“One at a time.”
Yothin’s voice betrayed he was chortling to himself as he laid out Maciste’s dilemma.
“One rung a day.”
Five rungs. Five days before he’d get anything decent in his belly. What strength would he have left by the end of five days? And even longer if he failed ….. Five days of utter humiliation. Five days of symbolically giving in to Parthian rape. Raping himself.
Maciste’s head was in a whirl. Feeling himself encased in a trap? All that to get enough to keep him going! Was it worth it? Should he call Yothin’s bluff? Yothin would not dare to let Maciste starve. If Maciste refused to cooperate …..? If he stayed true to himself ….?
But before he could come to any conclusion, Yothin took up
his taunting again. He was stood at the
far end. His hand gripped around the last peg.
What was it he had called that one?
The emperor’s pride?
“Modelled on the lord emperor’s blessed member”. Maciste doubted it. It was thick. Unnaturally long. More a log than a peg. Someone had daubed it badly in cheap gold-looking paint. “In honour” of its esteemed namesake no doubt. A thick ugly monstrosity. Maybe some cheapskate artist had offered the original to the emperor some time. But that was more sycophantic flattery than any reality. Maciste doubted any man had ever got that huge. Maybe one of those fabled beasts from distant Africa. But a human? Get lost!
The chill that shivered down his backbone jeered at
Maciste. Mock all he wanted. Irrelevant.
That monstrosity was going up his arse.
Climb the ladder. Earn the
emperor’s favours. Get himself some
The thought was eye-watering. Maciste had little idea how big he was down there. But he doubted he was that big. Moving from the first peg, progressing on. One rung of the ladder every day. He’d make himself get used to the thought. He’d learn how to accept the increasing thicknesses.
But THAT far? That monstrous?
Was it even possible?
Maciste had no way of telling how far he could go down there. How far was it possible to stretch? But logic said, Yothin wanted him to
fail. But Maciste didn’t have to reach
the end. Yothin would win with every peg
Maciste settled himself on to. Every peg
was another rung down the slippery ladder of humiliation.
Yothin would persuade himself that his victim was giving in. He’d see “Menander” capitulating. Desperate for better grub.
Trapped. Yothin would win too if Maciste refused. Starved himself into weakness. Maciste would be handing himself over on a plate. Could Yothin possible lose either way?
WIN? Yothin didn’t want his victim to conquer the ladder. That wasn’t in the nature of the beast. Yothin had worked this out so that Maciste would fail. Another nail in the coffin of Maciste’s self-respect. Chipping away at his steadfast resolve. That monstrosity at the end …. That could never go inside. All part of the plan. Fail. Dismay. Submit.
He’d not risk Maciste starving to death, would he?
But …. There was a long way between dying of starvation and breaking bodily from weakness.
Did Yothin plan on Maciste failing to “climb to the emperor’s favours”? Fail to get something nourishing to eat. Worked into the ground .. depleting himself of all reserves. Kept on starvation rations. Getting increasingly weak. Till body and spirit gave in.
Maciste was lost. At
war with himself.
Refuse to “climb” …. and he’d been starving himself into weakness.
Get to the end …. somehow ….. fit that monstrosity inside himself …. somehow …. And Maciste stood a fighting chance.
That was the only way, wasn’t it? But was that even possible?