State of Emergency – Chapter 6

December 28, 2010

The plastic sheet murmured softly against the charred wooden floor with every step Derek took as he moved around the chair, fastening plastic binder strips around Jacob’s ankles as the husky Scouser started to stir. Thick layers of chipboard covered the windows of the derelict house, shutting out the moonlight and street lamps, leaving the room to darkness save for the few candles he’d lit.

He stopped in front of the chair in which he’d bound his captive, picking up the maglight he’d left on the slumped ruins of a sideboard. He briefly examined the video camera pointing at the chair in the flashlight’s beam, then shone it into the man’s eyes as they opened. Jacob groaned and narrowed his gaze against the glare, head throbbing and a dull, dry ache running up his back. “What the fuck…” He groaned deeply and Derek set the torch down again. In the next room, he heard the hiss and flare of a match as someone lit a cigarette; he’d called in some old markers, a little backup in case things didn’t go to plan.

He wasn’t Chris. He had no faith in humankind, knowing its underside far too well, nor was he about to underestimate anyone associated with Ian Carlyle. Briefly, he brushed the ski mask that covered his new face with his fingers. Sometimes he thought he could still feel the bullet wounds under his skin.

“Jacob, I’m looking for your brother.” He leaned both arms on the portable DIY workbench in front of him, studying the prisoner’s hazel eyes as they darted around the room, seeming to appraise the situation rather than desperately seeking help. Derek chewed his lip a moment, pondering, then ran his hand along the rack of drill bits and saw blades, making the metal clash together and ring. Jacob’s eyes snapped back to him. “Tell me now where he is and you walk out of here with two grand in your hand. Make me wait and you might not be leaving here with a hand at all. Are we clear?”

“Crystal.” His tone was dry and frosty before his jaw snapped shut; Derek sighed, straightening up.

“Thought as much.” He picked up the power drill, hefting it in his hand before clipping in a slim, pointed bit. He squeezed the trigger gently, letting it whirr for a moment to test it, then looked back at Jacob. “You know what’s weird? I’ve had these tools for years and I’ve never once used them to build anything…. Just for taking men like you apart.”

The gaze turned on Derek was steely. “Jacob Carlyle. Sergeant. 24501369. And fuck you, you Yankee ponce.”

Two strides across the creaking floor and the drill bit was whirring against the skin of Jacob’s forearm. The American pushed down hard on the tool; skin shredded around the wound and then blood was in the air, a fine red mist spattering across their faces. Pain burned up the arm like acid, coming in fast pulses. Jacob clenched his jaw as the bit tore into muscle, his Adam’s apple bobbing as he swallowed the scream that tried to claw its way out of his throat.

Derek lifted the drill away, picking streamers of flesh off it with distaste. “Where’s your brother, Jacob?”

“Jacob Carlyle. Sergeant. 24501369.” His voice cracked as he listed the numbers. A bead of blood ran slowly down his forehead.

“Wrong again.” The drill bucked in Derek’s hand as the bit passed from soft flesh into hard bone and he let it play loose, twisting his wrist to widen the hole he was boring. For a single everlasting moment, the agony was a pure and terrible thing, then suddenly it was replaced; a numb absence, a nameless, insensate distress before the throbbing began. Jacob couldn’t hold back the scream this time, roaring his pain up to the ceiling and tears flowed freely down his face when Derek lifted the drill away again. He took a few paces back, humming to himself as he selected a broader bit from the workbench, then detached the slender one and held it up in its grizzly glory for Jacob to see. Blood dripped from the tip of it to add to the trickles running across the  plastic from the chair. “Next is the knee. That’s permanent damage. Want to tell me where your brother is?”

Jacob opened his mouth. For a moment no sound came out, then he started to croak “Jacob… Carlyle… Sergeant…”

“Heigh ho.” Derek walked back to the chair and started to whistle to himself while Jacob screamed.


“Ja… Jacob…. Car…” The man stopped there, sputtering and choking before spitting a gob of blood and mucus at his torturer.

Derek patted his sweat-slicked hair in mock-sympathy. “Well, you’ve got balls mate, I’ll give you that. Some nasty scars, a permanent limp and a lot of teeth missing, but you’ve still got your balls.” He was the only one who laughed at the joke. Jacob simply stared down at his blood-soaked trousers, the fabric torn away in ragged, circular patches at the knee and along both thighs. Gory drool ran from the corner of his open mouth and his left eye was swollen shut.

He walked back to the workbench and tucked the pliers back in their place, then started to pack the entire affair back into its case while Jacob watched in bemusement. Derek grinned at him. “Ah see, there’s more than one way to skin a cat, mate.” He pulled his phone out of his pocket and put it to his ear, the open, lit screen casting a blue light across the darkened room. “Isn’t that right, Mrs Carlyle?”


One Response to “State of Emergency – Chapter 6”

  1. Darren W said

    I am really enjoying this series – in just a few words, each scene stands alone, in the way of good short story fiction. The running narrative that threads it together throws enough new information to carry the story forward well, and I am looking forward to seeing where it goes.

    Thank you, and keep it up!

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