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Authors: K. Edwin Fritz

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Man Hunt

BOOK: Man Hunt
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Man Hunt

K. Edwin Fritz

This book is a work of fiction. People, places, events and situations are the product of the author's imagination. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or historical events, is purely coincidental.

 

First Tempus Fugit Printing: February 2013

 

Second Edition.

© 2014 K. Edwin Fritz. All rights reserved.

 

No part of this book may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted by any means without the written permission of the author.

 

See more of K. Edwin's works at
www.FritzFiction.com

For Corina

 

Your struggles are my struggles.

Your dreams are my dreams.

Your triumphs are my triumphs.

My life is yours.

Author’s Foreword

 

Throughout the history of nearly every human civilization, women have been both viewed and treated as inferiors by their physically superior male counterparts. This is an unfortunate fact of life, one which I believe to be the most underappreciated act of discrimination today. Think of this: even in America, the self-proposed 'land of the free,' slaves (1870) were given the right to vote five decades before women (1920).

The plight of women stands as a testament of our very humanity. It is incredible, perhaps even inconceivable, that we are talking about a group whose very numbers defy the term "minority". In every culture, women outlive men. It is the
majority
of our population who have– and still do– suffer these biases.

And though women are far too often downplayed or outright ignored, they have been and will continue to be immensely valuable far beyond their role in procreation, child-rearing, or home-making. They have, in fact, achieved many amazing things. Moreover, these feats are most often completed through more and greater obstacles than the average man faces. A successful female television personality– it may have been Carol Burnett, but I can't be sure– once pointed out that Ginger Rodgers danced every step with Fred Astaire, only she did it backwards and in high heels.

As this book progressed and finally neared its completion, I was again and again struck by incidents in my surrounding society, even in my own life, where women continued to be under-appreciated for their accomplishments and underestimated in their strengths.

I would therefore like to take a small moment of your time to remind and perhaps enlighten you to some of the more powerful women our planets' history
has
had the courage to acknowledge.

 

*              *              *

 

Joan of Arc, Clara Barton, Josephine Baker, Marie Curie, Anne Sullivan. You've heard their names, but you do not, perhaps, know their stories. You may not have known that Lady Godiva's famous nude ride on horseback was not an expression of passion or lust, but an unexpected call of her husband's bluff. She did it to prove the depth of her longing to have him lighten the harsh tax on the people of Coventry. Out of sheer shock (and also, perhaps, a begrudging dash of respect) her husband Leofric, Earl of Mercia, lifted the taxes, and Godiva, quite a lady indeed, magically became far more historically recognized than the Earl himself ever would.

You may think of Pocahontas as a beautiful, even fictional, young Native American girl who fell in love with a white man named John Smith, but this is not quite true. Though this real woman did later fall in love and happily marry another Englishman, John Rolfe, Mr. Smith was 'merely' the man whose life she saved. When her tribe was literally seconds away from executing John, Pocahontas' compassion for her fellow human compelled her to protectively throw herself across his body, defying her own father. The event sparked a two-year relationship of peace between the two cultures. Pocahontas had been only twelve years old at the time.

Countless women have been forced to masquerade as men in order to reach for their dreams. Emily Bronte, for instance, and both of her sisters were continuously rejected publication of their writings until they resubmitted under masculine names and found success. Tragically, Emily's spectacular
Wuthering Heights
was the last book she ever wrote in her short life. Amazingly, it was also her first.

Even more impressive, Miranda Stuart was just one of the many women who took on more than simply a man's name. She also adopted the clothes, voice, and eventually entire lifestyle of a man in order to pursue her chosen profession. In fact, Ms. Stuart was not discovered to even
be
a woman until after her death. Somehow, in the early British 1800s, she had managed to secretly enter and graduate from Edinburgh College at a time when women were not permitted anything beyond a rudimentary-at-best elementary education, if any at all. From there she lived as 'Dr. James Barry,' a respected military physician, for over fifty years.

Women have, of course, also used their very femininity to their advantage. Mata Hari is perhaps the most famous of these seductive beauties. She got her start as an exotic dancer, apparently beguiling every man who happily made her acquaintance. But before she was executed by a French firing squad, she was believed to be a spy for the German Secret Service, though she
claimed
to be a double agent for the French. To this day, the best research suggests that she truly worked only for herself.

Still other women used their voices rather than their bodies to help change the world. Joan of Arc, Lola Montez, and Jeanne Antoinette Poisson all became famous in their own times and beyond for never giving up, even under the direst of circumstances. Each meddled and influenced the beliefs and politics of her own society enough to make it into the history books, and all, remember, while being considered inferior. Aphra Behn, the first professional female writer in England, is given credit for 'having given women the right to speak their minds.' Emmeline Pankhurst spent years of her life dedicated to the campaign of "Votes For Women," which found lawful
success within her lifetime. And Phoolan Devi ran for her life as a murdering bandit before serving an eleven-year prison sentence, yet was eventually released and elected to Parliament where she ran on a platform of helping the poor and oppressed.

Though I soon end this all-too-brief collection with just two more women of significance, it is with a certain trepidation and even quiet fear that I admit why I have saved them for last. Martha Jane Canary, though far from being one of these same influential female figures, will undoubtedly hold a certain soft spot in the heart of any "man's man." 'Calamity Jane' boasted she could outride, outshoot, and outdrink any man, and was often put to the test. She never seemed to disappoint. Her crude lifestyle proved to many American frontier history buffs that women
can
be incredibly tough and rugged, when they choose to be so. 'Calamity Jane's' fame eventually earned her a spot on the Buffalo Bill Wild West Show, but her fondness for swearing, drinking, and brawling (often with law officials) ultimately lost her that position.

And finally, Dear Reader, I'll leave you with one final woman of power. However for this one I hold absolutely no respect. The events and actions of her life appall me. But, it has been the ability of her story to evoke such strong emotions that convinced me to include her here. After all, if I am to convince you that women truly are the equals of men, must I not also share with you what atrocities they, too, are capable of?

Elizabeth Bathory was her name. She was a Hungarian noblewoman living in Transylvania in the late 1500s. If the location and time of her residence strikes a certain off-color chord within you, don't be so surprised. Some historians believe the discovered results of her crimes was a partial if not direct inspiration for Bram Stoker's classic novel
Dracula
.

It seems the short-tempered young countess one day beat a chambermaid for attempting to fix a flaw in her headdress. She later noticed that the spots on her skin where drops of blood had spurted appeared whiter and more beautiful than the rest of her face. Thinking she'd found the Fountain of Youth, Elizabeth quickly decided to regularly bathe her face and soon her whole body in human blood to enhance her beauty.  The blood of virginal girls, she believed, was the most potent.

With a few accomplices to assist her, "The Bloody Countess," as she is best known, ritualistically lured or outright kidnapped young, pure girls for her beautification process. It did not take long before she began drinking the blood as well and devising horrible, slow methods to "milk" the many victims she acquired… you are certainly already familiar with the Iron Maiden, an upright spike-lined coffin, which she designed for precisely this purpose. Elizabeth had no respect for human life or the pain she caused, only for her victim's life's blood.

But her appetite did not end with bloodshed alone. Absolute torture for torture's sake became a part of it all. Without belaboring you any further with the available list of gruesome details, let this duo of facts suffice. One: Elizabeth occasionally needed to change her clothes mid-torture because they were dripping with too much blood. And two: sometimes she forced her victims to consume the flesh of their predecessors long before allowing them to die.

This practice of unreserved torture and bloodletting continued unnoticed, and then ignored, for years. It was thus that some estimated 650 virgin girls were claimed missing and never found or discovered dead and absent of blood in the Carpathian Mountains surrounding her home. Eventually, she was exiled to her own castle where she died a lonesome, slow death.

So to those of you who doubt the ruthlessness of the female psyche, this is one woman who had been just as horrific as any man of power history has seen. Stoker's imagination was, in fact, far more bearable than this truth.

So take note, Dear Reader, before you venture into the pages ahead: women are powerful; women are influential; women succeed even as they are concealed in shadows. And though men have consistently and maliciously discouraged all forms of female accomplishments, women have and will be heard.

 

-K. Edwin Fritz

December, 2012

Revenge is like a boomerang.

Although for a time it flies in

the direction in which it is hurled,

it takes a sudden curve, and, returning, hits your own head the heaviest blow of all.

 

–John M. Mason

 

 

 

Courage is like love;

it must have hope to nourish it.

 

–Napoleon Bonaparte

CHAPTER 1

THE ISLAND

 

 

1

 

"Head down, pig," the woman cooed. Her voice was always this way. Calm. Controlled. Smooth as glass. Whenever she spoke, a secret smile could be heard within. The man beneath her strong hands was naked, chained, and crying. At her command he shot his red-rimmed eyes to the ground, careful not to look at the cement floor before her boots, but at the boots themselves. Always at the woman's boots. She could tel
l-
each of them could, even through the back of his hea
d-
whenever he cheated. Today he did not cheat. Today he was being broken.

The first time she had 'trained' him, he had hated her, raged at her, with ten times the ferocity he had once thought possible of himself. But this same rage which had helped him endure the weeks of hell was now gone. In its place was fear, complete and overwhelming. Yet most of i
t-
and in that damned box they kept him in,
all
of the fea
r-
was for what was being done to his mind, not his body. He was beginning to forget things.

His dominant arm was stretched high above his head, now useless, formless as a wriggling eel. The shoulder muscles had been stretched taut and then thinned. In this way he had been forced to sway to her authority for hours. When he'd first begun to lose feeling in the arm, he'd been glad and thought he was winning a small battle. But then the woman had lowered the arm, allowing the blood to again flow and feed. Soon after, the arm was again up, the shoulder was again stretched and taut, and he was once again questioning his sanity.

He saw now how pitiful his hopes and strength had been. She had broken him with ease, selecting the time and method with utmost precision. Now, he hung there, crying such as he hadn't in decades, perhaps as he never had. He no longer fought, no longer hoped. He only waited for her mercy, which would eventually come. His tears flowed unashamed down his cheeks, and in the darkened room he could think only of the girlfriend he had struck in a drunken rage seven weeks ago back at his favorite bar. Back on the mainland. Back home.

"Are you sorry for your crime, pig?"

The question had been posed a hundred times before. He did not answer immediately. He had learned that quick answers were viewed as terse, not spoken with true conviction. He stared at her boots, concentrating until his tears slowed and the pain in his arm subsided, and finally spoke.

"I am sorry for my crime, woman. I beg for your forgiveness.
I-
"

The rope was yanked higher, and he screamed. "Do not ask for
my
forgiveness, pig," the woman crooned in her chandelier voice. "
I
was not your victim." She tugged the rope again, and something in the man's shoulder popped as his body twisted like a corpse on a gallows. He might have screamed again, but instead blacked out. Yet the piercing pain in his shoulder and the heated wash that was still coursing through his body when he awoke told him the respite had only lasted the briefest of moments.

He dangled there for some time more. The woman did not speak; she only watched. "Please," the man finally said. The word drooled from his mouth with the weakened energy of a spent battery. And wasn't that all he really was? A vessel of limited life now drained of its only value?

"Please?" the woman countered. "Please
what
?"

"Please… stop." And this was all he could produce. The abuse suffered by his arm and his sanity had been too great. Even the energy required to beg was too much. Now, he could only ask.

The woman leaned in close to his face. He could feel her sweet breath on his skin, and she could most certainly smell the odor of his unwashed body. If she had brought out a knife and twisted its blade in the dim light, he would have gladly exposed his neck to her. But the woman produced instead another, horrible, warm smile.

"My dear, pathetic man," she said. And the scent of her breath was indeed sweet, as intoxicating and alluring as that day seven weeks ago when she had witnessed his drunken abuse and then so easily seduced him. "What a humble, pitiful excuse for intelligent life you truly are. I can
not
stop now." She paused only to sweep the room with her arms. "
This
is Monroe's Island. It is your classroom, and we are your teachers." She leaned in closer still, and her words were then so sweet, so lustrous, that they entered his body as a poisonous wind that he succumbed to with ease. "We will not stop until you are
fully
educated. We won't stop teaching until you have learned."

 

 

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