She woke up with her muscles already tensed in anticipation, while her mind frantically scrambled to hold on to oblivion. Her subconscious gave her a mental head slap and she was immediately warrior-alert, assessing her situation. She could hear angry shouting a couple of doors away and was able to translate some of the words "infidel… pigs…torture…" and something that may have been "American". The voices became muffled and soon all that she could hear were the usual noises of the terrorist camp.
She shifted her attention to herself – her body was curled into the foetal position on the hard dry floor of her cell. Her arms were tied in front of her and she was hooded with a coarse grain sack. She had zoned out in that position last night after the guard had left. He had not been too rough and it was four days since her last bad beating, so she felt weak and aching as opposed to being in encompassing agony. It had been five days since she last washed (Saleem was fastidious) and she had been given some maize yesterday. She may or may not be fed today – hard to say as her arrival had disrupted the supply lines and if the camp didn't get fed, she certainly didn't. She moved to sit up with her back to the wall, drawing her knees to her chest.
She closed her eyes and listened hard again – she could not hear any noise now from the other room. She wondered who had had the misfortune to be captured. Saleem was ultra-paranoid, with some justification, and a number of people had been captured and 'questioned' since she had been captured. None of them had survived very long and she wondered that Saleem was keeping her alive. In the end, she had told him everything that he had asked her. Enough pain, enough drugs, enough torture – in the end, everyone talks. Though she knew it gave him great pleasure to torment the 'Jewish bitchdog', she knew that he would kill her soon.
She had never seriously thought about death before Somalia. She had seen the aftermath of death throughout her life - her neighbours, friends of friends, then Talia - and then she had wielded death, become a harbinger herself - Ari and too many others to count. Death was her shadow. Death was in her heart. Death was her gift. It was what it was. But here in this empty cell, in the intervals, when she waited, for the first time in her life, she had a chance in her life to think. While she waited to be fed, interrogated or abused, she reviewed the course of her life. She had a long time to think about things – a very, very, very long time. All her life, she had been a good soldier, following orders – never an valid defence - and she realised her training and dealing with her father's political machinations meant that she was at best morally ambiguous and at worse a ruthless and soulless murderer. So the torture and abuse she was now suffering was her past catching up with her, the wages of sin and one of those things that you have to accept when fighting a war. But it was more than 'he who lives by the sword, dies by the sword'. Much of the pain that Saleem and his men had visited upon her, she had already bestowed on others, at the behest of her father. This was her penance, her restitution.
That was not to say that she forgave her captives or that she would not kill each and every one of them with her bare hands given the opportunity. But three months of interrogation, isolation, starvation, beatings and rapes had broken her. Malachi had said that America had made her soft – she had not had a chance to grow back her snake skin – and she did not have the appetite for revenge and murder anymore. She considered her time with NCIS the best time of her life (since Talia died), where she had the most freedom to be herself, doing something that she loved, with people she liked and admired. Even there, she knew that she was viewed as a sharp honed weapon to be taken out and utilised when necessary. But in this barren cell in Somalia, isolated and without benign human interaction and with no hope never mind expectation of rescue, she finally reconciled the circumstances that had caused her to be exiled to this Purgatory. And she reconciled her anger and sense of betrayal by the men in her life - Michael, Ari, her father, Tony and Gibbs. She did not know what that left her with. It didn't matter. The end was near.
She tensed when she heard two set of footsteps, rapidly approaching her cell door. No more waiting, no more thinking. She was ready to die.