“Get going!” The soldier shouted. The woman was trying but could barely move her feet. Suddenly, the stock of a rifle jammed into her back. She became wobbly, trying to maintain her stance. Hearing a thud, she didn’t realize it was her until she found herself facedown on the ground. Although the pain was excruciating, the woman could not discern whether or not it was pain or weakness that caused her to fall. During ordinary times, her stamina was superior, and such an action would have fueled her defiance, showing comrades her excellence. Not only was that display of strength steadily extinguished, soon she would exist no more.

“Get up, you traitor!” The woman tried grasping the dirt but could not push herself up. Her wrists never healed from the break inflicted by holding the forty-pound weight behind her back. Her hands were obsolete, dangling like marionettes on a string. She attempted to use her elbows to lift herself but was unsuccessful. The soldier laughed sardonically. “Alright, if that is the way it’s going to work.” The woman closed her eyes, imagining the ominous nonverbal communication to an underling. Immediately, she felt someone’s tentacles around her damaged upper limbs. More agony ensued, and silent screams came forth without voice. No, the last cruel and unspeakable act, the worst, ironically prevented her from emitting any sounds.

With her eyes remaining closed, the woman started to breathe slowly, using an ancient, now banned, meditative practice secretly taught to her by a friend in prison. This courageous soul quietly shared her expertise passed down through the generations helping as many enduring persecutions. Eventually, her friend’s dangerous escapade was detected. Consequently, she was tortured and ultimately executed.

Taking deep breaths now, the woman thought momentarily about her husband and children. Because of her actions as an elite member, they lost their comfortable way of life. Tears welled up. There was no choice about the divorce. The woman understood that if her husband did not comply, their family would suffer the consequences. She knew that someday her husband would tell the children the truth.

As she continued to breathe, trying to empty her mind, the woman thought about the cause of this travesty. She could not comprehend the events that unfolded because she disagreed with a few policies. They could not have found a more loyal and dedicated student to the party. The woman had been staunch in her belief that this was the most extraordinary way of life for her countrymen. What was the problem of not accepting everything preached? Sighing to herself, she wondered about the prevention of this misery if she had conceded, but then she thought to herself, “I would not be me.” She would go down dying rather than being a charlatan.

As she tried to focus her attention on inhalations, torturous flashbacks came into her mind. The first was her forced open mouth with wire, resulting in a broken jaw. Next was the tearing of her hair out of its roots. The woman began hyperventilating.

More slow breathes, “Inhale slowly, exhale,” she reminded herself. Thankfully, she could imagine a protective shell, knowing if she did not, some of the worst memories would come forth. Instantaneously, her mind began to wander. Hellish thoughts of brutality and permanent injury to her nether parts tried to penetrate the shell. With keen concentration, she could halt her mind from continuing the journey down that unbearable path. “Stop!” She scrunched up her face, trying to block out as much as possible. “Imagine that lovely protective encasement.” Again, she focused attention on shifting the thoughts, decorating her lovely interior with dazzling rubies. The woman almost smiled.

The dragging began to slow, soon stopping altogether. Strong hands gruffly lifted the woman’s broken body to an upright position, leaning her against the wall. Through blurry vision, the woman saw some form of soldiers. She could now feel the pasty dirt on her face, knowing matted clumps of her once-upon-a-time crowning glory made her look like an alien. She then reflected, “What does it matter?”

A soldier yanked back the woman’s head and placed a blindfold around her face. She could hear the order as the soldiers prepared their rifles. The woman knew that a flag would be lowered, giving the signal to the firing squad. As she heard the release of the powerful weapons, her body braced, but her mind suddenly manifested a powerful visual of her children and husband. Before the bullets pierced her body, the woman’s last thought was, “Maybe, the party is wrong, and I will see my beloveds again.”

Author’s Note: Zhang Zhixin was an avowed communist and an elite member of the CCP. She had questioned some of Mao’s policies, creating an uproar. She was imprisoned in 1968 and endured the most horrific maltreatment for the next several years. In addition to having her mouth wired open, ripping her hair from her head, tolerating multiple rapes, Zhang underwent another atrocity, the cutting of her trachea before execution in 1976. Her death was towards the end of the Cultural Revolution, a few months before Mao Zedong died.

I used my instrument of hope, imagining that before her death, Zhang Zhixin considered the possibility there was heaven beyond the hell on earth she experienced.

It is most frightening to learn that this type of torture occurs during modern times, but sadly, it does. For those who want to “fundamentally transform America,” again, watch out! Don’t ask for what you might not want later, and do not think what happened to Zhang Zhixin could not occur on American soil. Communists end up eating their own, often ardent supporters of the regime imposed on the general populace. I am sure a similar message of transformation was conveyed by Lenin (later reinforced by Stalin), Hitler, Mao, Pol Pot, Castro, Khomeini, and Kim Il-sung as they fomented revolution in their countries. Communism, Fascism, Nazism are different flavors of the same pie, totalitarianism. One hundred million deaths later, I have one question for you. How did all of that work out?


Darlene Corbett
Darlene Corbett
Darlene Corbett views herself as a life-long learner, a pursuer of excellence, a work-in-progress, and a seeker-of-the-truth. She is also referred to as the "Unstuck Expert" in her many roles. Why? Because for over thirty years, she has been assisting people to get unstuck. Darlene's primary roles are now Therapist, Hypnotherapist, and Author/Writer. Although she loves speaking, it is now secondary and done mainly through her podcast, "Get Unstuck Now. Because of her wealth of experience, Darlene began putting her thoughts on paper.  Many of her blogs can also be found on Medium, Sixty and Me, and Penning these articles set the stage for her first book, "Stop Depriving The World of You," traditionally published by Sound Wisdom. Being a believer in pushing oneself as long as one has life, Darlene has tried her hand at fiction, hoping to have something completed in the no-so-distant future. Over the years, Darlene has been described as animated or effervescent which contradicts the perception of a psychotherapist. She firmly believes in the importance of being authentic and discusses platinum-style authenticity in her book.

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  1. Darlene,

    This was so painful to read. I’ve read so many accounts of atrocities even in the 20th century, like the Jewish men who dug the troughs in certain Nazi concentration camps and the next day were lined up and shot, falling into those same troughs. Or the torture thousands of Jehovah’s Witnesses endured in Nazi Concentration Camps because of their refusal to say, “Heil Hitler!” Or exiled to Siberia because of their refusal to be a part of the Communist regime in Russia, and more. But this level of torture was at such a level that it makes me wonder how anyone could have every vestige of humanity removed so that they felt justified in administering all of the atrocities to one woman!

    Your summation at the end is definitely food for thought. Thank you. I’ll be doing some more research on Zhang Zhixin.

    • Thank you so much, dear Yvonne, for reading and commenting. This story was not uplifting, and I, too, was most disturbed when I read about what she endured. I thought it was important to imagine the musings within her mind since she survived. I read that she attempted suicide as well as possibly lost her mind. Who knows? Reminding others and being reminded were my purposes for writing this story. This did not happen long ago, and that freedom is truly precious.

      By the way, I did not know about the persecution of the Jehovah’s Witnesses. I will have to explore. Thank you for that information.💖

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