15: Of Acid and Blood

The Devourer looked down at the mosaic tiles covered with intricate patterns flowing from one over onto another. Most were obscured with blood by now. He looked up at his hand and missing fingernails and the beads of blood forming on their beds before dripping onto the floor. Then his eyes followed the rope bound around his wrist to the ceiling and the iron ring to which it was tethered. The man finished sharpening the knife and started cutting into his flesh again. The Devourer’s breathing intensified before stopping altogether. Chunk after bloody chunk the Devourer was cut into pieces thrown into a bucket.

Tell us its location, The man begged, Please tell us where it is.

The Devourer did not answer.

When they had stripped the skin, fat and muscles of his entire back, and the spine and ribs were laid bare, they stopped as they always did. Another man entered the room and helped to unfasten and drag him to his cell where they emptied the content of the bucket over him. They needed the pieces to reattach and heal before the morning session.

The guard walked up to the cell and looked at the Devourer laying in the puddle of blood and feces. He watched his back facing him, heaving with every breath. A moment later the guard walked away down the corridor toward the lavatories, as he did once every night.

The Devourer slipped on the puddle as he tried getting onto his feet but caught himself by the wall. He snuck up to the cell’s iron bars, grabbed one and pressed his face against them, looking down the corridor after the guard. Like that he stood for a while before he leaned back from his stretched arm, tightened his grip and rammed his head in between the bars. They were to close for it to get through. He leaned back again as blood trickled down his temples and forehead over his cheeks and neck. He rammed his head in between the bars again. This time it cracked. He held onto the bar, bracing himself, swaying.

With the next attempt, blood splattered over the floor and opposite wall. The skin of his head peeled of backward as his bared and deformed skull lodged itself between the bars. His eyes bulged out of their sockets in his twitching face as he pushed himself through. The skin of his head moved like a bag filled with water and stones as its contents slushed around when it popped through. His broken yaw hung open as blood and saliva dripped onto the floor. He turned sideways and put his twig-like arm through. His ribcage collapsed as he pushed his emancipated body through and fell onto the floor. There he lay on his back convulsing in a puddle of blood, slamming his crushed head against the stone tiles. Then he became still.

His sharp gasp for air sucked blood down into his lungs. He vomited and coughed a torrent over himself. He sucked in the air again and rolled onto his side, rose on weak legs and stumbled toward the window at the end of the hallway. He propped himself up against the wall.

Stop! Be still! The guard commanded from down the hallway.

The Devourer let go of the wall and hurried toward the window on slow and weak legs. The guard slipped in the blood and fell to the floor as the Devourer threw himself through the stained glass. He screamed when his body hit the hot water surrounding the castle and sucked it into his lungs. The skin blistered and boiled as he sunk deep down to the bottom where he stayed. While the Seekers searched the lake, his tendons dissolved and his muscles fell off his disintegrating bones. He became one with the lake so that they could not find him.