Trigger warning – Explicit bodily harm, animal harm and sexual violence.
My friend Coleen and her boyfriend Chad. They had been an item for more than three years. Coleen accepted his drinking; Chad accepted her blindness. I don’t mean to compare these two ‘afflictions’, but that was their deal, their unwritten contract.
There are things that you hold against your partner, even when you wouldn’t admit that to yourself. Those afflictions usually come out in fights; something goes wrong, a small conflict becomes a big one; loud, stinging, insulting words fly – and the secret grudges come out and are poured into open wounds.
Coleen knew that Chad’s drinking was why he couldn’t keep a job and why they kept living in the same mold-stained apartment. And Chad knew that Coleen’s blindness took part of his dreams away; that he wouldn’t be able to go climbing or surfing with her.
They loved each other; that’s why their unspoken contract existed. Maybe both of them would have been better with other partners – but it wouldn’t have been the same feelings. And they had fights, like every couple, but even in their worst fights, even when Chad screamed and Coleen cried – or when Coleen slammed doors and Chad needed to sit quietly with a beer on the stairs, even then they didn’t blame each other for their ‘afflictions’.
He trusted her. She trusted him.
But their contract had a flaw. One of the afflictions stayed the same and the other didn’t. Coleen’s blindness stayed; Chad’s drinking problem grew.
He was ashamed; too ashamed to come home before she was asleep. He stayed outside long, lost three jobs in three months. Then he made friends, outside a bar. He was drunk; they were not. They offered him something for free; they offered him a free hit; they told him how great it would be and that he would be safe.
That night his drinking problem became a drug problem.
That night he stopped looking for work and began to look for money instead.
His bank account was empty within a week.
She trusted him.
When the bank account was empty Chad began to sell their things. He began with his own stuff – the old laptop, the camera he rarely used, old trophies, his grandfather’s watch. Then, when not much was left, he began to sell her things too.
She trusted him.
Coleen’s credit card was already maxed out. Chad couldn’t apply for a fourth. He knew that she suspected something, that maybe she even knew it all. He felt how she was running her fingers down his arm; how she tried to touch his armpit. He pushed her away, gave her a kiss instead.
Friends and even her coworkers warned her. Her mother told Coleen to break up with Chad; Coleen screamed at her mother instead and took a taxi home. She was confused when the driver said her credit card was not accepted – but she didn’t suspect that Chad had maxed her card out; she didn’t suspect that Chad was hiding the bank’s letters from her.
She trusted him.
He was desperate. The guilt of betraying Coleen pushed Chad deeper into the addiction. The addiction became his escape of the problems that his addiction had caused. He came home in the morning and slept all day. He told her he had become a night guard. She noticed the smell but didn’t say anything to him; she didn’t want to break the contract; Coleen didn’t want to hear that Chad felt she was part of the problem.
I don’t want to judge whether she was part of the problem or not. Sure, his options shrunk – but he was the one that loved her more; he was the one that hurt her more. He could have left. That’s just my opinion. Maybe I should have told Coleen my opinion back then. Maybe she would have felt less guilty.
Still, she trusted him.
When Chad sat crying in the alley, his arm bleeding from a misplaced needle, he didn’t even notice the men coming. They crouched down next to him. Their long coats touched the floor when they crouched.
The job they offered was easy. They promised that he wouldn’t be hurt. They promised that it was all just acting.
Chad wanted to do the right thing; he wanted to prove Coleen right. He wanted to prove that her trust was justified.
The first day a card picked him up late at night from the same back alley where they had found him. He had taken a hit so that his hands wouldn’t shake.
He didn’t know that he had to kill a dog that night.
He tied the dog up, just like they said. Then he carefully cut the fur on the back of its legs, just like they said. Then he pulled the skin and fur off, just like they said. They laughed and filmed it all. They paid well.
During the day he couldn’t sleep. The whimpering was still in his ears. He still felt the resistance in his fingers, the resistance he felt when he slowly pulled the skin off the body. He still saw the eyes, the black eyes on the bleeding, red body while the animal whimpered. He had felt that the dog had begged to be killed. They told him to wait, to stand by and occasionally push his fingers in muscles or flesh. Chad knew the animal was still alive when he gutted it.
Coleen noticed that Chad was not well. She asked him what was wrong and he said ‘Nothing.’ She knew that was a lie, but she didn’t want to ask more.
She trusted him.
Chad swore to stop the drugs and he swore to never do anything like it again. He ignored their calls.
The money was enough for eight days. Then he sat in the alley again. He took the men’s call.
The second dog was much easier than the first.
Killing the cat was harder because it fought back and it didn’t just whimper, it outright screamed – until the skin and fur was ripped from its head, then the cat stopped moving.
Despite his memories and the vomiting the memories induced, Chad was more careful. The money lasted nearly two weeks. Coleen tried to sleep on his chest; he didn’t let her.
He got used to the slaughtering. It took him two months, but he learned to ignore the suffering.
Then they taught him how to lose his disgust too. They made him sodomize the animals, first before the skinning, then afterwards.
Chad told Coleen that the nightmares were nothing; he told her that he had a new job. She still believed that he was a night guard, but the spooky museum explained his nightmares. She told him to find a new job; he said it didn’t work and that the pay was very good.
He didn’t lie about the pay. Coleen knew that he wasn’t telling the truth about the museum – she told me that herself. She thought he was just ashamed of his work with animals – she smelled the animals on his clothes. But she was convinced that Chad was still doing the right thing.
She trusted him.
There was a building on the scrapyard. Chad had seen it many times, but he had never been inside. He wished it would have stayed that way.
The building had thick walls. Human screams cause a lot of attention.
The men told Chad that he was punishing a traitor. They filmed how Chad cut patterns in the skin while the man screamed. They filmed how he sewed more, colorful patterns in the man’s back and chest.
They paid him more this time. They promised him that he would never be hurt; that he would just be used to hurt. They told him that maybe he would even enjoy it.
Coleen heard him throwing up. She felt that the holes in his arms were getting more and bigger and deeper.
Chad didn’t enjoy pulling fingernails out of a woman’s hands. The men were still laughing and filming.
Chad did enjoy cutting another man’s skin because they told him that the man was a rapist. He didn’t enjoy cutting the penis off.
Chad got worried by the time they made him cut pieces of flesh out of another man’s arms. Still he obeyed. He also obeyed when they told him to fry the pieces. Even when Chad beat him the man refused to eat his own flesh. After another needle in his arm Chad had fewer inhibitions; the man ate a few of the pieces and Chad didn’t want to waste the rest.
Coleen was surprised that Chad was not hungry when he stumbled home in the morning. She took it as a good sign. She thought that he had become more mature, that he had begun to take food to work.
Chad did enjoy beating and raping the woman the men had locked in the room. He imagined her suffering as his own; and he knew that he himself enjoyed suffering. They had told Chad that the woman had betrayed them, but from the things the woman said and from the way she begged for it to stop Chad knew that wasn’t true.
The men were very excited. That time there were more men and they filmed with more cameras. Chad was paid more.
Coleen asked him whether he had been with a woman. She said she smelled a perfume. She didn’t mention that she also smelled the woman’s sweat. Chad denied everything; he said there was a new colleague with strong perfume. Coleen didn’t ask about the sweat.
She trusted him.
There seemed to be more men every time. The more brutal Chad got the more excited the men were; and the more he was paid.
During the day the drugs kept him happy; Chad only had to increase the dosage from time to time. That wasn’t a problem. He began to work nearly every day. Coleen stopped commenting on the smells.
Chad didn’t care whether the victim was a man or a woman. After a few months he didn’t even mind the children.
Chad said that once, after they brought him the first child, Chad tried to go to the police. He said he was just too scared to enter because he recognized two of the men standing outside of the station; Chad said they were smoking outside the station and in their uniforms they still laughed the same way that they had laughed when he had pushed both of his arms inside a man and then pulled the man’s intestines out. That day he had received compliments for his creativity.
Chad didn’t talk much with Coleen anymore. She did the shopping and cooking and didn’t complain that he wasn’t doing the cleaning. She still loved him.
She still trusted him.
Chad got used to skinning people the same way he had got used to skinning animals. One day there just was a human hanging from the ceiling with a rope around her leg – and he knew straight away what to do. He thought it was funny, the way he was able to grab organs or stick his hands or penis between and inside moving muscles. He didn’t even care that there was a bag around their heads.
It became common for him, like all the other things. The drugs made it easy, fun. He thought that it wasn’t different from killing any animal – any other animal, Chad chuckled to himself. He began to try and make music with the sound of skin ripping off flesh.
The last morning he came home he didn’t need any breakfast. He hadn’t even noticed that it was a holiday until he woke up, late afternoon, and Coleen was still home. She had cooked for him and tried to cuddle up to him. Chad pushed her away.
When asked by the police, Chad said that Coleen must have left the house around 4pm. She wanted to get him steak; she had noticed that he was not eating much anymore, except meat.
He was excited when he entered the room. He felt like a star; there were more men and more cameras than ever before.
His victim was already hanging from the ceiling, her hands tied behind her back. Chad felt the arousal, partly sexual, partly excitement to try new things.
He punched the body. He called that ‘tenderizing.’ Then he ripped the clothes off and felt how deep he was able to invade the body with his hands. He got deeper than on most other days; partly because he pushed harder. There was something exciting about the woman’s smell.
The knife ran smoothly along the back of her legs. Chad spun the body a few times in circles. The men cheered him on. A sour stench came from below, when vomit ran through holes in the plastic bag.
Slowly Chad pushed his fingers under the skin on the left leg. He ignored the whining. To surprise the audience he jumped up and twisted a toe off the right foot; it disappeared in his mouth. Then Chad’s fingers pushed again under the skin, grabbed the thin, soft layer and, rhythmically tugged on the skin. He hummed and sang with the rhythm.
He said the whining sounds from below and the pleas sounded muffled to him. That’s why he didn’t recognize the voice; that’s why he didn’t hear that she was screaming his name.
Chad pulled the skin completely off the left leg, then took a hearty bite. The audience applauded.
The rest of her skin was pulled off quickly, with force rather than rhythm; he was too excited already. On the videos you can hear the screams continuing; Chad laughed.
He pushed his hands through her abdomen, twisting organs inside. His movements became more frantic and faster, finally he jerked a kidney out of the body and showed it to the audience. He laughed and pulled the bag off her head.
Then he recognized the face.
He killed two of the audience; it was the knife that helped him get out.
He said he didn’t remember the details of how he escaped. The only thing he remembered while running towards the police station, still covered in her blood, was one single thought:
She trusted him.
This is my story, originally I published it on Reddit.