Dressed in a knee-length, white toga with a rope tied around her waist for a belt, Erin let two burly men dressed all in chainmail and metal lead her by the arms to the center of the stage, which was set up to look like a prison chamber from biblical times. She let them chain her wrists to a heavy wooden post, which was connected to a flat metal base to keep it upright.
She gave the audience the best 'petrified innocent' expression she could muster, adding some shaking and quivering for effect. She could feel the adrenaline pumping through her body.
She was performing the starring role of Jesse, daughter of Jesus in Jesus Christ Superstar II: Three is a Charm. The play was a story meant to act as a follow-up to the story of Jesus. After his death, his daughter was taken in by the emperor as a servant girl, and soon befriends the emperor's daughter, Michelle. The princess turns out to be an incarnation of the devil's own daughter, and sends her friend off to be executed simply for being her father's daughter. The current scene was the flagellation scene, the predecessor to the crucifixion. Actors playing soldiers were supposed to 'beat' her with 'whips', while she writhed in fake, yet believable, agony. She prepared herself mentally for the scene as the music grew more dramatic.
And then it happened. One of the actors swung the whip across her back. This 'whipping' was supposed to feel like nothing more than being swung at with yarn, or some other soft material. But this felt like a mountain lion had sunk it's claws into her back, and dragged them across it.
Erin cried out in very real pain, and tried to pull her arms out of the shackles. The shackles turned out to be real, she couldn't free herself.
Another set of claws across her back sent her to her knees in agonizing pain and bewilderment. She twisted and pulled and cried for help. She peered out at the audience. Every solitary pair of eyes was glued to her in amazement and awe. No one seemed aware of her situation, no matter what she cried out.
The men behind her laughed mockingly. They knew what they were doing, and they loved it.
This went on for another 37 strokes, another 37 sets of claws tearing at her back. Erin could feel her back dripping with blood; she could see the blood in puddles on the floor of the stage, puddles that she was currently lying in, shaking and exhausted from the pain.
The men unshackled her, but she didn't have the strength to run.
There was no 'Via de la Rosa' scene. Another man from backstage had removed the post, while yet another laid a ready-made cross in its place.
After forcing her to kneel by the cross, facing the audience, and shoving a crown of thorns on her head and pushing until she fell to the floor in agonized exhaustion; the men laid Erin on the cross roughly, the splintered wood scraping at the open and bleeding wounds on her back. She winced, but couldn't find the strength to make a sound to express the complete anguish she was in. She just laid there and let the men make a show of themselves tying her arms to the crossbeam. She closed her eyes and waited for what she knew was coming.
She felt someone lightly place a pointed object to her wrist and hold it there. She gritted her teeth, terrified to the point that she thought her heart would stop. She wished it would.
With a loud clang, the hammer hit the thick, oversized, prop nail; forcing it into her wrist, sending pain like fire shooting down her arm, forcing screaming wails and pain-ridden moans from her with every strike of the hammer. The man did the same to the other wrist. By the time both arms were pinned to the beam, Erin couldn't think from the flames in her upper body, her eyes wide and unblinking, her arms quivering and shaking on their own, her fingers frozen. She didn't dare try to move, for fear of worsening her pain.
The men moved on, the one still holding the hammer, until they reached the foot of the cross. One grabbed one of her ankles, positioning it on the side of the cross and pushing it toward her until her knee was bent to the degree he wanted. He held her ankle there while the man with the hammer positioned yet another prop nail at the vulnerable side of her ankle.
The men looked at Erin. Some smirking, but some expressions questioning. As if to ask, "Should we do this? Do you want us to do this?"
Erin's brain snapped into action. She began shaking her head uncontrollably.
"No!" She shouted weakly, in a pleading tone. "No, no, no, no, no! Don't! Please don't! Let me go! I wanna go home!" Tears rolled down her face. The audience was still glued to her, their expression unchanging.
The soldiers looked back to her ankle. Ignoring her begging, the hammer slammed the nail into her ankle, sending yet more fire spasm-ing up her leg to meet the its twin which was still searing in her upper body.
The same happened with her other ankle. Erin was sobbing hystericallyin between her tortured screams. She continued begging for release. Her mind was so crazed with pain; she couldn't even form coherent pleas. Her sentences made no sense, but she couldn't silence herself. Her mind was gone. All she could do was shake and quiver and beg nonsensically. Her eyes to the ceiling, blinking hyperactively to keep her own tears from blinding her.
The men met at the head of the cross. She could feel their breath and body heat, so she knew they were extremely close.
Then she felt a push for the back of the cross. Slowly but surely, the men elevated it until it was standing upright, so they could drop it roughly into its base.
When the cross met the base, it slammed her body downward as the audience gasped, dragging her back across the wood, pulling her down until her arms were completely straight, pulling on the nails in her wrists which renewed the fire in her arms. Her chest tightened. She couldn't breathe.
To relieve her arms, she pushed up with her feet which pushed on the nails in her ankles, renewing the fire in her legs. Finally getting to take in a breath, she moaned devastatedly, finding no respite from her torment. New rivers of tears flowed from her eyes in her hopelessness.
Resigned to her torture, Erin alternated between pushing and pulling, between fire and fire. Her mind alive again, but going berserk. She had thousands of thoughts running at top speed through her pain-filled mind. Hundreds of faces. Was this what it was like to have one's life flash before one's eyes?
She sobbed uncontrollably, her muscles spasming, her mind throwing images and thoughts at her at a million miles an hour, the fire growing worse instead of dying down in her continuous loss of energy and strength. If God let her live through this, she would never set foot on stage again.
Eventually, in what she considered an act of ultimate mercy by God, Erin went unconscious.
At the end of the scene, the rest of the actors flooded the stage slowly in a makeshift funeral for the character, everyone still fully unaware of Erin's state. Some actor climbed a ladder, reaching to catch her body as others pulled out the nails.
Once they got her body to the floor. The actress playing Mary Magdalene, Jesse's mother, shrieked in real horror.
"Somebody call 999!" (They were in England) "I think Erin's actually dead!"
Unbelieveably, she wasn't dead. Even though her back was torn to shreads, the top of her head was littered with cuts, and there were gaping holes in her wrists and ankles, she was still alive. She didn't reach consciousness, though. Once the doctors at the hospital got her into stable condition, she entered into a coma which lasted for months.
The incident occurred in August. When she finally awoke from her coma, it was nearly Christmas. The doctors has painstakingly sewed her back together while she was still under. She was practically unscathed when she was wheeled out of the American hospital she had been flown to not long after the incident, but she was still very weak and mentally fragile. She didn't return to life as usual until it was almost time for school to let out for Summer.
That June, she had yet to even enter a theatre...