Richard groaned deeply, watching with detached fascination as his vision blurred and doubled, a small string of drool dripping out of his mouth. His arm burned as if it had been held in the flames of a bonfire. His entire body felt numb. For the first time since being held captive, Richard felt like giving up. Complete surrender was a blissful thought, no matter what the outcome would be.
“This room stinks.”
The form standing in the corner of the room had never moved since he had injected Richard with the unknown drug. He had watched as Richard struggled in his seat, eventually crying out in pain, fraught with fear at the unknown. In the end, Richard had thrown up again, heaving until there was nothing left. Dry heaves shortly followed, his head throbbing with the sheer intensity of the act. Hendrick had doubled whatever he had given him, and the result was worse than Richard expected. Every sense seemed sensitized beyond his control.
“I know that you desperately desire to be cleaned up, but I really don’t think you deserve it. Besides, your water has to be saved for consumption, not for primping.”
If he had the power to, Richard would have growled something back about primping being the last of his worries. For now, he only wheezed, still reeling from the force of the drugs given to him. His throat was so dry, his ability move so difficult…
“I swear to you, Mr. White; none of this is my doing. If you could only come out with the truth, just a small sliver of what you know. It doesn’t have to be anything extreme. Just a name, a place…”
Richard squeezed his eyes shut tight for several seconds. His vision was still blurry, his head spinning like a roller coaster car through a wide turn. Dazed, he opened his eyes and lifted them to Hendrick’s white-clad form standing in the corner. He was leaning against one of the crates, the tan skin of his hands the only indicator that his arms were crossed. Lifting his eyes a bit higher, he could just make out Hendrick’s face, but the action cost him what little comfort he had left. The small headache became a pounding thud in his brain. He winced with the effort. His chin fell back to his chest.
And somewhere deep within him, Richard could feel his utter exhaustion give way to a small, unyielding anger. He didn’t know why he never felt it earlier, with all the drugs he was forced to take, and his healthy body screaming for care. Maybe he hadn’t had time to notice before. Maybe it was the drugs again.
Or maybe, for the first time, everything was finally clear. The headache might have been a side effect of the drugs, but righteous anger was firming within him. It was a small window for sure, but the opportunity was too delicious not to take. Then again, I would probably do this regardless of whether or not I was drugged. But it’s time to do something.
He couldn’t see him, but he could almost feel Hendrick’s face brightening. Taking a deep, shaky breath, ignoring the churning in his stomach, he gathered what saliva he could and swallowed, hoping the soothing coat would strengthen his voice. “Fine,” he repeated, “I’ll give you a name.”
A loud ‘click’ made his eyes twitch. Hendrick was suddenly before him with pen and paper, intently looking at his face.
“I’ve gotta… spell it for you, though. It’s hard… to pronounce for… some people.”
Hendricks hand waved the pen in the space between them. “That’s fine, Mr. White. Just give me the name.”
“Okay… Are you ready?”
“It’s… in code. I’m gonna have… to give it… that way.”
Richard took a deep breath, trying to calm his racing heart. “E… M… E… T… I… B.”
Richard watched Hendrick’s pen move against the paper. Staring at the pages of the notepad, Richard swallowed again. “Now… reverse ‘em.”
Richard was close enough to see Hendrick’s face fall. He let Hendrick stare at the words before chuckling.
His voice was hoarse, but strong and firm. “Fooled you.” He could feel a goofy smile spread on his face, the chuckling that continued convincing him that he was still reeling from whatever Hendrick had given him earlier. But the anger was still enflamed in his chest, steadily growing from a match light to a bonfire. “How can I… give you a name, Hendrick? You’re wasting… your time.”
There was a long pause. The pen in Hendrick’s hand clicked slowly - once, then twice. His hands dropped between his knees. Richard lifted his head enough to be able to glare at his captor. Hendrick, cold brown eyes showing infinite anger, merely smiled back. The resolve stored deep within slowly began to die. Hendrick’s eyes cleared until his smile was utterly charming, perfectly masking the evil of the man within.
“I’m wasting my time? Mr. White, I wish to waste no one’s time. Least of all your own. I’m not asking for anything much.”
“You’re asking for more… than what I’ve got… to give you.”
“No, no, no. You see, that’s not part of the agreement. We keep you here, sheltered, and we also keep a close eye on your family for you. All we ask in return is for your cooperation.”
“Sheltered… from the outside world… but not… from you. What’s to say… that I can’t sell… whatever information you think I have… for profit?”
“Oh, I’m not worried about that. No one else wants to know this information. Except for me.”
“In that case… it shouldn’t be… a big deal.”
“You seem to be missing the point, Mr. White. When you’re keeping an organization as secret as I am, you look at every single detail and make sure it works with the overall picture. You, however, are a piece from another puzzle. I want to know how you know about Underground.”
Richard squeezed his eyes shut a bit, hoping the action would wake him up more. He tried to raise his head, but only managed to roll it halfway up, letting it rest against his shoulder. “What’re you gonna do? Get me high again?”
Hendrick stared coolly back at Richard’s glossy eyes, the weak, vomit-covered form, and the bloody binding on his wrists. It seemed like he was calculating something, but Richard couldn’t hold a thought long enough to ponder it. Instead, Hendrick, charm on full display, smiled and pocketed the pen and notepad. “I’ve got a better idea. Perhaps I should give you a more elaborate idea of how this negotiation is going to work. You’re going to sit there – just there – and my crew is going to keep an eye on your family. And, to make you feel more comfortable here, I’d like to give you a better idea of that.”
Hendrick turned his back and walked over to the bag atop the black crate. Richard willed his eyes to stay locked on the retreating form. Eventually, the white-clad man turned cradling an object in his hands. Something was peeping out between his fingers.
“Do you know what this is?” Hendrick stopped with a small grin and stared at the material now clenched in his fist. “No, of course you don’t. I doubt you can even see this clearly, can you? My apologies. Allow me to make things… a little more clear for you.”
Hooking his thumbs into the folds, Hendrick dropped the bundle and let it hang before Richard’s eyes. The reporter, weary and drugged, felt all the blood drain from his face. All stress and pain in the muscles in his neck were completely gone in sight of this new terror.
Hendrick had this thumbs looked around the thin straps of Lois’ nightgown. The one she kept under her pillow. The one he had bought for her for their first Valentine’s Day after their engagement.
“I don’t think I need to tell you what this is.”
His breathing stopped. Fear and rage blended together until Richard couldn’t discern the two. Staring dazedly at the silky black fabric, he tired to mask his features to fool his captor. Hendrick’s quiet chuckle told Richard he was doing terribly. He closed his mouth and tried to swallow, grimacing at the dry, sticky thickness of his saliva. No words could be formed. Hendrick had finally rooted him in fear.
“I just wanted to keep you well informed, Mr. White. Your fiancée and your son are under close watch.”
Richard watched as Hendrick stretched his arm in front of him, hooking the straps of the nightgown through his arm so that it could hang between them. Grinning at it, lust flowing from his eyes, Hendrick let the back of his fingers trail sensuously across the fabric. “I’ll bet you know how this feels, don’t you? I’ll bet it’s even more luxurious on her. I’d imagine it’s even better… off of her.”
Richard clenched his jaw when Hendrick’s fingers trailed across the lace fabric just below the straps. One finger slipped inside, where the curve of cleavage would be present. Hendrick was staring back at him with a small smile. Keeping their eyes locked, Hendricks’ finger deliberately trailed down the nightgown until it was at the waist. Even slower, he let it slide further and further…
Suddenly, Richard could see Lois wearing the nightgown, being held roughly by Hendrick as his hand continued to move downward, her eyes defiant but slowly filling with tears…
He jerked in his seat just as Hendrick reached the bottom. The binds cut into his wrists and arms, his legs aching to be released from the intense pressure, but his eyes were afire, baring his teeth. His head swam with the hallucination, but his anger seemed to be more powerful. Hendrick stopped.
“If you lay… one hand on her… I’ll rip you apart… you son of a—“
“I’d love to see how you’d attempt that. You are malnourished, after all. I’m sure any right hook you’d throw would be about as strong as a punch from your son.”
“He’s got… a nasty kick.”
“And what would you do? Kick me to death?” Hendrick leaned forward. “Your son has a fascination with monsters, doesn’t he? How about things that go ‘bump’ in the night? I’m sure one of my men would love to play tricks on him every night for the next few days. How about fingerprints left on the outside of the window? Or a visit? Your son does know to not take candy from strangers, doesn’t he?”
He was helpless. Completely and utterly helpless. Hendrick had every right to make those threats; were he able to escape, Richard would be lucky to get out of the room without collapsing. Leg cramps notwithstanding, he didn’t even know how big the room was, or if he was out in the middle of nowhere…
He opened his mouth to say something, anything to persuade Hendrick somehow, but Hendrick beat him to it. “You don’t get a chance to try and rectify your mistakes today, Mr. White. I just wanted to let you know that your family is in good company. I’m sure Miss Lane would be very, very safe in my hands.”
The pain was suddenly catching up to him. Richard could make no movement, no objection when Hendrick stood straight and carefully removed the nightgown from his arms. Instead of folding it and putting it back in the bag, however, he lifted it by the straps one more time. “You don’t mind if I keep this for tonight, do you? It’s been so long since I’ve had pleasurable company of any kind. I’ll try not to give it back to Miss Lane ruined.”
With that, small, triumphant smile in place, Hendrick gently folded the nightgown over his arm and walked behind a crate. The door opened and shut moments later.