February 24, 2005


He was buried, crushed beneath pounds of dirt. He wished for a coffin at least – to be free of the weight before he died.

He struggled to open his eyes, blinking several times in the darkness. Weakly turning his head, he grimaced as light suddenly stabbed his eyes again.

The weight eased somewhat, and the confinement was somehow comfortable. A shudder swept through him, and he gasped for breath. Some one stood at the sound and bent over him, and he flinched back as the memories finally came up as he regained consciousness.

He opened his mouth to speak, but no sound came out. He shook his head, wishing he could speak – could communicate freely.

They were going to kill him. They had taken his hand as some sort of time-sensitive item and now they were free to kill him at their leisure.

He was shaking again, and he cursed his weakness. He had been through enough – could he not simply meet his end with some dignity? His screams echoed in his ears, reminding him of what may still await him.

The man reached forward to check his pulse, and he pulled back as far as he could. He recognised this man – and he absently wondered where the shears had gone, if the man had done anything else besides hold them.

"Please..."

His voice was barely audible, but the man looked at him. He straightened and turned away, and when he turned back he had a glass of water.

Willem didn't trust it. He didn't trust anything now and couldn't understand anything. He let the man help him drink and then pulled back as far as he could.

"Stop. You're fine."

"If you people are going to kill me; please, do it."

"Kill you? We don't want you dead."

He felt his heart stop and the blood drain from his face, and he distantly realised that he had begun shaking again.

"...Just what do you remember?"

An attack. Hands holding him down. Words telling him what would happen. Merciless action. Pain, fire, confusion, agony... He couldn't answer.

The man sighed, pulling a chair up to the side of the bed as he leaned forward. "Alright. Basically, there were some people that really wanted you dead. They hired a hit on you and sent the assassin to kill you and bring back proof of your death – giving the assassin forty-five minutes to finish the job."

"Is this supposed to comfort me? I have no wish to know – I simply wish for it to be finished." His voice was quiet, resigned; and he was somewhat pleased to note that his trembling hadn't touched his speech yet.

"Well, long story short: the 'assassin' was one of ours undercover. We don't want you dead, so you get to live."

"...you..." He couldn't bring himself to finish, choking on fear or relief.

The man shrugged. "We needed the proof and we had about fifteen minutes."

He could almost feel his hand again, and he finally remembered that they had only taking a finger. He still had most of his hand. He shuddered and cradled it close. "Please – do not mock me."

"I'm not."

He opened his eyes to see the other.

"You're going to be able to walk out of this hotel, and you're going to be able to live. You'll have to disappear and your name now isn't safe – but you're going to live."

"...why could you not have hit me? Why keep me awake?"

"Time constraints?" He straightened up and shrugged. "We needed someone that looked dead for the picture, and it's easier to imitate reality than to simulate it. Sorry about that..."

His lungs had finally stopped seizing up and he was able to breathe.

"Go back to sleep, Mr. Karg. You need the rest after that, and I'll be here."

He wanted to retort that he didn't need to be babysat – but he didn't want to be alone either.

The blankets – not earth, blankets. He was in a bed – were tucked up around him, and his eyes drifted shut again.

For some reason, he believed the man. Maybe it was the part where they were still in the hotel and if they had wished to prolong his death or use him for another purpose, they would have moved him. Maybe it was the part where he had woken up again – where they could have killed him at any time and instead had bandaged him up.

He could still hear the screams, could still feel the cold blades of the shears wrapped around his finger. He was still shaking, and he could feel the woman's grounding touch on his shoulder.

Maybe he would wake up again – maybe he would survive this.


AN: Companion and the original scene I wanted to write. Title comes from le Carré's book The Spy Who Came in from the Coldand in its completion is: "This is a war it's graphic and unpleasant because it's fought on a tiny scale, at close range; fought with a wastage of innocent life sometimes, I admit. But it's nothing, nothing at all besides other wars - the last or the next." 3-22-2015