A NEW STORY by Jim Stewart

Glen Aflen on a good day


Physical testing, endurance, resistance to interrogation & torture
(so what else is new!)

The two characters
in this fictional story (Killock and Walsh) are based on the type of men I’ve enjoyed hanging out with all my life: men who take risks; can’t resist a challenge; like to win but are not afraid to lose.
In fact, sometimes they choose to lose just to prove they can deal with the consequences of somebody else getting the upper hand.

Both men were trained by the British army into the ways of fight tactics, killing when necessary and survival in a hostile world - but their training took place twenty-five years apart.


McKILLOCK, is a hard-nosed, dour Scot. After leaving the Black Watch, he made a rule never to be addressed as anything but Killock. If he has a fore-name, in Glen Aflen where he now works as head keeper and estate manager nobody knows it .
On this remote
Highland Estate he is a law unto himself, and prefers to be alone.
He knows all the tricks of the trade - and the locals know enough to steer well clear of him.
When he first arrived, word soon got out not get caught poaching.
Killock’s techniques for dealing with anybody he caught were spoken of in whispers, if spoken of at all. His tricks for dealing with anybody caught, left no marks - except on the nervous system and ego of the person or persons unlucky enough to be on the receiving end. Not that anybody ever admitted having been caught by and ‘dealt with’ by Killock. For certain, nobody ever risked getting caught a second time.

 THE INTERNATIONAL BUSINESSMEN who maintain the strictly private retreat for their exclusive use, also keep a low profile. And Killock is very much their man.
He seldom goes near the Big House, being essentially an outdoors man. He restricts his contact with the indoor staff to a minimum. But, they all know that it’s Killock the owners have a quiet word with if any trouble ever might need sorting out.
It is rumoured that, after his army career, he handled security and personal protection for some of the most powerful businessmen in the world.
It is also common knowledge that in the Black Watch Killock was known as ‘Killer’.

On reaching the age of forty, this resolutely solitary individual had chosen to withdraw to a life in the hills and woodlands ... and now, ten years later, he certainly did not need an ASSISTANT.


However, the powers-that-be who own Glen Aflen, decided otherwise. And even Killock knows them well enough to know that they are not men to be argued with.
When it came to selecting an assistant, there had been plenty of local men who regularly get called in as beaters and to do heavy work. Several of these men have tough sons who know the tricks of the trade when it comes to netting, snaring and trapping game.

Despite the fact that there are few job prospects locally, if Killock was going to get saddled with somebody intruding into his day-to-day life ... it certainly was not going to be “a bloody local yokel!”


 WAL WALSH was a Fife man, so virtually a foreigner as far as the Highlander Killock was concerned. This newly ex-army hard-nut had been having difficulty adjusting to civilian life. His army record didn’t spell out the fact that ex-lance-corporal Walter (Wal never Wally) Walsh’s career had gone nowhere because of his tendency to invite trouble ... but he’d obviously been something of a loose cannon.

The man himself made no attempt to hide the fact that he only applied for the job to escape from some recent unsatisfactory urban experiences.

Of all the applicant short-listed by the owners of Glen Aflen, Walsh had been the only one the reluctant Killock had been prepared to consider. Perhaps this was because the ex-squaddie hard-nut was precisely what Killock himself had been twenty-odd years earlier. So this somewhat edgy character had been given a month’s trial.

The bosses knew the situation might lead to initial conflict, but they needed somebody to learn from Killock. Not just the various skills he brought to managing such a very private estate; they were on the lookout for a younger man able to provide appropriate protection services should the need arise ... skills which had been meat and drink to the more experienced man all his life.

Killock also knew that having this young ‘tiger’ under his feet might lead to trouble ... but Killock had never been able to resist the possibility of a spot of trouble.

Two weeks in, when this story begins, the grim Highlander is no closer to making any concessions.



The story begins
Killock’s mind-set from the start had been to keep the young bugger working. Find out what he’s made of - whether he’s worth spending any time on. So far he’d not complained. Early morning starts and a late patrol of the river on a less than balmy all-nighter had gone off without incident. No problem shinning up a big old tree to lop off a dodgy branch and lower it safely: and ‘the lad’ had put his back into digging out the cess pit behind the old brew-house which had been converted for him to live in. Killock had his own place well away for the main house and the brew-house.
He needed his space.

Walsh had not been squeamish about handling a very angry badger in a snare or wringing the neck of a stoat and skinning it on the spot to nail the carcass to a stump - an old trick to deter burrowing.

This morning, a challenging climb high up the lower slopes of Ben Aflen had given the lad no problem. A load of tools including a 20 pound club hammer and set of stone chisels in his back-pack was accepted without comment. Killock had deliberately pushed the pace as they’d climbed the steep track. The mission was to sort a broken stone wall. First lugging the fallen stones clear and stacking them in preparations for a re-build had been attacked with some relish by the younger man. He’d even expressed interested in the way dry stone walling worked. At least he had a practical mind.


The weather on the east face of Ben Aflen is unpredictable to say the least. A sudden change had taken even Killock by surprise. When the rain came on, Walsh showed no signs of wanting to stop work. He was relatively well dressed for it. The gear he chose to work in had probably been nicked from the army, and was rain proof. Killock had on his usual battered Barbour motorcycle jacket. This he lived and worked in; it was old, comfortable and well waxed - but his over-trousers were in the land-rover a good hike away.

Darker clouds moved in fast and when the heavens opened, getting back down the glen was not a option. Killock knew there was an old stone shack just over the rise. When the two men made a dash for it, Killock set the pace. But the final sprint became something of a race as the younger man galloped ahead once the shack was in sight.

By the time Killock caught him up, the downpour was showing no signs of let-up. Luckily, the old building still had a roof. As the rain hammered down on the slates, the two men knew they were going nowhere for the foreseeable future.


As Killock settled down, sitting on the ground with his back against the rough wall, he opened his beat-up old jacket and comfortably crossed his heavy industrial wellies in front of him.

Walsh, exhilarated by the dash, was immediately restless. Inactivity got to him. Although still well bundled up in his ex-army weather gear, he began to explore the old space. A single room with an earthen floor, it was empty of furniture but had obviously been a dwelling. There was no fireplace as such, and Walsh wondered if he should light a fire in the middle of the floor - but there was no dry wood. There were beams, high beams with hooks in them. As the rain drummed down, the ex-squaddie reached up and tentatively began to do pull-ups on a beam, challenging his muscles.

Killock watched the younger man testing himself, and frowned before warning that he’d work up a sweat inside his waterproof cammo gear.
Walsh shrugged and continued to exercise his muscles, lifting his heavy combat boots high under him to add to the stress before putting more effort into the pull-ups.
“I’ve spent days …” he rasped out between hoisting himself up and then down again, “ … sweating my bollocks off in this gear … crawling through mud and … being deliberately made to lie in water on long recon exercises. They … train you not … to be distracted by … discomfort ... physical stress. It’s all in the training.” He forced out each sentence as he continued to raise and lower his bodyweight.
“You miss the training.” observed the older man.
“Challenge … is what I miss. Get it right or do it again. Do it or else.”
“Or else what?”
“Get punished. Get it right or be forced to do something you really did not want to be doing. Come out on top or suffer the consequences”.
mused the Scotsman. “Suffer how?”
“Five mile runs in full kit ,”
said Walsh, arresting the activity but still hanging from the beam with both feet off the floor. “Sweltering in one of these suits … a forced pace run, perhaps with extra weight in a back-pack.”

Determinedly he raised both feet forward until they were level with his waist, deliberately testing his thigh and stomach muscles.
“How often did you have to do that? - five miles as extra punishment? ” asked his boss.
“Er … often … until they realised that I got a kick out of the situation.”
The ex-squaddie grinned and then clenched his teeth against the strain as he began to haul himself up and down again, legs now braced firmly forward parallel with the ground.
“So - did they invent some punishment you really didn’t like?”
Arresting his efforts mid-pull, Walsh smiled: “They tried! … until they realised I was really challenging them. But nowadays there’s a lot of stuff they’re not allowed to do in the military. So there wasn’t much they could make me do?”
He flashed another self-satisfied smile before getting back to his self-testing; counting his way through a series of increasingly difficult pull-ups. “Five - four --- three ---- two-oo ---- ONE!! ---- and one more just for the hell of it!” finally straining every muscle to complete the extra lift before allowing himself to stop. Then, lowering his feet, he let go of the beam.
His face was running with sweat.
“Take break, laddie,” said the more experienced hard-nut, we’ll have
work te’ do later.

Walsh sprawled down to sit against the wall opposite the dour Scot. His bulky cammo protective gear had a leather waist belt added, to stop the jacket bellying out when he was working. With a grin he wrenched it a couple of notches tighter.
Having done this, he breathed deeply before spreading his legs wide. Bending his upper body forward slowly, he forced himself as an exercise in suppleness until his face almost touched the dirt floor. Then, with renewed effort, he put his hands behind his back and strained his body further down until his face actually touched the floor.

Killock watched as the younger man deliberately wiped his face in the soil, from side to side until both sweating cheeks and his forehead were caked with earth. He then sat back and grinned.
“Pig in shit - happy as … in army parlance. When you were in the Black Watch, Mac,...
“Killock!” interjected the Scot sharply. “Mister Killock to you”, but then he relented, “But Killock will do.”
“When you were in the Black Watch, I guess the training was harsher ... right?”
Killock remained silent, so the other man continued. “A couple of old-hand instructors were always telling us that we had it easy compared with when they were trained. No Human Rights nonsense back then - no Political Correctness - and no female combat troops training alongside the men … to put the breaks on. Am I right?”

Silence, so he continued. “We heard tales of no-holds-barred hand-to-hand stuff - and off the record punishment. Traditional methods for getting naughty boys back toeing the line. Punishments handed out on a strictly don’t-ask-don’t tell basis as far as officers were concerned. And resistance to interrogation and torture exercises really went for the full effect, then - yes?”
The weather-beaten outdoorsman remembered. With no sense of either pride or approval he admitted with an abrupt “Yes”.
“Those were the days - what!” invited the smiling, muddy-faced younger man.
After consideration Killock conceded … “They had their little tricks - their methods that were … effective.”
He fell silent, signalling an end to the conversation. His jeans were damp and, shifting his weight, he bent his legs until the cleated soles of his heavy-duty wellies were flat on the ground. He rubbed his thighs to warm them up.

But Walsh’s mind continued to explore an issue that had always excited his curiosity. Eventually he decided to push for more information.
“Some of the stories from the old lags certainly got us speculating. Extreme stress positions - hold ‘em or get a rifle-butt rammed into your thigh. Stress positions that are no longer allowed. Health and safety regulations. Fucking joke. What’s the use of training people to resist interrogation if the interrogators aren’t allowed to do what happens in the real world?”

The Scot remained silent, because he knew from experience that no amount of training can prepare you for the real thing. Even prior experience of intense pain can not help when the pain goes beyond a certain point. Men will crack.
The mucky-faced younger man sat there radiating enthusiasm and confidence. Was he inviting the more experienced man to wipe the smile off his grinning face?
The rain continued to drum down on the old slate roof.

After another silence Walsh picked up the conversation again. “Were you an instructor, Mr Killock?”.
“No,” was the abrupt reply, and it was a lie - followed by more silence.
“But you did the simulated capture and resistance to interrogation course - old style,” he persisted.
Killock did not reply immediately. He then nodded gravely, his mind deep in the past.
The younger man, in spite of the initial antipathy he'd felt towards this still tough-as-old-boots veteran, he needed to know more. He studied him for a while before risking, “Did you get through it without them breaking you down?”

The Scotsman chose his words carefully. “It’s not a game we’re talking about - win or lose. More a case of staying alive. Staying sane was what they aimed to teach. Any man can be broken, I’m sure they taught you that. Holding back essential information is the most you can hope for. Hold out long enough to make anything you know valueless to an enemy.” He thought more on the topic before continuing. “Any man can be broken - one way or another - and sometimes it’s not possible to put them back together. I’ve seen it happen. Reducing a man to pulp either physically or psychologically is a squalid business. Not a game.”

Unaware of the tension, the younger man insisted, “But, some of the techniques they used - little tricks - they really fascinate me.”
The rain beat down as the dour fifty-year-old framed his response. “Then you’re one sick puppy,” he said with a rueful smile.
“Bet your ass,” shot back the younger man. “Masochist is my middle name,” he grinned.
Killock thought about this. “Then why don’t you walk down to the bottom of the glen where we left the Land Rover and get me my over-trousers. These jeans are damp already and this rain isn’a going to let up. It’ll only take you about half an hour there and back.”
Then, after a pause, he added “Less if you run.”
With that he pointedly took a time-check on his wrist-watch.
“Fuck off!” was Walsh’s reply and that was the end of the conversation.


As the wind lashed rain against the building, the silence deepened. Walsh, restless for something to do, decided to re-adjust the lacing of his tall combat boots. Hauling one ankle onto his opposite knee, despite the bulk of his waterproofs (which he was wearing over thick pants and a sweater), he un-snapped and peeled back the end of his over-trousers leg to get at his boot, and set about pulling the lacing tighter.

With two pairs of thick socks inside, the boot leg could be made more snug. Walsh tugged at the long lace, easing slack up from the bottom eyelets, tightening it gradually until there was considerable extra lace at the top. This he dragged even tighter before knotting it expertly around his calf and tucking away the long ends.

Having completed the first boot and re-snapped the leg of the over-trousers, in the continuing silence (except for the hammering of the rain), the young ex-serviceman hauled up the second boot. His broad leather waist belt made this something of a struggle, but he breathed in to reach for the end of the cammo pants-leg. The well-tied knot high on the boot at first gave him some difficulty, but eventually it came loose. Then, as he began to repeat the processes of tightening, a particularly determined tug caused the lace to break.

“Fuck!” said Walsh and Killock suppressed a smile - which the other acknowledged - before producing from one of his copious pockets - a pair of brand new laces.

 “Part of my training that did stick. Always be prepared,” he smirked as he began to rip out the broken lace from the long boot. He then dragged the boot off so he could thread one of the new laces from the bottom eyelets. As he worked on it with his hand inside the boot, he made a discovery.
“I thought I felt something in there!” he exclaimed good naturedly and produced a small pebble.

“Are you sure you didn’a put it in there deliberately - you being a masochist? ” smiled Killock. After a pause he followed up with, “An old army trick was to drop a couple of small stones into somebody’s boots if they were left by their bed. Then in the morning when everybody was rushing to get their kit on, you were out on the Parade Ground before realising, and it was too late to do anything about it.”

Walsh, as he continued to re-thread the boot, seemed to consider the situation - before picking up the small stone he’d removed and, with a look at his employer, dropped it back into the boot.
Killock accepted the gesture and shrugged. “Whatever turns you on.” After another pause he continued, “Have you ever worn your boots on the wrong feet?”
The younger man stopped threading the lace to look at Killock questioningly. “No - why?”
“Oh,” remembered the Scot pensively, “ … if two or three hairy-assed Drill Instructors took you aside in a small room and instructed you to put your left boot on your right foot and your right on the left … you did not ask ‘Why’. And then they’d have you stamping around the Parade Ground until they’d tell you you could take them off. Did nobody ever suggest that to you as a traditional unofficial punishment in your mob?”

Walsh looked down at the boot in his hand - set it down - and after a little more thought began to unlace his other boot.
Killock watched in silence until both boots were off.
“I wouldn’t advise it,” he warned.
Walsh thought about it as another torrent of rain blasted the building.
“We’re not going anywhere for the next half hour,” he said and began to push his left foot into the right boot.

“Er - I don’t think they’d have let you get away with two pairs of socks,” suggested the more experienced gamesman.
Walsh shrugged and stripped off one layer of sock from each foot.
“But you could lose the pebble. Wouldn’t like to make it too much of a challenge,” said the game keeper with a smirk.
Accepting this provocation, Walsh pushed one foot into the ‘wrong’ boot experimentally.
After feeling around with his toes, he plunged the other foot into the other boot and stood up gingerly. He grimaced. “Fucking hell,” he said and sat down again.

The older man smiled. “Just one of many unofficial tricks of the trainers nobody talked about but everybody knew about. Can really punish your feet, and … ” he stopped mid-sentence because the idiot opposite him had begun to tighten the laces of a boot. He continued to lace it tightly all the way to the top and knot it off before starting on the second boot.
“Half an hour I said - so half an hour it is,” said Walsh as he knotted-off the second lace.

He then gathered up the remains of the old lace. It had broken close to one end, so there was a considerable length of good lace. Picking up the second lace of the new pair, he stood up.
Taking an experimental few steps, ex-lance corporal Walsh suddenly marched smartly for a few paces before coming to a stamping halt, followed by a drill-perfect left-turn followed by an about turn complete with required stamping.

“So you’re a masochist,” smiled the Scot. “Point made. Half an hour - standing, sitting, marching - or fetching my over-trousers?”
Walsh wasn’t too sure. The discomfort of the boots was occupying his mind. “Tell me about some of the other tricks and punishments.”
The old campaigner looked unwilling, so Walsh continued. “Go on - to take my mind of these,” he said walking the length of the floor and turning. “In the Guard Room? We heard about deliberately uncomfortable ways with these new rigid-centred handcuffs. What sort of equipment did they have in your day?”
“Oh,” considered the older man, “they didn’a need equipment. A couple of rifle-slings, a webbing belt.” He then remembered, “A couple of rain ponchos could be used to make somebody seriously uncomfortable for a couple of quiet night hours in detention. Always punishment that left no marks. Same in the gym - a strictly unofficial after hours training session - with some athletics tape to make sure you didn’t let go of the weights bar - or even a string around your bollocks so you couldn’t lower the weights without ripping your balls off.”

“Fuck!” breathed the ex-squaddie as the older man warmed to the subject. “The type of person who opted for Military Police or P.T. instructors, inevitably had certain character traits. On night watch at a Guard post or out-of-hours at the gym, some of those kink-heads would mess around together, perfecting techniques … even trying them out on one another just for the hell of it. Then get their rocks off subjecting some poor sod to all sorts of quirky little ‘tricks’.
Walsh’s eyes glowed. “Such as?” he asked returning to stand in front of the old hand who still sat on the floor. #

Experiences from the past seemed to be reawakening. The out-doorsman, the ex-hard-nut, the game-keeper who had missed playing challenging games reached a decision. He spread his industrial wellies wide and flexed his still-brawny shoulders inside his waxy jacket to give him freedom of movement. Reaching forward, he took the laces that the ex-squaddie still held in his hands. “Kneel down,” he said.

Ready for instruction, Walsh knelt between the seated man’s rubber boots.
With a neat twist of his wrist the centre of the long new bootlace had turned into a pair of running loops.
“Give me your thumbs,” he said - and ex-lance corporal Walsh willingly presented them.
Slipping the two loops over the thumbs, the lace drew tight. A deft second knot immediately prevented the loops loosening again.
Walsh studied the knot and attempted to release his thumbs. The lace held firm.
“Neat!” be breathed admiringly.
“No need for a lot of equipment in the right situation.”

A more determined attempt to free the captive thumbs failed. “That simple. Bloody brilliant,” he beamed. “Show me how … ”
“Try putting your hands behind your neck,” cut in Killock.
“Why,” said Walsh, but he immediately lifted his arms, bulky with rain jacket, and then with difficulty settled the tied thumbs behind his neck.
“Why?” repeated the Scot questioningly. “Why? Because I told you to and you’re already in no position to argue.”
With that, the seated man reached forward and took hold of the two long ends of the lace, separating them on either side of Walsh’s neck, a double knot had been tied in front of his throat before Walsh knew what was happening.

The super-fit ex-squaddie experimented to find a way to release his hands but he was inescapably trapped, arms bent around either side of his head.
As Killock got to his feet he warned, “You won’t strangle yourself unless you struggle.”
Walking behind the kneeling man, he stooped and tied what remained of the broken lace around the leather booted ankles.
“What the … ” began Walsh and he attempted to stand up. The lace was enough to hold the heavy boots together in that position.
Satisfied, Killock stood back and allowed the struggling man to explore every possibility. The tied thumbs were going nowhere; he was unable to get up off his knees however hard he tried. Eventually he gave up his attempts.

“Fuck me, … ” he exclaimed.
A hand suddenly clamped onto the cammo shoulder and a voice close behind his ear whispered menacingly, “If I wanted to I could! See - a couple of lengths of bootlace and I’m in a position to do anything I want to you. Anything.”

Walking around his captive, ex-sergeant instructor Killock moved dangerously close in front of the keeling man. Opening his waxed motorcycle jacket, the waist belt and front of his jeans moved closer to his prisoner’s still muddied face. Two brawny arms reached under the kneeling man’s bent arms and lifted him to his feet.

Walsh stood unsteadily, his head flanked by his bent arms, as he tested the limited movement between his boots. If he tried to kick out - would the lace break or would he fall heavily?
The shift of weight reminded him of the discomfort of the wrong-footed boots.
The weather-beaten Scott smiled into his face as he reached into the pocket of his own jacket. From the well-worn waxy patch pocket he produced a short length of light cord.
“You’re not the only one who was trained to always be prepared.”
Fingering the thin but strong cord, the game-keeper speculated.
“I could tie your elbows together … ”

To demonstrate, he forced the tightly bent elbows together until they almost touched in front of his prisoner’s face “Or I could use this to gag you.” Suddenly, the cord was across Walsh’s mouth and had been crossed behind his head and was being pulled tight. The cord bit uncomfortably between Walsh’s lips, deep into his mouth. He tried to back away but the older man had complete control of the lace, and the tied boots prevented any retaliation … but the cord was suddenly released and Killock stood away smiling.

Walsh was off-balance both physically and mentally. He was breathing heavily and a mixture of resentment and relief flashed across his mucky face. The man who he’d previously viewed as something of a has-been - stood before him with an amused smile on his rugged outdoorsman’s face. Reassured, Walsh forced a smile in return.

“Of course,” said the totally in control Scot, “I could use this wee piece of string to tie off your wrists to yon beam and force you to stand there for well past the half hour - so’s you’d really know how devilish a punishment wearing boots on the wrong feet can be.
What do ye say to that, ex-lance corporal Walsh? Walsh.W. What does the W stand for? William? Walter? Wally?
he asked provocatively but without inviting any reply. In fact, taking his time, he was moving behind the man so that he could lift the captive wrists, holding them high enough for the lace around his throat to add a dangerous dimension to the situation.
But before Walsh had time to react, his wrists were relaxed and game-keeper, game-player Killock had reappeared in front of him.

Still smiling amiably, the older man flexed the cord he still held between his hands. “Or, of course, I could tie this around your bollocks. There's nothing you could do to stop me. Then perhaps walk you around this floor for the next half hour - just to keep your mind focussed.”

The completely immobilised man had no option but to just stand there. He was painfully aware that there was absolutely nothing he could do - and he could think of nothing to say. It was a new experience for him - and the old hand at such games was well aware that he held all the cards.

Pocketing the cord he reached towards Walsh’s throat. The captive’s immediate impulse was to back away.
“Stand still!” barked Killock - and the younger man stood still while the knot in front of his throat was undone.
Uncertainly, Walsh tried to read his boss’s face before tentatively lifting his arms and with relief bringing his tied thumbs over his head and to the front. “Fucking brilliant!” he breathed. “Bloody amazing!” he continued as he again inspected the simple knot and tested it’s continued efficiency.

The tough young ex-squaddie beamed as Killock enjoyed the moment. “You see, laddie, simplicity .. and there’s more than one way to skin a rabbit”

With that, the experienced demonstrator of useful techniques gently took hold of the long double lace that hung from the still tied-together thumbs.
In a smooth move, the lace urged the captive hands downwards. This Walsh allowed.
But then, through the younger man’s legs from behind, a hand grasped the lace, and it was already too late to resist.
Pulled tight from behind him, Walsh found his thumbs now stretched further downwards … and he discovered that it was impossible to bring them back up. The ends of the lace were already being tied to the back of the sturdy leather belt which cinched in the waist of the cammo rain jacket. Walsh was amazed to find that he was again totally immobilised.

“Jesus H. Christ” he laughed. “That’s fantastic!” he enthused as he tugged at the cord which ran through his crotch. The thick rain-suit grated and squeaked as the cord ground into his ass-crack and his hands wrestled around his groin. “Bloody brilliant!. What a fucking turn-on! Great party trick.”

“Right!” agreed the older man. “We’re talking games now - not torture. Not brutality. Not damage. Games. Skills. Skill that you don’t get without practice. Imagination. Creativity. Competition. With rules like in any competitive game-playing. But, of course, depending on the players - things can get as challenging as you like,” he explained while moving behind the still beaming ex-army tough-nut. “As rough as you like. Unarmed combat takes on a different meaning when your hands are tied. I’m betting you enjoyed the rough and tumble of Controlled Aggression exercises when you were in the … .”

With sudden violence, the ex-Black Watch veteran Killer McKillock landed one of his boots behind the unsuspecting knees of ex-lance corporal Walsh. The captive man would have pitched forward if the experienced instructor hadn’t been ready to grab him under the armpits, before lowering him into a kneeling position.

Disconcerted, Walsh tried to look round. “What the fuck … ” … but the elbow of Killock’s greasy waxed jacket was around Walsh’s neck and another hand clamped this into a secure head-lock, forcing his chin up painfully . A voice hissed into his ear, “So you think you’re a masochist, do you? Like a bit of pain,.” he confirmed.
A strangled cry was all that could escape as more pressure was added. Tied thumbs jerked uselessly around an increasingly agitated crotch.

“They taught you all about head-locks and pressure points. So you know I could break you neck - or just put you to sleep - and before you wake up have you strung up very very painfully. But, if you’ve speculated on how we did it in the old days - do you really want to know how long it would take for me to have you begging or blubbering? Do you want to find out? Is that the sort of game you think you want to play? Is it!? Is it!!?”

It was a question, but there was no possible way the ex-squaddie could answer: impossible for him to either nod, shake his head or give any signal. Having established this, the calm voice continued. “They taught you about pressure points, did they? Showed you diagrams?”

Walsh, his neck still clamped by one greasy arm, felt fingers work their way under the back of his jacket collar. A single finger settled onto what he’d been taught was one of the ‘sleeper’ nerve points. A finger that felt like a rod of steel applied slight pressure and Walsh’s head immediately began to spin.
“Did they let you try it - or feel what it felt like? Probably not,” The voice behind him continued. “Health and safety. A man can die in seconds - silently without a struggle. I’ve done it. I know”

The kneeling man, fit as he was, desperately tried to struggle against the clamping arm. His boots grated on the earth floor but were useless. No amount of bodyweight could help him escape from the lethal finger. There was a roaring in his ears before he realised that the pressure had already been released … but the finger was moving to locate a different point. This again he remembered - from a lecture and a wall chart. The finger settled onto the exact spot - and his head was dragged slightly higher by the clamping arm in preparation, and there was nothing he could do to stop whatever might happen next.

The voice sounded as threatening as the finger felt threatening.
“If you want to know how tough you really are - I can think up several ways to find out. Nasty ways.” As the finger’s pressure increased Walsh began to panic - but he was suddenly thrown forward from his kneeling position, so he fell face down.

His tied together boots were grabbed to bend his legs - a weighty knee was on his back as another hand grabbed at the collar of his jacket. He was inescapably held in a painful, potentially back-breaking position. His head was reeling because his neck was being jerked backwards in a series of short, sharp tugs to demonstrate a possible lethal outcome.

The victim let out an involuntary cry with each jerk of his head - more from frustration that he couldn’t fight back rather than the pain - but there was plenty of that.

Then before he knew what was happening he’d been rolled over onto his back and his legs were straight - and a knee had landed between his thighs - and his opponent had him pinned to the ground with only one knee: no need to use his hands.

The older man glowered down at him. There was no smile.
“So am I right? You think it might be fun to know a few of the good old-fashioned tricks of the trade do you, laddie? Well, if you want to know how to do them, you’ll first need to learn how they feel so you can do them safely. No way am I going to trust you to practice on me until you’ve had plenty of time to find out what they feel like.”

Without warning, two well aimed thumbs plunged between muscles low on each thigh produced an uncontrollable howl of pain as Walsh’s captive hands jerked convulsively around his groin.
“Pain,” he heard the Scot drawl as if from a distance, “can be sudden and sharp ... or slow and … “
Fingers and thumbs clamped themselves to pinch flesh below both of Walsh’s ears and then twisted with slow deliberation - and he could not hear how loud he was yelling because of the roaring in his ears.

This demonstration of what slow-and-painful really could feel like left the younger man gasping for breath when the fingers released their grip.

A single knee continued to hold the victim down, leaving both Sergeant Killock’s hands free to select their next target. Slowly and deliberately they reached for points on Walsh’s captive hands. At first the pressure only made him wince and grit his teeth. But as the fingers imposed themselves on nerves in his wrists he let out a strangled cry and said “Alright! Alright!.” But the pressure was not released immediately, not until the victim managed to gasp out ... “Please!”

Without allowing his ‘target’ any more movement, Killock relaxed back a little. "OK. Let’s establish a few rules for this sort of game. If you really want to know how some of this stuff works - and achieve it even against determined resistance - no amount of pleading is going to make me stop once you’ve given me the go-ahead to show you. Right? That’s something you’re going to have to agree to in advance. I will know better than you when enough is enough. I know you like to push yourself - and it sounds like being pushed brings out the best in you - or the worst”.

Walsh was too preoccupied trying regain his composure from several stinging nerve-ends in his neck, wrists and thighs to really take in what the man still pinning him down was saying.

“If you’re up for it, it can be a gradual learning curve. This old place could be an ideal … training ground … playground … battleground if you like. It’s certainly a place where nobody will hear you yelling - and I can show you a few different ways to make a man yell.
Then, up in the forest - I can show you some seriously uncomfortable tricks - things that might amuse you, knowing your sense of humour. You were asking about stress positions. I can show you stress positions that will turn your legs to jelly and get every muscle in your body shaking uncontrollably in next to no time - and if you’re tied into it - you can be tottering on the edge of unconsciousness but not be allowed to lose consciousness to escape the pain. That’s the trick - to keep somebody on the edge - the edge of losing it - of losing consciousness - on the edge of begging - before they will agree to anything to make it stop - and I mean anything. Anything. Sound extreme?”

If the menacing Scot was asking for an answer, he didn’t get one. His ‘subject’ was dealing with the delayed aftershock of various assaults on his nervous system.

“Laddie, I can show you things you might get off on imagining trying on somebody else. But the only way will be for you to first learn for yourself just how effective they are. And, like you said, there are some seriously un-politically correct ways when it comes to breaking down even the most determined resistance. If you fancy your chances trying to hold out, I’ll welcome the challenge - and you’ll learn something when I show you what I can do to break down resistance.”

Walsh was still trying to get his breathing back to normal, and to suppress involuntary shivering that had set in. For a moment he closed his eyes - but a hand grabbed his chin in a vice-like grip and a firm voice insisted “Look at me when I’m talking to you.”

When Walsh opened his eyes, there was no anger in the weather-beaten face that glowered down at him. Killock’s hand continued to grip the jaw of the younger man for a long moment before it was released gradually. He then sat back before continuing his calm reasoning.

“Look on it as an opportunity - you take or you don’t. You’ve been restless as a ferret since you got here. You asked for information. You said you wanted a challenge. You said you’d like to learn certain skills - right?”

The subject of this demonstration squirmed uncomfortably as he lay on his back with his hands forced downwards. His tied thumbs were getting numb. He tugged against the lace through his crotch, but there was no give. The solidly built Scot, sitting heavily on his captive’s lower legs, gave him time to explore the limitations before insisting quietly …
“I asked you a question. I either let you up and we forget the whole thing - or we discuss the possibilities further here and now. Yes - or no?” .

After a pause, Walsh nodded briefly without saying anything.
“Good man. Are your thumbs getting numb?” Again the question received a nod.
“You think you’re uncomfortable?” continued the quiet questioning - and Walsh looked suspiciously into his oppressor’s eyes before nodding tentatively.
“Do you want to know what uncomfortable really feels like?” was the next question.
At this, the victim ’s eyes narrowed slightly and there was just the hint of defiance as Walsh neither nodded or shook his head.

Slowly the experienced player of challenging games reached between the arms so tautly stretched down the front of Walsh’s body, and found the buckle of his leather belt. This Killock released, before bringing the ends of it up on either side of the trapped arms. Re-buckling the belt loosely, he explained gently, ”When I ask you a question and you refuse to answer - in my book that allows me to chose yes or no.” With that he jerked the belt as tight as it would go, strapping the trapped arms tight against Walsh’s body.

The younger man determinedly refused to acknowledge the extra discomfort as he lay there, but the air had been forced out of his lungs and his shallow breathing was painful in itself.

After regarding his captive for a while Sergeant Instructor Killock returned to the conversation in a relaxed tone.
“So, you agreed to at least explore the possibilities of trying some of this stuff a bit further?” and then added challengingly, “Yes or no?”
And the instructee, after a pause, grimly nodded an affirmative.

“The sort of things you said you wanted to know more about? Interrogation techniques?
Tell me - in the barracks - messing about with your mates, did you ever experiment among yourselves? Jump somebody with a couple of rolls of duct tape before giving them a rough time?”
Walsh frowned and then shook his head, but remained silent.
“What never?” insisted Killock - and the question received a tentative noncommittal shrug.
“Ah ha! What about speculating on things you’d been told were now prohibited, like water-torture? Hand-cranked generator and a couple of electro-clips:? In my day both were part of the official vocabulary of interrogation training. Nowadays, as you said - total no-no …. But, unofficially? Did any of the blokes ever try it?”
Again the ex-squaddie silently shook his head.
“Not even tie some poor bugger down, put a dry towel over his face and then gradually drip water on it to see him squirm?”
More emphatically Walsh shook his head in a negative.
“What is the modern army coming to!” mused Killer Killock “So, is that perhaps something you might like to find out how you would deal with? Is it?”

This was a blunt question - but despite his increasing discomfort, the target in this exercise remained determinedly still, fully aware that a refusal to answer was handing over responsibility for whatever happened next.
“Good,” said the questioner, “that’s one for the agenda.” If this was intended to provoke a response, Walsh had obviously decided to tough it out, so Killock suggested tentatively: “I even know where there’s an old hand-cranked telephone if you fancy your chances.”

An impassive stillness was Walsh’s reply.
This was obviously becoming a battle of wills.
“How good were you on Escape and Evasion exercises? I can show you a few tricks there. Among my traps and snares there’s a man-size capture net. Ever seen one? - been in one? No?”
Still no response.
“Suspended from a branch in one of those, every muscle in your body is gradually crushed. Cramp inevitably sets in and there’s fuck all you can do to relieve it as your own bodyweight slowly drags you lower. If you really want to soften somebody up, a night left alone to suffer in one of those is something you never forget. Ask a couple of the local yokels here. When I first arrived they thought it was great sport to try and outwit the new Keeper. A night in a Capture Net followed by a gentle talking to was all it took. Oh, except on one occasion. A local hard-nut just couldn’t resist the challenge of a second shot. So I really put the frighteners on him by introducing him to another little trick I’d practiced more than once.
If you’ve never been buried up-to-you-neck, there’s a lot to learn about getting the pit just right, and how to get a reluctant captive into it and filled in just to the right level under his chin. I could show you how that works if you like”?

This was another invitation to respond, but Walsh was by now determined to not give an inch ... but he was breathing more heavily. The Instructor continued, knowing that the information was making an impact; “It takes practice to get something like that spot on. After you’ve filled in; getting the ground level preferably tight up under the chin, but leaving no dip in case it rains when he’s left alone all night. Not too low not too high. Certainly no mound up around his shoulders. That might push away when he gets desperate - and believe me, they do get desperate. I know from experience. You see, I’ve not only done it more than once - I’ve had it done to me. Best way to learn - and I had some very experienced teachers."

But then he suddenly changed tack. “We can take stock and discuss different possibilities in a more relaxed situation, if you like. Take our time planning - as we go about our day-to-day business. But, before your arms go completely numb and your thumbs drop off, there is one thing we need to settle here and now. If you agree to let me teach you a few ‘Tricks of he trade’ - how things work - how they’re done - and you want to test yourself by seeing how much you can take … “Killock suddenly back-tracked and asked “ … that is a big part of it, isn’t it? Showing how much you can take. ” - and Walsh willingly nodded agreement to this specific point.

“Right! You want to retain the right to put up as much resistance as I let you get away with? Right?”
To this a determinedly silent nod agreed more definitely.
“Good! You’re up for challenge and so am I - so - let’s get this absolutely clear. Once you give me the go-ahead, your aim will be to refuse to give the answers I want to hear and not agree to what I have decided to make you agree to … ”
A further emphatic nod of agreement went unregistered, because the tough Scot had not finished his sentence.
“ … and in the process of me showing you a whole catalogue of persuasive little tricks - my objective will be to bring you to a state when you will be willing to agree to anything.”
He didn’t allow time for any reaction to this statement before continuing, “I know! At this moment you can’t imagine that situation. Well, that will be part of the learning process for you. Whatever it takes - if you agree to go ahead with this - game. Whatever it takes ... I will do. No lasting damage but otherwise no holds barred. Right? A comprehensive, very practical demonstration of different ways to bring somebody to a point when they will agree to - anything.”

 Killock left time for the man underneath him to give some response, but now Walsh’s jaw remained determinedly firm. Flat on his back, his neck and wrist muscles still throbbing; the crushing tightness of the belt across his stretched arms; the weight of the solidly built Scot pinning his lower legs - even the discomfort of the boots on the wrong feet all contributed to the younger man’s determination not to give an inch at this stage of the game. Because in his mind, Walsh did know that this was a game - the sort of game he relished. His eyes held those of the man looking down at him - and they gave away nothing. Killock received the message and nodded, perhaps approvingly.

“Just one more thing before I let you up - I think the rain’s stopped,” (he suddenly interrupted himself to remark), “The longer you hold out, the higher the price you will have to pay for release. OK? When you reach the point when you agree that you’ve had enough - whatever I’ve been insisting you agree to - I will make you do. And the longer it takes me to force that agreement out of you, the less you will like the price to be paid … and,” he ended with a sort of smile, “ … it will not be any five mile run! The blokes in charge of trying to find punishments you really really wouldn’t like when you were in the Mob, had to play within the rules - I was trained to not play by anybody’s rules.”

Abruptly he changed the tone and said brightly, “So, are you ready for me to let you up so we can get back to work?”
Slightly fazed by this sudden change of mood, Walsh gave a curt nod - and Killock deftly released the buckle of the leather belt and stood up.
Arms screamed with the surge of blood which had been restricted for so long. They pulled on numb hands which, because the belt had been released, found that they, too, had been freed. But when Walsh bent his arms, new pain coursed through them. He tried to sit up, but his boots were still tied together, as were his thumbs.

Killock knelt to the tied-together boots and cut the lace with the pocket knife he always carried.
He looked up, knife still in hand, and met the younger man’s gaze.

Walsh offered the tied thumbs, and the Scot - mischievously acknowledged the knife in his hand before asking, “Do you trust me?”
Narrowing his eyes, Walsh said “I’m going to bloody have to, aren’t I,” before flashing a rugged grin. His employer and seemingly new friend took hold of the sleeves of Walsh’s jacket and helped him to his feet.

While finding his balance, the discomfort of the boots immediately imposed itself. The whole of the younger man’s body ached. He flexed his neck and breathed a general acknowledgement of his battered condition, but smiled a rueful smile as Killock looked up from attempting to untie the lace which still tied the thumbs.
“So, do we have a game plan?” he asked.
Walsh considered the situation before saying: “A few of the old tricks? … like how to tie this sneaky knot. And other old, old tricks ... like in the old days.”
The ironic tone of this made the older man look up as the thumb-knot was released.

Walsh withdrew his hands to massage his aching thumbs, before saying provocatively … “If you think you’re up to it - old man.”


Jim Stewart - July 2010


The characters and many details in this story came from conversations with various ex-army hard-nuts.
In particular, with friends of ex-British navy hard-nut and his mates,
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