“The Tale of the Two Deaths”

written December 4, 1996


I had known the outcome of my incarceration the moment of my capture.  Being an officer of higher rank, I was relegated, along with several of my comrades, to the fortification of Los Cuevos.  At the the sound of those words I knew my fate my secured.  Los Cuevos was notorious throughout the countryside for being a swift tool for the extraction of military intelligence.

Accordingly, upon my arrival at the prison, I was lead directly to a darkened chamber and placed before my interrogator.  For endless hours my enemy attempted to procure my country’s secrets from my unwavering lips.  When the futility of his inquiries became clear it was measured a more drastic means was necessary.  Through great personal dexterity–that could have only come from God–my captor’s tries were again in vain.

Seeing this, I was taken out without a word of our destination, deeper and deeper into the recesses of the catacombs.  For what seemed like hours, we continued our descent to the very bowels of the insidious structure.  It was here, finally, that we came upon a large pit, ten feet in diameter.  Above this dark recess there was secured to the ceiling a large copper tank.  In my approximation it had the ability to hold several hundred gallons of whatever was inside.

While I took in my new surroundings, one of my escorts began lowering a rope into the void which was the pit.  I now knew how I was to meet my end: reposed at the bottom of what was before me.  I advanced to the edge of the blackened abyss and grasped the rope offered me.  Without further acknowledgement of my present company I prepared to lower myself to my doom.

Suddenly–and without prior warning–a stone on which I stood was loosened by my weight.  The unexpected change in balance nearly sent me head-long into the pit.  Unnerved by the prospect of an even earlier death than the one that awaited me, I again steadied, and began my descent.  When I reached the pit’s base the rope was quickly raised and cut, to prevent it from falling to my rescue.  The guards then departed, their voices drifting away, assured their jobs were complete.

Taking in my new hopeless domain, I concluded I was nearly ten yards down from the summit.  On further observation, it came to me that the walls of the pit were entirely lined with smooth stone.  With no prospect of escape, I was inclined to guess of the nature of my inevitable demise.  It was conceivable they had left me entirely, without aide of any sort, to have me die for want of sustenance–

Then there came to my ears the sound of something above giving way.  I scarcely had the time to account for the dark object falling from heaven, before I was flung to the ground by the force of the violent impact of stone upon my head.

  *    *    *    *     *

When I came to, or how long I had been unconscious, I do not know.  At first I had not the complete use of my facilities, yet, in time, my senses began to return.  I searched blindly, until at length, I found the stone which struck me down, resting at the outer circumference of the pit.  Upon further review, it came to my attention that the stone resided on an object of metallic origin.  More precisely, several iron bars.  These bars were the only surface over what seemed a second, smaller pit beneath.  Then, with unholy terror, I came to the realization of my death.

It was at this exact moment the guards were heard returning, as I could see the minute flickers above that were their torches.  They conducted their work in solemn silence.  I stood, from my vantage point below, and gazed upward with awe.  Remembering then my desperate state, I was resigned to forgo my previous steeled dignity.  Spite and hatred spewed from my mouth, and at such a heightened tone, that soon I was weary from the exploits.  All this time the dim, unscathed figures above busied themselves all the more.

Finally, after several moments, the uneasy silence gave way to the slightest of sounds, like the creak of a rusty door hinge.  The stridence grew louder and more profound; then I became aware the drain at my feet was closing.  When the opening had completely sealed, the creaking ceased, and silence reigned again.  After an indeterminable period of time, I became aware of yet another sound.  I knew these tones, for I had awaited them with hushed breath.

Through the pipes of metal above came the sound of water.  In the beginning, the liquid downfall came in a moderate amount.  In a matter of minutes, with an increasing consistency of output, water came down until it cascaded upon me with violent passion.

And then the water began to rise.

It was at my knees when I argued the nature of my fate.  Given, this prospect of death was both inhuman and cruel–as the way with all torture.  It was something more, that set a victim on further edge.  It was the tediousness, the anxious waiting for death’s hand to consume you.  Yes–it was this fact I reviled above all.  The end comes to all, yet surely a merciful, loving  God would allow for a single, quick blow upon His creatures.

Now at the level of my waist, the coursing death had but to double in volume.  The chill of the water advanced through every appendage, to my heart, and I wished myself dead already.  Seized now with frantic fancy, I had begun to explore for any cracks in the curved stone walls, but none were found.  Back into the foaming water I plunged, but the water still did not cease!  Now I attempted to swim, but the wild force of the water from above would not let me, driving me down!

The water was at my neck, and the end was near! I then cried to God to spare his child, but the rushing waters drowned out my prayers!  Still the water rose– it rose!

My screams became muffled by the encompassing death.  I could do no more–could not fight Heaven’s decree–and everything went dark.

  *    *    *    *    *

I am finally awakened from my unconscious state by the sounds of guards, twelve yards above, returning to the pit.  They are only blurry forms to me; the bloodied side of my head throbbed and cursed.  Creaking now comes to my ears.   The rush of water begins showing me from above.

And the water begins to rise.
















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