Kaltherzig pushed him inside as the headlights receded behind them. Closed the door. Locked the door. Stared at him with eyes like snow-colored glass and said "Go downstairs and wait for me."
"And take all of that off," and the clink of bottles, a glass, the doors to the bar.
Well, there was only one downstairs, in Kaltherzig's immaculate little house. Erich opened the door that wasn't a pantry and pulled on the ring set in the floor. It yawned open on a throat of concrete steps that dwindled down into the dark.
He hit the stairs at the same run and thought I'll fall and only because he stopped thinking about his feet he didn't fall, and the door slammed above him and he made one bright cry of terror and caught at the chain in the dusty slabs of light from the few narrow high windows. Most of the far wall was lined with desks that Kaltherzig seemed to be using as a lab. They were spread with a long complicated system of mad scientist glass, typewriters, files and books and diagrams propped on tiny easels.
After some searching he turned on the long banks of lights hanging over the desks, and saw the wooden L bolted to the wall, The loop of metal and the rope that hung through it painted their shadows on the concrete. There was a second hook in the vertical beam. He knew what it was. He'd seen it done out in the camp, though always at a distance. Simple. They tied your hands behind you, and then hung you up by them, until it dislocated your arms, or you went mad, or both.
It was one of the things he Just Didn't Think About. Well, he was thinking about it now.
He undressed with fingers that were already cold, sat down with a thump and wrapped his arms around his knees.
But he wouldn't, he would
lose his ability to work if he was
It dawned on him then, and it made him sit down, hard, on the strange cold floor. He held his knees and rocked a little, eyes wide and focused on nothing. It was a long time before the door opened at the top of the stairs.
The smash of the door torn open, and Kaltherzig came downstairs drunk and with his tie loose and his hat missing. He had to duck to miss the ceiling on the way down the stairs, where Erich had not, and he felt extremely small, and extremely naked. He tried "Sir--" and Kaltherzig made an animal noise at him that scared him into utter silence.
He kicked Erich hard, ass and thighs and ribcage, kicked him until he crawled and then steered him under the rope that way, herding him with the toes and the sides of his black boots. He'd never done that before, and this felt like he meant it. Erich didn't understand what to do once he was there, and Kaltherzig snarled at him and pulled his hands behind his back.
The tying was awful. Kaltherzig had never been quite this careless with him, scorching his wrists with fast pulls and tight knots. He thought useless again. There was the same sense of having his hands taken away from him, but what seemed somehow right in Block Ten was nightmarish here in this new room.
There was no try at resistance this time. He was already crying and reduced to a great deal of sir and please don't hurt me, and none of it made Kaltherzig pause for a single instant. He took up enough slack to pull Erich's arms up and draw him onto his kneecaps, and tied it off on a second hook in the vertical beam. Then he dragged at Erich pulled him farther and farther from the hook, shoved and kicked him until the rope drew his wrists high behind his back, made him press his face close to the floor.
Kaltherzig sat crosslegged like an Indian, close enough for his boot to brush Erich's hair. "Listen to me very carefully, boy."
"I had to .he's Mengele he made me "
"No." Patiently, as if it were a shame he was still missing this essential, simple truth. "Not for Mengele. Not for anyone but me. Not for Hitler or God himself, only me."
Erich was, quiet. Awestruck. Now he understood the magnitude of his sin, and he could hear nothing but his heartbeat, feel his pulse inside the dangerous ring of rope. "I didn't know "
Still, patiently. "Yes you did."
It was true.
He closed his eyes, and he couldn't help saying " but don't, break me, please, not that " and he stopped, thinking it was like baiting a dragon, thinking of knights and armor and having his arms twisted around in their sockets like twigs before he was shot in the head, or buried alive. Or thrown in an oven.
"Idiot." A stroke, at his bowed head. "Why not?"
Stunned. "Because I want to stay with you."
A laugh, a fake one. "Oh, now you want to stay with me. I thought you wanted Josef to cure you."
"No, you, I want, you"
"You'll have to prove it." And he unfolded, stood up, and the footsteps moved away.
The rope tugged at his wrists, pulled in inexorable slow motion until he stood, until he was on tiptoe, and Kaltherzig tied it off again. "I will, I'll prove it, just, please"
A pull, and he was on the very tips of his toes like a ballet dancer and he could feel himself falling and the first scream through his shoulders and he opened his mouth and Kaltherzig let it go, dropping him back to the slightly less agonizing tiptoe.
Bootheels. A door, opening and closing. Erich realized he'd gone upstairs, and left him there.
It was easier at first, when he was sure it would not be hours, when he was sure Kaltherzig would come back any minute now. He could touch the ground. He might dislocate his arms if he fell, he supposed, but all he had to do was avoid that, and he would be fine. Kaltherzig only wanted to scare him, and oh how he'd succeeded, and all he had to do was to not, fall, and to convince Kaltherzig of his terror and his remorse when he came back. Any minute now.
But the minutes came and kept coming, until he was sure they were rolling into hours. At first it was merely stiff discomfort, tiredness, from such an awkward pose with so little room to shift his feet. The balls of his feet were the first place to genuinely hurt, and then his shoulders and a harness of muscles around them he couldn't really move to ease.
His thighs and calves started in with their own complaints, and he managed an awkward toe-walk that made him sway and whimper, spreading his feet. That took the strain off some muscles but made the pain in his shoulders worse, and he had to move his feet together again. He tried standing up higher, now, for the sake of his shoulders, but his calves and his feet wouldn't permit that for long, and he was back to trying to spread his feet again.
That was when he began to understand.
There were only a few stops on this wheel. Feet apart, tiptoes, and a new one he found but had to give up, tiptoes and a grasp at the rope above his wrists. He had to bend his hand uncomfortably far to manage this, and the angle stole most of the strength from his fingers, and he had to give that one up after only a few tries. It didn't seem to help anything, at any rate, though it made him feel a little steadier somehow. He was wracked with fits of sobbing, in frustration and rage that made him want to stomp or scream or something, anything, to escape this cramping ache that swung from shoulders to calves and arches and toes like malaria pains.
He was moaning I promise when the door opened again, and Kaltherzig came down. He dissolved into please and then gave this up when Kaltherzig didn't reply. He didn't have the energy to keep pleading. That one simple thing, not falling, had become the center of his world. Worse, he was beginning to feel a bone-deep exhaustion, weak and trembling, that warned him there would come a time when he could not help but fall.
"You promise." Kaltherzig said, finally, and he was untying the rope from the hook, and Erich was crying again in relief, but Kaltherzig did not lower him. "A promise is something you decide, my boy, a promise is thinking, and then acting. What I want from you is a reflex."
Kaltherzig drew up another six inches of slack, so that his toes barely brushed the floor, so that he shrieked in horror and surprise, so that all his motions and his stations were impossible. He tied Erich there, and went upstairs again.
Oh, merciful heavens, I am so beyond happy to have found this.
I literally just finished the original Schadenfreude post a few minutes ago. I was ecstatic when I found it because it had been maybe a year or two since I had first read the entire thing? Oh, but when I got to the end there were so many feels, I was heartbroken because it just couldn't end there. Needing more, I found this... Beauty.
I'm busily finishing a second draft of Schadenfreude as quickly as my health will let me. There seemed to be places where I promised evil and didn't deliver any, so I'm adding more film here and there. I have sketchy notes and fragments of film for an eventual second book, but so many projects in line ahead of it that I couldn't begin to know when it will start growing.
Welcome, dear. And the link made me laugh. As soon as there's a physical version for sale I'll let everyone know here.
Oh! I do wish you luck with finishing it. It makes me excited to know there will be more content in it because I really do want to see more with Erich and Ahren. I'd also just as quickly buy that second book if it ever happened. xD
I'm happy I could amuse you. c: And thank you, again!
Oh my lord, this was just delicious. Evil, very much so, but still very delicious. I've missed Kaltherzig more than I thought - now I'm going to have cravings again, damn you ;b No wait I didn't mean that, please tease me more!
I posted some of it in an attempt to scare the rest of it into behaving. Everything from New York on to the very very end has already been edited about a jillion times. If I could just machete my way that far, I might succeed in this. For the love of Hell.
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`anmari has been spreading her infectious positivity throughout our community for over 6 years. Throughout this time Ana has been at the core of all things devious, passionately developing an eclectic gallery, helping organise devmeets, participating in chat events and also recently completed dedicating her time as a Community Volunteer. We are absolutely delighted to bestow the Deviousness Award for May 2013 to `anmari, congratulations! Read More