The room seemed to be refrigerated, and mists of vapour rose in bursts from his face taped against the glass. His eyes were held open using small rubber soles pushed up against his forehead, suspended from steel wires. Over his mouth, also held wide open using a plastic frame, was stretched a thin membrane, the outer side of which was covered with small silver tassels. He was clothed in about four layers of wool and sat kneeling on the hard tiled floor. Both his arms were held immobilized: his right was dropped and joined to his waist using a large and rigid cuff, while his left hand was held straight at a right angle against his body, and at the elbow, a thin needle pierced a vein. Behind the needle was an automated injection device that used highly regulated pulses of low-frequency sound to propel 0.2 nL of botulinum through a microfluid valve and into a capillary that led into the needle through a joint. Connected to the injector was a timer that sounded dull beeps once every 45 minutes.

His knees were strapped together and a leather belt hooped narrowly around the strap was nailed to the floor. The naked feet were also strapped but instead of having them grounded, they were propped up using a suspended copper spring of moderate compressibility. The spring itself was dangled from a pulley on the ceiling that was connected to something on the other side of the glass. The whole apparatus kept him paralysed and introduced flaccidity into his muscles while a burning pain coursed through his lower body. The cold room kept the botulinum from losing its toxic properties as well as made it harder and harder to breathe for the Patient.

On the other side of the glass was his lover, strapped tautly to a rack using bundles of jute bound to a tight belt at her armpits, waist, knees and ankles. Her outstretched arms were held in place using cuffs between small intervals and her palm faced upward. The nails of each of her fingers were attached to strong chromium clips, each of which was numbered from 1 to 10. The even-numbered holds met at an odd gearing mechanism placed beneath her head while the odd-numbered holds met at a similar mechanism shelved just beneath the ceiling.

The mechanism was such that when a crankshaft rotated the larger wheel, ten smaller wheels would begin to turn, their motion restricted to one direction using a lock. The shaft, if traced, would lead to a rotor. The membrane on his face, when vibrated, jumped in and out of a planar magnetic field maintained by two small electromagnets and generated a current to be picked up by wires at his neck. Using a small electric latch, the signal would be transported to an amplifier and then a randomizer that “jerked” the rotor. This meant that as his pain worsened and as his breathing become harder, her nails would be jolted out of her fingers. Of course, the rack would continue to operate slowly and steadily to dislocate her body’s bones one by one, a procedure that would take approximately four hours. In those very four hours, his respiratory muscles would have been nudged slowly to complete paralysis while keeping his brain alert and focused on the sole stimulus of the pain flowing through his dying feet.

A tall man, sitting cross legged on a chair near the young woman, lit his cigarette and smiled at her, a thin smile that by everyone else would have been construed devoid of all malice, a smile that, together with his eyes, bespoke benignity and wisdom. Much wisdom.

Mephisto
Yes, thou findest that unpleasant! Thou hast the moral right to cry me "shame!" at present. One dares not that before chaste ears declare, which chaste hearts, notwithstanding, cannot spare; and, once for all, I grudge thee not the pleasure of lying to thyself in moderate measure.

~

This is not an exercise in creative writing. It is what it seems to be: an exploration of the impersonality of the “dead” mind behind such exercises. The caption of the image is part of a monologue delivered by Mephistopheles from Goethe’s ‘Faust‘. Also, if you don’t want to talk to me after reading this, I’ll understand.

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