"His feet felt mauled by claws that refused to release him, razor sharp tips that were engraved into him for the rest of time."
47. Walking On Nails
Gerard flipped through pages with swift fingers. The book that the healer gave him lay open and waiting before home, but to his dismay --- it was blank. He searched for something, anything that might be inside it. Even a single letter. But there was nothing, and Gerard could not decide if he felt more puzzled or disappointed.
For being blank, the book was also rather heavy. He would try lifting it, would not get past his shoulders, and set it down again. Gerard did come to realize this as a good opportunity for exercise to rebuild his arm strength. If it couldn't be anything informative, perhaps it could be a weight. He had thought of potentially using it as a melee weapon, but he knew that it would not get him very far if more than one blackbird came swooping in. At least, until he could swing hard enough --- but even then, they probably had guns.
Or perhaps he could use it as a way to escape himself. Not to the outside world, oh no, god forbid that. But as a way to bash his own skull in. He was fully aware that he was going to die here, and had been considering taking himself out for a good while now. Trouble is that such a plain room offered him little means to do so. There were not even any sheets to hang himself with. And the blackbirds made sure to clean up all objects after every visit.
Gerard was on the verge of testing his new theory out when the silence was broken by a familiar clicking of his door's lock. He was quick to hide the book in its little corner of the bed. He had managed to get himself in a perfectly innocent, book-less, supine position by the time three blackbirds flew into his worm cage.
The one on the left had a medium sized wooden box that he carried with both his hands. The other two carried nothing else. They advanced on him together, but stopped at the foot of the bed instead of the sides like they usually did.
"Please.. no more...." Gerard found himself groaning, his stomach twisting at the sound of hearing himself beg.
"I think.." began one of them, in a voice that sounded nasally. "..our friend here is in need of some exercise."
Gerard felt a chill at the remark, and its similarity to his recent thoughts. Were they reading his mind somehow? Could they burrow into his thoughts? Maybe they were like dementors, kidnapping people and imprisoning them to feed on their fear filled thoughts.
"I agree.." Gerard barely heard another one saying. The one holding the box opened it, and the middle blackbird took something out of his pocket. A hammer.
The blackbird with the box kneeled down so that he was on level with the soles of Gerard's feet. Gerard wanted to recoil them immediately, but again as though knowing what he was thinking, they grabbed his left ankle firmly and held it in place. He motioned to the middle one as though asking for his assistance.
The one who had been on the right pulled out small objects from the box, and Gerard squinted to see the shape of nails being collected into his hand. He tensed, but could do not much else.
He felt the tip of the nail as the blackbird held it up against the bottom of his left foot, poking him teasingly. And then the pain of it’s submergence as the middle blackbird used the hammer to burrow it into his flesh.
A scream escaped his lips, but even Gerard was taken aback by how little they pushed the nail in. He knew for certain that they did not hammer the whole shaft in, as it’s head was still yet to come into contact with his skin.
Instead, they brought out another and and repeated what they had done with the first nail. And then another, and then another. Soon enough, the bottom of Gerard’s left foot felt entirely covered in half submerged nails that were searing with pain. They were all lubricated with liquid that Gerard knew was blood.
They stopped to examine their work, and then proceeded to the right foot. It was the same process. They would take one of their tiny, sharp nails and push it into the sole of the foot – but only halfway, which would take about two hits of the top – and then move on to another one.
Gerard had managed to stop screaming, but his breathing was hitched and odd, guttural noises slithered from his gritted teeth. His feet felt mauled by claws that refused to release him, razor sharp tips that were engraved into him for the rest of time.
But of course leaving things like this were not the blackbirds way, and once they were finished with his right foot, two of them came closer to his bedside. One came forward on one side, the other on the opposite side.
“We’re going for a walk.” Said the one on the right.
And they both grabbed him by his limp arms, while the one who had remained at the foot of the bed grabbed him by the knees, their combined efforts lifting him off the mattress and --- and into a standing position.
Once meeting the floor, every one of the nails pushed into his feet simultaneously. Gerard screamed a scream unlike anything that he had recently released. A bed of rusty metal spikes made their way angrily through him, and Gerard thought for a moment that the nails were long enough to come out of the top of his feet.
The pain caused his knees to buckle, but they would not let him fall. They supported him and forced him to step forward, one foot at a time. With every step, the pain was felt anew; with every step, a fresh scream broke away from his throat.
When he tried to stop, they would scream at him to walk, or he would meet worse punishment. The blackbirds had them go in circles, laps around the room, cracking jokes about pleasant afternoon strolls.
Next chapter: “And there's no room in this hell, there's no room in the next -- but does anyone notice there's a corpse in this bed?”