Cold. So cold. You're not wearing any shoes and your feet are cold. That's your first conscious thought. Your second was the awareness that your jaws hurt, forced apart by a rubber ball. Your third was fear. "Oh, good, it worked. You're waking up."
The man, still blurry to your eyes, replaces the syringe on a raised tray table, then turns around, walking into the adjoining bathroom. The sound of a tap running fills the room.
"I know what you're thinking... Well, going to be thinking, once your head clears. And don't bother. You're not going anywhere for a while."
The side of your arm, and the back of your neck both ache horribly. Last thing you remember was being in the elevator on the way up to your apartment, third floor. He walks back in the room, though you can't see him very clearly from the corner of your eye. Obviously he's not trying to hide, as he walks around to sit on the stool in front of you. He's as nondescript as they come, wearing store-bought clothes- faded blue jeans, acid-washed. Grotesque black band t-shirt, like one might buy at Hot Topic. His hair is a bit shaggy, a trim could do him good. His eyes are the only thing really off about him. They're a soft red, like an albino's.
"You can call me Jeff."
He picks up the syringe, a glass and metal one that you might see in an antique store, or a museum. He squirts the rest of the liquid in it into a rag and puts the syringe into his pocket.
"Don't bother screaming, or I'll kill you."
He reaches forward, and spins you in the chair- it's an office chair. In the spinning, you get a good look at the room. It's your average college student's apartment, one room with a deadbolt-and-chain front door. A futon is rolled up, Japanese-style, leaning in a corner. A small metal computer desk with a glass top and a closed laptop sitting on top in another corner. The power supply is curled up neatly underneath it, the cord bound with a velcro strip. You feel a tugging at the gag in your mouth as he unbuckles it. The ball gag falls out of your mouth and you sputter, flexing your jaw and cursing harshly. Your mouth is dry and tacky, tasting of rubber. He swivels the chair back around, and the same piercing gaze meets your eyes, which you glare back into angrily.
"Why the FUCK am I here?" you shout, and before you can flinch, the flat edge of a scalpel is placed to your throat.
"Now, what did I tell you about shouting? Let's use our inside voices, please."
He takes the scalpel away, placing it on the tray table.
"Now, to answer your question, You're here because I want you to be. You're alive because I'm bored. And you better not make me bored enough to find something better to do with you than talk."
His eyes had deepened to a darker red. He hadn't blinked the entire time, nor had his expression shifted from the blank look he'd been giving you the entire time you were here.
"Fine. So what the fuck do you want me to do?"
You spit at him, temper getting the best of you. You hoped he couldn't sense the fear in your voice. But of course he could. You knew he could smell it like a guilty child coming home reeking of cigarettes.
"Now, there's no sense getting angry. And profanity just shows how limited your vocabulary really is."
He continues staring at you.
"Now that was just rude."
He stands up, walking to the back of the office chair, and pulling you backwards, the wheels squeaking on the thick carpet.
"Wait- Where are you taking me?"
You struggle against your bonds- no use. Thick leather cuffs, tight as a second skin. He pulls you into the bathroom, and swivels you to look at the shower.You have to bite back your scream.
"Beautiful, isn't it?"
A lump of flesh that was once a person. Limbs severed and stacked neatly by the torso, wrapped into a bundle with a length of intestine. Blood pooled around it, and the face, its eyes gouged out and tongue pulled neatly through a cut in the throat. Chest carved like a thanksgiving ham, skinned neatly, the skin scraped clean of flesh and hung from the shower curtain rail.
"I would have thought you would appreciate it."
You gag, but manage to spit out,
"What the fuck are you talking about?"
"Your computer. You have pictures of my work... and others. You post them on imageboards, forums."
"Those are... Those are a joke! They're... they're..."
you struggle for words, even as he sits on the edge of the tub and stares, waiting for an explanation.
"They're just for kicks? For fun?"
You nod furiously.
"No. They're not."
he reaches down to scoop out a bit of gore from the bath water, and holds it up to you. It's a blue eye, with a red nerve running from the back down his red-stained wrist.
"Funny, isn't it?"
he says, laughing.You retch, but there's nothing in your stomach to throw up- you settle for glaring at him once the retching stops.
"You're a monster."
He grabs you by the chin with his other hand.
"Maybe I am."
His expression has changed drastically, from a blank stare to a rictus snarl.
"But maybe you're the monster. You see things online and in the television, and don't think of them as people. Every single person with their throat cut, with their face caved in with a baseball bat. They're people. That."
he turns your head to look at the corpse.
"That was a person. Living. Breathing, thinking. And if you were to find this on an imageboard? You'd save it to your 'Gore file', and laugh about it to yourself."
He dropped the eyeball into the water, where it fell with a plop.
"You're just as much of a monster as I am. The difference between us is that I don't find this funny."
He shoves you away, and you fall backwards, tied to the chair and unable to right yourself. Hot tears course down your cheeks, partly from the force of your retches and partly from Jeff making you realise, making you know that in truth, you are no worse than him. He rights you, and reaches for the sink. A butcher knife, bloodied and dripping, rests in it. You prepare for the end- but he cuts you free. Your wrists ache as he places the knife in your hands. Your heart aches as he points at the corpse.
"Cut out his heart. Cut it out and prove that you're just as sick as I am."
You find yourself doing just that. Your bare feet settle into the water as you straddle the body, stabbing into the middle of the body's chest again and again, eyes blurred by tears and the blood that flies from the torso into your face.
You gasp, shooting bolt upright in bed, a scream ripping its way from your throat. You pant, looking around at the familiar view of your small apartment. After a few minutes, you turn in your bed and rub your face with both hands. Your mouth tastes tacky, nasty. Morning breath. You chuckle hesitantly and check the clock. Twelve. You'd slept in- you'd need to call into work and tell them you were sick.You felt sick. That was the weirdest fucking dream you've had since you were a little kid. Your hands are even shaking. Remembering the stories you'd read on the internet, a flare of doubt forms in your mind. You walk into the bathroom, and toss the shower curtains aside. No rotting corpse greeting you in a loving embrace. You laugh at yourself. Just a dream. Ha-ha. You turn to the sink and run the cold water, splashing it into your face with your hands. Your shaggy hair collects in your eyes until you pull it aside, and strip down to get a shower. Afterwards, you walk through the apartment to your mini fridge, intending to get a beer. You pull the door open and stare in surprise.There, neatly covered with plastic wrap, on a plastic plate, is a human heart, with a ragged bite ripped out of it.