Patience. She needed to be patient. What was the saying the men in town used? Before they were massacred by the minions of Ratko Mladic, a latter version of Hitler. Smaller numbers to be sure, but genocide just the same. Oh, that was it. "War is absolute boredom interspersed with brief moments of total fear." Her fear would come soon, she knew. She hoped that she could control it. But for now she had to be patient.
The fear had existed for years, actually, as her beloved country was torn apart by civil war. But the massacre, the genocide, had been recent. Was it just three weeks earlier? Some had tried to fight back, but Mladic's forces were so much stronger than the terrified Dutch contingent from NATO that was supposed to make Srebrenica a
"safe area" that it couldn't even be described as a battle. It was a slaughter. Her lover. Her brother. Her father. All killed. She and her mother left alone in the small house six miles outside of town.
So Amela was now lying flat on her stomach in the hills overlooking the road from Srebrenica. She wasn't sure if it was still July 1995. Maybe it was August. Time had lost its importance to her. The month. The day. The hour.
She was lying there in her khaki shirt and pants, which helped her blend into the brush. And army boots. The hills were rugged. She needed them. But she knew that if Mladic's VRS forces found her in such military garb, particularly after she had done what she planned to do, she would be shot .. or worse. So, under her uniform she wore her normal work clothes. White blouse and a black skirt, pulled up and wrapped around her waist under the pants. The backpack at her side held a matching black jacket and flat black shoes.
The rumor in town was that VRS soldiers were supposed to be passing on the road below this morning. She wondered if they had changed their plans. Or if the rumors were false. Perhaps just a plant to keep the remaining townspeople on their best behavior. Or perhaps Mladic had gotten word of a possible ambush. But how could he? She was doing this all on her own. No one else knew. She stopped from again checking her rifle. It was ready. And the road was well within its range. She picked up her binoculars. She saw no troops below. Only a score or so of townspeople walking slowly along the road, pretending to be going about their normal routine. As if anything within a hundred miles was normal anymore. But there were more people walking than in days past. What could they be doing? Last year it would have been time to go to work at this hour of the morning. But there was no work anymore. Just a desperate struggle to survive.
True. Her father and brother and lover ... and she ... had not been the completely innocent victims that most others in town had been. Her family had engaged in acts of sabotage against the Serbs for many months before the massacre. Many townspeople had. Well, maybe not many. But the brave ones had. Yes, she thought. She was one of the brave ones. And many of the others in town, afraid to act as she and her family did, silently approved.
She knew that, when the troops finally passed, she would have to find their leader and make her first shot count. If she were lucky, she might have time to take a second shot before the troops scattered, took shelter and then began to give chase to find her, but she shouldn't count on having that time. She would drop the rifle, grab the backpack, and head through the small hidden path on her right, known only to those few locals, like herself, with detailed knowledge of the area. She doubted that any of the VRS soldiers would know about this path or be able to find its entrance, at least not quickly. Unless a traitor in the town provided assistance. The path wound slowly down to the road, about a mile east. There, removing her military fatigues and boots, she would join and blend into those walking along the side of he road. The troops would not expect her to be running toward the road, and would probably loop around behind her to cut off escape in that direction. Which meant that she actually had a chance of escape. Maybe not a good chance, but a chance.
But her escape was not the most important thing. No, the most important thing was that she kill the leader of the VRS soldiers. Because the rumor was that, today, Mladic himself would be leading his troops.
"Really now," the Colonel looked down from behind his desk at the pages in front of him to refresh his mind as to the name of the woman he was addressing, "Elzina. It is such a simple request."
The Colonel looked up at the woman, who was seated in the chair in front of his desk, a soldier standing on each side of her. Well, it couldn't actually be called a chair because it had no seat, just four metal bars forming a square and three more bars in the back forming a rectangle. "I just want the names. You do want to help your country, don't you."
Elzina remained motionless. Not that she could have moved very much even had she wanted. A tight metal ring surrounded her neck, her arms were tied to a long metal horizontal rod extending from the back of the ring and her ankles were cuffed to the bars that formed the chair's front legs, which forced them apart. And she was naked. Totally naked. And her body was trembling. Visibly trembling. We are making progress, the Colonel thought. It won't be long now. [see Elzina pic]
"Haven't you suffered enough already?" The Colonel tried to sound soothing. It was apparent from the thin red stripes that criss-crossed her back, stomach and thighs that she had been brutally whipped before being put into the chair. "Elzina," the Colonel's voice suddenly lost its soothing tone. "We are going to get very serious now. We don't want that. And I'm sure that you don't want that. Do you?"
Elzina's eyes darted around the room to try to see what the soldiers might next have in store for her, and she noticed that one of them had moved to a table on her right, against the far wall, and returned and placed on the corner of the desk between her and the Colonel ... what was it? It looked like a metal dildo. She looked back toward the Colonel, but said nothing.
"Come on, Elzina. Don't try to tell me that you've never used one of these. They can be very comforting, can't they? Hard and thick. And certainly largely than any of your lovers, I bet." Elzina looked back to the device on the desk. Large, yes. Probably large enough to be painful. But not large enough to be tortuously painful. She could take it, she told herself. She wouldn't talk.
"Actually, dear Elzina," the Colonel rose from behind the desk, and walked around it to stand directly in front of her, but not blocking from her vision the device on the corner of the desk. He grabbed her neck just under her chin. "This is a very special lover. Set it for 10 seconds," he directed the soldier who had brought it. The soldier slide a small dial on the back.
"Now watch," the Colonel continued to hold Elzina's face so she had no choice but to watch. The soldier walked away briefly, then returned with a small glass of water. He poured the entire contents of the glass over the device.
Nothing happened. For 10 seconds nothing happened, as all eyes stared at the device. Then, suddenly, the sound of a metal click ... and at the bottom of the device a sharp thin circular metal blade popped out , adding about half an inch to its diameter at that point. Elzina's body, which had begun to lean a bit forward, which was all that she could lean, jumped back from the unexpected sound. Then her eyes stared at what had happened. And, as she did, there was another crack of a metal click. And now a second blade, identical to the first, jumped out about an inch above the first. Elzina heard herself gasp.
"Yes, you understand, don't you? You're a smart woman." The Colonel finally released his grip on her neck. "There are five blades in all. We can set the timing for whatever we want. And each blade will open an inch deeper inside you than the one before. The mechanism is set off by moisture. Any type of moisture."
The Colonel moved his hands to Elzina's breasts, which were neither small nor large, and began to massage them, his fingers gently circling, then pinching her nipples. She tried to force her body not to react, as he moved a hand between her legs. But her mind was not as strong as her body's natural reactions, and soon she could feel that her body was preparing itself.
"We'll set it for five minutes. That should give you enough time to think that maybe you should answer our questions." The Colonel turned and left the room, as the soldier lifted the device and moved toward Elzina.
General Radislav Krstic, second in command to Mladic, scanned the street. Not nearly as deserted as a few days ago. This was good, he thought. It meant the townspeople were beginning to accept their fate and to get back to their lives. Accepting Serbian control. Serbian dominance, actually.
This was a routine mission. To make certain that there were no pockets of resistance in the area previously controlled. And to extend that control several miles east. He doubted there would be a battle. True. It might be necessary to round up and kill a few more of the men, to make certain that the town's terror remained total. But that was the nature of war and control.
Krstic's men marched in formation down the road. He and two of his officers mounted on horseback followed the first four rows of soldiers, followed by the rest. About 200 in all. More than enough now that there were very few men left in the town, and the women mostly stayed hidden indoors. The women knew the things that could happen at a soldier's whim. And he was not about to deprive his soldiers of their desires, as long as the circumstances were not wholly inappropriate. Which they seldom were.
Krstic scanned the road, watching the townspeople who passed on foot. Some were dressed well. He hoped this meant that at least a few shops and businesses were re-opening. Now that Srebrenica and the surrounding area were under control, it was fine for things to get back to normal. He didn't want the people to starve. No. Serbian subjects should not starve. Just obey.
Amela noticed movement on the road to her left before she saw the first soldier. The townspeople on that end of the road had started to walk more quickly, with heads bowed. A minute later she saw why. They are here! She grabbed her binoculars and could make out the first row of troops. Then the second. And then the officers on horseback. She looked from one to the next and cursed under her breath. Mladic was not among them and she would recognize no one else. Should she go through with her plan or wait until she might have Mladic himself in her rifle's site? No. She might never have a chance at that. And no better a chance than now to do her part for her townspeople ... and for her own sake of vengeance ... by at least killing a high-ranking Serbian officer.
The one on horseback in the middle looked in charge. She took careful aim at him, waiting for him and his troops to move a bit closer to make her shot more certain. When, finally, they reached the slight turn in the road closest to her position, she took a deep breath, held still, and fired.
But just as Amela fired, her target -- Krstic, but she did not know it -- had stopped his horse and turned to give an order to the troops behind him, and the bullet soared past him, not three inches from his cheek, and into the chest of the mounted officer behind him, who immediately fell backward off his horse. The commotion below was instant, and, as she re-loaded to take a second shot, she could see that her original target had already dismounted into a sea of soldiers, several of whom were tending to their fallen comrade, others were pointing in her direction and still others were already running up the hill toward her.
Amela knew that a second shot would serve no purpose. She dropped her rifle, grabbed her backpack, and found the hidden break in the clearing that marked her escape route. She could feel her heart pounding as she ran down it as it gradually wound its way toward the road. The men had been right. Hours of boredom. And now moments of tremendous fear. She had not shot Mladic. She had not shot the leader of this group of troops, whatever his rank and position might be. She had apparently killed an officer, however. And now she would learn whether she had actually come up with an escape plan that had any chance of success.
He tried to clear his mind. He tried to summon his strength. What little might remain. But he knew that soon he would either break ... or suffer even more horribly than he had suffered over the last several days. All of the rebel soldiers had been warned. Do not surrender. Do not be taken alive. But the percussion blast had knocked him unconscious. So he had no chance to take his life before he awoke ... here. Wherever "here" was. Some sort of government dungeon, he assumed.
But he really couldn't be sure. All that he could be sure of was that he was now stretched, face down, on a rack-like device with his limbs secured to the four corners of the wooden board on which his body rested ... and that over the last several hours a woman had entered the room several times to turn a handle that increased the stretch until it was now at the point where he was certain that one more turn must pull him apart.
And he was naked. That he knew. Because a few feet in front of the rack was a full-length mirror that allowed him to see exactly how he was stretched. And to see that the board under him was really two boards. One under the top of his body from his head to his stomach. The other under his body from below his hips to his ankles. But this was not what frightened him the most. No. It was what had been done to him between his stomach and thighs, where the board had been removed, that most terrified him. In the mirror he could see exactly why he was now in so much pain not only in his limbs.
A thin wire. A thin sharp wire had been wrapped around the base of his penis, then around his scrotum and finally around the tip of his penis before its end was secured to several large weights that forced his penis to point downward. Any movement, including any swinging of the weights, tightened the wire around him, which now already dug deeply. That the entire situation had left his penis semi-erect and resisting its pull downward only added to his pain.
Then he heard the door to the room open, and soon the same woman, dressed in her army uniform, stood in front of him, between the rack and the mirror. For the first time now, she spoke to him.
"You can see that your situation is helpless, no?" She grabbed him by his hair and forced his face to look up at her. "And my instructions are to make things much more painful for you unless you answer my questions. But I'll give you a short time to make your decision. I'll let you first see what is going to happen if you do not cooperate."
She released her grip on his hair and pulled out of her pocket a long slender glass tube, making sure that his eyes were still on her. "Of course, you are smart enough to know where this goes, aren't you?" Of course he was. His body started to tense, and its movement pulled the wire still tighter.
She moved around him, and he could again see the mirror. He watched as she moved under the table. He felt her grab his penis. He clenched his teeth as he felt her push the thin glass tube into his urethra until the tube disappeared from sight. Then she slid out from under the rack and stood up, walking again to stand between him and the mirror.
"Now that is only the beginning. I haven't decided exactly what I'm going to do next. I could heat it and melt the tube inside you, so that you couldn't ever piss or ejaculate again. Now you wouldn't want that, I trust. So perhaps now you might like to think about giving me a few names. I'll give you 30 minutes to decide."
He heard the door of the room close behind him and screamed.
Krstic had seen enough death to know that his officer was dead. The bullet had entered his chest, and either penetrated his heart or ruptured his aorta. If he wasn't dead by the time he hit the ground, he certainly was dead by the time the first soldier reached him.
Within seconds, half a dozen soldiers pointed in the direction of the shot, and Krstic ordered 30 men to climb the hill directly toward it, another 30 to take jeeps around the side road on the right for a mile, and then to track back and hope to pinch the sniper between the two forces. He ordered another 15 men farther down the road to the left for a quarter mile, and then up the hill, anticipating that the sniper would try to race away, but would then be forced back when faced with the other soldiers. These final 15 soldiers would finish squeezing the vice. He ordered the rest of his soldiers to remain in position on the street, to set up a roadblock and question all of the townspeople on the road. Many who had heard the shot and seen the soldier fall had stopped, but he sent soldiers out to order them to continue toward his men, and not to turn back. All must be questioned. Any with suspicious answers or attitude must be taken to the station for questioning. And those who still remained suspicious would be taken below the station for more persuasive questioning. But he expected that this was the act of a lone gunman, and that upon the capture of the gunman, his questioning would quickly reveal any co-conspirators. Krstic expected the gunman's capture within 15 minutes. His men were in good shape and well-trained. And this plot did not seem as if it had involved any real planning.
Amela, though, was also in good shape. Thin. 5'5". 115 pounds. Strong legs from hard work on her family's farm. And she knew how to run on the uneven hills surrounding her town. Though the winding of the path added another half mile to the distance that she had to run to reach the road, she got to the other end of the path in less than 10 minutes. She removed her military fatigues, and hid them under brush about 15 yards from the end of the path. She pulled down her bunched up skirt, took the sports coat out of the backpack, put it on over her white blouse, removed her boots and put on her dress shoes. She put the boots inside the backpack, and hid the backpack on the other side of the path, about 10 yards from where she had hidden her fatigues. She figured that it should take the soldiers at least 20 minutes before they found them.
Amela then walked to the end of the path, made certain that no one was close enough on the road to notice her, took a few deep breaths to try to calm her nerves, stepped out onto the road and began walking, trying to blend in with the others. She looked back to make sure that no one had seen her entry. The closest two people behind her were at least 30 yards back, busy in conversation, oblivious to anything happening more than a few feet in front of them.
Amela sighed in relief, smoothed the wrinkles in her skirt and coat, not that anyone these days would think anything of a woman wearing wrinkled clothes, and set her pace even with those in front of her. [see Amela pic] By the time she reached the soldiers' roadblock that she knew must lay about a mile ahead, the pounding of her heart, she hoped, would reveal only that she had been walking several miles, like the others. She figured that she would reach that point in about 15 minutes. Time enough to practice in her mind how she would respond to the questions that she knew would come.
The Colonel walked down the corridor and entered a room on the right. Here he found a young blond-haired woman, dressed in a loose white top tied at the neck, a flowing black skirt and black flat shoes, seated in a chair, the top half of her body slumped over a desk. At the door to the room stood a single guard.
The Colonel sat behind the desk. "And your name is?" His voice startled her. She had not heard him enter. She sat up in her chair. "Senada."
"Senada. Pretty name for a pretty girl. Now, Senada," the Colonel could see that this was a small woman, mid-20s, not more than a 100 pounds. And he could see the fear in her eyes. He could always see fear. She should not be difficult, "you want to help me, don't you?"
"Yes, sir," Senada stammered. "But I don't see how I can. I'm very new to the area."
"Well, Senada, why don't you let me decide if you can help me? Let's start by having you answer my questions, OK?"
"We know that, although we've rid the town of most of its traitors and troublemakers, which has made the town much safer, there are still a few that remain. Give me the names of the ones you know."
"But," she looked at the insignia on his shoulder and at the medals on his chest, "General, I told you that I just moved here. I do not yet know anyone well enough to answer that question."
The Colonel stared at her hard. "Now, Senada. That's not a good start, is it? And I need to encourage a good start. Stand up and move to the center of the room."
Senada was startled by the demand. So soon. After just one question. She obeyed.
"Remove your clothes. All of them."
"What?" She started to shake. "But I .... I'm not .... I'm trying ..."
"Remove your clothes." The Colonel's tone was now much harsher, "or I'll have him do it," nodding in the direction of the guard by the door. "And he will not be gentle about it.".
Senada looked at the guard standing by the door, who stared back at her, expressionless. Then she looked back at the Colonel and knew that she had no choice but to obey him.
Slowly she stepped out of her shoes, then untied her blouse and pulled it over he head with one hand, trying to cover her small breasts with the other. She wore no bra. She dropped the blouse on the floor under her, and crossed her arms across her chest, completely hiding her breasts. She saw the Colonel still staring at her. "Do I call the guard?" he said.
Senada took a deep breath, then removed one hand from her chest and used it to help her wriggle out of her skirt, which dropped to her feet, leaving her wearing only a pair of thin white panties. She stepped out of the skirt, then again crossed her arms around her chest.
"But, please, General. I've never let any man except my only lover ..."
"Silence," the Colonel screamed and nodded at the guard, who moved behind the woman. He reached around her and pulled her hands away from her chest and on top of her head. He pushed them together, making it clear that she was to clasp them. Her small breasts heaving, she forced herself to stand in that position. Before she knew it, the soldier took out a small knife and cut the left side of her panties, which wrapped around and then down her right leg, revealing the triangle of black hair between her legs. Senada's knees buckled for a second, but then she steadied herself, now standing completely naked in front of two government men. She clamped her legs closed, but the guard standing behind her kicked his heel between her ankles, forcing her to separate them, then reached around and pinched her nipple. Senada shuddered. [see Senada pic]
"You say that you are new in town and don't know the names of many of your townsfolk. So let me show you some photographs. You will tell me which ones you suspect of continuing the town's terror. Will you do that?"
Recognizing her utter helplessness, with tears starting to stream down her face, Senada nodded.
When she was 200 yards from the roadblock, Amela could see that the soldiers were questioning the townspeople in what appeared to be four separate lines. She slowed her pace to try to learn more before she would have to choose one of the lines. Some people were being allowed to pass. About an equal number were being directed to turn around and return to where they came. And a few ... but only a few ... were being led to a nearby army wagon. These went calmly, resignedly, except for one young woman who had to be dragged there, screaming, by two soldiers. Amela was sure that she would know many of these people, but, from this distance, she could not identify anyone. And she made sure that she did not stare too long lest the soldiers notice that as she approached.
Amela chose the line on the far side of the road, only because it was the farthest from the hill from which she had fired. By the time that she reached it, only one old man was in front of her. She recognized him. Mr. Damiric.
" ... to see my brother. We have no food. I was hoping he had something to share."
The soldier looked coldly into his face. Mr. Damiric looked back into his. Amela knew that he was telling the truth. His brother lived about a mile and a half farther down the road. After about 15 seconds, the soldier signaled him to pass. So their orders are to be almost human today, Amela thought. They know that there are no able-bodied men left in town to threaten them. Then she heard the scream from the army wagon as its driver started its engine and began to drive away. She got a glimpse of the woman more clearly now, not for long enough to recognize her, but long enough to see she was young -- probably about 25, a few years younger than Amela herself -- and beautiful. A chill went through Amela's spine. Could the soldiers be using Amela's murder of one of their officers as an excuse to abuse as many of the town's more beautiful women as their commanding officer would allow? It would be ironic if they brought her in for questioning simply for that reason, without any real belief that she had been the actual shooter.
"Name?" The voice was cold and business-like. "Amela Omerovic." No sign of fear in her response, Amela thought. That was good.
"Why are you on the road?"
"I was hoping that my company had opened today. We have no telephone, so the only way to find out was to go."
"What company is that?"
"I'm a bookkeeper at the lumber yard. Is it open today?"
The soldier stared at her as he had at Mr. Damiric. "What do you know about what happened today?"
Amela was ready. She had heard all of the people talking about the shooting as they approached the roadblock. She knew that word had spread among them quickly, so it would not be wise for her to deny knowing what had happened.
"I heard that there was a sniper in the hills who shot at you."
"Who in town would do that? You live here. You know what happens here. You know who in this town opposes us." He hadn't asked Mr. Damiric these questions, Amela thought. I guess he figured that he was too old and out-of-touch. Or that she was young and beautiful enough to take to the station on a pretext. She had better give him some information, she thought. And she knew just what she wanted to say. A chance for revenge. Sweet revenge.
"I know of no one left in town who opposes you," she answered. He wrinkled his brow and squinted his eyes, obviously disappointed. "But I think that you must already know what I know."
"And what is that?"
"It wasn't someone from town."
"Oh? And if you know that it wasn't someone from town, then you must know who it was who was not from town."
Amela looked the soldier in the eye. "Not for certain. But I imagine that you suspect who I suspect."
Without taking his eyes off her, the soldier called to his superior officer. "Captain, come here. We have someone who may have information."
Amela turned her gaze to an approaching man. "This one?" the Captain nodded toward her.
"Yes, sir. She says that she can give us the name of a suspect."
The Captain turned to three other men about ten feet behind him. "You. Close this line behind her. Move the others to other lines. You two. Come here." Amela soon found herself facing the Captain with soldiers standing on all sides of her.
"And Miss Omerovic, who do you suspect?"
"There is a house down the road about two miles. Outside of town," Amela pointed in the direction of the side road that soldiers had raced up after her shot. "Two women live there. Twin sisters. Ayten and Nermina, I think are their names. I don't know their last names. You believe that they work as spies for you, but the people in town know that they are double agents. They pass you information on small matters, to gain your trust, but they deceive you on anything of importance. And your men wind up telling them more than they tell you, because they are young and beautiful."
"And how do you know this?" asked the Sergeant.
"They boast to their lovers. Very foolish. One of them told my brother. He was going to tell you, but word got around before he could, so the rebels killed him. That is why I am telling you. To avenge my brother." Lies. All lies. Well, nearly all lies. The sisters did work for the government, the townspeople knew. And Amela was sure that they had been the ones who provided the government with the location and timing of the rebel army's planned attack. The one in which her brother had died.
The Captain looked at Amela, then at his men standing at Amela's sides. "Find these sisters and bring them in for questioning." Turning back to Amela, he continued. "Thank you. Your information will be investigated." Outwardly, Amela gave no sign of her satisfaction.
"Any service that I can perform for you." Amela turned to leave, but found her path blocked by the soldier behind her. She turned back and looked at the Captain. "Miss. We will need to question you further, as well. I'm sure that you can understand that."
Amela's heart sank. Of course, they wouldn't just take her word. She might as well have given the soldiers an open invitation to take her to the station. And, when the sisters challenged her suspicions, as they certainly would, she would likely find herself in the interrogation room next to theirs below the station. With both of them accusing her and supporting each other. And if any high ranking officer was aware of the value that the sisters had provided the military, the odds would be far from even against her. How very stupid of her. She had gone through all the trouble to carry out her plan and to make her escape. And, much to her amazement, her plan had worked. But now, in her greed for revenge against the traitorous sisters, she had handed herself to the soldiers on the proverbial silver platter.
But Amela could do nothing more than smile at the Captain and nod. "Of course, I understand. Anything that you ask. But may I walk myself to the station, please? I don't want to be seen riding with those traitors." She nodded toward the military van.
The Captain's compliance surprised her. "As long as you are at the station in 30 minutes. Ask for General Krstic. He is in charge of the investigation."
Amela nodded her thanks and began to walk slowly down the street. It was little more than a mile to the station. She would have some time to think. And she knew that she would need the entire 30 minutes given her to try to make her story as airtight as possible.
"You know what I need from you." General Krstic stood in front of the woman, who was wearing only her black panties and a black bra, which she filled admirably. Her arms were chained overhead and her ankles had been tied together. The woman did not move and said nothing.
Krstic turned his back and walked to the near wall. "Are the cameras running?" he asked in the direction of a soldier seated in front of a monitor. The soldier nodded. "And am I now off screen?" Again the soldier nodded.
"All right. Let's begin." He looked up at the woman as he turned a handle in the wall near where he stood. Immediately, the chains holding her wrists were pulled up, until the woman's toes, stretch as she tried, could no longer touch the ground. She gasped as she felt the sudden pain in her shoulders and wrists that now bore all of her weight.
"Where is your sister?"
"She's been out of town for nearly a week. On a mission for you. You know that. Why are you doing this?"
"I get to ask the questions, dear Nermina, not you. But I'm a generous man, so I'm going to answer it anyway. At least three people in town have independently told the authorities that you and your sister have been working both sides. Paid by us and pretending to work for us, but usually passing us only worthless information, while at the same time making sure that the rebels are always aware of those plans of ours to which you have been privy. And no one likes double agents, now, do they?. They're double traitors. Traitors to both sides, wouldn't you say?."
Nermina's body was already soaked in sweat from the strain from her suspension. "Who told you these lies? You know that this is not true. Not true. You know that."
"Three independent sources," Krstic screamed at her. "One from a loyal government citizen. Two from captured rebels. Now, where is your sister? You know that she is not on a mission for us. She has disappeared. Further evidence of her guilt, wouldn't you say? And yours?"
"No. She is on a mission. She is. She will be back in three days."
"You know. I usually let others conduct the more distasteful persuasion techniques, but I think that I'm going to make an exception in your case, since those who pretend to be with us are far more despicable than those who openly resist. Cancer from within is so much more insidious." Krstic walked up to Nermina and forcefully ripped her panties off into his hands. Then he stuffed them in her mouth, pulled a piece of tape from his pocket, and taped her mouth closed before moving several feet behind her. She twisted to try to see what she was doing, but the movement put more strain on her already tortured shoulders, so she again turned to face forward. She would soon know her fate without having to twist to see it.
"Oh, Nermina. There is no need for me to keep you in suspense. I'll tell you what's going to happen. And it is going to happen whether you wish to talk now or not, since, as you can see, you can't talk now even if you wanted. When we're finished with this stage, we'll give you another chance. Maybe you'll be smarter then." He paused, watching Nermina's tense and tremble as she waited for him to continue.
"First, I am going to mark you as a traitor by branding you with this T iron that I am holding. After it heats sufficiently. Then I am going to reward six of my men by letting them take you down and rape you. And, after that, maybe we'll remove your gag and see if you'd like to have a chat with me."
Krstic made a sudden thrust with his arm toward Nermina's back, and Nermina screamed. Then her head fell to her chest. Krstic looked over to the soldier behind the monitor. "You probably want to go first and find out just what nice gifts that bra is hiding. Then call five of your friends. When you're finished, call me. I have other rooms to visit."
On this side of the roadblock there were far fewer people walking, so many having been turned back or off in different directions. Still, as Amela drew within a few hundred yards of the police station, she realized that she did not want anyone -- and certainly not anyone she knew -- seeing her enter. Even if she were allowed to leave the station after her questioning, and she dared not even think what the chances of that was, satisfying the police would do her little good if the townspeople thought that she had betrayed them ... and was as dangerous to them as the sisters. But she also knew that she couldn't delay for long. She had been given 30 minutes. She had now used 30 minutes.
After sitting on a low stone wall in front of the station for several minutes, until no one else was too close by her, Amela walked quickly in the front door. And immediately realized, as she approached the female guard that she had forgotten the name of the man that she was there to see.
"I'm here to see a general, but, I'm sorry, I seem to have forgotten his name."
"Why are you here to see him?" The guard's voice was cold and matter-of-fact.
"I ... I have information about the shooting this morning."
"Your name." An order, not a question.
"Amela. Amela Omerovic."
"Room 7. Right there." The guard pointed off to the left, down the hall. "Second door."
Amela nodded a quick thanks, and walked slowly in the door's direction. She forced herself not to look back to see if the guard was watching here. No one else had entered the building behind her, and no one else was in sight.
When she reached the door, she turned her body so that she could glance quickly back at the guard, who had picked up a telephone. No doubt letting the General know that Amela had arrived.
Amela wasn't sure if she should knock or just enter. Determining that this was probably an outer room, she turned the doorknob, which was unlocked, and walked in.
It was not an outer room, but a very large one filled with electronic monitoring equipment that seemed to Amela that it must cover the entire building and all of its rooms. The back of the room widened, and two men to the left -- one seated, one standing -- were staring at wall monitors that faced them so that Amela could see nothing more than the back of the wall. The one standing looked toward her, while the other clicked a switch that appeared to turn off whatever they had been watching, as the area around them dimmed. Amela wondered if they had been watching her.
"You are Amela Omerovic?" The man standing asked. Amela hesitantly took a few steps toward him, and could see that he was wearing a military uniform of high rank. "Yes, sir," she nodded.
"Come, sit down." He motioned to a chair behind him. "Your help is very much appreciated."
Amela walked slowly up to the man, pointed to the chair behind him for confirmation, and sat down in the chair, which faced back toward what she now could see were indeed monitors filling the now visible wall that had been hidden from her. Six large monitors. Perhaps two feet long and two feet wide. In two rows of three each. All now turned off. The other man she had seen was seated in a chair behind a table filled with more electronic equipment that obviously controlled the monitors.
"Let's get started, shall we?" Amela could read the name tag across the left side of his chest, opposite the impressive lines of medals along the right side. "General Krstic." And she suddenly focused back on those few seconds on the hill this morning when she had peered through her binoculars at her target. It had been he. General Krstic. Amela hoped that neither man noticed her slight shudder.
When the Colonel re-entered the room, he could see immediately that Elzina, still chained to her chair, was in a complete panic. The soldier nodded, and the Colonel glanced quickly between Elzina's legs to confirm that the device was in place.
"Set it for five minutes."
"Wait, wait," Elzina screamed. "I'll tell you what I know. Everything. Please. Please. Just don't set it. Please." Her words, though, were barely out of her mouth when she heard the metallic click. "No-o-o-o-o." Her scream was long.
"Five minutes is plenty of time. Names. Give me names."
Elzina began to rattle off names. Three. Four. Then a pause while she thought. Then three more, four more. "There. Now. I've told you. I'm telling you. I will tell you more. Just let me think. Turn it off. I can think better if it's off."
"I will turn it off," the Colonel's voice was soft. Elzina's sigh of relief, though, was short-lived, "as soon as you give me the name of just one person who is not already dead or captured, one traitor who is still in the town."
"What do you mean?" Elzina screamed. "I'm telling you what I know !!"
"You obviously play me for a fool." The Colonel paused and glanced at his watch. "But not for very much longer."
Elzina realized that the five minutes must now be nearly expired. "No. You can't. I'm trying to ..." This time the metallic click was much louder, and so was Elzina's scream as the circular razor leaped from its casing into her flesh, just inside her body. She looked down and saw the blood begin to ooze out through the small spaces left by the device inserted between her legs.
"The next one will be an inch deeper. And, after that, well, I don't think that I need to explain." The Colonel's voice was ice.
Shaking, sweating, bleeding, gasping, Elzina tried to regain enough composure to speak. Precious seconds of her time were passing.
She knew that she didn't have time now to offer only the names of those for whom all hope was already gone, either through death or known capture. She had been so foolish to think that the Colonel would fall for that. Now she needed to offer the names of those still left in the town. Innocent or guilty, she needed to offer names.
And so she did. Name after name. Ten in all. The names of real, living persons. Some were probably rebels. But whether they were was not something now passing through her mind.
Elzina knew that it must be nearly another five minutes when the Colonel approached and stroked her forehead, feeling the sweat that now covered her entire body. "That was much better, Elzina. Do you have anything more?"
Elzina dared shake her head. "No," she offered meekly. "Now please, please, turn off the machine."
"Stop the five minutes," the Colonel said loudly to the soldier monitoring the device, before he turned to walk to the door. The soldier moved his hand to the device and turned a switch. Elzina's body relaxed, although she continued to try to regain control of her breathing. But before leaving the room, the Colonel turned toward Elzina and looked at her, her head slumped to her chest, her breathing just starting to ease.
And just then there was another very loud metallic click, and Elzina's scream was filled not only with tremendous pain, but complete shock. The only words from her throat that were the least bit coherent were, "But you ..." before her throat was engulfed again in a scream.
"Because I don't need you anymore," the Colonel shouted the answer to the question that she had been unable to finish. "Promises to traitors who are trying to avoid the consequences of their actions are not real promises. But I'm being kind to you anyway by setting the device at one minute and not longer. So you will die more quickly." Before he finished he heard the next click. The next scream. "But not too quickly."
And, as he slowly turned back to open the door, he heard the next metallic click, which was muffled as the heavy door closed behind him. It would take Elzina several painful hours before she bled to death. Hours to contemplate the total destruction of her womanhood. And the horrible pain that she would cause to those she had named to try to save herself. Such a selfish traitor, the Colonel thought. She deserved no better than she was getting.
"You accused two sisters of the murder this morning. Why?"
The General's tone was much harsher than Amela expected, especially after his much warmer greeting and thanks for her assistance. Trying to startle her. To keep her off balance. Better to get at the truth. Probably just a technique.
"Well," Amela started slowly, trying to choose her words carefully. This was the question that she had spent the last 30 minutes preparing to answer. "The townspeople are aware that these sisters are government informants. When they were confronted with this by some of the rebels, they laughed and explained that they actually were double agents, which was very dangerous for them, but it helped the town greatly. The rebel leaders were skeptical, so the women told them all of the harmless information that they had passed to the government, and then told them about the government's plans."
"Tell me more specifically what they said," the General appeared very interested.
"I'm sorry, but I can't. I wasn't there for this confrontation. I just heard about it later. Only the sisters and rebel leaders were there. Not any of the loyal citizens of the town."
"So you're just telling me rumors. You have no personal information." The General seemed more exasperated than upset, as if Amela were just another towns person trying to ingratiate herself with the government.
Amela tried to determine if it might be best just to agree with the General, or to continue with the story that she had planned. The General's interest in her story gave her the confidence to continue. She wanted the sisters to pay the price for roles their betrayals had played in the deaths of her loved ones.
"Well, I do .... have some ... personal information," Amela disagreed. "You see, a few days ago, word got around among many of the women in town that the sisters wanted to hold a meeting. We assumed that we were all going to discuss how we could help each other get through this difficult time. Without our men's help. That we were going to discuss forming a co-operative, to see who needed what help. What we could do for each other."
"Where did you meet?" The General's voice was still accusatory.
"In front of the sister's home."
"About 10 of us."
"Name the others."
"I ... I can't." The General's eyes widened, but, before he could say anything, Amela quickly continued. "We were all afraid to be seen in a meeting. It would look like we were conspiring against the government. That's why we held the meeting at the sisters' farm, outside of the town. And each of us wore a veil so that no one else would know who attended."
"How long did the meeting last?"
"Oh, well, no more than a few minutes. You see, when one of the sisters -- and they are twins, so, forgive me, I don't know which one; I can usually tell them apart, but I couldn't in the dusk and wearing the veil -- well, the sister who answered the door saw us wearing the veils and started yelling at us that we were weak and useless if we were too afraid even to show our faces. That obviously we couldn't be trusted to carry out the sabotage missions that the sisters had planned. And that they would just have to do it themselves."
Amela took a deep breath. "And that's why I suspect them. This was just a few days ago, and the shooting appeared to be the sisters' first act that they had threatened."
Senada struggled to remain standing, her hands clasped behind her neck, her knees trembling, as a soldier brought a small folder to the Colonel. He opened it and pulled out a photo, then turned it toward Senada. "What about this person?" It was the photo of a young man.
Senada's small chest heaved in fear. "I ... I'm not sure ..."
"Oh? Is that how this is going to be?" The Colonel nodded, and the soldier walked quickly to Senada and punched her hard in her stomach, then caught her as she doubled over, moved her hands to where the blow had struck her and started to fall to the floor. He caught her, forced her back to her standing position, and pulled her hands behind her neck. She remained gasping for air.
"Maybe you need to think harder," the Colonel suggested.
"I ... I think I remember seeing him," Senada struggled. "Yes, I'm pretty sure."
"And where did you see him?"
"On the sidewalk. It was getting toward evening. I was walking back to my apartment." Senada finally regained her breath.
"And what was he doing?" The Colonel asked impatiently, staring at her.
Senada looked down, unable to return the Colonel's gaze. "He was ... talking with a group of three or four others. Talking quietly. They all stopped talking when I approached. I heard their voices again after I'd passed."
"Very good, Senada. They were obviously conspiring, wouldn't you say?"
"I ... I guess they might have been. I ... I didn't hear anything that they said."
"And was this woman among them?" The Colonel placed a photo of a young woman over the photo of the man.
Senada hesitated. "I ... think ... so." She looked up at the Colonel, who started to look toward the soldier. Fearing another blow from such an uncertain answer, she quickly added, "Yes. Yes. I'm pretty sure. Yes. She was one of them."
The Colonel smiled. "Good, dear. Very good. Just nod if your answer is the same for the next ones." He put another photo of a man on the top. Senada nodded. Then another of a woman. Senada nodded again. And she nodded again to the next two photos as well.
The Colonel moved toward her and pushed her shoulders down, signaling that she should lower herself to her knees. Senada shuddered, fearing that the Colonel would next unzip his pants and she would be required to perform an act that she had abhorred the one time her only lover had told her how much they both would enjoy it. Well, he was right as to one of them, but only one. She had refused him that pleasure after that one time. But to her relief, the Colonel and the soldier walked to the far side of the room, behind her, where she could not see them or overhear their conversation, which was no more than indistinct sounds to her.
"Her information is useless," the soldier offered. "She will agree that anyone we show her was there. She said there were three or four, and she has named six already. She is too terrified to say 'no' to anyone."
The Colonel smiled. "And two of the six photos were of Generals Krstic and Mladic. So, yes, her information is false. But that doesn't mean that it is useless, now, does it?" The Colonel's smile broadened. "But as far as further questioning of this woman," he continued, "well, that would now be a waste of time. You know what to do. How you do it is up to you." The Colonel quietly moved to the door and left the room.
The soldier moved up close behind Senada. "On all fours," he ordered. He pushed her back and she had no choice but to obey. In this position, her fear was not unlike her fear when she had been ordered to her knees. But this time, she quickly sensed, what she feared would happen was going to happen, as she felt the tip of his penis against her vagina. At least he was not going to sodomize her, she thought, though this brought her little consolation. That she was not ready for him increased her pain, and it must have increased his, she thought, but he didn't seem to mind. Soon her body's natural reactions eliminated this problem, and he thrust himself deeper and deeper into her.
She closed her eyes, trying to imagine a different scene, a more pleasant scene. She was not aware of the nylon cord that he had looped around her neck until he had pulled it tightly enough to begin to squeeze. Now her panic became uncontrollable, and she screamed. Her screams of fear and pain, though, were not much different than would have been screams of ecstasy.
The soldier held one end of the cord in each hand, and the cord was long enough to let him move his own hands to hers without completely cutting off the air to her lungs. But when he then pulled her hands off the floor and spread them apart perpendicular to her body, the rope tightened around her neck, as the full weight of her body and his, still thrusting into her from behind, forced the cord tighter around her neck.
Senada's screams stopped, replaced by desperate gasps and gurgles. The soldier was oblivious, concentrating entirely on his own pleasure as his thrusts grew faster and deeper, his stretch of her hands greater, and the tightening of the rope around her neck more extreme, as the veins in Senada's neck began to bulge and her mouth open. But the air could not get past the constriction in her throat.
With one final deep thrust, the soldier released his semen into Senada and released his grip on her hands, moving his own hands to squeeze her breasts. Her hands went immediately to her throat, trying to slip her fingers underneath the cord to relieve the pressure. But after just one futile try, her arms dropped to her side, as the soldier released his grip on her breasts and withdrew from inside her.
As the soldier stood up, Senada's lifeless and naked body fell to the floor, her hands at her sides, the rope tightly around her neck.
The soldier pulled up his pants, took a look at his handiwork, pushed his boot under her body to force it onto his back, spit on her chest, and left the room.
She re-entered the room and moved again to the top of the rack. The man's head was turned to the side. He appeared to be unconscious. She looked between the boards. The wires now dug so deeply into his manhood that the flesh around them hid them from view. His penis was still forced to point downward ... and, with the glass tube inside it, to remain at least semi-erect. She could see that blood was now dripping from its tip, as well as from the sharp, though now invisible, wires, and pooling on the floor under him.
She lifted his head and his eyes slowly opened. Although she said nothing, he hurriedly nodded. "That's my good boy," she smiled. "Let's start with your immediate cell."
He was too panicked and in too much pain to try to deceive her. Most of his cell had been killed or captured, but not all. He envisioned the group's last meeting before the men left on their mission, and named each person as his mind went around the room. Twelve in all. Seven or eight were probably dead or captured. But some of his information would be valuable.
Twelve names. The usual size of a rebel cell, she thought. The government did indeed already have several in its dungeons, and several others were known to have been killed. But a few names were new. This was truthful testimony, consistent with what the questioning of others had revealed.
And the rebels generally made certain that no one person would hold too much information about too many other members. Certainly not a lowly rebel soldier like this one. No, he had told all he knew. She knew how to make men squeal. And talk. Men were easy. They had only one thing in life that they could not do without, and, if that were threatened, well then, they would do whatever they could to try to save it. Which is exactly what this one was trying to do.
"I promised you that, if you told me the truth, I would not melt the glass, and I always keep my promise." She climbed into the space between the two planks and then swung her right leg over the man's back. His body was low enough that she could stand over him. "But still. You are a traitor to your country, so you shouldn't expect total mercy, now, should you?"
He started to protest, when she lifted her feet off the ground so that the full weight of her body rested on his back, pushing his back down enough to increase the stretch of his body on the rack unbearably, separating his shoulders and straining his hips. Pain now consumed his entire body, and his shrieks filled the room. The pressure of her weight on his body and his uncontrollable shaking both forced the wires to dig even further into him, but he could not stop his movements.
She leaned her body over his until her chest rested along his back, her feet still off the floor. She moved her hands around his body until they gripped his penis. "Now I am going to remove the glass from your body, but it will probably take a few minutes.
She released her hold on his penis for a second, and then slammed her hands together on it, breaking the glass into hundreds of slivered pieces. She had thought that his screams when she had sat on his back could not grow louder, but she was wrong. His shrieks now did not sound human. He had no time to complain or question or speak. His entire mind was consumed in pain.
As he continued to scream, she leaned back up and slid herself off of him. While the removal of her weight eased a bit the stretch on his body, it did not ease the volume of his screams. She climbed over the bar of the rack and then glanced below. As she knew, his violent movements to try to relieve his pain was having the exact opposite effect. As he thrashed, the sharp wires dug deeper and deeper into the base of his penis, his scrotum and the tip of his penis, causing him to thrash even more. A vicious ... no, a delicious ... cycle, she thought.
She backed away from the rack, her eyes darting back and forth between his face and the middle of his body. "I'm telling you the truth, you know," she shouted towards him, but she doubted that, in his agony, he really could hear her. "In just a few minutes, the glass will be completely removed from your body." She turned and walked to the door, before turning back to him. "Of course, just a bit more is going to be removed with it."
She laughed and walked out of the room. Even after the heavy door slammed behind her, she could still hear the screams coming from the other side.
The General reflected for a few moments on what Amela had said. Did he buy it? Amela wondered. It had come out exactly as she had rehearsed it in her mind. She didn't know who the others there were because of the veils. The words that she put into the sisters' mouths were consistent with their being double agents. Certainly others in the town hated the sisters for their betrayals and work with the government, and might themselves take the opportunity to suggest that they were behind the shooting. Amela wished, however, that they might have agreed upon this ahead of time, to be sure that several would make the same accusations. But Amela was afraid that, had she tried to do so, others might now have suspected that it was she who had committed the murder, so it was too dangerous to share her mission with anyone else. In case any of hem was weak. Or a spy.
"You saw both sisters?" The General finally asked.
"Well, I saw one in the door when she opened it. And I think that she called back to the other sister while she was speaking with us. To complain how useless she thought we were. But I didn't actually see the other."
"All right. We brought in a number of persons questioning. Most have been questioned and released. But a few have been detained for further questioning. You understand that there are strong reasons why we have detained the few that we have for further questioning?"
"I'm sure that there must be," Amela had no choice but to answer.
"And you also understand that answers to further questioning often require ... added ... persuasion ... to ensure that the whole truth is told?"
"Yes." Obviously the General was not going to tell Amela directly that these who had been detained were now undergoing torture, but she fully understand what he was saying.
"Good. So you know that what I am about to show you may be distasteful to you, but it is necessary."
Amela finally realized what the General was saying. He was going to show her suspects being tortured. She grit her teeth. "If you feel it is necessary, then I understand."
The General rose, held his hand out to Amela and helped her stand. He then walked her to the middle of the room, facing the monitors, all of which were still turned off.
"Room 4." He said to the soldier, and suddenly the monitor on the left in the lower row of monitors came to life. Amela stared at it. It was one of the sisters !! She couldn't tell which, but it was definitely one of the sisters. Chained upright, spreadeagled, naked. Head slumped to chest. A generous chest. And around her mouth and on her cheek and, yes, on her neck and chest ... it looked like ... what did men call it? A money shot, that's it. This sister appeared to have been sexually abused. As the camera zoomed out and she could see more of the scene, she noticed that there were half a dozen men standing around her. And one was now zipping his pants. But she wasn't surprised. Sexual abuse was obviously part of the interrogation of a woman. And it couldn't have happened to a more appropriate victim, she thought. Maybe they had her sister, too, she hoped. And maybe she was undergoing similar treatment and would be the face that she saw on the next monitor that came to life.
"She denies your story," the General stated matter-of-factly. "Every bit of it."
"What would you expect?" Amela replied. "Of course, she denies it."
"And she won't tell us where her sister is. We don't have her sister. In fact, we're not even sure which sister the one we have is. Can you tell them apart?"
"No, I don't think so. Certainly not from a television monitor."
"No. I mean in person. Let's go down to the room and see if you can help us identify which one she is."
Amela thought about protesting that she still could not, but thought better of it. "Yes, I'll try. I may not be able to, but I'll try." She would enjoy seeing whichever sister this was face more torture. But she knew that it could be a dangerous confrontation.
The General led Amela down the hall, past several heavy, thick, wooden and very sinister looking doors until they reached a door marked Room 4. The General looked at her. "Are you ready?"
"Yes. I'm ready," Amela replied calmly. In fact, she thought, I'm rather looking forward to this. Persons who found themselves chained in dungeons usually did not have much credibility with their interrogators.
The General opened the door. Inside, the room was exactly as she had seen it on the monitor. The sister was in the center of the room, chained naked and spreadeagled, with six soldiers standing around her in a semi-circle. Amela could see that, several feet behind the suspended sister was a brazier of hot irons, and one of the six soldiers was holding one of the irons shaped as a T. That branding, Amela guessed, had preceded the rape by the six men.
The sister raised her head as the General and Amela approached from the front. She stared for a few seconds at Amela, assuming that she was one of those who had named her as a double agent, and attempting to determine how strong her false testimony against her had been.
"What's your name?" The General asked the woman.
"Nermina. I told you." The woman responded flatly.
"Can you tell? Is she telling the truth?" The General turned to Amela.
Amela took this as an opportunity for her to approach the woman for a closer look. She walked slowly to her until she was standing right in front of her. She could see that the woman's body was bathed in sweat, as her toes struggled to keep contact with the floor. Her breathing was heavy. Amela's eyes scanned the woman's body slowly from head to toe. A beautiful body. Larger than average sized breasts, but not so large as to become unshapely. Small dark triangle of wet matted hair between her legs. What looked like semen inside her thighs. Some dry. Some still wet. Amela wondered if all six men had had their way with her. Under the pretense of needing to loosen her tongue. But it wasn't her tongue that they were trying to loosen.
Then Amela stared into her eyes. The woman returned her stare. With her back turned to all of the others in the room, no one but the woman could see Amela's face break into a wide grin. "I think that she is Nermina, as she says," Amela said, keeping her gaze on the woman, but speaking loudly enough for all to hear. "She has a small beauty mark on the bottom of her jaw, and I did not see any mark like that on the woman who answered the door, when she turned her face to me and called to her sister Nermina. So this is Nermina, not Ayten."
Amela removed her grin before turning and walking back to the General.
"Very good. We have received word within the last 10 minutes that we have captured her sister. We have ample evidence against both of them. The penalty for treason is death. We have no more time for these two."
"Should we carry out the sentence here?" The soldier is charge of the six asked. Hearing the words, Nermina began to pull furiously in her bonds.
"No. We will execute her in public. Take her down, put a dress back on her, and we will take her outside. It is always more powerful for the public to see us strip a traitor right in front of them before execution and then watch her demise."
Two of the soldiers approached Nermina, who continued to scream her innocence. Finally, one of the soldiers, tiring of her protests, slapped her hard across the face with the back of his fist. Her head jolted sideways, then slumped to her chest. The soldiers quickly dragged her to a corner of the room where a pile of clothes lay. No doubt the clothes she had been wearing when she was brought to the room, Amela thought. She was doing more for the rebellion by having these traitorous sisters executed, she thought, than she had done by shooting that soldier earlier.
The General put his arm on Amela's shoulder, and began to walk with her toward the door, past the chains that had held Nermina, away from the corner where the soldiers were now dressing her.
"Will you stay while Ayten is brought in?" The General asked.
"Why? You have all the information that you need. You don't need my held anymore."
"No. But I thought that you might like to see how we encourage her to confess." It was a tempting thought to Amela, but the sooner she got back home, the better. "No. I should be getting back."
"Well, if you don't want to see Ayten, I understand. But I think that she may want to see you." Amela looked puzzled, as the General slowly turned her around to look toward the now dressed Nermina.
Nermina wore a complete government military uniform with two rows of medals across the chest. Boots. Hat. And she stood with her arms crossed. "General, she's mine now. That's our agreement, isn't it?"
Amela watched helplessly as two soldiers walked quickly toward her and grabbed her arms. Within seconds they dragged her deeper into the room, to a wooden wheel. Quickly her arms were chained high over her head to wooden pegs extending from the sides of the wheel, and her ankles to chains similarly to pegs near where the wheel reached the floor. Her back stretched along the curve of the wheel, and, with a turn of a handle, her body was moved upward until she stared toward the ceiling with the six soldiers, the General, and Nermina standing around her.
"Yes, Major. She's yours. You earned her. As well as all of the men's appreciation for your dedicated service to your country. Of course, it will be my turn to see you demonstrate your patriotism this evening. Per our agreement." The General smiled, turned and walked out of the room.
Nermina moved to stand directly in front of Amela. "I give you about 20 minutes before you will be begging to confess everything you know and more. Including why you lied about me." She pulled Amela's jacket open, and soon her white blouse was stained with sweat. While her skirt had been of respectable length, the stretch of her body, with her arms overhead, had now moved it up to the middle of her thigh, though it still covered her white panties. She doubted that would remain the situation for long.
"So now you see the real enemy," Nermina gloated, standing in front of Amela and squeezing first her left breast, then her right, through her blouse and bra. She then pinched Amela's chin in her right hand. "My first question is: Does the enemy have as good a body as mine? She released her grip and stepped back, as each of the soldiers moved forward to investigate the answer to her question. Amela felt them pull her blouse out of her skirt, move their hands inside it and under her bra, reach up under her raised skirt and probe between her legs. When they moved back after several minutes, one arm of her jacket had been torn, so that her jacket now hung limply at her left side, held onto her body only by its left sleeve. The buttons of her blouse had all been torn open, and the blouse itself pulled open so that her chest remained covered only by her white bra, which remained in place, although both straps securing it to her shoulders had been ripped off of it. Her skirt was partially ripped off her right thigh, but hung enough in place still to cover most of her panties.
"So what is the verdict,' Nermina asked.
"Her breasts are not as large or as firm as yours," one offered. "She has a tight ass, but, again, not as good as yours."
"I didn't think so. And I doubt that her body will remain tight for very long. Now the next question is: Why has she tried to impugn my loyalty to our country?"
"Because she herself is the traitor, and she is trying to destroy a good soldier."
"And how will we prove this?"
"She will confess."
"Yes, I think so." Nermina approached Amela. "Now or later, Ms. Omerovic. The choice is yours. But you know and I know and everyone in this room knows that it is you who is the traitor. Now don't we?"
Amela summoned her courage. "It is you !! Just as I have said. You and your sister !! Double agent traitors !!"
Nermina pulled out a small knife. She looked at the soldiers. "One cut each." She handed the knife to the first man, who walked up to a terrified Amela. One cut each? Of her clothes or her body? She felt mild relief as the first soldier cut the sleeve of her jacket, which fell to the floor at the side of the wheel. He then handed the knife to the next soldier in what was now a forming line, although it seemed that all of the soldiers wanted to be at the end of the line, so that Nermina was required to call them out by name one by one, much to each's disappointment.
The second soldier touched the tip of the knife just below the center of Amela's ribcage, drawing a drop of blood. Then he flicked the knife upward, cutting between the cups of her bra, which flew open, held, useless, behind her, from the pressure between her body and the wheel until he pulled it out and dropped it next to her jacket. The third soldier slit up the left sleeve of the blouse, and the fourth up its right sleeve, pulling it off to join the jacket and bra below.
The fifth soldier cut open Amela's skirt, leaving her in only her white panties. Nermina looked at the sixth soldier, sighed, and then took the knife from him and walked up to Amela, who was now breathing heavily, her body bathed in sweat. Nermina cut the cloth between Amela's legs, looked at the sixth soldier, then flicked the knife up to cut the waistband. After the panties wrapped around Amela's right leg, Nermina flicked once more, dropping the panties to the floor, and leaving Amela completely naked.
"No more clothes to cut, dear Amela," Nermina noted the obvious. "Which means that, should you decide not to confess that you are what we know you are, this sixth man here will be given permission to rape you. So what will it be?" The sixth soldier stood directly in front of the chained woman, a large bulge inside his pants.
"I am not a traitor. And you have no evidence against me !!" Amela screamed in protest.
"Well, in fact, I do have evidence. A lot of evidence." Nermina nodded toward the wall of monitors, and suddenly the top left monitor flickered to life. It was a close-up of Elzina's face as she sat in the chair. A voice from off-screen asked her, "Tell me the names of those remaining in the town who are not loyal to the government." After a brief pause, Elzina responded with two names, and then, "Amela Omerovic."
"She's lying," Amela screamed. "I don't even know that woman !!" But Amela knew that it was she, not Elzina, who was lying. And it was a foolish lie, she knew immediately. The government could easily check to find that Amela and Elzina lived no more than a few houses away. But any admission that she knew the woman would make lzina's accusation believable. The woman spoke the truth, of course, but the General couldn't know that. Not when her information was obviously being obtained through torture. Which is why the camera showed only Elzina's face.
"Is she?" Nermina nodded and Elzina's face froze in the monitor, as the top monitor in the middle now came to life, this time revealing the face of man obviously in pain. "Do you know this man?"
"No. No." Amela again lied. it was a friend of her brother's. She thought he had died in the same battle, but apparently he had not been so fortunate.
"Elzina Zuanic. Amela Omerovic." The man's voice was pained. "How do you know they are loyal to the rebels?" the off-screen voice, now female, asked. "They attended meetings," came the gasping response.
"Funny. He knows you. And he knows Elzina, your first accuser. Do you still deny? Or do you need to see more?"
"I .. deny .. that I am .. a traitor," Amela protested, but now without emotion or strength or any feeling that she might be believed.
Now the man's face froze in its monitor, and the top monitor on the right filled its screen with the face of a different woman, this one with her hands clasped behind her neck. "Was this one of the conspirators?" she was asked, and the monitor cut to a photo of Amela. "Yes," the woman nodded, "she was one of them."
This was the first of the three accusers whom Amela really did not know. She couldn't tell whether the woman had actually identified her, or whether the tape that she was seeing had been edited to make it appear that way. But she knew that it didn't matter.
"Enough?" Nermina asked. "Do you have anything to say?"
"I have nothing to say," Amela replied, now even more aware of her total nakedness and helplessness, knowing that the time for talk was nearly over and that she could soon expect more physical abuse and pain. Severe pain. Whether she confessed or not.
"No confession? No denial?"
"I have nothing more to say," Amela repeated. "You do not want to hear the truth."
"Very well," Nermina responded. She nodded at the sixth soldier, who wasted no time dropping his pants and shorts to reveal the cause of the large bulge that had been obvious to all. He moved to the wheel, grabbed the wooden pegs to which Amela's wrists had been chained, and forced his body between her chained legs and ankles. He then pulled hard on the wooden pegs to force his body upward, and slowly pushed his way into the resisting Amela, who tried vainly to hold her muscles tight to deny him entry.
But she hardly had the strength even to make him realize that she was trying to resist. Soon she could feel him deep inside her, pulling himself up by the wooden pegs, then easing himself downward, then pulling himself up and deeper inside her, over and over again. Amela bit her lip until it bled, trying to move her mind as far away from what was happening to her as she could. Was this to be the first of six? Or more than six? She found herself staring at Nermina, who was standing to the side, her eyes staring back at Amela and obviously enjoying her pain.
By the time that Amela realized that the soldier had withdrawn and moved his body off the wheel, she was totally exhausted.
"He's quite a lover, that one, isn't he?" It was again Nermina's voice. "Unbelievable stamina. I'll bet you really enjoyed him. Now it really is time for you finally to tell us the truth."
Amela gathered her remaining strength to respond. "I thought you were looking for the truth. I thought you wanted to know who shot your soldier this morning. I didn't know you just wanted to torture more of your citizens."
"Traitors aren't true citizens. But I'm glad you reminded me." Nermina nodded to two of her soldiers, who approached the wheel and unchained Amela's wrists and ankles, catching her body as it fell off into their arms. They dragged her directly in front of Nermina, who held a bag in her hands. "We found this discarded uniform on a path leading from where the sniper shot our soldier this morning to the road. We believe that the sniper wore these clothes to camouflage his ... or her ... actions, and then, after the shooting, changed into civilian clothes to try to blend in with the others in the area. Perhaps she changed into a skirt and blouse and jacket that she had left along the path. Put these on her," Nermina handed the package to one of the soldiers. "Let's see if they fit."
As one of the soldiers held Amela's arms over her head, another slid the khaki top over her shoulders, and then slipped the khaki pants onto her. "These loose fitting clothes would fit anyone," Amela shouted back. "This proves nothing."
"Not so fast, Ms. Omerovic," Nermina laughed. "We are also going to play Cinderella at the ball." One of the soldiers slipped an army boot over her ankle, then the other. The soldiers stood Amela back up now, visibly dressed as she had been that morning, although absent the clothes she had worn underneath -- the blouse and skirt, as well as her bra and panties.
"Small boots, wouldn't you say," Nermina smiled. "A woman's boots. And a woman with small feet. How many rebels, men or women, have such small feet. But they fit you."
Amela was breathing hard. She knew that her charade -- never believed -- was over. That these clothes and boots fit her certainly did not prove anything. But Nermina didn't need or want proof. She wanted only to satisfy herself that she could convince her superiors that she had solved the crime, so they would then reward her with a promotion to Colonel. She wondered if they would reward Ayten, too, or whether Nermina would outrank her.
"I'm sure that you've figured out by now, dear Amela, that the scene of my torture that you witnessed was completely staged. No hot iron in my back. Yes, I had sex with a few of the soldiers while I was chained, but that was a real turn on. Very effective on the tape, too, wasn't it? We just needed for you to continue with your lies about me. Which you readily did. And you were so excited about witnessing a public execution. Well, you are going to get your wish now. And you are going to have even better than a front row seat."
Amela felt her wrists being tied behind her back, as a dark blindfold was placed over her eyes and secured behind her neck. She then was pushed forward, a soldier on each side of her, two in front and two behind. She wasn't sure whether Nermina had joined the group. No one spoke. No one stopped. She thought that they must be moving in the opposite direction from which she had entered, as the stone floor did not change. Finally, she knew that she had been brought outside, as she felt the ground beneath her feet soften and the sun shine onto her face.
The group continued to march. Amela had no sense of where they now were, or for how long they marched, but, as the nature of the sounds around her changed, she began to sense at first, and then realize, that they were walking down a major street, as she could hear the whispers of townsfolk as they passed. Townsfolk staring and muttering as they realized the fate that she would soon face. She could also sense that a crowd, growing larger, had begun to follow her. Some no doubt were loyal to the government and wished to see her suffer a proper fate for her traitorous activity, perhaps wondering if she were the morning's shooter. Others, not loyal to the government, followed out of fear of doing otherwise, lest they themselves seem disloyal. And others were just interested in witnessing the horrible spectacle ... as well as the likely nakedness of an attractive woman.
Finally, the group stopped, and, a second later, she was led up a dozen wooden steps. No doubt they had reached the place of her execution. A gallows? A firing squad? Amela did not know. What she knew was that she was now visible to all the gathering spectators.
A male voice addressed the crowd. It sounded to Amela like General Krstic. She had tried to assassinate him that morning. Now the same two would be involved in the killing of one by the other. Just not in the same roles.
"This morning, in an act of cowardice and treason, this woman, Amela Omerovic, waited in ambush and assassinated one of our brave soldiers who was doing nothing more than serving his country. She has been tried fairly and convicted on the basis of overwhelming evidence." Amela wondered when this fair trial had occurred, although she knew that she was in fact guilty of the charge.
Amela felt herself pushed up one more small step, and then felt a noose place over her neck and tightened. So this was to be the method. Suddenly she felt her khaki shirt torn open and then pulled down behind her until it covered her chained wrists, leaving her naked from the waist up. Her body shivered. For the first time, the crowd exploded in derision and satisfaction, knowing that what they came to see was quickly approaching. "You can always tell a traitor by her small breasts," she heard one spectator shout.
The howls had barely quieted when Amela felt hands at the waistband of her khaki pants yank them down to her ankles, then off over her boots, leaving her body totally exposed to the large crowd. As their hisses intensified, now directed mostly at the hair between her legs, she felt her booted ankles tied together, to reduce her ability to kick after she was dropped. She hoped that this would not matter, that, by the time she had dropped, her neck would have snapped, killing her instantly and ending her suffering.
But her wish was soon shattered. "We are a humane people," she heard Krstic continue, "but, for a crime so serious as this -- lying in wait to murder a member of our military -- the death cannot be instant." Amela felt the last step that she had climbed drop, but it was no more than six inches until her booted toes scraped the wood floor, though just barely. The noose tightened, leaving her gasping for air, although, for the moment, she could force just a small amount of air into her lungs. Not enough, though, to fill her lungs that were trying to heave from the absolute terror that she was now feeling.
As soon as her body had dropped, the crowd noise became deafening, drowning out her ability to focus on anything except the tremendous pain in her lungs that she could do nothing to reduce. Unable to gain a firm toehold on the ground below, her body began to spin in its struggles. How many times, how long she struggled, she could not say. Seconds or minutes? But the roar of the crowd seemed to fade in her mind. Then, somewhere deep in its recesses, she heard Krstic's voice again. "Aim." Aim? She was going to be shot before she suffocated? This would hasten her death. This would end her pain sooner. This would ....
"Fire." Amela felt the first bullet hit her just above her belly, and she immediately lost control of her bladder. Five more bullets tore into her chest within seconds, and her body now spun free of the ground. By the time that it again faced the crowd, it was no longer struggling, as the blood and urine began to collect on the floor below her.
The crowd remained, watching, pointing, for several minutes, then began to disburse. Just one woman slowly approached the hanging, naked .. and quite dead ... Amela. She untied her ankles, removed her boots, and hurried off, unaware that they were not likely to fit her, and that she had taken the final piece of evidence that had condemned their wearer.
"What did you want to tell me out here?" Ayten sat with Nermina in the open field behind their farmhouse as the sun began to set. They spoke out here only when they feared that their conversation might be bugged inside their house.
"You are aware that Amela Omerovic was executed yesterday for killing a government soldier," Nermina began. Ayten nodded.
"I'm pretty sure that she did it," Nermina continued. "There wasn't much evidence, but the boots that they found did fit her and they would not have fit many."
"Evidence certainly didn't matter," Ayten responded. "Once she accused you of being a double agent, you had no choice but to turn the tables on her."
"Yes," Nermina agreed. "I know that I had no choice. But it is a shame."
"In return for the loss of one rebel," Ayten reminded Nermina,"you are now securely among Krstic's favorites. With the new rank of Colonel. Isn't that a greater benefit for the cause than the loss?"
"Yes, I guess it is," Nermina sounded unsure. "Amela didn't know. Of necessity, we let very few know. In fact, she was so sure that we were working for the government, that she deliberately went out of her way to accuse me of the murder."
"And what would have happened had you not defended yourself as you did? What if Krstic, for whatever reason, had believed Amela? Or you had given him reason at any time to want to believe her? All the effort of getting us to where we are would have been lost. Probably for me as well as you. But now ... now we are in so solid with Krstic that he will share everything with us."
Nermina listened, knowing that her twin sister was right. Amela had stumbled into the one accusation that the rebels could not allow stand unchallenged ... that the twins were double agents. It was unfortunate for Amela that the cover that the sisters had given themselves had been so carefully prepared that not even a rebel family like the Omerovics knew that the accusation that Amela thought she was fabricating was in fact true, that the sisters were the rebels' most deeply embedded double agents that they had in the Mladic military. Which made them far more valuable to the rebels than the life of any other rebel. Certainly more valuable than the life of Amela Omerovic.
"Look what she put you through with her accusations. Look what you had to do to convince Krstic that you were loyal," Ayten commended her sister. "How unpleasant was it for you to allow yourself to be stripped naked and raped by those men?"
"Worse," Nermina confessed. "I also had to sleep with Krstic last night. And spent most of the night tied spreadeagled to his bed because that's how he gets himself off. If he asks for me again, you are going in my place, twin sister. I've done my share with him."
"Though she didn't know it," Ayten's thoughts were still on Amela, "her greatest success for the rebel cause was her failure to convince Krstic of the truth about us, as a result of which she forfeited her own life while allowing us to strengthen our own positions," Ayten summarized. "We owe our greater status completely to the feebleness of her efforts to betray us."
The two rose and started to walk down the hill back to the farmhouse. From their high vantage, they each could not help but stare down to a clearing several miles away ... where Amela's naked and bullet-riddled body remained hanging.