[WARNING: This fic has been described as "dark and disturbing." It contains considerable violence, including some sexual violence, and graphic descriptions of very unpleasant situations. A lot of Really Bad Stuff happens to our favorite Croatian doctor in the story. If you think you will be bothered by this kind of content, please do NOT read the story, and then come back later and complain to me about it, ok?]
It is a restaging of "The Lost." I always thought the story, particularly the resolution, was pretty unbelievable. (They thought he was a priest? Yeah, right.) So I rewrote it. It starts out pretty much as in the aired episode, (it picks up about a third of the way in, from Luka's Point-of-View ... you're clever, you'll figure it out.) then veers off into something entirely different.]
[I, incidentally, as the disclaimers tend to say, do not own ER or anything connected with it. I do, however, own this story.]
ADDED A/N: (7/15/04): I've made a few additional edits to this, mostly the first few chapters. The French dialogue in the Matenda scenes is now actually in French ... with some additional editing so that those of us who DON'T speak French will still get what's going on. Thanks D n' D for your help!
He was dimly aware of hands pulling him roughly to his feet. The hard metal of a gun barrel jabbing into his ribs. He was shoved forward towards the steps. "A l'interieur!"
Dizzy from the blow and the fever, Luka stumbled blindly up the steps and into the clinic.
His clinic, but all too clearly no longer his. Even through his blurred vision it was obvious that the place had already been ransacked. The radio smashed, valuable drugs (worth more than their weight in gold in this remote spot), scattered carelessly across the floor and trampled.
The beds were all empty of patients but, on the floor sat several men, guarded by yet another Mai Mai soldier with yet another gun.
"Assieds toi!" barked the guard who'd brought him inside; giving him another shove and motioning with his rifle towards the floor. Luka was only too glad to obey; sitting was good. He was aware, after a moment, that Patrique, Chance and Sakina had also come inside and were now sitting beside him.
Luka cautiously felt his aching jaw. It was tender and sore, and bleeding slightly both inside and out, but nothing seemed to be broken. The IV had been ripped from his arm when he fell, and his arm too was bleeding slightly. Still, Luka knew that if hadn't already been so ill, he would have shaken off the effects of such a blow with ease. It was the fever and the heat that made him so weak; so faint. Luka put his head down on his knees and tried to take slow, deep breaths.
"Are you ok, Dr. Luka?" asked Patrique, speaking to him in English.
"Yes, just a little dizzy," Luka started to say, then the guard was there, waving his gun in their faces and shouting at them to shut up. "T'a geule!"
Time seemed to pass very slowly. A few more prisoners, Luka had no idea where they were from, were brought inside. After perhaps an hour, another soldier came in, carrying a bucket and a small pot. In front of each prisoner he put a cup of water and, directly on the wooden floor, a scoop of rice. "Bouffe, vite!"
Luka couldn't help thinking, irritably, that it wouldn't hurt them in the least to ask nicely, or at least not shout every order. And did they really expect him to eat? But he said aloud, to Patrique, still in English, "They're feeding us anyway. That's a good sign." And again, he was interrupted by the guard, waving his gun more threateningly and shouting, warning them again to be quiet. "J'ai dit t'as geule! Ne parle pas!" He nudged Luka's cup with his foot. "Boufffres! Bois!"
Luka wasn't the least bit hungry, but he was desperately thirsty. The fever, along with the heat and humidity were dehydrating him, but still, he hesitated. He'd been drinking bottled water most of the time since he'd come to the Congo. All the foreign doctors did. When he couldn't get bottled water, he always boiled or purified the local water before drinking it. But this water was clearly straight from the tap in the kitchen, the water they used for washing and cooking.
"Bouffres! Bois!" the guard shouted yet again, and the threat in his voice was clear. Luka sighed and picked up the cup. He was sure that the guard would be only too happy for an excuse to shoot, and a bullet would kill him much faster than anything he might catch from the water. And, for that matter, dehydration would probably kill him pretty quickly too. He drank the water, but couldn't choke down more than a few mouthfuls of the rice. Still the guard seemed satisfied with the effort, and didn't bother him again.
It then became obvious why the Mai Mai had rushed them through their meal. Two more guards came in, grabbed Sakina by her arms, and dragged her from the building.
"Mama!" cried Chance. She had not made a murmur the entire time since they'd been captured, her mother's presence giving her the strength she seemed to need. But now she started sobbing, watching her mother vanish through the door.
"T'as guele!" shouted the guard. "Arrestes de pleurnicher!" Bending down, he slapped the sobbing child hard across the face, and shocked by the blow, her sobs quieted to a soft whimpering.
Luka felt sicker than ever. He could stand whatever was happening to him; he knew he could face whatever might happen, but there was no reason for them to be so cruel to an innocent child. Did they really expect that she wouldn't cry? She was so young, so afraid. And Sakina. He shuddered. If he had any doubts about what was going to happen to her, the coarse comments by the guards quickly dispelled them.
Of course he had no real doubts about what was going to happen to him either. He would die. And so would Patrique. And the others. But Sakina they would spare ... her life anyway. And Chance; surely they wouldn't kill a child. Why would they kill a small child? He managed to smile at Chance. "Pleures pas ma petite," he said. Don't cry. "Maman va bien. Tout va bien." Chance looked at him, wide-eyed for a moment, then made a shaky attempt to dry her tears. "Tres bien. Sois courage."
Suddenly, two of the guards approached him and, without a word, gave him a hard shove that sent him sprawling forward onto the floor. While one guard kept his foot planted firmly in the small of his back and the rifle even more firmly in his ribs, the other grabbed Luka's arms and, twisting them behind his neck, rapidly and expertly bound them tightly at the wrists and up the forearms with loops and knots of some sort of heavy cord. He felt them rip his Alliance ID from around his neck and take his wallet from his pocket. Then, leaving him lying on the floor, they moved on to Patrique.
For a moment, Luka lay there, dazed. He couldn't seem to move. Any attempt to lift his head sent pain tearing through his shoulders, and already his hands were going numb from the tightness of the bonds. Gradually, by shifting his weight slightly from side to side, Luka found that the cords had just enough give that he could relax his arms a bit and find a more tolerable position. More importantly, the tingling in his hands eased. He had to keep the blood moving in his hands.
It was noon now, and stiflingly hot. No air moved in the building. The cup of water might have been a lifetime ago. Luka's shirt clung to him, soaked through with sweat.
All the prisoners had been tied now, all except Chance. Even the Mai Mai seemed to trust that a sobbing little girl with a freshly amputated leg was not likely to try and escape, and could not do them any harm.
Another harsh command. "A genoux, la!"
In spite of himself, Luka groaned. For all the discomfort from the bonds, and the heat and airlessness of the floor, he was at least lying down. A sharp kick in the ribs persuaded him to move, and somehow Luka managed to struggle to his knees, part of a line of similarly bound prisoners.