Bring Out the GIMP (Girls in Merciless Peril)
Stories


FILIPINA II – JOY

By Kirsten Smart


One

Joy Cortez had been Mia's maid for four years. 27, she was a few years younger than her employer, and tiny, barely four-feet-ten. She was strong from all of her work around the house, though; dark skin and eyes, a broad nose, high cheekbones, perfect teeth and lips in a natural pout; with long, straight black hair secured in a tidy ponytail.

She stood by the wood-burning stove, cooking a pot of rice. It was a hot night, and her modest cap-sleeved white blouse was wet on her back. Little droplets of sweat sat on her brow.

The soldiers had come as Joy was preparing food, a large pot of rice cooking on the wood-burning stove. She had seen the truck pull up quietly on the street, and her eyebrows furrowed to see a dozen soldiers clamber down from the truck and quietly move towards the house.

“Ano ba!” Although afraid, Joy rose from the small wooden stool and moved towards the soldiers, aware that faces were already watching from up and down the street; it gave her confidence to confront them. She put her fists on her hips, her chin lifted, tiny but defiant.

One solider walked up to her: Joy was about to speak again when his open hand smashed hard across her face, snapping her head to the side. Joy gave a little shriek, stumbled, and before she could regain her orientation, there were two soldiers grabbing her arms and throwing her back against the wall of the house, pinning her there.

“Hindi!” Joy shrieked, as more of the soldiers walked into the house, banging the door open and crashing into the kitchen.

A moment later the barrel of a handgun was thrust against her forehead. Joy went instantly silent, her eyes wide and fixed to the face of the solder who had struck her just a moment ago.

“Hoy! Don't kill the maid! Bring her!” The voice belonged to another, who was standing between the truck and the doorway, his own sidearm drawn.

The soldier who was about to execute Joy scowled. “Turn her around.”

The two holding Joy did so; the girl struggled defiantly but despite her strength, was far too small to resist as her arms were brought together behind her back. Unable to find any rope or binding, the soldier pulled his own belt from his fatigue pants, and cinched it quickly and tightly around her wrists, pulling so tightly that Joy squealed, the leather creaking. The belt was wrapped a few times around itself, and Joy was bound.

“Get her to the truck,” the commanding officer barked.

With two soldiers propelling her to the street and her arms pinioned behind her, Joy's feet barely touched the ground, and her slippers fell behind her as she struggled. As they passed the commanding officer, he stepped in front of them, and briefly grabbed Joy's chin, twisting her face to look up at him. “Do not make a sound. Not a single sound. If you do, I will strangle you to death.”

Tears welled in Joy's eyes, but she nodded quickly.

They literally threw her into the truck; she landed with a bang on the wooden floor. With hands creaking in their leather-belt bonds, she managed to squirm her way to one side. She was still trying to find a position to sit, when the soldiers returned from the house. Between them, they held Mia: still in her light, revealing chemise - bare armed and barefoot, but with hands bound behind her back and a hood over her head. By the sounds that came from beneath, Joy knew her mistress was gagged.

It was a long and bumpy ride. Joy would have rolled helplessly about on the bed of the truck, but the feet of the rebels shoved her back into the middle every time she did; instead she bounced and jolted with every lurch. She was sweating heavily with the heat and fear; her white blouse was now translucent in huge swathes down her sides and front. Despite her own discomfort, she felt sympathy for Mia, who, hooded and gagged, was in far greater distress.

Their journey ended after several long hours, at the end of a barely-defined mountain road. The jungle hissed and steamed. Mia was lifted down from the back of the truck: Joy was less fortunate, one soldier simply hooking her by her own bound arms and throwing her off. She tumbled to the ground, rolling, bruising her knees and elbows and tearing several buttons from her blouse. Still she made no sound at all.

They walked.

Joy was barefoot, and in the dark, unable to see where she was putting her feet, it was a painful journey. She could not put her hands in front of her, and fell many times, landing hard on her side or belly, until her sweat-soaked blouse hung off her torso, one small, round breast bared. Every time she fell, she was wordlessly hauled to her feet. She walked, silent, afraid but determined not to show it.

The compound at which they finally arrived was well hidden, huts nestled amongst the trees. Even the main building was closely surrounded by trees, with camouflage netting strung above it. Concrete and iron, it was an ominous structure.

There was a clear space in the middle of the compound; Joy was dragged to stand there, held by a rebel, while others took Mia off to another dark corner.

“Captain. What should we do with the maid?” “Give her to the men. They deserve some fun,” was the response.

Joy said nothing, but her heart was pounding as she was grasped by the arm and led off towards a hut, from which the glow of lamplight shone.

“Comrades, I bring you a gift.”

There were easily thirty men inside, and all eyes were on the diminutive brown Filipina as she was presented through the door. Her blouse in tatters, one plump sweat-shining breast bared with its berry-dark nipple erect, her eyes wide.

“Ganda!” breathed one of the rebels.

The terror became too much, and Joy began to drop to the floor; but before she could, the rebel holding her slammed her back into the bamboo wall of the hut, his hand clamping around her throat. With her wrists still pinioned by the leather belt, she could only gasp. Two more rebels were quickly on her; dragging off her slacks and panties, shredding the blouse from her body.

Joy's body showed her Mountain ancestry; dark skin, dark hair; she had a thick nest of silky pubic hair, fine downy fuzz on her arms and legs and belly. To be balbon was very attractive in Filipino culture, fine feminine peach-fuzz a visual and sensual delight. The rebels stripping her pawed at her downy skin, grabbing her grapefruit breasts, and Joy, with her throat clamped and hands bound, could do nothing.

“Change of plans, men!”

The voice belonged to a newcomer, and the three rebels on Joy leaped back so suddenly that she knew he was high-ranking. Released but with arms still bound, she sank, naked, to the floor of the hut, gasping. Her straight black hair had come loose of its ponytail and fell about her shoulders. “Bring her to the command block.”

The relief was overwhelming. Even naked and with hands still pinioned, she felt a sense of elation, and trotted willingly with her escorts to the concrete bunker-like building below its shrouds of camouflage netting.

The relief evaporated when she was brought into the room and the heavy door was closed behind her. Desks, tables, chairs; at the far end, a wooden desk at which a woman sat working a typewriter, its chatter steady. An armed rebel sat in a corner nearby. But Joy's eyes barely settled on those things: seeing only the bare concrete wall to the right of the entrance. It was marked only by the distinctive craters of bullet-holes. A metre out, a chain hung from the ceiling, ending in two simple D-ring shackles.

“What's your name, girl?” The man who had rescued her from the fate-worse-than-death went to a large table, and, without sitting, rotated a large open log book.

Joy said nothing. Still in the grip of the rebel who had brought her, she stood, naked, bound, her small brown feet close together.

The leader glanced up. “I asked you a question. What is your name?”

Joy's eyes remained fixed to the floor in front of her. She didn't utter a sound. She missed the silent command, but a moment later the soldier holding her grasped her hair and wrenched her head back so that she was forced to look again at the leader.

“Give me your name!” he suddenly exploded.

Joy was shaking, but said nothing.

In a violence of motion, by the hair, she was hurled forward. She lost her balance completely, and slammed to the concrete floor with the distinctive slap of bare skin. Arms twisted behind her, she writhed onto her side, just in time to catch a solid kick to the belly from the rebel guard. She jack-knifed, doubling up on herself, mouth open in a soundless shriek, saliva spilling to the floor.

“Do not mess with us, girl!” the leader growled at the girl who lay curled and gasping. “We're not playing games. Give me your name!”

Joy managed to get one knee under her, and half rose. Behind her back, dark with strangled circulation, her small hands were closed into fists. Her face was veiled by her hanging hair. She said nothing.

The leader scowled. “Secure her.”

By her arms, Joy was heaved up, and physically carried to the bare concrete wall and the awful dangling chain with its menacing shackles. Joy finally managed to get her bare feet under her, and shakily stood. “Uh … sir?”

The rebel leader turned. The two soldiers holding Joy stood under the shackles; it was obvious that they would be six inches beyond the diminutive girl's tip-toe stretch.

From the far side of the room, the woman's voice: “for God's sake, just lift her up.”

In her early forties, she had the distinguished beauty that came with the confidence of her age. Straight black hair, wide and soaring cheekbones, deep dark eyes. Even in a conservative skirt and white sleeveless blouse, there was an aura of confident allure about her. Its effect on the rebels was noticeable; she had their attention at once. “Untie her hands and fasten her in the shackles.”

Still Joy said nothing as, with some difficulty, the belt was finally loosened from her wrists. The two rebels grabbed her hands, and physically lifted her into the air, holding a hand each as if she was a child, pushing her wrists up into the shackles and fitting the rounded hasp around the back of each wrist, screwing the fastening bolts into place just below the heel of each hand. Joy tried to resist, but her kicking and struggling was futile, and a moment later, the rebels stepped away - leaving Joy helplessly hanging by her wrists. It was something she had never experienced before. There was pain in her hands and wrists, pain in her arms. At once, she was tipping her head back to look up at the manacles. She instinctively kicked and reached with her bare feet, and, a moment later, her head tipped forward again, as she realised her true helplessness. Her toes swinging high above the floor, hanging by her wrists, she was utterly restrained. Humiliation joined the physical pain and began to manifest in droplets of sweat on her brow and above her lip. Naked and suspended in the glare of the floodlights, she was presented on explicit display.

The leader was standing in front of her. His eyes travelled slowly from the hard iron manacles that trapped Joy's wrists; her arms, upstretched and clamped either side of her head, brushed with soft little hairs; although her armpits were shaved, which seemed to contradict her status as the probinsyana, or unsophisticated village girl. Her breasts were beautiful and round, with thick dark-chocolate nipples; her ribcage arched and her belly flat, slightly hollowed by her suspension, the skin covered with the finest peach-fuzz. Her waist was not so narrow, nor her hips so wide; but at the juncture of her thighs was a luxurious nest of soft pubic hair, fine like silk. Her legs were strong-looking, and like her arms, irresistibly balbon. Her feet, gracefully drooping as she dangled, like a ballerina en-pointe, were tiny, pink-soled.

The leader cleared his throat, aroused but aware that she was not here to be admired.

“My name is Ramirez,” he said. “I don't want to have to hurt you, girl, but I will if need be.”

Joy hung silently before him and said nothing, her chin almost on her chest. Her belly shifted quickly with little breaths, all she could do in her painful suspension.

Ramirez's hand came under her chin and lifted her face, until she was looking up into his eyes. “What is your name? What can you tell us about Mia Lopez?”

Joy's eyes were defiant. She gave no response.

“You're not making this easy on yourself,” Ramirez scowled.

Joy said nothing.

“I suggest you think about it,” Ramirez said.

He returned casually to his table, drawing his chair in, and making notes in his journal.

The typewriter chattered. Joy hung on the end of the chain, her toes high above the concrete floor.

Two

Ramirez let Joy hang for an hour. There was no reason to hurry. From time to time he glanced up, but there was little to watch. Her small body dangled almost motionless.

She suffered the hour quietly, not a groan or gasp despite the pain. But Ramirez knew she was suffering indeed. At first, the pain would be mostly felt in her wrist bones and hands, her body's weight borne by the unforgiving rings of iron. But as her arms' muscles lost their strength, the weight of her body would be taken entirely the ligaments connecting her bones, and with that would come a hot, searing agony that coursed through her joints. It would soon drown the pain in her manacled wrists.

Indeed, forty minutes after being hung up in chains, Joy's body began to take on an oily sheen of sweat, deliciously patterned on her arms and legs and belly by the nap of downy hairs. Her feet began to stir, her legs shifting and her head moving as the torture began to be felt, a slow racking in her arms.

Ramirez returned to the prisoner at leisure, pausing to gather from his table-top a yard-long bamboo cane, which he trailed across the concrete floor as he approached. Joy's face remained down, her silky hair still tidily trailing down her back.

“Are you ready to start talking, girl?”

Between her straining arms, Joy's head lifted just a little. Her eyes rose, but did not meet Ramirez's gaze. The defiance was clear. “Do not test my patience,” Ramirez warned. “You will tell me your name, and you will tell me everything I want to know about your mistress, Mia. She has been named as a collaborator with the Japanese, and you will be the one to verify it!” Joy's head slowly dipped again. Almost imperceptibly, her head shook side-to-side. “Enough!” Ramirez exploded, and without warning sliced down with the bamboo. It cracked across Joy's undefended ribcage. Breath hissed from her nostrils, she twisted away from the pain, but Ramirez swung from the other direction, catching her small thigh. Back, forth, back, forth: the bamboo whistled through the air, each stroke snapping across Joy's bare body while she jolted and writhed, hanging from the manacles. The bamboo landed across her breast, making it jump obscenely; it cracked on her arms, her lower legs, her flanks. She picked her knees up to her belly, so Ramirez cracked the cane across the bones of her feet, and her head bucked with the pain of it. She twisted frantically from the manacles, but she could not escape the beating. Finally, after a dozen blows, Ramirez stopped. Joy hung by her wrists, her body swinging, her head rocking back, and then forward again. Her knees sank down again until she was hanging at full stretch once more. Welts were already beginning to appear on her brown skin. She released breath with a low sigh but gave no other sound. “You leave me no choice. I will make you talk, girl, but before I make you talk, I will make you scream.” From a storeroom beyond the chattering typewriter, two of the rebels wheeled a heavy gurney. Two shelves; the lower stocked with heavy batteries, the upper containing some kind of instrument that resembled a radio transmitter, with meters and dials and a large controlling circuit-breaker. “This is a rheostat controller,” Ramirez said. “I want you to understand its application, even if you are probinsyana. It delivers a controlled electric shock through these wires.” He held up a braided insulated wire, at its end a serrated brass clamp resembling the jaws of a crocodile. “It will make you talk, believe me.” Joy made no sound. Even hanging by her wrists, her arms straining and her hands squashed down into the shackles, she gave no indication that she was in pain, or even afraid. Still holding the clamp, Ramirez stepped close. Gently, he put his hand under Joy's right breast. “So perfect,” he said. “So pretty.” The heavy spring of the electrode clamp in Ramirez's hand creaked as he opened it, then crushed it onto the rubbery nub of Joy's right nipple. The little brass teeth sank deeply into the crinkled skin. She gave no reaction, although he was sure it must hurt badly. Ramirez scowled. He levered open the second clamp and let it snap shut like a gin trap on Joy's left nipple; this time her dangling toes curled in response, but still she gave no cry. Ramirez grasped the wires hanging from Joy's breasts and gave a tug, enough to stretch her nipples and set her suspended body swinging. The electrodes' springs were powerful, and their grip was secure. “You know what happens next, don't you?” Joy's head remained lowered between her upstretched arms. Ramirez shook his head. “You are a foolish girl, you are making this much harder than it needs to be.” He returned to the desk, and sat. He threw some switches on the rheostat unit; there was a low buzz as the current began to flow. He turned some dials. “We will start with just fifty volts. You will see what I mean.” He closed the switch. There was a loud hum and Joy, hanging in the manacles, stiffened slightly, her head shifting, her bare feet flexing and curling. Her breathing quickened visibly but she gave no sound. Ramirez cut the current. “Stubborn, eh? Well we'll see if this loosens your tongue!” He dialled the voltage to a hundred, closed the switch again. Joy's body jolted, and this time, through the veil of her hair, Ramirez could see that she was biting her lip against the pain - but still no scream. She was shaking, but no sound. He kept the current going for half a minute, then cut. Joy went visibly limp and hung heavily from the shackles. In a matter of seconds a fresh film of sweat had broken out over her brown skin. Sensing his victory, Ramirez dialled the voltage to one-fifty and hit the switch. Joy's body jerked, and she buried her face into her own upstretched arm, her dangling feet kicking in agitation. The clamps on her nipples were audibly sizzling, proof that current was searing into her; but she still made no sound, although he could see from the shaking of her body that she was in pain. He held the current for another minute, until smoke began to creep up from the clamps on Joy's nipples, but still no sound, not even a groan. Release. Joy visibly went limp, her head nodding forward. “We'll see how tough you are,” Ramirez scowled. He turned the dial until the voltage showed 500, the maximum possible. “Fry, chica!” He slammed the switch. Bright blue sparks snapped on Joy's dark nipples as the current exploded into her breasts. Her body went rigid, her arms so tense she half-lifted herself in the shackles, and she turned her head, one way and then the other, her chin trembling and her lips violently sucked in against the pain. The sizzling sound of electricity was joined by a high squealing sound, the electricity starting to burn Joy's nipples. Her feet swung in restless circles, and the first tear slid down her smooth cheek; her jaw was clenched shut, but still she refused to scream. Ramirez stopped the current. Joy slowly relaxed, hanging loosely. Again. The sizzling, squealing electrodes discharging voltage into her bare breasts and the tiny Joy, all four-foot-ten, squirmed helplessly, hanging in the shackles. Still she did not utter a single sound. After a minute, Ramirez cut off the current in disgust. Wisps of smoke curled lazily up from her seared nipples. “Ramirez, sir?” The woman who had been typing now stood alongside the rebel leader “Forgive me, po, but you are not doing it right. She won't talk like this.” Ramirez gestured to the petite prisoner's reddening breasts. “I think soon enough, Maricon.” Maricon gave him the condescending look that only a woman could give a superior. “You men always think so sexually. Her nipples' skin is thick and her breasts are mostly made of fat, they're already resistant to electric shocks.”

“The nipples are very sensitive,” Ramirez was affronted. “Take a look at her,” Mari said. “Anak nya. She has given birth, you can see the stretch-marks on her belly and breasts. When a girl has had a baby chewing her nipples for half a year, they have a high pain threshold. Of course you're hurting her, but it's nothing she won't endure. The same if you put it in her kiki or her ass.” Ramirez scowled. The woman hanging motionless again by her wrists in the glare of the lights seemed so small and fragile, it seemed impossible. His hand went to the cane that he had laid across the table. “Then I shall beat it out of her, until she talks, or dies.” “Sayang! There is a better way. Her kilikili.” Ramirez laughed. “Her armpits?” “The skin there is delicate,” Mari explained. “There is very much sweat to help the current and there is no fat to insulate it. There is a major nerve network just below the skin. There are tendons and muscles and bones, and all of them carry electricity well. Put the clips on her armpits, po.”

Ramirez shrugged. “She's just the maid. We'll try it.”

Joy showed no sign of acknowledging their conversation, her head hanging forward. Hanging by her wrists, she was in no position to hide her profusely wet underarms from view, nor from the touch of Maricon's fingertips as they ran, from the slight dip of Joy's biceps, down through her satin-smooth underarm, to the rise of her breast. With her other hand, Maricon carefully removed one serrated brass electrode from Joy's swollen, dark nipple, then calmly pinched the sprung electrode onto the soft skin in the middle of Joy's armpit.

“Maitim ng kilikili mo,” Maricon criticised. “Your armpits are dark. You should use calamansi juice.”

Tutting lightly about the state of Joy's underarms, Maricon attached the second electrode into Joy's right armpit, and stood back. Joy hung, her up-wrenched arms pressed to either side of her head, the brass clamps firmly biting into her dusky armpits, the wires slung in lazy loops to the rheostat. “Try,” Maricon said to Ramirez. Doubt was written all over Ramirez's face, and with a half smirk, he adjusted the voltage of the rheostat down to two hundred, then closed the lever. Every muscle in Joy's arms went rigid; her back arched, her head flew back and she began to scream, her whole body bowed with fierce, shuddering tension. She screamed and screamed, her body thrashing wildly as the electrodes buzzed in her armpits. “Po,” Maricon called over the noise of Joy's screaming. Ramirez's eyes travelled the length of Joy's little frame. Above the manacles, her fists were clenched. Her arms were tight and jerking violently back and forth, as if she was trying to shake the chains' loose from the ceiling. Her head was flung back, her mouth wide and perfect teeth bared as she screamed, long black hair sweeping her back, the tendons in her neck bulging. Her ribcage was raised and stark, her round breasts jiggling as her body jolted. Her legs were kicking and twitching crazily, setting her body swinging, the muscles in her thighs and calves fiercely defined. “Ramirez, po!” Maricon shouted again. “You will kill her!” Ramirez barely seemed to hear. Joy's screams went on and on, the Filipina jolting and writhing from the shackles, so Maricon's hand came over Ramirez's, and eased the circuit-breaker up. The current cut. The spell was instantly broken: Joy's rigid body went limp, her arms lost their tension, her head fell forward, and began gasping air. Urine spilled from the dark nest between her glistening thighs, coursing down her legs and dribbling to the floor below. Slowly, as her shock abated, abject terror took over. Joy began mewling like a kitten. “Again,” Maricon urged quietly. Ramirez nodded and slammed the lever down. For the second time, Joy's dangling body snapped into a trembling, straining arch and her head flew back with a shrill scream of agony. Her legs kicked desperately, her shrieks piteous and shrill. Long seconds of current; long, terrible screams. The shock stopped and Joy's head fell forward, a rope of bloodied drool spilling from her mouth. Her groan was tremulous, followed by sobs and gasps. Her breasts jiggled as she heaved breath. Ramirez rose from the table, and strode quietly over to the slowly swinging girl. “Are you ready to talk?” Joy said nothing, sobbing, helplessly dangling on the creaking chain. Ramirez reached out and touched the hot electrode that was clamped into her right armpit, fascinated that such an innocuous part of a woman's anatomy could prove so sensitive. “So be it.” As he returned to the table, Joy's head lifted; her face, half-veiled by the tangle of her own thick hair, showed abject dread. “No! Please, please, no more!” Ramirez halted, half-turned. “Let us start with your name.” “My name is Mary Joy Cortez,” she said, without hesitation. “Please, sir, I am just a poor -” “And what of Mia? What is her involvement with the Japanese occupation force?” “Po, she is not involved, she is -” Even as Joy tried to make her denial, Ramirez reached over to the rheostat and closed the switch. Joy's voice exploded into a scream, her head flew back, her arms went rigid, her little body spun and jerked, the wires trailing from her underarms swinging with the violence of her thrashing. The current ceased, and Joy swung limp, her head falling forward. She gave a cry of misery, even as Ramirez turned up the power to three hundred, and shocked her again. Sparks sizzled and spat in her armpits and she screamed again, a long, hoarse screech of agony.

Ramirez cut the current, gave Joy a count of three, and hit her again. Again she was screaming, jolting and jerking where she hung, until her voice trailed to nothing and the only sounds were the rattling of chains and the sizzling hum of the wires in her armpits. This time, Ramirez kept her under torture for a full minute, watching Joy's little body strain and stretch against its will, her mouth wide open and her eyes bulging, a gagging, croaking sound coming from her throat.

When he was sure he had wrung the last drop of strength from her, Ramirez stopped the current. Joy's body went limp with a vocal “uh!” and her feet swung, another little dribble of urine snaking down her leg, her head falling forward. Her ribcage heaved; her belly spasmed and she coughed up a string of bile that spilled from her open mouth.

“This is only going to get worse for you,” Ramirez said. “If you don't talk, I promise you a hell that will not end.”

Joy sobbed. “Please, please let me down, I'm so sorry, I swear I'll be good, please …”

“Tell us about Mia's connections with the Japanese.”

Joy's response was a wail, her head tipping back. Ramirez sighed and closed the switch.

Joy's screams echoed off the concrete walls for half a minute.

When the current cut, Joy felt her body sagging once more, drained of all strength, her muscles quivering. She knew she was still hanging in the shackles but couldn't feel her hands, nor even sense which way was up. Her head was spinning, her brain filled with a clamour of pain and jangling nerves. Her armpits were burning, her arms and chest on fire, her heart thumping so rapidly she thought it would explode. She felt herself pissing again, for the third time.

The man called Ramirez was talking again. Asking questions, asking her to lie about Mia. But before she could even answer, she saw, out of the corner of her eye, his hand closing that awful lever …

Pain beyond comprehension. Red hot nails driven into her armpits that spread savage tendrils of fire to her very fingertips, burning her arms like gasoline; reaching down inside her chest to the pit of her belly. The pain was so terrible she could do nothing but scream. At the same time, every muscle in her body was suddenly driven to clench, so powerfully and absolutely, it felt as though ligaments were tearing and her very bones were bending and twisting. It went on, and on, and on; endless, nightmarish.

Finally, the current stopped.

“Who is Mia's contact? What is her involvement with the Japanese?”

Somewhere in the chaos of pain shattering her thoughts, Joy knew that all she had to do was say what he wanted to hear, and this would stop.

Again the current. Thought vaporised into a hell of straining, burning pain, as if her arms had been sliced with rusty blades from armpits to fingertips and the bones scraped and sawn, pain as if her spine was being snapped like a splintering twig and her ribs were bending into her own organs.

Ramirez knew patience. As Joy shuddered and twisted, hanging from the manacles, shrieking in agony while the brass clamps discharged their fire into her armpits, he counted the seconds, counting how long was enough, then letting her scream for a minute more. It had been half an hour; most victims would have fainted, but Joy, tiny Joy, was strong as a carabao. She fought, remaining conscious despite the shattering torment.

Ramirez stopped the current and watched Joy go limp. Her head fell forward. Sweat was dripping from her face. He turned up the voltage to four hundred, and then electrocuted her again, admiring the quivering arch of her lithe body, revelling in the satisfying intensity of her agonised screams. He had broken her.

After half a minute, the current stopped again. Joy hung, conscious but unable to move, overwhelmed by the immensity of her pain. Her muscles were all but paralysed; every time the electricity surged into her armpits, her body expended more energy than if she had sprinted a thousand yards. Her lungs were heaving, her limbs were trembling and exhausted.

“Po, I will tell you everything you want to know,” she whispered. “Anything at all. Anything. Please.”

The session went on into the night.

For some questions, Joy could give answers; a simple nod, an admission, an invented story. For some she had no answers, and when that happened, she would sink into a desperate panic, kicking her feet and shrieking in terror, her eyes wide and fixed on the rheostat from which, inevitably, more agony would come. Her armpits were red and raw with the endless shocks.

After an hour, Ramirez was satisfied and the questions stopped. The clips still in her armpits, Joy hung exhausted and motionless, her toes drooping, her body stretched long by its own suspension, still shining with her sweat. Her muscles had failed and she was all but paralysed.

“Let her down, take her to a holding-cell,” Ramirez said.

“Po.” Maricon took the chance to volunteer help again. “She should be tied.”

Ramirez looked at the barely-conscious girl as the guards plucked the clamps from her tortured armpits, set about letting her down from the shackles. He saw no need to tie her; the holding huts were well secured and guarded. But he was happy to indulge Maricon's wishes. “Sige.”

Joy was laid face-down on the floor, in the puddle of her own sweat and urine, pinned by two of the guards. Maricon had rope, and carefully, painstakingly lashed Joy's small wrists together behind her back. Every loop of the rope was pulled creakingly tight, all but killing the circulation to her hands, and each knot was cinched until it was hard as stone. Joy's fingers quickly began to turn dark. The little Filipina moaned but could offer no other resistance.

“The flesh will be gone from your bones before your hands are freed again,” Maricon said with satisfaction. To the rebel soldiers: “get her out of here!”

Three

With prisoner and soldiers gone, Maricon went to the door of the bunker and locked it. Ramirez watched curiously as the beautiful Filipina turned and offered a half-smile. “Po, may I ask you a favour?”

“Sure,” Ramirez said.

Maricon went to the iron shackles that still dangled from the ceiling. Turning to face her superior, she slowly reached up, grasping the chains and twisting them around her own wrists. She leaned forward, testing them, letting her arms take the weight of her body for a moment. Her eyes were dark with lust.

“Put the electrodes on me. I want to feel what she felt.”

“Put them …? ” Ramirez pointed awkwardly. In her sleeveless blouse and with arms stretched up, Maricon's armpits were bared. “Sa kilikili?”

“Yes,” she breathed. Her chest shifted rapidly. “I want to know. Sige na? Please?”

Ramirez drew close to his assistant. He put a hand out to touch her hair. “Ok. But I have to chain you.” As he reached up to put Maricon's left wrist into one of the shackles, she looked panicked, and momentarily drew back.

“Why?”

“You might have convulsions, fall on the floor and break your arm, or hit your head. This is safer.”

“I can hold on.”

“I doubt that.” Ramirez closed the first shackle, then placed Maricon's right wrist into the second. Their iron was still warm from Joy's wrists. Maricon lightly closed her fists, feeling the hard metal around each wrist, aware of her helplessness. Her arms now held above her head, she was exposed and vulnerable. Ramirez had one of the serrated-tooth clips in his hands, and Maricon bit her lip.

Maricon's armpits were fashionably pale, and carefully shaved. The skin was soft. Ramirez firmly pinched the jaws teeth of one electrode into the hollow of her left underarm, catching a little fold of skin. Maricon turned her face towards the ceiling, shifting her hands in the manacles. Ramirez noticed a shine of sweat in Maricon's right armpit as he secured the second electrode.

“Wait!” As Ramirez stepped away from Maricon towards the rheostat, she called after him. “How long … how long will you shock me?”

Ramirez glanced at her. His eyes travelled from her feet, neatly together in her black pumps, to the slim khaki pencil-skirt, the slenderness of her little waist, the white sleeveless blouse and her graceful arms pulled up tightly over her head, framing her face. The electrodes looked like shining butterflies in her armpits, their wires trailing down in a long loop to the rheostat.

“Three seconds only, ok?” she tried.

Ramirez sucked his lip. “If you want to know how she felt, I will give you longer. Thirty seconds.”

“Thirty seconds?” Maricon instinctively tried to pull her arms down, a panic reflex that was checked by the manacles holding her wrists high.

“But I will give you a choice. You can have thirty seconds straight … or three shocks of ten each.”

Maricon closed her eyes. Her breathing was already quick. There was sweat shining above her lip. “I will take the three shocks.”

“Very well.” Ramirez threw the main charge switch on the capacitor; Maricon jumped in fright, but there was no shock yet. Ramirez smiled. “Are you nervous?”

“A little,” was Maricon's reply. It was an understatement; her voice trembled.

“Good. Basa ng kilikili mo … the more nervous you are, your armpits will be more wet.” Maricon twisted her face to look; the electrode was barely an inch from her nose, firmly in place. The glare of the spotlights shone of the wet trails of sweat that already ran from each underarm. “Then we are ready,” Ramirez said, and slammed the switch. Instantly, involuntarily, Maricon was screaming. Her arms' muscles locked rigid and her back arched, her head flung back. Her feet scrabbled at the ground but she was effectively hanging in the shackles, her body jerking and jolting helplessly with the surging current. Small bright sparks were crackling in both armpits, testament to the current that was raging through her arms and torso. At ten seconds, Ramirez cut the current. Maricon instantly hung limp by her arms, her legs splayed and unable to support her weight, her head falling forward and her chin on her chest. Her body heaved breath and she drew whooping breaths. “Oh … oh Jesus …” “Ready for the next?” “No -” But Ramirez hit the switch and Maricon screamed as the sparks in her underarms sizzled, her arms locked fiercely tight again and her breasts straining against the buttons of her blouse as her spine arched with her helpless thrashing. Her screams were desperate and animal, and it seemed by the violent shaking of her arms that she was trying with all of her strength to jolt the ceiling-chain loose of its anchor. The current cut, and Maricon went limp again. This time her breathing was ragged, too fast. Her blouse was already soaked and clinging to her back and ribcage with her own sweat. Her arms and legs had lost all strength and she hung heavily.

Slowly, her head lifted; strands of her hair glued to her wet face, her eyes dark, traces of her mascara already streaking her cheeks. “One more,” she gasped.

Ramirez threw the switch and the sizzling electrodes in her armpits drew a new scream from Maricon's throat as her body hung shuddering from the manacles, as if in the throes of an orgasm. Every muscle in her slender, upstretched arms was starkly defined, the tendons taut like cables with the involuntarily clenching.

Finally, it ended.

A dark patch quickly spread down the front of Maricon's skirt as she hung limp for the third and final time; a stream of urine spattered to the floor between her feet. Her head hung forward, her body still twitching.

“Maricon?”

Ramirez shut off the capacitor, and rose from his chair in concern. Slowly, Maricon's head lifted.

“Ay naku,” she croaked. “How long did you torture the girl before she talked?”

“An hour maybe,” Ramirez said.

“I don't know how she did it. … Jesus.” Slowly, Maricon managed to get her feet under her. In a lower voice: “I am so horny.” Maricon's dark and ferocious gaze was locked to his, her face framed by her upstretched arms. “Fuck me now.”

Ramirez attempted a chuckle. “Maricon, you know you are a beautiful woman, but it would not -”

“It was not a request, sir,” Maricon growled. “Do your duty as a soldier and fuck me.”

Ramirez swallowed. It was not as if months of fantasies were not rising to the fore. His cock was threatening to rip the seams of his drill pants. Maricon was the desire of every man in the encampment and to have her in chains, demanding that he make love to her, was something he had not even dared dream about.

No more hesitation. Ramirez went to Maricon, put his hand up to the shackles in which she hung.

“No, po. Do it to me here. And I have one more favour, sir. Electrocute me.” “Maricon -”

“Keep the current low. 75 volts maybe.”

“That will still be painful.”

“I want it.”

Ramirez unbuttoned the back of Maricon's skirt, letting the heavy fabric slide to the floor, pushing her soaked bloomers down also. Her legs were brown, smooth, shining. Between her thighs, a small and neat thatch of wet pubic hair. He could hear Maricon's broken breathing, a mixture of dazed exhaustion from the torture she had just endured, and unbearable arousal.

Her blouse was completely wet; he began unfastening the buttons with trembling fingers so that it hung open. With her arms drawn over her head, he could smell her sweat, rich with her pheromones, and it made his cock so hard it hurt.

Maricon's breasts were perfect, the shape and size of half coconuts with chocolate nipples already erect. Ramirez bent his head and brought his face close to her glistening golden skin, breathing the aroma of her perspiration; then licked the flank of one breast, tasting her salt and suffering. Maricon gave a groan, her head back, twisting her body and pushing her bared breasts towards him. “More!”

He drew her nipple into his mouth, hot and firm, sucked it, teased it with his tongue. Maricon squealed, the juice of her arousal already running down the inside of one thigh. Ramirez's hands rose to her body, caressing the firm contours of her torso, cupping one breast while he suckled the other. His caress continued up to her underarm, finding the electrode still clamped in place. The brass was still hot from the current he had sent through it.

Maricon was lost in the sensations, overwhelmed; her body still trembling from the torture, but sensitive beyond words. The feeling of Ramirez's mouth on her breasts, his hands roaming her body; the ache of the clamps in her underarms reminding her of the pain they could deliver, and arousing her at the thought of her own vulnerability.

Ramirez's mouth sought hers and Maricon accepted his tongue, thirsty for his kiss. With arms chained over her head she could not touch him, could not guide him with her hands or reward his attentions; so she kissed him with fury and desperation, driving his arousal so that he would do what she asked. She could taste the sweat from her own skin on his lips.

Finally he broke from the kiss. Both were breathing hard.

“Are you sure you want the electricity?” There was concern in his eyes.

Maricon smiled. “I want it. And you will experience the best fuck of your life.”

Ramirez went to the rheostat. Hurriedly he undressed; discarding his clothes. Maricon was trembling; her body covered in goosebumps despite the heat. She was so sensitive that even the air against her skin was almost too much.

Her eyes were locked to Ramirez. His physique was strong; powerful shoulders and muscular arms, worked and defined abdomen and chest. From the dark nest of his loins, his cock stood as if it was made of polished wood, dark and engorged as if it would explode.

“You are a beautiful man,” Maricon breathed. “Get inside me.”

Ramirez paused only long enough to set the dial on the rheostat. He glanced at Maricon; hanging in the manacles, she nodded, and he closed the switch.

The current hit, surging into her body through the vulnerable gateway of her armpits; locking her arms tight and arching her back, tingling fiery tendrils that were an unbearable mix of pleasure and pain. She gave a cry, jolting and jerking in the chains, unable to bear the intensity of feeling.

Ramirez was upon her. Somehow Maricon found the strength to lift her legs and throw them around his hips; his cock found her pussy and a moment later he was plunging inside. “Oh, God!!” As the electricity ran through Maricon's body, her muscles locked and loosened, involuntarily shuddering and releasing, the current's path changing with the shifting resistance of her moving muscles; the moment Ramirez was inside her, Maricon was swept by the first orgasm. It ebbed, but it did not end; she could feel herself thrusting against Ramirez, feel her vaginal muscles tightening against her will around his cock, her body fucking him of its own accord as a second orgasm began to build. The sensations were overwhelming, the burning pain of the electricity melding inseparably with the blinding pleasure that wrapped her body, driving her beyond anything she had ever experienced, beyond rational thought. With her legs locked around his hips, most of her weight was on her shackled wrists; and yet they felt nothing, her body consumed by the sensations of electricity, and the cock slamming into her, filling her so deeply it felt like she would tear apart. “Here I go again!” she wailed, as the second orgasm ripped through her body, even her toes tingling, her lips numb, her nipples throbbing. She rocked back and forth on Ramirez's cock, twitching, shaking, crying out.

Ramirez grasped Maricon's taut and slippery body, and fucked her to the hilt, slamming hard into her. He could feel her muscles clenching on his cock, a supernatural grip as the electric current forced her to spasm and jolt, and forced one orgasm after another through her. Her head was hanging back, the sweat clustering her skin in fat salty droplets. He could see the muscles in her arms and torso rigid and quivering. Some of the current flowed into his cock, too, a sensation that was beyond pleasure but not quite pain; compelling, driving, unbearably controlling.

Even as Maricon's second orgasm ended, the third began, more intense still. Her cries were getting louder, more desperate, and Ramirez slammed into her with a new frenzy. Hard, violent strokes, their hips crashing together, her heels driving into his back as her legs tightened and loosened. Her body was jumping, shuddering, her beautiful pussy still clenching and gripping him with such strength that it was all he could do not to explode inside her.

“Jesus Mary and Joseph!” she screamed, her back arching and her body jolting as electricity and the pounding of Ramirez's cock drew her into the third orgasm. Ramirez could not hold back any more and released himself inside her, emptying his seed into her in thrust after powerful thrust, his fingers digging into her flesh as his hips slammed against hers.

At last he was drained, empty, buried inside her, his face against her neck. He held onto Maricon's slender and slick body, smelling their mixed scents, feeling the hammering of both their hearts. Her weight hanging on her shackled wrists, her legs still around Ramirez's waist, her head lolling against her arm, Maricon continued to twitch and shudder, still moaning with the pain and pleasure of the electricity ravaging her body.

Four

The bamboo door of the holding hut was pulled open and Joy was flung inside. With wrists cinched so tightly behind her back, she was unable to break her fall, and slammed to the packed-earth, landing hard on belly and breasts. She stayed down, dirt on her lips, cheek pressed to the ground. She lay, hearing the heavy iron padlock and chain being fixed to the door, locking her in; then the shifting of boots. One pair only, the second guard remaining outside.

She lay for a long time.

Joy knew that her hands were tied, but she couldn't feel the rope. Nor could she move her arms to test the binding's strength. Echoes of her ordeal still rang in her ears; the intense horror of the electric shocks continued to resonate in every muscle fibre. Her strength had been completely drained.

Nothing seemed real. As the crickets of the mountain province night chirped peacefully, the last hours sat at complete odds with everything she had ever known in her life. It felt like some awful nightmare, reliving itself in a blur of moments inside her head. Always she could hear the sickening sizzling of sparks as the electrodes buzzed only inches from her ears, and the pain that was so intense, so all-consuming. She tried to groan, but even her voice would not come: she had screamed herself raw already.

After a long time, there was a scream.

Joy turned her head, her cheekbone resting on the earth, listening, holding her breath. It came again; longer, a ragged howl, an unmistakable voice. Mia. Now they are torturing her, just as they tortured me, Joy realised. As another piteous screech shattered the silence and echoed through the trees, Joy wondered if her own screams had sounded so dreadful.

The night was long; fear and the nightmare of her ordeal refused to let her mind rest, and sleep would not come. By morning, her muscles were beginning to hurt badly, her arms aching behind her back, her chest and back throbbing. The sensitive skin of her armpits was burning from the electric shocks. Daylight struggled to find its way between the bamboo walls of the hut, but in the dusty shafts of light Joy was able to make out a pail of water in the corner. Fighting the protests of agonised muscles, and hampered by her bound hands, she struggled to it. It already swarmed with mosquito larvae, but she dipped her face into the tepid water and drank heavily regardless.

The heat became stifling as the day went on, and Joy surrendered to her exhaustion and despair, lying on her side, bound and naked, her dark skin shining with the oil of perspiration, her eyes dully staring.

Another night passed, and another day. Nobody came. No food was brought. Joy felt some small strength returning, although her muscles hurt even more than before; and her wrists remained locked tightly together in unyielding rope behind her back.

On the morning of the third day, the door of her hut was finally unlocked, and two rebels came in. The air smelled of Joy's two-day-old sweat, ripe and heavy but thick with her pheromones, and enough to prompt both soldiers to breathe the aroma deeply. Had there been opportunity, Joy could see that they would rape her; instead she was hauled to her feet. “Why are you naked? Where are your clothes?” one of the soldiers demanded in annoyance. “Po, I don't know, they have been taken from me.” After so long without clothes, Joy had completely forgotten about her nudity. She felt fear, and angst, and guilt, and worthlessness, but no embarrassment. Clothes suddenly seemed trivial and irrelevant. The soldiers, scowling, marched Joy back to the main compound.

“Joy, are you all right?”

As she was brought inside, she saw Ramirez and Maricon at a low table, and in front of them, her own hands bound behind her - but at least clothed in her own chemise - Mia. Soldiers guarded her as they did Joy. Joy had no time to answer, as Maricon barked, “where are her clothes?” The guard beside Joy looked sheepish. “We could not find them, Ma'am.” “They were taken from her in the barracks hut, ” Ramirez grunted. “I think the men have kept them.” “Why?” Maricon was puzzled. “To sniff,” Ramirez said. Maricon looked incredulous. The soldiers holding Joy smiled, amused. “Fine. She can be naked, who cares,” Maricon finally said. She glanced at the open book in front of her, in which Ramirez's careful notes documented the two prisoners' confessions. “Mia Lopez, this Court Martial represents the resistance movement of the Philippines, and therefore the Filipino people. You were brought here under accusation of complicity with the occupying Japanese. The information you have given us has confirmed it. We have no hesitation therefore in finding you guilty of Collaboration and Treason. The penalty for your crimes is death, and the sentence will be carried out without delay.” Joy listened to the verdict and sentence in disbelief. She could hear Mia pleading, bargaining for her life; but Joy simply felt numb. She gave no resistance as the rebels guided her outside again. There were other soldiers gathered outside, making breakfast, cleaning their weapons, but all faces turned to Joy, naked and with hands tied behind her back, as she was marched across the compound. Mia was being led behind, and Joy's thoughts briefly flitted to her. She looked back over her shoulder. “I am sorry, Miss Mia. I had to say what they wanted, I could not bear the pain.”

“Quiet, or you'll be silenced,” one of the guards said, shifting his rifle-butt to emphasise the threat. Joy said no more, and walked without talking as they were led down a path hewn through the dense jungle. It was a strange procession: Ramirez in the lead, swinging his cane. Behind him, Maricon, immaculate as ever in a crisp white blouse and khaki slacks; then Joy, then a rebel soldier, then Mia; and with three more soldiers at the rear. They walked for almost an hour, the two prisoners awkward with hands bound behind them.

After a time, they emerged from jungle at the top of a ridge, a broad green panorama of rice terraces in the valleys either side; waterfalls cascading over mossy rocks into natural pools edged with ferns. Farmers and field workers stopped their work to see the odd group pass; they were used to seeing rebels in these mountains, but the little dark naked figure walking stoically with hands bound behind her was a new sight, and worth the extra minutes of staring.

After another half-hour, they finally reached the bottom of the valley, and there followed a narrow track to a recently-harvested rice field. The dried chaff lay on the sun-warmed ground; a small grove of trees edged the field, and four water-buffalo lazed in their shade. Near the animals sat a small group of resistance soldiers, perhaps a dozen in total. They rose to their feet as the group crossed the field towards them.

“Stop here,” Ramirez decided. The guards halted the two prisoners, and made them kneel, side-by-side, on the dried grass some twenty paces from the trees.

It was hot in the sun, more so after their long walk. Joy's brown skin shone with sweat. Her muscles were tingling, her bare feet aching from the hours' long trek. But she knelt without protest, silent, sullen, her eyes fixed sadly to the ground.

Mia was pleading again for her life, but was met with indifference: moments later. Ramirez said to Maricon, “she's all yours.”

“On your feet,” Maricon ordered Joy.

Her heart quickened. As long as they had been walking, Joy had felt somehow protected: but this felt like the end and her body refused to let it happen. She remained where she was, staring at the ground. Maricon barely missed a beat, and ordered the nearby rebel soldiers: “bring her!”

Joy began moaning in terror as, by her bound arms, she was hauled to her feet, and dragged after Maricon as she strolled almost casually to the nearby trees. “Oh God, no!” Now there was true terror in Joy's shriek, as she saw the rope coiled on the ground. The little hairs on her arms stood up and her legs collapsed under her, so that the two rebels had to hold her up. Maricon's eyes barely acknowledged Joy's terror as she gathered up the rope, and casually tossed the noose up and over a low-hanging branch of one tree. “Ma'am Mia, please, please help me!” Joy screamed back towards her mistress. Mia desperately began pleading for Joy's life, but it made no difference. The little maid still fought, even as the two rebels, aroused by her struggles and her naked body, brought her to stand beneath the tree branch. “Ngeh!” She tried to dodge away but Maricon fitted the heavy noose over her head, sitting it on her shoulders and drawing the coiled knot down to the nape of her sweating neck. She wailed as Maricon carefully lifted her shiny black hair free of the rope and tucked it forward of her shoulder, so that it would not tangle.

“Execute her,” Maricon ordered casually.

The soldiers released Joy's bound arms, and left her standing for a moment in the grass with the noose snugly around her neck, almost peacefully beneath the branch of the tree. Her shoulders shook with her sobs, her head down. Dappled sunlight shone through the leaves and ignited the downy hairs on her bare skin, bathing her body in beauty.

The two soldiers took up the free end of the rope and drew it in, until the noose pulled tightly up under Joy's jaw, extending her neck. Wailing, the tears spilling freely down her cheeks; she worked and tugged at the ropes binding her hands behind her back, even though she knew they were inescapably tied. The men hauled on the rope; by her neck, Joy's little body was heaved up into the air, cutting off her cries abruptly.

It was a bizarre moment. As she continued to be raised up, she swung backwards, then forwards, her legs dangling and feet slightly back, pink soles exposed, her hands still securely behind her back. The noose was tightly wedged under her jaw, angling her head as if she was looking curiously into the distance.

As she swung lazily back and forth again, a pendulum on a creaking rope, the rebels were securing the free end to the trunk of the tree, leaving her toes easily two feet off the ground

The apparent disbelief that had rendered Joy motionless for a moment now lifted, and she began to kick and struggle, eyes wide. She fought again to pull her hands from behind her back. Her body began twisting and writhing in the air. A strange, bird-like gasping sound came from her throat. Her struggles quickly set her body swaying in a slow, graceful ellipse beneath the tree branch. Despite the rope around her neck, her face showed little sign of strangulation: due to her diminutive weight and the thickness of the rope, the noose had barely tightened, and was merely pressing on her windpipe. Her executioners were still unaware of the fact. Maricon had come to stand in front of Joy, barely two metres away, so she could gain a first-hand view of the spectacle. “Goodbye, my recalcitrant little one. Strong you may be, but not invincible.” Beyond, in the burning sun, Mia kept her face down, unwilling to watch Joy's final suffering. The first minute crept by. Then another. Then five, then six; but Joy did not show any signs of succumbing to the noose. Instead, her struggles grew more frantic as she was tortured by her slow suffocation. Her eyes bulged. Her tongue began to swell in her open mouth, bringing a string of saliva. Odd gasping, gurgling sounds escaped her throat, and her feet kicked and searched. Her arms' muscles flexed as she tugged still at the rope that held her wrists behind her back. The sweat of panic had broken out over her body, like clustered dewdrops.

“Ma'm, maybe we should finish her, po?” One of the soldiers offered, preparing to grasp Joy's feet and impel her to a quicker death; but Maricon shook her head.

“Let God's course be run.”

Without warning, urine sprayed from between Joy's thighs, rivulets coursing down her legs and dribbling from her toes. It lasted half a minute, until her bladder was completely empty. It had been ten minutes. Joy continued to struggle. Her body twisted and writhed at the end of the creaking rope. The choking sounds were becoming harsher as the rope gradually embedded itself deeper under her jaw, forcing her mouth more widely open. The tendons in her neck stood out like cables; more saliva spilled in a slow rope from her chin and onto her shining breasts. Her ribcage was arched and defined, her abdominal muscles working visibly as she strained to pull air into her lungs. Her legs moved endlessly, toes fanning and stretching as if they might miraculously make contact with the ground far below.

Maricon, standing in the sun, finally threw up her hands. “Ang kulit talaga! So persistent!” She returned to the shade of the tree, slapping Joy's thigh as she passed. “Do not fight so hard, girl, you cannot escape death.” She settled on the shaded grass, from there watching Joy's endless struggles. Fifteen minutes since she had been hauled up off the ground by the noose around her neck, Joy's face had finally grown dark; her tongue, swollen, was filling her open mouth, flecks of foam gathering at the corners of her lips, bubbly drool slowly spilling to her chest. Twenty minutes. Joy's struggles gradually became less coordinated, her movements jerky, her feet flicking and circling oddly, her arms still shifting behind her back in an unconscious effort to free her wrists from the rope that bound them. Only the agony of slow asphyxiation and the pain of a stretching neck kept her from accepting her fate. Gradually, though, over the next five minutes, Joy began to get weaker. Her mouth was open with her fat tongue extruded and her lips puffed; her eyes were growing dull. Her pedalling feet still searched the air, but the ends of her toes were growing dark, a signal that she would soon acquiesce. Her struggles became feebler, her bound hands finally coming to rest against the curve of her buttocks. She looked as if she was fighting to stay awake, the lids hovering over her eyes.

On and on she fought. Jerky, uncoordinated. Half an hour after being hoisted up in the noose, Joy was finally unable to make any sound: the rope had all but cut off her air, and her her mouth was fully plugged by her own engorged tongue, although slow bubbles of saliva betrayed the life still slowly being squeezed from her. She was not dead, but she was acquiescing. Finally, after nearly forty minutes, she gave up. Naked, her body still wet with sweat, she hung by her neck, only occasionally twitching. Her toes pointed daintily towards the ground, her tound hands rested in the small of her back, her head tilted sideways with her tongue poking at the world. Her eyes, half-open, gazed unseeing.

From where she sat on the grass, Maricon gazed up for a long time at the slowly-swaying figure. The rope gently creaked but there was no sign of life.

“Ay, naku!” Maricon expressed, rolling her eyes. “Let us get on with our day, already!”

Epilogue

The next day's sunrise lit a sad scene. A small corpse hung by its neck from a tree, with wrists still securely bound behind its back. The naked body dangled lifeless and limp, the morning sun adding a dull sheen to its waxy skin. Below lids frozen in a permanent droop, brown eyes still looked in sightless misery at the beauty of the fields. The tongue, dark and fat, still poked between plump lips in a last involuntary indignity.

Not far away, a naked woman's torso lay amidst bloodstained grass, just one limb attached, the other limbs some metres away. The world turned.




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