Not Here Specifically, No.
Allan waited for his eyes to adjust. After twenty seconds, everything was still black. So he just kept them closed, because at some point, some asshole behind a piece of one way glass would turn on the lights and blind him.
AND LO AND BEHOLD! A light switch clicked and Allan felt twelve thousand lumen spotlights all over his face. The black behind his eyelids flashed away to bright orange. He should have put a hand over his face, but he didn’t. He’d been down this road a few times. Putting your hand over your face told the guys behind the glass something. It told them the surprise had worked.
“Why isn’t he putting his hand over his face?”
“I don’t know! Maybe they’ve developed a corneal implant for light sensitivity.”
“He still has his eyes closed, so perhaps it’s only behind the eyelid.”
“When we autopsy him later we’ll do a thorough dissection of the eyeball and eyelids.”
“I CAN HEAR YOU!” Allan yelled.
“Get your hand off the interc-” echoed through the chamber.
Allan heard the cut off words bounce around and he knew where he was. Perhaps not specifically, not an exact location, but he knew the type of room, big, empty and all concrete.
“Ahem,” went the loudspeaker,”Yes well that’s unfortunate. But as you’ve no doubt ascertained, you are trapped. So we’ll do whatever we want with you.”
Allan knew the truth of it. At least the he knew the truth as that guy knew it. He’d been here before. Well, not here specifically, but you get the idea.
“Now, I will dim the spotlights a little, and when I do I want you to follow my specific instructions. If you hesitate, refuse, whatever, you will be punished.”
“Punished? Punished how?” Allan asked.
“I’ll show you in a minute. Now, dim the lights.”
Allan cracked his eyes a little bit. The light was still incredibly bright, but he could stand it. He made out a wall of floodlights tilted at an angle overhead. Below them, along a balcony, he could see the one way glass he knew would be there, a couple of big loudspeakers hanging on either side.
“Now, if you feel along the front of your chest, down to your waist, you’ll notice a cable we’ve attached to you. Go ahead, feel for it so you know we’re not lying.”
Allan moved his hands down his chest and along his waistline was a very thin steel cord.
“You’ll notice that it isn’t simply wrapped around you. If you feel forward along the cord, you notice that it’s inside you as well.”
Allan followed the cord backward into a bandaged area above his navel. The cord itself was thin, no bigger than fishing wire. He took a length of it and pulled, trying to fray it, get it to stretch. A searing heat flashed through his palms.
“Aht, aht, ah, mister. The cord is electrified. And, I apologize for this next shock, but I think it’s necessary to prove my point. You need to know just what we’re capable of.”
Allan’s muscles contracted inward. His stomach was on fire. He bit his tongue so hard that he bit the tip of it off, the red bit of muscle flying forward, spraying a trail of blood at the lights. A pressure was building behind his eyes, pushing the eyeballs forward out of the socket. There was no pain like it in the world.
Allan dropped to the floor and convulsed. Trails of smoke drifted out of his mouth and blood trickled out of his nose and ears. All he heard was ringing and muffled. But it came back, like someone turning up the volume and taking a pillow off his ears.
“-se your han-”
“can’t hear you bo-”
“shut up. he’ll hear me soon”
“I don’t think so.”
“Shut up! Raise your hand when you can hear me.”
The words finally tuned in and Allan raised his left hand. He wanted to scream in pain but would not do it. Not for pride or any training, but because he wanted to hear what the guy had to say next.
“That was thirty percent power. Raise your hand again if you understand.”
Allan raised his hand.
“Good. If we catch you doing anything, suspicious, you’ll get it again. And to be clear, if we see your hands lingering around your navel, that would be very suspicious indeed, like, say, fifty percent suspicious. Raise your hand if you understand me.”
Allan raised his hand.
“Excellent. Now, I’m going to dim the lights even further. When I do you’ll have exactly twelve seconds to look behind you. You need to look. It’s very important that you do as I say.”
Allan gathered himself and turned around, the light was still surprisingly bright, which made no sense at all, the lights were behind him.
“DIM THE LIGHTS!” the anonymous torturer yelled. “Twelve… Eleven… Ten..”
Allan opened his eyes and saw a humongous fan surrounded by giant mirrors. The size of the thing was enormous, like some of those wind turbines he’d been working on. He tried to guess what was so all important about the fan and the mirror. He couldn’t come up with anything.
A horrible, painful, white light blinded him. He jerked his head back so hard that he hit the cement floor and almost knocked himself out.
“I don’t feel sorry for you. I was counting down. You should have been listening,” the guy said and paused.
“Now, I showed you the mirror and the fan so you’d know what you’re up against. I can blind you at any point that I’d like, but further, those mirrors act like a heat reflector of sorts. So I could turn this place into an oven and cook your brain into soup right inside your skull.” The guy coughed. “That fan moves at four thousand rpm. I can move it in either direction. I could blow you forward and smash you against the wall. I could suck you back and chop you up. We can kill you however we see fit.”
“YEAH WE CAN!”
“Would you get the hell away from interc-”
The words bounced around the chamber until they died out. While tweedle dee and tweedle twat argued around in the sound booth Allan tried to piece some things together. Conclusion number one. He was fucked. But conclusion number one was always just panic and bullshit. You got out of situations like this by not panicking, thinking it through, and getting through to conclusion number two or three. Conclusion number four was a sure fire way out of everything if you could get to it. But conclusion number four was really just for long nights in prison cells. A time like this was for conclusion number two.
“As I was saying, there are three different ways you can die here today. We can shock you, we can cook you, or we can cut you to ribbons in the fan. There is no way you can get out. Do you believe me?”
Conclusion number one: I am fucked. I will die here, today, in a horrible, agonizing, grisly fashion. This cannot be changed and I cannot do anything about it.
“Yeh. I beneeve ooo,” Allan mumbled with his new tongue tip less mouth.
Conclusion number two: Conclusion number one is bullshit. I will not die. Not here. Not today. And certainly not in a painful manner. I will die of old age in a bed in my home with my family around. They will send me off to heaven with loving smiles because there is a way out of here, somehow.
“Good. Now,” he paused, “We know who you are. We know your track record for escaping situations like this. So, In a moment, I am going to kill you. It will be painful and you will feel every bit of it. The shock you received a moment ago will be like nothing.” The guy’s voice was cold and passionless, almost feminine, almost androgynous.
“But there is something you must do first. Before I kill you you will tell me names. I don’t even care if they’re fake names. But you will tell me names.”
“Why?” Allan asked.
“Because,” the guy said, “Everything you’re doing right now is being recorded. And after you’re dead, a video of this will be shown everywhere. Your people will see you just like this. Bloodied. Weak. Defeated. Talking. And…” the guy trailed off, sighing, “And I don’t know why I’m telling you this next part, but fuck it, I want you to know. When you’re dead, I intend to walk down there and shit all over what remains of your body. That will not be recorded. That memory is just for me.”
Conclusion number three: This is nothing new. I have been here before. I have left here before. So I can leave here again. Not here specifically, but…
Yes, here, specifically. I have been here before.
“So start talking,” said the guy
Allan pushed up on to his knees and rocked back and forth. He had been here before, hadn’t he? He was processing everything that was happening. Some pain that had been delayed was now demanding his attention. His muscles cramped fiercely and he wanted a drink of water more than anything. He had to do something, soon the pain would be too much. It was growing already, a horrible, itching, burning sensation. It was as if he was being set on fire from the inside out. It was so hot and the pain was ridiculously…
“TWENTY PERCENT! TALK AND I’LL SHUT IT OFF! NAMES GODDAMNIT!! NAMES NOW!!”
“DYENNIFER! DOMAS! ADDAN!”
“Last names… we need last names too. This Amy, Baymy, Caymy shit won’t cut it.”
“Dyeniffer Anderun, Domas Anderun, Addan Anderun…”
“HARDY FUCKING HAR ASSHOLE! FIFTY PERCENT!”
Oddly, the only thing Allan felt was his eyeballs. The pulse made his eyelids close with incredible force, enough to keep his eyes in the socket. His vision started getting weird. He could see the normal sliver of light that comes when you barely open an eye. But then his eye was all the way open, and it was as if he fell forward, because that’s what his eye did, popped out and dangled on his cheek.
“KILL IT! NAMES!! NAMES NOW YOU FUCKING PIECE OF SHIT!!”
Allan shivered on the concrete and whispered a list of names off the top of his head, the only thing he was careful to do was not actually say the names of anyone he knew. He gave the guys a list of pure fiction. He talked until they stopped him.
“That’s good. You can stop…thank you…thank you for your candor.”
Allan fingered his dangling eyeball. He tried to squeeze it back into the socket. He didn’t have the gumption for it. He was too scared he would pop it, and conclusions two and three were still in his head.
“Now, to be honest, I feel a little bit sad about your treatment here. I wish you hadn’t made me hurt you. So as an apology, I’m going to let you choose how I kill you. In case you’ve forgotten, it was cook, shock, or chop. Which will it be?”
“There was no number four. There were only three choices. Which will it be, cook, shock, or chop?”
“Du fad go fuward. Smash me.”
The intercom clicked off and echoed around the room. Allan awaited the verdict.
“That’s correct. I did say that the fan can move in both directions. Am I to understand that you want me to move the fan clockwise and blow you forward, smashing you against the wall?”
Allan nodded his head yes.
“Very well then, I suppose it will mean some extra cleaning for the maintenance crew, but then this glass is five inches thick and I doubt you could shatter it. If that indeed was your thinking. Was that what you were thinking?”
Allan nodded his head yes. He hadn’t been thinking that, but it was no matter. It gave the guy behind the glass a false sense of confidence so Allan was all for that.
“Ah, a pity you wasted your thoughts on it. But no matter, you have made your choice and you will be held to it. I’m turning the fan on…now.”
The humongous blades moved, slowly, on the way to their final, fatal, speed. Allan took the time to place his left eye just on the verge of being back in his socket. Just at the point where he didn’t feel comfortable squeezing.
“You have about two minutes before the fan gets to full speed. Which is a very good thing because I need to move my bowels in a serious way,” the guy laughed. The sound of his chuckle competed with the sound of wind and it was losing. Allan walked forward past the spot lights to the concrete wall beneath the balcony, bracing himself against it. He was directly beneath the one way glass, about twenty feet below it.
“JUST TO BE CLEAR, I CAN STILL SEE YOU. NO FUNNY BUSINESS!” the guy yelled over the growing sound of rushing air.
Allan didn’t give a shit that the guy could see. In fact, he was glad. He wanted him to see everything that was about to happen, it would blow his mind. Because Allan had been here before, in this room, five years ago, when he saw it finished. He designed it. He drew the blueprints, wore the foreman’s hat, and picked out the tiles. The same tiles those guys were sitting on, smugly thinking they had the upper-hand. He watched as sub-contractors laid them down. He picked out the desk, installed the intercom, and more importantly, he knew how the whole place was wired. Their little electric sting would be worthless when the fan was blowing at full force.
Allan waited for the fan to pick up speed. He couldn’t hear anything any other than white noise. He kept his right eye closed and his left eye open. The wind blew him back against the wall, compressing every part of his body. He couldn’t make his move just yet. The wind had to get a little higher. He needed it to push his eyeball back into the socket. He tried to look around with it, which he couldn’t do, not yet. Then it happened. The force of the wind pushed his eyeball back, just far enough, that it popped back in and he had control of his vision. The first thing he saw was the tip of his tongue come flying at him from the floor.
Allan made his move. He lifted his knees and was suspended against the wall. He climbed upwards, pushing himself little by little, faster than the guys could believe. His battered and broken body reminded him with every push of what he’d been through, pain pulsing through his joints. Dirt and random bits of gravel scratched his face, a mini sandstorm in the tunnel.
At last Allan’s head banged up against the bottom of the balcony. The fan couldn’t get any faster, which meant Allan could still move, even though it took all of his effort, and he didn’t have much left. He shuffled to his left, crawled up and over the side, where the solid forward edge of the balcony shielded him from the wind.
Behind the glass they were turning that shock dial all the way, pissing their pants because it wasn’t doing anything. When one thing was drawing that much power, there wasn’t power for anything else. Somewhere near by, in a small town, a family was setting down to dinner and wondering why their lights were flickering. The little dial, and the string running through his stomach, was useless.
Conclusion number four: These guys have no idea what’s about to hit them.
The guy was right when he said the glass between them was five inches thick. It was indeed. Five inches of solid, bulletproof plexiglass that would never bend or shatter under even the most extreme pressure. Mirrored one way to keep down glare, it was five feet high by eight feet wide and weighed close to eight hundred pounds.
It, like the rest of the room, was not supposed to be blown back. Allan designed that window to sit behind a forward facing lip of six inch concrete. It would never, ever, for the entire life of the world, be sucked out by that fan. But it could be blown back out of the gasket, a gasket that, by Allan’s estimation, could barely take the force it was under, and would unseat with just the slightest force.
Allan laid down behind that solid forward rail of the balcony, where he knew they could see him, and pulled that string out of his stomach. It hurt like a son of a bitch. It almost made him pass out. But he did it, right there in plain sight, so they could finally see the true measure of the man they were fucking with. He pulled it clear and showed them a full seven inches of bloody wire, then he tossed it aside.
He knew they were going crazy in there, probably calling for security. That main guy had probably shit himself. Allan laughed a tongueless chuckle. They might not have even figured out to shut the fan off. That was why their wire hadn’t stopped him. It was why there were completely screwed right now.
Allan rose up and sat on his haunches, ready to spring upward. In a moment he was gonna jump up, let the wind shove him forward, roll his right shoulder down to take the hit, and unseat that window.
He showed them an out turned palm, and pulled his fingers back to show that he was counting down this time. 5… 4… 3… 2… 1…
He jumped up and it happened exactly like he said it would. The wind caught his body like a ragdoll and blew into the window. His shoulder took the brunt of the impact and broke. Allan’s two hundred and twenty five pound frame was nothing to that fan. An eight hundred pound piece of glass was only slightly more troublesome.
It happened all too fast.
The glass blew through the back wall of the room, leaving a perfectly rectangular hole in the wall, like something out of a cartoon, or one of those children’s toys where you shove a plastic square through a square hole. It scraped the sides of the long hallway behind, tearing a huge plywood gash for the whole length. The window was thrown with such force that it snapped one of the men in half. He was severed in two at an angle, the glass cutting him in mid stride, from just beneath his left shoulder to just under his bottom right rib.
It finally came to a stop at the end of the hall, resting, and blocking, the only door out. Allan saw the door buckling behind the weight of that glass, god knows how many security guys coming to see what the problem was.
There was a part of the room that was untouched by everything that was happening, a section of controls about five feet in width, just to the left of the main console, an area that was safe when the glass broke free.
There was one guy sitting there, still very much alive, still very much in shock at seeing his partner split in two. Allan lay still on the ground, the wind blowing overhead at ridiculous speed. He crawled forward, right next to the guy, blood spattered lab coat and all.
He wore glasses, specked with little drops of blood, a Jackson Pollack done entirely in red. His breath hitched in and out. His gaze was permanently locked onto his partner’s body, laying at a weird angle on the floor, blood pooling around, slick and shiny. Allan was inches away before the guy looked at him.
“MAKE EH SOP!” Allan yelled with full lungs and a tongueless mouth. The guy looked at him and didn’t do anything. Allan motioned what he meant. Make the fan go in the other direction.
The guy stared at him for a moment before reaching over to a console on his left and moving a lever down. Allan knew that the fan would still take some time to wind down. But he didn’t have time to let it just come to a standstill. He set it going in the opposite direction to speed things up. From here, everything had to be timed perfectly. He had to jump from the window while the fan was still blowing hard enough to break his fall, and he also had to give it time to calm down even more, so that he could run through it without getting chopped in half. Because beyond the tunnel was freedom, an enormous vent that opened into a field in the countryside. And eight hundred pound piece of glass or no, there was still some bad dudes with guns at the end of the hallway. It wouldn’t be long before they tried to come in through the out door, so to speak
“you… you weren’t…” the guy said.
“Weh I ‘id!” Allan said, “‘ow ‘ere’s eh ‘ideo?”
The guy pointed to a dvd burner sitting beneath the console with the fan lever. Allan popped it open and broke the disc in two. The he judged that the time was right. He stood up and leaned forward into the wind and was shoved backward, not strong enough to lift him up but definitely enough to blow him back. He crawled forward through the spot where the window had been, fighting for every inch. He got down behind the solid rail of the balcony, crawled to the edge and got over.
The backward force of the fan was slowing. Enough that he slid down the wall, and the force of his landing smacked his jaws together. That would have cut my tongue off, Allan thought, then remembered that that had already happened so it was no big deal.
He got to his feet and waited fifteen seconds, then the fan stopped completely. He figured that that gave him twenty seconds to cover the hundred and fifty yards to it. He took off at a dead sprint.
His footfalls echoed around. He heard a huge crash from the open window, guys yelling orders, guns being cocked. The fan was whirring faster and faster. They climbed out onto the balcony and sighted him in their rifles. Allan was ten feet away and he hadn’t run far enough, the fan was moving too fast. He heard and saw a bullet ping off the blade. The mirrors around the fan shattered in a spray of gunfire, broken glass falling all around. Three stings happened in quick succession, in his left leg, arm, and right shoulder. He leapt forward out of pure fear and panic.
He rolled onto his back to see the fan whirring around faster and faster. Between passes he could see the security guys running across the floor to catch up. He looked back just in time to see one man get sucked into the fan and chopped into a fine spray. The wind was pushing at his back. He heard that same sound again in quick succession, more guys being sucked into the fan. The fan reached full speed and Allan was lifted off his feet.
The wind carried him like a piece of paper. He saw a shaft of light in the distance, two miles away, the elbow where the tunnel turned upward and into a field. It grew brighter and brighter. Allan braced himself, because in a moment the wind was going to blow him out, and he would fall a good thirty or forty feet as the pressure dropped. And it was going to hurt like hell, if not kill him outright.
He cleared the bend and saw the sky. He was thrown upward and were it not for everything that had happened, the moment might have been very beautiful. Clouds moved eastward and a flock of sparrows passed by. He looked down and saw the ground coming fast. He was all turned wrong, his neck was going to take the impact. Allan said a quick prayer for himself and his family and prepared to die.
He squished down into inches of mud, deer shit, and soft, reedy grass. Allan’s neck did take the full force of the impact but it was considerably lessened. He rolled over a for a moment and stared up at the sky, watching clouds pass lazily overhead. The sky darkened and the sun disappeared. A gentle shower broke and washed the mud off his face.
Allan laid there until the storm passed. Then he got up, and limped his way eastward, towards the nearest road, working on a lie for whoever was kind enough to pick him up and drive him to a hospital.