Dreamed 1992/9/10 by Chris Wayan
I'm in a cave, looking down into a cage, carved into the rock. There are halls and rooms all round us, but every opening is barred. The tour has only been depressing till now, but this final pit is much worse than that. It's the cave-prison's big draw: Charles Manson. There's a little sign listing all the murders...
He's almost naked, wearing only a loincloth and some grotesque carvings in bone--signs of his cult? He's handcuffed, with his arms behind him. Even here, they fear him that much. I feel sick. This is paranoia--and plain cruelty. Life without parole, in one cave-cell... but life caged, in shackles?
He's a skinny little guy, just doesn't look like he could invent and command a whole death cult. Then he looks up at us, and I shudder and don't feel sorry for him any more, and cuffing him is not enough, even with the bars between us.
They're giving me the VIP tour, all the way down to the narrow gallery before his door, in the Pit itself. I'm on his level now, only steel between us. He's silent, but those eyes glitter with amusement.
A tall, muscular, nearly naked woman walks into the cell. Tanned or brown-skinned, wearing the same carved bone amulets--whose bones?--she looks like an Ice Age hunter. Her hands are quite free. She smiles, seeing me, and struts in front of me. She knows how attractive she is. I've never seen a smile so nasty. It says "Come on in and I'll show you a real good time," knowing I know that a good time means a torture slaying. And proud of it.
And for Manson himself, no other path was possible. But she's worse: she's sane, she chose it, she likes it.
Behind her groupies straggle in, sixties flowerchild blondes. The whole cult! Locked up together for life, to live out their beliefs... here in the deepest pit, the highest-security cell.
"Feeding time!" says the shadowy official beside me. A guard with a long pole appears above us, dragging a sack. He reaches into it and drags out a huge limp worm of raw meat, like the bloody tongue of some giant the size of the Statue of Liberty. The guard hooks the terrible tongue onto the ten-foot pole and lowers it through the mesh covering the cave-cell. He lowers it onto Charlie's upturned face. Manson tears at it with his teeth. This is a ritual sign, I guess: now the groupies swarm round him and lug the tongue to a bench and start chewing on it, their sweet doll faces slick with blood.
Only the Amazon with the terrible smile holds back. Looking at me with her mocking eyes. From the cage at the end of the long, tiresome tour of the last, lowest circle of Hell. With eyes that look strangely free.
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