*AUTHOR'S NOTE: The first part of this was previously posted as part one of an episodic. I decided to rework the first part and post the complete story as opposed to several episodes. Thank you for stopping by- I hope you like it.
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The spook’s swagger was accentuated by the cramped quarters as he entered the dark cell followed by his two burly associates, whose bulk further diminished the closet-sized room. The prisoner was blinded, although the light was dim; he had spent uncounted hours in almost total darkness. The bigger, uglier associate- the last one in- turned to close and lock the massive steel door, restoring the darkish doom. The stench of fear sweat and urine hung almost visibly thick in the gloom, not quite completely due to the prisoner.
The spook’s ID said CIA but he was NSA but that didn’t matter to the prisoner right now, and his associates questioned neither their boss nor the prisoners- they were mostly silent partners.
The prisoner’s feet and neck were each wound in several layers of white cotton gauze. His guttural shouts were incomprehensible until the spook removed the ball strapped into the prisoner’s mouth. “Awwwah Ahbah!” blasted inarticulately from his depths, spraying spittle and bits of foam flack as he struggled against the gurney’s reinforced restraints. Saliva dribbled down the captive’s trembling lower lip as the spook forced the ball back in and reattached the strap before the prisoner could manage his mouth around a decent spit.
“Watch this,” announced the spook, freeing the captive's captive left wrist. The prisoner immediately began tearing frantically at the bands wound round his neck. Layer after layer of gossamer gauze gave way to an oozing wound. Copious bleeding ensued as the fervent self-assault of scratching nails continued.
“He would dig down to his jugular if I let him,” spoke the spook as he grabbed the arm and resecured it, “and if he doesn’t talk soon that’s exactly what’s going to happen.”
* * *
“As in an airlock, the previous set of doors must be secured before the subsequent doors will open,” the warden explained. The warden herded the Congressional Investigative Committee through several such pairs of widely separated portals, gently descending a faintly fluorescent hallway slightly curving then widening at its terminus to reveal a gleaming steel lobby dominated by a pair of armor-plated doors- a cross between elevator doors and a bank vault. The reinforced doors parted, revealing an elevator car capable of comfortably carrying perhaps half a dozen average humans. Most of the Congressmen and their senior aides were somewhat larger than the average human. An unanticipated application of protocol was necessary.
The senior Senator and House Representative, accompanied by the senior aide of each, the warden, and a pale heavily-armed guard descended first followed by two more loads of the more recently elected and a puny portion of their respective posses. Those remaining shared an uncomfortable silence with a pair of guards, also pasty due to their subterranean posting.
The warden prepared to speak to the remaining fraction of the fact-finding delegation finally gathered below. The warden was not, precisely speaking, a warden; and the fact-finding committee was not, in fact, finding facts.
“Why are these men in restraints? They seem to have multiple wounds. This is an outrage! Torture is not permitted under our new-“
“Senator,” interrupted the warden, “these men have been restrained only as a last resort in order to prevent further self-mutilation. We follow the law- all of their injuries are self-inflicted. They seem to think that continuing to injure themselves will advance their cause. Even with plastic utensils they persisted in harming themselves. They now receive finger foods or forced feeding. We had no choice but to restrain or sedate them for their own good.”
“I wish to speak to some of these men,” said the Senator. The warden didn’t mind. None of his prisoners would dare to contradict him.
* * *
“Medic,” the spook spoke into his cell phone. A medic entered the cell and applied an aerosol to the prisoner’s neck wound. The prisoner flinched, glared at the spook, and then for a moment almost smiled before passing out.
“It’s amazing what these guys will give up just to scratch an itch,” the spook spoke to his associates, “except for this stubborn guy.” The spook once more removed the gag then slapped the prisoner, who regained consciousness.
“It’s strange,” spoke the spook to his captive. “You haven’t scratched your nuts once since you arrived here.” The spook then nodded to the medic, who removed another aerosol can from his black bag.
The spook slapped the ball gag back into the prisoner’s mouth and reattached the strap.
"That's the first coherent word I've gotten out of him, and probably the last."
"A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, adored by little statesman and philosophers and divines. With consistency a great soul has simply nothing to do."
- Ralph 'Where's Waldo' Emerson
"I don't know half of you half as well as I should like. And I like less than half of you half as well as you deserve."
- Bilbo Baggins