Jacob closed over the catalogue, there was nothing in it that caught his eye this time around. Not that there was any real need to buy anything, everything he had gotten the last time was still going. He did have to say though, they were good quality and they lasted a long time, much longer than he expected and much longer than the ones at the place he used to get them from. Then again, those people were starved and malnourished, these were all healthy enough to begin with which was always a plus. He glanced at the catalogue again, wondering if it would be a good idea to stock up now, rather than miss out. After all he didn’t want to have to wait a few months for fresh ones like the last time. His finger traced the jaw line of the woman on the cover, she was very pretty, and a good price. No. He wouldn’t, he had enough. He picked up the fashion magazine and threw it into the bin. It really was the perfect cover, if you didn’t know the code you didn’t understand it, to everyone not in the know it just looked like a crappy fashion magazine. To those in the know the placement of the models, the page numbers and the description of the clothes were all used to work out price and temperament of the person. Of course everyone looked a little bit fake, but the basics of the face were there. It was so hard to get people to model properly when they’re unconscious or high on drugs. Much easier to just get the vague placement right then Photoshop it all together. Whatever methods they used worked, so far Jacob had not been disappointed once. And it was much easier than the last place. No more dead drops and secretive information burnings. No, this was easy, flick through, call a number and order if one caught your eye, otherwise you could just throw it into the trash and no one would ever know.
Jacob stood from the table, it was time for his weekly stock check. He went downstairs quickly and entered the basement. He didn’t take much time looking over them, just a quick glance to make sure there were no large wounds, nothing was infected, that kind of thing. He didn’t bother listening to their bleating. It was all the same after a while. He didn’t enjoy the begging all that much, if anything it got on his nerves but there was no real way to shut them up. He couldn’t keep them gagged all the time, they’d starve. He had already tried getting a throwaway model to use as an example, he had sewn that man’s lips shut, as a bit of a tongue in cheek warning for everyone to keep quiet. If anything it backfired, the man with the sewn shut mouth just made lots more noise anyway. Trying to shout and scream and tear at his stitches. Jacob didn’t know what the hell was wrong with him, obviously it was some mental defect he hadn’t been made aware of before purchase. Once he had given them a quick examination he unwound the hose from the wall, it was time for their wash. He wasn’t a cruel man, and cold water would be cruel, so he used hot. He sprayed them all down, ignoring the whimpers and gasps. He didn’t know what was wrong with them, he could hold his hand under the water for a whole five seconds before it started to hurt, he held it on them for barely three. Once everyone had been rinsed he put the hose back. He used to throw a bucket of soapy water on them between rinsing, but he had since done away with that little ritual, too much effort for not enough return. He didn’t need them all that clean. It wasn’t like he was some monster planning to have sex with them or anything disgusting like that. No, a rinse would do them just fine.
Jacob started to tidy things away quickly once he finished his tasks. Everything down there was brightly lit, but he still didn’t like it all that much. It reminded him of his father’s basement. That had definitely been a complete and utter horror show, but Jacob wasn’t like that. He didn’t like using the basement, but he had no other choice, it was the safest place for them to be put.
Before he left he stopped and stared at the four cages, each one containing a person. Each were attractive enough, if a little unconventionally so. Number three definitely needed his nose done and number four could use a bit of lipo. No matter, he’d get them ship shape in no time. He glanced at number 2, she had come to him covered in tattoos, but now her skin was pure again, not a single sign of the offending ink. Ok, her skin was all pink and bumpy now too, but that was immaterial. The tattoos were gone and that was the main thing. Number one, poor number one, he was the experiment. Jacob didn’t really try to achieve aesthetic beauty with him, just make cuts here, put in stitches there, remove this, add that, just to see what would happen. He was beautiful, in his own way, but it was definitely beauty that was an acquired taste. Oh well, it wasn’t like he was going to have to worry about finding someone to settle down with. Jacob gave them all a brief smile and wave as he left, he liked to be somewhat friendly to them, humanise himself, after all they were all in this together and they’d need one another’s support to get through it all. Sure, the people below may not last much longer, but they were a part of something bigger, a collective, and each change was bringing him, and them, one step closer to perfection, it was only a matter of time before he cracked it.