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The Taxidermist’s Son

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Estimated reading time — 6 minutes

In my youth, I found myself fascinated by my father’s line of work. I would jump up when I saw him arrive home with his bag, and sprint to him with boyish excitement, begging and bargaining for the right to watch him. He never said yes, of course, because no young man should find such feverish delight in the thought of a corpse being sliced open, drained, and stuffed. Each and every time he denied me, I sulked off to my room and waited to hear his study door open and close, before unfastening the framed photo of my mother on the wall, and peer through the peephole I had carved.

I would shudder as my father removed the cadaver from his bag. Sometimes, it was a bird, shot down by some young lad with a BB gun. Other times, a rat he found in the garden. Most often, it was a mangled dog or cat, struck down by some careless driver late at night. Nothing in the world brought me the excitement of watching my fathers’ knife slicing through the tender skin and flesh of a freshly dead animal. Except, perhaps, the disemboweling process. Or the eye-gouging.

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When I heard my father go off to bed, I would wait an hour, before sneaking from my room into his. I would move as slowly and quietly as possible, gently picking up his key and making my way to his study. Once inside, I would marvel at his latest spectacle.

I would gently glide my fingers over its fur, touch it’s glass eyes. I would whisper to it for hours on end, asking it how it felt to die, if it missed its organs, and whether or not it felt it when my father carved it open. I hoped that one day, one of the animals might speak back to me.

One day, one did.

It was a black Dobermann. It had been in my father’s study for some time. I believe, although he never told me, that he was unable to find a buyer. I believe this because, as I recall, it was preserved rather poorly. Its mouth was stitched agape, its tongue a mound of horrifically clammy flesh, hanging from the lips in a ghastly mimicry of a living dog. Its neck was turned in a way that no canine could manage, more like a snake than a mammal. Its eyes appeared as if they may pop out from the lids and fall to the ground.

Nevertheless, I was just as infatuated with it as any other specimen. As I stroked it lovingly, it twitched, causing me to jump back. I watched in equal parts horror and awe as it cracked its already broken neck and jerked its head towards me, leaving me at the mercy of its grim facade. Desperately as my mind tried, it could find no proper expression on the dogs’ face until, after what felt like an eternity, it curved the corners of its dead mouth into a grin and spoke the words-

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“Let me loose”

The world faded to black.

I awoke to violent shaking and the yelling of my father, demanding at once to know why I deliberately defied him and entered his study. I could scarcely respond before I was soundly thrashed, and meted out my punishments. Despite this, no amount of chores, nor my hunger for dessert, could distract from the grizzly scene in my head of a mangled carcass moving of its own accord and speaking to me. Each time I closed my eyes I could see it again, and I gave myself quite the headache trying to avoid this. I could see it’s reflection in the polished floors I toiled over, and hear its voice at any time of the day.

My next few nights were sleepless. The dog beckoned me with a sound like a howling, but also like a tortured scream of a man in pain. When I tried covering the hole, It grew louder, and louder still when I plugged it up. However hard I tried to block the sound, it only came closer, echoing within the depths of my skull. Eventually, whether due to exhaustion or desperation, I came to my final conclusion. I had to stop it, there was no other option.

Once more, I snuck from my room, creeping, quietly as the air, towards my father’s door. The sound of the dogs’ unholy cry grew ever louder, vibrating within my rib cage and shaking the ground. I struggled to fight back my trembling as I passed through my father’s door. Silent as a mouse, I crept once again to the side of his bed, reaching for the key.

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It wasn’t there. He had hidden it away. The screeching in my head grew ever louder, heightening my panic as I searched as quietly as possible for the key. I knelt and checked below his bed, and I found nothing. His closet held nothing but jackets. His drawer held nothing but books. I stared at my father, and pondered waking him up and explaining my plight. Only then did the truth dawn on me.

I reached my hand slowly and silently towards my father’s head. The key was under his pillow. It had to be. I tried my hardest to resist shuddering as the infernal scream of the dog violated my ears more intensely than ever before. As I reached further, I closed my eyes as a last-ditch effort to resist the dread building within my chest. Below the cold silk of the pillow, I felt around gently as I could. Was it there? Should I pull back? But, what if I miss it? These questions probed my mind until finally, I felt ice-cold metal. Taking a firm grip, I pulled back and left my father’s side.

With the key in my hand, I was ready to end this madness. As I walked the short distance to the study, the hallway seemed to extend around me, and curve in unimaginable ways. For every step I took, the door drew further away from me. I turned back to see that I could recognize no part of my home as if I was in someplace completely new. Even so, the howling was so loud now that I could not afford to doddle on this thought. I walked faster, eventually breaking into a full sprint before the screaming in my head began to dizzy me, causing me to fall to my knees and clutch my head, massaging my temples in a desperate attempt to halt the tears welling in my eyes. Feeling as though I could do nothing, I closed my eyes and submitted to the will of the creature tormenting me. Only then did the door appears before me.

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With a gasp of both relief and dread, I stood up and stumbled through the door. I ran to the dog and fell to my knees, begging, and bargaining for mercy. I yelled with all the air in my lungs, my own voice being the only thing I could hear besides the wicked howling. The dog contorted again, snaking its head around to face me. Its glass eyes turned downward, and once more it spoke out its command.

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“Let me loose”

I halted for a second, but could not take even a second to consider its words. No thoughts could form amongst the howling. I stumbled deliriously towards my father’s worktable and took hold of the scalpel I had always loved to watch him use. The howling grew louder still, and it was clear this would not cease until I carried out its command.

I took the scalpel to the dog’s feet, cutting beneath its soles in a desperate attempt to free it from its stand. For each stitch I split, the howling grew louder, until I could hardly feel my own body amidst the vibrations. The ground shook below me as I grew closer and closer to letting the dog loose. Nonetheless, I persevered. Just three more stitches. Two. One.

Finally, the howling overpowered me completely, rising over the walls of my mind and reaching the peak of a hellish crescendo.

The next morning a man awoke silently and unceremoniously, not bothering to open his eyes for around ten minutes, whereafter he figured he should go downstairs and prepare his son’s breakfast. As he walked toward the stairs, he looked at his son’s door and paused for a moment. It was clear to the man that his son regretted his mistake, and he didn’t want to drag on his punishment any longer than necessary. It was, after all, clear that his son wanted to learn about his work, and he was having trouble rationalizing his punishment. He went back to his room and grabbed a textbook on taxidermy he had purchased the day before.

The man opened his son’s door gently, careful not to startle him, and spoke his name softly, almost apologetically. When he received no response, he pondered leaving, before realizing that his son was not in his bed. The man knew where he must be, and decided that he would catch his son in the act once more, but this time, he would calmly sit him down and tell him about his craft. He should be happy, after all, to have a son who shared his interests. The man walked to his study door and spoke his son’s name. Hearing no response, he opened the door. He gasped, and the textbook hit the ground with a deafening thud. The man fell to his knees in terror.

His study had been ransacked, his work table toppled, and his tools scattered about the floor. Behind his desk, the window had been broken, as though something had been thrown through it, and into the alleyway outside. The man hardly noticed these issues, however. His eyes were fixed on the grimmest horror he had ever known.

In the corner of his study, his only son stood atop a taxidermy stand with his arms contorted into inhuman positions, his mouth stitched agape, and his glass eyes bulging from the sockets.

Credit : Burning Sexuality

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