Liquidus Cruciatus

Creativity. You might expect my methods to be restrictive, but they’re really anything but. There are a number of ways, for example, to bludgeon someone to death—perhaps I’ll share some of them with you later. There are hundreds of ways to poison someone—pretty Mandy provided us with but one example. Suffocation, drowning, sharp-force trauma, bullet wounds, electrocution…. Let me count the ways.

Heads, tails, tails, heads. He must burn. Fire? Acid? Friction? Maybe a clothes iron. I suspect that a surface temperature of over 200 degrees can inflict quite a bit of damage. But not this time. No, I have something else planned for Bryce. I don’t expect he will be very cooperative, so he’ll need one of my little Pancuronium cocktails—with some minor adjustments. There is music to be made, and I do so want to hear it.

Bryce is married—a minor complication, but one I must adapt to. If need be, I will kill his wife, but that isn’t part of the plan. Fortunately, there is a window of time perfectly suited to our duet.

The preparation required was negligible, but I did need a little time. I parked a few blocks from the small two-story and jogged the neighborhood like I had been for the last week. Everything was as it should be. Neighbors were at work. The block was quiet.

It took me less than a minute to get inside. Your typical house lock is absurdly easy to pick. A huge tabby came to greet me as if I were an old friend. It got a swift and savage kick to the ribs for its hospitality. I didn’t see it again.

I took a few minutes to acquaint myself with Bryce’s place. I found the water heater under the stairs in the basement and made a quick adjustment. I lingered to make sure it kicked in, then went back upstairs—this time to the second floor. While I waited for Bryce to return from his Tuesday workout, I took anything of value I could find. There wasn't much, but I did score some jewelry and a sweet pair of Serengeti's.

Sometimes it’s difficult to predict the way things will play out. Other times, it’s exactly as you would expect. Bryce was perfectly predictable. He came in the house through the garage as I’d envisioned. He went upstairs right away to toss his gym clothes in the wash. He was whistling a tune when he got the needle in the fleshy lower part of his back. As I'd anticipated, he fought, but his efforts were fruitless and fleeting. By the time he was even aware of what was going on, he’d already begun to lose motor control. Adrenalin and the increased circulation from his workout cut the latent period of the Pancuronium to less than a minute.

Bryce provided precisely zero help with getting undressed, but he did fall into the tub easily enough. I turned on the bathroom fan and then I situated him so that he lay face up, with his feet down by the drain and his arms at his sides. I asked how he was doing. Bryce twitched, and muttered something that sounded vaguely like “fuck you." I must have misheard. He seemed like such a polite guy when we'd crossed paths the previous few weeks.

I checked Bryce’s pulse and breathing. Both were very slow, but steady. He could still blink, but doing so came only with effort. I was taking a bit of a risk testing the Pancuronium like this. The effects wouldn’t last as long, and it might not be strong enough to keep him completely immobile or quiet when the fun began. But really, what’s a dance without a little music?

I turned the water on, let it get warm and stoppered the drain. And then I turned the faucet as far to the left as it would go. The steam was instant and ferocious. It curled up toward the ceiling and out the bathroom door toward cooler air.

Bryce hissed out the breath in his lungs immediately. His legs trembled, but he didn’t have enough control to raise them out of the water creeping along the bottom of the tub. Tears coursed down his cheeks and sweat dotted his forehead. The closest he came to a scream was a constant tremulous moan interspersed with a sharp hiss every time he inhaled. The new dose on the paralytic was magnificent.

The small room was stifling, but there was no place I would rather have been. The redness on his skin was instantaneous wherever the water touched him. The tops of his feet and ankles were dotted with bright, angry welts from the splashing. Blisters formed on his arms and legs as the water moved along his body. They were white, ugly things that inflated like small balloons. Bryce took to screeching when the shallow water reached his scrotum, scorching the thin skin, essentially eradicating his manhood.

Eeeee, hissss, eeeeee, hissss.

Ah, the music.

A little physiology for you… In water temperatures above 150 degrees, third-degree burns occur in less than a second. Believe it or not, those full-thickness burns don’t actually hurt­—by that point, the nerve endings in your skin are destroyed. However, immersion burns sink through the skin layers and then on into subcutaneous fat and muscle where there are other nerve endings to ravage. You would therefore experience a relentless, destructive penetration, ranging anywhere from a second-degree scald to the delightfully slow agony of your flesh cooking.

Did I mention that many water heaters are capable of producing temperatures up to 170 degrees?

The water rose.

Eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee, hsss, eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee.

Bryce didn’t look so good. His face was bordering on purple when the water spilled over the tops of his legs. He wasn’t getting much air, and what he was getting was thin with steam.

The blisters on his arms and legs began to burst, spilling milky serum into the clear water. The raw flesh beneath was as red as blood. Flayed skin hung from him and waved and flapped in the turbulence of the rising pool. The water rolled in tiny waves over Bryce’s navel, leaving a bright red demarcation line in its wake.

Eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeesssseeeeeeeeeee.

He was trembling everywhere now, the Pancuronium no longer able to overwhelm the neuromuscular transmissions of the body’s automatic pain responses. His eyes barely moved in their sockets, but they were wild and watched the progress of the water in horrified anticipation.

It was then that the skin of Bryce’s right leg ripped lengthwise along the rectus femoris muscle in his thigh and the tibialis anterior of his shin. Muscle and bone lay bare. The wound did not bleed. Instead, clotted reddish-brown cells oozed slowly into the water like the drippings from a juicy steak. In this way, the lower portion of his body was busy coming apart while his torso was just beginning the process.

Eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee.

A long shiver of delight passed through me.

Less than two minutes later, as the searing water was licking at Bryce’s nipples, his screeching and shaking ended abruptly. His heart had stopped. I turned off the spigot, a tad disappointed.

Shock often steals the Non from me prematurely, but Bryce, lying in the water­—blistered, partially flayed and almost maroon in color up to his chest had provided at least a measure of entertainment and satisfaction. And the music was superb.

That would have to do.

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