Stuart and Allen had only been in Gran Canaria for a few days, after flying in from London. They had opted to rent a car while on the island, so they could explore it more freely. Organised tours were okay but having to be somewhere at a certain time, and then being directed by the whims of others didn’t suit Stuart so much. He preferred to do things when he wanted, and how he wanted.
After spending the day on the beach near the Maspalomas lighthouse, Stuart and Allen headed back to where they were staying in Playa del Ingles. The sky had the beautiful mix of reds, pinks and fading blue as the sun set on another hot and sticky day.
While driving along Avenue Cristobal Colon the car started having problems. Stuart pulled over, alongside a derelict building surrounded by bush. For a moment Stuart and Allen sat staring at what must have once been a roadside business. Their eyes explored the torn green canopy that still hung above the boarded up front door. Nature had taken over the path, and was creeping up the walls. The windows were boarded and barred.
‘Shall we take a look?’ asked Allen.
‘Well, we need to get this car fixed because I want to get back and take a shower. I stink!’ replied Stuart.
‘You’re telling me!’
Stuart glared at Allen before unbuckling and getting out of the car. They walked towards the one-storey rectangular building, with the sound of crunching gravel and dirt beneath their feet. Allen stood under the canopy and curled his nose. ‘Jeez, Stu, you sure do need a shower.’
‘Piss off! What the hell’s that smell?’
‘Smells like stale blood.’
‘No. That’s rotten fish.’
‘Close your legs then!’ Allen turned and gave Stuart a wide grin and a wink.
Stuart rolled his eyes, but said nothing. Allen pressed his nose up against one of the filthy windows, and realised they were boarded up from the inside. The glass strangely hadn’t been damaged. Stuart moved alongside the building and discovered another small door that had been boarded up with several blanks of white wood: white to match the rest of the building. Its green canopy still hung above, too. Allen decided to check out the other side of the building. He discovered yet another door, with the name of the restaurant above it and the image of a lobster. Well, that explained the smell of fish. ‘Shall we try to get inside?’ asked Allen.
‘Are you crazy? No way are we going in there. We need to get back. I want to eat!’
Allen proceeded to try the door but it was locked, so he pushed on it some more.
‘Will you stop that!’ said Stuart. ‘We are leaving. Now!’
Allen ignored Stuart, as he often did. He ran back to the first door and tried to open it.
‘Look, none of these doors or windows are going to be unlocked, so let’s just go home,’ said Stuart leaning in the direction of the car, exasperated.
Allen squeezed between some bush and the building to reach a tall gate that looked like it was made of sticks. After only a few pushes it fell open. Stuart’s eyes flew skyward, while Allen looked at him with a satisfied grin. Before Stuart had time to protest, Allen was through the gate and exploring the back of the derelict restaurant.
‘Shit!’ said Stuart, before trying to catch up to his wilful friend. When Stuart reached the back of the building he couldn’t see Allen. He called out to him but nothing. ‘Great! Where the hell has he got to?’
‘Hey, Stu!’ said Allen.
Stuart spun round to see Allen stood in a small opening with a twinkle in his eye and a grin on his face. ‘So, you found a way in then? Can we go now?’
‘You’re kidding! Come check this place out. Come on, you only live once.’
‘Yeah, and I would like to live a bit longer, thanks.’
‘What you afraid of? You think the fish are going to eat you?’ Allen led Stuart inside, using his iPhone torch to see where they were going. The wooden walls were covered in grime. The floor felt uneven and crunchy.
‘I think I’m going to be sick, Al,’ said Stuart covering his mouth and nose.
‘It sure is pungent, isn’t it?’
Stuart could only nod. He did all he could to breathe as little as possible, and when he did it was with very shallow intakes. ‘Did you hear that?’ asked Stuart.
‘What? I never heard anything.’
The men crept further into the building, watching not to fall over the large amount of debris and broken furniture laying about the place. Stuart suddenly slipped and fell to the floor.
‘What the fuck!’ said Allen, before shining his iPhone on Stuart’s screwed up face. Seeing Stuart sat on the floor, but clearly unharmed, caused Allen to roar with laughter.
‘Oh, yes, ha ha, very funny! Just help me up and let’s get out of here. You’ve had your fun. Shit!’
‘I’ve broken my phone. That’s just marvellous! You can pay for a new one.’ Stuart struggled up from the floor using what was once a counter. ‘I’ve had enough. I’m going!’
‘You’ll never find your way back in this dark, and I’m the only one with a phone that works.’
Stuart brushed himself down and fought the urge to smack his friend in the face. He knew he would have to stay with Allen until he got bored of exploring.
‘Looks like you got some stuff on the back of your trousers,’ said Allen.
‘What sort of stuff?’
‘I don’t know. Give it a sniff.’
‘Piss off! You give it a sniff,’ said Stuart.
Allen wiped his hand across Stuart’s backside and brought his hand to his nose. ‘Shit! That smells like stale blood.’
‘Blood! Oh great.’
‘Stu, it’ll just be fish blood. Come on, let’s keep looking.’
‘What exactly are we looking for?’ asked Stuart.
‘Nothing. Just want to see what’s here.’
‘Shit and dead fish. There, seen it. Now, let’s go.’
‘What? What’ve you done?’ asked Stuart.
‘I just walked into this bloody freezer.’
Stuart finally laughed.
‘Ha ha, very bloody funny. Straight to video! Help me try to get this open.’
Stuart didn’t even bother to protest because he knew it would be a waste of time. He moved up next to Allen and helped him open the large chest freezer. The door squeaked open, and released a dusty belch of rotting fish. Both men winced, gagged and covered their noses.
‘Close it! Close it now!’ said Allen retching.
‘I’m trying. It’s your bloody fault.’
‘Just shut up and close it.’
Stuart slammed the freezer door and both men continued to retch and struggle to get some fresher air into their lungs.
‘Shh!’ said Stuart.
‘Don’t tell me to shush. I’m going to heave!’
‘Will you shut up a second,’ said Stuart as he grabbed Allen and gagged him with his hand.
Both men stood in silence for what felt an age. ‘You hear that?’ asked Stuart.
With his mouth still gagged by Stuart’s hand, Allen could only nod. Allen lifted his iPhone to face the direction of where it sounded like the scurrying was coming from. The iPhone light revealed a door that didn’t look like it had stood unopened for a long time. The men suddenly realised that possibly someone had been using this building, and still were.
‘We’ve got to get out of here, right now,’ said Stuart.
Allen nodded. Stuart let go of Allen and both men started back the way they came when a yelp from behind them froze them where they stood. ‘What the fuck was that?’ asked Stuart.
‘I don’t know.’
‘It sounds like a person in trouble.’
‘So let’s get the hell out of here,’ said Allen.
‘We can’t just leave them. They obviously need help.’
‘Well, let someone else deal with it. You said you wanted to leave, so let’s go.’
‘Allen, you brought us into this. If someone is in trouble we can’t just leave them.’
After a pause, Allen turned and marched towards the newly discovered door.
‘Slow down. You don’t want to go rushing in there,’ said Stuart.
‘I thought you wanted to play the hero and save them.’
‘Yes, but not by getting ourselves killed in the process. Let’s just play it cool.’
The two men leaned up against the closed door and held their breath while they listened for any slight sound coming from behind it. After a few minutes of nothing, Stuart tried the handle, which turned.
‘What you doing?’ asked Allen.
‘I’m going to take a look.’
‘Are you crazy?’
‘What happened to your sense of adventure?’ asked Stuart
‘It suffocated to death under the stench of fish guts.’
Stuart smirked at his friend while slowly opening the door. Allen shone his iPhone light through the open doorway and revealed a stone staircase leading down to a basement. A waft of stale blood hit them both.
‘Are you ready?’ asked Stuart.
‘Okay, let’s go check it out.’ With Stuart leading the way, the two men crept down the stairs, but they had to stop after only three steps. ‘Will you hold your phone steady,’ said Stuart.
‘Oh, just give it to me!’ With Stuart now holding the iPhone, the two men continued down the steps to the basement. When they reached the bottom they realised they didn’t need the phone anymore because the basement corridor had dim lights running along its wall. ‘Well, it looks like were not alone anymore,’ said Stuart.
Along the stony wall were five metal, cell-like doors: two on each side and one at the far end. Stuart and Allen froze and stared at each other. ‘What do you suppose this is all about?’ asked Stuart.
‘God knows, but I don’t want to stick around to find out.’
‘Where the fuck do you think you’re going? Get your ass back here,’ said Stuart grabbing an escaping Allen by the collar of his shirt.
‘Look, if we stay here we’re going to wind up dead,’ said Allen.
‘Don’t be such a drama queen.’ Stuart crept forward, listening hard for any little sound. He gently placed his hand against the first door on the left. ‘It feels war…’ Stuart spun round. ‘What the hell are you doing? Get over here!’
‘No way.’ Allen waved his hands and shook his head. ‘I’m staying right here.’
With a roll of the eyes, Stuart put his focus back onto the metal door in front of him. He pressed his ear up against the cold metal. All he could hear was the beating of his own heart.
‘Shit!’ said Allen.
‘Didn’t you hear that?’
‘Hear what?’ asked Stuart.
‘It came from over there,’ said Allen pointing towards the door behind Stuart.
Stuart glanced over his shoulder and then stared at Allen. ‘What did you hear?’
‘Don’t know. It sounded like a moan.’
‘Oh, a ghost then?’
Stuart inched towards the opposite door. He stood looking down at the door handle; his heart beat a bit faster and his mouth dried as he wrapped his fingers around the knob. Allen backed towards the steps. The knob turned and the heavy click filled the corridor. Stuart and Allen froze and stared at each other. Allen winced and shook his head. Stuart eased open the door. His heart pounded and blood charged through his veins. Scuffling came from within. Stuart froze.
‘What? What is it?’ asked Allen.
‘Shhh!’ Stuart felt his blood pumping around his head. He could hear his own breath. He glanced at his hand squeezing the door handle; a white knuckle experience. He continued to ease open the door. The scuffling increased, broken only by the quickening moans and groans. Stuart pushed the door wide. He stood fixed to the spot with his mouth agape.
Allen trembled backwards, his left heel rising to meet the bottom step. Stuart gawked at Allen. ‘Oh my God, what is it?’ asked Allen. Stuart gave no answer other than signalling to Allen to come to him. Allen shook his head and backed up another step.
The sound of a door closing upstairs, and two male voices, sent Allen charging towards Stuart. ‘Did you hear that? There are people upstairs,’ said Allen slamming into Stuart who remained fixed to the spot. Both men stood staring at each other before turning their heads in unison to look into the open room.
‘Oh my God!’ said Allen
‘What is it?’
The Spanish voices moved closer, so Allen grabbed Stuart and pulled him inside the room. ‘Look for somewhere to hide. Quick!’ Allen closed the door as quietly as he could. Stuart had found a bench that ran along side the wall, with boxes piled up in front of it. He signalled to Allen to hide there with him.
‘Stu, what the hell is going on here?’ asked Allen in a strained whisper.
‘God only knows, but we’re fucked!’
‘We’ve got to get out of here.’
‘Don’t you think I know that! But how do you reckon we can do that with two psychos coming. And what about that thing over there tied to the table.’
‘I wish it would shut up.’
The door flung open and two men walked in shouting in Spanish at the thing tied to the table. Suddenly, the placed filled with more sounds of moaning. The taller, skinnier man, Francis, spoke to the much darker and broader one, Paco, who acknowledged what was said and darted out the room.
‘You shut your moaning, Englishman!’ said Francis.
‘Did he just say Englishman?’ asked Allen, glaring at Stuart, who just nodded with a face coated in horror. ‘That thing on the trolley is human…and English? Jesus, Stu, we’ve got to get out of here, now!’
‘Will you shut up!’ said Stuart through gritted teeth. ‘We can’t go anywhere until that crazed Canary buggers off. And takes his mate with him.’
The Englishman, bound to the filthy trolley, continued to squirm, grunt and moan. Francis walked over to another bench on the other side of the room and picked up a fillet knife. Allen and Stuart leaned forward and peered through the gaps between the boxes piled in front of them. Paco could be heard shouting and slamming doors in his attempt to silence the others imprisoned in the fish restaurant cellar.
‘Paco!’ shouted Francis, while examining his wide selection of instruments.
Paco charged into the room, and like a lapdog looked to Francis for instruction. The two men conversed in Spanish, which neither Allen nor Stuart understood. Paco lifted the heavy green sheet that covered most of the Englishman. Allen and Stuart saw that the thing was indeed a man. Thick straps stretched across his chest and bound his arms in tight. Similar straps stretched across his mid-riff, thighs and ankles.
‘What did they do to his face to make him look so…so, deformed?’ asked Allen.
‘God knows. But something tells me we’re about to find out.’
‘Don’t freak out on me now. Do you want to end up like that poor sod?’
‘Ugh, I can’t look,’ said Allen while lowering his head into his hands. But he glanced up, peering through the gaps between his fingers.
Paco grinned, revealing large gaps and a few remaining stained teeth. Francis lowered the Englishman’s shorts before lifting the fillet knife. Allen and Stuart gawped, without making a sound.
Muffled howls echoed around the basement. The Englishman writhed. Paco laughed as Francis held up the Englishman’s severed floppy penis and dangling testicles before throwing them into a bucket. Stuart grabbed Allen and placed his hand over his mouth. Allen’s eyes popped in their sockets while his stomach jumped. ‘Whatever you do, don’t freak out. We’ve got to get out of here,’ said Stuart. Allen nodded without taking his eyes off the blood pumping from the Englishman’s groin.
Francis brought the bloody fillet knife down and sliced open the Englishman’s abdomen. More loud muffled wails echoed around the room, mixed with the sound of his body squirming on the metal trolley. Francis signalled to Paco, who obeyed and rammed his hand into the Englishman’s guts.
Allen urged up bile over Stuart’s hand that still tried to keep Allen from crying out. Stuart barely noticed, with his eyes transfixed on the sight of the Englishman’s bowels being pulled from within by the strong, thick hands of Paco.
The sound of the electric saw caused Allen to squeak through Stuart’s fingers. The Englishman used the last bit of life he had left to struggle on the trolley, as Francis brought the raging saw towards his bloody chest. Blood sprayed in all directions as the electric saw tore through the Englishman’s flesh, muscle and chest bone. Paco continued to pull out the remaining bowel in a frenzy. With the chest open, Francis tore the Englishman’s beating heart from within. The Englishman’s body finally stopped twitching.
Stuart and Allen, frozen where they crouched, watched as a silent Francis meticulously removed the Englishman’s internal organs and placed them into plastic boxes. Once this ended, Paco wheeled the gutted body away to another part of the basement. Francis then carried the boxes out of the room and towards the stairs leading back up to the derelict restaurant.
‘You wait here. I’m going to take a look,’ said Stuart while slowly letting go of a shaking Allen, and wiping bile from his hand.
Stuart crept to the door, peered back to check that Allen had stayed put, and then inched out into the corridor. He noticed the door at the end of the hallway was open. He glanced towards the stairs to make sure Francis had gone. Stuart clung to the stony wall as he snuck towards the open door. As he approached he noticed the temperature increase and a bright orange glow came from within the room at the end of the hallway.
When Stuart reached the open door, he hid behind it and peered around its edge. Paco stood inside with the Englishman’s slaughtered body still laying on the trolley. Paco wiped his sweating brow while chopping up the Englishman’s cadaver and throwing the offcuts into the blazing furnace. Stuart, so transfixed by the Englishman’s arms and legs being swallowed by the raging flames, never noticed Francis creeping up behind him.
Thud! The world suddenly went dark for Stuart.
Allen dared to peer through the gap in the boxes he still hid behind, when he heard Paco and Francis returning with the trolley. He wondered what had happened to Stuart…then he saw. Allen’s eyes bulged and his mouth fell open. His best friend was tied to the trolley he had seen an Englishman torn to pieces on only moments before.
Allen scanned the area close to him desperately looking for something that he could use as a weapon. He needed to act fast because Francis was over at his bench of instruments and Paco was salivating like a ravenous bloodhound. Allen spied a piece of pipe laying among a pile of rubbish to his left.
Allen slid across the floor and grabbed the pipe. His body trembled. He crept towards the back of Paco, keeping an eye on Francis who still stood with his back to the room. For a brief moment, Allen glanced at his best friend laying unconscious on the table. Anger raced through his veins and he raised the pipe high above him. With a swift hard swing the pipe smashed into the side of Paco’s head.
Paco roared and fell across Stuart’s bound legs. Francis spun round, his eyes wide. With his teeth grit, Allen charged around the table with his pipe ready for the next killer blow. Francis turned and searched frantically for an ideal weapon. He picked up a meat cleaver, but as he turned his arm felt like it had exploded as Allen’s pipe smashed into it. The cleaver fell to the floor and Francis grabbed his arm with a wince.
Allen went to swing another hit when he felt the bear hug of Paco squeeze the breath out of his lungs. Allen grunted and struggled. Paco dragged his human catch away from Francis’ bench of torture. Allen’s pipe swung back and caught Paco on the side of his head. Allen felt the bull-clip clasp release and he was able to break free. Paco spun gripping his head. Allen swung fast and struck Paco in the head again, sending him spinning to the floor.
A piercing pain raged up Allen’s spin and exploded in the centre of his skull. The world slowed down. Francis pulled the dagger from Allen’s spine. Allen could hear only his breathing and heart beat. The room spun. Allen lurched forward. His legs gave way beneath him and he collapsed into the boxes he had hid behind earlier. The world went dark.
Stuart’s head throbbed. His eyes struggled to find focus. He saw a dank and stony ceiling above him. The air smelled thick with fresh blood. He slowly turned his head. He screamed through a dry and raging throat. Laying next to him was the open, and gutted, carcass of his best friend, Allen.
Stuart wriggled and struggled to get free from the thick straps that held him down to the trolley. The trolley moved and smashed into the other trolley with Allen’s corpse on it. Stuart stared into the lifeless, glaring eyes of his dead friend. Stuart’s heart thumped in his chest and his stomach spasmed. He vomited all over Allen’s cold face.
The door flung open and Francis strolled in, followed by the ever-excited Paco. Stuart spun his head forward and viewed his captors through bulging eyes. ‘Please, let me go. Don’t do this. I promise I won’t say a word to anyone,’ said Stuart watching as his captors chose to ignore his pleas.
Francis headed to his bench of torture and Paco stood next to Stuart salivating and laughing like a crazed asylum inmate. Stuart started twisting, wriggling and screaming. Paco’s giggling increased, and he started rubbing Stuart’s body. Francis selected his favourite instruments.
‘No! No! Please, don’t do this!’ said Stuart as he stared at Francis stood over him holding the fillet knife.
Paco clapped and laughed as Francis lifted Stuart’s top to expose his abdomen. Stuart panted and shook as Francis brought the knife down towards his tender flesh. Stuart roared and squirmed with the burning of a thousand paper cuts slicing into his abdomen. With every slow pull, Stuart felt the heat increase from his midriff.
Stuart felt as if he had been punched deep inside his guts as Paco pulled his bowels from within. Stuart wailed as he watched the crazed Paco wrapping his intestines around in a loop. He longed for death. His abdomen raged. He felt blood filling his mouth and could taste its strong iron.
‘No! God, please stop this!’ said Stuart as he felt Francis pull down his shorts and expose his genitals. Paco looked on with childish delight.
Stuart’s screams flooded the room as the fillet knife hacked through his penis and testicles. The burning urge to put his hands over his blood spraying wound was overwhelming but he couldn’t move them. His eyes rolled back, his heart galloped in his chest. He felt close to passing out. He felt the heat of his own blood pouring over his thighs and between his legs.
Stuart barely noticed the sound of the electric saw being lowered towards his chest. His whole body shook from within. A million needle pricks pierced his chest in one go. His mouth flooded with the thick taste of iron, and his blood spewed. Stuart convulsed and choked. He heard the crunching sound of his chest snapping. He heard his heart slowing down. He coughed through his own blood. His eyes watched as the stony wall before him faded.
‘Excuse me, waiter!’ said Mark.
‘Si, señor, how can I help you?’ asked the waiter.
‘Where’d you get this liver from? I’ve never tasted anything like it.’
‘Oh, it’s ‘specially shipped from England.’
‘England? I’ve never tasted liver like this in England. Which company?’
‘It’s a trade secret, señor. I promise you, it’s one hundred percent pure English meat.’
‘It’s delicious! I’d love to know your source.’
‘Si, señor. Enjoy!’