Karmanization

He woke up to the chilling voice that whispered the four most feared words.

“There is… no… escape!”

The blinding lights all around him pierced through the acidic strip of cloth covering his eyes as it ate away at his skin. His bloodied and blistering palms singed as they basked in the heat of the enveloping illumination around him. He tried his best to limp along his way, only for the corroded cuff chaining his right leg to stop him.

A screeching sound startled him, followed by a searing pain cutting through his back, down to his upper thighs.

“I dare you to move!” A metallic voice, belonging to someone reeking of sulphur,  whispered in his ears, “I… dare… you!”

THWAAACCCCCKKK!

The whip hit him hard on the upper thigh, peeling the skin off. He bellowed in pain, trying to see through his blindfold and squirming in his position, letting his open skinned wound squeeze more blood out of it.

THWAAACCCCCKKK! THWAAACCCCCKKK! THWAAACCCCCKKK!

“I will give you one last chance,” the voice laughed. He could feel his legs slowly spreading apart and the cuffs tighten around his ankles to such an extent that, it began to dig deep into his skin.

“AAAARRRRRGGGGHHHH!” he let a deafening, agonizing scream escape his lips as he felt his skin peel off the part of the thigh next to his most sensitive part. He let out all the tears that he could muster as a heavy shiver ran down his spine. He wanted it to all stop, to simply be a dream.

The sound of the door shutting right behind him began to fade away his hope of this ever being a dream.

With his now-immobile legs spread-eagled in his two-by-two metal box, he painfully inched forward by his toes as rivulets of his warm blood slowly rolled down his corroding thighs, to his calves and settled down on his blackened ankles. The remnants of the clothes hanging on his body, shredded to almost nothing, clung to his searing cuts like parasites sucking out the soul of a dying tree. The once ruthlessly selfish human was now reduced to a sliver of hopelessness. In a distance not, so far away, a loud metallic voice boomed and reverberated through the very foundation of where he stood.

“A devious evening to all my fellow fatalic brutal demons. We have gathered here in the Colosseum of Inferno to witness another spectacle of perfection as we have gained a plethora of new warriors for us to breed and preserve to maintain the balance of the Universe. All of our past spectaculars have been impeccable to our likes and taste of bloodshed and brutality and today will be no less, I promise you that!”

The sharp voice pierced his ringing ears, strengthening the flow of warm blood trickling down his raw ears. The existing feeling of agonizing fear and anxiety tightening the knot in his flaming chest as he tried his best to make sense of what was happening around him. Just a week ago, he was having the time of his life sitting in a decorated pavilion as he jeered a heavily distressed spanish bull that ran around in chaotic disorientation, bearing the crushing pain of the bloody gash tearing his body apart, pierced by ten arrows sticking out of his burdened back.

“Make it pay!” he screamed at the matador, “Make it bleed even if it begs for its life!”

The entire crowd erupted in loud cheers as the matador pushed its sharp sword down the bull’s back as the agonizing screams of its dying soul was drowned in the deafening applause of the ones responsible for its demise. He joined the crowd, just as the bull sacrificed its final glance for him.

At that very moment, a burning sensation surged through his chest, the frequency matching to that of the bull, as they both breathed their last…

And now, those jeering screams, which were part of his existence a lifetime ago, were now part of his present. Only now, he was on the other side of the fence. Or, the other side of the barbaric sport.

“We have many events to relish, inspired by the ones who are at the receiving end of their own creations in this afterlife. Humans call it ‘Hell’. But, we have a name more befitting for it. WHAT IS IT?”

“KARMANIZATION!” the crowd screamed in sulphurous excitement.

“Yes,” the slimy metallic voice bellowed, “that is what it is called. The land of Karma, where life itself gets what it gives! If it gives good, it takes good. If it gives bad, it gets bad. But if it gives injustice, we give it the justice that it deserves!”

The bloodied man took another painful step forward, only for his leg to give way and make his frail and burning body to fall forward, with the sharp spikes on the front wall of the dilapidated cage piercing every wound, every cut, every gash on him and letting a blood-curdling scream escape his parched lips.

“For the select crowd in front of me, I have chosen an impeccable specimen. A columnist, by the name of Aron Mackenzie is a columnist, or was a columnist in his human life. After a painful heart attack while celebrating the murder of a Spanish bull in bullfighting, I had acquired his soul in the Purgatorial Auction for the events. Since Heaven did not bid on him and he was on great demand down here, which is nothing great, I purchased him and marinated him for a week, just in time for tonight’s opening event.”

Aron could feel the cage move, with every bump sending a shock of pain up to his body. He clenched his teeth in fear as he soiled his blindfold with his tears. His heart began to beat faster with each bump and his breathing became more and more laboured with each breath. It took a few minutes, but it seemed to last a lifetime.

The cage stopped. The sounds were silenced. He felt a whiff of cool breeze blowing against his exposed raw skin. And without warning, a rod pushed him ahead as he found himself falling on a cold hard concrete floor. His blindfold was lifted, as the bright light shone on his exhausted eyes. The lights barely adjusted, but he could see through the illuminating auras.

The room seemed to look like an underground basement of some sort. The stones and walls donned a dull shade of grey, though the dark corners cast an obsidian spell that did its job of sucking out the light of anything around it. Around him was a metal ring that separated him from the distorted crowd screaming in excitement and delight around him.

He slowly stood as he could see dark shadows around him. Slowly, the ones who owned the shadows stepped out in plain sight. And, what he saw made him was to run in desperation, though he knew that his attempts were futile.

The huge creatures bore huge, twisted horns on their foreheads, glowing liquid lava for eyes, long sharp razor teeth and long tentacles with claws at the tips for hands. Their legs, though seemed human, were a manifestation of the twisted hellscape that he had no way of escaping from.

“Now, as you all know, this exciting sport is nothing but the exact version of bullfighting. Except that, we get to toy with real human souls which is even more painful that causing harm to their physical bodies if you can even believe it!”

The whole crowd erupted in laughter. The speaking voice continued.

“Let us not get ahead of ourselves and let the Minotaurs begin ‘matador’ing the columnist’s soul. Let the game begin!”

The Minotaurs around him let out a blood-curdling roar as they charged towards him. He turned around him and knew that it was the beginning of the end.

“While we are enjoying the drama and the fight, let us soak in the heart of the fight,” the booming voice said, “I have an excerpt of the article that Aron had written on bullfighting. He says that, Bullfighting is a sport that was the essence of Spain’s culture and still is…

The Minotaurs charged towards a cowering Aron but they stopped short, within a meter of him. He stumbled and almost fell, but managed to lift himself and hoist his stance on his quivering feet. They smiled, bearing their fanged teeth and salivated like predators sizing up their prey.

“…but, humanity is going down a dark path as it loses sight of traditions like these…

The demons smiled at him and slowly made their way around him, circling him, caging him, cornering him.

“…traditions that need to remind us of what brings us together…

“Please… please… please… don’t do this please,” the salty river of his tears began to blister his skinned face, “I… am… so… sorry… please save me… ple…ase…” he muttered and sobbed under his breath.

…granted, that a bull dies, but they do not feel a thing. That one life does not matter…

They stopped circling him and stood still, their movements halted. He frowned and looked around in painful deep breaths. Why did they suddenly stop? What is going on? Does this mean that I can escape? That this is all a part of a nightmare?

The huge monsters surrounding him remained still. Maybe, he could drag himself out of it. Maybe he could-

A wave of pain sent a massive shock through his body. He fell down and convulsed as the shockwave decreased and focused on a localized part of his back. He looked back to see a black rusted arrow sticking out of his back. The pain seeped into his mind and made itself home to remind him of its gnawing presence.

“…History has defined many events where the lives of few were sacrificed for the lives of many. This is an instance in a way. Uniting the people with a common interest with the blood shed of the one who is willing to give it. I mean, can you even believe this guy? How did this columnist know that the bull was ‘willing’ to sacrifice his life so that people could unite for his death? Preposterous!” The voice’s laughs boomed, reverberating through the walls of the dingy basement matched with the laughter of those who watched and soaked in the drama of the ongoing assault.

Hyperventilating to the sulphur-laden air around him, he dragged his shaky body across the floor with all his might, though he barely moved an inch. He could hear the matador minotaurs around him laughing and jumping around him, when suddenly…

He screamed as loud as his lungs and his vocal chords would let him, as he felt the arrow sticking out of his back being twisted very slowly.

…this is a sport that should come back and will, as long as the ones who a brave enough to support it will never give up. United… we stand!

The whole crowd screamed as another minotaur pierced another sharp arrow in his back and twisted it faster, this time in complete and faster circles. The pain grew too agonizing to bear and the exhaustion of carrying it was staring to overpower him. He lifted and perched himself on his elbows, but the pain pulled him down into his own growing pool of blood.

“Finish him! Make him bleed all the way!” He could hear the crowd’s roars. He wanted to escape so badly, but his heart finally began to accept that this was his destiny.

“…and, United we stand!” The voice roared as the minotaurs, together, held the sword and made it cut all the way through his spine and heart. With a broken finality, he embrace his death, as his world turned black…

…only to wake up once again, to the chilling voice that whispered the four most feared words.

“There is… no… escape!”
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Olinda Braganza

Olinda is an engineer by profession and a writer in the shadows. The only way for her to get over her imagination is to pull it out of her head and into her stories. She loves animals and hopes that she can one day contribute to the solution, rather than the problem.

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