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The Bronze Bull
You have toiled and worked for months, poured every bit of your soul, and finally, your creation is completed. After so long, the majestic, life-size bronze bull is molded and hollowed, eager to be put to use. The only openings are the nostrils, embedded with trumpets, and the heavy trapdoor in the side of the beast.
Now, dozens of noble Greeks have gathered to see the showing of your latest invention. The king has promised to exhibit the first victim, so the normally airy courtyard is laced with his disciples. You are thrilled that there is so much interest in your device; you hope to be handsomely rewarded and famed.
“‘Well now, Perilaus, if you are so sure of your contrivance, give us proof of it on the spot: mount up and get in and imitate the cries of a man tortured in it, that we may hear whether such charming music will proceed from it, as you make us believe.’” The king smiles broadly, but his eyes glint with something darker.
You nod excitedly at your sovereign; this is your moment. You enthusiastically climb into the bull, taking care not to step on the already prepared kindling below its belly. Once the trapdoor is closed by the armed guards, you bellow, akin to a dying man. You are delighted to hear what seems to be a bull snorting, coming from your very own contraption. It works!
The king will be pleased; his newest, finest torture device is exquisite. Any man’s cowardly yells can be transformed into the fine music of a bull’s natural sounds for the king to enjoy. You vaguely hear applause from the spectators through the thick metal.
Grinning with pride, you shout to be released. You hear a faint reply, unable to distinguish the words, only an odd sizzling sound, almost like a fire.
Your eyes widen, this cannot happen. There must be some mistake. You scream, but you know that the echo will sound mutilated, transformed into a bull’s snorts by your very own system of pipes. Another fire builds, this one in your own self; you can only think of the pompous corrupt monarch. You can just picture the horrid king's smug smile.
“‘Take that as the only recompense such a piece of art is worth, and chant us the first specimen of the charming notes of which you are the inventor.’”
You grit your teeth, determined not to scream, wanting only to slight the Akragaian tyrant. The bull slowly begins to heat and before you know it, it is scorching. Your only comfort is in knowing that King Phalaris will not hear your dying wails in the form of a bull. You vow to go out silently, not relenting.
Your bare legs beneath your tunic turn red, but you bite your tongue. Stuffing the thin fabric beneath your knees does nothing to relieve you of the searing pain. The air becomes stifling and you choke on your own breath. Soon you are gasping for air. The skin on your body is bright and peeling off in great layers.
You try to leap up, give your legs a moment’s rest, but your head collides with the roof of the bull. Instantly you feel the pain of a thousand knives all over your body as your head and arms come into contact with the blistering metal.
You hear the snorts first, but quickly recognize your own screams. You are dying. You cannot stop screaming; the pain is too unbearable.
Finally, the trapdoor flies open. You are relieved, thinking you will be honored for your creation and your suffering. Your red, charred body is pulled out fiercely, roughly by the soldiers. You black out before what is left of your legs is dragged into the open.
You awaken to the sound of sea birds. Through your slits of eyes, you see a rocky cliff, just before the wide expanse of the Mediterranean, the sun glaring viciously.
You feel the sensation of falling, and then, nothing.