Saturday, January 31, 2009

Mission Accomplished/ (or “A Thankless Task”)

The once whitewashed walls of the underground room never free of cracks, dirt marks, dust and spider webs—now had acquired further markings in the form of marker-scrawled graffiti and wide, wild flung stains of dried and time grimed blood.
The one overhead lamp, suspended as ever from a strapped series of wirings to a bit of piping leading to the furnace room adjacent, gave as little light possible to still read and write by, as well as to examine the marks made in flesh by burns, slicings, bruises and acid. The other light, the blindingly bright and searchlight-powerful one—was still there also—still mounted aboard its dolly, parked still in the small door way leading to a side room whose damp rotting plaster walls crumbled at the touch . . .
With their self-restraint pushed to the extreme, the two men seeing this for the first time stood at the foot of the stone stairs leading down into the underground from the battered wooden slanted door opening coffin like from among the weeds and dead flowers at the back of the house.
As their eyes grew accustomed to the shadowy and ill lit patch work of markings, stains, cracks, smudges, pipes, and splintered wood, the men discerned emerging a series of instruments attached to the few solid-backed areas of the walls, behind which were the fat and stoic remains of the foundation’s beams, not yet thoroughly rotted and drowned in the persistent encroachments of the chilling dampness.
These instruments for the most part had not changed their features in hundreds of years—old mechanisms long known to torturers, with here and there interspersed the newer additions to the gallery exhibitions of cruelty. The electric mechanisms, especially, were there in a variety ranging from the crudest, homemade ones to ones relativity sophisticated yet still out of-date. Various forms of welding torches and other tools for the applications of fire and heat to bodies were there, and also a wide variety of cleaning fluids, over the counter poisons, gas and oil containers and stacks of coiled wirings of differing sizes.
Turning on their flashlights, the two men advanced towards the far door, a smashed and scarred wooden one once painted a bright yellow now turned a kind of off china white, like a sample of cheap heroin kept too long in a humid baggie. On this door—which, when opened, led into the furnace room—had been inscribed in permanent marker and painted in the crude colors of cheap enamels applied with a narrow brush a kind of chart, a sort of crude calendar and log book of some of the events which had taken place in this room, a room among others in a long series of clandestine spaces being haphazardly found scattered throughout an area whose boundaries continually expanded.
One of the men thought of the Mayan Calendar, with its days which were marked far into the future for sacrifices in blood.
Moving slowly and carefully, getting down on hands and knees, the men shifted dust and dirt and metal scraps until they found some wirings, whose clandestine paths led them to an apparent cul-de-sac. Scratching at the rough textures of this dead end, the men found themselves confronted with the realization that this was no wall, but a crudely concealed door cut into the area immediately beneath a staircase dimly outlined by the probing flashlights.
The door, though heavy with layers of grime and the camouflaging texturings, opened slowly but steadily as they applied all their strength to it. All of a sudden, it gave way and they found themselves stumbling into a room which had still a working light switch.
In this room were several tripods, discarded film canisters, and snaking dust covered segments of celluloid. The first light showed a series of other lights running into aan eerily long distance. Into this the men advanced, flicking on one after another various kinds of film lamps, fluorescent lights, overhead “Mastercraft” work lamps and, at the farthest end, a single large standing floor light, beside which was a still mounted projector, set back inside a crudely made booth.
Along the now visible walls were arrayed various bits of costuming, straps, handcuffs restraints, some folding beds folded up, and more scraps of celluloid coiling among the dusty heaps of what appeared to be stills taken from the film whose celluloid strips were brushing gently against some objects shoved back and underneath the beds and pieces of equipment. .
Turning the flashlights on these obscured objects, the two men saw that they were fragments of bones, human bones that had been separated from each other and apparently had once formed a series of letterings. Here and there among the bones they found what also appeared to be perhaps very dried out pieces of human flesh, as though being very crudely “cured” for some purpose.
As though simultaneously taking commands from the messages in human bone, the men began moving through the celluloid and grime on the floor, scooping up the film stills that had coiled and grown sooty with mildew, damp and dust. Wiping them off carefully, bringing them to the light, the men observed that almost every one was of a woman in the throes of a violent death. Garrotings, stabbings, floggings, rapes done with various instruments and by gang rape—
And, at the bottom of each, a stamped logo and information of some “film company,” whose name was represented, not in writing, but by a crudely carved rubber stamped human skull.
The men rose slowly to their feet, and stood staring at the dried blood stains they now saw for the first time among the other markings on the filthy walls.
They then turned their eyes at the same time towards the projector in its booth, and, as though moving to the commands of some force outside and yet also inside themselves, they slowly crossed the distance to the projector and, wiping it off, started its motor. Dully, in a numbing trance, they saw the light come though the projectors lens and the first signs of a film begin to unroll, the first notes of some badly recorded sounds.
In this film, the journey to death of the woman was made to take place in slow motion, as though each instant had been lingered over and savored by all but the victim, whose soundless and agonized mouth as it reached the final paroxysm had a man’s erect member inserted into it.
Emerging in complete shock from the underground, the two men only slowly became aware of the men standing in a semi circle facing them in the now advanced shadows of an evening they had forgotten all about. As the shadowed men slowly made themselves visible by the cautious light of a few small flashlights, their shock turned into horror.
“We had to send someone down there to see if the place was still sealed off or not. We were in a hurry, then, you see, before our counter attack, and not sure how long our rush job would hold. Since you joined us later, we chose you to find out for us.”
The man who spoke was calm, impersonal, while those gathered near him were completely silent and standing at attention.
“I’m afraid my friends, “said their Company Commander, with a deprecatory smile, “ that though your work has proved very useful, its very success guarantees that it is a thankless task.”
From behind him, obeying a slight gesture, the others began to step forward----

And as his mouth began to open in a scream—the desperate, cornered eyes of one of the men found themselves staring, straining in the shadows to see if the advancing men had, any of them, the signs of an erect member—as he plunged into darkness---