Today Cody struggled even more to fathom the continent that was Africa. Born here, educated here … but he’d never conceived of an image that was playing out before his eyes.
Guilty. Feeling as guilty as hell. He ought to be doing something. He ought to be stopping this savagery. What these monsters were doing to the man who’d befriended him. Who was suffering this because of Cody’s stupidity.
But what could he do? A guard was stood looming over him. As soon as Cody made a false move, the thug would stick his cattle prod in. Jam it into Cody’s abs and keep the trigger pressed down.
Cody would scream himself shitless. He writhe and shriek down in the dust. And that would help how …..? What was that going to do to save Tarzan? Cody would have done the right thing. And achieved exactly zilch.
Three going for him at the same time. One with that evil rubber cosh hammering it into Tarzan’s back. Another behind had a cane. Stinging swipes into his backside that was already seething red from the thrashing. And a brute in front …. some kind of knotted rope .. thudded into Tarzan’s ribs. Smashing it into his abs …. Appallingly crimson already from the attack with that rubber strap. Laying it into his contorting chest.
Twenty, Whitney had said. “At least”. To Cody, it seemed like hundreds. Tarzan had danced in agony. A jerky grotesque jig. His fighter spirit ripped from him, out of his control. His instincts jerking and writhing to escape the next blow. Impossible. Coming at him from all sides. He bucked, he bellowed. He threw himself from side-to-side, the animal in him fighting to escape the pain. The brutes hitting out at random. No judging where the next horror came from.
Veins pumped up muscle battling an impossible fight. Tarzan’s eyes were saucer sized in agony and shock. Grotesque maps of veins in jerking shoulders pumped like they had a life of their own. He ran with sweat. Pumping out of open armpits. Spraying off his hair. Flooding in heavy rivulets down his flanks.
Animals! Nausea almost choked Cody. The sheer animal savagery. Pain slashed open Tarzan’s mouth in shock. His eyes popped wide, Tarzan’s face juddered like cracking rock. That rubber cosh smacked into agonised flesh. Pain reared him up with a quick jolt. Flames burst across his lower back.
Torture released a spasm that had momentarily frozen his torso into rock. Shock awakened his inert body. Torture shook him like a maddened demon. His head rocking and throbbing to shake itself free of the pain. Frantic in his bonds. Mouth wide open, gasping in noisy gulps of air. Cody was aware of a trickle of empathy watering his own eye.
Whitney smirked. The fucker had passed out. But that had just been the point. A man tortured by unendurable pains. No matter he’d taken more than the full twenty. Whitney doubted these terrified slaves had been counting.
For Whitney he’d got his point across. He’d been watching the new slaves. The look of sheer terror on their faces. The white-savage looked tough to them, he was a legend, he looked like he could take it. This new batch of slaves would have got the point. Muscled brute like the white savage …. jungle super-hero …. he wasn’t going to save their sorry hides. And if their legend couldn’t take this …….?
Cody swore to himself. Animals. Fucking animals! As if they didn’t know how to stop …. That fucker Whitney had Tarzan hauled up off his feet. Dangling in the air. Even nearly comatose, Cody heard Tarzan’s body protest. Battered muscle got agonisingly stretched. Ribs, bruised and battered, screamed out. Muscles that had taken the mother-of-all-thwackings shrieked out as Tarzan’s feet left the ground.
“All night. Strung-up all night. If that’s what it takes.”
Whitney fixed the wide-eyed slaves with a stern warning. Implying this was what they got if they stepped out of line. Every face looked down.
“Your guards … treat them with respect. Or …..”
Whitney’s hand slapped at the unconscious Tarzan’s red-blotched belly. Out of his unconsciousness his body jerked. His tortured spirit dutifully moaned. Music to Whitney’s ears. He could see the horror in the eyes of this fresh batch of stinking savages. They’d got the message.
“Or this is what you get ……”
His hand jabbed at Tarzan’s beaten torso. And his stern gaze slowly passed through the lines of slaves. Fixing on some of them .. making their gaze flinch away.
That other “special case”, college-boy, the reporter-boy on a mission, he looked furious. Until Whitney glared at him. Eventually the arsehole gave up playing chicken. He glanced down at his feet. No one wanted to take a taste of that strap.
And oddly, the black slaver, the one who’d sold this batch of slaves on to them …. the fucker was grinning. Not at Whitney. His eyes were glistening with joy at the sight of the white savage battered and bruised. Some weirdo, that one.
“Now get your fucking hides into the hut. Up early tomorrow. Gotta earn your keep.”