The interior of the fort was a paradox. On one hand there were the civilized buildings, that doubtless housed the administrators and bureaucrats that administered this portion of the Congo. On the other hand, there were skulls lining the flowerbeds. Dozens, possibly hundreds of them, all grinning and white as bone in the mid-day sun; due to the horrible nature of my journey thus far, my sanity held.
Nevertheless it was a disturbing sight. I could feel the sheer evil of the place beating down on me; I retched and was rewarded with a vicious kick to my chest. A Belgian snarled at me and I managed to repress any further sounds.
I was manhandled roughly into one of the buildings, a dank and shadowy cell-block. Somewhere in the darkness, I could hear smothered laughter and the clink of chains. My cell door slid open and I was tossed inside; the door slid shut and with great effort I managed to turn myself upright and I examined my surroundings.
The room lacked every amenity imaginable, there was straw for bedding and that was about it. The appalling stench of the cell made the lavatory's location obvious. I realized with a dreadful suddenness that I would die if I stayed in it for too long. My body was slowly dying, wasting away due to the vicious abuses it had suffered recently, and my mind was hardly in a better shape.
At last, sleep suddenly seized me and I keeled over into the stinking straw; sleep engulfed me and I greeted it thankfully. Thankfully, no nightmares ambushed me and my slumber was exceptionally tranquil. While it would hardly repair the damage the past few weeks had inflicted, it was a start at the very least.
When I awoke, it was again to the laughter of whatever other poor soul who was trapped in here with me. His mirth was unsettling; it was more like a hyena or a demon's laugh than any sort belonging to a human. The guard however was not bothered by it, and was smoking a particularly noxious cigar. My vision blurred suddenly, and I retched again, succeeding in only doubling myself over, bringing a fresh wave of pain from every region of my body.
I raised a thin, quavering hand to my forehead and felt it. It was burning hot and running with sweat, I had a fever and was probably going to die. I would not receive any treatment from the Belgians; they'd already shown their complete lack of humanity in so many examples. I was too exhausted to do anything except close my eyes and hope.
Sleep came quickly, engulfing me like the tide and again I was not beset by nightmares. They seemed to have abated and I woke up in a slightly better state than previously. There was a little strength in my limbs and I was able to raise myself onto my hands and knees, I was shocked at how weak I was and forced myself to stand; ignoring my muscles' jabs of pain. I slowly examined my surroundings.
My cell was primitive, there was no debating that, but what made it truly terrifying were the thousands of words and symbols scrawled on the walls in what appeared to be blood. I couldn't read any of it and the symbols were all unfamiliar to me. Some hurt the eyes to read and were impossible to attempt to replicate. I hobbled to the wall and ran my hand over the rough surface, trying to trace the bizarre lines.
I could feel what strength I had leaking quickly away and my body was beginning to tremble. The cell began to blur before my eyes and I collapsed onto the floor once more.
When I awoke I was in a chair, tied down. I struggled briefly but I was weak and my bonds were strong. I examined my surroundings and nearly shrieked in terror. I was surrounded by the dead. All around me, bodies were scattered; some were in recognizable condition whereas others were only so much meat. I turned away from the horrors surrounding me and instead regarded the ceiling. Above me hung hundreds, if not thousands of eyes, all swaying slowly from some invisible draught; I shut my eyes and began to pray. Above me, the eyes watched.
I think I spent hours imprisoned in that abbatoir, I could practically feel my sanity and reasoning disappearing. At last, a door opened and I turned my head to watch someone enter.
It was the man from the voyage, the soldier who'd accosted me. There he'd seemed out of place and conspicuous but in this…horrible place he was in his element. He moved with a jaunty confidence and I thought he was humming. A slow creaking from above caught my attention and I looked up. As one the eyes were moving to look at the soldier, I shuddered and returned my gaze to him.
I suddenly realized how squat and powerful he was, built like a circus strong-man; but it was his eyes that drew my attention. They were nearly completely black, with points of light that were visible in the darkness. He stomped across the room to the side of the chair and calmly stared at me, still humming. I dared not move a muscle. At last, he began to speak:
"Do you know where you are?" His voice was still guttural and deep, but now possessed authority and a languid assurance in his own power. He was practically purring now, delighting in my terror. As an answer, I shook my head and he chuckled "I am not surprised. These are unfamiliar surroundings for you, are they not?" He turned away and walked through the chamber, running his hands across the bodies. I closed my eyes.
"I know why you are here." He said suddenly "The poor little Englishman searching for his poor lost friend," He began to laugh, an insane sound "But now he has seen things and must pay the price," He slowly began to approach me, his mirth suddenly gone. It was obvious to me now that he was just as mad as I was, and I desperately tried to break free. My desperation and terror gave me strength and the bindings broke. The soldier was not impressed and continued to approach me, with a maddened scream I charged him.
"Non." He said and flicked his hand. I was suddenly lifted up and threw aside. I smashed into the wall and was dazed. The room was swimming before my eyes and I could see the damnable man still walking towards me. I could see the madness and anger burning in his eyes. This man was not used to being defied and I was going to pay for doing that.
With another flick of his hand a fairly intact corpse was suddenly lifted up and hovered in the air, he made another gesture and he stripped the body's flesh from it's bones. In an instant, skin, flesh, and sinew were all stripped away till a skeleton was all that remained. He laughed again and let the skeleton drop.
"You think you can oppose me?" Now he levitated me and I slowly began to rise towards the ceiling, towards the eyes "Go now and join your friend!" His insane laughter was all I heard before the eyes embraced me and all was dark.