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The Interrogation

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When I came to I was alone, handcuffed to a folding chair in the stereotypical interrogation room: empty except for a desk sitting a few feet from me, equipped with another, more comfortable looking chair and the only source of light in the room, a small lamp, which illuminated the surrounding bare walls and a single door on the wall farthest from me.

I tried to remember what happened before I blacked out and how I had gotten here. I remembered a snowcapped ridge between a forest line and a train track. Dodger and I were fighting a group of officers that were most likely holding me captive now. I had been the diversion that allowed Dodge to escape the fray. The last thing I remembered was his retreating frame disappearing into the trees and a flash of white light as I was clubbed over the head.

As I thought of it, I could feel the welt on the back of my head throbbing. I mentally assessed the rest of me. Aside from a few cuts and bruises that I found only mildly annoying, I was in fine condition. Amazed, I wondered what the men I fought looked like, that I had escaped so unscathed. I smirked to myself, imagining the looks on the guys’ faces when I got home: “Just wait till you see the other guy...”

Loud and quick footsteps tore me from my ponderings. The door banged open and a middle aged man wearing a shirt and tie briskly entered carrying a blank file and a steaming cup of coffee. He sat down at the table without looking at me, placing the coffee and the file down on the table. His shoulders were tense, and stress lines creased his forehead and cheeks. His mouth was a taut line, and I could see stubble forming on his chin. Glancing at a watch, he rolled up his sleeves, loosened his tie and relaxed his posture.

“Miss Jefferson,” he said, finally meeting my eyes. “Do you recognize this man?” He opened the file and produced a picture of Dodge taken by some security camera somewhere.

Ignoring the use of my old name, I barely glanced at it, and then denied his question. “Can’t say that I do, sir.”

“Maybe you should take a closer look,” he slid the picture closer to me, his tone more threatening than suggestive.

I obliged, staring hard at Dodger’s sun tanned and unshaven face, thinking back to the day it was taken. We had been on the run for at least three weeks, traveling across seven state lines to relay whatever secret intel it was that Dodger had for the Freedom Fighters and had done everything to avoid any kind of attention. It had been rough going: switching hotels every few days, paying only in cash and hiding our faces. That particular morning, Dodge had awoken me in the wee hours and said it was time to leave. We had packed up our few belongings and left through a side door of the hotel. Looking at the picture now, I could see the exhaustion and stress the knowledge he held caused him on his face.

Surfacing from my thoughts, I wiped my face of all emotion and once again answered in the negative. “I have no idea who that man is. I’ve never seen him before in my life.”

The man’s face, if possible, grew colder. “You’re lying.” He stated it as fact, as though he had known the whole time.

I stared into his bleak grey eyes and looked to him as if he would elaborate. He did.

“You, Miss Jefferson, know very well that this man is one Theodore Joseph Sheppard, and you have been traveling with him for quite some time. The two of you are special agents of an unorganized rebel team that calls themselves the Freedom Fighters, and has been causing us some grief for a number of years. Now, my dear, seeing as you know full well the identity of this man, if you will please disclose his current location, I promise that we will let you go freely.”

As he spoke, my bubble of hope, along with any and all escape plans I had popped. Of course, with my luck I would actually be captured by The Republic’s special police force. For a long time, gangs had been escaping punishment for their own crimes by turning in known members of the Freedom Fighters. We had been growing rapidly in number, and some were careless enough to be caught. I had originally thought maybe I had been taken by one of those gangs, but apparently I wasn’t so lucky. Go big or go home, I guess.

Now, the lack of any kind of middle man destroyed any of my hopes for escape. I was going to die here, in the hands of a group of mindless officials being led along by oppressive dictator intent upon limiting the freedoms of the people in what was once America.

All I knew was that I wouldn’t go without a fight. I looked at him hard, my gaze steely. “I won’t tell you anything.”

His gaze faltered in apparent anger. He stood up from his seat and walked around the table towards me. “You’ll tell me everything I want to know. If you don’t, we can find something that will loosen your tongue.” He placed a hand on either side of the chair I was sitting in and leaned in toward my face.

“So, will you be a good girl and tell us what we want to know, or will I have to force it out of you?” His tone and the way he was looking at my body suggested something heavy, almost sexual, and I decided I didn’t want to be a part of that interrogation.

On impulse, I spat right in his expectant face.

Needless to say, he was incredibly angry.

Rearing back in disgust, he pulled a handkerchief from his pocket and wiped off his mouth and chin. Looking at me with pure loathing, he whispered, “You’ll pay for that, insolent whore.”

I only stared at him indifferently, as if I were bored. Furiously, he backhanded me as hard as he could.

The last I remembered was the concrete floor rushing up to meet my left side as the chair tipped sideways and crashed to the floor. Then there was only darkness.

I floated around in unconsciousness for what must’ve been several hours. Memories flashed through my mind like an ugly and pitiful montage of what my life had become.
===
A prom night, magical and innocent as it was intended to be, finally coming to an end as I slipped out of a fancy silk dress and curled under the warm covers, my cheeks still flushed from a goodnight kiss.

Waking up to the smell of sausage and pancakes in a warm bed, sun streaming through the window and my parents calling me to come downstairs.

The night He took over, The Dictator. Soldiers were everywhere, burning homes and cars. Mass chaos. There were people everywhere, screaming in misery or fear. The smell of burning hair. Where were my parents? Horrible, lonely confusion.

Being recruited into the freedom fighters. The feeling of a family again. Seeing Dodger for the first time since high school, since before he was Dodger and I Rose. Being assigned as his guardian. Putting aside memories of a childish break up, realizing how much I had missed his company.
===
I awoke with my right eye swollen shut. I mentally cursed the interrogator at the now increased pain in my head. If I wasn’t concussed before, I certainly was now. I sat in the silence and was overwhelmed by my thoughts. Deep in the memories I had suppressed for so long, I thought of my family, now dead; my friends, long gone; and I thought of myself, soon to join them. Lastly, I thought of Dodger. I hoped upon hope that he had made it back to headquarters. That he had a chance. I wasn’t afraid of dying in vain. No, I was more scared that I had failed him. I was terrified thinking that I had made a promise to him that I couldn’t keep.

The tears finally escaped as I sat in despair. “I’m so sorry, Dodge. So sorry.” I whispered to the silence. “If you’re out there, I’m sorry.”

I sat for several more minutes in silence. They stretched out into hours. All that time I could’ve been planning escape. Millions of seconds passed, each a chance that I let slip from my grasp as I wallowed in self pity, despair and defeat.

Once again, the quick footsteps of the interrogator interrupted my thoughts. Only this time, there were more footsteps along with his. Hulking and slower than the interrogator’s, they seemed to belong to one or two burly men. Sure enough, the interrogator entered the room flanked by two men who were well over six feet, with large muscles and shaved heads.

Oh my goodness, I thought. You have got to be kidding me. He has minions? What is this, a Steven Segal movie?

As if reading my mind, the interrogator turned and smiled wickedly at me. “Are you ready, Miss Jefferson? I said we’d loosen your tongue.”

Mildly confused, I looked at the goons. Both of them started threateningly at me, with faces like stone.

“Enjoy yourself, dear.” The interrogator winked at me and turned to leave. The minions advanced on me, eyes on my torn and bloodied clothes.

Legitimate fear gripped me. It wouldn’t end this way. It couldn’t.
===
I awoke, alone, with no concept of how much time had passed. I was lying on the floor, no longer handcuffed to a chair. It didn’t matter. I couldn’t move from the fetal position even if I wanted to.

I could no longer categorize my injuries. There were too many. Long gashes covered my torso where their nails dug into my skin and there were bruises all along my arms. There was so much blood. Everywhere. Coming from a cut above my eyebrow; from my busted and swollen lip; my nose; the gashes on my stomach, chest and back. Most of that had dried. The blood pouring from between my legs seemed endless. I was having extremely painful cramps, and a throbbing pain came with each movement, each breath, each beat of my heart.

Couldn’t they have just finished me off? Was it too much to ask that I had died? Anger welled up inside me. It was the only way to stop the desperate tears that threatened to flow. Channel my anger. Anger at the interrogator, for letting those men do this to me; the dictator, for taking my country; my parents, for dying and leaving me here in this hell; Dodger, for being so damn important; and finally, I was angry with myself, because I got myself into this whole mess. I could’ve ended this battle along time ago. But I didn’t. Now I just wished for the comfort of death.

God must have been looking out for me, because a few minutes later he sent me a small and mousy looking girl with a first aid kit and a change of clothes. She looked about my age and from her face I could tell she was not supposed to be here helping me.

Frightened eyes glanced around as she walked towards me. I looked at her and glared, and she motioned for me to keep quiet. “I’m helping you, I promise.”

I said nothing as she leaned over me and started to mop up the blood. She kept silent as she worked, and I didn’t prompt conversation. Avoiding my eyes, she took a warm cloth and began wiping the blood from my nose.

Finally, I quietly asked why she was doing this for me, my voice hoarse from screaming and crying. She put down the rag and looked at me for a long time.

“You loved him, didn’t you.” The way she said it, it wasn’t a question. “Of all the people they’ve brought in for information, of all the ones they’ve done this to, I’ve never seen anyone hold on like you have, through all of this. This isn’t just about rebellion for you. You didn’t just want to make sure whoever he was got away with the information. You wanted him to live. For him to be safe, you gave yourself.”

I stared at her in complete awe. Was she right? Was that why I stepped in the way of that club? I hadn’t thought of us like that since before the war. That was a taboo subject. Unsteady ground. After we both joined the fighters, I had only ever looked at Dodger as my partner. I had never addressed whether that shield was for the safety of the mission or for my own. Had he really been the reason I kept fighting? The reason I stayed strong after my parents died?

I looked up at her hopeful eyes once more. I flashed the tiniest of smiles, and she mirrored it, eyes shining. “That’s what I thought.”

Our bonding moment was suddenly interrupted by the interrogator and my rapists bursting through the door.

I swear fire could’ve come from his nose and mouth. He dashed over and grabbed the girl by her hair and dragged her away from me. She screamed, and I cringed. She was saved, however briefly, by none other than myself.

“Take me instead.” I didn’t raise my voice any higher than when she and I had been talking, but they all seemed to hear and stopped. The interrogator eyed me coldly. A wicked smile once again flashed in my direction.

“Oh no, Miss Jefferson. This girl is going to die. You, however, will not receive that kind of reward until you tell us what we want to know. You will receive routinely visits from these gentlemen,-” he motioned at the goons, who were now staring at me, his words having piqued their interests, “-until you tell us where Mr. Sheppard is.”

“Right here, B****.” We all turned to see Dodger standing in the doorway, hate clouding his eyes.

At any other moment, I could’ve laughed at his timing. He immediately dispatched the interrogator and his goons with the pistol he was holding, and the girl who helped me took her chance, dashing out the door.

Stepping over the bodies of my captors, he walked over to where I was. Stopping at the pool of blood on the floor, his strong arms lifted me to my feet.

“Sorry I’m late, Darling, but traffic was murder,” then, almost as an afterthought, “Good God, blondie, you look like hell.” He immediately removed the leather jacket he reserved strictly for riding his cherished motorcycle and wrapped it around my shoulders.

I laughed for the first time in weeks. “And I still look better than you.”

He gave me a hurt look, laughter in his eyes as he turned to leave. “Let’s get out of here. The décor in this place is bleak. Very uninviting.”

I stopped him. “Hey, Dodge…” I searched for the words. “I guess…I mean…thanks…seriously.” I trailed off, not sure how to say what I was feeling.

He laughed off my fumbling awkwardness. “Aw, come on, don’t be that guy. Let’s get back to headquarters. I got my bike back; we can probably get there by dusk.”

Once again he started to walk out, knowing I would follow eventually. I didn’t.

“Theo…”

He stopped and turned slowly at the sound of his old name. I hadn’t called him by his given name in years.

Knowing I had his full attention, I spilled the details of my interrogation, slowly but surely addressing every part, leaving out only my exchange with the mousy girl. I listened to my raspy voice and cringed inwardly. As I spoke, I watched the ghost of his general good humor fade, replaced by sorrow, then pride, pity, righteous outrage, and finally the faintest hint of compassion, the emotion I knew he didn’t like to show.

“So thank you,” I said, my voice having gained confidence as I went, “for getting me out of here. Your timing was excellent as usual.”

He closed the distance between us in a few strides and held me close, fingers entwined in my blood matted hair. I took in the smell of motorcycle exhaust and cigarette smoke and, comforted by his familiarity, tears of relief finally squeezed out.

Feeling my uneven breathing, he pulled back and held my bloodied and bruised face in his hands and was finally serious, his voice barely a whisper. “I won’t ever let this happen to you again. Ok?” Then, raising his voice to his usual brusque and joking manner, “Seriously, let’s go home. You really do look like crap.”




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candlelightwriterThis teenager is a 'regular' and has contributed a lot of work, comments and/or forum posts, and has received many votes and high ratings over a long period of time. said...
today at 2:02 pm:
Yes you need to turn this into a novel! What're you waiting for?! Go write something, woman!
 
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