It's dark. God, it's so fucking dark! And cold. I shiver uncontrollably, but there's nothing to keep me warm. All I've got is this thin, silk dress shirt and my dress pants. No jacket. No tie. No shoes or socks.
I hear rain. It's like waves crashing onto the walls all around me. But there aren't any windows, so I can't see it. All I know is that it's pouring down hard.
My head hurts. When I move it, I get the meanest, nastiest head rush I've ever had. At least since my time in the Middle East. The room's spinning, but I can't see anything. Never in my forty-two years have I experienced a blackness so complete. When I move my hand in front of my eyes, I can't see it. This is how I imagine being buried in a box six feet deep, except there's air, and I have room to move. It's bigger than a coffin.
A lot bigger, apparently. When I take a few steps forward, my footsteps echo on the hard floor. I could swear I'm in some kind of warehouse, except I'm pretty sure it's moving. But I can't be absolutely certain. At least not until someone comes and tells me what this place is.
I've been trying to remember what happened, in spite of the painful throbbing in my head. I was attacked. That much I know for sure. But I don't know who they are. They wore ski masks and long coats. They carried the longest, nastiest blades I've ever seen. Had to be about four feet long from the tip of the blade to the end of the handle, and the edges were serrated. I was cut by one of them. Right across the side under my ribs. It still hurts like hell, but someone bandaged me up before throwing me into this...this dark, desolate, whatever the fuck it is. A fucking box is what it is. That's how I've come to think of it, anyway. It's a fucking box built out of cement or metal or some shit like that. Anyway, they've bandaged the wound, so they must not want me dead. At least not yet, or they already would have killed me.
I'm ravenous. I don't know what time it is, but I've been hungry for a while now. I don't know how long I was out, but I'd swear it's been days. I wish someone would bring me something to eat. Some water. My throat is parched. If they question me, I don't even know if I'll be able to speak. If they want answers, they'd better wet my whistle, or mum's the word for the day.
Then again, could I risk ingesting anything they give me? Hell, no! I have no idea who they are or what they want. I wouldn't put it past them to poison me just to make some kinda twisted statement. For whom, I have no idea.
I feel so weak. I can walk, but my legs are shaky. That tells me I've been here longer than it seems. It's been a while since I've eaten anything. I need food. My blood sugar's crashing pretty good.
I haven't been through anything like this since those Jihadists captured me back in the Iraqi desert. This is so surreal. Like I'm going through it all over again. They kept me in a box. Not a coffin, but it wasn't much bigger. At least here, I can breathe better. But not knowing... I hate feeling this way. I've never been afraid of much, and I wouldn't say I'm exactly afraid now, but this...
I hear something. Sounds like mice. Or rats. Fuck! They're everywhere! I can feel them crawling over my feet! These people...they took my shoes. Damn them all to fucking hell! I can hear the squeaking of the rodents. Where the hell did they come from? I didn't hear any doors open, no cages. Why are they here? Is it to wear me down? Is it to scare me? Well, if that's what these people are trying to do, they can forget it. I've experienced worse than they can dish out, believe me. I'm not about to freak out over some kinda rats.
I want to call out, ask them who they are, why they're doing this, but my voice won't come to me. My throat's too parched. I have to think over my current circumstances in silence until someone comes for me. Will they come for me? And if they do come, when will they come? What will they say? What will they do? Will they torture me for information? Been there, done that, and while I'm not eager to repeat the experience, I'll do my best to make it through. I have to. People out there are depending on me. I can't let them down, no matter what.
The damp chill in the air is unbearable. It's seeping deep into my bones, like the homeless men Dakota wrote about. This must be how they feel during the cold winter months in Baltimore. I've never been so cold before. I've always had a good home with plenty of heat when I needed it...well, except for that stint in Iraq. It was sweltering there. At any rate, I have more respect for the poor who suffer in silence, now that I have a good idea how they feel.
I'm so tired. Exhausted. Not the good exhaustion you get from a great workout. I'm intimately acquainted with that particular feeling, being a fitness buff. This is different. And no matter how tired I get, I can't fall asleep, what with the rats and my head injury. And who knows what they'll do if I succumb to exhaustion? I might never wake up. Maybe they'll kill me after all.
I don't want to know what these people have planned for me. At the same time, I need to know. If I know what's in store, maybe I can be ready for it. But how does one prepare for something they don't know is coming. Something is about to happen, but what? I thrive on solving mysteries. Just not this kind of mystery. And definitely not something this dangerous.
Unless it's some kind of practical joke? Naw, it can't be. Is Dakota behind this? If he is, I swear, I'll get even. He'll never see it coming. Turnabout is fair play, after all.
But no, I can't see him doing something like this. Not with his PTSD and all. He'd never intentionally put someone through a situation like this, all fun and games or not. This isn't his doing. It's not his style.
My head's spinning. I need to sit down. But I can't, because of the rats. I've already got several bites on my feet. I'll need to have a doctor look at them when...if?...I get outta here.
I hear a key in a lock somewhere to my right. The door is opening. Someone's come for me, after all! The light's so bright, it hurts my eyes. For a minute, I can't open them without their tearing up from the pain.
Once my eyes have adjusted somewhat to the bright light, I see a silhouette. It's...a woman, I think? She turns to say something to someone outside the room, and I think I recognize her profile. I study her as closely as possible from this distance.
Oh, my God! I'd recognize that profile anywhere! It's...it's...her!