Had he heard that right? He played the track from the beginning again. No, there was definitely a lady’s scream at 1:12. It wouldn’t have been out of place in a rock song such as this, but the scream sounded too distressed, too frightened, too…real.

He had the number of the artist who had sent him this track to listen. It belonged to a David Rimmer. He was a singer, guitarist, drummer and just generally a one-man metal band. It was pretty admirable. He was very talented with all his instruments, had an amazingly raw voice, and disturbingly dark lyrics full of gory imagery. Brutal stuff. Still, this one scream bothered Harry. He wouldn’t be able to rest easy until he knew the story behind it, so he rang David up and arranged a meeting.

At noon the next morning, Harry pulled up outside David’s house, and knocked on the door. David answered it, dressed in tight jeans, a black shirt with his own long on it, and over that, a well-worn denim vest. He also still had a mullet despite it being the year 2008.

“David Rimmer? I’m Harry Fletcher. You sent me a demo three days ago? ‘The Song of Death’?”

“Yeah, I remember you. So what do you think?” David answered, with an air of ego fuelled confidence only a rocker could have. “It was totally hardcore, wasn’t it?”

“Definitely! The song was great, but, uh. There’s a lady’s scream in it at about the one minute mark, and I’ve a feeling it shouldn’t be there. I was wondering what the story was about that.”

David’s confidence left him, and I could see a brief second of pure panic in his eyes, but even when that faded and he tried to remain confident, I could see he was worried, and twitchy. I’d even go as far as to say paranoid.

“A scream? About one minute in?…Oh! Yeah, my girl saw a rat. We have rats in the house you see.”

Harry could tell he was lying, but he didn’t comment. He merely said farewell, returned to his car, and sat in it. He didn’t drive off. He sat, and watched, and waited for David to leave. He needed to get to the bottom of this.

David finally left the house an hour later. As soon as he was out of sight, Harry got out the car, and returned to the house. David had seemed really shaken when he had mentioned the scream. He was definitely keeping a secret, and Harry wanted to find out what.

The front door was locked, so Harry circled the house until he found an open window in the kitchen. He dragged a trashcan over and used it to climb into the window, though it was a bit of a squeeze.

He carefully lowered himself into David Rimmer’s kitchen, paying attention not to disturb anything. What he was doing was illegal. He wanted to be in, look around, find the truth, and get out as fast as he could.

Upon searching David’s house, he quickly found that things were very clean. Housework was hardly the most ‘rock-n-roll’ thing in the world, but every surface was absolutely spotless. That didn’t add up. This was not a house where you got ‘rats’ running around the place. Upon contemplation, there were no signs of the aforementioned girlfriend either, at least not downstairs.

Harry didn’t feel it right to venture upstairs until he absolutely had to, so he decided to check the basement first. The basement was locked, but only with a flimsy common-or-garden sliding latch. Harry made short work of kicking the door open.

Harry was stunned and horrified at what he saw inside. In the corner was a full drum kit. Besides that, there was a PC and a mixing desk, with cables running out of it spreading across the floor like entrails. In the other corner was a series of electric guitars, acoustic guitars and bases, all lined up neatly in a row. In the center was a mic, but against the far wall was the feature that drew Harry’s shocked gaze.

It was a bloodstained wooden stretching rack, propped horizontally, and fitted with metal clamps at the ends of its four ropes. Beside the rack was an umbrella stand full of canes, pokers, whips and even a few swords, all placed conveniently near a cheap barbecue with flames licking from the top of it. It was a full medieval torture kit!

But the most shocking thing about the rack, was that next to the space where the head would be, there was another microphone rigged up. Harry felt sick in his throat just thinking about the implications. This explained the scream, though he wished now that he had never tried to find out. He would have forgotten about it sooner or later, but he could never forget about this.

He suddenly felt a very dull pain against the back of his head, and then darkness.

When he awoke, he saw the basement again, but this time, the drum kit and the guitars had switched places, and David was standing in the center of the room. As his vision grew clearer, he realised that the guitars and drums hadn’t switched places, he had. He looked down, and his fears were confirmed. He had been strapped into the rack.

David was looking at his feet, and he was either sobbing of giggling. Harry realised that he was doing both. He looked up, actually appearing more scared of Harry than Harry was of him.

“I can see you judging me. They all judge me when they’re on the rack. The think I’m crazy. You think I’m crazy, don’t you?”

Harry was too scared to respond. David continued.

“You see, Harry. I’m a unique artist. This is the only way I can get my blood boiling enough to make my songs. The only way I can get pumped up enough. I usually edit all the screams out, but that one must have slipped my attention. I’m not too sorry. It led you to me, and you’re going to help me write another song!”

He walked over to me, pulled a poker from the stand, and placed it in the embers of the flaming barbecue. He then cranked the rack until Harry felt like the skin around his waist was about to tear apart. He gritted his teeth. He didn’t want to scream. No matter what David did to him, he wouldn’t scream. If he screamed, and it got onto the madman’s next song, what’s to stop the next guy he sends a demo to from meeting the same fate as him?

David walked over to his line of guitars, and picked up a white flying v, putting the strap over his shoulder.

“Harry, let’s make some music!”

Community content is available under CC-BY-SA unless otherwise noted.