AUTHOR'S NOTES: The usual request. Please, don't give away the ending, because I guarantee you won't be able to guess who this is. You are welcome to email me to tell me who you thought it was.
By Margaret Price
"It isn't often an individual such as yourself graces our hallowed halls."
The prisoner looked up at the man standing in the doorway with a smug expression on his face. He was in a typical cell. A cot, a sink, a toilet, and a reinforced steel door. He was sitting on the cot and leaned back, folding his arms, refusing to speak. He knew the rules of the game. They had finally come to interrogate him.
"I'd tell you not to make this difficult, but I have a feeling I'd be wasting my breath," the Interrogator said aridly as he stepped further into the room. He was followed by two larger individuals, who descended on the silent prisoner, dragging him to his feet. There was a third man holding drawn weapon, his presence clearly to prevent any retaliation, not that the captive would do anything at this point. He had been in the spy game long enough to know what to expect and was prepared for the rough handling. He gritted his teeth as he was dragged from the room, down a corridor, and into another larger room where he was thrust into a chair, his wrists, ankles, and chest secured with straps.
"I won't answer any of your questions," the prisoner stated flatly once he was alone with the Interrogator. He watched the man place a large rolled up cloth on the table and sighed resignedly. Straight to the truth drugs.
The Interrogator looked up, his eyes bright. "I haven't asked you anything yet," he grinned as he unrolled the cloth, revealing what looked like surgical blades.
The prisoner's eyes widened when he saw them, his body going rigid automatically. What the hell…?
The Interrogator picked up what looked like a scalpel and started idly playing with it. "Tell me, what's your favorite color?"
The prisoner blinked. "What?"
"A simple enough question. Your favorite color. What is it?"
"Brown. What has that to do with anything?"
The prisoner gave a sharp cry when the blade suddenly sliced into his forearm, cutting through his shirtsleeve and opening a long gash in his flesh. It wasn't deep, but it was extremely painful. Once he caught his breath, he was fighting his bindings, ignoring the pain and the blood soaking his shirt.
"I say it's red. Now, answer the question again. What's your favorite color?"
"Go fuck yourself!" The response to this was to have a matching gash opened on his other forearm, pulling another cry of pain from him.
"Here I am trying to be friendly," the Interrogator sighed, "and you're being difficult."
"You're right handed, I believe…"
The prisoner froze when the man picked up a larger blade and held it against his fingers, one at a time, making small cuts in the skin before pressing it against his wrist. The threat was obvious. He gritted his teeth, looking the man in the eye. "The torture of prisoners is against the Geneva Convention," he said in as forceful a tone as possible.
The Interrogator laughed, drawing the blade across the back of his hand and opening yet another gash. Just a millimetre or two deeper and the tendons would have been severed, rendering his hand useless. "Do you really think the people I work for care what I do to you?" he sneered, suddenly bringing the blade up to open a small slice on the man's cheek, causing him to thrash in his bindings and curse in every language he could think of.
While this was going on, a guard appeared at the door. "It's ready, sir," he announced.
"Oh, good, have it brought in," the Interrogator grinned.
The prisoner's eyes widened when a cart was rolled into the room with a large machine on in. He had heard all about these devices. Then his bindings were being unfastened and he fought like a wild man the instant he was loose, flattening two of the guards before a sharp blow to the back of his head dropped him like a stone.
"I was right about him being difficult," the Interrogator sighed as the prisoner's hands were tied together. He was dragged to the far end of the room where a large hook attached to a heavy chain was suspended from the ceiling. The hook was placed between the semi-conscious man's bound hands and then drawn up, pulling him from the floor. His feet were tied together, the rope being threaded through a ring bolted to the floor, anchoring him into place. Then the hook was being draw upward again, lifting the man off his feet, and pulling a cry of pain from his throat.
The last thing the guards did before leaving was to strip the prisoner to the waist. By this time, he had regained his senses enough to begin swearing in every language he knew as his clothes were torn from his body. Then he was alone with the Interrogator again.
"Shall we try this again?" the Interrogator said mildly. "I say your favorite color is red. The color of blood."
His prisoner made a show of clamping his mouth shut and glared at his tormentor, watching in silence as the unfriendly machine was pulled closer.
"You needn't make this difficult," the Interrogator said as he flipped a few switches and turned a dial. "What is your favorite color?"
The Interrogator sighed, lifting two long metal rods with round pads at the ends and stood in front his prisoner. "Red!" He punctuated this by holding the pads on either side of his prisoner's bare chest, pulling a scream of pain from him, his back arching like a bow as electricity arced through his body.
When the pads were pulled away, the prisoner sagged, hanging limply in his bonds and gasping for breath.
"You are going to answer correctly," the Interrogator stated flatly.
Once he recovered himself, the prisoner started to fight his bindings. "You're…insane!" he spat the instant he could speak. Then the pads were being held against his body again, pulling another scream of agony from his throat.
"Your favorite color is red. Say it!"
"I always thought I'd be using my skills to break out of prison, not in," Eroica remarked to Agent A as he struggled with the lock on a heavy metal door.
A gave him a dark look but did not reply.
"This lock is ancient," the thief sighed, pulling out a can of oil and applying it to the mechanism in the hopes of making it easier to manipulate.
"The whole building is," A replied.
"No wonder you required my services." Eroica turned to the nearest agent, handing him the oil. "You're a nice tall chap. Reach up there and put that on the hinges, if you'd be so kind."
"Is that really necessary?" Agent G wondered aloud as the Earl attacked the lock again. "If the door's already been used…"
Eroica threw a quick glance over his shoulder. "It will keep it from squeaking when we open it."
Before the embarrassed G could remark that he hadn't thought of this, the thief gave a small sound of triumph as the lock finally succumbed to his expert manipulations. He pulled the door open and it gave only the smallest of creaks. He turned to G with a grin. "Voilà!"
Agent A nodded approvingly and he turned to the others, waving a group of four down the corridor beyond. Then he led the way to the next door, which gave the thief the same amount of difficulty as the first. Then another group of four alphabets was wave down.
"This would be much easier if we knew the exact location of the cell," Eroica said as he struggled with the third door.
"He's been moved too many times. No way of verifying," A replied as he waved the third group on to begin their search. The radio in his hand came to life as just they arrived at the next door. It was B reporting that their target was not in the first block of cells.
A had barely acknowledged the report when the fourth door opened with conspicuous ease. Eroica exchanged a startled look with the agent. Then the entire group froze when they heard a bloodcurdling scream issuing forth from further within.
Eroica felt his hair stand on end. "Bloody hell!" he gasped. "Please, tell me that's not him."
A was instantly on the radio, reporting what they'd heard and their location. Then he led the group down the corridor, following the sound of the screams.
Eroica exchanged a nervous look with A before he set to work unlocking the cell door. Whoever was making the sounds within was in the most horrific torment.
The Interrogator jumped when the door to the room burst open and A and the other alphabets entered, a very hesitant Eroica hanging back near the threshold. The thief looked at the battered, bloodied form hanging limply from a hook in the ceiling and felt sick, a hand going to his mouth. "Mother of God!"
"Gentlemen, welcome," the Interrogator said grandly, holding out his hands. "I didn't know I'd have an audience. Have a seat, won't you? This shouldn't take too much longer." Then he completely dismissed the men's presence and turned back to his prisoner, stepping forward to place the electrodes on his body again.
Eroica nearly jumped out of his skin when the Major's voice cut through the air like a pistol shot. "Touch him again and I'll kill you."
The Interrogator turned to see the Major standing in the doorway, his gun aimed unwaveringly at him. "Iron Klaus!" he gasped in amazement. "This is an honor."
"Not for me, you Neo Nazi bastard," the Major snarled. He punctuated his statement by firing a round into the machine, causing it to explode in a shower of sparks. Then he ordered Agent A to take the man into custody.
It took the combined efforts of six of the alphabets to drag the Interrogator from the room. Eroica and Agent G went straight to the semi-conscious prisoner to get him down. Eroica took one look at the mechanism suspending the man from the ceiling and decided to leave it to G, turning his attention to untying the man's feet.
"A, get on the radio and give the order to start rounding up everyone in this hell hole," the Major ordered.
"Yes, sir," A replied, vanishing through the door and taking the others with him.
"And get some medical assistance down here!" the Major called after him.
"Yes, sir!" the agent called back.
The Major crossed the room to help get the injured man down. He had G slowly lower the hook from the ceiling while he and Eroica supported the man's weight. He was just conscious enough to stand and shuffle the short distance to a cot that was against the wall.
"G, get that blanket off," the Major ordered.
G snatched the blanket from the cot and stood back as the injured man was carefully helped down and just as carefully laid back. Eroica gently lifted his feet from the floor while the Major turned to G, who wordlessly handed him the blanket. The officer pulled a chair over and sat down, his eyes taking in the man's injuries. "G, see if you can find some water."
"Eroica, go with him. See if you can find something to bind these wounds," the Major said without looking up.
"Consider it done," Eroica replied as he and G vanished through the door, leaving the Major alone with the injured man.
The Major threw the blanket over the man's lower body and then set to work freeing his hands. While he was doing this, the man moaned and opened his eyes, recognition and surprise registering on his face. He didn't have the strength to move and lay staring up at the officer in blank astonishment as his hands were freed and placed at his side. Then the blanket was pulled over him.
The Major met the man's questioning gaze steadily. "That sadistic bastard is in custody and I've called for medical assistance," he informed calmly.
"Am I your prisoner now?"
"No. I was sent here to find you."
"So…the Cold War ends with Iron Klaus coming to my rescue."
The Major's eyes flickered. "Don't tell anyone, Mischa. It will ruin my reputation."
Mischa gave him a smile of irony and closed his eyes. "So long as you don't tell anyone the true answer…is green," he replied cryptically.
Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters and settings are the property of their respective owners. The original characters and plot are the property of the author. No money is being made from this work. No copyright infringement is intended.