Scarred for Life
Copyright © 2011 by Joel Hunter Gun
All rights reserved.
Written by Joel Hunter Gun
Now a grown man, Jacob Linden is physically handicapped and mentally deranged. Where his right arm should be there is nothing but a folded, empty sleeve. It haunts him daily, a dreadful reminder of childhood regret. If it were up to Jacob, you would never know what happened. He refuses to talk about it. Deep inside, he has always blamed himself, his thoughts screaming, “If only I would’ve acted sooner! If only I wouldn’t have acted like a child!” But when the gruesome tragedy had transpired, he was a child.
Renting a small house in the city of Chicago, Illinois, Jacob is silent as he sits alone with his back against the evening sunlight that is pouring in through the dusty window blinds. Like a knife twisting into his heart over and over again, he continues to read the lead article of The Current Global News. Surrounding him, as if a perfect representation of how he has chosen to live his life, his living room contains nothing but an old, worn-out reclining chair that should have been mended long ago and a coffee table with spider-webbed glass that is barely holding itself together.
Slowly pushing his swivel reading stand to the side with his right shoulder, Jacob releases his clutch on the pistol in his lap, grabs his cup of coffee from the table, and stares into the history of articles that cover the wall in front of him. Since the death of his father, time and again Jacob has sat idle in this way—obsessively reflecting upon that one dreadful memory, the memory that had scarred him for life—but today’s main article was different; worthy of centerpiece.
The incident had occurred when Jacob was only seven years old. With the luxury of having both mother and father, he lived in an old farmhouse next to Highway 23, just outside of Columbus, Ohio. At the time, his father was a pro-gun activist who farmed the cornfield on their twenty-acre property that was surrounded by woods, and his mother was the small business owner of a beauty salon, Sherry’s Revitalizing Touch, back in the city. It was eight o’clock on a Sunday night, an hour before Jacob’s bedtime. He was ready for bed, dressed in his favorite pair of pajamas, the dark blue fuzzy ones printed with spider webs and ninja-like tarantulas. As usual, with school the next morning, sitting on the edge of Jacob’s bed his father was reading a story to him. Having run out of options, the story was one that Jacob had heard several times before, and so his mind was wandering.
“Come on, son,” his father said. “For the last time, pay attention and sit still. If you don’t, I’m going to quit reading and you can just go to bed. I’ve got other things that I—”
“No! I’ll quit!” Jacob said quickly.
While lying on his back and staring at the ceiling, he had been rapidly tapping his feet against the wall, imagining himself to be the fastest kid in the world. “It’s a good thing he told me to stop,” Jacob thought, “I think my feet were beginning to catch fire again.” After spinning back around into sitting position, his father sighed, and continued to read.
Jacob’s mind did not cease to wonder, however, and his eyes slyly scanned the room. He was thinking about what he was going to sneak into school in the morning. It had to be something small, but then it also had to be something that would be fun for Maggie to play with.
Maggie was his best friend on the bus and at school in Mrs. Getty’s first-grade class. She was the only one that was ever really nice to him. Maggie had even stuck up for him once, when, for the hundredth time, one of the high school kids was pretending to accidentally smash him against the window on the school bus. Jacob had never said anything because he was scared, and the bus driver, who would occasionally glance in his direction, never seemed to care. So after consulting with the biggest and meanest person Maggie knew—her older brother, who had taken permanent claim to one of the two back seats of the bus—Jacob had been moved to the empty spot safely next to Maggie. They were the best of friends ever since.
Suddenly smiling, Jacob saw what he was looking for. On his windowsill was a rubber band ball. “Heck yeah! I know Maggie would love to use a few of the bands for bracelets,” he thought, “and then we’d have the ball to bounce around on the bus, too!”
While daydreaming about what kind of trouble they may get into, if caught bouncing the ball around on the bus, Jacob suddenly caught a glimpse of something outside his window. It was raining outside so he squinted as he tried to make out what it was. At first, he thought it was his cat Sniffles attempting to beg for a late-night snack. Seconds later, however, his head jerked back in surprise when he realized it was the face of a big black dog. Its face was wounded and scarred, and its eyes were glaring at Jacob with a bloodthirsty malevolence. Instantly, Jacob’s heart felt as if it had jumped into his throat.
“All right, that’s it!” his father snapped. “I’m not playing anymore games, Jacob! It’s bedtime!”
“But dad there’s—” Jacob said, frantically attempting to explain, but his throat had seized up on him, and with the turn of his head to his father and back, the dog was gone.
“There’s what?” his father said, closing the book and rising from the bed; his eyes now piercing with aggravation. But Jacob said nothing. He just stared at the window, trying to decide whether or not he had really seen the dog. “You know what, I don’t care! You won’t sit still long enough for me to read a story to you, and I told you that I was busy to begin with. I’ve got forms to print off for your mother’s next business meeting tomorrow, she’s been working very hard at the shop since early this morning, and I promised her that I would have them ready before she came back home tonight. Besides, I still need to change the fuel filter on the tractor so I can finish with the field in the morning. So now lie down, close your eyes, and go to sleep.”
Even though he did not want to take his eyes from the window, sensing the seriousness in his father’s voice, Jacob laid down without question and his father covered him up. “You’ve aggravated me enough for one night, so I better not hear you get up, either. I love you, but goodnight, son.” His father kissed him on the forehead, walked to the bedroom door, and placed his hand on the light switch. “I mean it too, Jacob.” With that, his father flicked off the lights and shut the door.
Surrounded by darkness, Jacob could hear his father’s footsteps fade as he walked farther and farther down the creaky, wooden, hallway floor. Then, with the faint sound of the office door closing, Jacob slowly sat back up and looked toward the window.
Living in the country he had seen many animals come and go and he had come across many corpses lying mangled at the side of the road, but never had he seen an animal with so many scars and cuts on its face, and never had he seen an animal with so much evil in its eyes.
Outside a gust of wind swept through the air and his window rattled against the frame. With that, Jacob could not help but think about how the glass of his window was so thin. “Maybe the scars and cuts on his face were from busting through people’s windows,” he thought.
His imagination continued to race with wild possibilities, but soon he began to tire.
“It’s probably just a stray,” he whispered, before lying back down. “Maybe he’s been hit by cars on the road a few times, or maybe he just likes to stick his nose in the wrong places too much.” He took a deep breath. “He’s probably gone by now anyway.”
Jacob was almost asleep, when another gust of wind hit his window and an entirely different idea swept into his mind. “But what if it’s not?” He sat up quickly. “What if it’s a wild dog that’s starving? It could be waiting right outside my window sniffing the air and tasting my scent, just like dad once said wolves do when they hunt for prey!” His eyes widened. “It did kind of look like a wolf, too!” He gripped his blanket tight. “It could be sitting out there just waiting for me to go to sleep so it can bust through my window and eat me!”
Unable to resist, Jacob slowly pulled off the covers and crept over to the window. With much practice—from sneaking around the house for a late-night snack, when his friends would spend the night on the weekends—he was careful to step on just the right spots so that the floor would not creak. Aside from his father, he was afraid that if the dog was still outside his window it might hear him. Carefully looking through the glass, the rain was now pouring down, and he could see no sign of the dog. After watching and scanning the yard for a few minutes, Jacob sighed with relief and crept his way back into bed.
“Oh yeah,” Jacob whispered, with a grin that usually meant trouble, “Dad’s in the office, not the living room. That room’s nearly soundproof. He probably wouldn’t hear me if I screamed.” With that, a rush of excitement surged throughout his body, but just as fast, it came to a halt.
“Yeah, but if he does catch me out of bed . . . I’m already in enough trouble tonight.” He closed his eyes and sighed. “Yeah, I guess . . . I better just go to sleep.”
Relaxing, he snuggled into the covers and took a deep breath just as he did every night before he went to sleep—but before he could finish his exhale of relaxation, a loud and eerie screeching sound ripped through the air like an ambulance siren. Jacob’s entire body jumped into the air as if someone had levitated him from the bed. His heart pounded fast with adrenaline. His breath quickened. Gripping his blanket tight, as if he could use it for protection, he moved back against the wall. For a moment the sound subsided and Jacob sat frozen, wondering what it could be. But when the sound continued, in no time he realized, exactly, what it was. It was Sniffle, and he was screaming as if he had either gone completely mad or as if he were fighting for his very life.
“Oh no! That black dog! It really is a wild dog!”
As the screeching continued, Jacob forced himself to go back to the window. This time the creaking floor was of no concern, and with his hand pressed against the icy cold glass, he watched as the big black dog ripped Sniffle’s fur to shreds. Sniffle clawed, hissed, bit, and fought for his life with all his might, but it was no use. The dog was too powerful, and with its front paws it pinned Sniffle to the ground with little effort as it continued to chew and peel the fur and meat from Sniffle’s bones.
Jacob’s vision was clouded as tears began to pour down his face just as fast as the rain poured outside his window. Lightning broke into the sky, and with the blink of Jacob’s teary eyes, the dog had disappeared into the darkness carrying his little friend’s tortured and mangled body. Frozen as if his heart was now broken and bleeding, Jacob stood in shock. He wanted so badly to burst out of his room and sprint down the hallway so he could tell his father. He pictured his father going outside with his 12-gauge and killing that dog for killing Sniffle.
“Why did that dog have to come to our house? Why couldn’t it have just hunted in the woods, where it belonged? Why did it have to kill my . . . He was my . . . little buddy,” Jacob thought, as he continued to stare out his window.
Eventually, the rain subsided. Jacob snapped out of his trance, wiped the tears from his face, and slowly returned to bed. He still wanted to run and tell his father, but in the end he knew it was no use, Sniffle was dead and there was no bringing him back. On his bed he curled up into the fetal position and clutched onto his blanket. Closing his eyes, he continued to cry as images of the grotesque scene replayed in his mind. He would have just fallen asleep this way and pretended that it was all just a bad dream. He would have, that is, if he would not have heard the crunching of gravel under the tires as his mother pulled into the driveway.
“Oh no! What if that dog comes back?” Jacob thought, jolting up from his bed. But his chance to run and tell his father about the dog had already passed, because when his feet hit the floor, he heard the scream that would haunt him for the rest of his life.
“Oh no! Mama!”
Running back to his window, Jacob put his face to the glass and looked out. Sure enough, the black dog was back. Just as Jacob’s mother had opened her car door, the beast yanked her out of the driver’s seat and began dragging her toward the woods. Stopping midway, the black dog viciously thrashed its head while growling—ripping and tearing its teeth into her body just as it had with the cat.
Without thinking, Jacob opened his window and leaped out. The fall was only a few feet, but his foot slipped on the rubber band ball causing him to land sideways on his left foot. For a moment, he rolled back and forth on the wet grass holding his ankle and clutching his teeth in pain. Normally he would have stayed on the ground crying or he would have been frozen in terror with the realization that he was now outside with the beast that had just brutally murdered his furry best friend, but his mother was screaming so horribly, and there was no time to think—only time to react. The fear of losing his mother was far too great.
With his adrenaline pumping like a scared rabbit, the pain in his ankle was ignored as he ran toward his mother. The closer he got the more clearly he could see that the dog was not just biting at her, the dog was eating at her, chomping and tearing into her face and neck between gulps of flesh as if it were starving. So intently, so savagely, the black dog was eating at her, that it did not notice Jacob was approaching.
Without realizing that his mother was already dead, with all his might Jacob tried to pull the dog away from her, but only managed to fall backward onto the gravel with two fists full of wet fur. Scrambling back to his feet, he screamed, “Let my Mother go!” while he swung his fists as hard as he could against the dog’s head. He landed nearly a dozen blows before the ravenous beast decided to turn its attention to him.
Growling with fury, the dog chomped down hard onto Jacob’s right elbow and thrashed him like a rag doll against the gravel of the driveway. Jacob could feel such an intense pressure as the teeth of the beast punctured, ripped and tore into the flesh of his arm—then shattered through bone. With blood gurgling screams, Jacob was helpless while his warm blood flung from the dog’s jaws and his arm was shredded and severed from his body.
All but too little and too late, slamming open the front door of the house, Jacob’s father began firing his 12-gauge into the night sky. Startled by the very loud and rapid bursts of gunfire, the dog clutched Jacob’s severed arm tighter in its teeth and took-off running across the driveway heading for the woods. Barely conscious from the thrashing, Jacob grabbed at what was left of his arm and turned his head to keep from seeing the grisly wound. Before passing out, he watched as the dog ran between the two light posts near the end of the driveway. With one more blast from his father’s 12-guage, a large chunk of the dog’s head exploded, its legs collapsed, and it slid to a halt.
Still staring into the history of newspaper articles that cover the wall in front of him, Jacob’s left eyelid begins to twitch, and without breaking his forward gaze, he slowly pulls his swivel reading stand back into view. With a few blinks, in an attempt to stop the twitching and to readjust his eyesight, once more, he begins to re-read the lead article from The Current Global News:
Dog worshipping cult set to attack
The Current Global News Associate Editor
What appeared to be a typical and yet tragic home invasion for the area, in the U.S., local authorities of Columbus, Ohio, were stunned by what they had found after responding to a call from a neighbor on the corner of Cleveland and Cordell. The neighbor requested to remain anonymous, but said, “I saw four men with assault rifles rushing from the house. They were walking with two of my neighbors’ pit bull dogs all muzzled up, before they sped away like raging maniacs in a gray van that was parked across the street.”
Found inside the home was the body of a well-known American Pit Bull breeder along with wife and two children. Each of them had been tied to chairs, tortured, then shot in the head at point-blank range.
It was later discovered during the investigation, when the keen eye of Officer Karl Weber uncovered a secret compartment within the wall of the living room, that there was much more to the situation than authorities could have ever imagined. “Calls to the FBI, ATF, and to the ASPCA were made within the next few hours,” reported Edgar Thomson, of The National Reporter.
Inside sources report that the compartment contained a small safe that held several books of accounting records, external hard drives loaded with various forms of video footage, and a substantial amount of cash in the sum of $800,000. The accounting records revealed a 38 year history of dog fighting wins and losses, with the most recently recorded transactions for two wins of $400,000. As for the video footage found on the external hard drives, authorities were at first confused to see live footage of the notorious mauling and death that had taken place over 26 years ago, involving Jacob Linden and his mother, Sherry Linden. Additional footage quickly cleared their confusion, however, uncovering a recruiting video for an underground religious cult that had, until then, gone undiscovered by any federal or local agency. The video stated that the religious cult went by the name of Canis Seclorum, and members in the video claimed that the cult had discovered enlightenment through the training and fighting of dogs.
“The fact that dog spelled backward is god,” they stated, “is not a coincidence! Dogs are a passageway to the ancient ones and they have been recognized as such all the way back to the Egyptians, with the jackal-headed god Anubis. The problem is that no one has been able to discover the full potential that dogs possess, so their spiritual significance has gone unrecognized for thousands of years. They have the ability to evolve at an accelerated pace and training and breeding them to fight is just the beginning. These creatures are the gatekeepers and we as human beings hold the key to unlock the gate and to follow the passageway that will take us to God. And god wants us to follow that passageway. God wants us to relieve ourselves from the suffering of life, and to stand beside him!”
Further video footage uncovered that because of the cult’s system of beliefs, when competing in the underground, multi-million-dollar blood sport of professional dog fighting, each fight was considered to be a moment of spiritual truth for the dog and for their owner, or what they called a “life reckoning.” After proving themselves by winning at least three fights in a row, without losing, a dog would be deemed a “king of life’s reckoning,” and once a dog had reached such a status, their training would move to the next level. From that point on, during the dog’s training, it would only be allowed to eat what it would kill.
Left on a short chain, cult members would then starve, tease, and beat on the dogs in training in order to provoke them to attack for their first kill for food on command. After the dog’s first kill it would then be rewarded with treats, its freedom, and its earned attention from members of the cult. A few days later the cycle would start over again, and the process would continue until the dog was so used to killing that it had graduated to the level of mauling and killing a human being on command.
If at any time a dog was viewed to have failed their owner while in training, whether in a fight or through its kill to eat on command phase, it was to be taken as a sign from God himself that the dog was not worthy to live. The dog would then be murdered by its owner, which could take the form of blunt force trauma to the head, starvation, set on fire, used as a bait animal for other dogs in training, or whatever the owner would consider to be a suitable execution.
Once a dog in training had won at least three competitions, and when it had mauled and eaten at least three human beings (mainly, homeless who would have been lured in to their compound with the promise of food, clothing, and shelter), it would be deemed an “affirmed” king of life’s reckoning, and only then would members of the cult consider the dog to be worthy for breading. After puppies were conceived by a “proven” female, one that had given birth to at least one litter of puppies beforehand, and that had undergone kill for food on command training, cult members would then make plans to sell many of them to various gang organizations.
According to the accounting records, Canis Seclorum cumulatively racked in more money from the selling of their puppies than they did from anything else within their organization. With dog fight winning and human aggressive bloodlines, the marketing scheme had been to aid gang organizations in turf fights, to give yard protection for drug cache spots, to allow for getaway time in the event of a police raid or in tracking pursuits, or to sell gang members first-rate contenders for street rules dog fighting. In essence, Canis Seclorum had created a street market for dog fighting, human aggressive, bloodthirsty killing machines, and soon, according to the cult’s system of beliefs, will be “the glorious arrival of the new beginning.” On that day, which authorities have yet to determine, all members of Canis Seclorum plan to release their kings of life’s reckoning into various populated cities throughout the world. According to the video, plans have already been established for several major cities within the U.S. and even in parts of Greece, Italy, Russia, and Central Asia.
Intelligence agencies within these locations are now on a massive manhunt to track down members of Canis Seclorum. So far, with the aid of the video footage, the U.S. has managed to locate one compound. Its location remains classified as of now, due to the sensitivity and intensity of investigative pursuits, but inside sources state that upon raid of the compound authorities found much more than they could have ever imagined.
“The scene was so horrific,” one inside source said, “that almost everyone who had been present is set to receive trauma counseling.”
Within the main building they discovered the decomposing remains of up to 50 dead bodies—including, men, women, and children—who appeared to have committed mass suicide. Dressed in their best and sitting around a 14-foot-long dining table, they had each drank a glass of poisoned wine as if celebrating before their death.
Upon further investigation, located on the outskirts of the compound, two mass grave sites were also discovered. Each resembling an open pit, they contained the uncovered and rotting remains of countless mutilated corpses, both of human and dog, that were tossed into the pit as if they were scraps of meaningless waist. Next to the pits, tire tracks of several semi-truck and trailer led authorities to believe that before the members had committed suicide, they had already organized an extension of the cult to advance their dogs to another location, which is yet to be determined.
“My god, it will never end!” Jacob snaps, knocking over the reading stand and throwing his coffee cup through the spider-webbed glass table in front of him. Standing, his pistol falls to the floor among the shattered glass, and he begins to pace the room. “In a world where we have a constant war on terrorism, with unrestrained governmental spending . . . with NSA listening to our phone calls, cameras spying on us in our streets, and satellites and drones flying over our heads to monitor our every move. . . Goddamn it, have we really made any progress at all—ANY progress at all?” He slams his fist into the nearest wall and then continues to pace the room. “We live in world run by greedy, self-righteous madmen! No one cares about anyone unless they can gain more power or make a profit! That’s why people like these dog training, murderous bastards can run undetected and free to do as they wish!” He stops. “You know what? Fuck it all! Fuck everyone!” Growling with rage he kicks over his reclining chair, pulls it up against his hip with his left arm, and then heaves it through the front window. Ripping through the blinds and shattering through the glass, the chair bounces and then slides to a stop in the grass just before the sidewalk next to the street.
“To hell with it all!” he says, grabbing his pistol among the broken glass of the table and then slamming open the front door with his right shoulder.
Staggering in a maddened frenzy, he stumbles his way onto the sidewalk in front of his house next to his reclining chair. Standing across the street staring at him, a group of neighbors—that he has grown to call the plastic people—are frozen with shock. Blind with rage, filled with contempt for the world, and aching with a burning desire to end it all, Jacob immediately fires his pistol at the group.
“What the fuck are you looking at!” he says, while blasting off round after round.
Everyone struggles to run for their lives. One person takes off running, but a large chunk of their head explodes, their legs collapse, and they slide to a halt. Five others escape with flesh wounds. In the end, two bodies lie motionless on the ground.
Jacob’s clip and rage are empty. His jaw drops open wide.
“Oh my god . . . I’ve finally done it,” he says, as his skin turns pale. “I’ve finally . . . snapped.” Everything seems to be going in slow motion. He falls to his knees. “There’s no going back now.”
Then, he gasps.
His vision clouds as tears begin to pour down his face just as fast as the smoke rolls from the barrel of his pistol.
One of the two bodies on the ground has begun to move.
“Oh no! Mama!” the little boy screams, as he frantically crawls toward the bleeding remains of his dead mother.
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Copyright © 2011 by Joel Hunter Gun
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