Cirque de la Lune

Raoul Silva

In the time leading up to the Handover, Raoul Silva began acting beyond his professional duties as an agent, hacking into Chinese Intelligence without authorization. With the Chinese on to him, M turned him over to them in exchange for six other previously captured agents and a peaceful transfer of sovereignty. For the next five months, he was brutally tortured for information by a “sadistic woman without mercy who delighted in his suffering”, but he refused to divulge any state secrets. And what was done sounds like something out of a horror film, involving electric chairs, water torture – including waterboarding, sleep deprivation, and, being chained by his wrists from the ceiling for hours while being beaten by Mei, his sadistic female interrogator.

He regained consciousness in the back of the van. His head ached and there was a sharp, throbbing pain just behind his right ear.

Raoul knew he was in the van because he could hear the sound of the engine and the road noise and feel the lurching as the van turned right or left. He couldn’t see anything, though, because there was something over his head. It felt close over his face and constricting around his neck, like a drawstring bag that had been pulled over him and then tightened.

He tried to reach up to touch it, but he couldn’t. His wrists were cuffed. His ankles were imprisoned in leg irons. The cuffs and irons had been clamped as tight as possible, pinching his skin and cutting off the blood supply to his hands and feet. They were linked by a short, vertical chain, so he could not raise his hands more than a few degrees above his waist.

He could feel the metal paneling, hard and cold against his thighs, buttocks, and back. His hands were gloved with padded mittens, like soft boxing gloves, that made it impossible to feel anything, so he couldn’t actually touch his bare skin. But he didn’t have to. He knew perfectly well that he was stark naked.

The van seemed to be driving uphill. But then it turned sharply, slowed down, and started to descend. Raoul heard the sound of the exhaust change, echoing as the van was driven indoors before dying away completely. There was a metallic rattling in his right ear and the clatter of an opening door, then Raoul felt a sharp tug on the chain by his wrists and he was desperately scrabbling for some kind of purchase as he was dragged right out of the van and dumped with a bone-cracking thump on the floor.

There was another tug on the rope and he was pulled to his feet, the cuffs digging even deeper into his wrists. Then he was led, blind and half-crippled, shuffling barefoot across the garage, through a door and down a passage. He heard another door being opened. A few more shuffles, then he got a shove in the back that sent him skimming across the floor until finally he lost his balance and crashed helpless to the ground again. Behind him he heard the slamming of bolts.

So, judgment had been passed down. He had been found guilty. Now it was just a matter of hearing the sentence.

An age seemed to pass before he heard the bolts being drawn back and the sound of footsteps and harsh voices. He was dragged back to his feet and led by the chain again. They left the room and made their way back down the corridor. Then he felt hands on his shoulders turning him around 180 degrees and he was pulled forward again.

His toes stubbed against something hard, making him cry out in pain and surprise. There was laughter around him. Then Raoul received a sharp kick in the backside and he felt his arms being pulled upward. He heard just one word in English: “Stairs.”

He lifted his right foot as high as the leg-irons would allow and was just able to get a grip on the rough concrete corner of the first step. He brought his left leg up to meet it. It was a slow, degrading process, and Raoul was sent on his way by regular slaps and kicks, each accompanied by his jailers’ raucous laughs.

Finally he reached the top. Soon the floor was smooth, first with cool stone tiles, then with warmer planking, before he felt the softness of carpeting underfoot. He went down a series of shallow steps, stumbling and almost falling at the bottom before a tug on the chain brought him upright again.

There was another one-word command: “Stop!”

Raoul stood still. Someone grabbed his wrists and removed the mitts from his hands. Next came fingers at his throat, a sharp tug, and suddenly the hood was pulled from his head and he was blinking against the light. Gradually his vision cleared.

Raoul’s eyes were fixed on the figure in the matching leather armchair, sitting directly in his line of sight, wearing a tight dress. The woman looked him up and down with the detached objectivity of a coroner inspecting a corpse on the mortuary slab. There was something profoundly disturbing about this studied examination. For the first time Raoul felt shamed by his nakedness and his captive status. He had to force himself to keep his head up and his gaze steady.

“Good evening,” the woman said. “I am Mei. Let me explain your situation. The first thing you must understand is that you have no hope of escape. Even assuming that you could somehow free yourself like Houdini from your shackles, you can be disabled in an instant.”

“She will start off with electrocution. If those fail, she’ll chip his nails away, and his fingers… also his toes… ah, right, maybe she can grind out his teeth too. The pain felt by his nervous system will be unbearable by then. His body is much more resilient than an average human… try feeding him poison. Ah, in that case, she should also give him tranquilizers.”

He promised himself that she would not break him.

“I won’t talk,” he panted.

She stomped on his bare toes with her high heeled boots, drawing out a pained gasp.

His eyes rolled up into his head and he fainted with a guttural moan.

“I hate it when they pass out,” she muttered.

She walked over to the corner of the bare concrete cell to fetch a bucket of ice water. She doused his scarred naked flesh and he was yanked back to his painful predicament.

“I can make the pain stop,” she told him almost tenderly as she watched him shiver, his wrists and ankles chafing from the ropes that bound him spread eagle to the X-shaped cross. “Just tell me: Who sent you?”

Unable to control his shaking muscles, he whimpered, “You’ll have to kill me first,” his words sounding pathetic to his own ears.

“I will kill you, in the end,” she said matter-of-factly, “but not before loosening your tongue first.”

She opened her metallic briefcase and his naked body froze in fearful anticipation. Since she had caught him, she had produced a who’s who of torture devices from her briefcase and used them on him mercilessly. The first had been a surgeon’s scalpel, which she used to draw intricate wound patterns on his exposed flesh. It hurt like hell but this was only the beginning. Since then, she had broken his fingers and toes with a hammer, stabbed him with a set of long needles, and whipped his back raw. In truth, it did not seem to dismay her when he refused to talk - she enjoyed torturing him.

This time, she produced a menacing-looking set of pliers.

She gripped the flesh under his left armpit, making him wince, and with technique built up by experience, she twisted the flesh, eliciting screams from her captive.

She impassively worked on his left armpit for what seemed like an eternity as she made him scream his throat raw from the torment.

“Talk or I’ll start on the other one,” she told him, gripping his chin.

Realizing how much more pain she still had in store for him, he wept silently.

She proceeded with his right armpit.

Then she began working on his nipples, immediately demonstrating that, up until then, she had been going soft on him.

He realized how vulnerable he was, bound hand and foot to an X-cross. He was naked - his training told him this was to shame him. When they were still beginning, modesty was his main priority - he felt embarrassed to be so exposed as she inspected him, fully-clothed in a red leather bodysuit. Later on, he realized that her dress and his undress served a more practical purpose - his nakedness meant she could hurt him in places he did not know could hurt so bad, and her red garb meant that his blood would not stain visibly.

“Still won’t talk?”

“Never,” he gasped.

“Good,” she said, “I always wanted to try this.”

Many people who engage in torture have various psychological deviations and often they derive sadistic satisfaction. Torture may fulfill the emotional needs of perpetrators when they willingly engage in these activities. They lack empathy and their victims’ agonized painful reactions, screaming and pleading give them a sense of authority and feelings of superiority.

It was the sadistic woman’s pleasure, perhaps a little payback because Raoul had betrayed them, the bendy cedar slivers she jammed under his nails, black and oozing red, the wooden dowels pressed she between his toes, the oily knuckle she pressed into the hollow behind the earlobe. In another room, the woman looked into his eyes as she eased the barbed electric wire up one more millimeter up his urethra, grinning with pleasure as his face contorted in anguish at her ill treatment.

Torture. That word should evoke all kinds of horrible images of pain and suffering and humiliation. It takes a special kind of person to withstand brutal torture.

A torture chamber is a room where torture is inflicted. The medieval torture chamber was windowless and often built underground, was lit by a few candles and was specifically designed to induce horror, dread and despair to anyone but those possessing a strong mind and nerves of steel.

A torture session is a battle of wills between the tormentor and her victim.

The room smelled of death.

Raoul hung limply by his wrists from the chains attached to the ceiling after shaking like a marionette as a thousand volts of electricity coursed through his body from a rod Mei had painfully jammed inside his urethra to the wand which his tormentor had pressed against his right arm pit. His interrogator had kept the current going for five seconds and his body spasmed uncontrollably through all of it. Now that the current had ceased, trails of smoke rose from his naked body as sweat turned into steam from the burn.

She slapped him awake, his head lolling uselessly from side to side as drool dribbled down his bloodied lips. She twisted his ear violently, eliciting no response.

“Is he dead?” Liu asked.

“Not yet,” Mei said, studying the inert, dripping body for signs of life. There was no colour in his face or anywhere on his body above the waist. There was a faint flutter of his skin above the heart. Otherwise he might have been dead.

Mei lit a cigarette and took a few puffs, breathing out smoke in the wretched man’s face. After the cigarette had burned for a while, she extinguished it on his bare thigh, making the man moan in pain.

“Names?” she asked dispassionately.

He stared back at her dully, his silence goading her more than any lie.

She brought her knee to his genitals and he cried aloud in agony.

His whole body arched in an involuntary spasm. His face contracted in a soundless scream and his lips drew right away from his teeth. At the same time his head flew back with a jerk showing the taut sinews of his neck. For an instant, muscles stood out in knots all over his body and his toes and fingers clenched until they were quite white. Then his body sagged and perspiration started to bead all over his body. He uttered a deep groan that only made his female captor chuckle softly.

She shoved the wand up his anus.

He said he saw the detainee standing naked. The lady interrogator was throwing water at his face from a bucket, after which she pushed the prisoner to the floor, lifted his legs, and placed his ankles through two rope loops attached to a wooden stick to keep his feet in place. He said he watched as she beat each of his bare soles with plastic piping for about 15 minutes nonstop, laughing as he screamed.

He said that the woman then bound Raoul’s hands behind his back and suspended him from the ceiling using a hook and pulley for about one hour.

The shock made every nerve scream in pain, jerking his body like an epileptic marionette, rocking his head from side to side and ripping an animal howl of pain from his throat.

A soft chuckle escaped his captor’s crimson lips as she delighted in his suffering.

He hung from the chain, trying to control his terror, the iron bands digging into his wrists because of his own weight. He knew there was nothing he could do to stop her before, but this was different. It amplified his helplessness, made him all the more aware that there was no way for him to fight back. She pulled on her gloves, walked around him several times, tapping the cattle prod against her hand, prolonging his anxiety.

She pressed the cattle prod against his chest. The shock of the pain made him cry out, even though he had had no intention of giving her the satisfaction of seeing how much it hurt. Every muscle in his body locked rigid with the agony of the thing against his side. His mind was filled with the want of having it off him. She pushed the slightest bit harder, making him scream louder. He heard a pop, and felt a rib crack.

If only he had been killed during his assassination attempt - that was a price he had been prepared to pay. This was different. This was death without dying. Living death. He was not even to be allowed the dignity of fighting back. He knew what the cattle prod felt like; he didn’t need her to show him anymore. She was only doing this to take away his pride, his self-respect. To break him.

She tapped the cattle prod against his chest and back as she continued walking around him. Each touch of it was like a dagger knifing into him. Each touch made him cry out in pain and twist on the chain; and he knew she hadn’t even really begun yet. The first day was still not over, and there would be many more to come. He cried at his helplessness.

He imagined his sense of self, his dignity, as a living thing, saw it in his mind. He imagined a room. A room that was impervious to anything, to any harm. He put his dignity, his self respect, into that room, and locked the door. No one would have a key to that door. Not her. Only him. He would endure what was to come, for as long as it was to come, without his dignity. He would do what he had to, and someday he would unlock the door, and be himself again, even if it was only in death. But for now, he would be her slave. For now. But not always. Someday, it would end.

“Now’s not the time for ‘why’. I like this void. This evil, simple world. Just pain. Over and over again. No reason, no end, no in-between. You can’t even pass out. We shut down everything that stands between you and blinding, searing pain.” She chuckled softly.

She took his face in both her hands and kissed him, hard. Hard enough to make his cut lip throb and sting. She seemed to enjoy the kiss more when she was sure it hurt him. She took her face from his, her eyes wide with delight.

She pressed the cattle prod into his armpit. She stood with a smirk, watching, while he twisted. Sometimes she would stand in front of him, watching him catch his breath. A few times, she pressed herself against him, hugging his chest, squeezing, the hardness of the leather making every wound it pressed against flare anew in pain.

He had no idea how long this torture lasted. Much of the time, he wasn’t aware of anything but the pain, as if it were a living thing, there with him. He was only aware that at some point, he knew he would do anything she said, no matter what it was, if only she would stop hurting him. He looked away from the cattle prod. The mere glimpse of it made tears well up in his eyes. she was right about herself; she never tired or became bored with what she did. It seemed to constantly fascinate her, keep her amused, satisfied. The only thing that seemed to make her happier than hurting him was when he begged her to stop. He would have begged more, to make her happy, but most of the time he was incapable of talking. Simply breathing was almost more than he could handle.

He no longer tried to keep the pressure off his wrists, and hung limp, delirious. He thought she stopped for a while, but he hurt so much from what she had already done that he wasn’t sure. The sweat in his eyes was blinding him; the sweat running into the wounds caused them to burn.

When his head cleared somewhat, she returned, walking behind him. He braced for what he knew was coming. Instead, she grabbed a fistful of hair and jerked his head back.

“Now, my pet, I’m going to show you something new. I’m going to show you how kind I really am.” She pulled his head back, hard, until the pain made him tense the muscles in his neck to resist the pressure. She put the cattle prod against his throat. “Stop fighting me, or I won’t take it away.”

Blood was running into his mouth; he relaxed his neck muscles, allowing her to pull as hard as she wanted.

The bucketful of cold water on his naked flesh barely revived him. He only dimly saw the little rivers of water that were stained bright red as they ran away from him in the cracks of the stone floor his face lay against. Each shallow breath he took was a mighty effort. He wondered idly how many of his ribs she had broken.

He was utterly her prisoner, naked and defenceless. His bloodshot eyes looked emptily back at her.

The pain of raw electricity surging through his body had been excruciating. Mei had delighted in varying the contact points, starting with his forehead, then his chest, and finally his crotch, his groin now aching both from her blow and the bare wires that had sent voltage surging through his genitals. It was like cold water doused on a raw toothache, intense enough to black him out. But he’d tried to hang on, stay tough, keep alert. He couldn’t slip and let anything out.

She desisted only when his tortured spasms showed a trace of sluggishness. She sat for a while sipping her wine and frowning slightly like a surgeon watching a cardiograph during a difficult operation.

He dangled stark naked and helpless in the middle of the room, bruises showing livid on his white body, his face a grey mask of exhaustion and knowledge of the endlessness of torment she had in store for him.

She seized his ears and harshly twisted them. Then she leant forward and slapped his cheeks hard several times. Bond’s head rolled from side to side with each blow. Slowly his breathing became deeper. An animal groan came from his lolling mouth.

She grunted and set to work again with savage fury. Occasionally she snarled like a wild beast.

She delighted at his anguish.

After ten minutes of her ill treatment, he fainted, blessedly.

She used a form of “waterboarding” on Raoul, who had not confessed. She strapped him, still naked, onto an orange gurney and tipped it backward, so that the detainee’s feet were raised above his head and covered his face with a towel. For about five minutes, she beat him with plastic piping while pouring water over his mouth.

She walked him to the chair, the spike heels of her boots clicking on the dirty stone floor which felt cold and rough beneath Raoul’s bare feet. He was too weak to stand let alone run, but she strapped him in nonetheless, the hard leather cutting into his bruised skin.

“I don’t condone what she does here,” Liu said.

He stared back at him dully. The Chinese woman’s blood-red lips curved in a sadistic smile.

“Perhaps I should explain,” Liu said impatiently. “Mei intends to continue attacking the sensitive parts of your body until you answer my question. She is without mercy and there will be no relenting.”

Mei had put on a full-length leather slaughterhouse apron and tied it tightly around her trim waist. She pulled on heavy black rubber gloves, then wheeled the battery from the corner of the room and uncoiled the cables.

The cable ends were clamped to the battery terminals. The opposite ends terminated in dull copper alligator jaws that were wrapped in red felt, which Mei dipped into a bucket of water, soaking the felt wraps thoroughly. She touched the felts together, but no Hollywood sparks dramatically arced and snapped. Instead, the felts started smoking from the current, quenched by Mei dipping them into the bucket again. There was a sour, metallic, burned toast smell in the room.

Mei’s eyes narrowed at her naked and helpless prisoner. She touched a felt pad to each side of Raoul’s left ankle and watched as his back arched and his left leg involuntarily shot out straight. The electric shock was excruciating, half hammer blows and half pulsing muscle spasm that engulfed his whole leg. This could go on for days. Mei removed the felts, and the sudden cessation of pain and spasm was a heavenly relief. But anticipating the next one was enough to drive one mad, which was the point of using shock—the prisoner’s dreading the next jolt.

Mei dipped the felts in the water again. “Who sent you? We have all day and all night, until the battery goes dead or you lose your mind, whichever will come first.”

With a snarl, Mei pressed the felts on the insides of Raoul’s bare thighs, an inch from his exposed scrotum. Raoul’s naked torso curled forward in a rigid bow against the chest strap, and his lower body started shaking spasmodically, the current running through his skeletal muscle fibers triggering synchronous contraction. The pain between his legs was all-encompassing, radiating through his penis, which immediately stood straight up, followed by a loss of bladder control. She removed the felts and stood back, avoiding the trickle of urine under Raoul’s chair.