From the minds of Simon Critchell and Jason Hughes, the first chapter of 21 24. Available everywhere books are sold.
WARNING: The Following excerpt is not for all audiences. If you are triggered or sensitive to situations of child abuse please go no further.
1:1 CHILE ABUSE
The first thing Tyrone felt was pain: pain in his hand, pain in his body, pain everywhere. His eyes were still closed, and he knew it was early. He liked waking early; it was the only time of day he could have peace. Jessica and Lex were too lazy to be up at this time, and when they weren’t up, they obviously couldn’t bother him. The earlier he woke, the more time he had to himself. The closer it got to seven or so, the more afraid he became.
For the moment, he felt relaxed. He opened his eyes and could only see out of one; the other lost its use years earlier. It was dark and cold, but he could make out the features of the dingy box of a room he was forced to live in. He wasn’t aware of the stench in the air. Living in this room most of his life, he’d become accustomed to it. Anyone else would have picked up on the disgusting mix of urine, feces, and blood. For Tyrone, the stench was just air.
He felt many pains, but the one troubling him the longest was his hand. In the middle of his right palm was a deep, black hole. It was so deep it almost passed all the way through to the other side. It had been made over a long period of time; however, the first time he had been used to extinguish a cigarette was on his leg. That scar was tiny now, even though his leg had been so small when it happened, and the burn seemed huge in comparison. Now you could hardly see it, even if you looked for it in good light. The pain from burns was his most hated. The other injuries seemed to only hurt fora moment or two. Burns seemed to last forever.
His small basement room had a miniscule slit of a window high on the wall, opposite the collection of sacks he slept on. The window fueled his imagination. He had no idea what was really out there. He heard noises during the day, when he was not being screamed at.
He didn’t know what the noises were, but things were happening out there. He had not learned much about the world outside over the years, but he did know there were birds. He had seen them. It was always a wonder to him when one of the little things moved through the air past his window.
Jessica, his mother, had a very black and white nature. Most of the time it was black and filled with hatred and venom, but on rare occasions she managed to be loving and giving. Tyrone had long learned not to get attached to anything she gave him. It would inevitably be taken away.
In one of her rare kind moments, Jessica taught him about birds and the few leaves of grass he could see through the slit of glass. She had also cruelly described the wonderful world outside that pane and made sure to drum into him the fact he would never set foot into it. Even her kind moments were always laced with black.
Tyrone watched her cut and hurt herself throughout his life. It wasn’t a significant thing to him. It made the agonies she dealt him ordinary, reinforcing the normality of it all. He’d seen her burn herself, too. It was what happened. He was never allowed to hurt her, of course. She was firmly in charge of dishing out the pain. There were many more scars on her than he’d seen her make. Some were probably given to her by Lex, he imagined. There were times when he’d hear her scream upstairs, only to appear later for a punishment session with bloodied arms or legs. Tyrone looked at the window and sensed the torment approaching. It was getting lighter, and soon there would be movement upstairs. There were times when they left him alone all day, and those were the days he longed for. He never knew when his mother and Lex were coming; they just appeared at random.
Just as he was letting himself drift into a fantasy of living on the other side of the window, he heard a creak above him. Even though he had lived through hell his entire life, the sound still sent a chill down his spine. He listened intently to see if it was his mother or Lex. Lex was much heavier, and his feet made heavy thuds when he walked. There was a little more noise, more movement. It was Jessica.
Tyrone prayed she would follow her normal routine, in what she told him was the kitchen above his head. A few minutes of movement above, then she would go back to bed. On the bad days, when she was feeling particularly nasty, she would come down and torture him for a while before seeing Lex off to work. Those days were the worst.
His heart sank as her feet started to descend the stairs to the basement. His body wanted to shrink into the darkest corner of the room, but it was hard to move. Tense fear flowed through him, his heart racing. He wanted to cry, but he’d learned greeting her with tears was a bad idea.
The door opened, and she walked slowly into the room. She was smoking, and Tyrone felt the pain surge in his hand.
“It stinks in here,” she hissed. Tyrone just looked at her, pleading with his good eye for her to leave him alone. “I told you to clean up after yourself,” she barked.
By cleaning up after himself, his mother meant she expected him to dispose of his shit and piss. There was only one place it could be disposed of, back inside him. He’d been doing it for years, but sometimes he couldn’t. He had accidents, upset stomachs.
There wasn’t anything he could do about it now. Jessica was just looking for any excuse to hurt him, and the smell was an easy target. He couldn’t smell it, but the room always stank. “Show me your hands you fucking animal!”
He lifted his arms and held out his hands. She smiled as she looked at his left hand. Every digit was pointing in a direction it shouldn’t go. They’d all been broken many times and left to set. His thumb was folded back over to his wrist, leaving it completely useless. The fingers all had 90-degree bends in them. The whole hand was living art to her. It was a creation to remind her of the screams she’d pulled from him. Tyrone remembered her working her way up his arm, breaking and bending it until the whole thing was a spectacular deformity.
His other hand was mostly untouched. He needed to be able to grasp things, to feed himself and wipe his own ass, so she left him one hand to use. She didn’t leave it alone completely, though. His whole palm was an angry red color, growing more vibrant towards the black hole in the middle.
Jessica drew a long, deep drag on her cigarette, making the end glow bright orange. At the same time, she took Tyrone’s good hand and extinguished the burning butt into the hole, pushing down hard. Tyrone screamed and was immediately punched hard in the face.
“We have new neighbors, you worthless shit! No fucking screaming!” she sneered through clenched teeth as she went back to stubbing out her cigarette in his wound. Tyrone gritted his teeth and leaked the agony out of his eyes.
He didn’t know what neighbors meant, but whatever it was, she didn’t want him screaming, which was exactly what she usually wanted. It was going to be hard not to let loose like he usually did. The screams were good for both of them. For him it was a release of the pain, and for her it was like music. He didn’t think he could just switch it off.
Jessica explained the old guy named Colter Jensen, who’d lived next door, wasn’t there anymore. He was dead. She said he had been almost completely deaf and blind. He saw and heard no evil to speak of. A young family had moved into the house next door. Jessica couldn’t just let him scream anymore. She barked at him to take off his pants; she needed something to plug up his pathetic mouth. Tyrone’s broken and burning hands fumbled with the button. He never questioned her orders.
He learned a long, long time ago never to question her.
“Get on with it,” she whispered.
The filthy pants dropped to the floor, exposing his emaciated and scarred legs.
“Give them to me,” she snapped.
Tyrone struggled to pick them up, clearly infuriating her. Finally, he got a good grip and went to hand them over. She snatched them away.
“You don’t need these. I have no idea why I got them for you. You don’t deserve them. See how you look after them. They are filthy!”
Tyrone flicked his eye between the floor and her eyes and back again. Staring at her made her mad, and not looking at her made her mad, so he learned to flick between the two.
She stormed out of the room, slamming the door closed on her way out.
It was just the calm before the storm. Today was going to be one of the bad ones. He could sense it. He listened to her stomp up the stairs and walk around the floor above him. The brief moment served to let his brain properly feel the pain in his hand. It throbbed and stung. It always hurt, but each time she burned him, the pain increased. There was nothing to ease it, either. He’d blown and spat on it. He even peed on it once. Nothing made the pain lessen.
From his toes to the top of his head, Tyrone felt fear. His body wanted to shake, but that was another thing he learned was a no-no. He used his mind to fight his body’s physical urges.
She stomped back down the stairs and burst back into the room. His pants were no longer pants. She had cut the legs off and sliced them into pieces, turning them into along, knotted strip of material. He saw she had the needles in her other hand as well. They were his most hated torment, more than the burns. He wanted to die right there and then. He wanted it all to stop.
“Turn around and open your mouth,” she instructed.
He did as ordered and immediately tasted the filthy grime of his pants. She made sure the biggest knot filled his mouth and then tied the gag around the back of his head as tight as she could.
She put her mouth close to his ear and whispered, “Try screaming now, you fucking cunt.” Jessica pushed him to the floor. She spread the ten needles out in a row and placed her lighter on the floor next to them, then took a short candle out of her pocket. Tyrone knew what was coming and braced himself for the pain.
* * * * *
Jessica picked up her lighter and lit the candle. She let the light flicker over Tyrone’s legs. She couldn’t remember all the scars, but there were many that brought back vivid memories. A large notch of meat was missing from one of his shins and she could remember the agony on his face, along with the warm, wet blood. She looked at the dip and decided it would make a great target.
Once the candle had plenty of melted wax pooled within it, she pulled the dirty, grey-brown underpants down his legs. She poured the wax into the dip at the corner of his leg and his crotch, pressing the candle down into the cooling pool. Tyrone didn’t even flinch. Jessica knew the hot wax would almost be pleasurable compared to the absolute agony she was about to inflict on him.
Jessica looked into his eye and smiled, then picked up one of the needles and held it in the flame of the candle. The needle was five inches long and surprisingly fine for its length. The tip of the implement began to glow red in the flame. Soon it was a bright orange and ready to be used.
She watched him bite down on the gag as she quickly moved the needle to his shin and then pushed it as deep as she could into the bone. The red-hot metal burned its way through the thin layer of bone which had healed over the previous wound and cooked the marrow. Tyrone did his best to scream around the gag. His watering eye was wide open and twitching wildly. These were the twisted pleasures she lived for.
She gazed into his eye, thrilled at the agony she could see within the windows to her son’s battered soul. The sensation made her feel so alive. She knew she was going to enjoy the next hour or so, sliding hot needles into his tortured, delicate flesh.