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When my brother was kidnapped, it was a shock. Often, you saw small children kidnapped, or young women. Jamie was the star athlete of our school district. He was tall, and big. I could never imagine how anyone could have overpowered him. I think that’s why most people assumed that he had just run off.

Jamie was the closest thing to a best friend I ever had. He always had a keen sense that things would turn out okay, even when they looked bleak. I tried my best to hold that same demeanor when he was gone. Hell, I held it out for a reasonable time considering the situation, but within six weeks, they gave up the search. “He probably just buckled under the pressure of graduation coming up, there are bigger cases to worry about.” I lost it after that.

I dropped out. Walking around that place just felt wrong. When he walked through the halls, he pulled attention. He was never cruel to anyone and he made each student smile. Despite the “ran off” rumors, the school held a vigil for him. Apparently, I wasn’t the only one that thought the “buckled under pressure” story was bullshit. A lot of people cried. Everyone had a story to tell. As sweet as it was, the next day was just the same. The halls of the school felt haunted.

For two years, I muddled through life. Once I turned 16, I did my best to get a job, but nobody would hire me for anything that wasn’t under the table. For a little while, I worked towards getting my GED, but it was so hard to focus. So hard to be optimistic. Every time I felt better, like I could move on, we would get these horrible letters. They gave us details of things that someone who hadn’t be close with Jamie would never know. Then, they detailed how they hurt him. We brought them to the police, but they said that it was likely a prank. They never even looked into it.

Three more years went by. Within them, several letters came stating the same. One or two facts about Jamie, then two or three detailed pages of all the harm that came to him within the previous months. Eventually, we stopped reading them. Even if they were pranks, it was still enough to make you sick. Maybe whoever was writing them sensed that we weren’t reading them anymore, because after throwing a few directly into the garbage without even opening them, they stopped coming at all. Only weeks after, my parents announced their divorce.

Then, I got the call. It was a blocked number, and the voice was low and deep. “This is the one chance you have to save him, though there’s not much left to save.” He then stated an address before hanging up. I looked it up on Google Maps, and sure enough, there it was. I wasn’t going to be able to go alone, nor did I feel safe doing so. I called my mom, but she brushed it off as “attention seeking.” Thankfully, my dad was willing to help.

The address lead us to a small cabin near a lake that sat near the boundary of our town. People used to swim in it, but the town deemed it unclean, so nobody goes near it anymore. The cabin was tiny, without windows. From ten feet away, the stench of piss and shit lingered in the air. We could hear quiet whimpering and noticed that the door was opened a crack. I stood, completely stunned into an almost frozen state as my dad bolted towards it.

I couldn’t immediately tell that it was Jamie. Scar tissue changed the structure of his face, but his eyes were unmistakable. He shivered and flinched away from dad as he attempted to hold him, sobbing loudly. I noticed that he still had fresh, bleeding wounds and called 911.

The medical assessment was pretty bad. All of his fingernails had been ripped out several times over. He was missing several teeth and the others would have to be pulled anyway. His entire body was covered with scars overlapping older scars. He had very little hair left, most of it had been torn out. If there was any worse physical damage, they wouldn’t tell me about it. The worst of it was psychological. He didn’t speak. He didn’t make a sound. He stopped flinching away when people tried to touch him the moment he left the cabin. He could still walk on his own and ate when you gave food to him, but otherwise he was completely gone. As soon as you’d let him sit down, Jamie would bring his knees up to his chest and just stare off into nothing.

It didn’t take much to catch the guy who did it, his fingerprints were left all over the cabin, an excessive amount. It was extremely odd, as if he put them there on purpose. Later, the police would learn that he did. I was not allowed to be present during any type of questioning, but I had befriended a younger officer at the station. He has been on the same Basketball team as Jamie when he went missing. Apparently, this was the cause that pushed him into law enforcement after graduation. In secret, he brought me a few transcripts from the interrogation.

The guy had been watching us for months before he even took Jamie. His first motive was seeing what it would be like to break a human being entirely. The second was watching a family break down. When they asked why he had revealed where Jamie was hidden, he said “well, they didn’t want to read my letters anymore, so it wasn’t any fun!”

Months passed and Jamie didn’t improve. He still functioned like a human, but there was no person left inside. He wouldn’t speak. He wouldn’t even look at you. Feeling like I was going crazy, I tried my best to rouse something of what he was before. I dug up home video after home video, even played some tapes from his winning games. Nothing.

I laid up one night, trying to brainstorm a way to fix my lost brother. That’s when I heard him crying and whispering. Sneaking out of my room and down the hall to his, I peeked into his bedroom to find him slicing his sides with a kitchen knife. I felt myself dizzying as I noticed the other cuts. There were dozens of them up and down his sides. He had been doing this for a while, probably not long after he was found. He was whispering something, too. I held my breath and listened. “Oh god, if he comes back and sees my skin clean, he’s gonna kill mom and dad and Jess. No no no no no.” He trailed off as he continued to slice.

That’s when I realized that we all had it wrong. This man hadn’t tortured Jamie at all, not directly. He made Jamie torture himself.

---by reddit user rydenanne via: 


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