By Patrick M. Tracy
Vera, Chuck, and Dave held the demon’s arms as I pressed the concrete cutter’s blade against its torso and revved the Husqvarna as high as it would spin. The creature’s scream dwarfed the sound of the saw, and I could feel the wetness of blood trickle down my neck as one of my eardrums burst. The armor parted, and I was into the flesh below after twenty seconds. The demon’s blood and tissue blew outward from the wound, having the consistency and coloration of apple sauce. It smelled like rotten chicken and burning feathers.
Sawing it in half calmed it down a little, but the bastard wouldn’t die. In the eleventh year of the war, we’d started to see stuff like that. They’d gotten tired of us mowing down their weaker troops, and finally started sending in the big muscle. Things had looked pretty grim for us, but we’d adapted. That’s what you do. Adapt or perish. Those of us on the line then, having seen years of war, were pretty inured to most of it, but when we had to do this, and it was happening more every year, it was still a shitty day.
It was only after sawing the head and arms off that the demon really began to hold still, with only the rare muscular action in the hands and the still-open and glaring eyes showing that it wasn’t dead. Unlike you see sometimes on a movie, things can’t talk when their heads are removed. No lungs to pump the air, even if they’re somehow alive. Like our demon here.
I had to stop for a minute. My shop safety glasses were so spattered with blood that it was hard to see, and my arms were shivering from leaning so hard on the concrete cutter. I looked at the blade. It was dull as a marble. “Shit,” I groaned. “Make sure those parts don’t start wriggling back together, huh?”
Vera nodded. They pulled the arms and torso well apart from the legs and head. I’d have to go through the pubic bone to get the legs apart, and that wouldn’t be a walk in the park. I’d need to change blades, maybe twice.
In another twenty minutes, I’d managed to disarticulate the two legs from each other and crack the chest cavity. The stink in the warehouse was making it tough to breath. Whatever demon innards were made of, they were nasty. I was exhausted, soaked with sweat and blood and demon filth. It was starting to get like this too often. It wasn’t my job. It wasn’t Vera’s, Chuck’s, or Dave’s, either.
I had limited energy to rail against it, though. As the saying goes, “It is what it is.”
“Vera, get the boxes. Guys, get the rock salt. I’ll drag the chain and spikes in.”
We had six boxes made from scavenged wood from pallets. They looked pretty iffy, but they’d hold as long as they had to. Long enough to get them down into the sub basement, anyway. After that, it was not our problem anymore.
Dave poured in a base layer of salt, then we hoisted each demon segment into the boxes. After pouring the rest of the salt over the top of each dismembered piece, I nailed the box tops on with long spikes, and we wrapped each one up with as much steel chain as we could fit on in one layer.
“That’ll do,” Vera said. “Let’s get ‘em on the cart.”
The torso box was unbearably heavy, and the four of us could barely hoist it, but we managed to get it on there. It took three trips to get all of the parts onto the dumbwaiter. We threw the door closed and hit the button. The sound of the whirring motor as the dumbwaiter descended filled the alcove at the side of the warehouse. As we waited for the confirmation that it had gotten to its destination, we started to kick out of the clothes we’d been wearing. They’d all need to go into the incenerator, and we’d have to spend an hour in the shower with industrial soap to get the smell off. By the time the panel lit up green, most of us were down to our bare skin. Vera’d been shy the first time, with her two brothers around, but you got to the point when you just didn’t care. We’d all been long past that point for months.
We gathered our clothes and fed them to the fire, trudging to the showers. Whatever happened to the remains down in the sub basement, we didn’t know. I swear that we didn’t. It would have been a luckier world by far, had we never found out.