Read an excerpt from CRUSH ME. (*Warning: This scene depicts the violent and harrowing torture of the young hybreed Suyin.)
With a creak, the surface of the table begins to tilt. When it is completely vertical, the table shudders to a halt. Instead of staring at the lights in the ceiling, I find myself staring at my own reflection in a mirrored window.
But even though I know that it is my reflection, I don't recognise myself. It is almost as though I am looking at someone else altogether. The wild look in my red eyes, the drooling mouth, the veins bulging from my temple and neck, the cold anger and boiling hatred exuding from every pore.
I look upon the creature in the window, and wonder how she can smile. How she can smile through bloodied, gnashing teeth, even when she is seeing everything that is happening. And changing.
I can see the change in me, and now I can watch my own torture and see how they change me even more. Strangely, I don't feel any fear. Instead, I stare in fascination at the person in the mirror, wondering what kind of monster she will be turned into.
One of the white coats comes close enough for me to look directly into his eyes. I manage to turn my head and hiss, “You’d better make sure I’m dead at the end of this. I will remember you.” He staggers back, and there is the sound of breaking glass. I laugh hoarsely. Bullies are always cowards. And these cowards hide their inhuman faces behind bloodstained masks.
“Dr. Sinn, it’s ready.”
“Switch it on,” the doctor answers coolly from the door. Her heels click across the floor in time to the small beeps from the machines that I am being hooked to.
There is a cyclone of activity around me, as more white coats rush about to adjust tubes and rods and stab them into my body. A dome lowers itself over my head, and I feel my scalp being enveloped in heat, like my brain is being baked. When the dome lifts, wisps of my hair fall like black snow to the ground. My perfectly bald head gleams in the mirror.
When the humans finally step away from me, I have to blink repeatedly into the mirrored window before I can fully comprehend what I am seeing. A circular blade is poised at the tip of my head. Tubes and needles stick out form my arms, carrying blood to and from my veins. With each frantic beat of my heart, blood gushes through the veins into a vibrating machine. Whose blood is being transfused into my body? Animal blood? Human blood? Reptile blood? Blood from mutilated, murdered hybreeds?
But the blood doesn't matter. It is the blade.
The round blade above my head whirrs to life. It begins to lower towards my skull. I try to twist away, but my head is held firmly in place by the metal clamps. My eyes and my mouth are stretched too wide, frozen in a soundless scream. I catch a glimpse of my own contorted face, just before blood splashes across the glass, drowning my reflection behind a dripping curtain of blood. Red permeates my senses, pushing and punishing every inch of my body.
This pain, if it can be called pain, is like no other that I have experienced. It is beyond all comprehension and endurance. It is like a whole new universe of pain, shooting across every surface, every fibre, every particle. There is no differentiating myself from my agony. The torture is extreme and complete. Not one nerve in my body is spared the torment. I feel my head explode, and the pain slices into my guts in a broad stroke, then condensing into splinters to worm through every cell. Pain divided, pain multiplied, the unimaginable anguish just keeps escalating and spreading.
A strange hum begins to vibrate through my head. It grows more distinct, and out of the chaos, a melody struggles free, each note soaring higher and clearer. The song of the damned.
My eyes remain open, unable to close, but mercifully, I can no longer see. I am floating atop the haunting melody, descending into a velvety blackness, drowning in the haunting strains of a song I wasn’t meant to hear.
It is a song of remembrance and courage. A funeral hymn, sung by a few soldiers for one of their fallen comrades. They had sung it quietly, in a corner where they thought no one would hear. I had heard, and I had remembered. It is a song of courage and hope, of life not death, of farewell and forever. It is a battle hymn.
In my mind, I hum the tune. In my heart, I sing the song, a song without words. I sing this for you, Teila.
The clamps tighten as the blade reaches my scalp. I gasp, and the song in my mind distorts into a wretched, wrenching scream in my throat.
In a flash, my world implodes into a universe of blinding agony. The darkness stabs into every nerve, every fiber like blades of fire and ice, piercing through my conscious and subconscious. The terrible pain twists through my gut, flooding my insides, twisting and devouring. It is torturously hot and cold at the same time. I am only vaguely aware that I am shivering and sweating, and my sweat scalds my skin and freezes my flesh. My body is conspiring against me, tormenting me, punishing me, acquainting me intimately with the exquisite, excruciating pain. Against my will, I wish for the end to come quickly. Just kill me! Anything to stop this pain!
As if someone has heard my pleas, the whirring sound stops abruptly and the weight lifts from me. The screaming descends into a deafening, delirious silence.
Everything ends. But not my nightmare.
That has only just begun.