I've hated you secretly and subconsciously without my daring to know the severity of my ill feeling, this sickness, this penchant for violence against you, this desire for violation upon you. I've carried it with me, buried it deeply inside of me, safely hidden throughout our 20-plus years of supposed friendship, a friendship forced upon me by my father because he is -- or was -- friend to your father.
Perhaps hate is too powerful a word. Envy is more apt.
It is not entirely my fault. You are partially to blame -- not because you are blessed with a physique enriched of masculine beauty and strength far superior to mine. No, this I could accept even as we progressed from our adolescent development into mature manhood. But what I could not and cannot tolerate was and is your arrogance of the fact. Your habitual removing of your shirt for display and challenging of me to punch your hard-muscled abdominal wall with all my strength, knowing full-well that no matter how hard I tried I could never begin to hurt you, Paul, this is what has brought us to our scenario of tragedy.
Yes, my friend, it is your love of self that planted this seed, and whereas under normal circumstances nothing ever would have come of it, things have changed. We no longer live in circumstances anywhere near normal. Do we? Paul?
No, times have changed in a most dramatic way. The atmosphere has allowed my seed to grow until I can no longer curtail its sprouts. No amount of weeding can suppress what you yourself planted. Can you not see it, Paul? Do you not understand, now, why it is that I must torture you, Paul?
You do not answer me. You merely groan. You grunt, and you struggle to break free. But you will not break free. No amount of muscle, no masculine dominance can help you now. I have tasted power and I like it. I have filled my lungs with it, and its enriched nutrients have transformed me. Once, I was a boy willing to follow your lead; a man willing to settle for leftovers while you took the prime: my darling Claudia. I loved her from afar when we were children. I courted and wooed her when we were grown. You took her from me. You enticed her with your manliness, with your strong-muscled physique and overwhelming manhood. You knew I adored her. You knew I lived and breathed just to have her, and yet you took her from me as though you and I were enemies, not best of friends. And just as I have always done, I conceded defeat to you, gave way to your dominating presence.
But no more. Now, I own you. Your fate rests with me, and Iím sure you can understand why I have stripped you naked and stretched you atop this table, your legs dangling off its edge with ankles roped inches from the floor. Certainly now you can realize why I have stretched and sprawled and roped your arms tightly to the table surface well beyond your head. It is your belly, Paul, your gut, your abdominal wall that I want. I want it exposed and vulnerable, wide open and flattened. I want your rib cage elevated, your pelvic bone tugged downward by gravity, and everything in between defended only by your muscle, that unbreakable stone wall of which you are so proud.
I will test you, my friend.
No longer will I bruise my knuckles on your manly gut. The dagger I dangle above you will replace my fists. Do you see its shining metal? Its tapering, twelve-inch blade? Are you alarmed by the beauty of its deadly tip? Do you squirm because torchlight sets aglow its point as though a brilliant diamond ready to cut?
It was gifted to me by our new vicar. Yes, Paul, the very one who has transformed our village, purged it of all who blaspheme against our lord god. How quickly he has divided us -- all of us. Some of us are clever. We believe in him. We agree with him that his way is the only way to true righteousness. I am certain that through the years I have taken the name of our lord in vain as often as you have, but my vicar knows nothing of this. And he will never know, because I am loyal to him. My father agrees with him, and therefore so do I. We are just as clever as our vicar, if not more so, because we see how things must change in his presence. We understand his desires, respect his power, and we have assumed our roles to do his good work.
You and your father, on the other hand, are fools. And you, Paul, are the worse of two fools. You should have fled this land upon the severing of your fatherís foul-mouthed head from his sin-infested body. But no, just as always, you dared to be superior, dared the powers that be to ďpunch you in the gut,Ē so to speak. And now, you will answer to me.
It is sad that you did not see the skill with which Balthazarís axe sliced your fatherís neck. Clean and precise and silent, that is why I have chosen him to assist me with your torture. His chore will be simple, really, as he kindly rinses away your blood so that I can see where your next impalement should be placed.
Why do you struggle? Why do you howl and curse? Did you think I would merely run you through and be done with it? Good heavens, man! Who would go to such lengths for a death so mundane? Not I.
No, there will be no easy way out for you. There will be no puncturing of your organs, but there will be piercing of your muscle aplenty. Your glorious abdominal wall will be pin-pricked, every stretched inch of flexing strength dotted with my shining diamond. Row after row will I poke upon you as though planting seeds of corn, and my blade will penetrate no more than three inches of muscle... at least for my first planting. Then, Balthazar will rinse away your seepage and I will re-enter every hole, perhaps planting my seeds a little deeper. And speaking of corn, did I mention that Balthazarís rinse is made of grain alcohol? Better for burning your wounds. Lessens the chance of infection. Gives you more cause to suffer.
It will be music to my ears, listening to your tightly-stretched belly give way, slowly, torturously, and at increments of my choosing. Of course, you yourself will perform a symphony for me: a progressive symphony of manly groans, of defiant grunts, of terrorized screams, of pitiful pleadings, and, in time, of surrendered repentances. I will hear you, but I will ignore you, for my ears will be focused upon the gradual dismantling of what you so dearly love -- your belly.
I will relish the sounds of your weakening. Each impalement will strike a chord, one set of muscle separating from its connection with the other, and then your symphony will transpose from major to minor as muscle tears apart from itself until your abdominal wall is no more. Your vital organs beneath what was will try to escape. With muscle useless, only your skin will keep your organs inside you. Your abdomen will expand, pooch upwards like the dome of a cathedral. And just when it appears your belly is about to burst open and spill your innards, I will impale you one final time and to one specific place.
It is your belly button, Paul. This I save for last. Do you know why? Because the nerves here are connected directly to the other feature of your masculinity of which you are so proud: your penis. My belly button impalement will send waves of unholy pain throughout your groin, Paul, your phallus, Paul, your testicles, Paul, and once the connection is made from my dagger to your navel to your manly tools of sex, your massive cock will expand to full strength one final time for no good purpose. Claudia will not see it, will not feel it.
Never again, Paul.
Your manhood will pierce the air, my soon-to-be-dearly-departed friend, as I allow your guts to spill, bursting forth from what was once your glorious belly with a crescendo and dramatic finale to your symphony here on earth. Where you go from here is anybodyís guess, but wherever that may be, rest assured you will be glad to finally have arrived... so many hours from now.
And so, Paul, I have no more words for you. Shall we begin?