Once the home of Tomás de Torquemada, the first grand inquisitor, it’s rumored his ghost still haunts this villa. Those who stay overnight sometimes claim to hear haunting whispers in the dark, and over the centuries, many female guests have mysteriously vanished. Legend has it that somewhere within the villa exists a hidden Inquisition torture chamber where, for a fee, inconvenient wives and mistresses of wealthy court nobles met their torturous deaths.

Staying at the villa, Julia decided on a late-night swim in the villa’s pool, and while coming down the stairs, she suddenly heard those fabled whispers. Stopping in the hallway, Julia realized they seemed to be coming from the doorway that led into the villa’s library.

Following the sounds, I entered the library, where they appeared to come from behind one of the room’s ornate bookcases. Approaching closer, I heard chant-like whispers from behind the shelves. I also noticed something odd about the bookcases lining the library’s back wall. While they were all decorated with ornate carvings, the bookcase before me also had a silver cross set into the carvings above its top shelf. Intrigued, I reached up and pressed my fingertips against the cross. Much to my surprise, I heard a faint metallic click, and the bookcase slowly swung outward from the wall revealing a dark hidden passageway.

Leaving the passageway open, I walked over to the library’s desk to search for a flashlight but had to settle for a small box of matches I’d found in one of the drawers and the silver candelabra with three candles that sat on the desk. Lighting the candles, I entered the hidden passageway and descended its stone steps, the click of my high heels echoing off the ancient stone walls as the secret entrance silently closed behind me.

Reaching the bottom of the stairs, the flickering light of the candles revealed a terrifying chamber of horrors, not instruments of interrogation but brutal instruments of torturous death. In that timeless moment, staring at the horrors surrounding me, I suddenly felt his presence and knew I wasn’t alone.

Then I heard him, Torquemada’s voice, filling my mind.

“Julia, as the grand inquisitor of the Spanish Inquisition, I judge you guilty of promiscuous behavior and subject you to the Inquisition’s punishment. God have mercy on your soul because the Inquisition has none to offer.”

I tried to run but discovered that I was frozen in place, unable to move.

“It’s time, Julia, to choose your fate. Of all the forms of horrifyingly torturous death available within this chamber, which one terrifies you the most?”

Torquemada was reading my mind. I knew I couldn’t hide the truth even if I desperately desired to.

“An unspeakably gruesome but appropriate choice. The Iron Maiden is a horrifically brutal punishment created especially for women guilty of adultery or unrepentant promiscuous behavior.”

Unable to stop myself, I set the candelabra on a nearby table and brought my hands together behind my back, a strap suddenly appearing around my wrists, pinning them tightly together. A second strap followed the first, appearing around my elbows, painfully tightening until my elbows came together behind my back.

Turning, I found myself walking through the chamber, passing all those horrifying instruments of death as I headed toward that Iron Maiden waiting at the end of the aisle. As I approached, the Maiden’s door slowly swung open, revealing its claustrophobic hour-glass shaped interior and the terrifying rows of sharp-looking spikes that lined the slowly opening door’s interior.

Reaching the Iron Maiden, I paused, Torquemada’s voice once again filling my mind.

“You’ll find that death in the Iron Maiden is never quick or easy. Death only comes after hours of brutally agonizing, unrelenting torment. Most women last at least two days, with some surviving for almost three before they finally finish bleeding to death.

Avoiding the basin carved into the front of the Iron Maiden’s stone pedestal, which I realized, to my horror, would soon fill with my blood, I stepped up onto the pedestal and backed into the Maiden’s tightfitting claustrophobic interior. Moments later, additional straps appeared, pinning me tightly into place.

Suddenly I felt Torquemada’s domination fade as I regained control over my body. Of course, already tightly restrained within the Iron Maiden, the only part of my body I could move was my head, and even then, only about half an inch to either side. Staring at those two spikes diabolically positioned level with my eyes, I realized even that slight amount of movement wouldn’t prevent those spikes from cruelly piercing my eyes as the Maiden’s door closed.

“Julia. I, Torquemada, the Inquisition’s grand inquisitor, for willfully embracing your lustful carnal desires with hundreds of lovers, both men and women, sentence you to die for your unrepentant promiscuous behavior.”

As the Ion Maiden’s door slowly closed, I stared in horror as those deadly spikes moved steadily closer.

Torquemada’s laughter filled Julia’s mind as her desperate, high-pitched screams echoed off the torture chamber’s ancient stone walls. The Iron Maiden’s spikes pierced her eyes and body just moments before its door finally locked closed.

With the muffled sounds of Julia’s screams delightfully emanating from within the locked confines of the Iron Maiden, Torquemada’s ghost performed his final duty before returning to his sleep, awaiting the next woman foolish enough to enter his domain. In an ancient ledger, a new entry appeared in the flickering candlelight.

Julia Ann Marshall, for crimes of unrepentant promiscuous behavior, death in the Iron Maiden, 6 April 2023...