Gregory V. Boulware
The Jacobin Club House in Paris was located on the site of a market. The market was a planned project for the Paris clubhouse, as recorded by ‘Poe.’ There was a sick man facing death. The man was sick, almost to the point of death. He felt that he was close to death. The constant pain caused him terrible agony. The pain aroused fits of violence. He had to be restrained. When he was finally released, he was permitted to sit. He felt a loss of senses. Blackness and darkness made him feel like his soul was descending into an abyss, into the bowels HELL. The silence of stillness and night seemed – appeared to be universal. Stealthily, magically, and right before him, tall lighted candles fell before him into the black hole of nothingness. The form of angels’…specter like forms touched him. It felt like fire and ice accompanied by deadly nausea filled every fibre of his frame. The thrill of wire, attached to a battery.
The lips of black-robed judges appeared before him. They were whiter than the sheet of this printed page. Their lips displayed an unholy and terrible exaggeration. He saw this. His soul was spoiled…to revolution. He heard the sound of inquisitional voices. They seemed to be merged into one singular voice. He heard no more…for a time.
Fate was issuing from the lips of the black-robed men. What an expression of firmness and immovable resolution? My lord, the grotesqueness! The faces blazed with stern contempt of human nature. Fate continued, in his view, issuance from their lips. He saw them writhe with deadly locution. I shuddered to think what the man saw. The idea of delirious horror…
Can you imagine the thought of him seeing angelical form? Some of the forms having heads of flaming spectres haunted his very soul. He had hopes of receiving help. He thought of sweet rest – in the grave. What peace there must be…in the grave? The thought came to him gently.
Silence, stillness, and darkness would contain such peace.
The judges disappeared. The tall candles sank into nothingness. In a maddening stupor, the feeling of descent into the soul of Hades slowed and stopped.
He did not say if all of his consciousness was lost as he swallowed. No, even in his deepest slumber, all was not lost. In delirium, “Even in the grave, all is not lost,” he said. “Otherwise, there is no immortality for man.
In his return, from the swoon of ebbing death, to life… In returning, there are two stages one could possibly face; the sense of mental or spiritual cognoscente; the second stage, one can recall impressions of the first. “How shall we distinguish the shadows from the gulf beyond betwix those of the tomb?” Asked the man, to himself.
In his impression of first stage recall – after a long interval – will the reality truly come after swooning? He wondered within his semi-conscious mind. In glowing red-yellow coals, he recognized familiar faces. He saw much sadness. Many others would possibly or probably not see. No two sets of eyes see the same. The man pondered over the perfumed scent of a flower. “Is my brain growing feeble? Why am I bewildered with the meaning of some musical cadence, which has never before gained my attention?” These things happened, he thought. The sad visions of many faces floating in thin air.
He conjured remembrance of frequent lucid reasoning, although thoughtful endeavors and earnest struggles to regain the state of seemingly nothingness of his soul began to ebb. There have been moments of dreamed success.
Shadowy moments tell of tall figures that lifted and bore him in silence. They took him down, down, and further down with a dizzying oppression of descent. He remembered the vague horror in his heart, and an unnatural stillness. Suddenly, motionlessness, a ghastly train had outrun the tall ones who bore him. In seemed limitlessness, the descent into flatness and dampness, they paused with the weariness of their toil.
The motion returned. Then just as suddenly, there was sound as well. Sound, motion, and touch tingled his very frame. Yet, a strong desire to lapse into insensibility overcame him. The shuddering terror of the existence of thought became an earnest and endeavoring comprehension of true state returned with a sickness. A full memory of his trial, the tall men in dark robes – the judges, and their adornment of sable draperies hanging about the court, he swooned. He swooned at the sentence. His sentence. Forgetfulness of that later day plagued him an endeavored curse.
“So far, I have not opened my eyes. I felt like I was lying on my back, unstraped – unshackled,” he remembered with total recall. He extended his hand. It fell heavily upon something damp and hard. He suffered to remain for many minutes. He could only imagine where and what it could be. He longed, but dared not employ his vision. He dreaded the first glance of objects around him. It was not that he feared to look upon horrible things, but he grew aghast with the knowledge of seeing nothing. With a desperate heart, he quickly opened his eyes. His worst thoughts were confirmed. The blackness of eternal night – darkness if you will, seemed to stifle and oppress him. He quietly attempted to exercise some sense of reason. Inquisitorial proceedings reappeared in his mind. A sentence was passed. For a moment, he thought himself actually dead. What a supposition? He wondered what state of mind he was in.
“What we read in fiction, something is altogether inconsistent with real existence,” he said aloud. “Where and in what state am I? At the Auto-da-fe, condemned to death, he knew one of these had been held on the very night of the day of his trial. “Was I remanded to a dungeon? Was I supposed to wait for the next sacrifice that would probably not take place for at least a few months?” He thought with a voiced query. “This could not be.” Victims were vehemently recruited. His dungeon, like all condemned cells, was occupied in Toledo. They had cold stone floors - and light was not readily available.
In torrents, the blood pulsed through his heart. He once again, relapsed into insensibility. He recovered. He trembled convulsively as he attempted to stand. Wildly, he thrashed his arms above all around. He thrashed the air with his arms in all directions. He took a step and hesitated. He was apprehensive with the dread of walking into the walls of his tomb. Sweat burst from his every pore. It stood upon his forehead in big cold beads. Agony and suspense grew to an intolerable length.
He took a cautious but forward step. The man stretched out his arms for the steadfastness of the prison wall. He hoped to catch a gleam – a sliver o light in his hole of darkness. It seemed, to him at least, that his fate was not the most hideous.
Continuing in his fearful stride, a thronging recollection – a thousand vague rumors of the horrors of Toledo… The dungeons there held strange and ghastly fables. These things were not discussed above a whisper. “What fearful fate awaits me?” He continued his attempt at self-brainwashing. “Will I starve to death in the subterranean hole of hell?” He thought death was not his worst fear. He wondered if death is a customary bitterness. Wondering was the only distraction allowed; left to him. With resolve, he knew death would be the unavoidable and impending result.
His hand fell upon an obstruction. It fell upon the edge of a well. The seemingly stone masonry felt cold and smooth and slimy. Distrustingly, he ascertained the dimensions of his dungeon. The slimed walls felt perfectly uniform. The knife he remembered and felt for was gone from his pocket. A coarse wrapper of serge was exchanged for his regular clothing. He had not counted on his weakness or the extent of the dungeon. The floor was moist and slippery. He staggered and stumbled and fell. His excessive fatigue induced him to remain prostrate. Sleep soon overcame him as he lay upon the stinky, dank, and slimy ground. When he awoke, he extended and outstretched his arms. Beside him was a loaf of bread and a pitcher of pungent water. With a beastly attack, he devoured the bread and swilled the water with avidity.
Soon, he resumed his tour around the jail cell. He counted fifty-two paces in his tour of the cell and then forty-eight more. All-in-all there was a hundred paces save the two to the yard included fifty yards total. The man, in his toil, could not fully ascertain the shape of the vault in which he slept. He knew the entire prison was treacherous with slime. A vague curiosity induced him to continue his search. The man wondered if his search was in vain. “What am I searching for?” There was very little hope for occupying a space of choice. He resolved to cross the entire enclosed area…over and over again. The floor was treacherous with slime.
The woolen garment he was wrapped in came lose and somehow got wrapped around him and became entangled between his legs. He stepped on the end of it and fell face first onto the nasty cold hard and slimy floor. The stinky slime and decayed fungus kept the facial skin of the man from tearing, but could not save him from dislodging several front teeth, a bloody-nose, and split lip. The tasted blood was not only from lost teeth and cut tongue. The juice of sweat mixed with slime and fungal decay splashed all over his head and face and down into his mouth. The smell of it made him puke. He also realized that his right arm fell below the floor. In gathering the strength to slightly raise his head, turning to see with a heavy eye, the edge of a large hole – a pit. The pit was of a circular design. Weighted eyes came into focus. He could see the size of it due to the light rising from below.
In his push to rise from the floor, the right hand managed to dislodge a small brick sized stone. Many seconds elapsed, as the stone plummeted into the chasm. In its descent, the stone clapped against the sides of the cavernous pit. The sound of a loud splash resounded upwards, reaching the drums of the man’s ears. The decreased echoes of the splash betwix stone and water, the man suddenly realized it could have been him. The man forcefully removed himself from the edge of the hole. He heard a door, heavy metal, open and close. The closing and opening came and went quickly. The sound descended from abuse. The light from below flashed upward allowing the man to get momentary view of his prisoners.
He clearly understood the timely accident by which he had escaped. He saw the doom prepared for him. Just a couple of inches more, he would have found himself at the bottom of the pit. The victims of direct inquisitional tyranny allowed a means of death. The direst of physical agonies offered were of hideous immoral horror. The sound of his own voice caused him to tremble. He could very well avoid what was planned for him by plunging into the abyss. His cowardice would not allow such an end. He had heard of many who suffered in various positions while facing a merciless, no sudden extinction of life at the hands of tormentors within the pit.
Fear and agitation kept him awake for long hours – that seemed forever. Sleep came over him again. When he awoke, he found, once again, a loaf of bread and a pitcher of water on the floor beside him. His throat burned of thirst. The liquid was quickly consumed with the hope of dousing the hotness. After wolfing down the bread, a deep sleep came upon him. The sleep was deep, so deep that it felt like death. It lasted for what seemed a very long time.
“The man,” said the recorder, “unclosed his eyes and saw the visible objects around him. An untamed sulphurous luster, verily pungent, pit light enabled the man to see the extent and aspect of the dungeon of which he was incarcerated. The man had been deceived. The size of his prison room had been greatly misjudged. It was not fifty-two paces. It was a mere twenty-five yards to the left and to the right. The shape of the enclosure was incorrect as well. It was not four Walls Square, but circular. In his confusion, his mind prevented him from the correct observation. Albeit, the cell was rounded, it had many irregularities in its shape as well. What was also mistaken was the masonry. In huge plates, the stone was found to be iron, or some other type of metal. The lethargy of sleep and the effect of total darkness hid the true face of the gruesome prison and its walls with its many angles, impressions, and niches. The sutures or joints were melded with intrinsic and rudely daubed hideous and repulsive devices.
The dungeon contains only one massive pit. Its circular jaws had just missed its meal with the man not falling into its mouth. The light, as slight as it was allowed the man to see the fiendish figures in their astral forms of menace. The outlined monstrosities were highly distinct. Their meshed forms flowed in the meld along the walls of the shadowy prison. The colors were faded and blurred. They shaped the many imperfections throughout the horribly damp atmosphere. The floor was truly made of stone. The slime of death encircled the jaws of the pit with a nasty aura. The allure of slumber seized him once again. The man was forced by fatigue to submit to the oppressive escape from reality into the realm of dreams – sleep.
He awoke to find the water pitcher missing. The mistreated human being found himself strapped securely to a low framework of wooden slats. To his horror, he realized he was lying on his back atop the wood. His limbs and body was securely strapped to the structure. The man was fastened with long strong straps of intertwined bull-hide and hemp. The fasteners were passed in convolutions about his body and limbs. He was at liberty to move only his head. Thirst gripped his throat. His left arm was given permission to feed his bloody and slime filled mouth with food from an earthen dish. The dish contained pungently seasoned meat of unknown origin. The continuing thirst was by the design of his persecutors.
The man surveyed the ceiling of his prison. It hung more than forty-feet overhead. The construction was the same as that of the dungeon’s walls. His attention was riveted to a singular sinister form. It was the painted picture of time, as we commonly know. In the hand of time, was a huge scythe. Then his horror-felt situation caused his gaze to freeze upon a massive pendulum. Its appearance was much like that found within the mechanism of a ‘Grandfathers Clock.’ There was something else in this image that made him cringe and stare at it more attentively. Within his upward gaze, he realized the thing was more than an image. The thing was positioned directly over his outstretched strapped and supine body. He was terrified at its motions. Its motion was slow and confirmed. With an attracting noise, it swung to and fro as it appeared to descend from the dungeon ceiling.
His eyes grew from observing its dull movement. Another noise caught the eyes of the man. There was movement on the floor beneath him. There was a troop of rather over-sized and insanely large rats scurrying about. They immerged from within the well. They arrived in an organized frenzy. They smelled meat. In an unattainable attempt to chase them away, they simply glared at him with blood-lustingly black-marbled ravenous eyes. With the taking of imperfect time, maybe an hour, again the man gazed upward. What he saw confounded him to amazement. The sweep of the pendulum increased its swing by more than a yard. Its velocity had also increased. Its crescent blade of glistening glittering steel extended in length from an upward pointed horn. The razor sharp edges measured with pointed tips, horn-to-horn. The under-edge was also as keen, if not more, as its razor sharp tips. It was massive and heavy. The blade was tapered from the edge into a broad and solid hanging structure. It hissed as it hung, swinging back and forth, slicing the air in its traverse. During a cognoscente moment, he recognized the inquisitorial agents of hell. The horror of the pit had been destined for such a bold fellow as he.
The hellish pit was regarded by rumor as the ultimate pain deliverer of all punishment citadels. It was the ‘Ultima Thule’ of castles. By mere accident, the man avoided a death-dealing plunge into the nightmarish hellhole. He, at that moment, prayed to his God that he’d been spared the fall. His falling was no plan of his tormentors. The demons planned a different and grotesque form of death for the strapped prostrate and helpless individual. The rushing vibrations of swinging and creaking steel, during the long, long passage of time, was more than mortal man (or woman) could endure. The descent of the massive cleaver was only appreciated by its intervals between swings. It seemed like ages. Down, down, and further down, it came.
The blade swept over him like a fan with an acrid breath of death. The odor of the sharp steel forced its smell of death into the man’s nostrils. The man prayed on…aloud. He grew frantically mad as he struggled against the straps of bull-hide and hemp. He began to laugh at the blade with an insane madness. “Kill me, kill me now that I might escape the madness of the swing.” He screamed at the inquisitors. His screams fell upon the deaf ears of his tormentors.
“Demons of inquisitory death, have mercy on thy soul. Do me justice and end my torture of this misery. The blade – the merciless blade in its swing is too much to bear.” He screamed and pleaded to no avail. No one cared about his mental torture. The demons that plagued him took intense and pleasurable notice. The thought of joy and hope penetrated the man’s mind. It perished upon formation. He continued to struggle in vain. Long-time suffering had eroded the man’s ordinary mental powers. He was like that of an idiot – an imbecile.
The descending blade was designed to criss-cross his chest, directly through the heart. The terribly wide sweep of approximately thirty-feet or more, hissed with vigor to slice as it furthered its descending swing from left to right.
Hot and cold sweat saturated the vile filthy skin of the captured man, strapped down tight and covered in rich icky slime. Steadily the blade crept downward, hissing with vigor. He pondered upon the sound of the crescent shaped blade of steel. He forced himself to ponder over the noisy death of steel. A peculiar but thrilling sensation filled the mans’ inner being. His teeth, all that were left, chattered and grinded violently. Down, down, down, it crept. Steadily, it approached the man’s heart with the stealth of a big predatory cat. The man alternately laughed and cried in mental and physical agony. He then began to howl. He howled in insane horror. It crept further downward. The blade swung and vibrated three inches from the restrained mans bosom. He struggled violently, furiously, to free himself. Only his left arm was free. The arm that was allowed to feed his mouth the filthy and slime ridden meat left by the jailers and the king sized rats. His arm was free to move…up to his elbow.
Inevitably, the blade increased its downward left to right swing. He thought to stop it with his freed arm, and decided – no. The attempt would be wasted. It would be like trying to stop the pointed bow of a Titanic sized seagoing vessel with a loaf of butter. The man gasped and choked at each vibration…each breezing pass of the monsters’ swing. His eyes followed intently with each chilling pass. Ten or twelve more passes would bring the thing into contact with the mans’ slime-soiled and sweaty garment which covered his shaking and shivering body. Instantaneous death would bring him heavenly relief. The glistening axe with whispers of death upon it prompted his every nerve to quiver. Reluctantly, without hope, the man continued to lay helpless upon the rack. The minions of death and torture glared as the man raised his head to view his bosom.
The gourds of hide and hemp wrapped the man’s limbs and body, save his left arm. The cords held him fast in all manner and direction. The path of the blade came exceedingly closer.
The man’s head dropped back wearily to its original position. The swarming rats ran wild, bold, and ravenous. Red eyes glared and flashed in the semi-dark corners of the chamber. They were waiting; waiting for what?, to food they had become accustomed to. They knew the man was helpless. He was a prey of easy pickings. Were they waiting for the meat of the doomed man to be sliced? They waited for him to be prepared for their gruesome and unholy meal? After all, they did consume a portion of the doomed mans’ tainted jailhouse food. Why did they do that? The recorder of this grizzly deed wondered.
Several members of the rat troop sauntered over to the helplessly fastened body and sampled a morsel or two of their awaited meal. They nibbled on the fingers of his right hand and the toes of his left and right foot. They began to feast with their deadly sharp fangs and clawed paws. “Please, oh my Lord, please tell me of my crime! What crime have I committed to deserve such an ending?” The man screamed and howled in agony. Uncaring, unhearing ears attached to uncaring heads continued their ghoulish work. The man shrunk convulsively at each and every close-knit swing of the blade. Instantaneous death would be such a great relief. The glistening axe swung. The first semi-contact stroke of the crescent razor crossed his breast by a mere inch.
His left arm swung at them. The ravenous animals were startled - they appeared to be terrified at the change of movement. They began to shrink alarmingly back. Some of them sought the sanctuary of the pit, but only for a moment. Their voracity was miscalculated. Several of the boldest among them leaped upon the framework of his wooden gurney. This action signaled a general rush. They rained from inside of the well. Knowing that the man was helplessly bound, they leaped in bounds all over him. He screamed a blood curdling and chilling scream. The recorder said, “It made my blood run cold to witness such a travesty.” The man screamed in vain. All but one fool-hearty rat avoided the swinging blade. The slice tore through the critter while it was still in flight. The pieces never made it to the floor. Its compatriots took a pause from their initial attack and caught their mate in mid air, devouring the parts in an instant. The attack on the man was paused for only a moment, a moment of relief from the biting. The troop’s attentions returned to the victim.
In his fright, he remained without motion, relishing the desired relief of death. The vermin clung to the wood, overran it, and leaped upon the man. The multitude which seemed like hundreds, swarmed all over the hapless prisoner. The precise measured movement of the pendulum did not disturb them. They were wise to avoid its swing. They swarmed upon him as the first slicing stroke of crescent steel sliced through the terrified mans’ skin. The rats writhed upon the man’s throat and face; their cold lips sought his. He was half stifled by their thronging pressure. The pressure of cold, clawed feet and slimed foul fur and whiskers stomped all over his eyes and head. They nibbled at his ears. The man spit at them in an attempt to keep them out of his mouth and eyes. They persisted. His disgust swelled as his bleeding bosom stretched toward his back upon the wooden bed. A chilling heavy clamminess came over him. He thought the struggle for life would soon be over. The rats swarmed over him in accumulated heaps of leaps and bounds.
The stroke of the bladed pendulum pressed further upon his bloody bosom. He struggled to keep his eyes pressed tightly closed. Rats pissed and shit on his chest and face. Once again the blade sliced his bosom and pain shot through his every nerve. The moment of escape had definitely not arrived.
Every writhing movement of the man was keenly and lovingly observed by his tormentors. During the light from a blast of the sulphurous fissure, the man could see from a squinted slit of his right eye. He saw with blurred vision through the bustling array of foul smelling rat ass, feet, tails, and snouts, an unbelievable, unreal view. He thought he’d seen a man’s arm waving a steely blade at the rats. The rat flow began to recede. The left eye of the prisoner was no more…it became rat food. He’d lost the fight to retain it. The dying man became aware of the sulphurous light, again. Outlying figures upon the wall were not the skeletal figures he had come to know. The portrayal of their fiendish figures began to fade as movement of another kind prevailed. Demonic eyes of wild and ghastly tenacity gleamed in the lurid glare of bright firelight. From a thousand directions, his mind disputed what was dispatched to near invisibility. The unreal realization of freedom overcame his insanity. Fear momentarily changed his mind.
Hope of peace and freedom came to him again. A pervading and suffocating odor filled the atmosphere of the prison. The stench overcame the preceding smells. The horror of crimson colored blood was splashed all over him. The fresh spewing blood added warmth to the mixture of gore previously washing him. The blade and rat teeth cut deeply into his flesh. His tormentors – oh so unrelenting – the demonic inquisitorial executioners shifted in their positions. The squeaky cranking and grinding noise of the massive scimitar was rising above the reach of his gaping belly wound. The man’s arms were suddenly freed. His legs were unbound. Bleeding from head to toe, the man struggled to his feet and fell to his knees. With the aid of the lean on his wooden gurney, he was able to unsteadily stand on weakened limbs. Upon his rise, to his dread, the floor began to recede into the gored walls, exposing and further widening the mouth of the hellish pit. The straps and wooden gurney, which held him tight, tumbled downward into the widening mouth of the abyss. The shinning shimmering and razor sharp crescent blade continued its rise. The terrified man clung as tightly as he could to the walls of the prison as the receding floor left him with all but one more backward step. The gaping jaws of the well revealed the torment of hell-fire and a thousand and one voices below… “Oh Lord, I would rather endure the blade of death rather than the hell below.” A thousand thunders roared beneath his footing. He cried out loudly gazing upward. He knew the end was nearing. He bled profusely from the gaping bosom wound and that of his missing eye compiled with bleeding welts from a lashing and shredded cuts from rat teeth and claws. The sliced skin made by the vicious and ravenous monster rats were a secondary pain.
The slimy floor slid ever backward into the film-covered walls. He felt himself falling as his footing vanished with the vanishing floor. His arms flailed above his head in hopes of finding a life saving grip…an outstretched hand grabbed one of his flailing arms. He continued to flail for life. Other hands came into play as he felt himself being lifted and pulled in an upward motion. The floor completed its vanishing. The outstretched hands of life caught him and pulled him to safety and life. He was not allowed to fall into the abyss of hell. A French soldier smiled at him. The tormentors of the inquisition were suppressed. The man lay backward onto the warm welcomed salvation and safety of God’s green grass. He looked into the eyes of a general with his one eye. The smiling eyes reassured him of the reality of life.
The inquisition and its terror were over. Auguste Constantin de Renneville a French writer, reported and recorded the man’s nightmarish misadventure in October 1715, when the hordes of the French army occupied Toledo.
The heads of the inquisitors, the man’s tormentors, found their heads in baskets of straw at the bottom of a guillotine and the blades of swords.
The Horror of it all.
Til next time…
As inspired by the works of ‘Edgar Allan Poe’ – “The Pit and The Pendulum”
“All Hollows Night” by Gregory V. Boulware, 10.3.9
Research and Inspiration:
Research and Inspiration:
Virginia M. Boulware, R. N.
Satanic Photo Courtesy of 'WordPress.com' - http://www.BoulwareEnterprises.wordpress.com
Satanic Photo Courtesy of 'WordPress.com' - http://www.BoulwareEnterprises.wordpress.com
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