A flashing light shone into my eyes.
My senses returned; sounds of metal scraping along a stone floor, heavy breathing, and my body felt wet – I shivered, and realized I was naked, and I hoped it wasn’t blood – my blood - dripping onto the floor.
‘Strap him to the chair.’
My mouth went dry.
I choked as I was dragged up and dumped down on a cold, hard surface.
Other lights came on.
I was in what seemed like a basement cellar; heavy stone walls and a paved floor, probably soundproof, which didn’t raise my hopes. I was bound to a metal chair with bonds that bit into my wrists and ankles. The chair didn’t move, seemed like it was bolted to the floor. I heard voices behind me; a shape came into view.
He had a syringe in his hand.
He smiled at me.
I didn’t smile back.
‘SP-117,’ he said, fondling the hypodermic. ‘To loosen the tongue. He threw his head back and rolled with laughter. ‘From Russia with love.’
I’d seen the movie. James Bond would have laughed back, but I wasn’t 007.
Nor was I going to talk. My experience with Rupert had taught me a lot about the hypnotic effect; intravenous narcosynthesis wasn’t going to make me lose control.
Or so I hoped.
I felt a sting in my arm…
I was swimming underwater, diving under rocks and filming rainbow-colored fish darting in and out of the golden coral reefs. A distant shark was circling, seeking, smelling, and homing in. I had a harpoon gun at the ready in case of attack, but it seemed content to watch and wait. I felt the weight of my oxygen tank on my back – another hour’s worth of air. The shark became impatient, started to move in closer. I backflipped and dived under protecting rocks that glistened with waving sea anemones. I brushed against an octopus’s tentacles and hid among a passing shoal of tuna. The shark sensed I could escape, and in a flurry of blood it started to plunder through the fish towards me.
Its mouth gaped; rows and rows of sparkling white teeth.
The shark convulsed; started to thrash.
…I felt rough fins shaking me awake. The shark was snarling at me. It changed into Le Chef.
‘Where’s the camera?’
I could picture Janet saying the same. ‘Go fuck yourself,’ I said.
He stepped back as if he was re-appraising me. His eyes locked onto mine; I held his gaze, and then he nodded.
‘Very well, Mister Reeves. We’ll do it the traditional way.’
Round one to me.
Le Chef folded his arms and watched Hannibal Lector get to work. I could smell Lector’s cologne behind me, and I tensed up when his clammy fingers grasped my neck.
‘This is going to hurt,’ he said.
It was the way he said it that had me trembling. I was going to be choked, and I couldn’t do a damn thing about it – except talk. I bit my lip, wouldn’t give him the pleasure. He started to squeeze. A crushing sensation blocked my wind pipe - I tried to gulp an air lifeline, but a grey mist formed in front of my eyes, and I sensed the darkness arriving…
Cold water brought me around, but it was only the start. Lector grabbed hold of my hair and started to slap me around.
He bent over me. ‘Ready to talk now, kid?’
I coughed up, and spat some phlegm into his face. ‘Motherfucker,’ I croaked.
He didn’t speak – simply crashed a fist into my face that had my teeth rattling like ballbearings in a tin-can. He snarled, and let loose with a flurry of body punches; one below the belt that made me vomit, more to the head and face, and a few booted kicks to my legs - wave upon wave of burning blows that had me thrashing in agony.
My whole body felt on fire, and the darkness brought relief…
More cold water had me spluttering and gasping - and I found out why I was strapped in the chair - now with metal clamps biting into my nipples.
‘Mister Reeves … talk, or you’ll fry,’ said Le Chef, his hand on a switch.
I tensed. Sweat poured out as I struggled to break free. ‘Go to hell,’ I spat.
I couldn’t hold it. I lost my bowels when the current hit me, but not my mind. Rupert guided me; I squeezed the pain into a tiny point and hid it in a dark recess.
My body jerked, I was screeching at them to stop, but the questions were relentless.
‘Where’s the camera?’
‘What pictures did you take?’
‘Who helped you?’
I spat blood. I swore. I blacked out. They must have thrown another bucket of water over me. I regained consciousness, dripping wet.
But I didn’t tell them.
I found myself on the ropes, trapped in a corner, gasping for breath.
Feint with the left.
I willed the words out of my swollen mouth. ‘What did you do to Smokin’ Joe?’
Lector didn’t break sweat. ‘The big black dude? Dumped the motherfucker in the Chevy and ran it off a cliff, clean as a whistle into the Pacific.’
That was it then. My right never connected; just swiped fresh air.
But Le Chef’s right did. He cuffed Lector. ‘You talk too much,’ he said. ‘Take a break … now it’s daylight, I wanna see for myself.’
Lector grimaced - and pointed at me. ‘What about him?’
‘He can sweat for a few hours. Maybe his memory will return, later.’
They left me tied to the metal chair and turned out the lights.
God help me.