excerpt from Madman Chronicles: The Warrior, chapter 64, The Trouble with Luis
The patron’s handsome Native American face was a study of agony, eyes slammed tightly shut, voices of the centuries howling through his mind. To have found his Yllai after all these decades in the hands of her raper was very nearly more than he could stand. A quick and painful act of vengeance was required. Wild in his fury, he sentenced the rapist to be dealt with by the capable and practiced hands of Luis Vasquez, a master with no equal in the art of torture.
of one’s evil
is but a water mark
the flood of another
The Trouble with Luis
‘There’s blood in my head,’ he thought, ‘An’ it’s three feet thick. An’ blood in my hands… too.. too much blood. Upside..upside. Upside down. My arm, oh God, my arm. Gotta get outa here. The walls, they’re closin’ in. I’m too fuckin’ scared to scream. That bitch… that bitch is gonna pay. Oh yeah, she’s gonna pay big time. Don’t see how he could hurt me anymore. My arm’s broke an’ I’m tied down like Jesus. What’s he doin’ with that camera, some kinda fuckin’ movie? Oh God, I hurt. This spik bastard has to have a weakness. I’ll wait, jus’ wait… Oh shit! Oh fuck! Here he comes!’
Luis set the tripod and adjusted the focus on the video camera. These caverns with their ingenious hoists and pulleys were fine for the business of torture but they just weren’t designed for movie making. There were no movies, no electricity, none of that when all of this had been built. ‘It would have been a good time to be alive,’ thought Luis, ‘a time fit for a man like me. Ah well, I will learn the buttons and the switches, just like I have learned everything else in my life, by using them’. He could have had someone else run the movie machine but it was his experience that most men didn’t have the stomach to even watch what was about to take place in this hidden cavern in the vault. Or else they enjoyed it too much, took pleasure from it. Luis chose not to be around such men. There was a piece of work to do here and he would do it. It was as simple as that. This man had hurt the Patron. For that sin he would pay dearly. Making him pay was the job at hand and Luis was just the man for the job. Oh yes, he always preferred to work alone.
This was Luis’ first experience with film making. In the past, the Patron would come watch for a while if he decided to take a personal interest in the proceedings. He was not a cruel man and most times chose not to watch. He knew the value of punishment, that a man in his position must mete it out. Luis had never witnessed the Patron partaking of any personal joy or fulfillment when punishment was administered. With this man it was different. Yes, he would be the exception to the general rule. The Patron would be very busy tonight, he had told Luis. This was an event he preferred to be able to savor over and over and it had to be taken care of immediately. So… the camera and the tripod. ‘Ah well,’ Luis thought, ‘It will prolong the man’s agony. Each time I change positions I will have to readjust the camera. He will be forced to wait, left dangling in my web. He must be a very bad man, something to do with the new girl. Ah well, torture is a fine art and I am a Picasso. My knife is my brush.’
Lance was suspended in a trestle-work, a rack of sorts. Luis liked to think of it as his web. Lance’s body hung spread-eagle, upside down. His feet and hands were fixed by tethers to the four corners of the works. There were a series of gears and checks to adjust the tightness of each tether singularly and a master gear to adjust them all at once. Lance began to moan loudly, a pitiful whining sound, almost liquid, slobbering from his mouth. Luis reached out and tightened the master gear a single click. This brought a blood-curdling scream from Lance.
Luis shook his head sadly. This one would not last. There was no bottom to the man. The Patron would surely be cheated of the satisfaction of a full treatment. De’ Angelo, now there was a good one. Most men from the South, that Luis had seen, could endure pain and come up spitting. They had bottom. And maybe this Wulf they spoke of, he sounded like a good one, the one the Patron referred to as Brother. Then there was the large one, the dark man. Luis allowed himself the luxury of a small smile as he thought of the giant. One day the large one would cross the Patron. On that day he would be handed over to Luis’ device. He would be careful with that one, guard against him in every way. He was a very dangerous hombre. Luis was a patient man and all he had to do was wait.
Ah, but the work at hand. Luis had hoped to save the iron masque for the taking of the tongue but the weak one kept crying out and sobbing. The masque would contain and quiet him, of that Luis was sure. Luis understood the masque as well as a man could hope to understand any tool of his trade. He had personally experienced its application a full score of years before and he would never forget the experience. The upper part of the masque screwed to the top of the head like a crown, while a hinged apparatus fell down to engage the chin. When the head and face were fixed in the iron masque, a small tubular guillotine affair would be forced into the mouth. The tongue would have nowhere to go except into the jaws of the guillotine. Once the tube was fastened to the masque, a simple lever would set the guillotine in motion. It would grip the tongue, stretch it out slowly and painfully until the guillotine severed it at its base. This routine was accomplished with much choking and gagging, the breaking of teeth. Once the masque and guillotine were in place, the subject was unable to cry out without choking himself. This was a benefit Luis especially appreciated, since he abhorred loud noises of any kind. Torture, in Luis’ opinion, should be endured in silence.
Luis zoomed the camera focus in on Lance’s head, then moved away from the tripod. He approached the man from behind and passed his knife before his eyes. “No, no, no!” Lance screamed. “Don’ use my knife! It ain’, it ain’, oh God, don’ use my knife!” Luis cocked his head and looked into the eyes of the man. He stroked Lance’s long brown hair to calm him, then jerked his head back and scalped him in one deft movement. His eyes never left the eyes of the man, even when they rolled back in his head as he passed out.
Luis held the bleeding scalp up in full view of the camera lens before laying it on a side table. Luis had never met a man he couldn’t look in the eye. He had stared silently into the eyes of the men who had taken his tongue. Many years later he had stared into those same eyes as he took their lives. The eye of the camera though, it bothered him. It was as if it were sucking at his soul, stealing the dark secrets there and in some unfathomable way compromising his art.
He took the iron masque from the table and screwed the crown in place. The man didn’t move but Luis knew he was alive because small pools of blood formed as he tightened the screws into his skull. The face lock squeaked as he lifted it up and clamped it firmly to the man’s jaw. Luis went to the table and returned with a can of oil, which he used to lubricate the moving parts of the masque and guillotine. He tightened the screws into the man’s jaw and adjusted the framework to accept a face with a wide-open mouth. Luis set the oilcan back on the table. He gave a slight shrug for the benefit of the camera and returned to the man with the tiny guillotine in one hand, the knife in the other.
He tapped Lance’s nose with the guillotine a few times and got no response. He shrugged his shoulders again and buried the blade of the knife in the man’s hand. As the man screamed, Luis slammed the guillotine into his mouth. It was a good scream, perhaps the perfect scream. It positioned the tongue just so, right where it needed to be. Luis checked and tightened all the thumbscrews on the iron masque as the man trembled in horror. He pulled the knife from the flesh of the man’s hand and watched as he choked and gagged, his body writhing and jumping, pulling against the tethers, shaking the trestle works.
The man held his eyes tightly shut as Luis dangled the knife above his head, allowing the blood to drip off the blade and form twin pools in the hollows of the man’s eye sockets. He blinked the blood away and closed his eyes tightly again. ‘This will not do,’ Luis thought as he listened to the sounds of the man’s eyes clicking and choking. He took a folding chair and set it up beneath the man’s head. He sat down and clamped the head between his knees as he pulled the eyelids up by their lashes. The knife came to his hand and, with a few deft cuts, the lids no longer belonged to the face of the man. Luis held the two spidery looking pieces of flesh up before the eye of the camera. He stood up and pushed the chair back with his foot before setting the man’s eyelids on the table next to his scalp.
The weak ones gave Luis a pain in the ass. They wreaked whatever havoc they chose, then howled like jackals in the jaws of the wolf when the tables were turned. Luis checked off the list in his mind. The tongue must be taken while the man is alive, since the integrity of the skull and face must be preserved. The taking of the skin was the fine art. This was where Luis excelled. This one was a unique challenge, since the lines of the cuts would be dictated by the lines of the man’s tattoo work. The coils of the snakes began at the navel and the crack of the man’s ass. They flowed into flames which licked at the base of his chin and the mounts of his ears.
‘If he were only strong,’ Luis thought, ‘It would be so simple, scalp, take the skin, castrate and remove tongue. But this man, he is weak. He will not be around for the best of it. This one won’t last. .Nah…’ Luis casually flipped a lever on the masque and the man’s tongue was gripped and pulled taut. It hung dripping from the masque. There was a small tinging sound as the guillotine severed it and released it to drop on the floor. Luis picked it up and held it in front of the camera. He twisted the man’s head around to face the lens and dangled his bloody tongue before his tortured lidless eyes.
Luis carried the tongue to the nearby table and dropped it into a large jar of formaldehyde. It left a series of tiny blood trails as it sank to the bottom. He picked up the eyelids and dropped them in as well, wondering if they would float. They did, like palm fronds on the face of the ocean. Luis saw this as a good omen. He felt the man’s eyes watching him. Good. That was as it should be. Maybe the man was stronger than he thought. Luis hardly ever wished he could speak, words having brought him the humiliation of his life, the taking of his tongue. And, in Luis’ opinion, actions spoke much louder than words in most cases. But now, just now, he would like to tell the man, ‘The best is yet to come. You have not begun to suffer yet.’
There was a fair amount of bleeding from the hand and scalp but that should cease when the man was turned over. Luis turned a large hand crank and the trestle works wound slowly around until the man was upright. Luis never thought of his victims by name. In most cases he didn’t even know their names. They were inanimate things to him, a blank canvas for the working of his art. He took a bucket of soapy liquid from under the table, the same liquid, in fact, that Misty had used to clean Angelo’s wound. The irony was not lost on Luis as he dipped a paintbrush into the bucket and used it to bathe the edges of the tattoo where the cuts would be made. The Artist required a clean canvas. The water was cold and goose flesh covered the man’s skin. Luis stopped abruptly and dropped the paintbrush into the bucket. ‘The camera,’ he thought, ‘The bleeding camera.’ He closed his eyes for a moment to compose himself, then went to make the necessary adjustments.
©graphic artwork & words conceived by & property of
Tom (WordWulf) Sterner©