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THE CHOSEN Part Three: A STUDY GUIDE TO THE RIDDLE OF THE SPHINX Chapter 12

In college, Gale had read a book on medieval torture techniques. The book had been illustrated and contained numerous photographs. Gale recalled seeing in those photographs a device much like the one that now encased Deb Ashemoore’s head, a mask of heavy steel bolted together along its sides. Fashioned in the effigy of a horned demon, it had holes for eyes. Gale saw Deb’s eyes through them, dilated with panic. The demon held a funnel clasped in its teeth. Gale assumed, recalling the book, that the other end of the funnel penetrated into Deb’s own mouth, shoved almost down her throat. By allowing water or perhaps broth to be poured into the victim’s mouth, she could be kept alive for an indefinite period. The device also assured that the victim would be unable to speak.

Gale recalled Charlie’s remark that Deb “talked too much.” She wouldn’t be doing much talking now.

Gale held Deb as the latter trembled, making pathetic moaning sounds.

“It’s okay,” Gale said. “You can still breathe. Just take deep, slow breaths.”

With Deb’s head in her lap, Gale could appreciate the weight of the torture mask, how exhausting it must be for Deb to carry on her shoulders. Deb seemed to calm somewhat.

“That bastard!” Gale hissed. “He’s a bloody monster! And his boss is worse!” She stopped, deciding that Deb would not benefit from hearing about her recent experiences, what she had witnessed. “We are not going to die here!” Gale said. “Do you hear me, Deb? We’re not!” Deb squeezed her hand. “We can’t expect that we’ll be rescued,” Gale said. “We’ll just have to get ourselves out of this.”

Deb whined.

“We’ll think of something,” Gale said. She was glad that Deb couldn’t see her face from where she lay. She didn’t want Deb to see her tears.

“I’ll have to propose all the ideas. You can give a thumbs up or down, okay?”

Deb gave a thumbs up.

“Good,” Gale said. She waited in silence for a moment. “Seems like praying might be a good way to start,” she said at length. “Do you have any religious convictions to fall back on?”

Deb answered with a thumbs down. “Me, either,” Gale said. “I guess we’re on our own in that department, too, then.” Then Gale recalled her dream. The message her mysterious nighttime visitor had left with her. You’re not alone. Gale swallowed the lump in her throat. “My parents used to make me go to Sunday school when I was little,” she said. “I think I can remember a Psalm or two. Want to give it a try?”

By TheCheezman

WAYNE MILLER is the owner and creative director of EVIL CHEEZ PRODUCTIONS, specializing in theatrical performances and haunted attractions. He has written, produced, and directed (and occasionally acted in) over two dozen plays, most of them in the Horror and True Crime genres. He obtained a doctorate in Occult Studies from Miskatonic University and is an active paranormal investigator. Is frequently told he resembles Anton Lavey. And Ming the Merciless.

Denn die totden reiten schnell!

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