It began as a practical joke. A nasty, laddish prank, but prank nonetheless.
Or so the others thought.
A mean spirited affair most would not be proud to confess to their mother. Who would want dear old mum to know anything about a scare-someone-shitless gag? Point made, lesson learned, let’s all move on and never tell.
The selected few revved into a cocaine-fuelled frenzy -- with vodka chaser and adrenalin kicker. The others did not know the true intent for which they had been so carefully selected. Until--
The instigator. The manipulator. The beguiling wormtongue burrowing sweet somethings into willing ears. This one had always known how it would end, when he expressed his darker purpose. Someone strung up, balls-naked, dangling from a meat hook. Punched. Kicked. Bloody. Gouged. Stabbed. Slashed. Terrified. Resigned. And about to be very dead.
Yes, the first had always known this day would come, as he had always known he was special.
His experiments started small, yet proved thrilling in demonstrating the power of his superior being. His first attempts involved the smaller mammals and their cute little furry faces. He frissoned at the gratification he felt watching life slowly ebb away. The dull milky film that leaked into the eyes at the moment of expiration was an exquisite pleasure for him.
To prolong the intensity he started using pain as a control element. Over and over he would bring the subject as close to death as possible, pulling back before the point of no return. But these creatures barely measured on the sentient scale. Soon he evolved to more complex species: cats and dogs. Most of them so trusting.
‘Here kitty, kitty, kitty.’
This too proved a spectacular success, made even more deliciously thrilling by another thought: the agony that the disappearance of a loved one would cause its sentimental owner.
Like all powerful stimulants, the first kicks faded and diminished. The craving for greater highs burned into his flesh like acid. For variation, he left the decapitated heads of the creatures for their owners to discover. Highly pleasurable for a while -- especially when he could hide unseen and observe the shocking discovery.
A further refinement occurred to him. He could use his newly acquired video camera to capture the moments of anguish. That way he could relive his pleasure over and over. He found old women and their tabby cats to be a satisfying combination. The zenith of this childhood phase occurred on a warm summer’s evening at Jordan Hill Cottage.
He had observed her for over a week. The short, squat Mrs Rooney: a loud shrew with tight-cropped, salt-white hair. Her back garden sloped gently downhill over fifty yards, ending at the line of unkempt shrubbery separating her little queendom from the farm land rolling onto the horizon. Perfect cover to clock the old witch’s routine of watering her garden between six and seven each summer evening.
He had taken Lady earlier that day, returning at the time he knew she was preparing supper. The cottage was totally secluded, with no prying eyes overlooking it from the rear. He had never experienced this level of raw excitement as he quietly pushed the two wooden pikes into the ground, two feet apart, half way down the garden. Removing both cat parts from the horsehair sack, he stuck Lady’s axed off head on one pike and her bloody torso on the second. Satisfied with his handiwork, he hurried back to his cover, readied his video, and waited patiently.
Right on cue, the old bag left her cottage and walked towards his little surprise. His body reacted in such a new, highly pleasurable way, he had to give in to the irresistible urge to rub hard through his pants. Her sharp cry only made him rub even harder. When she reached his handiwork, he had already absent-mindedly dropped his camera, concentrating on accelerating these fantastic new sensations. This was exquisite. Then something he hadn’t expected: the old lady had already been reduced to a strangled whimpering, before clutching wildly at her chest whilst gasping for breath. The whole event lasted no more than ten seconds before she dropped. Old Mrs Rooney with her five children, twenty grandchildren and four great grand-children, was quite dead before her head clunked into the rock hard earth.
That was the moment everything became one, forcing him to his knees as his body drained into the ground. He knew exactly what his gift to the world was to be. It would be a day like today in a place like this, on the cusp of the brave new Millennium: a derelict, secluded warehouse on a half empty industrial estate on the edge of a nondescript town.
The first had lured the boy with a classic misdirection. An invitation to join those privileged few on the inside. Hush-hush. An exclusive hand-numbered ticket for the band on everyone’s must-see list. The latest sensation, Norman Cook in his hit alias, Fat Boy Slim. A secret rave known only to the select few.
Tell no one.
One of the others had rigged up a few speakers to blast out an ersatz club anthem welcome. The first was thrilled by the surprise on the boy’s face when he walked into the semi-darkness. It finally hit that he had been tricked a moment before the others grabbed him, safely anonymous in their scary horror-masks with the hideous twisted, bloody faces. Oh, how he shouted and struggled against the unquiet night: signifying nothing, with the others all against one.
The first was ready with the dull grey duct tape. A floor-filthy old rag was thrust hard in the boy’s mouth and down his gullet. That, and a few tight wraps around the head, soon shut him up. The others held him down and stripped him naked, before the first bound his hands and feet with the duct tape.
Yeah, right here, right now. It’s really happening.
The abandoned warehouse was a treasure trove of useful implements for their makeshift shop of scares. The overhead chain and winch system was co-opted. A crate full of rusty but sturdy meat hooks: all the better to dangle you with.
The others had not consciously thought out the implications of the prank. They had not wanted to, as each had been secretly excited and stirred by memories of society suppressed natural urges. But that was normal to developing youths with a surging high tide of hormones. Right? Who hasn’t fantasized about killing his controlling parents? Stupid little sister. Irritating brother. Annoying next door neighbour? Sarcastic teacher? Controlling adults? Natural really. Normal.
When they had the terrified boy strung up like a piece of meat, did they really think this would be it? It was all going to peter out after a few laughs? Seriously?
The others tentatively slapped him around the head. Laughing and shrieking. Confident he could never identify them prancing around in their comforting scary horror-masks and crisp, un-bloodied black boilersuits.
All the while the first watched passively, making no effort to get involved in the physical activities that were growing more daring.
One of the tormentors asked the first for another snort of his seemingly endless supply of primo cocaine. Then they all wanted to toot; so he cut long lines on a tray and invited them to have at it. A new bottle of Absolut vodka was cracked open and passed around to wash it all down.
They became bolder.
One swaggered over and punched the meat in the stomach. Another took a run and attempted a flying kung-fu kick he had seen in a Bruce Lee video.
Then it was all hands on meat. This phase lasted quite a while. Got the others all nice and bloodied up. Got them back to basics. Lords of the flying kicks.
‘Hey guys, watch this.’
The first demanded their attention. He opened his satchel and pulled out an outrageous military combat knife. Sturdy rubber handle. Ten inch long blade. Sharply smooth one side. Jagged edged on the other. Killing machine.
One of them laughed uncontrollably. ‘Fuck me... it’s a fucking Rambo knife.’
Another... ‘This is fucking wild. I love it.’
The first could see he had primed their kill-lust to perfection. He approached the meat, which pathetically tried to struggle when it saw the knife. No hesitation, the first sliced down from the meat’s left shoulder to its right hip. Then the opposite move. He stepped back to admire his handiwork.
‘X marks the spot.’
That move stunned them into silence. For a second. Then…
Hyenas on downed prey as they swarmed: biting, kicking, punching and gouging the meat. All the time, the first watched. And waited for the prime moment.
‘For fuck’s sake, let’s finish this thing.’
They stopped immediately. Command control had been established. The first walked up to the meat, ripping off his mask. He pulled the meat’s head up from its slumped position on its chest, pleased to see the tiny flicker of recognition register in its one remaining eye.
Through the blood, the lost boy could dimly see the glinting razor point slowly approaching. The blade stopped, a teardrop away. The boy thought of his mum and dad. His older brother. His baby sister. His beautiful girlfriend. He saw the arm twisting back... ready to plunge.
He screamed silently, ‘Why me? He screamed... No more.
The crowd went wild. The meat’s twitching spasms went on for a few seconds. The first pulled out the blade which had gone straight through the eye-socket, exiting the back of the skull. He was surprised at how easy it had plunged in, and how little the blood had flowed. He’d expected Carrie.
He thought of that other movie they had all seen recently. The pretty boy Hollywood knob. Dumb story. A bunch of losers getting off beating the shit out of each other. How stupid was that? Where’s the fun in that? No. That wasn’t the idea at all.
But it did give him the idea. The first faced his initiates. He took the knife, stuck out his tongue and lovingly ran the flat blade over its top surface. Tasting success. He luxuriated in it. The blood. The pain. The power. The kill.
He let it all out, screaming:
‘Welcome to Kill Club.’
TWELVE YEARS LATER