The Sash of Donatien

Alphonse Fran├žois de Sade.




The exhibition opened exactly on time, as it had done for the past hundred years, the first chime of midnight on Christmas Eve. The doors opened without fanfare, allowing the cold night air access.  Two hooded figures entered talking animatedly, they threw back their hoods to reveal two well suited, immaculately groomed figures, both male. The massive hall, flickered to the beat of candles draped on the walls. The stands haphazardly arranged showed no sign of activity. It wasn't as if the attendees could arrive all together and stand in an orderly queue outside, that would be rather obvious and would arouse unnecessary attention from local residents.
     How remiss of me, let me introduce myself. Alex Croven, Chief Exhibitor: Cutter, Cutter and Sons. We had had to change my title from Head Exhibitor after the confusion of last year. I have attended the Bella Donna Convention for the past three years. My soul ambition in life is to be awarded with the accolade of the ' Sash of De Sade ' awarded to the prize entry. This is my fourth year, I am quite a novice really but my ambition is high. 

    I wandered round the other exhibits recognising immediately certain faces from previous years. Isabel and Meredith waved at me. They had their customary pitch in the darkest corner. They had a single chair with the necessary restraining ropes, but didn't appear to have anything new. They worked for Scarlet Systems a highly respected company. The company had made it's name many, many years before with the first ever Iron Maiden. It had created such an uproar that the convention had to be extended for a further week as victim after victim was ripped from front to back when the door was slammed shut. Later innovations, glass fronted doors, easy cleaning system and latterly an echoing micropone, hadn't been too succesful.

Callie and Derek had what looked like a normal chair hidden under wraps, obviously ready to unveil before the genuine perverted sadists we relied on. They didn't acknowledge me, in fact they never talked to anybody as they were both mute. Four years earlier in an attempt to boost their corkscrew tongue extractor they had used themselves as guinea pigs to add effect. Some of the unwitting victims, which were so abundant at Christmas time, owing to their loneliness which forced them to seek any company, would unexpectedly die. 

    I spied a new stall, decked in skull banners, which I thought were rather showy, but each to his own. George was the exhibitor, a sultry looking individual. He had a scar tattoo across his cheek, nicely festered with just enough scab calluses to make it stand out. A nice touch was the incandescence sown in. It moved which was extra special. Lacerated fireflies by the look of them. Nice touch.

     The hall was filling quickly, the murmur of excitement had grown to a noisy hubbub. A voice boomed across the speakers.

     " Exhibit 12 please, Callie and Derek "

     I made my way to their pitch. They looked very confident. Quite a  large crowd had gathered, first exhibits always did attract plenty of interest. With a flourish Callie removed the chair cover. An appreciable gasp echoed pleasantly across the room. A dentist's chair. Not a new concept, but even the most sadistic spectator delved into painful memories and sighed expectantly.

 The victim was dragged violently into the hall, she was kicking and writhing beautifully, always a crowd pleaser. Dumped unceremoniously into the chair a pair of arm grips and a neck harness sprung silently into action. Within a second she was tightly secured, their efficiency drew enthusiastic applause. Still wrenching violently at the chair a sudden scream cut the air. Cheers of approval accompanied the noisy screech of the dentist's drill. A clamp, highly ornate, was thrust into the victims mouth. A murmur from the knowledgeable crowd, mouth clamps hide screams, it had been noted.   

      Derek moved forward, switching on magnifying screens as he did so. Without finesse he plunged the drill into an apealing incisor. The victims head jerked so violently I thought the restraint might snap, but it held. With another flourish Derek held the drill up for closer inspection. It was extendable ! Again he thrust it into the mouth. It speared into the victims nerve but didn't stop, deeper and deper, biting away gum and flesh that spat across the stage. The drill was suddenly wrenched from the mouth. Callie held a drill shaped like a crook. It was extremely long and thin. Unceremoniously it followed the previous drill, sliding effortlessly through gristle and bone. A sudden twist and a beautiful close up appeared on the screen. The point of the drill emerging gracefully from inside the victims eye. Spiralling, chewing at the screaming brown eyes until only the socket remained intact. Derek stepped away, bent forward and removed the mouth clamp. A choking, gargled moan bounced of the walls. Applause and a few cheers tumbled from the spectators. The victim was lifted from the chair, the drill still visible through the eye. Unfortunately, she was unconcious which sombered the mood.

One by one the various exhibitors were called to display their entries, they ere passable but nothing really outstanding. Each time the announcement came I jumped, expecting my name to be called, but as yet nothing.

    " Exhibit 3 ~ Isabel and Meredith "

A buzz went round the crowd, they were always strong contenders. I made my way to the stall. The chair had gone in it's place a steel table of intricate design, delicately laced with rubies, nice touch. I was impressed. Isabel and Meredith stood there looking extremely confident. A noise issued from the side of the platform. A young man walked towards the the table, he was escorted by two oafish looking attendants. He appeared to be slightly dazed and even walked with a slight swagger, drugged possibly ? Unafraid victims didn't go down very well with the spectators. He lay on the table looking totally relaxed. Suddenly steel bands glided out of the table sides and wrapped around him so tightly his eyes began to bulge. As if triggered by the reality of his situation he screamed so loudly the crowd took a step forward. I was looking closely at the table, it appeared to be in two sections, the join being just above the knees. I was puzzled, why there ?

       Slowly at first, almost imperceptiby, the table started to move. The whole top section was tilting forwards, the lower section remained stationary. The upper section was now clearly higher than the bottom section but the restraining steel bands meant the body could not bend at the waist. I heard a gasp from the crowd, then I realised, the body was not intended to bend at the waist ! There was a deep groan from the victim. Higher, higher moved his top half, something had to give. I held my breath, even I felt apprehension and unease as the legs took on a most peculiar angle.

Crack !!! A fierce splitting sound rebounded round the room. The legs had severed just above the knee, but the table didn't stop moving. The flesh ripped as more bones cracked. Applause started slowly building. Damn, this was good. The top of the table came to it's inevitable conclusion. It was pointing straight up. The victim appeared to be standing, yet the legs just above the knees were at right angles. I thought it odd the knee caps hadn't popped but they were still intact. From time to time the victim regained consciousness but only to emit a horrifying groan before he passed out again. Applause broke out but it was cut short as a scuffle broke out at the back of the hall. I strained to see what was happening. I could see George, his tattoo glowing furiously, being manhandled to the ground. Blow after blow rained down on him. He was carried unconscious from the room. A rumour began to circulate, he had been caught trying to bribe one of the judges. This was always taken very seriously, sadism was acceptable, but bribery !!

     " Exhibit 13 ~ Alex "

     The summons took me by surprise. I dashed to my stand ready for the presentation. The scuffle had roused he crowd, they were buzzing. I hoped I wouldn't dissappoint them. My stand was empty. I walked to the side and picked up my exhibit.


A microphone...


Silence fell, I heard a few unhappy mutterings. The hall was packed, crowded round my stall.

     " Welcome " I said softly. " I would like a volunteer to assist me with the next exhibit "

      Nervous laughter swung round the room. Nobody moved.

     " Anybody ? " I asked.

     " Stop playing about ! " Shouted an angry voice.

     " I'm not playing" I said seriously.

     " Parasites !! " I shouted " All of you. Not one of you really understands the true meaning of this the Bella Donna Convention. You watch agony like schoolchildren picking on the weakest. Horror ! Ladies and gentlemen, horror is the essence of our society. Agony is merely a by product. wallowed in by the vouyeurs who forgot the real reason we are here. A toy for your amusement, to watch others suffer. They, the vicims, understand dread now, true dread. Isn't that what you want ? To taste it on the back of your throat ? To swallow it's depths. To feel it eating through your stomach till it collects in seething pools, till it worms through your brain, eating at every recess like a malignant cancer.

    Angry voices hurled insults at me. I ignored them. The insults came from uncertainty. I truly started to feed.

    " I don't need a single volunteer " I said sharply above the noise. " You are all volunteers ! This day you will grasp our reason for being.

I raised my hand in signal. Flames bloomed from the back of the room, licking the air delightfully. Smoke swirled dancing pretty pirouettes.

    " Fire !!! " Voices rang out. More flames leapt into the room. A stampede of bodies grasped at curtains and ran to the door. They were barricaded and bolted, six inch thick oak blocked every exit. Fire sucked at appealing oxygen, dragging it away from gasping lungs.

    " You will find masks at the rear of the room " I shouted, my voice breaking almost hysterically. " Only the cowards will ignore them. The sorry wretches who want to suffocate before they taste the flames. For flames are the truth. Fighting, terrified people, treading on fallen bodies, clutched desperately at the masks. Some put them on others waited to be suffocated. A few tried to get at me on the stage, but I was manic in my delight and beat the away.

       I ripped off my coat just as the first burning body ran acoss the room falling into others who immediately became living inferno's. Around my chest already the Sash of de Sade. I was truly King. My name would be forever remembered when people talked about the final Bella Donna Convention in years to come. In the middle of the burning mass stood Isabel, Meredith, Callie, Derek and George. Despite the flames they were laughing crazily. They bowed to me, in acknowledgement of the true master. I smiled back as the first flame licked my face.



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