Eustace Scrubb Longs for Catharsis

He can’t forget the feeling of those long nails digging deep into the thick meat of his hide, down past scale and muscle to teeth and hair, or the endless hours where those implacable paws gouged the unspeakable words of the deep magic into his soul. He shivers awake pierced through with the sweetness of that pain, the ecstasy of that knowing, and raises aged and shaking hands to feel for the tender unlined skin of a newly shed scab.

God but the pain haunts him. He scrapes at his arms with his nails, digs into his feet with broken glass, razor blades, stainless pins, the hiss of a paperclip straightened out and cherry red, the bite of a grater against his knuckles, but it isn’t the same. He drives staples into his chest and back, nothing; hair shirts, nothing; the electric jolt of the cane biting into the quivering vulnerability of his exposed thighs, nothing.

He seeks out cannier claws, haunts tattoo parlors, piercing pagodas, until everything not pierced is tattooed, everything not tattooed is pierced. On his chest a dragon and a lion, intertwined, on his back a constellation. He splits his tongue, reshapes his face, shatters bones, loses fingers, digs down to the bedrock, nothing, nothing, nothing, nothing.