The Painted Bird by Jerzy Kosinski, 1965, Excerpts
A band of mounted men rode up to the village. There were a hundred of them, perhaps more. They seemed to be one with their horses; they rode with marvelous ease, without any set order. The peasants instantly recognized them. They screamed in terror that the Kalmuks were coming and the women and children must hide before they could be seized. The Kalmuks rode at full gallop, bent over their horses, using their spurs and uttering hoarse cries. Wild confusion seized the village. It was too late for flight. The riders pulled up their horses between the houses. They jumped off their horses and tied them up to fences.
The Kalmuks were now dragging a half-naked woman out of a house. She struggled and screamed, trying in vain to catch her tormentors by the legs. A group of women and girls was being rounded up with horsewhips by some laughing riders. The fathers, husbands and brothers of the women ran about begging for mercy, but were chased away with horsewhips and sabers. A farmer ran through the main street with his hand cut off. Blood was spurting from the stump while he kept looking for his family.
Nearby the soldiers had forced a woman to the ground. One soldier held her by the throat while the others pulled her legs apart. One of them mounted her moved on top of her to shouts of encouragement. The woman struggled and cried. When the first was done the others assaulted her in turn. The woman soon grew limp and did not fight back anymore.
Still another woman was brought out. She screamed and begged, but the Kalmuts stripped her and threw her to the ground. Two men raped her at once, one in the mouth. When she tried to twist her head aside or close her mouth she was lashed with a bullwhip. Finally she weakened and submitted passively. Some of the soldiers were raping from the front and from the back two young girls, passing them from one man to the next, forcing them to perform strange movements. When the girls resisted, they were flogged and kicked.
The screams of raped women were heard in all the houses. One girl somehow managed to escape and ran out half naked, with blood streaming down her thighs, howling like a whipped dog. Two half-naked soldiers ran after her, laughing. They chased her around the square amidst the laughter and jokes of their comrades. Finally they caught up with her. Weeping children looked on.
New victims were being caught all the time. The drunken Kalmuks became more and more aroused. A few of them copulated with each other, then competed in raping women in odd ways: two or three men to one girl, several men in rapid succession. The younger and more desirable girls were nearly torn apart, and some quarrels broke out among the soldiers. The women sobbed and prayed.
A soldier threw a knife at one of the girls who was trying to crawl away. She was left bleeding in the dirt; no one paid any attention to her. Drunken Kalmuks handed women splattered with blood from one to another, beating them, forcing them to perform odd acts. One of them rushed into a house and brought out a small girl of about five. He lifted her high so that his comrades could see her well. He tore off the child’s dress. He kicked her in the belly while her mother crawled in the dust begging for mercy. He slowly unbuttoned and took down his trousers, while still holding the little girl above his waist with one hand. Then he crouched and pierced the screaming child with a sudden thrust. When the girl grew limp, he threw her away into the bushes and turned to the mother.
In the doorway of a house some half-naked soldiers were fighting a powerfully built peasant. He stood on the threshold swinging an ax in wild fury. When the soldiers finally overcame him, they dragged a fear-numbed woman out of the house by her hair. Three soldiers sat on the husband, while the others tortured and raped his wife.
Then they dragged out two of the man’s youthful daughters. Seizing a moment when the Kalmuk’s grip him loosened, the peasant jumped up and dealt a sudden blow to the nearest one. The soldier fell down, his skull crushed like a swallow’s egg. Blood and white pieces of brains resembling the meat of a cracked nut spilled through his hair. The enraged soldiers surrounded the peasant, overpowered him, and raped him. Then they castrated him in front of his wife and daughters. The frantic woman rushed to his defense, biting and scratching. Roaring with delight, the Kalmuks held her fast, forced her mouth open, and pushed the bloody scraps of flesh down her throat.