Chapter 4 - Imprisonment
Mugginess, hot sticky skin, tormented by mosquitoes. Clay is asleep, not in his own bed, he's exhausted but he can't manage to relax, his sleep is fitful, something holds him in limbo in that state of half-sleep, the heat, the itchiness, but not just that, a dull noise, far away, familiar and unfamiliar at the same time, torments him. Clay doesn't want to hear, he doesn't want to open his sleepy eyes, but the sound becomes more insistent, closer. Suddenly he yells. In his mind? No, it's real. He sits up all at once, his senses instantly alert, he knows those sounds: gunshots. He grabs the gun and kicks his partner, who immediately sits up, accustomed just like he is to going from a state of sleep to wakefulness. They exit the hut, the sky is morning red, in flames, screams of terror and excitement. Clay doesn't understand, the village was empty when they had set up camp, evidently the locals had come back thinking that the enemy, they, had gone, and now they were fighting for those four dilapidated huts.
Gunshots, from his other companions. The enemy, the yellow men are armed only with sticks and hatchets. The noise is relentless; it torments him.
Darkness. Clay was woken by the sound of his own cough. He didn't know if it was day or night, not that it much mattered given the circumstances. Everything hurt but he was alive, at least for now. He touched his wounds to see how much blood he was losing and was surprised to feel bandages on his body. He had been bandaged up. They didn't intend to kill him, not yet.
His head hurt and pulsated, he couldn't think clearly. He had lost Vinogradov again, that was certain. If he got out of this alive the Russian would have this to answer for in addition to that scar on his arm. Wallace was dead and it was likely that Nalvano was too. That operation had become a nightmare.
He heard footsteps, the squeak of a rusty door and finally a faint light illuminated the room. It seemed like a low wattage flashlight. Clay looked around, a damp cell improvised in some filthy, moldy basement. He wondered where they had taken him..
A tank of a man, tall with broad shoulders, yanked him abruptly to his feet without saying a word.
"Hey, take it easy big fella!" he complained, feeling pain everywhere. His voice was hoarse and scratchy. He sounded uncertain even to himself. The man grunted loudly in response, he shoved up the steep, wet staircase. Clay felt stabbing pains in his knee and his side with every step, he leaned against the slimy wall in order to not slip in the semi-darkness. He smelled mold and mildew and heard the sound of water dripping from the ceiling. They must have been in someplace very humid, maybe near the Potomac.
Climbing upward he began to see light, he lowered his head in order to pass under the archway of the low doorway, then he found himself in a wide open space and finally felt the warmth from a heater. He kept on coughing. ........