Illusions & Reality
“The curse of hell, my son. Because then, you could stop it. No, the accuser retains the
memory. The accused lives in tortured ignorance. Until the last moment of sudden lucidity and
And then, I hear him; that booming voice that I had heard before.
“Señor Orlando de la Martinez, you stand accused of heresy before the King and Queen
of Spain. Confess, señor,” the Inquisitor General says to me. “Confess your heresy.”
And as I begin to profess my innocence, I can hear only my father’s laughter; the insane
cackling that fills my soul and makes the empty place in my chest ache all the more.
He called me heartless. As the fire licks at my body, cooking my flesh, I remember now.
When I came here, I became the thing I was accused of. The first time. My punishment was also
to have it ripped from my chest. It begins again.
* * *
All I can remember is being here. That is all I know and all I can ever hope to know. It
was as if a birthing had happened and I became aware of here. This room, this chamber . . . the
sparse setting of it. The dark, dank walks of stone are lit with torches that have never gone out,
thus making it impossible to know the passing of time. Would that one had gone out, had
flickered—even briefly—or had shown some sign of exhausting its fuel. But nothing of the sort.
I was free to walk about the large room. Nothing hindered me from the table with its
devices laid out to be used—the tongs, the awl, the forceps, the thumbscrews. The knives were
laid out, each to a purpose—this one to remove a digit, that one to remove a limb. This piece to
bridle the offending mouth of the enchanter. That piece to effectively break bones but not the
skin. The pear to forcibly open vagina, anus, or throat. There; there was the fireplace creating
the heat that filled the room and made the walls sweat. There were at least three rods banking
nicely, more than enough to raise the welts, singe the flesh.
I know this room well, you see. It was the interrogation room of the dungeon; it was the
play ground of Torquemada, the beloved of King and Queen. It was the place I last saw him, my
son. It was the last place I saw at all . . . before I went completely mad.
~ ~ ~ ~
And then again….
Every good collection needs at least one novella. I started this one as a short story and
changed my mind about halfway through the piece. There was just way too much fun to be had
with the whole scenario, too many funnies available.
So, with that in mind, I give you the story of "Rip" Porter and a lovely piece I decided to
name . . . .
The Salt of the Earth