All is Lost
I wiped the grit from my lips for the second time in as many hours. I never got used to the screams. And as if taunting me, they would drag each one past my cell and let me watch as they descended into the abyss. The taste of iron hung on my tongue from pounding my head against the walls in a failed attempt to eradicate their screams of agony from my memory. The images of their limbs being removed one by one were permanently plastered in my eyes. They tortured them for hours or until the bodies gave in. They’d burn the exposed edges to stop the bleeding so the victim would remain conscious for their due diligence. And when they fell silent, ammonium carbonate packs would raise them from the dead to start all over. Sometimes, the smelling salts wouldn’t work and their rigid bodies would be dumped into the cart and wheeled off to the furnace. Then it was silent—eerily and deathly quiet until the next victim slid thrashing by my solitary confinement. And I’d have to watch. I could not look away.
My stubs shook the apparatus strapped to my head holding me in place. Had I been able to blink, I would have, but they ensured I’d see everything. With no eyelids to hold back my tears, the tear ducts pumped liquid continuously in an attempt to hydrate my red orbs. Why hadn’t they just gouged my eyes out when they had the chance? Save me the misery! But that was their plan all along I suspect. Physical suffering had its limits as the hundreds that had gone before would attest, but psychological provocation and affliction...now there was a doorway with limitless possibilities. What use did they have with the tips of my fingers? My hands looked like deformed paws of a stray cat. I feel your pain, brother. I too have been declawed.
The knot in my stomach had only gotten worse the past few days as I couldn’t keep anything down, not even the dingy bowl of water they placed at my cell like a dog. The first time my breakfast had been delivered, I punched my fist into the wall and lost my voice for three days. Someone’s foot was wrapped in a napkin and placed on a white porcelain dish. Bon appetit!
What did they think I was? Some kind of an animal!
The others weren’t fairing any better. Some lost their minds and would moan all day and all night. Others banged their heads against their cell walls until their brains swelled up. They’d collapse like fainting goats one after the other in succeeding fashion as if a light switch was flipped. They’d twitch for a few minutes, white foam oozing from their mouths, then be still. I’d listen as their bodies were dragged out and tossed over the ledge. The thud thud thud was like drums as their bones broke on the way down. Sometimes I even counted how long it took. Eleven counts. What did that equate to? A long-long way down, that’s what! And if that wasn’t bad enough, some actually ate from the plate! Too desperate to resist, and with no fight left, they’d cave in to the voracity in their stomachs. Hanging on the cliffs of dehydration and hunger, their malnourished skeletons would bite down on the fleshy meat until all that was left were the bones. They’d stay up all night nibbling on the joints of fingers and toes, trying to get at the juicy marrow.
I was the lucky one. I still had my wits about me despite my ribcage protruding from my shirt like grave posts; gargoyles guarding my future tomb. I’d rather die this way than revert to barbarianism. If I died, I would do so with my dignity still in tact. They could never take that away from me no matter how many pieces they sliced me up in.
My ears were throbbing. She wouldn’t shut up. She had been groaning all night, trapped between the world of the living and the dead, unable to drift to either side. They had an IV with a 10mg drip of penicillin to war of infection while they played with her. Dark leather straps held her by her waist and arms, as if she were even able to move at this point. They had seen to it that that would never happen when they cleaved off both her legs to her knees and sat them sitting upright at the base of the table. They even had her shoes stacked neatly beside them. God these people were sick!
She looked like a lab experiment with all the wires jabbed into her skin. These rods covered her entire naked body and were attached to tiny wire electrodes leading to a generator. Another table for all of their toys was situated directly perpendicular to the furnace. You don’t want to know what sick perversions they had on it. The furnace was kept blazing at a tolerable 2,000 degrees. Don’t ask me how I know this. Just trust me when I say, it’s hot! The tongs they had used to cauterize the wounds hung from a peg on the wall. A puddle of black blood and chunks of human flesh sat in a horrid sump at the base, while bits of bone and dried blood dabbled the metal.
Even from this high, I could smell the decay of rotting flesh perspiring up the walls, tracing the stone steps leading from the pit and into my awaiting nostrils. My stubs latched onto the bars of grease and ash. I had given up any attempt at rattling it loose. The steel bolts were welded deep into the rock. Unless you were Hercules, it wasn’t budging.
Our tomb of persecution wound at a forty-five degree angle in a circular formation. It looked as though the chamber was an underground chasm beneath the mountain, and the Stairwell to Hell, cut directly from the rock.
I paused in my thoughts and slowly lifted my head. The moaning stopped. Had she finally succumbed? Oh, thank God! I tried to peer down to see if she was still moving on the table, but the black smoke emitting up the chamber blurred my vision. I backed away coughing, shielding my mouth with my arm. My eyes screamed as the hot ash burned their fleshy bulbs. There was a rattle of keys at my gate, but I couldn’t see if anyone was there, the smoke was too dense.
I tried to peer through the haze when I saw the white apron approaching.
“No!!” I screamed. “Not again. I promise I won’t try to escape. Just don’t hurt me anymore.”
Rough gloved hands yanked my arms, while another pair detached my chains. I was dragged on my stomach all the way down the steps. A sharp jolt shot up my abdomen as I fell down ten steps at once. I heard the pop then the pain started. They grabbed my wrists and continued to tug me backyards. I screamed the whole way down.