| I knew that we should have left. I knew it was getting dangerous. But Elisabeth had wanted to stay. Actually I shouldn't blame her. Deep down I know I had wanted to stay as well. We were witnessing the decline of a civilization, a primal nation of South American Indians that were being slaughtered by disease and famine.
When we first arrived in the jungles of Brazil, the king of the Onguancins had been Quonset, an aging man who had tried to restore his people by abolishing the worship of their pagan gods, eradicating their primitive rituals and sacrifices, and making peace with the surrounding Indian tribes. He had hoped to make his people strong by removing the hindrances of war and mindless idol worship. Quonset had taken Elisabeth and myself into his tribe, wanting us to witness the transformation of his people and take their tale back to the white men beyond the jungle, as they called us, so that we would leave his people and their land alone.
We lived with the Onguancins for three months during Quonset's short reign. We watched as he had the statues and idols removed from the temple and locked away. We watched as he invited the kings of the dwindling tribes around him to talk of peace.
Elisabeth and I thought we had found a great story. We talked of the book we would write about it and the speeches we would give at conferences back in England. We thought we had found the most inspirational story that any anthropologist could hope to find.
We were both blind to the truth. In our desire to see these people survive we discarded the facts that the Onguancins were not accepting Quonset's demands. In fact, an uprising was being formed by his general, Mael, who still believed in the traditional Onguancin way of life and who had grown bored with the lack of war and sacrifice.
Mael led his soldiers against Quonset. Quonset was murdered and Mael ascended the throne of the Onguancin nation. To our shock, the people accepted him eagerly and cheered his name to the heavens when he restored the old gods and idols. A new fervor took over the Onguancins, fueled by Mael's mindless bloodlust.
Mael did not accept us as Quonset had, seeing us as the symbols of the destruction brought upon them by the white men from beyond the jungle. Elisabeth and I had discussed leaving the tribe, taking what information we had gathered, and going back to England to write what we could. But we both decided to stay to see the end of the tale, which we both knew would come soon as Mael led his people on a self-destructive path of ruin.
We shouldn't have been surprised when one morning, as we were waking to another day, several of Mael's soldiers burst into our hut. We had supposed, actually hoped, that Mael would suffer having us there, fearing the retribution of our people if we were harmed, but we were wrong. Five men came into our hut and pulled us both from our bed. We fought, but they overpowered us and carried Elisabeth away. Me they stripped naked and beat until I was on the ground, almost unconscious. They removed everything from our hut and left me there naked and alone.
I approached the door and found two guards standing outside who rudely shoved me back inside and pointed their spears at me, showing that they'd kill me if I tried to leave. I sat on the ground, my back against the wall, and I was so angry and depressed that I wanted to cry and yell at the same time, but I was too tired and sore to do anything but sit there, worrying about Elisabeth, cursing myself for not getting us away when I knew I should have.
That day was the longest day of my life. I tried talking to the guards but they couldn't understand me. They just pointed their spears at me and threatened to kill me. I paced the small hut, listening for noises outside that would tell me what was happening, but I heard nothing. Then, night came and I was becoming frantic, not knowing what was happening or what was going to happen and devising plans to kill the guards, find Elisabeth, and escape.
Then, three men came into my hut. Their dark faces were covered with red and black paint. One had the ceremonial headdress of an ancient priest, a hideous adornment made of bones with a skull perched on top. He had a large dagger hanging from the leather strap at his waist. The two men with him carried swords. They grabbed me, tied my hands behind my back, and pulled me out of the hut. I begged with them to tell me what was happening and what were they doing with Elisabeth. They wouldn't answer me. One guard hit me in the mouth and I shut up, knowing that soon I would find out.
As we walked into the jungle I heard the tapping of drums and saw the flicker of flames. I knew we were approaching the temple. We broke into the clearing and I saw the entire tribe gathered at the foot of the temple. They were humming silently in beat with the drums, a music that was like ice cold water running down my spine. Eyes turned to me as I was shoved through the crowd. I looked into the faces of people I knew, had talked to, and thought I had befriended, but saw only angry glares.
I was thrown to the ground as we reached the center of the tribe, gathered around a small wooden platform, ringed with torches. A group of four men dressed in ceremonial costumes and animal masks were beating drums in a circle to the side of the platform. The flickering light from the torches cast strange shadows revealing a stone table on the platform supported by four stone legs. Four wooden posts with cusped tips stood upright on the platform, each at a corner of the stone table.
The crowd's chanting ended abruptly as a man wearing only a mask and a dried grass skirt stepped out of the temple. Everyone dropped to their knees and bowed before him. I watched him descend the crumbling steps and realized he was Mael as he stepped onto the platform. I recognized his mask as the black death mask of Ah Puch, one of the many gods that Quonset had abolished. Ah Puch was the god of war and blood. That mask was worn during ceremonies the kings would use to get the people ready for war, ceremonies where the chastity of female virgins would be sacrificed, consecrating the coming battles in the vaginal blood of the tainted virgin, a barbaric rite that all female virgins had to undergo before being with a man to appease the jealous Ah Puch. This was a ceremony that had never been documented. Quonset had told us of it. I must admit a bit of professional satisfaction that I would be able to witness it and hopefully document it.
Mael stood on the platform, solid as a statue, the only movement being his chest barely rising as he breathed. Then, the priest who had come to my hut stepped beside him. He began to chant with the drums, a harsh, guttural tune that brought the people up from their prone positions to sway and undulate as they kneeled on the ground. Mael began to beat his feet on the stage and raised his arms to the sky. He screamed, a piercing loud shriek that made me cringe but brought a cheer from the crowd.
Then, from the temple came four men walking in two columns, two poles resting on their shoulders and hanging from the poles was Ah Puch. Ah Puch was carved from a single tree, was over 2 meters tall and had a very human form with two carved legs, spread apart slightly, and two arms outstretched down the length of the body. The head was much larger than a normal man's head with a face that had large evil eyes and a vicious grin bearing sharpened teeth. The entire body of the idol was painted a dark green with symbols painted across it. A huge phallus was attached to the idol just below it's waist. It was at least a meter long and ten centimeters in diameter. It curved upward slightly, tapered out to a rounded tip, and was made of solid gold that had been polished and shined in the torchlight.
Mael continued his frenzied dance on the platform and the priest led the group of men carrying Ah Puch. The men climbed the platform and stopped at the edge. The drums stopped and everyone, including Mael and the priest, dropped to their knees, facing the idol. They raised and bowed several times, some people muttering prayers to the god.
Then, Mael stood, bowed before the god again, and the men turned to carry it towards the stone slab. They lifted it and set the poles on the four posts sticking up out of the platform at the corners of the slab table. The idol hung horizontally above the stone slab, facing down, swinging back and forth with its phallus almost touching the slab. The four men bowed and walked off the platform. They followed the priest back into the temple.
Mael stepped in front of the hanging idol and bowed deeply, lowering down to his knees before rising. Then he began speaking to the god, condemning the previous king for forsaking the gods and asking for Ah Puch's help for victory against their enemies, the white men from beyond the jungle. He turned his head, nodded at me, and the guards picked me up off of the ground. The crowd broke into a furious cry, cursing me as the representative of all white men.
As the din died down the guards threw me to the ground again. Mael said a prayer to the god and raised his hands high. He screamed a loud, maddening shriek that slowly dwindled out as he lost his breath. Then, the drums started again with a slow, deliberate beat.
The priest emerged from the temple with the four men behind him. Their arms were extended over their heads, holding a woman in their hands, each man holding a limb in one hand and the other hand on her back. I recognized Elisabeth by the color of her skin and her long blonde hair that hung from her head. She struggled weakly in their grasp, her knees and pelvis rising slightly as she pulled against their hands. As they stepped onto the platform I could hear her breathing heavily and quiet grunts as she struggled, but she moved so listlessly I wondered if she was drugged or just beaten and tired.
The men came to a stop on the platform and lowered her down so that they were holding her in the air at waist level. The priest came forward holding a small pot in one hand and a carved stick in the other. He stepped between her legs, forced wide by the two men at her feet. He dipped the stick in the pot and began tracing designs on her naked body with red ink that looked like blood. He chanted quietly as he drew on her, circling her breasts and bellybutton. He kept dipping the stick back in the pot as the design circled around her abdomen and then he wet it again to slide up between her legs. She struggled slightly but the men held her as he twisted it, rubbing the liquid into her labia and then stepped away from her.
The four men carried her over to the stone slab and she began to struggle in their grasps, pulling on her legs and arms as she saw the god swaying above the slab with the gigantic phallus extended from it. She knew what was about to happen and finally found a bit of strength to try to fight back. But the men held her easily and lifted her up and slid her between the slab and the idol, her legs pulled to either side of the glistening phallus.
Mael and the priest stood at her feet and brought up ropes tied to the four posts and bound her ankles, holding her legs out straight towards the posts. Then they did the same to her wrists so that she was tied up with her limbs stretched out to the corners and her body resting on the slab, the phallus almost touching her between her legs, the idol hovering directly above her. There was just enough slack for her to twist and turn, but she couldn't move. She was staring up into the hideous face of the idol. She grunted and pleaded, but her voice sounded slurred and I began to think that they had drugged her, only enough to make her weak, but not enough to render her unconscious.
A man approached from the back of the platform carrying a ceramic pot with two tubes extended from either side of it. He handed it to the priest and bowed as he retreated from the platform. The priest stooped beside her head and raised one of the tubes to his face. When he blew into it a dense smoke billowed from the other tube and covered her face. She twisted her head to the side and coughed once. The priest took several breaths and blew the smoke into her face a few more times. Then, he stepped back beside Mael at her feet and handed the pot to the man who had brought it to him.
Then the four men reached up and grabbed the thick ropes holding the idol suspended over her. The priest said a quick final prayer and backed away to the back of the platform. Mael stood at her feet, looking at her stretched out below his god and then quickly reached between her legs.
I watched, numb, as he held her open and barked an order. Two of the men pushed on the ropes and Elisabeth screamed as the golden phallus penetrated her. The other two men grabbed the poles and slid them forward slightly. When the two men holding the ropes released them the idol moved back slightly but the phallus was still inside of her. She pulled on the ropes and twisted her body, but the ropes were too tight and she couldn't get away from it.
Mael barked the order again and the men did the same again, two pushing on the ropes to push it into her further and the other two slid the poles forward. Elisabeth screamed as more of the phallus slid into her. Mael glared down at her and yelled something at her that I couldn't understand. The men let the idol relax back and it slid out of her a bit.
The crowd was quiet, kneeling on the ground, watching as this white woman, a symbol of the pestilence that had engulfed their little nation, was being raped by their god. I felt entirely helpless, unable to help her, unable to stop the madness, but there was nothing to do, and much to my own shame I found that I was quite intrigued by the process, studying the people as their god raped my wife.
Mael reached up and placed his hands on the idol. He barked his order and he pushed as the men performed their jobs to slide it into her further. Elisabeth screamed again but it was much quieter this time like she had already given in to the brutal rape. She laid on the slab, pulling at the ropes feebly, her breasts rising and falling with her harsh breaths.
When the men let the idol relax back the phallus was inside of her deeply, much further than she had ever been penetrated before. I hoped that they would stop there and would not insert the entire length of the phallus because that would surely kill her. I was slightly pleased when the four men stepped away and moved to the back of the platform with the priest, leaving Mael standing behind it.
Mael began chanting loudly, an indecipherable mantra, and the drums started beating a hectic rhythm in an attempt to match his cadence. The crowd began to hum as well, creating an awful wailing that sounded like the cries of tortured souls. These people were taking all of their strife and pain and concentrating it into this perverted rite. Mael threw his head back, his hideous mask pointed to the sky and screamed. The crowd howled with him and then returned to their chant as Mael began beating his feet on the wooden platform in time with the drums.
I was so intent on watching Mael and the crowd that I hadn't noticed when the idol had started to move. Somehow, perhaps by the wind or because of the distribution of the weight of the idol, but surely not by some mysterious power, the idol started to sway slowly back and forth, the body of the god swinging over the length of Elisabeth's body. The golden phallus slid in and out of her as the god rocked forward and back lazily.
I expected to see the idol stop moving; friction should stop it before it swung too many times, but instead it started swinging in longer arcs, driving the phallus into her deeply. I looked for ropes attached to it that somebody could be pulling or some mechanical device that might help drive it, but saw nothing, just the idol swaying back and forth.
Elisabeth's head was turned to the side, her eyes peering through the crowd, her gaze blank. Perhaps the smoke from the chemical that the priest had blown into her face had relaxed her, put her into some state of conscious relaxation, and I hoped that she didn't even realize what was happening to her.
Then as the idol began to swing further and faster I saw Elisabeth's hips rise off of the stone slab slightly. I was shocked to see her move, thinking that she was almost unconscious, but her hips relaxed as the idol swung back and then rose even higher as the idol swung forward again. I figured that she had to lift herself up to attempt to make it more comfortable as the phallus moved into her, but could not shake the impression that she was in fact moving her hips in sexual pleasure, enjoying the feel of the golden phallus sliding in and out of her.
I watched in stunned shock as the idol continued to rock back and forth and Elisabeth continued to move her pelvis, the rest of her body still, her eyes staring into nothing, and the crowd's chanting raised in volume, the drums beat faster, Mael's dance became more frantic, the hysteria of the rite rose to a fever pitch, and I felt the hairs on my body standing on end like a mystical energy was flowing over me. I felt myself caught in the ignorant superstition of these people as their god raped the white woman from beyond the jungle, and suddenly the drums stopped, Mael stamped his feet once more and the idol stopped at the height of its arc, its phallus deeply embedded inside of Elisabeth, her pelvis held high. The idol held still in an impossible position for several seconds and then finally rocked back, stopping at the bottom of its arc, and Elisabeth relaxed her body down on the slab.
The crowd broke out into a cheerful roar, rising to their feet. I shook my head to rid my mind of the mysterious spectacle that had almost overridden my logic. Mael led the crowd's cheers, throwing his hands into the air, and yelling his thanks to Ah Puch. Behind him the priest was supervising the four men as they pulled Ah Puch backwards, sliding the phallus out of Elisabeth, and then lifted the idol back onto their shoulders and carried it into the temple.
Elisabeth lay on the slab, her only movement being the rising of her chest as she breathed. I stared into her eyes, trying to see if she was aware, to get her attention, to somehow reassure her, but she seemed to stare straight through me and into the jungle behind me.
The priest returned with the four men. I immediately noticed that he had pulled the long dagger from its sheath and carried it in his hand. I knew that now they would kill her, sacrifice her to Ah Puch, the god wanted not only her sex, but her blood as well.
As the priest stepped towards the slab, Mael beckoned to the four men, yelled something to them, and pointed at Elisabeth. The priest, his dagger at the ready, snapped his head to look at Mael. Mael said something to him and then turned to the crowd. As he told the crowd to go home and offer their thanks to the gods, the four men untied Elisabeth, lifted her from the slab and carried her into the temple. The priest stood to the side, alternating his glare between Mael and Elisabeth.
There wasn't going to be a sacrifice. I sighed in relief. Mael yelled at my guards and they pulled me up to my feet. Then, he turned around, grabbed the priest by the arm, and led him into the temple. As the guards pushed me towards the temple I noticed the crowd still milling about in confusion, having expected a sacrifice and not given one, the ecstasy of the rite dying down into a mystified stupor.
The guards pulled me with them and we entered the temple. I had been in it before and knew we were in the sacrificial chamber when they threw me on the floor. Elisabeth was lying on the stone bloodstained altar. Torches hung from the wall cast a dim, ghastly light. Mael and the priest were arguing off to the side while the four men who carried her in were standing to the side of Ah Puch who had been set on wooden pegs on the wall.