You learn very early the range of pain -- not just severity but flavor, the huge pain-palate a living animal possesses. Some of those pains are bland and uninteresting, not much more than official communiques, damage reports to the head office. But some are profound, altering the universe forever.
When you close a door on your fingers, you leave the shared world and enter a one-person universe. You no longer have anything in common with the other people in the room, who have not slammed a door on their fingers. Your body is instantly transformed: you become a Tex Avery cartoon figure, nothing but huge red throbbing hand and face inflating with a scream.
Running out of torture ideas? Tired of bondage cliches? Send your torture problems to firstname.lastname@example.org and we'll give you a torture makeover!
A ROCKY START
Dear Dr. Dolan,
Last week, while tending to vital government business, I traveled by train from my office in Moscow to Saransk, just to make the usual checks on my particular branch of government, which, for obvious reasons, I have to omit from this letter. On my way to Saransk, somewhere near Ryazan, my train was struck by several missiles, or "rocks."
These "rocks" scared me out of my sleep at 2:40 in the morning. My blood pressure raced to 180 over 120. I had to be rushed to a nearby hospital, and heli-vaced from there to Moscow's Central Clinic.
Well, as it turns out, these missiles were the work of two teens from the village of Shilovo. They threw these "rocks" at my train. My train may be armored, but that doesn't mean it wasn't frightening. If we allow common hooligans to launch missiles at my train and raise my blood pressure, then anarchy will ensue. These boys must be taught a severe lesson.
My question to you, Dr. Dolan, is how exactly should these boys be punished? Please keep in mind that given my post in government, I have no fear of legal recourse against me. What is more important is the integrity of the R.F. and the vertical power structure. Therefore, let us formulate a most severe punishment which will prevent future hooligans from ever launching missiles at my train.
First of all, thank you for the opportunity to design a torture solution for you without worrying about so-called "legal" issues. So often these days, the torturer has to work on the cheap, with one eye on interfering petty officials. You're what we call a "dream client"!
Your case also allows us to introduce a key principle of torture: the ingredients of a good punishment are often found in the misdeed you want to punish. In this case, the key elements are rocks and hands. These hooligans who disturbed your sleep need to see that rocks and hands don't mix. And with all the resources of the state at your disposal, it won't be hard to make the point.
Have the hooligans placed in adjoining cells so that they can hear but not see what's going on in the other's cell. Let them sit in the dark for a day or so, to think things over. Then enter the first cell with a table and a sack of rocks. Strap the hooligan to a table with his hands extended, palms up. Explain that you simply want to identify the actual rocks used in the train attack. Empty the rocks on the table and ask the hooligan if he sees the rocks he threw. He will, of course, deny any knowledge, and so become an accomplice in his own punishment when you explain that you will have to help him identify the guilty rock.
Begin by having a minion (minions are essential) place the rock gently in his hand, and ask if it feels familiar. The minion should then repeat the process with more force. Continue at regular intervals -- never rush a punishment! -- until the rocks are brought down on the culprit's hands with sufficient force to shatter the bones. Continue until one hand is destroyed. Then leave, moving to the other cell. Repeat the process, returning to finish (so to speak! :)) the other hand.
Leave patients to think over their crime, supplying medical assistance to prevent gangrene. Then repeat.
THE RED CATHERINE WHEEL
Dear Gospodin Dolan
I am a humble internationally-acclaimed novelist whose only wish was to go to my grave without strife. Alas, one V.V., a wicked, "clever" cosmopolite, has published a libel against me.
O for the Tsars of old! I would crawl to them to beg this man be punished as he deserves. Without a strong Tsar above us, what can a simple Russian do?
C'mon, "S," don't sell the peasant short! What the Russian peasant doesn't know about torture isn't worth knowing! Remember, it was simple peasants who gave us the proverb "Love well, whip well"! When so-called "progressives" in Europe were still using mere fists on their wives, the muzhik had an arsenal of torture implements unrivaled in the world: the birch, the red-hot poker, the knout, the club...don't get me started!
Your problem is fitness, not theory. (Remember, people: torture is a contact sport!) At your age, you need a low-impact torture. I suggest inviting V. V. to your palatial home in Vermont, on the pretext of making up the quarrel. Simply drug him, saw off his legs, and read him your recent novels, teasing him with promises like "Don't worry, there are only 4,000 pages to go... of the second knot that is!" V. V. will be writhing and begging for death under your chair's red wheels!