At long last the intelligence officer arrived at the forest clearing where the principal prisoner now was situated bound fully nude and in an upright standing position against the large wooden stake facing the other prisoners and the interrogation teams which surrounded them, the latter now no longer conducting the usual business but holding their charges firmly by the arms and forcing them to face their compatriot who was soon to be made an example of in no uncertain terms.

The intelligence officer approached the senior internal security personnel on duty, whispering into his ear the instructions he had received from the Field Marshal and receiving a cold nod from within the featureless black mask and goggles as the internal security member turned and began tightening the fastenings of the silencer to his MP5, inserting a fresh clip and filling several more for easy access which he inserted into appropriate slots on his tactical vest.

As the senior internal security personnel prepared his weapon, the intelligence officer proceeded to several of the nearby shock troopers and issued instructions in a low voice which elicited sadistic gleams in every eye and expressions of mirth punctuated with bloodlust upon every visage so concerned. The forest clearing became a scene of low murmurings and strange suppressed sounds as the two interrogation teams threatened their charges in low voices while the shock troopers made their own preparations for the principal captive.

A piece of the rotten clothing which had been stripped from the prisoner was plucked from the ground and torn into a stout rag, which one of the shock troopers then doused with an unknown liquid drawn from one of the ancillary canteens strapped to his utility belt before shoving it into the prisoner’s mouth and wrapping another strip of rag around his head securing it tightly.

Two of the shock troopers occupied themselves with building and stoking a small fire into which were set two makeshift torches made from small tree limbs, wrapped at the ends with the remainder of the prisoner’s rotted clothing and similarly doused with the liquid from the canteen of the shock trooper who had busied himself with the binding of the principal captive directly prior.

With a hiss the largest among the shock troopers withdrew a large and sadistically gleaming combat survival knife from a sheath hanging upon his hip, holding it out in front of him and slowly approaching the bound captive with the paced and assured gait of the born predator. The bound captive’s eyes widened into a rictus of horror as the shock trooper smiled and extended the knife, rubbing the side of the cold steel blade slowly against the face of the prisoner and watching as equally cold sweat began to drip down the face of his quarry in expectation of what horrors the organization man might have in store for him.

The preamble over, the shock trooper went directly into business mode, plunging his blade with the expertise of an experienced butcher into the crevice between the prisoner’s shoulder and arm and sawing furiously, his muscles straining and veins pulsating with vascularity under the strain of the work. The prisoner’s body began shaking uncontrollably as the shock trooper moved his blade deeper and deeper into the flesh, the muffled screams coming from the chemical-drenched rag inserted into his mouth sounding for all effective purposes like an animal trapped in the unforgiving metal teeth of a lethal snare.

The two other captured patrol members began wailing at the site of their compatriots fate, a reaction for which the respective interrogation teams were prepared as they quickly grasped black-gloved hands over the men’s mouth, stifling their screams – the weak struggling of their feeble and starved bodies easily overwhelmed by the cannibalistic and speed-induced strength of the organizational men.

With a horrific and final push the shock trooper finished cutting through the arm, with the entire limb falling with a sickening thud onto the ground beside the wooden stake and aerterial blood shooting through the air. The shock trooper reared back his head and let loose an involuntary and hideous laugh, his eyes lolling back into his head, as the shock troopers who had been tending the fire rushed forward and thrust their burning torches into the prisoner’s bloody wound, effecting a crude cauterization and filling the air with the naseuating smell of burning blood and human meat.

Systematically the scene was repeated upon the other arm – the intimidation followed by the methodical butchery – the gloating of the largest and most sadistic among the shock troopers as the others cauterized the wound. By the time the second limb had been removed the principal captive was barely conscious except for the properties of whatever chemical had been sublingually administered to him through the vector of the gag cloth, the purpose of which seemed to be keeping him conscious at least to a titular degree while experiencing a level of torture that would have easily caused him to black out in shock under normative circumstances. The other captives held by the adjutant interrogation teams were still being kept muzzled by the unyielding leather-gloved hands of their captors with not an audible sound escaping, their confessions and coerced intelligence reports being waylaid until after the demonstration with the more recalcitrant of their number having been duly effected and completed.

The shock trooper moved onto the legs, a more arduous task in general but effected with an effort more than grim, with the limbs held on tenaciously with the last remaining strings of flesh being ripped off with a brutal pulling before being slung to the side where they were collected along with the rest before being wrapped by one of the other shock troopers and carried down the trailhead and up the ridge toward the main encampment to be prepared with the rest of the flesh for the organization’s nocturnal mastication.

As the shock trooper cauterized the last two wounds only the slightest hint of consciousness could be seen upon the captive’s face, a dim flickering deep within the eyes testament to a consciousness driven to the brink and then beyond the pale of induced insanity and held aware only by artificial means and compartmentalization of the mind in some hidden internal place of comprehension to shield from the incomprehensible situation which he had found himself in for falling in with the rebels, for failing to submit to the iron fist of the commander due to the proclivities of his geographic region. Had he been a smarter man, had he been ambitious, he would have been proactive in his treason – sneaking across the border into the large organizational encampment whose flickering lights in the valley distance bore the promise of a life beyond the marginal existence to which he and his compatriots so stubbornly held.

But now that hope was gone, his only solace being that his spirit – if there was such a thing – might be drawn into some strange blood abyss by dint of his having become, albeit involuntarily, a sacrifice to the organization whose gods were strange and some of which were gods-in-flesh-bodies, such as the commander. Night fell upon his consciousness as the shock troopers moved away, the area beneath the wooden stake and the patrolman himself gratuitously soaked in sopping blood.

The senior internal security personnel moved forward, black and anonymous goggled eyes staring strange and alien out toward his victim as he raised the black and lethal snub of his silenced MP5 toward the patrolman from a distance of only a few feet away and then began shooting – the sound of the suppressed fire resonating like some strange ground wasp beneath the surface – the body of the opposition member being machine-gunned beyond all recognition as the senior internal security personnel unloaded clip after clip into the head-bearing trunk, churning and grinding the flesh into quivering meat. A fell wind blew and a mist of blood caught upon the wind, wafting into the darkening twilight.

SOURCE: Excerpted from IRON GATES by Tempel ov Blood, published by Martinet Press 2014 (ISBN-10:  0692306587, ISBN-13: 978-0692306581) IRON GATES is a sci-fi horror / post-apocalyptic novel, detailing a bleak view of the spiritual horrors of the world-to-come. Set seventy years after a worldwide nuclear conflagration, IRON GATES allows the reader a sight into a nightmarish landscape populated by even more nightmarish characters in a hideous future which leaves little to the imagination. Brutal and unsparing, it is not suitable for readers under 18. Readers should be advised of extreme graphic content.