The Museum

by Megan Auffart

WARNING! This story is one of the the most violent, graphic, disgusting things I have ever written. It is extremely violent, extremely twisted, and if you feel you can't stomach descriptions of torture, you SHOULD NOT READ THIS! I'm not even sure if it should be R or NC-17, it's that bad. I simply wanted to write a really twisted story that would gross people out, while at the same time discussing an interesting technique that could be used to determine loyalty. THIS IS FOR MATURE READERS ONLY WHO AREN'T EASILY DISGUSTED, SO DON'T SAY THAT I DIDN'T WARN YOU! And now it's spelled and grammar checked! Thank you, Ade! And thank you Willum and Cheefooska Juan for pointing out the plot errors. I think I've got them fixed now.

I hadn't gone to the museum in ages, but there I was, standing beneath the huge pillars with dread written all over my face. I had told myself I would never return after my last visit. I had entered the building a proud man with my head held high and left with tears running down my face. What sort of person was His Majesty to allow such horror to occur in this fair kingdom?

I was a man of tall stature and would not allow my back to be bent with humility. I was one of high status in the courts and was often graced by His Majesty's daughters, who allowed me to kiss their fingers. It always inflated my ego to know that the same fingers I kissed were the ones that controlled the lives of the populace. If a daughter was spited, all she would have to do was run to her father and beg for an execution to take place. The daughters of His Majesty would giggle as the ax came down and would even run to collect the blood in tiny crystal bottles. I feared them but I worshipped them all the same. I had no choice but to offer my admiration; if I refused, my head would no longer be my own.

Alas, how was I know to know exactly how closely His Majesty was observing his nobles? An advisor of His had apparently informed Him that I hadn't attended the museum in three years, not even to see the new exhibits that were set up monthly. It was considered unhealthy not to show up occasionally, if only as a way to ensure your patriotism.

The letter I had received in the morning had informed me that His Majesty was well aware of my lack of interest in the museum, but was willing to overlook my negligence if I journeyed to see the new exhibit as soon as possible. I left immediately after bidding my sister a quick goodbye. After all, who was to know when I'd see her again? It was not safe to come into His Majesty's attention, even for a matter as trivial as attendance.

As my home was located only a mile from the museum, I decided upon walking to my destination, giving me time to prepare myself. No one had seen His Majesty for over six months, but since He had a large assortment of spies at His bidding, everyone was triply sure to act patriotic, especially since the rebels had recently triumphed in a large battle outside of our Kingdom's walls. It certainly wasn't fear of the rebels that caused His Majesty to veil himself from the public; more likely it was a test to see what His loyalists would do when not under His steely gaze. I sped up with my walking as I approached my destination.

The museum was easily the largest building in the kingdom. It was larger than the Imperial Palace and the magistrate's building combined. It was made of smooth, gray stone with sharp glass sticking out of the cement that sealed the cracks between the stones. There was good reason for this added precaution, but I occasionally had to fight the urge within me to run my hand along the wall as I did when I was a child and there was no glass.

I stood in front of the doors and made a decision; I would be as patriotic as possible towards His Majesty and pretend to enjoy his museum, twisted and disgusting though it was. It was the only way to win back His Majesty's favor, for if I didn't, it would be straight to the executioner's with me.

As I climbed the many stairs to the museum doors, I cursed that fool Clementine for his damned revolution. The peasant's fight against His Majesty was taking its toll on His patience and the loyalty of noble's such as myself was constantly being tested. The duke of Milan was convicted of traitorous activities but 4 weeks ago after he failed to salute the king's flag properly. I had forced myself to attend his hanging, if only to appease His Majesty's eldest daughter who had requested that I accompany her. I had not the will to look as the rope had snapped taunt, however, which may have been noticed by His Majesty's daughter, whose eyes were bright and shining during the execution.

I climbed to the top of the stairs and tried not to look at the two guards who stood at either side of the only entrance and exit to the museum. Rumor had it that they were taken from their mothers at birth and forced to live in beastly conditions so that they might become savage and barely controllable. They were new guards who didn't give off the same aura of maliciousness that the previous guards had, but I still kept clear of them both.

As I entered, I made sure that I hummed His Majesty's anthem loudly enough for the guards to hear me. My goal was to have my loyalty to the Kingdom unquestioned by the time I left the museum. The guard on the right looked at my as I passed, just a cursory glance out of the corner of his eye. None the less, I hurried away, my humming becoming slightly off-key in my haste.

The museum itself seemed composed of contradictions. The lobby that greeted me immediately upon entering was a huge dome with a ceiling of gold leaf that reflected a convoluted view of those walking below. The walls were painted in a vast scene of angels at war with demons, pure white wings contrasting nobly with the soot black demons. The tiles of the museum lobby were made of marble inlaid with gold, put together in such a pattern that it resembled nothing particular on the ground floor, but from the second floor looked like the symbol of our country; an eight bladed sword with the edges dripping in blood.

In the center of the lobby was the 8 by 8 foot cage, proudly displayed for all to see. Inside the box was a sharpened sick, impaled upon which was a man in potato-sack garments. The pole was inserted into his anus and forced inside of him until it escaped through his mouth, piercing his organs on the way through. As were all the professionally done impalings, the man was still alive, although barely.

There was a small white plaque hanging on the outside of the cage. On it was written:

Horatio Macicio
Rebellious traitor to our Glorious Kingdom
Apprehended: 2/20/19
Impaled: 2/28/19

As I read, I began to notice a small noise. I looked up and realized that the prisoner, Horatio Macicio, was attempted to speak to me through his severed throat. He succeeded only in grunting, for the sharpened stick had pierced his tongue while coming out of his mouth. A small trickle of blood was running out of the corner of his lips and dripping on the floor due to his effort. He had been impaled two days ago, but I doubted he would live to see tomorrow.

I turned my head and refused to look upon him. I could feel my stomach tightening, contracting, and I knew that unless I left the room I would vomit, burst into tears, or both. Oh, how I loathed the museum! If only I didn't have to prove my loyalty...!

Around thirty feet behind the cage was a doorway that led to the rest of the museum. One could either go left or right, but would eventually circle around to see the entire group of exhibits at the end. To the left were the political prisoners and to the right were the moral prisoners who had disobeyed the moral laws that His Majesty had created. I didn't want to go into either of them, but if I headed off now, it would show that I had no interest in seeing His Majesty's law put into effect, which would prove my disloyalty.

I picked the right passage and was immediately greeted by the thick smell of rotting flesh. The cage at the beginning of the long hallway held an enormously fat woman in tight iron bands holding her arms to her sides and her body to the floor. She was naked and her great rolls of flesh lay upon her stomach like baker's bread dough. Her mouth was gagged, which was unusual. The museum curators were fond of telling me at previous dinner parties that the screams were the best part of the museum, really grabbing your soul and reminding you of His Majesty's benignity.

The floor of the cage was moving, or so I thought at first. Upon closer inspection, I realized that it was covered with maggots, squirming white worms wiggling in an almost mesmerizing manner. The floor was almost entirely white except for around the great body of the woman, which was stained red.

I was confused. "What's going on?" I whispered to myself, feeling as though I were about to faint from the mere sight of it. This exhibit had not been here the last time I had taken a tour. Nothing nearly so terrible as the impaling or this had even been thought of three years ago, when it was merely the dead bodies rotting from the gallows and a few poor souls being pulled on the rack or the iron maiden. When had the museum become so horribly creative?

"This is one of our special exhibits." A woman's voice answered from behind me. I spun around, my heart beating wildly. One of the museum curators stood behind me, wearing a black dress suit and a name tag that said, 'Mathilda Cabbrioti'. She was beautiful, with hair the color of dried corn-silk and eyes a deep brown. However, she wore a small smile which suggested the unseen cruelties she had committed. She frightened me.

She continued, as if not noticing how she had startled me. "When His Majesty created the moral codes during the 15th year of His reign, they were a simple set of rules only slightly different than his political code." Mathilda held out her hand and began to count on her fingers.

"One: Do not do anything outside of his Majesty's commands. Two: Be merciful unto no man outside of our fair Kingdom. Three: Give no indication of weakness, lest your weakness pollute the glory that is our Kingdom. Etceteras, Etceteras....."

She gestured to the cage containing the obese woman. "Bianca Sacco hadn't disobeyed the first set of moral rules. However, you must know that His Majesty made certain amendments and additions to them during his seventeenth year as king...."

She looked at me expectantly and I knew what this was immediately; a test. I stood straighter and looked her in the eye to show her how ready for this I was.

"Of course. I think in this case it was His Majesty's law against disrupting the society by presenting yourself in a manner which distracted from the Kingdom's beauty."

Mathilda nodded, not saying a word. I had passed the first test correctly, but there would be more to come. "Bianca Sacco disobeyed his law by foolishly allowing herself to become 20 pounds heavier than allowed by His Majesty's sanctions. We decided to use her as an example to the young people by making her part of the exhibits instead of hanging her, as was originally intended. Do you understand what we are doing to her?"

I didn't want to admit my ignorance, but lying was against the moral laws of His Majesty. It would utterly foolhardy to break one of the moral laws inside of the museum. One of the last things that I wanted to be was part of these ghastly exhibits. I sighed and decided to tell the truth.

"I'm not quite sure what's happening to her, exactly."

I didn't want to know what was happening to her. I just wanted to walk through the damn place and leave, but I had no choice. I stood and I listened to Mathilda as she gestured towards the poor woman.

"By allowing herself to distract from the beauty of our kingdom, His Majesty decided it would be a suitable punishment for her to prematurely suffer from the effects of obesity. Firstly, she was force fed carbohydrates and sugars in order to artificially inflate her weight for three months, but she gained too slowly. Upon further deliberation, it was decided that fatty cells would be surgically installed into her body, which was undertaken immediately." She pointed to the fat woman with a carefully manicured nail. "As you can see, the operation was successful.

"After her obesity was ascertained, we had her placed in the cage, positioning her in such a way that she couldn't move her appendages when bound. Then we had the floor filled with maggots. She's been sitting there for a month now without moving, her fecal matter trapped underneath her great bottom and rotting her skin. You do know that maggots feed upon rotting meat, correct? So, in order for His Majesty to show us what will happen if one allows oneself to distract from our Kingdom's great beauty, He had Ms. Bianca Sacco be slowly eaten alive by maggots."

Mathilda smiled her tight-lipped smile and looked at me happily. "Would you like to see up close? It really is quite exquisite."

"No!" I cried, then broke down into a pretend cough to cover up my error. "I mean," I hacked, "I wouldn't want to bother you."

She smirked knowingly and offered to show me about the rest of the museum. I nodded, not trusting myself to open my mouth. As we left the cage of the obese woman, I turned and looked at her one more time. Tears were pouring from her pig-like eyes and I thought that I could see tiny wiggling things poking out from underneath her armpits. I turned, disgusted, and continued walking.

The next cage we came upon had another woman inside, this one of usual weight and height, who was stretched about three feet off the ground by great chains. Her legs and arms were spread open by great shackles attached to her wrists and ankles, so that she was entirely exposed. A puddle of blood was pooled directly underneath her vagina, which somehow looked wrong to me. A gag was also across her mouth, so that she could only moan.

I didn't ask Mathilda to inform me of what had happened to her, but the curator told me voluntarily.

"This exhibit, Larissa Vatrioli, was found guilty of adultery against her husband. In accordance to His Majesty's wishes, she was sent to the museum and hung as you now see her. The troops of His Majesty's are all very vibrant young men with the usual needs and desires. In order to keep them happy, 20 men are sent to the museum each day to gang rape her. Thus, she is punished according to her crime and their needs are satisfied, which is a prime example of His Majesty's wisdom."

She turned towards me. "Every day at 12:00 noon the men are sent in. Families often bring their children to watch His Majesty's justice in action. Just yesterday we had a pair of toddlers that just giggled and clapped, turning them into correct citizens. As it is, there are 20 minutes until the first men are to arrive. Would you like to wait?"

I shook my head rapidly and did my best to smile. "I'm afraid that I must refuse. I have much work that needs to be completed in order to better serve our Kingdom. I'm sure you understand."

"But, of course." She answered, knowing full well that I felt like vomiting all over her curator's outfit. I had answered her question smoothly, but still had failed the test. Had I more courage, I could have stayed and reluctantly cheered on the troops, but I knew that I could not and so had declined her offer.

The next cage contained a man charged with excessive vanity. It was considered a grave sin to hold the individual as more important than the Kingdom. Vanity was the worst sort of transgression in that category, as self-love was the most loathed of all the different types of love. In His Majesty's Kingdom, one could only be 'rather fond' of someone, rather than 'in love'.

The victim was named Gregoire Murston. He was a very handsome man, or would have been had they not peeled small strips of skin off his face. Now there were tiny lines of red making his face look stripped, like a prisoner's outfit. His mouth hung open, showing how his tongue had been split in two. I could see the muscle of his face where the skin had been peeled off. Thankfully, he was unconscious at the moment.

Mathilda gleefully informed me of all the details of his torture, as she had with the previous individuals, and we continued onwards down the hall. We walked passed many different exhibits, including those who had sinned of lust and had their genitals cut off, and those who had spoke slander against the Kingdom and had their mouths filled with small, sharp pins, then sealed. Eventually they would accidentally swallow the pins and be forced to deal with the following digestion of such articles. The punishment of slanderers was similar to the castigation of gossips; their mouths were filled with ground glass before being sewn shut. The stomach aches must have been dreadful.

I answered each question she asked with as much reference to patriotism as possible. Her approach was different each time, from personal to accusing, but I replied each time with the same amount of enthusiasm towards the Kingdom. Thankfully, she eventually began to approach a safer topic of conversation; the rebellion.

"Matthew Clementine's foolish uprising against His Majesty is rumored to near it's end." She stated casually, knowing very well that one misguided word on my part would soon send me to the museum as one of the exhibits.

"Of course, it is nearly finished." I answered, doing my best to radiate patriotism from the core of my being. "Any infraction against His Majesty could never succeed. After all, is it not written in the history of the Kingdom that we are always to be triumphant?"

She smiled demurely, eyes lowered. I knew that she was envisioning my impaling behind her closed lids. "But Matthew Clementine's forces are vast and the spirit of the rebellion is widespread. How can you be so certain?"

"Because as long as loyalty to His Majesty is unfailing, the rebellion could never succeed. Those who are true to the spirit would forever fight against him."

She nodded and looked me in the eyes. "And you are one of those truly loyal to His Majesty?"

I puffed my chest out and stood straighter. This was the meat of it all; the most important part of the entire ordeal.

"I am forever loyal to His Majesty." I declared as loudly as possible, in case any of His spies were hidden in their surveillance. "Should I ever betray my country, I would understand the course of action that His Majesty would take in order to ensure that my influence would not spread. However, I shall never turn from the one true side to join that damned rebel Clementine, even if it meant my death as a consequence."

I smiled at her, smug that my answer was highly satisfactory. She frowned a little, most likely disappointed in my failure to be apprehended as a criminal.

"You are not lying?" She asked me.

"Never." I answered, wondering if she had picked up a subtle nuance of disloyalty in my speech.

Mathilda nodded again and quickly moved. I felt a sudden unpleasantness in my left side and looked down, surprised to notice that my new white garment had somehow been splattered with blood. As I watched the red stain spread, it came to my attention that the sharpening pain that I was feeling and the scarlet stain might be related.

I looked up at Mathilda, utterly confused.

"What?" I asked her, starting to feel a bit faint.

She spit at me, her beautiful face marred by the disgust written upon her brow. "Pathetic swine!" She hissed as the spittle dripped slowly down my cheek. I wiped it off, nonchalantly, and looked at her, amazed. My side was hurting most terribly. I was beginning to think that she had stabbed me.

She glared at me, hatred seething in her impressive brown eyes. "We thought that you were secretly supporting our rebellion, but your reaction to the exhibits proved your lack of charity towards the most miserable of men! You make me sick."

I shook my head. "I can't show charity. It's against the law..." I mentioned weakly, beginning to understand that Mathilda wasn't a museum employee. I told her my suspicion and she laughed.

"Fool! This was a test! It was suspected that you were against that bastard king and his barbarian laws, but caution permitted that you be tested first, to see where your loyalties lay. You are truly loyal to His Majesty. When I showed you the things we had done to other loyalists like yourself, you barely even flinched."

I suddenly remembered the gag on the obese woman's mouth, which was usual for the museum. Revelation isn't necessarily a good thing. I stumbled into pure understanding.

"You're killing those loyal to His Majesty, after tricking them into admitting themselves...." I stammered, grimacing as my hand accidentally brushed against the handle of the knife sticking into my side. "But I do not support these terrible things His Majesty does! I loath them entirely, but thought to fool His spies into believing that I was entirely loyal!"

She spat on the floor again and I caught another glimpse of her name tag. 'Mathilda Cabbrioti', the same initials as 'Matthew Clementine'. I shook my head, disgusted as I realized the truth. His Majesty would never admit to being threatened by a woman. He probably ordered her to called Matthew simply to save face.

"You're...You're Clementine, aren't you?" I asked her as the two new guards I had saw earlier that day entered the room. Each took me roughly by the shoulder, making me grimace in pain. She nodded and plucked her knife from my flesh, showing it off to me. The blade was only two inches long, not enough to mortally wound me.

"Clever boy." She hissed and wiped the knife on my side to remove the blood. "I wonder what torture we shall devise for you, you loyalist pig?"

I shook my head wildly, my eyes wide open in terror. "But you can't! There's no point to the rebellion if you are more malicious than those you fight against! His Majesty would have never feed someone to maggots, or raped someone publicly for mere spectators!"

She slapped me twice and one of the guards squeezed my shoulder in an impossibly constricted way, as if his hands were steel. I could feel the blood immediately rushing to my cheeks, even as I bled from my injured side. "Your support for His Majesty is appalling!"

"No!" I cried, somehow indignant despite the pain. "I do not support Him! I loath him! I am simply saying that His Majesty would not have the imagination it would take to create such fiendish devices!"

She swept towards me and stood with her face an inch from mine. "There is a grand difference between myself and that pathetic bastard who sat on the throne" She announced. "His Majesty was cruel towards the entire Kingdom without prejudice; no one escaped His stupid laws. Our rebellion, however, only punishes those who take delight in the degradation of human beings and we punish those sadistic bastards accordingly. And if we happen to be weeding out powerful loyalists, all the better."

Mathilda, or Clementine, looked proud of herself. She started walking, then stopped on almost an afterthought. "Oh, we've had our eye on your for quite some time. It seemed to us that you could secretly be against His Majesty, but we could not be sure that you were the callous son-of-pigs that you truly are. Who do you think sent you the letter to test your loyalty today? Who do you think actually sent you to this damned museum in the first place?"

I closed my eyes and refused to look at her, my head spinning as to how cleverly, how quickly they had fashioned the trap. I, in my idiotic attempts to prove my loyalty, ended up condemning myself for something I didn't even believe in. I was so blind, so hopelessly blind....

"Would you like to see His Majesty?" She asked me jovially. Without waiting for a reply, she walked swiftly down the hall towards the lobby. The two guards dragged me behind her until I was before the cage containing the impaled man, Horatio Macicio. H.M. The same letters as His Majesty.

I watched as His Majesty's pus-crusted eyes rolled towards mine. In utter horror, I realized that perhaps I would be next; impaling victims rarely lasted very long. The golden ceiling began to darken around me as I felt unconsciousness ebb towards me. As my eyes closed, I could have sworn I saw His Majesty wink in a masochist's glee, but as to whether or not the vision was accurate I couldn't say, for the black overtook me entirely.

* * *

I awoke to the laughter of children and the feeling of sharp pain a hundred times worse than before. Struggling to get up, I noticed both my arms and legs bound to what felt like a long block of solid marble. I could only move my neck up far enough to see myself stripped naked onto some sort of pedestal. While I was unconscious, someone had cut my flesh with as many small incisions as possible, all over my chest and my legs and even my penis, from where the worst of the pain originated.

I looked up at the ceiling and realized I was in one of the halls again, my mouth bound shut with an iron gag. To my left side were a pair of small children, around seven or eight years old. Their doting mother stood behind them, looking at me with cool abhorrence.

The child nearest me was a female, her hair tied up with pink ribbons. "Oh, may I? Please, mother? May I try?"

Her brother pushed up beside her and grabbed a handful of his mother's skirt. "No! Me first! I want to punish the terrible criminal!"

The mother, her face still calmly delighted with my predicament, smiled and told them both to go ahead. The two children cheered and raced towards my feet, where I realized stood a previously unnoticed container. They reached inside and picked up handfuls of small white crystals. Salt.

"Yay!" The girl cheered and flung the salt all over my bleeding chest, where the cuts were deepest. The burning sensation started at once and tears came to my eyes. I tried to curse at her, tell her who I actually was, but the gag prevented me.

The mother shook her head and clucked at her child. "No..." She said and reached towards her son, who still had a handful of salt. "It works better if you rub the salt into the wounds as hard as possible."

"Yes, Mother." He said and pushed his entire fistful of salt onto my serrated stomach and began to rub at it, grinding the grains into my flesh and making me writhe. I tried to scream. I wanted to scream. The gag, however, held me back and I could only cry at him as the burning, stinging sensation took over my body in terrible rapidity. The little boy giggled and reached for more.

As I suffered, I overheard the mother speaking.

"I love the new exhibits that you have. The children are becoming more patriotic every day."

A voice so familiar laughed a professional's laugh. "Oh, but we are very proud of our interactive exhibits. That way, children can experience first hand the justice of our Kingdom."

I blinked away my tears and saw Mathilda, or Clementine, or whoever she was standing besides the mother as the two children chased each other with salt. She looked just as beautiful as she did before, and just as cruel.

Mathilda continued. "But don't worry about this being our last. We have many more exhibits coming along the way. Many more for as long as we discover the faulty loyalties that hide inside our fair Kingdom." She smiled at me as she said this.

"Thank goodness for that." The woman replied and sprinkled a handful of salt onto my bleeding groin. As she reached down to massage the burning crystal into my bleeding, serrated penis, she turned towards Mathilda. "It's places like this that allow us to show our true colors."

Mathilda smiled her caramel smile and gave an almost imperceptable nod to the wall behind her. I moved my head as far as it could go and noticed that a guard had positioned himself clandestinely behind the family. A large bludgeon was in his hands and his eyes were blank.

Some movement of his must have attracted the woman's attention, because Mathilda laughed suddenly and clapped her hands to keep her intended victim happy until the very last second. The two children stopped chasing one another to see what was so amusing.

Mathilda spoke quietly, forcing the woman and her family to lean towards her to accurately hear what she was saying. Sparing a triumphant glance at me, she said to the woman and her children, "It's you people who make what I do so easy."

I closed my eyes as her left hand darted forward towards the woman and the guard approached from behind. I had already seen Mathilda prevail once today and I preferred concentrating upon the slow burning fire of my salted wounds to witnessing her look of fanatical elation. However, nothing could block my ears and so I listened to her rehearsed oration and suffered.

Don't flame me. If the story itself sucked, tell me. If you were offended by the amount of violence in it, don't even bother complaining. I gave you ample warning at the top of the page. Make suggestions that will improve my future stories. Thanks. I was also considering changing the title to 'Life in the United States Under George W. Bush', but that seemed far too political for my tastes.