Lured away from safety, Frank finds himself a prisoner. Liz obviously has plans for him. She’s after something that only he can give her. Though Phil is with her, Frank suspects that he isn’t doing so willingly. Has she done to him what she’s done to Frank? Arriving at his house, Liz forces Frank to break through the coded police lock.
Frank tried four combinations before hitting on the right one. Shivering with cold and apprehension, he undid the lock when it beeped. He tried to keep an eye on Liz, who stood almost directly behind him, but the lock hung up on the doorframe and he had to give it his attention. That’s when he felt the sting of the syringe.
His knees turned to Jell-O. Phil caught him, dragging him into the house. His blurred vision showed that someone had been busy. A heavy chair was bolted to his living room floor. Several silver domed lights surrounded it. Frank dropped into the chair. Leather straps kept him upright. More thick straps bit into his wrists and ankles.
“Et tu, Brute,” he murmured as blackness took him.
Frank woke slowly, pulse pounding sluggishly in his left temple. His throat burned as if he’d been screaming. A lingering ringing in his ears made him strongly suspect that he had. Torso and feet bare, he shivered in the chilly, dark room.
He remembered bright lights, voices, music—harsh, loud, frenetic music—like two freight trains mating. The image made him laugh. It was a dry, withered sound.
Even in the dark, he could see he sat in his living room. One of his sturdy dining room chairs was bolted to the floor and he was bound to it by leather straps at wrists, chest and ankles. Heavy metal buckles held the quarter inch leather in place. There was no getting out of this on his own.
The house was silent. He was aware of his own breath and the thudding of his pulse. Outside, the wind blew. A storm gathered. It would snow heavily and soon. A sudden drop in temperature and inside or not, he would die.
Marka, find me, sweetheart. I need you!
He cast his thoughts to the wind. Surely Shay and Marka suspected something. Phil’s absence would be noticed.
How could we all be so blind?
Maybe the others weren’t. Perhaps only he hadn’t seen Phil for what he was, hadn’t suspected his betrayal. Or maybe. . . . Phil wasn’t the traitor. What if he was a victim just like Frank? He’d acted pretty weird, very unresponsive, almost dazed. Chances were good, he was simply the tool of choice.
Elizabeth Tynan. Would who suspect her? The Colonel’s aid, of being a lying, traitorous bitch?
“What do you want?” His voice sounded strange to him. He knew he’d asked this question of someone recently.
A sneering female faced appeared in front of him, leering tauntingly. “You know what I want.”
“Elizabeth, you hardly look your usual, pretty self.” He heard the words in a dream. Had he said them to her? What had happened?
His mind was dazed, his perceptions skewed. Was it an effect of the drug of something else that made him feel half baked on strong weed? He yawned, trying not to hurt himself as his body arched to stretch against his bonds. It was then he noticed that the clasp on one of his wrist restraints was loose.
There was no doubt Elizabeth had done that on purpose. She would never leave such a thing to chance. She must still need him for something. Letting him escape was part of the plan.
I didn’t break. Relief flooded him. He’d survived. Granted, Elizabeth hadn’t subjected him to the tortures her compatriots had. But psychological abuse was even more devastating than torture of the body. It left its own mark—one the eye couldn’t see.
Desperate to release himself, Frank wiggled his wrist until the band came free. Cold fingers fumbled with the latch on the other restraint. He rubbed his hands, blowing on them before attacking his ankle straps. That accomplished, he rubbed his legs to accelerate blood flow. His limbs burned and the muscles ached as circulation returned.
Stumbling around in the half dark, he found the phone and called Marka. Hers was the only number, besides Shay’s, that he could dredge up from his hazy memory. Her phone went to voice mail. He tried to speak to leave a message, but couldn’t make words form. His lips felt puffy and he realized he had a split lip.
Dragging his unwilling body to the hall closet, he got a heavy coat. Pulling it on was horrendously painful. The split lip wasn’t his only injury. The warmth of the fleece lining enveloped him, making him sigh with delight. His feet were bare and freezing. The next objective was a pair of fur lined boots. He struggled with them, his fingers refusing to cooperate. Pins and needles shot through his hands and feet as the circulation returned.
Gasping with his exertion, Frank crumpled into an untidy heap on the floor. It felt so good to lie down and not do anything. He was so tired and his body hurt like hell. Frank knew he needed to keep moving. The deepening cold clutched him. Even cozy in his coat and boots, he could feel it. If he could get to his bedroom, he could wrap himself in blankets.
Unable to stand, he crawled the length of the house. A wave of nausea and fatigue hit him and he slid on his belly the last few feet. He made his way to the bed, clawing at the blankets and comforter, pulling them down to him rather than trying to climb onto the bed. He wrapped them around himself and lay in an untidy heap on the floor.
His strength gone, he fell into an uneasy sleep. Nightmare images appeared in front of him, as bright strobe lights flashed around and behind them. Another wave of nausea made him dizzy and he cradled his head so the room would stop spinning.
© Dellani Oakes