Disclaimer... The following story is a purely fictional account. Any relationship to any real person living or dead is coincidental. The narrative contains non-consensual gay sex, torture, and death. It is intended for mature readers who wish to view such material, and for whom it is legal to do so.
Copyright (c) 2009 by POW. For spam prevention, an animal name has been added to the author's e-mail address. Remove the animal name to get the actual address: POWauthor zebra at yahoo dot com. This story may be freely copied and distributed so long as it is copied in its entirety, unchanged, including the author credit information and disclaimer. The author welcomes feedback.
Casino La Reina
Peter Callanaugh shivered despite the fierce Arizona heat. This would be his fourth trip past the bank building. At some point, he would either have to go inside or abandon his plan, because four trips past the door was approaching the point of being too obvious.
The sidewalk was not crowded. The town was busy, but all the people were in air-conditioned cars or air-conditioned buildings, not out on the sidewalk on an August afternoon. He mopped sweat from his forehead for the fiftieth time as he waited on a corner for the light to change. Cars thronged the intersection, their drivers all studiously ignoring him, windows up to keep the cool air in.
He wished he still had his car, but there really had been no choice about selling it two weeks back - he simply had no other source of cash. If he still had the car, he could use it to take 95 out of Lake Havasu City to the wide open spaces beyond. He pictured the pavement stretching straight out into the scrubland, shimmering in the heat and beckoning with its promise of limitless freedom... It would be so easy to just drive. He didn't even need a destination, the journey itself would be enough.
Perhaps he didn't even need the car. There were buses and trains, and he still had enough cash to buy a ticket to someplace. Any place. He could put his troubles behind him and just... go. Live like a nomad, join a commune or a cult or the goddamn circus...
But he knew running would not solve his problem. In the conversation of two nights ago, it had been made quite clear that there was nowhere he could run from the situation he had gotten himself into. Their web stretched everywhere. They were watching him now, even though he couldn't spot the tail, and if he tried to flee, they would catch up with him and it would all be over.
Or rather, he would wish it were.
Two nights earlier
The first clue that Peter could have had was the black car parked on the street. It wasn't particularly near his building, but it wasn't all that far away, either, and it certainly didn't belong to any of his neighbors. No one in this area would be driving such a vehicle, all shiny and clean and gleaming in the late afternoon sunlight, with windows tinted so dark they were almost the same color as the paint. Had he been paying more attention, he might have realized the implications, but two weeks of upheaval had left his mind running a bit slow.
He opened the door to his apartment building, climbed up three flights of stairs rather than wait for the clunky, overheated elevator, and unlocked the door to his room, where he encountered the car's occupants: two unfamiliar men waiting on the other side of his door.
He considered flight, but something about their demeanor told him it would be useless. One of the men was a giant, bald-headed, thick-necked, and loaded with muscles that his clothing could barely contain. As soon as the door swung open, he fixed Peter with a gaze that seemed to be equal parts an order not to run and a hope that he might. The other man was smaller and thinner, but only by comparison. He was wearing a dark, expensive suit that fit his frame perfectly. His brown hair and goatee were neatly trimmed; a diamond stud glinted from one earlobe.
"Mr. Callanaugh," the smaller man said. "Please. Come in." He spoke carefully and precisely, his voice drenched with the sounds and rhythms of New York City.
Peter felt the adrenalin surging in his blood and fought not to show it. Though he had never seen either of these men before, he knew exactly why they were here. His mind raced, trying to think as he stepped warily into the apartment how they could have found him so quickly . The giant closed the door behind him, locked it, and stood beside the knob, arms crossed over his chest.
The apartment was small, only a single room. Peter had moved in not long before, using half the proceeds from the sale of his car to rent the place, and the furnishings were sparse: a mattress on the floor, piles of clothing that he had mentally labeled "dirty" and "clean", though the difference was not obvious. A mini-refrigerator, a standing lamp, and not much else. Piles of takeout containers littered the counter along the wall that made up the "kitchen".
There were two folding metal chairs and a TV-dinner sized table in the room, as well, items that had not been there when Peter left earlier in the day. The New Yorker gestured to one of the chairs and said "Sit down, Mr. Callanaugh." Peter did, heart pounding in his chest. The New Yorker carefully placed the small table in the space between the two chairs, then settled himself gracefully into the other one. Leo placed a black nylon gym bag next to him, then returned to his post by the door.
Peter began to babble then. "Look, I know why you're here..." but he was immediately silenced by the New Yorker's upraised finger.
"Please, Mr. Callanaugh, all in good time. Now, as we have not yet had the pleasure of meeting, allow me to introduce myself. My name is Alphonse Sorello, and that is my associate Leo by the door. We are in the employ of Mr. Donald Van Eisen, whom I believe you are already acquainted with?"
Peter nodded and the words gushed forth from his mouth again. "Yes, tell Mr. Van Eisen that I'm going to get..." Again the upraised finger stopped the flow.
"Mr. Callanaugh, you seem to be somewhat on edge. Let me assure you that neither my associate nor I are here to harm you in any way. Please, set your mind at ease, so that we can discuss our business in a civilized manner. Perhaps a drink might help?"
He reached down into a bag beside him and extracted a bottle of GlenGarioch - of course it would be GlenGarioch - and two tumblers. Peter's jangled nerves began to relax, but only a bit. If Sorello's words were to be trusted, he might escape injury today, but Van Eisen was not the sort of man he could put off forever. If not today, then tomorrow or the next day the bill would come due... Still, the scotch pulled at him like a magnet, distracting him from his difficulties.
Sorello set the glasses on the table and poured a finger's worth into each. The dark amber fluid flowed in, rich like butter. "I am told you prefer it over ice," Sorello said, "but I'm afraid we did not bring any with us today and there is none in your refrigerator. I hope you will still find it palatable."
He picked up a glass and handed it to Peter, who took it with only a slight trembling in his hand. Sorello tossed his drink back and set the glass on the table. Peter did the same, feeling the welcome heat of the liquor hit his throat and slide burningly, soothingly into his stomach. Almost immediately, he could feel some of his tension evaporating. Some; not all.
Sorello poured again, but this time made no move to pick up his glass. Instead he fixed Peter with his gaze and studied his face for a while.
"Mr. Van Eisen wishes me to convey his greetings to you, and his hope that your fortunes have improved since you and he last spoke."
Peter wrestled with the desire to down another shot of the scotch while he considered his reply. "Please thank Mr. Van Eisen for his good wishes. My fortunes have not improved as much as I would like, but I appreciate his concern." Very polite, very civilized.
"Mr. Van Eisen became worried about you when he did not hear from you for a while. He asked me to inquire after your well-being." A long pause.
"You have been a difficult man to find, Mr. Callanaugh," he said. "I tried to locate you at your former residence with no success. I see now that is because you have found a new place to live."
He gestured at the apartment. Peter's face burned at the comparison between the luxurious suburban home he had left behind and the dingy dump he now lived in. Now he did reach for the whiskey and sent another bolt of warmth into his belly. Sorello smoothly refilled the glass.
"When I was unable to contact you at your workplace, I began to get the idea that perhaps you did not want to be found. If that is the case, then I truly am sorry to have intruded on your solitude. But Mr. Van Eisen was very insistent that I locate you, as it seems you have some unfinished business with him."
Peter began to speak again. "I will get Mr. Van Eisen his money, I promise. I just need a bit more time. If you could please assure him... promise him that I will get it to him. Soon."
"Mr. Van Eisen will be greatly pleased to hear that, especially now, since he recently received an unpleasant surprise that has saddened his heart. It seems that there was a problem with the loan that he issued you for your gaming activities at the Casino La Reina. You will recall, you offered your share of the house you and your wife jointly owned as collateral for the loan. However, Mr. Van Eisen has learned that the house, in fact, has always belonged entirely to your wife. Or rather, your ex-wife? I understand she has initiated divorce proceedings? Please accept my condolences."
Peter nodded and forced himself to sip slowly at the third tumbler of GlenGarioch. After all, what was the point of drinking good scotch if you were just going to throw it back without tasting it?
"Mr. Van Eisen will be heartened to hear of your intention to repay the loan. I am certain, though, that he will ask me for a more specific time frame. May I ask when, exactly, you intend to offer settlement?"
Peter stammered. "As soon... as soon as I... as I can. Truly, Mr. Sorello, I will get him his money."
Sorello stared at him for a long, uncomfortable while.
"Mr. Callanaugh," he said at last, "Mr. Van Eisen did not want it to come to this. He is a man of uncommon refinement and discretion, who takes no pleasure in the misfortunes of others. He would never wish to harm another soul. But he is a businessman. And so I have been instructed to show you this."
Peter's stomach lurched. Sorello pulled a laptop computer out of his bag and began to set it up on the small table, talking as he worked.
"It may surprise you to learn that my primary work for Mr. Van Eisen is not visiting individuals such as yourself. I am not a hired thug. Rather, most of the work I do is in video production and distribution. I do not wish to brag, but I really am quite a good cinematographer. Within my chosen genre, I am simply the best, which is why a certain clientele who appreciates that genre are willing to purchase my work at premium prices.
"I would like to show you one of the projects I worked on recently."
Peter noticed that his glass was empty. He didn't dare to refill it himself, and had to be content with twisting it between his fingers as the laptop's screen lit up with a flickering image.
It showed a man seated at a dinner table in luxurious surroundings. Thick red carpet, crystal and silver on the table, tasteful candles. He wore a starched robin's-egg blue shirt, a burgundy tie, and a navy sport jacket. Despite his surroundings, though, the man looked troubled, with a hollow expression on his face as he dined. His companions were not visible on the screen, but they were all audibly enjoying their meal and companionship much more than the man in the picture.
The scene played out uneventfully while the man picked half-heartedly at his food. Unintelligible conversation swirled around the table, though the man took part in none of it. After a minute or so, Sorello walked into the frame and whispered into his ear.
The real Sorello told Peter, "That's Martin, the star of this show. I had to remind him that it was important for him to finish his meal." Sure enough, Martin began to eat, but robotically, showing no sign of enjoyment.
The scene flashed forward to the end of the meal. Waiters offered the diners a choice of brandy or a dessert wine; Martin chose the brandy. He nursed it, taking tiny sips of the drink while the laughing conversation ebbed and flowed. Glass and silver clinked as the waiters cleared the dishes away. After another minute or so, Sorello's voice came from the laptop.
"Gentlemen, I hope you have enjoyed your dinner. If you would care to follow me, I will now prepare the next portion of your entertainment. This will only take a few minutes, and afterward you may partake in the other diversions that the Casino La Reina has to offer until it is time for us to reconvene. Martin?"
Martin swallowed the last of his brandy. He pushed his chair back and tried to rise, but his legs buckled underneath him. Leo, or a man who looked just like him, glided into the frame and lifted Martin by his arm.
"I'm fine, I'm OK," Martin protested. Leo released his arm but hovered close by as Sorello and Martin made their way through a door and into another room. The camera followed. Peter noticed that it never showed any of the other guests, only Sorello, Martin, and Leo.
Despite his sense of foreboding, Peter had to admit that the film was indeed well-made. The camera work was smooth, the sound quality was superb, even coming from the laptop's tiny speakers. There were no over- or under-lit faces, no signs of amateurism whatsoever. It looked like a major studio release.
The room they entered was much more austere than the opulent dining room they had come from. The walls and ceiling were light grey; the tile floor was a darker shade of the same color. The room was dominated by a heavy chair fixed firmly into the floor. It was made of steel and was clearly not designed for the comfort of its occupant. Strangely, it had a hole cut out of the center of the seat.
Martin's legs gave way once more, and Leo grabbed him swiftly to stop him from falling. Half under his own volition and half propelled by Leo, he sat down in the heavy metal chair. His breathing was ragged and there was a trapped, haunted look in his eyes. Once he was seated, Sorello directed him to unbutton his collar and remove the necktie, which he did with trembling hands. Then Sorello and Leo set to work with chains and manacles, fixing his wrists, elbows, ankles, knees, waist, neck, and forehead to the chair. When they were finished, Martin was immobilized, unable even to turn his head. His eyes were squeezed shut and he was wheezing in fear.
Sorello, the real Sorello, paused the video. "You don't have children, Mr. Callanaugh," he said. "I thought you might be wondering why Martin is behaving so cooperatively here. He was, after all, in much the same situation you find yourself in now, and was not at all pleased to be in my company. The thing is, Martin had two daughters, and understood that he had the choice of either cooperating with me in the production of this video or watching one of his daughters take his place. You'll see me reminding him of this fact shortly.
"Be thankful that you and your wife were never blessed with children, Mr. Callanaugh. They are like a lever straight into a man's soul."
He resumed the playback. The on-screen Sorello and Leo left the frame and only Martin was left in the shot, exploring the limits of his mobility and finding almost none.
Sorello returned, carrying something in his hand. He bent down to speak in Martin's ear. Martin nodded and his Adam's apple bobbed against the steel restraint at his neck. The camera zoomed in close to Martin's head. Martin opened his mouth and Sorello placed the object he was carrying onto Martin's outstretched tongue. It was a steel marble. A tiny hole had been drilled through it, and a hair-thin wire had been run through the hole and soldered in place. Martin closed his mouth. The wire was barely visible, protruding from between his lips.
It took him almost five minutes to successfully swallow the thing. He kept trying, but his body would rebel. Three times he had to spit the marble out. Each time, Sorello gave him a moment to recover, then placed the marble back on his tongue for him to try again.
At last he succeeded, and immediately almost lost it again as his body convulsed in a violent spasm. For a moment it looked as if the marble would be forcefully expelled from his stomach, along with the sumptuous meal he had just consumed. He was able to contain it, though, and kept himself under control. Sorello praised him for his effort, and there was a smattering of applause from the off-screen watchers.
The scene faded, and for the next minute, the video flashed a montage of views. They were all of Martin from various angles, growing increasingly uncomfortable as he sat pinned in the chair, always with the hair-thin wire sticking out of his mouth. A few shots showed the wire trailing away to a long reel of the stuff.
"These were taken over the course of the next day," the real Sorello said. "There's not much to see, which is why I glossed over it in making the video. I left out the times when Leo and I had to unzip his fly so he could take a leak. Also, around three in the morning, he had a complete breakdown, claiming he couldn't take any more and had to get up from the chair, but that didn't fit well with the flow of the story, so it ended up on the cutting room floor. After another hour or so, he had calmed down again.
"Tell me, Mr. Callanaugh. Have I given the plot of this film away too early? Are you able to guess how the action will unfold?"
Peter shook his head, not daring to speak lest his voice tremble.
"Ah, that's good. I like to keep a little suspense in my films."
The video switched to a new scene. On-screen Sorello was speaking to the invisible guests. "Welcome back, gentlemen. I hope you have enjoyed the offerings of the Casino La Reina. We are gathered here now for the evening's feature entertainment."
He and Leo began to unfasten the restraints. When they were gone, Martin climbed unsteadily to his feet, touching the wire at his lips tentatively. Leo handed him a glass of water, which he was able to drink without too much difficulty.
The real Sorello said "I love this next part. He knows what is coming next, but he is so deep in denial that he... well, just watch."
On-screen, Sorello said "Martin, please remove your clothes."
"What?" Martin snapped. He looked genuinely surprised. His voice was clear; the wire was thin enough not to hinder his speech.
"Remove. Your. Clothes."
Martin's expression sank. "No... no, please, not that. Look, I swallowed that fucking marble, right? I sat in your torture chair. That's enough, isn't it? Please, just help me get this thing out of my mouth and let me go?"
"Oh, Martin, the show is far from over. Leo?"
Martin didn't stand a chance against Leo. In almost no time, he was stripped naked and chained in a new position, kneeling. A collar around his neck was locked to the floor, holding his head barely above the grey tile. Each wrist was cuffed to the ankle on the same side, and each pair was pulled out to the side by more chains.
Peter shuddered at the sight. Next to him, Sorello was chuckling. "That still gets me. He actually thought it was over when I let him out of the chair!"
On the screen, Martin moaned in despair. The camera cut to a view from the side at floor level. From above came Sorello's voice.
"Now, Mr. Epsilon was the winner of our wagering earlier this evening, and has earned the first position. Mr. Epsilon?"
Martin wheezed and groaned. There was a rustling of fabric, then a stiff cock appeared at the side of the screen. It was brown in color, with curly black hair at the base, perhaps five inches long and very thick. It glistened with lubricant. The camera shifted around to get a view of the penis settling into place above Martin's ass. It lined up with the tight hole and began to push. Martin bucked and yelled, but the cock was relentless, probing and pushing until it forced its way in and buried itself in Martin's guts, accompanied by the supportive cheers of the onlookers.
"Aaaaaah! Oh, god, you're tearing me apart!" Martin shouted. The audience called and cheered all the louder.
Epsilon's dick began to piston in and out. Martin's protests increased in intensity, along with the shouts of the onlookers. The camera zoomed in to show Martin's face. He had turned his head to the side. The force of the fucking was shoving the side of his head against the floor with each thrust, grinding his ear and temple against the tile. Tears squeezed out from between his clenched eyelids. The wire trailed out from between his lips.
In only a few minutes, Epsilon grunted out a climax. The camera pulled back to show the thick cock slurping out from Martin's hole, slick with slime and a few red drops of blood. It was quickly replaced by a second cock, this one longer and thinner, paler in color and sheathed in a condom. Calls of "Go, Gamma" and "Fuck him hard" came from the laptop's speaker.
Peter watched in horror over the next twenty minutes as Martin was reduced to a gibbering mass of terror by five rapes, one right after another. "There were seven men present," Sorello told him, "but two of them chose not to participate in this portion of the entertainment."
"Entertainment?" Peter choked out. "They're destroying that man! I can't watch any more of this. Please, turn it off, please."
"Sorry, Mr. Callanaugh, but it is very important that you watch the whole thing, because it does have some bearing on your situation. As you have no doubt figured out, Martin was in the unfortunate position of owing Mr. Van Eisen a considerable sum of money. Four hundred and fifty thousand dollars. He repeatedly promised to repay the money he owed, but deadline after deadline came and went with nothing from Martin but more promises. Very similar to your own case, as it happens."
He raised his voice a bit to be heard over the shrieks and catcalls emanating from the laptop.
"Now, as I've said, Mr. Van Eisen is a businessman. He is not cruel or vengeful. His only interest in Martin was in completing their mutual business arrangement. Mr. Van Eisen takes no joy in the sufferings of others."
Sorello turned and stared into Peter's eyes. "In that regard, Mr. Van Eisen and I are completely different."
He turned back to the screen, where Alpha's dick was being replaced by Zeta's. "That is why Mr. Van Eisen keeps me in his employ. Because I have the ability to, as it were, squeeze blood from a stone. In a case such as Martin's, when it has become clear that a business partner will be unable to uphold his end of a deal, I go to work by producing a video. I invite several members of a very select club to participate in the filming, each of whom pays a share of the production costs in exchange for a supporting role in the film and a copy of the result when the work is complete. I also offer the video for sale through discreet channels, though the revenues from that source are small compared to those from the initial participants."
"It's a very satisfying arrangement Mr. Van Eisen completes his business transaction, and the film's backers get a product that they can obtain almost nowhere else on earth. Oh, and I get to exercise my creative talents. I, after all, am the one who comes up with the scripts for the films."
Martin on the screen had at last gone silent, and was enduring his fifth rape with slack eyes and spittle drooling down his cheek.
"I must say, Mr. Callanaugh, I love my work."
Peter looked at the bottle of GlenGarioch and almost reached for it, but the sour, acidic churning in his stomach convinced him to leave it alone.
"Ah, we're about to get to the next part," Sorello said. "This is now the third day."
The final rape ended, and Martin was left a broken wreck on the floor. The scene faded out and was replaced by a shot of him back in the chair, shackled in place as before. He was still naked, staring blankly ahead into space. There was a bit gag in his mouth, preventing his teeth from closing together. After a moment, he began to squirm. A pale yellow stream began to flow into a bucket beneath the hole in the chair, followed shortly after by brown half-liquid globules and something else as well, something that didn't fall all the way down.
Leo came over to inspect the results. "It's here," he called, then set to work cleaning up the mess.
The scene shifted again. The audience was back. Sorello stood next to Martin, still chained in place.
"Gentlemen, we now begin the final phase of our show. As you can see, the wire has now passed completely through Martin's system."
The camera focused on the marble, dangling from a short length of wire underneath the seat, then pulled back again.
"Now, this wire is far too thin and flexible to do much of anything with, but it is strong enough to pull another thicker wire. This second wire will be a little less flexible, a little less able to negotiate the twists and turns of Martin's intestinal tract, but I imagine we'll be able to get it through."
Martin perked up at that remark. "Please," he croaked, barely understandable through the gag. "Please, don't do this. I beg you. Please."
Sorello cut the end of the wire an arm's length from where it stuck out from Martin's mouth. Then he took the end of a second spool of wire, thicker and stronger than the first. He twisted the two ends together and soldered them until the joint was smooth. Meanwhile, Leo was setting up a device underneath the chair, and Martin continued his stream of protests with increasing panic.
When Sorello had finished soldering, he bent under the chair and pulled on the dangling marble. More wire emerged from Martin's body, and Sorello attached it to the device. He pressed a button on it and it began to whirr. Slowly, an axle spun, gradually rolling the wire onto itself. The small amount of slack was quickly taken up, and the wire went taut.
As more and more wire was pulled out of his ass, Martin's face began to change. He grunted and twitched, his fingers clenching and unclenching against the armrests.
The video Sorello said "The human digestive tract is some six meters in length from start to finish. The roller is taking up about one centimeter every three seconds, so it should take about thirty minutes to pull a wire all the way through. Of course, the wire is not going to follow all those twists and turns, but is going to make itself a somewhat shorter route. Counting the slack on either end, the total time should be somewhat more than half an hour."
Martin bucked and thrashed. He screamed and pleaded for Sorello to stop. Sorello's only response was to put his hand on Martin's shoulder and smile a demonic smile.
Soon enough, Martin was in serious pain. The relentless pull on the thin wire was putting pressure on the folds of his guts, forcing them to realign themselves until they could shift no further and the wire tore through the tender tissue. The wire that was rolling up on the spool now was bathed in red. Martin's whimpers and groans were punctuated by occasional screams as pieces of his intestine gave way under the pressure.
At last, some twenty minutes in, the wire began to visibly move at Martin's mouth. Enough slack had been taken up inside him to transmit the pull all the way through to the other end. The thicker wire began to unroll off its spool, crawling toward Martin's screaming mouth. The soldered joint slid in past the gag and disappeared. When it reached his throat, Martin gagged and choked, but the pull was unstoppable and the thicker wire forced its way down. Sorello removed the gag; the new wire was much too thick to bite through.
Less than ten minutes later, the joint came out the other end. Sorello waited until a few loops of the thicker wire had wrapped around the spool, then shut off the machine.
"Now, gentlemen, I will turn off the camera and allow you some time to inspect the results so far."
The scene faded to black. When it came back, Martin had been released from his bonds, though he still sat in the chair. He was no longer screaming. His breathing was labored, and he frequently hacked and coughed, spewing red flecks into the air. He pulled gingerly at the wire where it entered his mouth, wanting to dislodge it yet knowing it would never come out and that trying would only cause him pain.
Sorello went to work with yet another wire. When Martin saw what he was doing, he began to panic again, screaming, thrashing, and flailing around, though gingerly, as if every small motion caused him intense pain. This wire was larger yet, more of a cable than a wire, a quarter of an inch thick and made up of many strands twisted together. Sorello cut the second wire as he had the first and fixed the cable onto the severed end. Then he started the winding machine up again and the process repeated itself.
It went much more quickly the second time. The cable was drawn into Martin's mouth, through his body, and out the other side in under ten minutes. Martin made horrific gagging noises as it forced its way down his throat. Once it was in, the thick cable prevented Martin from closing his mouth and forced him to tilt his head upward to accommodate its rigidity. He gagged and coughed almost constantly as his body sought to disgorge the foreign invader. His hands pulled ineffectually at the cable, trying to reverse its motion, but the motorized winch turned relentlessly.
When it was through, Sorello again shut off the machine. He cut the cable so that about half a meter protruded from Martin's ass. Then he gave Martin a shove that sent him sprawling onto the floor. Other figures crowded around Martin where he fell, visible as arms or shoulders or knees but never faces. They poked and prodded at him and chatted with one another, relishing the cries he made in his distress.
After a short while, Sorello politely shouldered his way through the crowd with a final piece of hardware: a metal rod about as long as a man's forearm and as thick around as his thumb. It had a hole drilled crosswise through its center, just large enough for Sorello to pass the ass end of the cable through so that the rod and cable formed a T-shape. He secured the rod in place with a clamp on the end of the cable, then stood back.
"One last thing to do," he told the crowd. He cut the cable at the mouth end with several meters of length to spare. This he fed, using a ladder, into a second winch fixed to a strong ceiling rafter. Martin watched him with mournful eyes and pleaded "Ngo... ngo... ngo..."
Sorello started the winch and the motor began to spin. Slowly, slowly, the cable was drawn upward. Martin dragged his body to a spot directly under the winch to keep slack in the cable for as long as possible, but inevitably it was drawn taut. Cable began to be pulled out of his mouth, emerging bloody and covered in bits of torn tissue. At the other end, the cable was pulled into his ass until the rod made contact with his pelvis and no further pull was possible. Sorello reached down to align the rod front-to-back between Martin's legs, then stepped back.
Choking, gagging, retching, Martin was steadily lifted upward. He scrabbled to a standing position, but that only bought him a short time. His hands clawed at the cable and could find no grip on its slick surface. Inexorably, the retracting cable lifted him higher until his toes lost their purchase and he twisted and spun in mid-air, a handspan above the floor. Martin's arms dropped to his sides.
Sorello stopped the winch then. The onlookers had at last gone silent, marveling at the sight of a man suspended by a cable that ran straight through his body from mouth to anus. His head was forced far back by the vertical cable. His arms and legs twitched and flailed, seeking any relief at all from the nightmare of agony he was in. Dark red blood dripped from the corners of his mouth and from between his legs. His breathing was strained but unimpeded by the cable passing through his throat Though he could not possibly survive the injuries that had been done to him, Martin was clearly far from death for now, and likely to endure his hellish torment for a long time to come.
"All right, gentlemen," Sorello said. "He is yours to do with as you will." The scene faded to black again.
Peter bolted from the room at this point, barely making it to the tiny bathroom before the sound of vomiting poured out from it. He stayed in there a long while.
When he came out, the chairs, the table, and the laptop had been packed away and only the bottle of GlenGarioch remained, standing half-full on one of the few clear places on the counter. Leo was standing by the door holding the black bag. Sorello turned from the room's lone window at Peter's approach.
"There's more to the video, but I think you've seen enough," he said.
"I'll get the money. I swear I'll get the money," he said.
"I'm sure you will, Mr. Callanaugh," Sorello answered. "But time is short. Mr. Van Eisen wishes to have this business settled by Friday. Five o'clock in the afternoon. The debt is six hundred and twelve thousand dollars and change, but he is willing to accept an even six hundred."
Sorello moved toward the door. "Mr. Callanaugh, I will say this next part because it is true, even though I expect you will not believe me. Few people ever do. There is no other way out of your situation. If you go to the police, or the FBI, or any sort of law enforcement agency, like Martin did, one of my contacts in those agencies will see that you are handed over to me. If you try to run, if you try to hide, I will track you down. You might even consider doing yourself harm, thinking that a departure from this life under circumstances of your own choosing would be preferable to the alternative. You will not succeed.
"You have only two choices. Pay Mr. Van Eisen his money, and you will never see me again. Or you and I will make a movie together."
He and Leo turned and left.
The rest of that evening disappeared in a GlenGarioch-induced haze.
Peter trudged the sidewalk in the blazing sun, trying very hard not to look suspicious. He rounded the corner and the office of the Wells Fargo bank came into view.
It was crowded, too crowded. At least half a dozen cars were parked in the small parking lot, and he could see several shadowy figures through the tinted windows. He decided to go in anyway. What did it matter, after all? Either he succeeded or not, and failure might even be preferable to success. Van Eisen was based in Vegas; how many fingers could he have in the Lake Havasu police department? He steeled himself to walk in the door.
Just like all the times before, though, his nerves got the better of him and he walked on past. He decided to give up for today and try again tomorrow. It would have to be tomorrow; there was no time after that. Perhaps a good night's sleep and a solid breakfast in the morning would steady his nerves enough to be able to walk inside without twitching like an epileptic, to hand the teller the note he had in his pocket, to firmly grasp the only hope he had of getting himself out of this impossible, untenable situation.
For today, though, he would stop for a sandwich, take it home to eat, and try to think about something else.
It was a pity there was none of that scotch left.