By Gregg Stevens
Phenix Publishers, LTD., 1969
He caught a slight movement in the shadows, but before it fully registered, something glanced off the side of his head and his hand never found the light switch. He felt the floor come up and hit him in the face.
Luke shook his head once and was fully conscious. The dull throb was behind his eyes, but he was back in his world: He knew he had been sapped and couldn’t help remembering what the doctor had told him about reporting each time. He was like a prize fighter who can be knocked out only so often, then it starts to affect the brain.
Luke blinked his eyes and was aware that his face was on a pillow with his mouth buried in it. He was spread-eagled face down on a bed with his hands and feet tied securely. The voices came through more clearly now. He didn’t know how long he had been out. The placement of the leather-covered lead kosh had been precise. So he had finally found the pros! These lads knew what they were doing. He couldn’t see, and realized his eyes were taped shut. His mouth and nose were free. Luke shivered, he was soaking wet.
A voice came through more clearly. It was female, and he recognized it.
“He’s almost awake, more water.”
Luke felt the water splash over him and would have gasped if the pillow hadn’t stopped it. All he could do was writhe in the sudden numbing shock of the ice water on his back. He wondered if they had ripped his shirt down the back, or if it was plastered to his skin?
The voice came again, smooth, lilting, soothing. It was Rebel, the sexy little one in b idiot instead of this just a minute actually sent really closely any settings being sarcastic I know not what is what’s unfair to get into the application so sore throat for okay it may help Pete you have it’s we don’t science-based elements present was way off from nine EST a strong warninglack stretch pants, the sex playmate he had left only an hour ago.
“There, now, Mr. Billings, you’re awake at last. That must be cold down there. We don’t want to hurt you any more than necessary. If you can hear me nod your head.”
Luke lay perfectly still. A leather belt hit into his back without warning. He arched his back and twisted to ease the pain. The voice came again.
“Now, Mr. Billings, since you can hear us we’ll move the pillow down a little so you can talk. You know my voice, but don’t try to guess who else is here, they aren’t talking.”
She laughed at her joke as hands pulled the pillow down.
He wanted his eyes untaped so he could see them, but that was part of the routine. Not knowing what was coming from where was part of the psychology of torture.
“Now, Mr. Billings, what is your real name?”
He still himself for it, I counting the seconds until the narrow strap fell five times before it stopped. Luke could imagine the welts turning purple and the flesh starting to tear as the lines overlapped and crossed. The first groan seared through his clenched teeth.
The voice was still smooth and soft.
“We don’t like to hurt you, Luke. You see we know who you are. We knew the first time you hit town. We know you tripped that flare last night, too. It wasn’t some little old rabbit.”
The belt came again, and again and again. It came when she talked and when she stopped. Always when she stopped. He began reciting the multiplication tables in his mind. Thinking them through, trying not to listen to the soft, sexy voice. Eight times seven is fifty-six. Eight times eight … Eight times …
“Listen to me, Luke. We know almost all we need to from you. But some of our group wanted to conduct this experiment. Nothing personal. I think you’re ready for the next part.” Her humorless laugh gashed through the air and seemed to send new rivers of pain flooding over the raw flesh of his back.
“Luke, live steam is invisible, like when it comes from a tea kettle before it vaporizes.”
Luke heard the hiss of steam but his numbed brain refused to believe it. He laughed, but the laugh trailed off too high. He had to keep tight control!
He listened for other voices, for other sounds. He heard someone moving around and caught the slight metalic sound of jewelry, a necklace or bracelet. A woman, another woman was in the room. He smelled cigar smoke, but that could he either a man or a woman. Then Luke smelled Bay Rum, and he knew the slick Mexican was in the audience too.
“Luke, you still with us? Good. New this will hurt. You won’t be able to take much more of it the way you look. For a spy you seem to have a very low pain threshold. But you’ll pass out and when we bring you around, you’ll start talking. You’re a pro, Luke. You know how we make men talk. ”
He couldn’t get himself ready this time. The white-hot steam seared against his raw back and jetted the signals to his brain at the same time he heard the scream. He wondered if it were true that sound waves travel faster than nerve impulses. He heard the screaming from a long way off. When the screams stopped there was a foul taste in his mouth and he realized someone had stuffed the pillow into his mouth and held it there.
The hiss of steam came again. It was as if ice cubes had been mistakenly slithered across his raw hack. He wanted to laugh. He had fooled them! He had won. He had held out. Then it didn’t seem so funny and it hurt like hell. He knew those first steps into hades would he easy as all of the hells down the centuries came closer until he was ready to slip into the molten, hubbling cauldron.
Someone was screaming again. The screams gave way to low sobbing moans of desperation and agony. Suddenly Luke was conscious. He realized he wasn’t screaming anymore, and he could open his eyes. But it seemed dark, was it still night? Luke wanted to rub his eyes, but he couldn’t. When he tried to move, his back stabbed a thousand painful reminders to remain motionless. He was sitting, tied to a wooden chair. The back of the chair seared into his tortured back. The ropes were strong, and used sparingly, the knots secure.
Luke felt the gag. It wasn’t big enough to choke him, but stopped him from yelling.
He looked straight ahead, because it hurt too much to turn his head. The girl was there, sprawled on the bed. She had on a red dress now, with her hair mussed. She looked up from a paperback book and smiled.
“Good evening, Mr. Arthur. So nice you could wake up! I’m disappointed in you, Lukie. I’ve got a reputation, but you made me look had. ” She fondled a syringe and a folder of vials.
“I could use these, anyone of them would end it for you. But that would be too easy. The names of a few more of Department Fourteen agents in Europe would he a bonus, Luke.”
She came to him and bent over to check the ropes. The neckline of her dress fell open and she wore nothing under it now. Her tits sung grandly into view, red nippled and perfectly sculptured. Without moving she looked up.
“Well, lover, would you like to do something about those again? Come on, I’m waiting. Sock it to me!” She laughed, then slapped him viciously. “It was so good tonight with you, Lukie. I didn’t know who you were then. Why did you trick me, Luke? We could have had it so good for a long time.”
She straightened up. “A girl can’t trust anyone!”
“You promise you won’t scream any more, and I’ll take that gag out. If you yell I’ll knock over the chair and work on your back again. Fair enough?”
Two many came into the room. One held a short-barreled automatic weapon the other had only muscle.
Myna didn’t indicate she noticed them. She stood and walked around Luke slowly.
“You do present something of a problem, Lukie. I could just shoot you and stuff you down an empty shaft, but that’s untidy. I like to keep everything neat.”
She hit him across the back with a riding crop. The weapon open up some day old pains he would rather forget, and he felt blood ooze into his shirt.
She looked at him again. “Tell me, Luke, what would you do if you were in my shoes? Say I blundered into the middle of one of your operations.”
“My first thought would be to undress you slowly, and make wild, passionate love to you.”
She hit him with the quirt again. “That would only tire you out. Now, seriously, what would you plan?”
“I plan what to do when a regimental combat team just happens to stumble onto this place in about half an hour.”
She motioned to the man with the crew cut who moved in from behind. The side- arm smash was unexpected, and crashed into Luke’s side over his kidneys. The pain was crashing. He stumbled and fell. The stocky Russian with the short hair lifted him up, steadied him, then smashed a hard right fist into Luke’s chin. This time he was ready and lashed out with his own fist into the man’s nose.
Luke didn’t fall this time, but he was stunned. He stood weaving, watching his opponent. Another quick hand signal and the muscleman melted back to his post by the door. Myna pushed the chair over to Luke and he sat down.
“How is that for openers, Luke? Nobody insults me in my own shop. Just remember that for the few hours you have left.”