Higgins Barrow was a miserable bastard.
He delighted in the torment of others.
Higgins developed a technique designed to inflict emotional injury to others, and he taught this to select students at the university using wards of the state.
Two months ago, I learned of this, and it took me less than a day to confirm it.
Doctor Allen Rigby made a profit on the side by renting out the feeble-minded in his care at the sanitarium. Since Higgins returned the wards without any physical marks on their bodies, Rigby was satisfied that he was doing no wrong.
At first, Rigby refused to speak with me. It was only after I threw his assistant down a flight of stairs and broke all the fingers on Rigby’s left hand that he began to talk. He showed me the contract he had with Higgins and even a large sum of cash which Rigby hadn’t yet deposited.
I stuffed the money down Rigby’s throat and watched him choke to death.
I found Higgins in his office at the university reading a proof of his newest work. He started to speak, but I didn’t let him.
Twice I punched him in the face, the second blow rendering him unconscious. And although he was heavy, I managed to get him back to the farm without interruption.
When he came to, we were in one of the rooms I generally keep closed off. I had bound him naked to a chair, and in the semidarkness, I waited.
“My mind is too strong,” he chuckled. “You can’t break me with torture.”
“I’m not going to do anything,” I told him.
He grinned. “You’re a weak man, aren’t you. The stories about you are merely that. Stories.”
I lit my pipe and smoked.
He was about to speak again when they came into the room.
Dark shadows peeling away from the walls. They whispered and crept closer. Long and paper-thin, hands cold and eyes dead. I saw the gooseflesh rise on Higgins. One of the shadows leaned in and whispered in his ear.
Higgins’ eyes widened, and he shook his head. The others crept close, long fingers trailing along his arms.
I stood up, and as I closed the door behind me, I heard Higgins let out a long, low whimpering, “No.”
It turns out he wasn’t difficult to break at all.