Continuously varying the tortures. Not Maciste never knew what came next. They weren’t the moronic minders they looked. Experienced. Skilled. Keeping him off balance. Sometimes he’d been trapped in this oven late in the day .. so hot he couldn’t breathe from the first second his back hit the earth floor.
Other days it had been early morning .. thrust into the clay coffin at first light ….. taking their time. Leaving him to fear that moment when inescapably the growing heat sapped his body of every bit of its usual manly strength.
Always kept him on the hop. Only question was …. When they came at him with another torture .. sat agonising on their horse … worked into the ground …. Whatever agonising trick they threw at him …. Was it going to be worse than this?
Last time in the box he’d been thrust in at first light. Slowly, over hours, drained of strength. And then they opened the lid and hauled his shattered hide out. Thrust him out into the harsh heat of the cruel heat of the midday sun. Lashed onto his feet. Lashed back to work. Lashed into hours of will-breaking toil .. barely able to stand after sweating away all his strength for hours in this coffin. On his back every second. Clubs out, canes hissing through the air. His strength of mind to stand up to their brutality in a sickening whirl. His fight-back crushed.
He could dismiss them as cretins. But these cretins were expert. Practised at their task. Breaking stubborn wills.
Hellgate. Perfectly named. Consigned here till their lord emperor sent for him. When Maciste’s virile strength was no more than a wrung out dish rag. Toiling here in mindless exhausting labour .. feeling his pride in his physique was ebbing away. Not up to the task. Tortured out of his skin. Sensing his manly strength of mind was being vanquished by this evil heat. His pride in himself crushed. Seeing the resolute warrior that was Maciste was being bested by this enemy.
This vicious, monstrously cruel enemy .. given the task of breaking his will. Skilled to the task. Equipped for that goal. Hellgate. Trapped here. In his rare coherent moments Maciste had feared the onset of the inevitable. Broken. Unless he did something about it ……
Today’s Hell. Trapped in this clay coffin .. helplessly stuck in this overpowering heat. They had to do nothing .. no more than leave him to sweat .. ignore him .. let their ferocious baking heat do its evil task .. long enough to conquer that muscular will.
The same boring mind crushing tortures .. day-in/ day-out His manly pride in his strength constantly pushed beyond the limits. But subtly varied. Their repetitive rounds of agony in constant flux. So he didn’t know what to expect. So he lost track of time.
Losing control. Over his body. Over his mind. A lifetime used to feeling physically in control .. in Hellgate seeing the power over anything in his life was being stripped away. Like every layer of his skin was slowly being agonisingly flayed away. In a constant state of exhaustion. Hungry, starved.
He could feel he was going .. losing control. His mind kept churning over the same thoughts. Endlessly tortured. Now baked in this oven. Other times his crotch agonised for hours on their torture horse. Pitiless hard work .. lashed if he stopped to draw breath. Every waking moment under duress .. not a second when they weren’t stressing him out .. not a single waking moment when they weren’t on his back.
But that wasn’t getting him anywhere. He needed to think .. to plan .. to see a way forward. He couldn’t think straight. Couldn’t think for himself. Couldn’t plan. Couldn’t anticipate. ….. He could feel the heat getting to him. Losing control. Losing his mind.
The bastards! Experts at what they did. Experts at breaking tough men. Ahead of him … every second of the day. He DID need to think. He was constantly playing catch-up .. always caught out. No chance to think. No chance to work out how to fight them back.
He HAD to wrestle back control. THINK! Before this oven again baked his brain to crisp. Had they already started to crush his will? THINK! What was he going to do? Think. How much more he could let them win? Think out his chances to fight them back.
Before it was too late.