Via Crucis

If you’ve never bee on the business end of an angry mob, I don’t really recommend it. It’s loud, frightening, and you tend to pee your pants a little. Okay, a lot.

Whatever Michael had told these people, it resonated. After Ivan and the other guards shoved me out onto the carrier deck, I was met by a throng of howling faces and screaming fists. I was knocked sideways at the onset, down to my knees, where I was met by a parade of snap-kicks and elbows. My blood splattered on the deck like so much modern art.

Voices called out in a barrage of languages, most of which I didn’t understand. I did pick out the occasional “Kill him!” in English, which I found oddly comforting. Another kick to the head, a couple to the balls, and I was laid out flat.

Someone got ahold of my shirt and yanked hard, tearing it from my body. The collar caught at my neck and suddenly I was being wrenched upright by the jugular. I hadn’t been able to breathe much at that point anyway, but the extra lack of blood flow really made the world spin. Another kick to the balls and I pretty much lost it. Shit went real dark for two or three seconds, then there was a sudden flash of red light and the shirt was off. My vision slammed back into place just in time to greet a hurling, whistling fist, followed a solid crack, announcing the destruction of my nose.

There was a lot of shouting by the guards, mostly Korean, with a bit of Soviet Ivan in the mix. I wasn’t sure if I’d gone into shock, or if the crowd had let up, but for some reason fresh pains stopped arriving and my brain got a chance to start cataloging the damage. It wasn’t happy.

Consciousness came in intervals, just bits and flashes: a pair of boots, a cloud, a green door, a baton, and good, solid, throbbing pain all over me, everywhere.

Suddenly, I realized that I was being dragged by the arm pits. My legs were somewhere behind me, thumping along like a couple of obedient dogs. The crowd had fanned out. Korean uniforms had formed a barrier, waving their hands and guns around to keep the savages at bay. They dragged me along the deck for I don’t know how long, then we thumped up a flight of stairs, which my brain indignantly reported had destroyed my kneecaps. I told brain to hold all my calls until further notice.

Then, there was a face. A Michael Telders face.

“Well, hello there,” A Michael Telders’ face said.

“I said no calls, Brain.”

[I’m afraid he insisted], Brain said.

“Fine, goddammit. But I’m gonna remember this, asshole.”

[Patching him though], Brain replied.

A seemingly disembodied hand slapped me repeatedly on the cheek. “You still alive, Wayne old boy? I wouldn’t want you to miss the big finale.”

I guess I’d only been using my right eye. When I tried my left, there was a squishy sound, and 220 volts of scorching hot agony shot straight through my head and exploded down my spine to my toes.

“Oh that looks like it hurts.,” Telders said. “You might not want to use that eye anymore. Like, ever.”

Someone chuckled somewhere in the distance.

“Anyway, it’s time to get up, Wayney-poo. Time to shine!”

Someone said something that I couldn’t make out.

“In his condition? Not long, I’d guess,” Telders replied. “Okay, here we go.”

I was lifted up. We were high above the carrier deck, atop a platform, like a dais, towering over the swarming crowd below. Telders raised his hands and the crowd went nuts.

“We had this especially made for you,” Telders said. He motioned for the guards to spin me around. A tall, metal pole had been erected on the platform, and affixed to he pole, was a large, iron cross.

Telders gestured to Ivan, who came forward and took me into his arms. He grinned, then turned me around and pressed me against the cold metal of the cross. He leaned against me with his left shoulder and placed my left arm along the horizontal beam of the cross. Holding it in place, he snapped a steel handcuff around my left wrist. Spikes on the inside of the cuff pierced my flesh. “This is worst way to die,” he said, snapping the other cuff on my right wrist. One of the spikes cracked a bone and a bolt of fire shot up my arm. “And yet, is too good for you.”

Ivan took his hands away and let the cuffs take my weight. I screamed in agony.

“Hurts?” Ivan said with a smirk. He bent down, crossed my ankles, and snapped another cuff around my legs. The spikes stabbed in, and I instinctively dropped my weight to relieve the pressure on my wrists. Razor-like pain shot up my legs.

Ivan stood up and looked me in the eye. “Right side up, you die of heart attack.” He grabbed the left side of the cross and pulled. My view spun sideways as the cross turned. My weight briefly shifted to my right wrist, then fully on both wrists as the cross locked in place, upside down. Ivan knelt down and tapped me on the forehead. “Upside down your brain explode from inside.”

Ivan patted me on the shoulder, then moved away. An upside down Telders came into view. Michael winked, then turned to face the crowd. He raised his hands into the air.

“It is the day of reckoning!” he shouted.

The crowd went nuts.