“Please don’t kill me”
I kept mumbling this to myself like it were a prayer.
I no longer had any idea how long we had been driving when we suddenly stopped. One of the men grabbed my arms, shouting impatiently and none too gently dragged me out of the vehicle. I could feel the trail of hot piss flowing over my thighs as they began dragging me along the ground, again. I heard a door swing open just ahead and the floor no longer felt so rough and the voices of my captors seemed to echo as we moved along, as though we were in a corridor.
We stopped moving. I tried to raise my head, to listen, but I was suddenly slammed against a wall.
“Down!” the voice of my captor was a harsh bark.
I instinctively attempted to curl into a fetal position but someone grabbed my hands. Stronger hands stilled my wrists and I felt something extremely sharp cut through the cord that bound them.
I kept muttering this prayer.
There were loud scraping sounds, like objects being moved about hurriedly. I was dragged up to my feet and then shoved down onto something which felt like a wooden chair. My hands were placed on a flat wooden surface, my fingers splayed out.
Let me be honest with you, a part of me was more than a little excited at having come this far. “Maybe I could still make the story of the century” I thought. And then they removed the sack cloth from my head.
I found myself staring at a masked man, a slender-bodied guard on each side of him, both heavily armed. The masked man was seated across the small table on which my hands had been placed. In front of him was a hammer, a large suya knife and a digital stopwatch. The man wore green army fatigues, which appeared slightly undersized on his large frame. He was very dark-skinned. His hands were placed on the table in the same manner as mine and they were rough, with chipped nails and callused all over. His eyes, these were tiny slits in the mask, cold and cruel.
“Please I’m a reporter for the ………..”
I never got the chance to finish as I was immediately knocked down by one of the guards standing behind me. My mouth filled with the metallic taste of blood. I coughed and spat, as they pulled me back into the chair. I could feel my nose itch from the pain.
“I know who you are.”
The masked man’s voice was calm, very calm. He reached for the stop watch, set the timer, then looked back at me.
“And you have two minutes to convince me to spare your life”
I looked at him in shock.
“I’m a journalist and I, I,….. I’m doing a story on national security.”
“Sixty seconds” he replied quietly.
My body turned cold. I spoke faster
“No! Wait! Honestly, I’m a reporter, and I’m doing a story. Please! nobody sent me.”
“Jesus!” I cried in fear.
I shouldn’t have. The man looked at me. His tiny eyes wide with shock. He spoke angrily to his guards and one of them grabbed my left hand.
“No!” I cried
“Please! I’m sorry.”
The masked man picked the hammer.
“Next time you will watch what you say” he whispered harshly. He calmly hammered three of my knuckles in quick succession, breaking each one. The pain shot through my brain in one straight dose.
I fell to the floor.
The guards barked at me, but I just kept rolling, until one of them grabbed me and forced me back into the chair.
“You still have fifteen seconds” he said, stroking the big knife in front of him.
“Please” I whimpered; tears in my eyes “I don’t know what to say.”
“Just tell me the truth.” He patted my injured hand and I could tell he was smiling.
“You have five seconds.”
They say that he who is on the ground need not fear falling. I felt I had reached the very bottom – the shock of the pain was already making me dizzy. I could feel my time running out.
“I want to meet the teacher.”
He stopped stroking the knife and leaned closer. “And what do you know about the teacher?”
“Nothing. I just want to meet him, so I can do an interview”
“And that is the reason you came here?”
“Yes” I nodded. He leaned back, seemingly thoughtful.
“I don’t believe you.” It was a simple statement of fact.
“I’m telling the truth” I groaned, expecting him to use the knife.
He looked at me, as though I was an oddity, a deformed child in the midst of healthy looking babies. He said something to one of the guards and rose to his feet.
“We will continue our discussion soon.”
He took his tools and rose to leave. The sack cloth dropped over my head. It was then I passed out.