Jane tried to keep herself calm, she wasn’t sure how long she had been awake, but no one had responded to her shouts and she couldn’t wriggle free from the restraints. Her wrists and ankles were bound and a tight strap was across her throat. She had tried to look around the room but it was difficult to see much in the low light, it looked like there were concrete walls all around her. Above her body were thousands of fish hooks, criss-crossing on thin wire. She didn’t know what they were for, it didn’t look like they could be moved up or down, from what she could tell they were immobile. She didn’t know if she should find that reassuring or not. There was no sound in the room, apart from the low sound of her breathing and the lack of windows meant she couldn’t tell if it was night or day. She tried to remember what exactly had happened but the details were fuzzy. Her car had broken down and a man had stopped to offer some help, then she had woken here. Somewhere at the other end of the room she heard the click of a latch and a door opened, the room got a little brighter for a second, then the door was closed and she was plunged into the gloom. That brief flash of light reveal the fish hooks in startling detail, it was almost like a cocoon of them above her, layers and layers.
The man stood over her, it was the man who had stopped to help, he was clean shaven, with bright green eyes and a large smile that she would have described as infectious under other circumstances. He reached out and gently moved a strand of hair from her forehead, “Don’t worry, it’ll all be over soon then you’ll be on your way, you just need to relax and let me do my job.”
“What are you going to do?”
He reached across her and pulled something into view, a ball gag. Jane tried to move her head away, he grabbed her chin and forced her head into position. A sour, plasticky taste filled her mouth, she struggled against her bonds but they held strong. The man muttered to himself as he moved around the room, Jane tried to follow him first by sight then by noise. Occasionally he would cross into her view again before disappearing.
He moved into view above her, she could feel him gently stroking her hair, she tried to move away from it but couldn’t. “I just want you to know that I’m sorry and if there was any other way to do this I’d have done it.”
Jane didn’t see the knife before it slid across her throat, the pain was bright and burning, she struggled against death, against the bonds. Her movements became weaker, she couldn’t breathe, fluid was filling her lungs. With dim horror she realised she was drowning in her own blood. The man kept stroking her hair as she struggled until finally her body lay still. Above them the fish hooks started to jiggle and shake a few were gently tinkling against one another, after a few seconds they settled and lay still. The man moved around Jane’s body and grabbed a metal flask, inside the liquid sloshed and gurgled, he opened the cap on top and brought it to the tip of the lowest hook, all the wires led to this point. He watched as a drop of cloudy liquid formed and he carefully caught it in the flask as it fell. He waited there for half an hour, a total of six drops fell from the hook, he smiled as he twisted the cap on again, she had been a strong one. He gently shook the flask, almost there, maybe a dozen, two at the most and he would finally be finished.
As he dismembered her body, he thanked her over and over, she had been a spur of the moment grab, it had been easy enough, broken car, deserted road. Normally he didn’t go for her kind, those who lived in society, he normally went for the homeless, the hitchhikers, the prostitutes. Those who wouldn’t be missed and if they were, well, no one of importance would care. Sometimes though opportunities like this came along and he wasn’t foolish enough to turn them down. She was the sixth such person, or was it seventh? No. Six. They always gave a little more, she had inadvertently saved the lives of about five other people. Those like her tended to be stronger, they had more to give.
Once the body was disposed of he carefully checked the wires and hooks, for any damage or misalignment, with that fixed he left the room, locking it behind himself.
Upstairs he added a 6 to the long column of numbers in his journal, all totalled he 226, only 24 more to go before the flask was full and that was when the fun would truly start. No one had ever managed to do what he was doing, tearing bits from the soul as it moved onto what ever was next, collecting them all together. There were rumours as to what would happen should someone achieve such a feat, powers like telepathy or mind control, eternal life, becoming a god. Anything was possible and he intended to find out. He itched to go out and grab someone else, he was so close, but he couldn’t afford to be sloppy. Not now. Soon everything would be worth it, all those deaths, all that hardship he had to go through, the searching for those suitable, the moving so he wouldn’t be found out. All that would come to an end, he just needed a little more patience. About one a week for the next six months and he would be finally finished. He didn’t enjoy the killing and he did feel bad for them, but they were giving their lives up for something greater than they could have ever been, something far more noble. He carefully put the journal and flask away, Geena and Frank, his neighbours, were coming over for dinner later and there couldn’t be any traces of his work. He knew some day people would know about it, they’d praise him for his brave and astounding contributions, both to science and the world at large. For now he needed to keep it a secret, but someday the entire world would know his name and tremble.