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  1. Link the Writer
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    Link the Writer Flipping Out For A Good Story. Contributor

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    When the hero is being tortured...

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Link the Writer, Jan 4, 2011.

    Okay, I'm writing a scene in my scifi novel where the heroine (Let's call her Amanda Hamilton) has been captured by the villains and is being tortured. She's strapped to a rack that's basically used to pull people's arms and legs out of their sockets.

    So far, she's being questioned by the main villain who is only too happy to let her writhe on the board as the machine pulls her arms and legs off. He calls her a traitor to his people (She once worked for them) and says the king doesn't know she's in the dungeon. He also interrogates her as to the location of a known outlaw she had been seen with.

    I have two questions that I've broken up into catagories:

    Research
    Assuming she's rescued and recieves care, would Amanda be able to use her arms and legs again? What kind of machine do you call this? All I know is that IRL, people used this to torture political prisoners back in Medieval times.

    Deux Ex Machina/Damsel In Distress
    I realized that I've put her in an obviously nasty position. She's completely immobolized on a board. How in the world is she gonna save herself aside from a Duex Ex Machina?

    I did come up with an excuse like her ship's crew knew her last known location but when they failed to make contact with her, they gunned the ship towards her, following a tracking signal she activated when she was captured. However, this seems too cliched, too predictable. I want to figure out something else.

    Since I like to protray her as a strong woman that can take care of herself, wouldn't this be sort of the exact opposite?

    Tips?
     
  2. TokyoVigilante
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    TokyoVigilante Member

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    Assuming your not going to pull her arms and legs off, the damage after the limbs coming out of joint would probably be tearing of ligaments and muscles. This would probably weaken them substantially but she could function as a 'civilian'.

    However, seeing as how it's a sci-fi story, you can probably just write in a Medicine Laser to fix her up as good as new. Or Power Armor which is always cool.

    They damage bio-electric implants in her limbs, causing them to release an EMP that shorts out the device?
     
  3. Ironwil
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    Ironwil Member

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    IRL, things would not look good for our heroine. The machine you're referring to is called the Rack, and it does just what it sounds like. To get an idea, lay on your back and have someone sit on your legs or lap. Then get another person to pull on one of your arms. Totally relax the muscles and don't resist (make certain they don't suddenly yank or pull with all their might or you'll end up the in hospital). Anyway, you'll start to feel the arm bone that connects to your shoulder pulling away from its socket, and a number of small, achy sensations will start on the inside of the joint. At this point, it's just a stretch and no harm is done. If this continues, the soft tissue in the joints will tear and the arms/legs will come out of their joints. That's major, serious damage. Unless they only slightly separated her joints, resetting them and reattaching torn tendons is not fun. I have personal knowledge of this, as I had reconstructive surgery on my right shoulder after a tendon was torn. I was flat on my back for days, and spent weeks just getting to the point where I could tie my own shoes. I also healed faster than expected, to give you perspective.

    Even if a person had modern medical treatment, it's extremely unlikely they'd ever recover full use of their limbs, if any. That much soft tissue damage is much worse than just breaking a bone. Ligament and tendons will tear that can't heal correctly from such a wound. Well, they can, but every one of the torn tendons would have to be reattached surgically, often requiring screws to be placed into bones to anchor them.

    My advice would be to limit the amount of actual pull the heroine is subjected to prior to the rescue, include some advanced scientific treatments to restore her, or take lots of liberties with the capabilities of the human body.
     
  4. Elgaisma
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    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

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    Total Edit lol Anne Askew is the lady you need to read up on. Found her she didn't walk afterwards (what I get from taking my info from a bodice ripper lol)

    Some people after torture on the rack could walk but obviously not tortured to her extent. This lady certainly was not weak.
     
  5. Ironwil
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    Ironwil Member

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    If they merely separated her joints a little and then let up, I agree. The joints would still function, though with quite a bit of pain. I have a difficult time believing anyone would be able to walk after their hip joints were displaced and the tendons torn, however. When I suffered a torn tendon in my shoulder, the arm was useless for several days. I received the injury while powerlifting, so it's not as if this was due to a low pain threshold.
     
  6. Elgaisma
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    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

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    I edited my post the historical characters to read up on would be Anne Askew and Guy Fawkes. There are others but they are probably two of the more famous. Anne Askew is the only woman to have been totured in the tower and it be recorded.
     
  7. ScatteredDancer
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    ScatteredDancer New Member

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    Can she talk her way out? Does she have anything to bargain with? Some old favor she can leverage?
     
  8. Allegro Van Kiddo
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    Allegro Van Kiddo Contributing Member

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    Link,

    If she had the joints of her arms and legs dislocated she would be in serious pain with out of control swelling for weeks or months if she had tendons torn. They can take longer than a bone break to heal.

    If you want her to function then maybe you should have her brought to the edge of dislocation, which I'm sure would be quite painful. Also, her anxiety thinking what will happen is a greater torture that actually being maimed. For example, if someone teased your eyeball with a red hot knife it would be worse that just sticking it right in because you'd be consumed with too much pain to think.

    Rescue:

    I'm not sure about the setting here. Is she techno advanced and he from a primitive society?

    Anyway, he's a coward I'm sure and so she could use her brain to intimidate him. If she laughs and says she told her crew that if she disappears, then he's the man to find. She could tell him a story that one of her crew is a psycho that would enjoy skinning him then raping him to death, etc. Then, turning the rank to break her would be a big gamble for him.
     
  9. TokyoVigilante
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    TokyoVigilante Member

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    Just came to me; the British Special Forces (The SAS) teach their troops a technique if you're captured and being tortured, to basically turn what is happening to you as a joke to help distract yourself mentally from the pain and to discourage the torturers. The most readily available example would be in Casino Royale, when Bond is getting his private bits beat with a large rope with a knotted end, he keeps screaming for him to "go for the right" then laughs in his perpetrators face "wait until everyone here's you done scratched my balls".
     
  10. Ellipse
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    Ellipse Contributing Member Contributor

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    What kind of machine do you call this?

    It is called:
    .
    .
    .
    *BIG DRAMATIC PAUSE*
    .
    .
    .
    The Rack.

    Yea, just simply the rack. Unless you want to call it the Stretcho 9000 or something. :D

    All I know is that IRL, people used this to torture political prisoners back in Medieval times.

    The Inquisition employed it as well when interrrogating suspected witches. They had a whole lot of nasty little toys to use.

    I realized that I've put her in an obviously nasty position. She's completely immobolized on a board. How in the world is she gonna save herself aside from a Duex Ex Machina?

    This may or may not help you, but a variant method of this type of torture is to let the suspect watch someone else be put on the wrack. A sort of, "This is you next if you don't start answering our questions!" So maybe instead of having to escape the rack itself, she just has to find a way to escape from her cell or while being taken to the rack.

    Edit: For some reason IE didn't load up all the responses when I originally read this so I apologize if some of it is redundant.
     
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  11. The Sealed Knot
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    The Sealed Knot New Member

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    Could she not be saved by an insider whose working for her lot - almost like a double agent who tackles your villain and allows for a dramatic escape only for said double agent to possibly either die or then be a triple agent and later turn on your heroine again - thus introducing a mysterious third party that totally blurs the lines between what is good and evil
     
  12. Mallory
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    Mallory Mallegory. Contributor

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    What if one of her allies from inside the prison is able to mess with the power system and shut off the lights/electricity?

    This way, the person doing the torturing can't see what he/she is doing, so your MC can find some way to get out.

    If she escapes herself, she should get hurt in the process: the whole "walking away unblemished" thing stretches my suspension of disbelief a bit too far. :)

    Ellipse: I read your "Stretcho 9000" comment while browsing WF on my cell phone at work...it made me crack up. Thanks for brightening my morning. :D
     

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