Alfonso risked a glance over his shoulder to where he knew Ivan was waiting, hidden back at the base of the trees. His comrade’s camouflage was excellent – even though Alfonso knew exactly where to look, he could see no trace of Ivan. Perfect – stealth was essential for their mission. This deep behind enemy lines there was no chance of rescue if things went wrong.
There was no warning at all. One moment Alfonso was belly-crawling another few inches forward, the next he felt the muzzle of a rifle pressing into the back of his neck. The sun-warmed metal quickly grew uncomfortably hot against his skin, but he didn’t dare move. The owner of the rifle barked something at him in Russian, thick consonants sounding like they were being torn from his throat. Alfonso took a guess at what the harsh noises might mean and opened his hands, moving them slowly out to each side of his head. “Nye govoryu po-russki”, he replied, forcing his mouth to shape the ugly syllables of the invaders’ language in one of the few phrases he had memorized.
Booted feet appeared either side of him and his hands were roughly yanked behind his back. Cuffs were applied to ensure they would stay there. Alfonso was lifted to his feet and force-marched the rest of the way across the field, covering in two minutes the same distance that had taken him two hours to crawl earlier that morning.
Entering one of the tents, he was brutally hurled to the floor in front of a small man in a perfectly-pressed uniform. There was more Russian gabble, and then, finally, words Alfonso could understand.
“My men want to execute you right away, you know,” the neatly-dressed man said calmly, without a trace of an accent. “Such rash young things. How fortunate for you that I am the one in charge here and I have decided that you should live a little longer.”
“Now,” the well-dressed man said, kneeling down to stare into Alfonso’s brown eyes with his icy blue ones, “my men inform me that they found two sets of footprints in the woods, but only one footprint-maker. Logic suggests that you have a companion who is still roaming around out there, getting into who knows what trouble. Why don’t you help us save him from making an embarrassing mistake by telling us where we might find him?”
Alfonso stared at him for a moment or so, then quickly, striking like a cobra, spat in the man’s face. The commander backed away, never losing his calm expression, and fished a cloth from his pocket to dab at his face.
One of Vladimir’s two men stepped forward, aiming a booted foot toward Alfonso’s mouth, but Vladimir stopped him with a movement of his hand. He kept quiet for a few moments, continuing to stare into Alfonso’s eyes as he wiped the saliva off his cheek. Then, standing slowly, still moving with calm deliberation, he smiled. He spoke a few words in Russian and the two men disappeared. They returned a minute or so later, carrying a human-sized wooden cross. The sight of the cross made Alfonso’s heard pound in his chest. The men lifted Alfonso, removed the cuffs, and tied him to the frame, stretching his arms so much he thought his shoulders were going to pop apart. Then they left the room.
The boss-man approached and once more stared into Alfonso’s eyes. Slowly, methodically, he took hold of Alfonso’s shirt and tore it in half right down the centerline of the chest, ripping a few inches at a time. “Now, soldier,” he said, fitting the words into the spaces between pulls on the fabric, “my name is Vladimir, and I am looking forward to learning your name, along
with whatever other information you decide to tell me over the course of our conversation.” The shirt was now torn completely in half, the two parts dangling limply beside Alfonso’s ribs. “Do you know what I like about men like you?” he purred, placing his hand on Alfonso’s smooth chest. Alfonso could feel his heart beating like a drum beneath the man’s palm. “You’ve clearly got a tough body. It will be able to take more than most men. Which means… more fun for me.”
Alfonso looked down at his now slightly-sweaty chest and at Vladimir’s hand resting aggressively, intrusively on it, certain that Vladimir could actually hear the frantic beating of his heart, not merely feel it beneath his fingers. The commander dropped his hand and turned away. He walked back to a desk, opened a drawer and pulled out a large number of very long, thick needles. Alfonso swallowed hard, a lump forming in his throat.
“Now,” Vladimir said, turning back toward Alfonso’s pinned, helpless body, “this is where the fun begins. For me.” He drew out one of the needles. Calling the implement a “needle” was an understatement, like calling a hawk a “bird” or calling a fighter jet a “plane” – the word did not do the object justice. It was approximately as long as his hand and perhaps half as thick as a pencil. He watched Alfonso’s eyes as the needle emerged to glint in the light – a slight widening, but not a panic reaction. Good to know, although Vladimir could have worked as easily with panic.
Vladimir gazed at the needle in his hand for a bit, then reached out to caress his victim’s side with his other hand, running it from the moderate dusting of chest fur at the front to the smoother parts beneath the armpit. “Why don’t we start with you telling me your name, hmm? I’d like to keep this as civilized as possible, and it seems tactless to keep thinking of you as ‘Victim Number Seventeen’. So dehumanizing. What should I call you instead?”
After a few seconds of silence, Vladimir reached forward with the needle and placed it against his captive’s skin, angling it forward from just behind the side of the pectoral muscle. He pressed and the finely-honed point dug a dimple into the flesh, depressing it briefly until the skin parted with a faint popping sound and the tip slid underneath. Vladimir kept pressing, smoothly applying pressure until the needle began to emerge just under and to the outside of the taut nipple. A tiny mountain raised itself up until finally the second layer of skin parted like the first, though with a much louder “pop”, and the tip of the needle emerged followed by a thin trail of dark red blood.
Alfonso’s breathing was rough and ragged and tiny moans emerged from his mouth as the needle made its transit. Without pausing for a break, Vladimir withdrew a second needle and placed it on the other side as a mirror image of the first.
“I have approximately five hundred of these,” he said casually. “That’s a total of about two and a half kilograms of metal. I can find places for every single one of them over the next few hours. I hope that will inspire you to take a greater role in our conversation than you have done so far, but if it doesn’t, then I’m sure I’ll be able to think of other alternatives afterward.”
“Well, don’t tell me your name if you don’t want, I don’t mind it at all to be honest. Actually, I already know some interesting things about you. Do you want to know?”. Vladimir got closer to Alfonso and whispered to him “I know where you’re from, according to the badge on your uniform. And here is the curious thing, I’m a soldier too, you know? Actually, I am one of the people who specializes in making stubborn enemy soldiers like you talk. It can be a difficult job, but I find it has certain… compensations”
The nineteenth and twentieth needles went through the meat of Alfonso’s thighs, causing the legs to tremble and quiver. Vladimir opened the next box of needles, but when he started to place the next… what was this? The very first two needles he had inserted were no longer oozing blood. How curious – usually the slow drips continued a while longer, but the entry and exit points were already scabbed over. He looked at the others, and found that all forty holes – even the four he had just created – did not look like fresh injuries. The oldest looked like they had been healing for a few days, the newest for a few hours. And yet it had only been minutes. Curious indeed.
He decided to experiment. The next needle went in through Alfonso’s side from front to back, drilling through the muscles of the belly but avoiding any vital organs. The next went in parallel to it and slightly higher, and gradually he built a ladder up his writhing victim’s side, setting needles into a parallel line running from the top of his pelvis to his lowermost rib. Sure enough, by the time he had finished placing the top rung of the ladder, the first one had stopped bleeding.
“You are a fascinating young man, it seems,” he said, looking into his victim’s face. “Were you aware, I wonder, that your body heals itself from wounds much more quickly than other men? Ah, I see you knew that already. I suspect your army knows it too. I wonder… could they be responsible for it? Hmm. Well, this adds an interesting wrinkle to what was already a very enjoyable job.”
Alfonso`s heart skipped a beat. Vladimir continued to drive spikes through the bound man’s skin and muscles, eliciting sharp intakes of breath and a few whimpering moans. By the time he had emptied the fifth box – 100 needles – Alfonso was trying – and occasionally failing – to hold himself unnaturally still because any movement set the needles to dancing uncomfortably in his flesh. “Now,” Vladimir said, “I don’t usually remove any of the ornaments until the end of the session, but this intriguing ability of yours is too fascinating. I need to experiment a bit.” He withdrew the first spike he had inserted and inspected the resulting hole. “Fascinating indeed,” he murmured. “Do you realize this has very nearly healed over? Your little cells have been working overtime, haven’t they? Building new skin, sealing off the injured area… in any other man, this would have taken months, but your body managed it in under an hour. And now as a result, you have a nearly-fully-healed body piercing. How remarkable. A shame I don’t have a ring or barbell of suitable size to insert in the hole… ah, wait, here is something.” He picked up a piece of rough twine from the floor. Using a small piece of clear tape, he attached one end of the twine to the thick end of the needle, then slowly pushed the needle back into the hole it had created. This time he kept pushing until the needle went all the way through and out the other side, drawing the twine after it. When the needle had fully emerged, he removed the tape and was left with a length of twine embedded in his victim’s body. He sawed the twine back and forth a few times, generating a raspy noise that grated on his ears. “Ah. Such an interesting sensation this must be for you. I can only imagine.”
“Wow, you are a tough one. I didn’t think you’d hold out this long”. Vladimir stated, standing back and looking at his work. He smiled at the panting form in front of him. Alfonso´s torso was now full of needles and drenched with sweat, his chest heaving uncontrollably. “We’ve been at this for nearly eight hours. I didn’t expect you to last for half that time, and I do, unfortunately, have other responsibilities that I must attend to. And so, alas, our time together must come to an end.” Said that, Vladimir left the tent.
Hardly being able to keep composed due to the pain inside him, Alfonso realized that at that rate, his torturer would eventually discover the secret behind his body. The truth was, waiting in the side of his neck (and causing an almost unnoticeable shimmer) there were billions of nanorobots which started flowing throught his blood the moment he got injured, healing almost every wound he could get in a short time. He wasn’t immortal, he could die as well, but the nanorobots made it less likely. Not everyone could be like him. The army injected the nanomachines into every recruit it got. In 90 cases out of 100, the enhancement didn’t work and the machines were flushed harmlessly out of the recruit’s body. But in those 10% of people that the machines were compatible with, they established a symbiotic relationship with their host, granting him increased resistance to pain, rapid healing from injury, and immunity to every disease and infection. Indeed, Ivan was one of those people, a normal soldier. Alfonso felt glad thinking that it was going to be him and not his mate who had to face whatever Vladimir had planned for him. He had no idea at all how much he was going to regret it, how sadistic Vladimir would get.
Taking advantage of this short moment of peace, Alfonso thought of his pregnant beloved, the moment they say goodbye and he promised to her he would marry her after that war finished. That happened a year and a half ago. “Could it have been a girl? A boy?”
Few minutes after, he heard the door opening and Alfonso looked to Vladimir, who was carrying a long dagger. Vladimir gave him another of his evil smiles as he noticed his beloved prisoner realizing what were about to happen.
Alfonso’s heart continued to pound erratically as Vladimir approached him, the dagger extended. He place the icy cold tip against Alfonso’s heaving chest, right over his hard-pumping heart muscle. Vladimir looked into Alfonso’s eyes, and shoved the blade deep into his hairy chest, careful not to puncture the heart. Alfonso’s eyes widened and he let out a gasp of pain as the man withdrew the blade and shoved his hand in the hole, right between his muscular tits. His face contorted into a grimace when Vladimir’s hand found the target, gave it a light squeeze, and pulled it from the mighty chest slowly. During the ripping procces, he witnessed with delightment the veins and arteries that were broken being repaired instantly. The torturer stood in front of the tortured, holding the pounding muscle in his blood-covered hand. Vladimir felt the pump kicking hard in his hand, the various veins and arteries connecting itself to Alfonso still attached.
Vladimir took one more needle.
Alfonso’s eyes opened in horror, realizing what was about to happen.
Vladimir smiled as he began to press the needle into Alfonso’s heart until the tough outer membrane broke. Alfonso gasped several times as the man grabbed another needle and pressed it in just as slow in another area of his pumping heart. Alfonso jerked his head back in agony as the needle was lodged into his heaving muscle. Vladimir carried on until 5 needles found themselves invading Alfonso’s heart, making him have no longer the strength to scream Alfonso had never felt such pain, nor had he ever been aware of his heart as a separate muscle until this moment as the needles sat there, prodding painfully into it.
“Look down,” Vladimir commanded. Despite all the agony, Alfonso did. Vladimir was holding what appeared to be a stick in front of his hips. As Alfonso’s eyes focused better, he realized the stick was actually his torturer’s erect cock.
You’re…a sick-…son of a…” Alfonso forced his words out without any air to support them so they failed him.
“And you’re a dead man.” Vladimir hissed, enjoying Alfonso’s lack of fight. Still with Alfonso’s quivering heart in one hand, he licked the bloody edge of the blade before thrusting it into Alfonso’s sternum.
Alfonso let out a pained grunt as his already air-deprived lungs felt like they were constricted. He gasped for air and let out a raspy cry as the blade was pulled out, he felt like it took half of his remaining life out with it.
While he was dying, his life slowly fading away through all the holes in his body, Alfonso thought once again of his beloved, lamenting that he had not been able to fulfill his promise to marry her and see the fruit of their love grow. In spite of all the pain, Alfonso managed to outline a weak smile, thinking that at least the image of her would be his last thought before dy….
His thoughts were interrupted as he felt his chin being elevated and his bloody lips being kissed slowly and carefully. He managed to lift his heavy eyelids and saw his torturer licking the blood from his lips and kissing them. The image disgusted him and closed his mouth tightly, but his punisher moved the fine needles that pierced his heart, which made Alfonso groan in pain, allowing his punisher to invade his mouth with his tongue. “At least it won’t last long,” thought Alfonso, surrendering and closing his eyes to at least not have to face such repulsive vision.
A few seconds later, Vladimir stopped kissing him and moved away from the cross where Alfonso was spending the last agonizing moments of his life. Alfonso took advantage of that momentary peace to recall the image of his beloved again before dying. He had barely managed it when suddenly he felt a hand resting on his aching right shoulder and then his abdomen was stabbed by something serrated in one of the few areas that were not invaded by needles with such fury that the little air left in his lungs escaped. The brutal pain disintegrated the image of his beloved from his mind and left him in shock. Too weak to reopen his eyes, and unable to react, Alfonso could only feel the razor being pulled out of his abdomen with the same fury with which it was embedded, taking small pieces of intestine with it, to be nailed back to it. Vladimir kept plunging the dagger again and again, making Alfonso only being able to focus in the pain, until his dying heart could no longer bear it and the darkness took him away.