as though he were the remains of an animal’s carcass. The two cries came together as one chaotic dissonance, utterly indstinct to my ears except for one haunting word:


“Why?!”


I howled in pain with another lash of the cat o’ nine tails across my chest. The behemoth bellowed with laughter again whilst delivering a barrage of lashes, tearing me open from every exposed patch of skin available. As painful as this was in of itself, it paled in comparison to the pressure I felt in my head with each and every drop of blood on the stone floor.


At one point, the lashings ceased. My body hung limp, battered and broken. I couldn’t even move my head to look up. I didn’t even need to, though, as seconds later, my chin was being forced upward to meet gaze with the behemoth. His single gray eye bulged at me.


“Yes, you’re feeling it now, aren’t you?” I said nothing, letting both my silence and my broken, tired stare speak for me. I felt something, of course, but what exactly? He nudged my chin up further and said, “You feel their pain.”


“Th-the-their’?”


“Yes, Issac. The blood of your wife and son.” His other hand dropped the cat o’ nine tails then and he reached into the ragged cloth around his waist and produced a small, though long and no doubt sharp, finely edged blade. My eyes widened in horror, wondering which of the thousand possibilities the behemoth would choose to torture me with this.


He brought the weapon to my right cheek and slowly cascaded it across, leading to my right arm. “Their innocence, their saftey, and their blood were all stripped from them by these hands.” In an instant, almost too quick for me to even see it, the blade was brought down and my arm was cloven clean from my shoulder. It took almost two seconds to register what had happened, but when I did, the pain was unbearable. Blood spurt from the stump of my shoulder and onto the wall.


My throat tore in half with screaming, but even this was drowned by the boom of the behemoth’s voice. “Their very lives were ended by these hands!” Another swing of the blade and my other arm was gone as well. I fell then to the stone again, writhing miserably, shrieking until my throat couldn’t produce any sound apart from a horrified wheezing.


A swift boot to my side turned me over to face him once more, leering over me. He dropped the dagger and walked back into the shadows. Blood formed an ocean around my body. Consciousness began to abandon me, though, somehow, in some way, I knew I would not die from this. I knew, somehow, that I couldn’t.


I was going to wake again, and I knew I was supposed to. Fueling this belief, I suppose, was the return of their faces; the woman and boy.


My wife and son.


They were smiling at me again. The boy waved happily for me to follow while he ran off. I heard the wife giggle whilst walking in the direction of the cottage.


I watched then as the scene shifted to show the wife lying with another man, one whom I did not recognize. That is, not immediately. I heard her moan ecstatically for him before she turned back to face me. Shock took her immediately from her ecstasy and sha scrambled away from him.


Her pleas were garbled, unintelligible, but indicative nonetheless. A hand, my hand, then struck her, sending her to the ground. The shriek produced at that moment is one that continues to echo throughout my mind and will continue to do so for the rest of my days. Another hand struck her, then a boot.


She laid on the ground, cradling her stomach while a flurry of boot strikes caved it further inward. She began coughing blood when the boy tugged me away from her, pleading silently with his watering for me to cease my violence. For his efforts in protecting his mother, he is rewarded with a swipe across his own face, sending him away and returning my rage toward the mother. She howled in sorrow, seeing what had been done to the boy, but as she reached out for him, another boot met her in the jaw.


This made her neck twist all the way in the other direction with a sickening crack. Her body went limp then. Attention then went to the boy, who was lifting himself to his feet as I approached him. He had just time for his dazed eyes to meet mine again before I was upon him. I saw hands begin wrapping around his terrified face before everything was dark again.


I was back in reality again, back in the blood soaked, foul odored, corrution reeking chamber again, now surrounded in my own blood, face down in the stone. “As I said, Issac,” boomed the behemoth, stomping back toward me from the shadows, “The punishment of the body is only half of your sentence. The pain of your soul, of atonement, is your true judgement.”


A single tear betrayed my face, travelling down my cheek to join the blood on the stone. “That is the truth of this place. Of the Scarlet Abattoir.”


Within me, I found the strength to mutter this single question once more: “Who are you?” The behemoth knelt down to face me once more. With another bellowing laugh, his hands raised and he began to remove his helmet. Before he’d even halfway removed it from his face, my eyes doubled their normal size with the horrid realization.


“I’m you, Issac.”

“But… But that can’t…”


“But it is, just as it was when you murdered them. I was the one she laid with, while you were the one that punished her. We are the same, you and I, but you are the abomination, while I am the persecutor.”


I averted my eyes back to the pool of blood. I couldn’t believe him, yet I couldn’t deny him either. There was no denying truth.


I was a murderer.


The behemoth turned back toward the shadows and patted his knee. “Come.” I heard the familiar rattling of chains and from the shadows emerged once more the she-beast. Her growls were far more excited than before.


“This, you see, is the woman you believed you had killed in righteous anger that night.” He reached over and removed the visor from her eyes, revealing that she had none at all. Staring at me now were tow dark red craters. “Her eyes were removed as penance for looking upon another. Her lips were carved, as to open her mouth wider as the whore you so urgently believed her to be.”


He stood up again and stomped one last time back into the shadows. Before disappearing completely, he said to me: “Now she’ll be yours to enjoy for all eternity, and you’ll have no means to end or resist it.” One last bellowing laugh and he was gone completely from sight.


The she-beast immediately lept on top of me, mounting me, and wasted not even a single second violating me. Every perverse act, every demeaning and degrading act of violence and sexuality, she inflicted upon me, mercilessly and without any sort of passion or even lust. She was a wild animal and I a wounded prey.


This is my existence now, and has been for millennia, and will continue until the end of days. Since that fateful day, I came to understand exactly what this place was. Rather, I should say what Hell truly is.


In life, I believed Hell to be the place where sinners and evil dwell, where eternal punishment was given at the hands of its malicious ruler, but I see differently now. I see the truth.


Hell is the punishment of one’s self. This place was the creation of my own guilt, my own pain, pain I’d wrongfully inflicted upon others, and now I’d rot in it.


Hell is the Scarlet Abattoir.



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