Origins of Gravotus, Part II - (Torment)




PART II - Torment

He shifted position uncomfortably, felt the sweat dried and sticky on his skin. There was a chafing sensation as well, something irritating his skin. He slowly opened crusted lids and squinted at the bright sunlight streaming through the corrugated tin roof. His nostrils smarted at the acrid smells of burning tires and urine.

He tried to get up before he realized he could not. Strong cords bound his hands and feet, attached to posts driven deeply into the dirt floor of the crude hut he was occupying. Somewhere in the distance he could hear shouts, but also singing. The bright sunlight seemed to pierce his brain, and his head was pounding in time to the beat of singing somewhere outside.

He gave a great heave, but to no avail. The cords seem to be made of some kind of plastic, and gave slightly at his efforts, then stopped. He tried to call out, and realized he was parched, his throat felt dry and caked with dirt. After coughing from the effort, he laid back on the floor of hut, exhausted.

He closed his eyes and dozed again, only to be awoken when the sun was lower in the sky- a dark wrinkled face framed with spectacles and many freckles looking down at him. Somewhere behind the face loomed other figures silhouetted in the uncertain light inside the metal shanty.

"Cahn you understand mee?" The Afrikaner dialect sounded strange when spoken by this man and Stefan could barely make out the words. "Eeye ahm Dr. Mbecki. You ahv been restrained for yah own safe-tee."

Gradually, Stefan became accustomed to the accent, and the words became clearer.

Dr. Mbecki began to say something else, when another voice, much harsher, interrupted him. Stefan didn't understand the words at all. He guessed it was the language the others spoke, what his father call Gutter Talk.

The voice sounded enraged- that much Stefan understood. And with sudden fear, he saw a crude knife in the man's hand.

Stefan began to struggle again, and the bindings on his right arm snapped. Shouts rang out in the shanty, and clouds of dust billowed as the other occupants fled. When it settled, Stefan saw only Dr. Mbecki had remained.

Stefan stopped struggling when he realized the man that had threatened him was gone.

"How old are you, boy? What's your name?" the doctor asked.

Stefan set his chin stubbornly and did not answer.

Dr. Mbecki looked sadly for a moment at the boy, and then walked out of the hut, to the sounds of an argument.

Stefan heard more shouting and what sounded like soothing words in reply from the doctor. It sounded like a full-fledged row. This went on for some time, until finally the voices subsided.

As the sun moved slowly across the sky, Stefan began to understand what real thirst was. His tongue felt swollen and dry in his mouth like a piece of leather.

He realized he was hardly sweating at all. He craned his neck and could see by the shadows outside the hut there was someone there, or so his fevered brain thought.

"Please, I'm thirsty," he croaked. He repeated this, over and over.

The figure ignored his entreaties for some time until suddenly he rose to his feet and came into the hut. Stefan squirmed with fear, but the figure just stood there looming over him. Stefan realized he could see a face, dark and demonic. Great fangs with spiky hair and elongate nails like talons sprouted from its hands. Eyes, dark red like coals burned there in dusky light of the hut.

Stefan struggled frantically, trying to break free again, but he realized he had no strength left in him. He screamed.

Time passedÂ…

He awoke with a start feeling a touch at his brow. It was a woman. Stefan realized both of his arms were bound again, and the cords had been reinforced.

The woman, brown skinned and wearing a simple shift, was patiently dabbing at his lips with a damp cloth. She started for a moment when his eyes fluttered open, but then continued. The moistness felt like tonic on his skin.

"Water, please, I'm so thirsty." Stefan was not even sure the words actually came out of his mouth. However, the woman must have understood because she reached over to a earthenware picture and poured some water into a small shallow bowl. She held the bowl at his lips, and he drank greedily. He nearly choked at first, but then quickly drained the rest.

"More, please."

The woman looked at him for a moment, her coffee-colored features and dark eyes unfathomable for a moment. Then, as though coming to a decision, she stood up and took the pitcher with her.

Stefan slumped down. Still, his head felt somewhat better although it still pounded. He also realized he was stiff from being in one position for so long.

He tried to stretch to get the kinks out of his muscles, but the cords were tight and left little slack. Stefan began to wonder how long he would be here, and whether or not his parents were looking for him, then he remembered the car and the riot and he began to sob.

After a while, he cried himself out. He realized he was alone and afraid. But then he remembered his father's words to him about fear.

"Fear is for weaklings, Stefan. Fear is for those who do not know what comes tomorrow. Fear is for those who are not part of our glorious Reich. We do not fear. Others fear us."

Thus heartened, Stefan relaxed himself, and that is how Dr. Mbecki found him- calm and composed despite three days of no water in the sweltering room of the hut.


Coming soon, Part III - Adversaries