“Are you ready to learn?”

Excerpt from THE BOX

The screams, the screams had hung with him almost as much as the smell had, but the screams were worse. More real. The frightened shrieks of animals being slaughtered. Being butchered. Cut open from throat to belly as they writhed in sickening agony. As their life and entrails splashed to the floor, onto his father’s black rubber boots he always kept near the door to the Box. He had first heard the screams when he was seven, when his father had first brought him here instead of to his grandmother’s house where he usually spent the weekend visits he had with his father since he and mother had stopped living in the big blue house together. His father had pushed the boy ahead of himself and when the lights came on in the Box the boy had screamed, startled and frightened at the sight very of the place – heavy steel hooks hung from the ceiling and from those stained hooks hung the carcasses of what had to be at least a dozen animals of all kinds, dogs and cats to a small calf and several pigs. Each with their bellies open and their insides hollowed out. The floor was covered in blood and gore but most it had been washed down through the grate in the center of the room. Along one wall was a long table full of stained knives, hammers, saws, and other tools he could not put a name to and in the corner opposite the table was another table that was clean, unstained steel and looked like a doctor’s examination table. In the farthest corner of the room, in the darkness, was a large steel closet that was locked solid with three heavy locks. Suddenly there was movement amongst the dead – the boy’s startled scream had awakened something hanging among the bodies and suddenly the Box was filled with the high pitched screams of a still living pig that must have fallen asleep, exhausted, on its hook. His father looked down on him angrily for a moment before he walked swiftly over to the long table and grabbed up a heavy hammer and walked towards the pig. The boy screamed again, this time in hopes of stopping his father but before he could protest his father’s arm had risen and had fallen in a blur of motion and the pig was still and silent now as blood streamed from its half-open mouth. The boy was silent now, his body tense, as he looked on, frightened and suddenly curious. His father walked slowly over to him and knelt down before him and took his small face in one red-stained hand.

“I’m gonna teach you somethin’. Somethin’ you won’t forget as long as you live. Somethin’ my father taught me and somethin’ you’ll teach your sons and onward from there. I’m gonna learn you. Today is your first lesson. Are you ready to learn?”

The Box is only one of the stories in This Beautiful Darkness, which is available for ten dollars here –

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