Charlie shoved Gale down into a chair, swiveling it around until she faced a large window, a glass panel that provided a view into another room. A terminal of buttons and
blinking lights and other controls and displays stretched the length of the room, just below the window, making Gale think of a sound studio. Through the glass, in the other room, stood a strange statue. It resembled a large bull and looked to be made of some discolored metal, black on its underside with a shiny back and head.
“Dr. Selivanov wants us to get back to work,” Charlie said, stepping around behind Gale. “He says there’s no time to waste.”
“What are you going to do to me?” Gale said.
“Nothing, yet,” Charlie said. “I just wanted you to watch with me.”
From a side door, two guards entered, dragging the young native woman Gale had seen them pull from the other cage. They jerked her to her feet. The rags she wore for clothing were torn away. Seizing a chance, the girl bolted for the door. One guard caught her and threw her down onto the floor. She got up, running towards the glass. She screamed with her face pressed against it, beating on it with her fists, making no sound. Charlie giggled.
“What are they doing to her?” Gale demanded.
“Watch,” Charlie said.
One of the men opened a panel in the statue’s side, a small hinged door that Gale had not noticed before. They forced the naked woman’s head down while she screamed, shoving her inside the hollow statue. When both of her kicking legs had been pushed inside, they raised the door and locked it with a double latch. Gale could still hear her muffled cries.
“What is that?” Gale asked.
Charlie began to massage her shoulders. “Dr. Selivanov’s idea.”
The door to the opposing chamber opened and more men entered, each carrying a heavy load of wood, armloads comprised of smaller pieces. Gale recognized it for what it
was, even before they began piling it underneath the statue. Kindling. The true horror of what they intended struck her and she tried to stand. Charlie pushed her back down.
“My God, you can’t!”
Charlie clapped a palm over her mouth. “Shhhh,” he said. “Watch.”
One of the soldiers poured something onto the kindling, some chemical. Maybe Gasoline. He exited the room, followed by the others. Only one man remained. Leaning in, he struck a match and tossed it at the pile of wood, jumping back. A bonfire exploded beneath the effigy of the bull.
Charlie reached over, flipping a button on the console. “Let’s see, ventilation fans
on,” he said. “Annnnd recording.”
“You-you sick bastard!” Gale said.
Charlie stepped behind her again, resuming his massage. His fingers dug deep as he moved his hands up and down her arms. He rubbed her neck, stroked her hair. His hands slid over her shoulders in the front, down to the sides. They cupped her breasts, his meaty fingers pinching her nipples.
Gale brought her head back hard into Charlie’s solar plexus. He grunted and staggered back as she tried to stand. Grabbing her by the collar, he jerked her back down. One hand clamped around her throat.
“You little cunt!” Charlie hissed in her ear. “You’re gonna be sorry you did that!”
They could hear the screaming now, from the other room. It grew in pitch and volume, sounding more like the sounds made by a tortured animal than anything human. Gale tried to turn her head, but Charlie held her firm. Smoke began to blow from the bull’s nostrils like steam from a teakettle. Tears streamed from Gale’s eyes as she squeezed them shut.
Charlie’s breathing had grown heavy with his excitement. “Listen to it!” he panted. “The power in it!”
At length the screams ceased. Even with the ventilation system, however, the stench of burned flesh still spread, reaching them. Gale gagged.
“Yeah, alright,” Charlie said. “For now you can go back to your cage. I need a few minutes anyway. After she cools down a little. To get the heart.”
Gale could barely walk as the soldiers led her back. Twice she stumbled, earning a prod in the ribs from the tip of a machete. She felt almost glad when they put her back in the cage. Until she saw what they had done to Deb.