The prequel to “Hell of a Show.” A crimelord plays a dangerous game of cat-and-mouse with a sadistic giant. Warning: for mature readers only.
The only sound was Jake’s ragged breathing as he listened for the giant. Grant, one of his fellow prisoners, was deadly quiet as he squatted beside him. Jake peered around the corner, his eyes searching for any sign of their pursuer. It was dusk and the street in front of them was already thick with shadows. Occasionally, there was a flash of light as one of the mounted cameras rotated, recording everything for the reality show.
“Where is he?” Jake whispered. One moment they had been fleeing for their lives, chased by a murderous being hundreds of feet tall. Then, unexpectedly, the giant had stopped pursing them. Perhaps he had found other prisoners to torment? That was Jake’s hope, anyway.
“I have no idea,” Grant said. That was perhaps the longest sentence that Jake had heard him utter. He had tried to engage him in conversation earlier in the day when they were both trying to find supplies. He had even told Grant why he was incarcerated, which happened to be for burglary. The other man hadn’t shared anything about his own conviction; in hindsight, that probably was a good thing. Jake had met his fair share of psychopaths around here.
Although none of them compared with Raum.
Whoever had created the giant’s personality had apparently taken great delight in imaging a monster. Jake had seen people pleading with Raum before and no amount of begging or cajoling could dissuade the titan from ending their lives in a messy and violent way. He was a bloodthirsty demon with the inhumanly attractive face of a god, which was utterly incongruous. Or maybe that did work, the idea of the prisoners being sacrificed one by one to an insatiable deity, primal in its urges. This was one fucked-up show, he thought.
That was when he felt the ground quake beneath his feet, a sure sign that the giant was near. Jake glanced down the street again, trying to figure out where it was coming from.
It was coming from behind them.
It took Jake a second to realize that Raum had come around in a wide circle and was now approaching them from the opposite direction, smashing his way through a row of low, squat buildings with terrible ease. Even as the dust billowed up in the air he could see the dark-haired giant, the epitome of male perfection. He was almost ethereally beautiful, a reminder that he was not human and never had been.
The gargantuan blue eyes glittered with cruelty as the giant strode toward them, the two men clearly in his sight. The mouth was stretched wide in what Jake supposed could be a smile, although it had that lustful look that he associated with foreplay. That smile chilled him to the bone.
Grant was already running, and Jake joined him, wishing that that his legs could move faster. He sensed the giant’s presence looming over them even as Raum’s massive foot slammed down in front of the pair, blocking their escape path. The asphalt cracked and buckled beneath the titan’s astronomical weight. Jake found himself staring at a foot that was longer than a set of tractor trailers, the colossal mass of the ankle several stories above them.
“Thought you could get away from me, didn’t you?” Raum asked, his deep voice translated into something intelligible by the gleaming metal collar around his neck. Jake looked up and up, past the long muscular legs, the tight black shorts and the broad chest, into the giant’s smirking face. The idea that his death was imminent played over and again in his mind. He stood there, petrified, before his executioner.
When Grant tried to run, Raum’s right foot lifted, the immense muscles in his leg flexing. Jake watched helplessly as the giant deliberately stepped on the fleeing man, the prisoner disappearing beneath the vast foot. His mind was screaming at him to run but his legs refused to work. As Raum raised his foot over him, the bloody outline of Grant visible against his sole, Jake sank to the ground. His personal angel of death wore a terrible grin as he prepared to mash him into the ground.
The grin melted away when the giant noticed what was written on one of the buildings in black spray paint.
RAUM IS AN ASSHOLE. LOVE, THE QUEEN OF GEHENNA.
Jake tried to crawl away while the giant was distracted. But Raum’s head swiveled, his eyes narrowing. The giant’s gargantuan hand swooped from the sky, grabbing him up by the legs. He screamed as he hung upside down, the blood rushing to his head. Jake could hear himself babbling incoherently, begging the monster to let him go. But Raum’s upside-down expression was merciless.
The last thing that Jake saw was the wall with its black spray paint before the giant squashed him against it.
Raum smeared the remains of the prisoner against the side of the building, obscuring the graffiti. This was the third message this month. As he licked the blood from his fingertips, he realized that he was beginning to hate this Queen of Gehenna, whoever he or she was.
Even in Gehenna, people needed their fix. Heroin, meth, crack… it was all available, for a price. And Darren found that he was willing to pay anything. Which is how he was directed to one of The Queen of Gehenna’s suppliers, who apparently could smuggle anything in past the city’s tall walls. They provided him with meth and told him that they would come for their payment later.
They – She – eventually came for that payment.
It was two hulking men who showed up, one with a shaved head and the other with tattoos over every inch of his brawny forearms. The tattooed man explained that Darren was coming with them, so Darren did exactly that. Fighting with them was out of the question.
They went to a building that had been constructed to look like a fire station. On one side of the station was evidence of the giant, the buildings little more than rubble. Darren had caught a glimpse of Raum once and the memory still paralyzed him with terror. Nothing that he was about to face inside could be as bad as the giant.
It was dark inside the station building but he could see the three figures standing there. One was a handsome man, tall and slender with curly auburn hair; another was a Korean woman with her hair in braids. The third person was the one that caught his attention, though, because they were wearing some sort of strange mask. It looked like a full-face Venetian carnival mask, gold with blood-red lips. The neutral expression and wide eyes of the mask were unnerving, so he looked away.
“Meet The Queen of Gehenna,” the curly-haired man told him, gesturing to the person in the mask.
“Uh, hey, nice to meet you,” Darren choked out.
“I’m sure that you know why you’re here,” the masked woman said in a sultry whiskey voice. He could see her eyes behind the slots in the mask, slate gray and large.
“Um, I know that I owe you…”
“That you do. And you’re going to pay me back by doing something for me,” The masked woman saw his uneasy expression and she laughed, “Oh, it’s not that bad. I just want you to prepare a message.”
“ ‘Raum is a cocksucker!’ Or something similarly vulgar. I want you to spray it on a building, nice and big, so that he can read it.”
Darren felt his skin crawl at the thought, “Jesus, what if he catches me? He’ll tear me apart.”
“He won’t. He’s extremely predictable in his behavior, so I have his routes mapped out. I’ll send you to a location across the city where he won’t be,” the masked woman said. She made a motion with her hand and the other woman handed her a crudely-drawn map of Gehenna. Darren watched as she pointed toward the gates of the city, “He always enters through the front gates, of course. No one is ever around the gates, since they know that is where he will show up first. So he usually moves here, toward the larger skyscrapers where people are hiding. Then he follows a circular pattern so that by the end of the day, he’s at the gates again. You’ll write the message in midtown. He should be far away from there during that time of day.”
Darren chewed on his lower lip nervously. He wondered if he could just run away, though he decided that would be an unwise decision. How hard could it be to spray paint a message on a building? He would do it as quickly as possible and then go back to his hiding place.
He took the can of spray paint and the map and headed off to repay his debt.
Evelyn turned to The Queen of Gehenna after Darren had left. “Why did you send him there? You know that Raum is there right now!”
The masked woman was silent for a second before she answered. “Oh… I know.”
The spray paint can trembled as Darren tried to finish writing as quickly as possible. He had never felt so vulnerable in his life and he kept glancing around. So far, the only thing that he had seen was a group of convicts. One of them stopped, saw what he was writing, and shook his head.
“You’re crazy, man. Raum’s gonna stomp you flat when he sees that,” the other prisoner called out as he ran to catch up with his companions. That comment only made Darren’s hands shake harder. He breathed a sigh of relief when he finished the last letter and turned around.
Raum was standing several streets over, staring at him with an expression of utter loathing.
The spray can dropped from Darren’s numb hand, bouncing off of the pavement and rolling away. The giant took a few steps toward him, creating a three hundred foot wide trail of destruction. Buildings and cars and telephone poles were obliterated as the living tornado bore down on the frightened convict.
“So I’m a cocksucker?” The giant’s voice was thunderous and it made Darren instinctively cringe.
“R-Raum! Wait, it’s not what it looks like!”
“Well, it sure as hell looks like you wrote that I’m a cocksucker.”
“The Queen of Gehenna was the one who-“
At the mention of that name, Raum scowled. Darren whimpered in fear as the giant slowly lowered himself to a crouching position, filling most of the street.
“So you saw her?” The giant demanded, looking down on him like a man regarding a bothersome cockroach.
“What does she look like?”
“I dunno. S-she was wearing a freaky mask.”
“Is that all you know?”
That was when Darren knew that he was doomed. The colossus stood back up, giving him one last look of contempt before he swung his mountainous leg around. Darren tracked the leg as it crashed into the building where he had written the message, the structure crumbling like graham crackers before his eyes. He tried to run as debris rained down around him; he almost made it before an entire wall pulped him beneath it.
“Hey, Mr. Raum! Look! More fanmail!” The shrill voice made him grind his teeth together. He purposely didn’t acknowledge his newest personal assistant, Mary or Meghan or whatever her name was. The assistants usually didn’t last for more than a few weeks, especially after he hinted about what he would do to them if given the chance. One man had run through the door after one particularly lewd conversation and had never returned.
Raum was currently sponge-bathing himself, washing off the caked blood from his body. The tiny redhead didn’t seem to care that he was sitting completely naked before her. She just went on and on about the latest fanmail.
“It’s Melanie, Mr. Raum!”
“Whatever. I’m not really in the mood to listen to pointless crap from lovesick teenage girls or middle-aged guys,” The inflatable pool of water in front of him was beginning to turn red as he dipped the cloth into it.
“But Mr. Raum, it’s soooo nice to hear from fans!”
Good God, she was annoying. Maybe tomorrow he would imagine killing her while he smashed people against his cock. When she came closer to the pool he had to resist the urge to seize her and drown her in the bloody water.
“Look, this one is from K. Brodin in Oregon! They want to know what you do in your spare time,” Melanie told him.
“Write poetry, fantasize about killing people, paint. Mostly fantasize about killing people,” he replied. Melanie’s horrified expression was priceless. She quickly chose another letter.
“This one’s from Joshua Knight in California, who’s eight years old. He says that his dad’s in prison and that he is very sorry for what he did. Joshua’s hoping that you’ll let him go.”
Raum chuckled and his assistant looked surprised.
“Ha, that’s frigging hilarious,” he said, laughing.
“O-kay. I think we should move onto the next one. Hmmm, that’s weird. This is from someone named ‘The Queen of Gehenna.’ ”
Raum bared his teeth in anger. “What does it say?”
Melanie quickly scanned the letter, her mouth dropping open, “I think we should skip this letter, Mr. Raum.”
“Read it. Now.” There was more than a threat of violence in his voice.
“Dearest Raum, I’m sure that you’ve been receiving my messages and you’re probably wondering what prompted me to create them in the first place. Let me tell you that you intrigue me, that you are like nothing that I have ever encountered before. You are a force of nature, unstoppable in your raw physical power; yet I can see the chinks in your armor and I want to shove a dagger through them. I want you to scream and beg me for mercy. Just think of that when you rampage through our fine city. Your fondest admirer, The Queen of Gehenna,” Melanie read reluctantly, occasionally sneaking glances at the giant’s face.
Raum didn’t say anything as he rhythmically squeezed the washcloth in his fist, the blood and water running together onto the floor. But his eyes told everything.
Her real name was… well, did it matter?
In a previous life, she had been the daughter of a blue-blood family, Yale-educated… and one of the most powerful crimelords in the country. She had avoided capture for years and years, playing games with the authorities as she evaded them.
Oh, how she loved playing with people.
When she was finally convicted for tax evasion (which paled in comparison to illegal firearm sales, homicide and her other crimes), she had just laughed. Most people quivered in dread at the thought of being shipped to Gehenna, where they would be killed by a murderous giant for the entertainment of billions. But The Queen had just viewed it as a challenge.
She had seen Extermination and, although she hated to admit it, she was quite the fan. Raum was a handsome devil and she watched the way that he casually slaughtered the tiny people before him. That much power was unbelievably erotic. She tried to imagine what she would do with his power and it sent shivers through her body.
The first night that she had been in Gehenna she had purposely sought him out, watching from the shadows as he crushed and devoured and otherwise dominated the helpless prisoners. He was beautiful, both physically and mentally, and she decided then that she wanted to make him suffer. How delightful it would be to have a godlike being begging at her feet.
It had taken her a few weeks to set up her new kingdom in Gehenna, using the vast resources that she still had in the outside world. She had found out that it was quite easy to smuggle things inside and she used that to her advantage, placing more and more people into her debt. She was careful, though, to hide behind the scenes. Only one person knew the identity of The Queen of Gehenna, and she knew that she could kill Rob if she had to.
As her latest victims waited, The Queen put on the mask, covering her delicately-boned face, and strode out to meet them.
There were several people in the other room, including her hired thugs. She recognized Vic and it disappointed her that people betrayed her so easily. Ah, well. Another victim for her latest scheme.
Her high-heeled boots clicked on the floor as she walked right up to Vic, whose fear was written all over his face, “Please, I didn’t mean to-“ he started before The Queen interrupted him.
“Have you heard of a drug mule?” She asked, pulling on a pair of latex gloves. Vic looked horrified as she continued, “It’s sort of like that, except I’m going to stuff you with poison, my own personal blend. And when the giant eats you and all of the others, well…” The gold mask tilted as she scrutinized him. “Now, bend over.”
Vic found himself trapped with a group of other prisoners, all those people who had angered The Queen of Gehenna. She had left them here to die and now he stared up in abject terror at Raum, the giant regarding them eagerly in the little cul-de-sac. Past the grinning colossus, he thought he caught a flash of gold on one of the roof tops.
He wanted to scream that it was all a trap, but she had cut out his tongue. He could only only let out a garbled sound as the enormous hand snatched up several people, bringing them up before the building-sized face. The giant shoved the writhing prisoners in his mouth like they were a fistful of raisins, the corners of his lips lifting in pleasure.
Raum swallowed and Vic actually saw the lump as it traveled down his throat. That was when animal panic grabbed control of him and he tried to push past the others. When the shadow fell over him, he looked up and saw a massive palm, the boat-sized fingers stretched out as they reached for more people. Vic tried to dodge between the descending fingers but they closed too quickly and he felt himself pressed up against several other convicts. Someone kicked him in the stomach and he thought of what was inside of him as he winced in pain.
Hot and rank air ruffled his hair and he saw the black hole of the giant’s mouth before them. The hand holding them tilted and people rolled down, toward the waiting tongue. Vic clawed desperately for purchase, managing to grab onto one of the huge lower incisors. Then the lips sealed and he felt the immense tongue push him back toward the throat, along with the other prisoners.
He let out one last strangled scream, oddly distorted by his lack of tongue, as he was sucked down into the giant’s esophagus.
Raum was not feeling well.
At first, he hardly noticed it as he chased down a mob of shrieking convicts. When he felt the first twinges of nausea, he began to worry.
It was obvious that there was something wrong with the giant as he stumbled through the gate into the studio lot. Normally, he sauntered through the gate, completely heedless of the tiny employees underfoot. So far, he hadn’t stepped on anyone, but that was more from the threat of being shocked by the implant around his neck than any regard for human life.
Today, though, he looked awful, his face the color of whey. To everyone’s knowledge, the giant had never been sick; his body was a miracle of science, capable of battling off almost any illness. But right now he looked like he was on Death’s doorstep. Someone ran to find Dr. Okamura, the bioengineer in charge, while the others watched the hollow-eyed giant. People began to back away when he staggered and crushed a utility shed under one foot.
Near the gate, one of the clean-up trucks had just returned from cleaning the streets of Gehenna of blood and semen and other unpleasant organic matter. Tom had spent an entire day with the new guy (his boss had introduced him but Tom had promptly forgotten his name). The guy was about nineteen years old at the most and he was wide-eyed during the entire expedition. When Tom handed him a shovel to scape up the remains of prisoners, he had looked nauseous.
Sort of like how Raum looked now, towering high above the studio lot.
Tom stopped the truck as the giant stepped in front of them. The blue eyes focused briefly on them then seemed to settle on someplace in the distance. Tom looked on, his hands clutching the steering wheel, as the giant collapsed to his knees in front of the truck, the earth trembling from the impact. As he gazed through the windshield, Raum’s ashen face hovered over them. Jesus, he doesn’t look good, Tom thought just as the giant’s enormous mouth yawned open. The new guy screamed as Raum vomited, a deluge of bile and half-digested human remains splattering all over the truck and some of the nearby studio buildings.
“Well, then,” Tom managed to say as he stared at a corpse splayed across the windshield, its face dissolved by acid. Beside him, his companion looked completely shellshocked.
“Hey, my shift is over, so I’m not cleaning this up,” Tom said, looking pointedly at the new guy.
Dr. Noburu Okamura shone his flashlight in Raum’s right eye, watching the huge pupil constrict, then walked across the platform and did the same with the left eye. The titan looked haggard but the various poisons seemed to be working their way out of his system. Dr. Okamura was relieved about that. Raum was the only one of his creations who had survived; most of them had died before they even resembled anything human. The giant was his finest accomplishment, a creature that transcended humanity in its perfection… and with a horrible cesspool of a mind. The bioengineer secretly resented the studio’s decision to give the giant the personality that he currently had. Raum was supposed to be the next step in human evolution, a being who could guide humanity forward. And they had made him into a sadistic sociopath whose only purpose was to entertain the masses.
As Dr. Okamura switched off his flashlight, he noticed Raum still watching him enigmatically. Sometimes, he wondered if anything went through that mind besides death and destruction. He liked to think so.
“How are you feeling, Raum?” He asked.
“Fucking terrible. And I want to go find that bitch… now.”
“I will advise against that. You are unwell.”
“Screw that, I’m well enough.” There was animalistic fury in the giant’s eyes. Ah, my son. You could have been so much more, the bioengineer thought sadly.
“Get in my way and I’ll squash you, doc,” the giant growled and Dr. Okamura reluctantly took out the tablet that interfaced with the implant around his creation’s neck. For some reason, he remembered Raum before they had inserted his programming, calm, transcendent in the immense tank where he had been grown. He couldn’t watch as he typed out the commands and the implant delivered a powerful shock, enough to make the giant cry out.
Yes, the bioengineer thought. He could have been so much more.
The executive producer of Extermination flew out from Hollywood when he heard that their star was too sick to film. Lucas almost always looked like he was annoyed; today, at least, he had justification. He stood outside of the building where they kept Raum, his arms crossed as he spoke to the show’s bioengineer.
“I thought you said that he was practically invulnerable,” Lucas said.
“He is…the poison would have killed anyone else. He will live,” Dr. Okamura told him, “Although he is certainly in pain. I am also worried about his mental state.”
“His mental state?”
“He is already highly aggressive and this may only increase that. We have had to use the deterrent several times.”
“You’ve been shocking him with the implant.”
“Yes,” Dr. Okamura admitted. “I believe that we-“
That was when they heard the shrill shrieks from inside of the building. When Lucas and the old bioengineer rushed inside they saw Raum dangling his assistant several hundred feet above the concrete floor. Despite the dark circles under his eyes, the giant looked angry. Very, very angry.
“I told you to shut the fuck up!” He roared, the little redhead in his grip shaking violently.
“Raum, please put her down,” Dr. Okamura said softly.
“You can also shut up, four-eyes!”
The bioengineer looked over at Lucas, who nodded. Then he gave his creation a sad look and typed a few commands into the tablet. Raum’s gargantuan body shuddered with pain and he reluctantly put Melanie down. As the traumatized woman ran past them, muttering something about how she was quitting, Lucas met the giant’s enraged glare. The executive producer had to look away. He wasn’t a big believer in things like premonitions, but he thought that he had just seen his own death flash before his eyes.
The giant didn’t visit Gehenna for more than two weeks and Liz was grateful for that. She had been convicted for fraud, although she didn’t believe that she should have to die for this. The past few months that she had spent in Gehenna had been like a hellish dream, surreal and terrible. When Raum stopped showing up, she had breathed a sigh of relief, hoping that he was dead. Rumors had been flying around that he had been poisoned and that the Queen of Gehenna was somehow to blame. Perhaps he would just die and they would cancel the show.
That didn’t happen.
Liz had been hiding out in one of the skyscrapers when she felt the familiar tremors. She ran to the window just in time to see the giant stride by, rattling the windows. Well, she saw part of him, anyway. The gargantuan chest and upper arm were the only things visible and she watched in awe as an immense black crow tattoo on the giant’s bicep passed by. Liz and several other prisoners peered out of the windows as the giant stomped down the street toward the city hall, or what had been the city hall until Raum raped it into ruin one day.
Everyone nearby looked on as the giant opened his hand, revealing his shrieking captives.
“Hi, everyone. I have a message for the Queen of Gehenna. I know you’re listening, you little bitch,” Raum shouted, his deafening voice carrying over the entire city. The giant’s eyes skimmed over Gehenna, one building at a time. Liz knew that he was searching for the crimelord.
To her horror, he began to crush the people in his hand with his index finger. Then he raised his bloodstained finger to his impressive chest and wrote a message in dark red across his tanned flesh:
I’M GOING TO FIND YOU.
The bloody finger traveled down lower on the giant’s body, creating a crimson downward arrow, ending right above the impressive bulge in his shorts. Smirking, Raum grabbed that bulge and thrust his hips suggestively. It didn’t take too much imagination to figure out the rest of his message.
“Jesus, I feel bad for The Queen of the Gehenna. I wouldn’t want to be her,” Liz said to one of the other prisoners standing near the window, smoking a cigarette.
“Yeah, it would suck to be her,” the short-haired woman said. “Cigarette?”
Liz took one and they saw Raum step on several of the smaller buildings nearby, driving people out of them. So much for hoping that he was gone…
“I’m Liz, by the way,” she said.
“I’m Claire, a pleasure,” the other prisoner replied, watching the giant with fascination.
She spent the rest of the day with Rob, tedious as that was. Not that he unattractive; with his curly red hair and handsome face, he was quite easy on the eyes. But he bored her and she was happy when he left. The whole time that he had been there she had been imaging him with blue eyes and a crow tattoo.
The Queen and her doubles never stayed in one place for more than a day or two at a time, and that night she was in the library. There were some old books there, but the show’s director hadn’t bothered to fill every shelf, so the place was eerily empty. She had a backpack and kept a few things in it, including a .357 magnum that she had smuggled into the city. And the mask, of course.
There were distant screams as she laid down on the floor, her arms wrapped around her few possessions. Raum was out and about, probably taking out his frustrations on the tiny convicts that he found. It thrilled her to know that she had managed to hurt him. And when he had written that message in blood, she hadn’t felt fear but a wild thrill.
When she fell asleep, her dreams were vivid.
She dreamt that she was seated on a metal folding chair, her mask upon her face. And approaching her was the Terror of Gehenna, the star of Extermination and her rival. Except Raum was her height. He was a fine, fine man and she admired him as she crossed her legs.
“Hello, Raum,” she said, smiling behind the mask. She could see the raw hatred in his eyes and it amused her, “I’m such a big fan of your work.”
“I’ll kill you,” he growled.
“Too late for that. Now, on your knees.”
Raum just glared at her and she stared back, refusing to take her eyes away. He looked away first and hesitantly dropped down to the floor.
She extended one of her legs, the dim light reflected off of the black leather of her high-heeled boot.
“Now,” she said. “Lick.”
And reluctantly, he did.
When she awoke, she was smiling broadly.
The producers of Extermination couldn’t (or wouldn’t) tell Raum who The Queen of Gehenna was. Despite the cameras posted all over the city, they couldn’t figure out the identity of the woman behind the mask.
“That, and the viewers love the thought of you having a nemesis. You know, a Jerry to your Tom,” the current director of Extermination told him. Raum resisted the urge to twist off the bearded man’s head. The show’s employees were really beginning to piss him off.
When they unleashed him on Gehenna, the first thing that he did was question every one of the criminals that he encountered about the identity of the crimelord. They told him nothing, of course, so he ended their pathetic little lives. So no one seemed to know who the bitch was. Raum clenched and unclenched his fists, trying to control his temper.
When he saw the tiny city bus parked on one side of the street, his mood instantly brightened.
There was movement inside, which meant that there were people hiding in there. Why they thought that was a good idea was beyond him; he had killed enough convicts to know that many of them were not particularly bright. The motion inside of the bus triggered the deep predatory response built into him and he picked the vehicle up in one hand. Already his cock was hardening in anticipation of playing with the prisoners inside.
As he squinted inside, he sensed that something was wrong. Normally, people ran away from the windows and screamed in dread of him. But the only motion were people wriggling in the seats. They were gagged. And tied up. Raum had time to realize that this was a trap and he turned his head just before the bus exploded.
The blast should have disfigured him, but he was a genetically-engineered organism originally designed for combat purposes before the studio took over his creation. The heat and sound upset him but nothing more. Well, more than upset him. Red rage tunneled his vision and he knew who was responsible for this.
His initial reaction was to start razing everything in his path, ripping apart buildings like they were made of wet tissue paper. He would destroy this city so that no one lived…no, no he wouldn’t. He fought back the programming and forced himself to take deep breaths. No, he would be patient and rethink this. Top to bottom. Perhaps… perhaps he could find those who served her and work backwards. And when he found her, she would pay dearly.
Through the sewer grate, Rachel could see the giant’s eye, awful in its sheer size and malicious stare. Behind her, the other two convicts huddled in the cold, filthy water of the sewer. After Raum had spotted them, they had thought that escaping into the sewer system was a good idea. They had been fleeing through the dark tunnels for well over twenty minutes, the giant smashing his way in from time to time. Maria had been crushed under their pursuer’s probing hand at one point. Rachel tried not to think about her last screams.
When they reached the end of the system where the water drained out, they knew that they were doomed. They could hear Raum through the grate and to their surprise, he spoke to them.
“Ladies, I know that you’re in there. You can keep running but I’ll eventually get you,” The giant’s voice reverberated through the tunnel and Rachel found herself beginning to weep, whether from the fear or stress, she couldn’t be sure. She raised one dirty hand to her face, the tears hot against her chilled skin.
“Now, I’m going to offer you a proposition,” the giant said softly, “I’ll let you live, for a bit, but I need some information about who you received your goods from…”
Raum hated publicity stunts, including photo shoots and guest appearances. And he especially loathed interviews. When the producers informed him that he was going to do an interview for some magazine that he had never heard of, he immediately balked at the idea. They tried bribing him at first, although the one thing that he desired, which was to be able to leave the studio lot for once in his life, was out of the question. Then they threatened him with the damn collar, telling him that they would use it if they had to.
Raum wanted to crush them, their families and all of their acquaintances.
When the tiny journalist from the magazine arrived, he immediately despised the little twerp. If he had been terrified of the giant, Raum could have handled that. But he was young, probably straight out of college and with a cocksure attitude that made him want to flatten the man underfoot. Even as they led him toward the area where Raum was seated, he could hear the journalist referring to him as “it.” – “Is it restrained?” – “Will it answer my questions?”
You’re making “it” want to kill you, Raum thought, narrowing his eyes at the journalist. The blonde-haired man with his handsome face just looked back at him, giving him the same expression that he would give a lion at a zoo.
“Hey there, big guy! My name’s Steve Magnuson,” the journalist said.
Raum didn’t answer until the studio employees delivered a powerful blast of pain straight into his brain via the implant.
“I’m pretty sure you know who I am,” he muttered, wondering which one of the show’s employees had just done that.
“So are you up for answering some questions, big guy?”
No, Raum thought even as he said, “Sure, whatever.”
The journalist began asking the standard questions. Did he like working on the show? Raum loved it when the director allowed him to enter Gehenna and terrorize the people there. It was a thrill just to step through the gates and know that the prisoners were watching him with bated breath. Did he think that justice was being served? Oh, yes. He was the iron fist of justice, perfect in its lack of human compassion.
Then the journalist brought up The Queen of Gehenna and how the crimelord was rapidly becoming a fan favorite. Steve seemed to sense Raum’s discomfort on the topic, because he purposely dwelled on it.
“She seems to be good at outmaneuvering you,” Steve said.
“What do you plan on doing to her if you catch her?”
Raum just grinned fiendishly and to his delight, the little journalist now looked frightened.
Jason had been one of The Queen of Gehenna’s distributors for almost six months, moving anything from narcotics to firearms. He had just sold several grams of cocaine to another inmate when the man unexpectedly pulled a gun on him.
“Fuck man, you don’t know what you’re doin’. The Queen will have your head for this,” Jason warned. The other convict looked terrified but kept the gun steady.
“He said he would let me live if I brought you to him.”
“Him? Who the hell you talkin’ about?”
Fear gripped Jason’s heart.
“You’re workin’ with him?” The idea that the giant would actually work with someone was unthinkable. Raum seemed to view people as insects that he had to exterminate.
“Yeah,” the other prisoner said, gesturing with the gun, “This way.”
He led him down several of the back alleys, toward the towering gates of Gehenna. By the time Jason saw Raum, he was sweating profusely. Maybe he should have just let the other guy shoot him; it was preferable than being here, with the giant. Raum gazed down at him, a vast and terrible being with pitiless eyes. He didn’t even bother to look at the other prisoner as he gestured for him to go away.
The next thing that Jason knew, Raum had lifted a foot and knocked him facedown to the ground with a slight nudge. He tried to scramble up but an unimaginable weight settled on his back, crushing the air from his lungs. He fought to breathe, trapped beneath the ball of the giant’s foot.
“Let’s make this quick. Who gave you your supplies?” The giant asked, easing the pressure enough to allow Jason to speak.
“The Queen will kill me if I say anything!”
“Look, I’m the one who’s about to squash you ten feet into the ground. So answer the question.”
“It-it’s one of the show’s employees. Charlie Something. That’s all I know, I swear!”
“Good enough,” Raum said. That was the last words that Jason heard before the giant stepped down, his incalculable weight reducing the prisoner to a liquified smear.
Prisoners fled in all directions as Raum reached for them. Some crawled under cars so he flipped the vehicles over with one finger, grabbing up the people hiding underneath. Others ran for alleyways or down the length of the street but there was no way that they could outrun him. He scooped them up as well, his hands teeming with thrashing convicts. Or, as he liked to think of them, his personal playthings. He had used and broken countless numbers of them over the past few seasons of the show.
And it never grew old! He ran one handful of thrashing people down the length of his torso, beginning just above the hard muscles of his pecs and ending just below the area where his navel should have been. The feeling of so many tiny bodies against his huge body made him shiver deliciously. Their only purpose now was to please him and he moaned as he squeezed them in his fists, entrails and blood squirting up between his fingers. The other handful he regarded with lust, their fear only fueling the erection that now throbbed between his legs.
Raum sat down on a little warehouse, the building caving in beneath thousands and thousands of tons of flesh and bone. Then he leaned back and began to sprinkle the convicts onto his abdomen, the tiny bodies bouncing off of his rock-hard flesh. Some of them stopped moving and so he flicked those off with disdain. He motioned the survivors toward the thick, throbbing column of his penis. Those who were too stupid or stubborn to obey he simply crushed under his thumb, pressing them against his abs.
Raum watched the prisoners wade through his pubic hair and he closed his eyes, luxuriating in the feeling of being a god among these worthless insects. He would wait until they made him cum and then he would squash them, one at a time so that the others had to watch. Countless hands touched his cock, small and insignificant compared to the mighty tower of his flesh. He slowly gyrated his hips, pulverizing the buildings on either side of him. He shuddered again in pleasure, painfully close to orgasm. That was when he sensed her.
Raum’s eyes snapped open and he saw her on the street, a tiny prisoner like the rest of them except with a gold mask on her face. The metallic surface of that mask caught the sunlight as she watched him, impetuous and bold. He sat up, callously sweeping the prisoners from his body with one hand. He was pretty sure that they splattered somewhere in the distance but he didn’t pay much attention to that.
“You,” he said flatly.
“Hello, Raum. It’s nice to finally meet you,” The Queen of Gehenna replied.
“You have some balls, coming here like this,” Raum snarled. “Speaking of which, I think I’m going to smother you under mine.” He leaned forward, reaching for her. She darted backward and held something up, an object that resembled a medal.
“You know the rules of this show well enough. This is a Reprieve and it grants me immunity from you,” she said. He decided that he liked this show less and less with each each passing day. What good was all of his power if he had to put up with such idiotic gimmicks?
Raum ignored the rules and reached for her, only stopping when mind-numbing pain blasted through his skull. He could hear the voice of the show’s director, Greg What’s-His-Name, coming up from the collar. Fury bubbled up inside him as Greg actually agreed with the bitch. Raum grasped at her again and received a second shock, bellowing in pain and fury. When he finally calmed down enough to see straight, he became aware of a slight tugging on his right leg. To his amazement, he saw the masked woman scaling up his thigh. Despite his rage, he had to admit that he was impressed with her courage. He could feel her minute feet tickle his skin as she trekked across to the base of his cock, easily the size of a grain silo to her. She touched his penis as he scowled at her.
“Did anyone ever tell you that you have anger management issues?” The tiny woman asked.
“Frequently,” he admitted.
“But I suppose you can’t be blamed for that. They programmed you to be a stupid, angry giant, after all.”
Raum tightened his lips until they were a thin line. She was goading him, he realized. So he said nothing, eyeing the masked woman who was now climbing up his erection. As much as he hated to admit, her movement felt amazing.
“I’m going to find out who you are,” he said at last. “And when I do, I’m going to find new and interesting ways to hurt you.”
“I’m sure you would… if you could find out who I am. I’m confident that you won’t,” she said, then dug the heel of her boot into his frenum, hard enough to make him gasp unexpectedly in pleasure. His body betrayed him, his seed shooting across his muscular belly in warm squirts. He could feel her as she climbed back down off of his body and he just lie there, hating and wanting her.
Strangely enough, he was still erect.
On the rooftop of a tall skyscraper, The Queen waited for the giant to walk into her latest trap.
It was a sweltering day and she sweated beneath the mask as she slowly scanned the city, heat shimmering off of the buildings. Rob was standing beside her, nervously running a hand through his curly hair. On the opposite of the roof, her hired thugs laughed and shared obscene jokes.
“So what are we doing here again?” Rob asked, wiping his face.
The Queen motioned toward the rocket launcher and he visibly paled. “We’re going to shoot out one of Raum’s big blue eyes.”
“When we smuggled that in you said-“
“I say lots of things. This idea is more fun, anyway,” his Queen crossed her arms and leaned forward, looking for signs that her target was coming.
“This is a terrible fucking idea. Raum is going to find us for sure,” Rob protested. She didn’t look at him.
“You’re a coward, Rob. That is why you’ll never be in charge of anything,” she replied.
“Seriously, what are you going to gain from this?”
“Stop kidding yourself. We’re all dead meat here. If the giant doesn’t get us, the prison guards eventually will. Why not go out in style?” The Queen checked her watch again. Where the hell was he? He always passed by this section of the city at this time.
Doubt gnawed at her as she waited and waited… and Raum never came.
Evelyn wasn’t even aware that the giant was purposely stalking her from a distance until it was too late.
She had just finished talking to a distributor and was heading back to report to her boss when the sidewalk quivered like gelatin. Raum’s nearby, she thought just before a tremendous crashing sound deafened her. Evelyn froze like a deer in a headlight as the giant clawed his way through a tall skyscraper, debris exploding outward.
“Shit,” she said and then bolted for the safety of a nearby subway station. She could hear the titan’s thunderous footsteps behind her and she ran faster, barreling down the concrete stairs to the underground station. Evelyn gasped for breath as the stairway darkened and a massive finger smashed down the stairs, searching for her. To her relief, the giant couldn’t force more than one finger in and he reluctantly withdrew, gouging furrows in the concrete stairwell as he did so.
She decided to just wait it out in the station. Raum was notoriously impatient and he would eventually become distracted by another victim. The station shook, the dim lights flickering as the giant moved around above ground, and Evelyn rubbed nervously at her upper arms. She had never been claustrophobic but being trapped here, knowing that a murderous colossus was waiting above, was making her uneasy.
Everything stopped shaking and Evelyn carefully listened, praying that he had gone away. That was when a mammoth fist punched down into the station.
She probably would have been crushed beneath tons of concrete if the giant’s hand hadn’t come down around her like a fleshy cage. She was lifted up, the titan’s hand closed painfully around her. To her horror, he didn’t lift her toward his face but instead brought her lower, toward his crotch. Evelyn had never been into men; she vastly preferred other women. Cocks had always disgusted her and now she was brought face-to-face with the world’s biggest one. Even through the black material of the giant’s shorts, she could see it: monstrous in its sheer size. Evelyn screamed wordlessly as he pressed her insistently against the mountainous bulge. The flesh was hot and hard and she could feel it twitch as it responded to her wriggling.
The giant’s voice thundered down to her. “Mmmm, you have no idea how hard it is for me not to just crush you right now.”
She almost wept with joy when he pulled her away.
“You’re one of The Queen’s lackeys. Don’t bother lying to me because I already know you are,” her captor said. In the palm of his hand, Evelyn nodded.
“I’m going to let you live because I need you to bring her a message from me,” he said and she felt almost giddy with relief. That is, until he told her the next part.
“But before that, we’re going to have some fun together,” the giant announced with a terrifying smile. Evelyn looked on helplessly as he pulled down his shorts with his free hand, giving her an awe-inspiring view of his monumental malehood. Then she saw the dark scarlet splatters against the throbbing flesh, a dreadful reminder of the ways in which he had been using that monstrous leviathan of a cock.
“Nooooo!” She howled, kicking spasmodically as he cupped her against his penis. This was far worse than when he had pressed her against his shorts. The flesh that she was shoved against was unyielding, pulsating with the giant’s heartbeat, and she gagged. That seemed to displease him because he dragged her the seventy-feet or so along the length of his penis, the friction causing rug burns along her exposed skin. By the time he placed her on his cockhead her own flesh was throbbing. Evelyn resisted the urge to vomit as she looked at a piss slit as large as her head, oozing clear precum.
Then the giant pushed her face into it.
Salty precum filled her mouth and nostrils and she realized that she was suffocating. It was only when darkness began to flood her vision did he lift his finger, allowing her to choke and gasp for air. Just as she began to breathe again normally, he forced her down again. This time she actually inhaled some of the warm liquid and her lungs burned. In the back of her mind she was aware that the mighty pulse beneath her was speeding up, a deep rushing noise filling her ears. Again, he waited until the second to allow her a breath. She pulled back her head just in time to avoid being decapitated by a volcanic eruption of semen. It was like watching a geyser and Evelyn looked on in wonder as the first shots rocketed overhead. To her disgust, some of the milky cum splashed onto her, fragrant with its masculine scent. She was trying to wipe some of the thick goo off when Raum plucked her up, bringing her toward his face. When his mouth gaped open she was certain that he was going eat her. But his tongue flicked out, an immense reddish pink thing that licked at the semen coating her. Evelyn was too humiliated at that point to even care as the giant tasted her, his breath hot against her body.
“Now,” he rumbled. “You’re going to take down that message for me.”
The Queen bent over a large map of Gehenna trying to plot out the giant’s routes. Normally, he was so predictable. But his behavior had been changing recently and he was never where he was supposed to be. She drew dots where he had last been seen and studied the map. The collection of dots almost looked like… letters. She carefully connected the markings and marveled at the two letters that they formed: FU. He knew she was watching him. It sent a tiny tendril of fear through her.
The Queen was capping the Sharpie when Evelyn came in, looking like she had been dragged kicking and screaming through Hell. Her hair was spilling out of its braids, twin trails of mascara running down from her eyes. The Queen of Gehenna knew what had happened before she even opened her mouth.
“R-Raum found me. He-he-“ Evelyn burst into tears and she just nodded briskly, irritated.
“Yes, but why did he let you go?”
“You heartless bitch,” Evelyn hissed. “He fucking used me like a sex toy and you don’t even care!”
When The Queen didn’t respond, the other woman thrust a folded piece of paper at her.
“He wanted me to give you this message,” Evelyn said, wiping at her eyes. The masked woman unfolded the paper and peered at it. It was in her underling’s handwriting but she could hear Raum behind every word:
“My Dear Queen of Gehenna,
I’m sure you know that I’m closer to finding you. You also probably already know what I’m going to do to you, so I’ll spare you the details. I will say that you intrigue me as well. I sometimes wonder what you look like behind that mask. I bet that you’re beautiful.”
There was more written and she felt her face flush behind the mask. She quickly crumpled up the paper.
“He said that he-“
“Yes, yes. I know,” the icy, husky voice snapped, her face still hot.
“So will he-“
“I don’t think that makes a difference. He’ll kill us all if he gets the chance,” The Queen said.
Charlie was exhausted as he trudged out toward the studio parking lot. Normally, it didn’t rain much out here but it drizzled tonight and he cursed the terrible day that he had been having. He was head of security and there seemed to be a new catastrophe every single day. Once, some overeager reporters had snuck into Gehenna and it was only through dumb luck that they were able to to convince the giant not to kill them. That, and the judicious use of the deterrent feature in the implant. Jesus, the giant had been pissed when they shocked him for the first time.
He saw Raum right away, seated next to one of the parking lots. In the darkness of early night, he looked like the huge statue of some awful god. Charlie stopped in his tracks, confused. Normally, the giant was in his building at night. He knew better than to wander around and the fact that he was just sitting here was unsettling.
“Hey, you’re supposed to be in your building,” Charlie called up to the giant. Raum looked down at him, his gigantic eyes catching the light from the parking lot lamps.
“Supposed to be, yeah,” he said.
Charlie sighed and reached down for the tablet that many of the show’s employees carried on them, preparing to type in a few commands to disable the giant.
“I wouldn’t do that, Charlie,” Raum warned. Charlie ignored him until he heard the next words. “Because then I may just tell everyone who’s been supplying the convicts with narcotics and firearms and other fun stuff.”
Charlie stopped typing and stared up at the giant. The titan’s white teeth gleamed as he smiled. How the hell did he know that?
“You do know that dealing narcotics is illegal, right? And I certainly wouldn’t want to be sentenced to a stay in Gehenna, especially when a certain giant is pissed at you,” Raum said casually. “It would be terrible if those two cute kids of yours had to watch as their father was stomped flat on Extermination. What were their names again? Connor and Lily?”
Charlie’s mouth dropped open, his eyes round with terror. Since when could Raum remember anyone’s name? Before long, he had told Raum everything.
The Queen’s dealers were dying all over the city, the crimelord’s power shrinking at an unbelievable rate.
Rob was used to seeing her so calm, so detached from reality, like a chessplayer who didn’t have any personal investment in their pieces. Now she paced constantly, her delicate face pinched with worry. It made her look like a complete stranger.
Rob had never thought it was a good idea to irritate the giant; it was like jabbing a stick in a hornet’s nest. Raum was already a vicious son of a bitch and he was proving to be quite vengeful as well. Just the other day Rob had found the gruesome remains of several of The Queen’s henchmen, their blood spelling out a message across the length of a bridge: SEE YOU SOON. LOVE, RAUM.
To make matters worse, Charlie had stopped communicating with him, so his main supply source was cut-off. Rob suspected that it had something to do with the giant and that thought chilled him to the bone. If Raum knew about Charlie, then he knew about him… he didn’t even want to consider that.
Rob’s suspicions were confirmed several days later when he was meeting with the surviving dealers. Even as he spoke to them he realized that he wanted out of this. Perhaps he would slip away and risk the crimelord’s wrath. It was far better than Raum’s.
Just as they were concluding the meeting they heard the thunderous cacophony of noise that usually preceded the giant. Rob pulled out his gun (for all the good that it would do against a monster that was the size of a skyscraper) and peered out the window just in time to see an unbelievably massive hand slide past, the long fingers digging deep into the ground and under the foundation of the building. The contents of the building, including the people inside, slid and crashed against the walls as the giant lifted up the entire structure. Rob lost his gun at some point, although he was more concerned with the fact that Raum was ripping off the roof with his free hand. Everyone looked up into the looming face of their captor.
“Hi! Which one of you is Rob? Oh, come on. Don’t be shy,” the giant asked. When no one stepped forward, Raum glowered down at them. “Alright. I’ll squish all of you then.”
Rob felt the hands of his companions pushing him forward.
“Let me guess. Rob? I can see why The Queen likes you. You’re damn hot,” Raum said lasciviously. Rob felt his balls crawl up into his body.
He didn’t struggle as the giant pinched him with his free hand, lifting him out of the uprooted building. Without even looking, the giant tossed the building and everyone in it over his shoulder. Rob winced at the ear-shattering crash when it landed.
“Who is she?” The colossus demanded.
“Don’t play dumb with me, pretty boy. I’ll show you prison rape like you couldn’t imagine. Or…” The giant paused then released him from his grip, Rob shrieking in terror as he plummeted toward the ground. Raum caught him safely with his other hand, although it still knocked the breath out of him.
“Want to answer my question now?” Raum was smirking at him. When Rob didn’t reply he dropped him again, this time allowing him to fall longer. When he struck the giant’s open palm it was like hitting concrete and he whimpered in pain, dazed.
“Again?” The giant asked.
Rob shook violently but bit his tongue. This time when he was dropped he must have broken his arm because the agony was all-consuming. Raum waited patiently while he wailed in pain and clutched at his injured arm, tears streaming down his face.
This time, Rob answered.
That evening, The Queen had a horrific nightmare.
She dreamed that she was no longer in Gehenna but back in New York City, standing on the street as people rushed past her, fleeing for their lives. Sirens filled in the air and she turned her head, time moving like molasses as she saw Raum moving down the street, crushing everything in his path. The strange metallic choker around his neck was gone and she knew that the monster was free.
She tried to run but her long peacoat was caught in the door of a car. Frantically she tugged at it but it didn’t budge. And the door was locked, of course. Her fingers trembled as she tried to unbutton the coat, the giant’s shadow spilling over her. She looked up at the skyscraper-sized creature towering high above her, his teeth flashing in a feral smile that was dozens of feet wide.
When he raised his foot, she knew that she was going to die.
“Wanna know a secret?” He asked her, his voice somehow understandable despite the fact that his voice modulator was gone.
“No! No! No!”
“Pinocchio was never actually a real boy. And neither am I,” Raum said.
The Queen awoke in a cold sweat, shivering. As she sat there in the darkness, it finally occurred to her. Her enemy wasn’t human and yet she had been treating him as one… that was her mistake.
Raum was also dreaming that night.
He dreamt that The Queen of Gehenna was his.
The masked woman sat with her head in her hands.
There was almost no one left. Evelyn had deserted her and she had located Rob, or what was left of his shredded body, near the city’s reservoir. Raum had been especially brutal with her former lover and as she had stared at the remains of his face, she had only felt dread. Rob knew who she was and she was certain that he had passed that knowledge onto the giant.
She had been in the abandoned church for several days now and during the first day she had discovered that The Reprieve was missing, most likely taken by Evelyn or one of her other hired men. Honestly, she couldn’t blame them. She would have done the same thing in their place.
As The Queen sat there in one of the pews, she tried to regroup her thoughts. She could get through this. She would lay low for awhile, perhaps build her empire back up a bit at a time. She would find a way to kill Raum. Nobody could be invincible…could they?
When the stained glass windows rattled and darkness crawled over them, she knew it was too late.
She drew a deep breath as the giant kicked off the top of the church, debris pattering down onto the pews around her. It was late morning and the bright sunlight streamed down around Raum’s enormous face as he peered in, his eyes locking with hers. She could try to run for the door in the back but he would stop her, of course. He had her utterly trapped.
His titanic hand descended from on-high, his palm and fingers filling the gap where the vaulted ceiling once had been. She tried to lunge away at the last second but he grabbed her along with several of the pews, ripping the bolted benches from the floor. His hand lifted up and up and she blinked in the bright sunlight. She could only stare in wonder at the being who held her, power incarnate. Raum gazed back at his little foe, looking exceptionally pleased.
“Hi, Claire. Bet you didn’t know I knew your real name, huh? Rob told it to me. The rest I learned from searching around online. The studio gives me internet access, did you know that? They think I’m looking at porn but mostly I just watch funny dog videos. Anyway, I know that you’re Claire Donahue, thirty-four years old, born in Lexington, Massachusetts. You won a spelling bee in the third grade. You were convicted of tax evasion, although we both know that you were engaged in much naughtier activities. And you’re The Queen of Gehenna,” the giant said.
Claire couldn’t answer. How could she when her world was crashing down?
“You were actually easier to track down than I would have thought. But I suppose you can’t be blamed for that. You are just a stupid human, after all,” he said. “Now, let’s see your face…”
Claire backed away as he moved the gargantuan fingers of his other hand toward her head. She fought the pinching thumb and index index finger but to no avail. Gently, almost lovingly, the giant pried off her mask and brought her closer to one huge blue eye, taking in her face.
“Exactly as I thought,” he said, grinning devilishly. Claire tried to spit in his eye and he knocked her down with one immense finger. When she attempted to get up, he did it again, this time placing his finger carefully on her back, pinning her against his palm.
“What a tough bitch you are,” he remarked,“I bet you’re going to try your damn hardest not to scream, too.”
“Fuck you!” Claire snarled.
“I’m going to have so much fun breaking you,” Raum sneered, grabbing her right leg. With one small motion, he snapped her femur like a brittle toothpick.
And Claire, the notorious Queen of Gehenna, screamed as the show’s cameras recorded everything.