He told himself not to let it get to him. Blindfolded, tightly confined. Stuck in restraints from which obviously they were going to allow no escape. Carted off to “hell”.
The way they had him constrained, it was obvious they were worried. It was on pain of death that the thugs would fail to get him there.
Hellgate! They were all making a big fuss about the name. He could dismiss their talk as just jibing. Just talk. Trying to put one over on him, try to get him scared. These cretins, life’s scum, for once they had what they thought was a royal prince in their grips. And they were making the most of it.
In their dreams! But still they were getting off on it .. enjoying putting one over on him. Thinking they could do as they pleased. This talk of hell, these threats of what they were going to put him through .. their way of making themselves feel big.
On the other hand, after all he had endured since falling into Parthian hands, … was it just wishful thinking on his part? Their emperor had fated him to his Hellgate. Hardly going to be easy.
In his heart-of-hearts, Maciste knew, matter-of-fact, that was a false hope. Things were going to turn out as good as these cretins’ words.
Maciste’s arms, raised above his head, wrists trapped against the ring on the post. Stuck there for hours, blood run from them, they felt like iron. Weighty, almost impossible to keep above his head – but no choice.
He told himself not to feel scared by these threats. He’d handle “hell” .. what for it came in – he’d handle it when he got there. No point in worrying before, getting nervous. That was the way he had always handled his challenges in battle. Meet them head-on .. when they hit you in the face.
Life had thrown the hardest things at him. He had been submitted to the harshest regimes. He had taken on the most rigorous tasks. Challenged with impossible tasks. When young, strong, ambitious … ruthlessly he’d push his own body .. to the worst extremes. Testing himself against himself. Superhuman excesses. Tough. Hard. Little had ever beaten him. Hell? He’d laugh in its face.
Trapped under this blindfold, he’d told himself to put these future fears away. But there was a risk. The risk of getting overwhelmed by loneliness, abandoned. Now as he grew tired, as limbs ached from lack of movement .. tired, hungry, parched .. he felt deserted, he felt himself on his own. Abandoned, no one to turn to. No one to help.
SHIT! The whole cart jolted. His whole body felt like it had been battered by a giant rock. The cart must have hit a stone, the wheels careening off, the cart juddering as it landed. Caught inside this blindfold, Maciste had no warning. Shocked, shaken. Like earlier when a wheel had thudded down into a rut in the track. Vibrating wildly until it shuddered out of the furrow again.
Every move slamming painful reverberations up Maciste’s arms. Taking his breath away with the bashing. These shocks were all an indication of how stiff he had become. Stuck here, motionless, for endless hours. If he got himself free, if he had a chance of fighting his way out of this mess …. what were his chances with a body as stiff and unmoving as this?
Maciste gritted his teeth. The severe cramps in his legs had started again. Agonising. Locked totally immobile, those powerful muscles that were used to movement. Inactivity was crippling his strength. Those legs could run for hours. Strong, his legs could take him up a steep mountain barely getting seriously out of breath. But here they were trembling. Under the strain, not moving, for hours. His thigh muscles cramping painfully.
How much further till the challenges of Hellgate?