Chant #2, Silent Killer (3 Excerpts)
by David Cross (George C. Chesbro)
Jove Publishing, 1986, ISBN-10: 0515086010
“Probably here,” Patreaux said, putting the tip of his index finger beneath a tiny dot in the Pacific, just off the coast of Chile.
“It’s all supposition, Chant. Rumor.”
“What do you think is on that island, Gerard?”
Now Patreaux turned. His face was slightly ashen, and his mouth was set in a firm line. “The name of the island in Spanish means ‘Place of Winds.’ We call it Torture Island. If our information is correct, there’s a kind of torture institute out there.”
“A torture institute?”
The Swiss nodded. “Yes—by which I mean a facility devoted to the refining and improvement of techniques and tools for torture. Just what the world needs. There are governments, and even some private organizations, who’ll pay a lot of money for that kind of information and training. It’s run by a prince of a man named Dr. Richard Krowl; he’s an American who was thrown out of medical school for conducting unauthorized experiments.”
“What kind of experiments?”
“We’ve never been able to find out; the record is sealed, and the school won’t talk. However, I think it’s safe to assume that the experiments would have done someone like Josef Mengele proud. Anyway, Krowl must have seen that there was money to be made in the torture business— and he’s making it. Some of the worst torturers in the world show up on that island for Krowl’s seminars and demonstrations. He runs a pretty sophisticated operation in pain and death.”
“I wouldn’t think governments that torture would suffer any shortage of would-be torturers,” Chant said. “And almost any physician with a streak of the sadist in him will make a fairly decent torture doctor. Why pay Krowl? What’s so special about him?”
Patreaux shrugged sadly. “I suppose he’s just the best there is at what he does. He handles very special cases. If the authorities want to extract information from a very tough man—somebody like you, for example—there could be a problem. You’d evade and defy. They wouldn’t care what you ended up looking like, but they wouldn’t want you to die before you told them what they wanted to know—and they’d want to make certain the information was accurate. That would take some doing. Tough, resistant people like you, who require kid-glove treatment, give torturers fits. Also, there’s only so much pain a person can endure before passing out, or dying.”
“Which is why we have torture doctors,” Chant said in the same, flat voice.
“Right. A good torture doctor can maximize pain in a victim, while assuring that the person doesn’t die before his torturers want him to. If our information is correct, Krowl gets special cases from a lot of different countries. He conducts the torture sessions while torturers whose governments have paid for them to be there to watch and listen. At least, that’s what we suspect goes on. He doesn’t exactly publish a newsletter. The island is isolated, and his operation there is protected by the countries whose interests he serves.”
“A very good question, and one we’d dearly love to know the answer to. Some, like the seventy I mentioned, would be obvious customers, but we think Krowl may have some other customers who aren’t so obvious—both East and West bloc. That’s what Harry was working on. If we could get hard evidence that major powers, communist or democratic, have ever sent—or do send—prisoners to Krowl, the publicity would be devastating. The uproar would probably be enough to shut down Torture Island.”
“Harry must have thought I’d be interested in the good Dr. Krowl and his doings.”
“I don’t know, Chant,” Patreaux said softly. “God, I wish you could give Krowl and his torturers a bit of special attention, but everything I’ve ever heard about the island indicates that there’s no way. Putting Krowl out of business is a job for civilized nations. There’s nothing one individual— not even John Sinclair—can do. As I said, you couldn’t even get on the island.”
Chant knew all about drug therapy, and was confident that he was successfully resisting the questioning that took place while he floated in the pink and green sky. Since his captors would be well aware that they were unlikely to get what they wanted out of him with drugs, it occurred to Chant that he was being tentatively probed, softened up.
Of course, he was being transported out of Holland— illegally, through secret channels. There was a sensation of flight—of many flights. Each time when he would drift toward consciousness he would feel the sharp sting of a needle slipping into his veins. More Pentothal and scopolamine, questions and his answers. Resist. Talk nonsense. He was conscious of time passing, but without any frame of reference he could not tell minutes from hours, days from weeks. There were only the drugs and the questions.
He did not tell them anything.
When he finally regained consciousness fully for the first time since being gassed in the bare cell in Amsterdam, he found himself in a straitjacket—the ties on the arms looped around and secured behind the straight-backed chair he was sitting in. His bare feet were tied to the chair legs. The chair had been placed in the center of a room with no windows. The table before him was bare except for a hand-cranked electrical generator. Cables from the generator’s terminals snaked over the edge of the table and along the floor; the ends were clipped to Chant’s left earlobe and his right ankle.
Sitting in the chair on the opposite side of the table was a portly man in a sweat-stained safari jacket. His eyes were mud-brown, cold, intelligent but cruel. They were the eyes of a hate-filled fanatic.
“Hello, Maheu,” Chant said easily to the man who had once been responsible for overseeing all CIA covert operations in the entire region of Southeast Asia. “It’s been a long time. How’re tricks?”
“I finally got you, you son of a bitch traitor,” the big man said in a hoarse, gravelly voice. “I always knew I would, sooner or later.”
Chant yawned loudly. Maheu flushed, and his hand suddenly darted out and cranked the generator. Electricity flashed through Chant’s body, seizing his muscles and bringing him up stiffly in the chair; a steel fist squeezed his heart, while fingers of pain pulled his testicles.
Then it was over. Maheu took his hand off the crank; the current stopped, and Chant slumped in the chair.
That was just a taste of what he was going to have to endure if he was to accomplish the task he had come here for, Chant thought. His agony was just beginning. Yet he had prepared his mind well, and he was ready. “You really light up my life, asshole,” Chant said in the same easy tone. “I always knew you were an amateur in a job that was way too big for you. I’m really surprised they still let you hang around.”
“I’ll kill you, Sinclair.”
“So kill me, and then you’ll really put your ass in a sling. If you and the other big boys wanted me dead, I wouldn’t be sitting here now, would I?”
Maheu’s eyes clouded with frustration and rage. His fingers reached out and touched the wooden crank on the generator, but he did not turn it. “Where are they, Sinclair?”
Chant smiled. “Now, what on earth could you be talking about?”
“The Cooked Goose documents. You have files, affidavits from men you’ve talked to. I want to know where they are.”
“My people know I was captured, you fat idiot. By now then know I’m missing, and they’ll know you have me. No, Maheu. Keeping my secrets, having something to hold over your head and the others’, is what’s going to keep me alive.”
“That’s what you think, traitor. Everybody says you can’t be broken, that you’ll die before you talk.” Maheu’s voice was a sibilant, hoarse whisper of hate. “That’s bullshit. I’ll break you myself, and it’s going to give me more pleasure than you can imagine. You don’t have any ‘people’ waiting on you; you play everything too close to the vest. You’re a solo act—always have been. Anything you’ve got is sitting in a safe deposit box somewhere in the world, and you’re going to tell me where.
“Where are the documents, Sinclair?! What arrangements have you made?!”
“Why not try asking ‘pretty please’?”
“I’ll fry your fucking brains!” Maheu shouted, reaching for the crank on the generator, turning it slightly.
“Be my guest,” Chant said through clenched teeth after the charge had ripped through his body. “Fry my brains, and you fry your ass. When those documents are released, and I think you know they will be, you and your buddies are going to be hanged by the balls.”
The words got the reaction Chant had been looking for; Maheu gripped the crank on the generator and began to turn it. An initial flash of pain became a white hot buzzsaw that ripped through his body. Maheu turned the crank even faster, and Chant knew that there was a very good chance that the other man, in his rage, would now kill him, regardless of the consequences. But he had wanted, needed, Maheu to begin cranking the electricity through him, for he needed the involuntary seizure of his muscles and spasmodic jerking of his body to cover what he was doing.
He used the ancient technique of po-chaki to seal a part of his consciousness away from the terrible pain; it was a mental sanctuary where he could, in effect, hide a small part of himself from agony for short periods of time, an eye in a hurricane of torment where he could marshal his kai, think, plan, and act. With po-chaki, a master could treat pain as no more than a temporarily distracting nervous sensation, almost a sister to pleasure, that was irrelevant to kai—power and purpose, the focusing of will. Actual physical damage was, of course, the real danger, and a very real possibility, but Chant could not do anything about that, and he dismissed it from his thoughts.
The electricity kept coming, coursing through him, grinding his bones, wrenching his muscles, slamming him up and down in the chair. He could feel his heart palpitating, at the same time as he felt his joints popping, his stomach and bowels churning.
Still, Chant maintained his concentration in the pocket created by po-chaki. In the brief milliseconds between pulses of electricity he performed satpi, first dislocating both shoulders, then inching to his right, bringing one arm up over the back of the chair even as the electricity burned in him.
He lost po-chaki almost at the exact moment Maheu stopped cranking the generator, and Chant moaned and slumped forward, even as he brought his shoulder joints back into their sockets.
He had done what he had to do.
“Any man can be broken,” Maheu said through clenched teeth. His jowled face glistened with sweat, and his safari jacket had turned a dark, stained brown. “You’ve caused me a lot of misery, and now I’ve returned the favor. I’m going to keep cranking this thing until you get smart. All you have to do to make me stop is to tell me what I want to know.”
Chant spat out the taste of vomit, slowly raised his head. Visible behind the sweating Maheu, the shocked face of a young man stared at him through an open porthole in the door. “All right,” Chant said wearily, “let’s talk.”
“Good,” Maheu grunted with obvious satisfaction as he leaned back in his chair and folded his hands on his protruding belly. “Let’s hear what the legendary, indestructible John Sinclair has to say.”
“Well, do you remember what I did to that Ranger bodyguard of yours who came after me with a knife?”
Maheu frowned, unfolded his hands, and quickly leaned forward in his chair, causing the wood to groan. “You want more electricity, Sinclair?”
“I could have killed you then but, as you know, I needed you. That was a long time ago. Now I don’t need you as a messenger, so I’m going to do to you what I did to that Ranger.”
Maheu’s eyes went wide, the whites showing all around the pupils. He started to reach for the crank, and Chant tensed—but waited. Then Maheu abruptly jumped up, knocking over his chair, and stalked around the table. “You fucker! You want to play games with me?! I’ve been nice to you so far, but now I’m going to put those electrodes on the tip of your tongue and your prick. Five minutes from now, you won’t be able to talk fast enough!”
Maheu slapped Chant hard, then reached for the electrode on his earlobe. He saw Chant make a slight shrugging and rocking motion, then gasped in astonishment as Chant brought his arms up over his head, freeing them. An instant later the laces on the arm restraints had been removed, the chair legs had been snapped with a flexing of Chant’s knees, and the man with the iron-colored eyes and hair was standing before him. A hand shot out of the sleeve of the straitjacket, gripping Maheu’s neck.
The nails of the middle and third fingers on both of Chant’s hands were kept stone-hard by the regular application of special herbs, and always sharpened to a razor edge. Now these two nails on his right hand sliced easily into the flesh of Maheu’s neck, next to the jugular.
The young guard who had been standing outside the door recovered from his initial shock and shouted. Then he flung open the door to the room and, closely followed by two other burly men in uniform, burst into the room and circled Chant, who found two submachine guns and a pistol equipped to fire tranquilizer darts aimed at his chest. Two more guards rushed into the room. Chant turned to them and smiled.
“Send me somebody else. This guy and I never got along well.”
THIS TIME CHANT awoke to find himself crucified on a cold stone wall, his wrists and ankles tightly gripped by shackles on chains that ran from sockets in the wall. He was cold, colder than he could ever remember being in his life. He was hungry, terribly thirsty. His breath misted in the frigid air as his cramped lungs struggled to draw in air, and the lower half of his naked body, like the stone floor below his feet, was covered with his own waste, involuntarily voided while he had been unconscious.
There was nothing he could do but hang while his muscles cramped and his lungs labored, and he froze.
The cold numbed him. With an effort approaching desperation, Chant struggled to achieve, and remain in, a state of po-chaki during his periods of tormented consciousness, but the mental trance-state would not hold; each time it got smaller in space and time, shrinking under the constant onslaught of cold, hunger, and thirst. Po-chaki worked very well for enduring relatively brief periods of agony, but even this ancient, refined technique broke down under the incessant torture of crucifixion and freezing. His tongue seemed to swell, filling the back of his throat to choke him and make it even more difficult to breathe. Occasionally, mercifully, he would pass out.
Had he been left crucified for too long a period of time, he would have died as his lungs eventually collapsed under their impossible burden and he suffocated. On occasion, machinery behind the wall would rumble and the chains would loosen, snaking out from their steel sockets and gradually lowering him to the frigid stone of the cell floor. Exhausted, his resources drained, he would lie there in his own waste and desperately gasp for breath.
He must wait. He must wait. He must wait. What began as a silent refrain became a command. They did not mean to kill him—not yet. The cold, crucifixion, waste, hunger, and thirst were just a means of getting his attention before they started asking the inevitable questions.
He must wait.
Then, always just before he had quite caught his breath, the chains would retract into the wall, inexorably dragging him up and pinning him to the cold stone.
He began to pass out more frequently.
Chant heard the machinery behind the wall begin to rumble. He barely had time to straighten out his limbs before he was dragged across the floor, lifted up, and pinned on the wall. Instantly, his heart began to hammer, his lungs to hurt.
A man, dressed all in white, appeared in the open doorway. The man appeared normal—except for his eyes, which were out of focus and glassy, as if the man were staring inward at some terrible nightmare from which he could not escape. His jaws were slightly slack, and a thin stream of saliva glistened in the fluorescent light as it ran down over his chin.
Chant sensed danger, and he instinctively tested his shackles; there was no play in them whatsoever.
“Uh, top of the morning,” Chant said to the man. “What do you do here?”
The man in white smacked his lips, then stepped into the cell. Like some kind of insect fearing the light, he sidled around the wall, back pressed against the stone, unfocused black eyes directed toward Chant’s belly. He came down the length of the cell, paused for almost a minute in the corner, then abruptly walked forward and stopped in front of Chant. Suddenly, without a sound, the man in white lunged forward and wrapped his arms around Chant’s waist, locking his wrists at the base of Chant’s spine.
Chant screwed his eyes shut, shook his head from side to side, and groaned loudly in revulsion and pain as he felt the man’s teeth sinking into the flesh of his stomach, just to the left of his navel. Chant bucked back and forth, trying to shake the man off him but the wristlock—and teeth— held him tight. The man bit deeper, working his teeth back and forth, gouging skin and muscle. White-hot pain flashed through Chant’s stomach.
Then the man released his grip around Chant’s waist and snapped his head back, tearing loose a bloody chunk of Chant’s stomach. Chant’s vision blurred, then came into focus again. He watched in horror that momentarily transcended his pain as the man gripped the ragged flesh with both hands, shoved it into his mouth and began to chew hungrily. With blood covering his white clothes, smeared over his mouth, chin, and the tip of his nose, the man slumped down in a corner, hunched his shoulders like some beast, and proceeded to enjoy the flesh.
Chant looked down at the wound in his stomach, which was bleeding profusely, sending rivulets of warm blood down into his groin and onto his legs to drip off his toes onto the stone below his suspended feet. The bleeding would be good if it did not last too long, Chant thought, for it would cleanse the wound. On the other hand, such thoughts might well be irrelevant.
The man in white had chewed and swallowed the flesh, and was hungrily eyeing Chant’s stomach once again. He slowly rose to his feet and came forward, mouth open showing bloody teeth, arms outstretched to grab and grip….
Suddenly, from somewhere out in the corridor, a shrill whistle blew. The man in white stopped as suddenly as if he had suddenly come up against an invisible wall. His strange, unfocused eyes rolled in fear, then he wheeled and sprinted from the cell, turning right and immediately disappearing from sight.
A few moments later a tall, rangy man with carefully cut, shoulder-length yellow hair strode purposefully into the cell, the heels of his polished black shoes clicking on the stone. He wore a white coat over a white shirt and tie, black slacks. A stethoscope hung around his neck. The man stopped a few feet away from Chant, studied the crucified body with eyes that were a very pale green, almost white. Then he averted his gaze and made a few notes on a clipboard he carried with him.
A sizable retinue trailed into the cell after him, stopped, and crowded together at the opposite end, a respectable distance away from the new man in white who stood below Chant. Chant counted a dozen men, some in different types of uniforms and others in ill-fitting civilian clothes, who he assumed were the facility’s current crop of “guest torturers.” There were also five men dressed in brown slacks and brown T-shirts, wearing revolvers in holsters hanging at their hips
“Dr. Richard Krowl, I presume,” Chant said easily as the white-coated man began to work on the bite wound, stanching the flow of blood, cleansing it.
“How do you like it here, Mr. Sinclair?” the man replied without looking up from the wound, his conversational tone matching Chant’s.
“It’s not Club Med.”
“Did you expect to wake up in Club Med?”
“On the other hand, there’s never a dull moment. You never know what’s going to happen next.”
“Mmmm.” The man with the pale green eyes and long yellow hair finished cleansing the wound, then quickly and expertly closed the wound with four stainless steel butterfly clips. Only then did he look up. “I suppose you find this whole experience upsetting.”
“I try to keep an open mind. After all, I’d had my dinner, so I suppose your resident cannibal had to have his. Have you considered putting him on a vegetarian diet?”
“Ah, you should have suggested that to his former captors,” Krowl said as he again dipped into his bag and removed a shiny syringe filled with clear liquid. “In the course of the rather lengthy and inefficient interrogations this man and his comrades underwent, human flesh—each other’s—was all there was to eat. It drove him quite mad, and I’m afraid he developed a rather exclusive taste for it. After I found out what they wanted to know, I found it useful to keep him around.”
“He certainly does add local color.”
Krowl smiled faintly. He carefully balanced the syringe over the open edges of the satchel top, then proceeded to probe and explore Chant’s musculature with his fingers, tapping, thumbing, probing, occasionally stopping to listen to Chant’s heart and lungs with the stethoscope.
He was good, Chant thought, with an expert—even gentle—touch. It was precisely the skill betrayed by the gentle touch that could cause exquisite, prolonged agony. Chant suspected that the torture doctor was quite capable of delivering as much agony in ways that were … creative.
Chant looked up and stared impassively back at the faces that were staring at him. Chant also wondered about Richard Krowl. The man displayed much more than the rudimentary skills possessed by most torture doctors. He appeared to be highly intelligent, and even displayed some wit, macabre though it might be. Krowl was not exactly what Chant had expected.
Krowl finished his physical examination, picked up the syringe and shot a fine stream of fluid into the air. “I’m giving you a tetanus shot. We certainly wouldn’t want you to get an infection.”
“Thanks,” Chant said dryly. “I was really worried about that.”
Krowl looked around at the other faces, took a deep breath, then slowly walked back toward Chant. He stopped a few paces away, once again turned around to face the others.
“All of you are here for one specific purpose,” the torture doctor continued evenly. “You are here to learn how to extract information from unwilling subjects who may well be tougher, cleverer, and more devious than you are.
While you’re here as my guests, you will follow my instructions to the letter.” Krowl paused, sighed, and rested his hands on his hips. “Are there any comments or questions on this policy?”
Krowl waited. When he was met by nothing but silence, he turned around to face Chant, a small smile of satisfaction on his face.
“Good classroom control, Doctor,” Chant said. His lungs hurt and the muscles around his rib cage were beginning to cramp, but he managed to keep his voice steady.
“Lesson number one,” Krowl said in the same even tone, turning back to face the guards and torturers. “Terror is what makes a subject talk, and terror is a function of the mind, not the body. Pain, of course, feeds terror, but the human nervous system can be overloaded with pain much easier and quicker than any of you in this room think. It is the anticipation of pain that eats away at the soul and breaks the will. Whatever is done to the subject, it is most important that the subject believe that there are worse things that can happen. Terror, not the heated tong, is your most important ally when it comes to extracting accurate information from men or women who are very strong, perhaps trained to resist torture, and who fully expect to die.
There were a few murmurs of assent. Krowl nodded, pointing back at Chant.
“Take the man hanging on this wall as a case in point,” Krowl continued. “He displays extraordinary emotional control, is defiant, and even makes jokes about his situation. However, what he says and how he seems to react to pain, threats, and graphic suggestions as to what may be done to him isn’t important. It’s his mind that must be worked on; his mind, his terror, is your ally, and this man’s mind is now beginning to work against him. Remember that your prisoner is under your absolute control, so there’s no need to be impatient.
Richard Krowl abruptly wheeled around, stepped up to Chant, and again began probing his body with his fingers. This time his deft, expert touch sought and found sensitive nerve bundles. Chant willed himself to be still, and silent, under the torture doctor’s knifelike stabs.
“However,” Krowl continued evenly as he stepped back and motioned for Bernard to step forward, “there are times when the simple application of brute force as punishment is appropriate. This is such a time. Bernard, please give Mr. Sinclair a demonstration of your skills.”
Chant went deep into himself, focusing his concentration and kai in the center of his body as the man with the sandy hair and gleaming scalp bounced a few times on the balls of his feet, then went down into a karate fighting stance. One of his feet shot out in a side kick, landing on Chant’s stomach a few inches to the right of the bite wound. Chant used his kai to absorb the blow, diffuse its force. Despite the tremendous shock of the blow absorbed by his body, his face revealed nothing. Even as the thud of flesh against flesh echoed in the chamber, Chant gazed impassively back at Bernard.
The American blinked in disbelief, took a step backward. His face darkened with blood and his eyes clouded with rage. He uttered a sharp cry, leapt forward, and slammed his fist against Chant’s ribs.
That was the last blow his kai could absorb, Chant thought. The American did more than strike many poses. He knew his karate, and he was good; the foot and hand blows had been focused and powerful. At the next one, his bones would begin to break.
Still, Chant’s face revealed nothing.
“Enough, Bernard!” Krowl snapped as the other man, enraged, began to wind up for a roundhouse kick that might have crushed Chant’s thigh, chest, or skull.
For a moment Chant thought Bernard might ignore the command and fire his kick. But he didn’t. Still trembling with rage, his dark brown eyes smoldering with hate and humiliation, he relaxed his body and stepped back.
“You are quite a remarkable man, Mr. Sinclair,” Krowl said easily, staring up at Chant. Now there was a new element in his voice and eyes. There was respect—and quickening interest. “Often, the reputations of subjects who come under my care are overblown, magnified by the emotions of the authorities who have failed to deal with them successfully. You may be an exception. Perhaps many of the things these gentlemen say and believe about you are true. I must say that I’ve read your dossier with minimal attention, and listened to the stories with half an ear. That will no longer be the case. It’s beginning to appear that you will make a most interesting subject. There may be much I can learn from you.”
Chant wanted to say something, but he was no longer certain of his control so he remained silent. His face, however, remained impassive, revealing nothing of his terrible exhaustion and suffering.
At a signal from Krowl, the torturers and guards began to file out of the cell. The heavyset man with the dark, swarthy complexion stopped in the doorway, turned back to face Chant, and mouthed the words: I would crush your balls.
Chant blew him a kiss.
A HALF HOUR later the chains came out from the wall, allowing him to lie on the floor, breathe normally, and rest his severely cramping muscles.
He must wait.
The respite lasted less than fifteen minutes. Then the machinery rumbled, the chains retracted, and Chant was pulled back up to be crucified on the stone wall.
Although there were no windows in the cell, and the fluorescent lights were always on, he found that he was able to tell day from night by the relative brightness in the corridor outside the small porthole in the heavy wooden door. It was night.
A key rattled in the lock. The door abruptly swung open, and a figure in a flowing, cowled green robe glided almost silently into the cell. The figure, face hidden in the deep folds of the cowl, stopped before Chant and stared up at him for some time.
“Is it Halloween?” Chant asked.
Delicate hands with long fingers emerged from the heavy sleeves of the robe, reaching up and pulling back the cowl. Chant found himself looking down into the face of one of the most beautiful women he had ever seen. He put her age at around thirty, and her almost translucent olive skin and rich, black hair made him think that she was South American, perhaps Brazilian or Colombian. Her black eyes were large and beautiful, yet oddly blank—as if they were one-way mirrors behind which she was hiding and watching him.
The woman undid the sash around her waist and shrugged. The robe slid off her shoulders to the floor, and she stepped out of it to stand a short distance away from him, the firm nipples of her bare breasts just touching the flesh above the hair of his genitals. His skin fluttered from the touch of the nipples, and Chant heaved a sigh as he stared down into the vacant face.
“All appearances to the contrary,” he said wryly, “I’m betting that you are definitely not an angel of mercy.”
The woman stepped back a pace, reached into the back pocket of her skintight leather pants and drew out a large, snow-white feather that was more than a foot long. Holding the end of the thick, colorless shaft with her right hand, she used the long fingers of her left to smooth the feather. Her face remained blank as she continued to stare vacantly at a spot just above Chant’s navel.
“Who are you?” Chant asked, feeling increasingly uneasy.
The woman’s response was to reach out and begin to lightly stroke Chant’s body with the tip of the feather, concentrating on the lower belly and the swollen flesh around the clamped bite wound. Chills ran up and down Chant’s body, making his stomach and thigh muscles flutter spasmodically, giving him both pain from the increased cramping, and pleasure; her use of the feather had a curiously anesthetic effect, and the sharp, stinging sensation in the bite wound had disappeared.
Without warning, the woman reversed the feather in her hand and jabbed the hard, thick end of the shaft into his lower belly, just above the diaphragm where the stomach muscles are weakest. She kept pressing with the feather until it felt as if the shaft would pierce the skin, and he could no longer breathe. Pain burned in the spot where she pressed, radiating up into his heart and lungs. His vision blurred.
Just when Chant thought he would pass out, the woman suddenly released the pressure. His breath exploded from his lungs, and he gulped air. She again reversed the feather and began to stroke the spot on which she had been pressing. The pain disappeared.
Then she started on his face, brushing the feather across his eyes, around his nostrils and ears, under his chin, up and down his throat. The stroking continued with almost monotonous, hypnotic regularity until he was suddenly jabbed with the shaft end in the jugular. A lump of fire filled his throat and exploded into slivers of pain that shot through his head and down his spine.
Then the gentle stroking was resumed, easing his pain, making it possible for him to once again swallow.
The woman knew what she was doing, Chant thought, and she was very good. He considered her more dangerous, in her way, than the torturers who had been in his cell earlier. There was no doubt in his mind that the woman knew the human body extremely well, and was a master of the strange weapon she wielded; she was a woman who could literally, over a period of time that for him would be a hellish eternity, crush him with a feather.
Using the feather to stroke his buttocks, the backs of his knees and the base of his spine, the woman pressed her cheek against the inside of his thigh and licked his stiff penis while at the same time gently running her fingertips up and down its length and beneath his testicles.
Chant burned with desire under the controlled caresses of the feather, tongue, and fingertips, the warm touch of her lips, on his flesh. The woman with the feather was his most dangerous tormentor, Chant thought; she was systematically eroding, wearing away, his inner controls. He understood what was happening, knew that every second of pleasure would be paid for with many seconds of agony. Yet he did not want her to stop. The creation of this ambivalence, Chant knew, was an important step in a process that could break him.
The woman ran the feather up and down the insides of his thighs, and around the tip of his penis. Then she took him into her mouth.
Chant knew he should seek a way to resist, to at least kill his sexual desire, but he could not. He could feel his passion growing like a beast with a mind of its own. Pressure continued to build in his groin as her mouth moved up and down on his stiff shaft. Even as he felt himself getting ready to ejaculate, he knew that agony would be his very soon; he simply did not know what form it would take.
Suddenly the woman drew her head back and wrapped her thumb and forefinger tightly around the base of his penis, trapping the blood in the engorged erectile tissue; he would not lose his erection until she released her grip.
Then she unhurriedly went to work on the sensitive tip with the shaft of her feather. Chant screamed, and kept screaming until finally he passed out.
He regained consciousness to find the woman standing before him, mute and vacant-eyed as before, patiently waiting. Seeing that Chant was awake, she began all over again.
The session lasted through the night; it was the longest night of Chant’s life, a seemingly endless tapestry of alternating agony and ecstacy. The woman never allowed him to release sexual tension through ejaculation, but always seemed to know the split second when he was ready. This, when his nervous system had been stimulated to its peak, was when the agony would begin. On this night Chant, who had been shot, burned, and electrocuted, experienced the worst pain he had ever known.
As dawn was seeping into the corridor outside the cell, he screamed and passed out once again.