I’m not going to make it.
It’s been hours, possibly days, and the pain is only getting more insistent. Harder to ignore. Even I have to admit that I held out admirably for the first session. I barely flinched. In my mind, I was constantly reminding myself of how strong I was. How the pain was only in my mind. How at any moment, the endorphins were going to kick in and I’d feel nothing. The acute, sharp stings and burns would fade into a dull, distant ache.
But you can only lie to yourself for so long.
My tormentor laughs. “It will be over soon,” he says, his accent turning the words into a musical sound. It’s almost pleasant. I almost want to believe that his words are the truth. Deep down, I don’t believe anything anymore. But my body, idiot traitor that it is, loosens up anyway like tenderized meat. The natural anesthesia that has been helping me cope drains away, and I’m left once again with the entirety of my pain. Undiluted and bright, it dances and shreds. What was left of my resolve hangs in tatters, quivering with every spasm of my exhausted muscles.
How much longer can this go on? I wonder. When will my body finally give out and self-destruct in its own defense? Oblivious to my internal struggle, the emissary of anguish carves on. My flesh is his playground, my pain his pleasure. He lives on masochism and vanity, daring the weak-willed to step into his dungeon if they have the stomach for it. Glancing at his reflection in the mirror, I have to wonder if he is secretly cheering me on. Does he want me to crumble and surrender, or resist and survive? Is he judging me for what he thinks I’m feeling, even when my face gives away nothing? Is he proud of me in his own sick, twisted way?
Suddenly, it’s over. I rise, trembling, and force my shaking legs to take me away before I collapse with gratitude, exhaustion and horror. As I walk through the brightly lit parking lot toward my car, I am smarting with triumph. Why I did it is anyone’s guess, but there’s one thing I know for certain:
Whoever invented the art of tattooing was a sick, sadistic bastard.