It was the first thought that rolled through his drug addled mind as he fought his way out of a narcotic haze. It wasn't weak stuff either, something nasty and strong like Seconal. His mouth felt dry and tasted like an old sock. Not a nice way to wake up.

With a grunt, he forced his eyes open, twisting his wrists to test the restraints…but, oddly, found none. He sat up sharply, biting back a brief wave of disorientation as he looked around, taking in his surroundings.

Ugly ass room. Faded green walls. Heavy, dark woodwork and out of date furniture. The windows seemed to be tinted yellow, allowing light in but obstructing a clear view outside.

And there, attached to the ceiling, was one of those domed security cameras that were so hard to destroy.

So he was being watched, but not restrained.

Maybe his cover hadn't been compromised. Maybe it was worse. Though he couldn't think of any logical reason, there was always the possibility that he had been burned. He'd heard rumors that a few of his…colleagues had received notices for no good reason in order to force them into working off book for an outside interest.

If he had indeed been burned, they are wiped him off the grid, frozen his assets and for all intensive purposes, he didn't exist…but this place didn't seem quite right.

Heaving himself to his feet, he stumbled for a moment before making his way to the heavy door.


And it opened inward, so kicking it in was out.

Okay, next step. Assess your surroundings for anything that might be of use.

Drawers were empty, but for a Bible. Chairs made unwieldy and less than effective weapons, though he did attempt tossing one through the window. Damn thing bounced right off.

Sitting on the edge of the bed, he contemplated the walls. If the plaster was weak, there was a chance he could kick through the wall and make an exit through the next room…if that wasn't locked as well. It was an idea.

He placed his hands on the bed to push himself up to begin his attempt at demolition, but froze.

His hand was resting on something metal and key shaped.

Looking down, he saw that he had laid his hand on the open cover of the Bible and, taped to the inside of the cover, was a key.


Palming the key, he walked to the door and slipped it into the lock. Turning it, he was rewarded by the sounds of the tumblers turning and the door swinging open.

Cautiously, he stepped out into the hall and gazed down the long, empty hall. It looked like something out of The Shining. The macabre part of his brain asked where Jack Nicolson and the creepy kids were.

His heavy boots made the old wood floors creak and that only emphasized the feeling that the place was abandoned. But it was too clean and the lights all seemed to work.

Something was very, very wrong.

Then he heard something. Shouting. A woman. Muted by the thick doors and walls. He moved to the door next to his own and listened. Yes, he could hear someone in there.

It could be one of the people who had abducted him, but he doubted it. She sounded afraid…and even if she was, Joe Tucker was not the sort of man to take that chance. He wasn't about to abandon someone in this retro-nut house.

Raising his hand, he thumped hard on the door and called, "Hello? Can you hear me?"