Body Smasher (Two Excerpts) –by Jan Stacy
Zebra Books, Kensington Publishing Corp, 1989
Harrison was starting to feel pretty smug about the whole situation, and wondering why this intelligence stuff was cut out to be such a tough business, when he suddenly heard a sound in the darkened door frame to the right. As he turned around, raising his arms to defend himself, something hard slammed into the back of his head. And as mean little stars danced all around in front of his eyes taunting him not to fall down, another waterfall of pain slammed into his skull, and then another. Then he was sliding down a pit into darkness as black as the heart of midnight
“Love this watch,” a voice was saying as Harrison’s brain came from out of an ocean of black into a swamp of gray. Shadowy figures marched around in front of him. For a few moments he didn’t know who, let alone where, he was.
Harrison’s eyes twitched like mating butterflies as he struggled to open them. Finally they seemed to open about a half inch.
“Ah, our guest is awakening,” a tall thin white- haired man said, walking over until he loomed right over Harrison, who looked up at him with a throbbing skull. He put his hands together and smiled down benignly at Harrison with the look that Norman Bates gave Janet Leigh just before he turned into Psycho.
Harrison tried to move and discovered that he was lashed down with 1/4-inch steel cable hand and foot to a long wooden table of some kind. He struggled hard, suddenly losing control and wanting like a trapped animal to escape. But the steel binds were strong enough to lift a ton. He wasn’t about to snap them.
“Of course it is totally useless to struggle.” Markus smiled. “We have you so secured not even Houdini would get out, though you’re welcome to try. Now, all I want to know is: How much were you able to tell your CIA pals before tonight? How much do they know, Harrison? I’ll be blunt with you. You’re going to die anyway. You know that, I know that. But there’s a hell of a lot of pain between here and dying that I can make you go through if I want to. And I must tell you that both I and my associates here are experts in our own methods of inflicting pain. We have had occasion to use it in the past.”
Harrison struggled with every part of his body, testing the steel cords and seeing just how secure they were. Very.
Bukowski snarled, pounding his fist into his other hand as he stood off to one side glaring down at Harrison with a look of sheer violent madness on his twisted face. Harrison had hoped they’d get a chance to go at it—he just didn’t know he was going to be tied up.
The professor looked at Harrison’s watch, which he had strapped onto his own wrist. “No, we’re already running late. You’ll really have to start telling us what we want to know or . . .” He nodded to Bukowski, who got a happy look on his wide basketball of a face. He walked right up to the right side of the board Harrison was tied down to and reached beneath it turning some bolts. Suddenly the board turned upright, Harrison strapped to the thing in a standing position, his feet tied down as well, so that he was spread-eagled, completely vulnerable.
“Now, please tell me. How much did you tell them? Who’s your contact at the CIA or the FBI or whoever the hell you work for? Who told you there was a bomb in the basement?”
“Hey, whoa, fellow.” Harrison laughed as Bukowski stood just inches away from him, making a fist and holding it up in the air as if inspecting it while he turned the immense paw around like a diamond for Harrison to get a good picture of. Harrison did. And wished he was standing and holding a 12-gauge shotgun with seven shells. Because it looked like, even untied, he’d need it against the monstrous Bulgarian. “I don’t work for the CIA—and if I did I didn’t have time to tell anything to anyone. I’m doing some articles for a wrestling magazine about the Games. I was just snooping around trying to do a story on the equipment used in them,” Harrison lied, telling the story that Parker had concocted for him. Which hadn’t sounded too bad at the time, but which didn’t sound too good while tied to a board in front of terrorists who didn’t believe a single word.
“Very well,” Markus said, pursing his narrow lips together. “You bring it upon yourself. But don’t say I didn’t warn you.” He stood back and motioned for Bukowski to have his fun. The immense wrestler stepped forward and looked down at Harrison.
“So glad to meet you face to face.” Harrison smirked, looking straight into the face of the seven-foot, 485-pound piece of oversized lard. “I’ve seen you in the ring and I just want to say you’re the nastiest bastard I’ve ever witnessed.”
“Thank you,” the Bull sneered, not quite sure what “nastiest” meant but getting the drift. Suddenly his fist was coming down toward Harrison’s nose like an asteroid bent on annihilation. The calloused fist slammed right into the center of his face, and everything inside Harrison’s brain disappeared for a few seconds like a light bulb going out. When he came to a second or two later he was in a world of jello, everything just sort of dripping around him. Then the fist hit again, and again.
Bukowski was an expert in the use of hands-on pain. He had killed many men, hurt many more. He knew just how far to take someone without completely destroying them. Thus he toyed with Harrison, slamming him all over his body with vicious blows that were designed more for pain than for termination. Kidney shots with the elbow, slams with the heel of the hand right into the stomach, followed by a knee for good measure. Blow after blow from fist and foot rained into the American like he was running through a gauntlet of a thousand attackers.
He didn’t know how long it went on. Somehow, after he went out a few times near the start, his mind grew weirdly clear in a dull-witted sort of way. And then he couldn’t go out. No matter how hard the Bull slammed into him. Oh, he felt the pain, all right. Felt the crunching of ribs, the loosening of teeth in the inside of his jaw, his brain slamming around inside his skull like a potato in a blender after Bukowski delivered a dozen hooks, one after another, to each side of his head. God knew what was keeping him alive. He became just a piece of mental sludge, blood coming out of his mouth as his head snapped from side to side. After a while he couldn’t even tell one blow from another or when they began and stopped. Streaks of color that filled his senses were his only indication that the barrage was continuing.
Finally it stopped. He knew it stopped because there was cold water thrown over his face, once, twice, whole buckets of it. He sputtered back to consciousness, his brain and body feeling like they’d just been put through several meat-grinders at once. His eyes rolled back and forth in his skull as he tried to focus on Bukowski, standing a few feet away with a look of supreme satisfaction on his ugly mug, rubbing his red-knuckled hands in one another and covering them with some sort of salve. He had broken a few knuckles in working Harrison over.
“Now, wasn’t that just a barrel of monkeys?” Professor Markus asked as he came into dim view at the other side of the upright wooden frame to which Harrison was strapped.
“Yeah, monkeys.” Harrison made his lips twitch into something approximating a sneer, though he wasn’t at all sure what it actually looked like since his mouth was just a big burning stream of red. His reply sounded like a clever retort. But he wasn’t sure about that. Wasn’t sure about anything except that he felt like he had just been inside an A-bomb blast at ground level.
“Well, now, I’m sure you’re ready to tell me what I want to know,” Professor Markus said with a kindly, totally insincere smile on his red-blistered face.
“Professor—if I could tell you—I swear—swear I would,” Harrison said. “Not—with the—CIA. Just dumb asshole looking for story.”
“Ah, Mr. Harrison.” The Professor sighed, looking upward at the ceiling of cement about ten feet above his head along which conduit piping of every size ran off in all directions. “You leave me no alternatives. But let me warn you that the going-over that Mr. Bukowski just gave you was but an appetizer to what I’m about to inflict. Do you understand what I’m saying?”
“Un’erstan’.” Harrison smiled dumbly through blood-dripping lips. “Bring on main course. Red wine if got any. Or does white wine go with torture?”
(“Un’erstan’.” Harrison smiled dumbly through blood-dripping lips. “Bring on main course. Red wine if got any. Or does white wine go with torture?”)
“How clever, how very clever,” the Professor replied. “Well, we shall see how clever you’ll feel in a few moments.” He motioned for one of his melting associates to push a cart forward. It had a strange-looking electronic device and all kinds of wires with little needles on them coming out of it. Harrison didn’t like the looks of it at all.
“Put them in,” Markus directed one of his underlings, who lifted one of the long syringe-like needles with wires attached to it and held it up so that Harrison could see it. The man smiled with a twisted expression and came forward with the needle, digging it right into the side of Harrison’s neck. The victim winced as the point sank in. He had never liked needles—especially in his neck.
“Now, what we’re doing here is quite interesting,” Professor Markus said in a lecturing tone as if he were in the front of a class teaching a lesson. “You’ve doubtless heard of the pressure points of the body— acupuncture and all that kind of stuff. Well, it’s all true. It really does work. There are deep, hidden, nerve systems in the body that carry energy, and they can be tapped and used for incredible strength and health. But they can also be used to create terrible pain. For the same spots into which my assistant is now putting the needles—” As he spoke the lackey was jabbing needles into Harrison’s elbows and wrists, his knees, the soles of his feet, until within a minute or two he was completely covered with the things, a human pincushion. “Into the meridian points, the junctures and highways of the body’s energy flow. But enough words. Let me demonstrate.”
He walked over to the cart and turned on a machine to which all the wires that were coming out of the needles were attached. “It’s very simple really. We’re feeding electricity into those needles, into your pressure points. Only, instead of using the low-level amount that acupuncturists do, we discovered that if you use, say, a hundred times as much—the results are quite profound.” He turned the dial in front of him hard to the right.
Harrison was suddenly thrust into a world of pain he hadn’t known existed. Not in his entire life. Not when the Bull had just been using him as a punching bag. Not even when he had been tortured years ago—and he had always thought that that had been the worst that a man could endure. Yet this was worse. In a way far worse. For not only was the pain more intense, digging deeper into his nervous system, but it was occurring in every place there was a needle jammed right into his flesh— over three dozen of them. He felt his body jerking and jumping all over the place like some kind of wild animal with rabies. But strapped to the board all he could do was flail against the wood and the steel bonds, his wrists and ankles cutting into the cables as he slammed out of control. He didn’t know how long it lasted as he had no longer had a mind beyond the perception of pain, pure and unadulterated.
Then suddenly his body went limp, and he was just hanging there on the board like some kind of dead thing ready for exhibit in the hall of some dusty museum.
“There, wasn’t that interesting?” Professor Markus commented as he looked fondly over the top of the control panel beneath him. He waited until Harrison’s eyes slowly opened, until the head raised up a little. Until Harrison actually found the balls deep inside to mutter, “My toaster’s done worse.”
“Oh, has it? Has it fucking now?” the Professor screamed, apparently not able to take a joke when it came to inflicting torture. He turned the dial straight up on the counter beneath him. And again Harrison’s body immediately began jerking around wildly like there were a thousand little aliens inside of him all trying to eat their way out at once. His back arched up and his mouth opened wide. And he couldn’t even tell for sure if he was screaming or not, but he figured he was. Then he was transported into a world of pain few men know. And like enlightenment, those that do usually can’t talk about it afterwards.
“Wake up, dog, it’s time for more,” a voice was screaming in his ear. Then Harrison felt a whole bucketful of freezing water slam into his bloody face and chest. And in spite of himself, he was pulled from a dark place where at least he felt nothing to a bright, very painful one. He opened his swollen eyes to see Bukowski standing in front of him. And this time there were brass knuckles on each hand. The big bull-like face snorted contemptuously at him. Perhaps Harrison wouldn’t have such smart-ass things to say after the next session. Perhaps he’d have nothing to say.
“Do what you want with him,” said Professor Markus, standing off to the side. Harrison couldn’t see the bastard, his neck was too swollen to move, but he knew the voice. He’d never forget it. Not that “never” was going to be very long. “He’s clearly not going to tell us anything. Kill him—and dump him in the river.” Then there were footsteps and the sounds of several men walking off. Harrison heard the peal of a foghorn from a boat nearby, and then the slapping of waves against a pier.
“You and me, we have some fun,” the Bulgarian said, stepping forward. The hand with the brass knucks came down and slammed into Harrison’s jaw. And though he would have sworn he couldn’t even feel any more pain, he discovered to his displeasure that he could. A lot_more. For as the knuckles slammed into his ribs, his stomach, his sides—he could feel bones fracturing, blood dripping from myriad gashes in the flesh. The guy was going to pound him into hamburger – economy pack. Just add “Shake N’ Bake,” cook—feeds a family of ten for a year.
Harrison tried to hang on, even accepting the pain, as he didn’t want to slide into the blackness that he kept dangling on the edge of. He was afraid he wouldn’t come out of it. But when Bukowski worked his way up his body with the knucks, found his head and began banging it back and forth between his fists like a boxer working on a speed bag, he couldn’t hang on. Harrison felt a tearing pain in each side of his skull. And then he was back in the blackness, grinding and terrible.
When he next came to, he was amazed that he was still alive. His body didn’t feel like it existed, just a throbbing piece of bloody gristle that was ready for the worms and crows.