Rating: E

Tags & warnings: Graphic Depictions Of Violence, Rape/Non-Con, Dreamscapes, Torture, Psychological Torture, Gore, Demonic Possession, Vivisection, Woundfucking, Spoilers up to Episode 31

And yet, this was Arthur. Never content; give him what he asked for and he’d only deny he’d ever wanted it. “This is…a dream. You think…it’s the worst? The worst…anyone’s ever…”

“Is that what you want?” Scratch’s crushed-glass voice seethed with sardonic solicitude. “The worst?”


Larson gloried in the sight of Arthur’s entrails squirming in Scratch’s grip. Pulsing living parts of him, wonderfully mutilated, dangling from his enemy’s hands. Scraps of himself.

“They twist in his clawed hands,” he narrated, as Arthur twisted in his bonds. Hanging there like a puppet on strings. “His strange eyes trace them, all the way back to your body where you’ve been pried open, gaping and revealed for him. He looks so smitten with you, Arthur! Bowing to you over them like a gentleman courting a lady. Oh, now, this. This is the kind of love you deserve.”

Of course Arthur didn’t stop fighting. When did Arthur Lester ever stop fighting? Even when he ought to. Even when it would’ve been better for everyone around him if he’d just lay down and let it happen. His only reply as he thrashed in the tentacles that held him tight was a wordless snarl.

“How…John of you.” Oh, John. Larson let the contempt drip from his voice. Pathetic, really, Arthur’s desperate need for him. Not even strong enough to walk on his own two feet. “That’s just like you, isn’t it? You even parasitize your own parasite.”

“He’s not…!”

“Yes, yes. You call him that to hurt him, but you know better. He’s your guardian angel. Your savior. Like he doesn’t have enough burdens to carry. Is that gratitude? When he’s giving you all all he’s got, all you ever wanted? A creature foolish enough to love you despite knowing everything about your shriveled, needy little heart. Despite all it’s cost him already.”

Scratch’s claws were long and elegant, curved scythes of almost eye-searing violet that faded to black at the tips. Those blades cut graceful curves in the air, spindly long limbs adroitly moving with Arthur’s tossing, writhing body as he plucked and pulled at the torn skin of Arthur’s incision.

“He’s tugging your flesh back to put you on better display,” Larson told him helpfully. He liked helping.

Arthur’s whimpers belied the tough act. Didn’t they always? What was the point, really? Who was here for him to lie to? Except himself, Larson supposed. He did love trying to pretend to be things he wasn’t: brave, kind, strong, worthy. “Just look at you, Arthur. You’re gaping wide open for him, moist and sensitive with all this treatment. Your fluids drip off his claws till he has to lick them clean to get a grip on you. He’s pulled you wide enough that your ribs frame the upper edges of the wound. Quite lovely, I must say, the red-tinted curve of the bone. Who would have expected a monster like you to be so graceful inside?”

“I…” Arthur panted like a bellows after that single syllable. To be fair, a single word was a Sisyphean labor, ripped open like this. Blood spilled out of the gash in his stomach with each breath, pushed out by the swelling bellows of his diaphragm. The pain of it was a pleasure—and watching Scratch’s avid eyes taking in every nuance of Arthur’s body, Larson knew he understood the real delectation here: the bone-deep satisfaction Arthur couldn’t deny he experienced at receiving the torture he knew he had coming to him.

Oh, he did his best to pretend. But he couldn’t hide it from Larson. Larson, after all, was part of him. The very part of him that reveled in it. Arthur couldn’t hide from him, of all people, how he welcomed the distraction of a clean physical agony, compared to the sick torment of thinking about John.

And yet, this was Arthur. Never content; give him what he asked for and he’d only deny he’d ever wanted it. “This is…a dream. You think…it’s the worst? The worst…anyone’s ever…”

“Is that what you want?” Scratch’s crushed-glass voice seethed with sardonic solicitude. “The worst?”

As he spoke, his long fingers danced over Arthur’s taut arms, admiring the way they shook with the strain of taking all his weight, spread wide like this. Reminiscent of a crucifixion, Larson considered. How pleasing, that particular irony.

“You know, Arthur,” Larson crooned, “You should consider giving yourself to him. He could give you everything really want. Loving John—being loved by John—what does it do but hurt? Every bit of care and kindness he lavishes on you…how long before you repay it all by betraying and destroying him? Wouldn’t it be better, being loved by a creature that will give you what you deserve?”

A rich tremulo ran through Arthur, so deep it reached down into where Larson lived. It was orgasmic, the way the very essence of him quaked with the frightful clarity of that thought. Everything he feared. Everything that he knew, in the deepest, darkest part of him, was true. The prickle, the heat, the welling of tears—oh Larson could feel Arthur fighting it, but there was nothing he could do to hide them as they spilled down his face. He was his eyes after all.

Scratch’s purr sounded like a bag of broken glass being shaken. Those wicked long claws waved perilously close to Larson’s eyes as he reached up to run knuckles up the curves of Arthur’s cheeks along the wet tracks.

Larson didn’t warn Arthur when Scratch leaned in to lick them from his face, catching him by the back of the head so he couldn’t escape when he tried to flinch away with the tiniest, most perfect sound of horror.

Ohhhh, the creature sighed, sounding euphoric. Oh, I have starved for years on years, and now you. You are a feast. So responsive. So exquisitely sensitive. Larson watched a long slick knobby tongue slip out from between the ramparts of needle teeth to slither into Arthur’s wound. Arthur made that delectable little sound again as it squirmed deeper into his body.

“You should see his tongue, Arthur.” Larson found he couldn’t help his hushed tone. He was transported, witnessing a sacred horror, a moment of divine justice being visited upon the man he hated most. “It’s long, and thick, and white. Like a maggot squirming up into you. So nimble, the way it twines with the ropes of your intestines—”

Arthur heaved. A heroic effort of his entire body, hurling himself against the tentacles that bound him at ankle, wrist and throat, which did nothing but set him swinging and rip a sound like a scream out of him, if a scream ended in a gag of agony.

For a moment, Larson lost his words. Arthur’s soul rang like a struck bell, drowning him in the sweetness of perfect defiance laced with perfect pain. He would not submit, no, not his Arthur. And that was something Larson could admit he loved about him, because Arthur didn’t deserve to submit. He deserved to take step after step, flayed alive over and over with each one, not allowed to escape his well-earned suffering. Not allowed to die, no matter how much he might have liked to escape.

Scratch alleviated at least one agony, lifting taloned hands to catch and steady him in his swinging ropes. They stroked over his body with something almost soft enough to be affection. Maybe he heard the sound of Arthur’s soul too. Maybe he understood. Larson would have liked someone else to understand how richly Arthur deserved all this.

You are the sweetest meat I have ever tasted, Scratch rasped. You deserve to appreciate the perfect agony, the perfect ecstasy, you have fed me with.

“Yes,” Larson moaned in ecstasy over Arthur’s moan of pain. “His tongue thrusts into your chest, can you feel it? Thrusts again and again, parting the folds of your flesh to either side to fellate your abdomen.” Of course Arthur could feel it, but it wouldn’t be gentlemanly to deprive him of the mental image to go with the sensation.

The terror, the horror of that violation was a beast of its own that Arthur fought against. He struggled with it like a great python choking down around him. His will tore at it, clawing for air where it had plunged down his throat to steal his breath and feed on the very core of him. It drove Larson on, wanting more and more. Greedy to feast on every drop of this total immersion in suffering that he had craved for so long. “It probes between your liver and stomach—ah, such delicate tissues, you mustn’t move, Arthur, you do know how easily organs can bruise? Can you feel its tip tracing along the inner curves of your bracketing ribs? You feel stuffed full by it, don’t you, as it twirls through your belly. Do you think this is how Bella felt? Ripped apart and dying with each breath even as her body was torn more and more by its own movements?”

Now there, that was a genuine sob. Arthur claimed he didn’t regret that particular decision, but it wasn’t so hard to remind him of how much shame he should feel. Larson winked down at Scratch, whose floating pale smears of eyes looked up with boundless amusement and curiosity.

How much pain are you capable of feeling? the monstrosity asked without bothering to pull his muzzle out of Arthur’s stomach. Oh, how charming. How much can you inflict on yourself?

“Would you like to find out?” Larson invited him politely, and then laughed, delighted by the eager flash of the creature’s eyes. Arthur twisted in the nightmare’s grip, the cords of his bindings twanging from the frantic strength of his jerking against them. “Oh, Arthur, you know it’s what you want. You can’t hide from me your giddy anticipation as that tongue twines around your esophagus to climb it like a vine up into your upper chest. The way your breath picks up in hope when Scratch finds the precious tissues of your lungs, their wet soft sacs swelling and deflating with your every breath, the very life of you —oh.”

Oh, the sounds Arthur made as Scratch’s squirming thick tongue thrust back and forth through the gap in his diaphragm, forcing air from his lungs in grunt after grunt. “Arthur, you sound like a whore,” Larson informed him with deep satisfaction. “You sound like a man getting the breath fucked out of him.”

His chest full of tongue, Arthur couldn’t reply, which only made it that much sweeter. Absent a witty quip to push it back, his shame had room to flower.

“Yes,” Larson egged him on in a low voice. “The times your body sang when Parker touched you, when John spoke kind words to you. How badly you craved their hands on you, bringing that kindness and pleasure to your body. Turning something so gentle and honest into a secret, prurient lust.”

Ahhhhhh, your shame, Scratch sighed, delighted. Is there any end to the misery in you?

“No,” Larson chortled. “Not that I’ve ever found.”

“Shut up!” Arthur’s voice ripped free from the nightmare’s chokehold, cracking in a howl of rage and pain. “You think you can break me?! You’re just me. You can’t say anything to me I haven’t said to myself a thousand times!”

“Ah, that temper.” Larson chuckled. He closed his eyes to savor the sensation that ran beneath Arthur’s skin—not the pain, or the fear, but the fulfillment. His flesh twitching with excited, hopeless arousal, thrilling to a torment rich enough to feed some portion of the guilt that howled within him, tearing him apart with an agony worse than anything an external force could inflict on him. “One of the reasons you deserve this so very richly. If it doesn’t bother you, then why, when John called you a monster, did you torture him for it for months? The only thing you let him see in that pit was you, murdering a man over and over—”

Break him? What a laugh. This feeling, this repulsed, resigned conviction of his own nature that flowed through Arthur now, was proof he’d broken a long time ago. It was what Larson was born of. Proof that at heart, at the bottom of his soul, he was Arthur’s true nature.

Abruptly, all the fight went out of Arthur. His limbs went slack. His head dropped forward. Inside him, that refusal to lay down and die roared up like a firestorm. “This is a dream.”

And dreams are not real? Scratch asked teasingly. This delightful suffering of yours isn’t real?

“Yesssss,” Larson hissed. “You’ll wake up, certainly, and your body will be intact and John will be waiting for you, worried out of his eldritch mind. But that makes this no less real. Just think, Arthur. Let Scratch have you, and you can get everything you deserve here, and still stand up and walk on tomorrow.”

Scratch buried his monstrous face deeper into Arthur’s abdominal cavity, sucking at his insides, teeth catching delicately at his liver to toy with it.

“How does it feel?” Larson asked. “To be eaten.”

To both his and Scratch’s delight, an awful-sounding, jagged laugh rumbled out of Arthur at that. “You think…you think you can…control me? You think…you can keep me here?”

I never kept you, Scratch laughed. But I think you’ll come back.

With a delicate bite, his needle-lined maw sliced Arthur’s heart in two. Larson’s half sang with the anticipation of next time.

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