Assassin Ch. 03bycckuay©
Somewhere in Mexico
Icy cold water was splashed on her face. She lifted up her head. The two men in front of her wore black jeans and combat boots. One of them wore a sleeveless camouflaged shirt. The other was shirtless. Both of them were of the same height as her, although it was difficult to tell from her awkward and uncomfortable position.
These two men were not the same as the others. She wondered how many men were involved in her capture and interrogation. She had a good memory, and had memorized the faces of those she had seen, and the voices of those she had heard.
"Wake up, bitch," the shirted man spoke softly and slowly as he slapped her across her bruised breasts. He had a southern accent. She placed him as someone from Alabama or Arkansas. She assumed he was the leader of the two.
They had moved her again when she was out, probably still near the border on the Mexican side. The room appeared to be larger, but otherwise the same. Her arms were handcuffed behind her, her wrists lifted up by a rope running from the ceiling. With a nod from the leader, the shirtless man pulled the rope further up until she was forced to stand on tip toes to ease the pain on her shoulders, her shoulder joints internally rotated unnaturally, her wrists higher than her head. In the sixties and seventies, the Vietcong forces used this technique on their captives. The technical term for this stress position was the strappado.
She glimpsed at the large watch the shirtless man wore. The time was five minutes to six. If she was still in Pacific Time, her trusted partner Fabian would soon realize she had been captured. She only needed to hold out for five more minutes.
The shirtless man moved within an inch of her forehead, his six-pack stomach directly facing her lowered head. She looked down on the floor, avoiding eye contact. She could smell his erection inside his tight jeans. He waited for instructions from the other man.
The familiar ring tone of the leader's cell phone rang. He stepped outside the room. She was now with only with one man. She assessed her chances.
The shirtless man did not carry a gun. His jeans were too tight to hold a gun. In his pocket, there appeared to be some kind of tool. The handcuffs were tight. It was impossible to get out of them without the keys or at least some sharp metal objects. She was half hanging from the ceiling and would not have the leverage to plant a proper kick. Besides, her legs were not free. They were secured to a spreader bar, forcing her ankles to be 3 feet apart.
Although she might be able to head butt the unarmed man, she assessed her chances of successful action at less than ten percent. The leader returned to the room before she could formulate another plan. The time was now five past six. Hopefully, he was wearing an accurate watch.
"We have to move faster," the leader spoke in Spanish to the shirtless man. "Our boss wants us make her talk quickly, and then kill her."
"Do we get to fuck her before killing her?"
"Only if she gave up the password." The men did not realize that their green-eyed, blonde-haired captive was fluent in Spanish.
"Oh, she will." The shirtless man grinned, as he removed a pair of pliers from his left pocket.
The leader moved behind her and twisted his right palm around her hair, forcing her to look up. She felt the cold hard pliers grip the soft flesh around her left nipple.
"Last chance, tell us the password. We are going to eventually hack through the laptop anyway." The shirted man switched back to English.
"I prefer to let your guys have the opportunity to apply their computer hacking skills. Perhaps your army of hackers can crack the code." She remained defiant, hoping to buy a few more minutes.
With a nod from the leader, the shirtless man tightened his grip on her defenseless nipple, twisting and pulling it, the pliers tearing into it. Pain thundered through her naked body. She screamed and lost control of her bladder, the warm fluid trickling down her inner thighs. A small pool of blood oozed out of the center of her left nipple.
He let go of the plier but her body was still twitching.
"Vomit if you need to," the southern voice continued. "Let's see if your right nipple is tougher."
With another nod, the shirtless man touched her right nipple with the pair of pliers. She was no longer strong enough to stand on tip toes. Her shoulders were on the verge of being dislocated. She knew she could not hold out much longer. A sideways glance from her good eye confirmed that it was fifteen minutes pass the hour.
"Okay," she whispered. "I remember my password."
The leader grabbed a handful of hair and jerked her head up. "Lie to me and I'll slice off your already bloodied nipple." He produced a blade and held the flat part against her left nipple. The other man put away his pliers and sat in front of the laptop. He touched the spacebar to reactivate the screen.
"The password is motherfucker88, all small caps."
The leader raised his eyebrows, but spelt out every letter of the word to his associate. The password was correct. A quick phone call to the boss confirmed the correct files were on the hard drive.
"We know you did not act alone. Who is your partner?" The pliers returned to her right nipple. He started to squeeze and she shouted, "Fabian, his name is Fabian."
"What's his address?"
The pliers moved to the soft fold of skin between her legs.
"One twist and you will never feel anything there. Be smart and talk."
There was no more point in resistance. She told him Fabian's address.
When she was cut down, her legs could not support her weight and she collapsed sideways onto the hard cement floor. The leg spreader was removed and her ankles were shackled with leg irons. The shirtless man carried her over his shoulder and moved her to a windowless concrete room, six by four foot. She heard him lock the metal door. Finally alone, she wondered if she had given Fabian enough time to disappear. It was only last night that Fabian had worked so hard to crack the code and transfer the files to her computer.
Fabian's phone vibrated. The single word "landed" appeared on the screen. Dressed in skinny jeans and a tight black tee, Fabian checked the clock on the phone. Her flight was almost half an hour early, almost unheard of these days.
He pulled the BMW into the unloading zone, scanning the curb to see if there were any officers nearby. Even without luggage, it would take Megan at least fifteen minutes to walk through the huge terminal. He texted back, "Curbside, waiting 4 U."
His phone vibrated again, "Money?"
"Wired. No surprises." As usual, he thought, Megan worried too much. He wished she would trust him to do his job.
His thoughts were interrupted with two firm knocks on the window. He glanced to his left and saw an officer's gloved hand moving in a circular motion. He pressed the button to roll down the window. "Sir, this place is for dropping off departing passengers."
"Oh? Where do I go to pick up my wife? She had just returned from China after a missionary trip." Fabian looked the officer in the eye, practicing the cover story he had often used.
The officer was not moved. "You'll have to park your car in the garage and wait for her inside the luggage claim area in the building."
"But she had already landed and would miss me if I do that. Can I just wait for another minute?"
The officer shook his head. "Move on, sir, before I write you a ticket."
Fabian stepped on the gas and drove half a mile, and then he made an illegal U-turn and headed back to the same terminal. This time, he parked behind the Hertz shuttle bus. He dialed Megan's cell.
"Hey handsome, where the hell are you?"
"Behind the Hertz rental bus. The driver's helping an old lady load her multiple bags. As soon as the bus moves, you'll see me."
"Are you in your usual flamboyant red BMW convertible?"
"Yes, do you not like it?"
"It's too flashy and noticeable for our profession, don't you think?"
The bus moved and she started to fast march to the BMW. Fabian moved the car into the bus zone to meet her halfway. She walked in front of the car to the driver's side.
"Move over so I can drive," she said as she opened the driver's door.
"Don't trust my driving and afraid I'll get us killed?"
She elbowed him and placed one foot inside the car. He realized she was serious. He unbuckled the seat belt and slid out of her way. She would have sat on him if he had not done so.
"See if you can break the password," she tossed the laptop to him when the view of the airport disappeared from the rearview mirror.
"Right now?" Fabian loved Megan to death. But sometimes, her restless energy and impatience were not compatible with his laid-back nature.
"I've been trying to crack it in the plane. Don't make me wait another second."
Fabian touched the power button. He knew better than to pick a fight with a jetlagged woman.
"The battery's low, probably less than five minutes of juice left. I might have a car adapter somewhere." Fabian opened the glove compartment, removing the contents one item at a time.
"Any luck?" She asked when the computer started beeping.
"Looks like I have to do this in my apartment."
"Let's go there." She abruptly took the exit ramp, drove a couple of side streets, and entered another freeway leading to Oak Lawn. She pushed the gas pedal until it was about ten miles over the speed limit.
"Where did you get this laptop?"
"It belongs to the dead guy. Isn't it strange that a man would bring a laptop to a strip club?"
"It must be valuable to him."
"That's why I brought it back. Somebody might find it valuable enough to pay us."
"I see." Fabian loved this part of Megan, always thinking of how to maximize whatever situation she found herself in. As her lucky partner, he had enjoyed the fruits of her work, always splitting the proceeds fifty-fifty. They might just be fortunate enough to make another bundle from the secrets embedded in the laptop of a money launderer.
Despite working closely with Fabian in the last five years, Megan had never been to his apartment in Oak Lawn. The tony suburb, Dallas residents called it the "gayborhood", was famous for its bars and restaurants along Cedar Springs Road.
Like most gay man, Fabian decorated his one-bedroom in an artsy way. Megan was afraid she would break something as she stepped carefully around the 550 square foot condo.
"This is fancy," she said as she stepped out to the balcony facing the community pool.
"Do you want something to drink?" Fabian plugged the power adapter to the socket under his bed.
"Help yourself. I have Bud Lite in the fridge."
Fabian fished out a USB drive from the nightstand drawer. When he inserted it into the laptop, colorful icon images appeared on the screen. He double-clicked the icon of a pirate's skull.
"How long would you need to break in?" She joined him with two beers in the bedroom.
"It's hard to say. If the electronic lock is a recent version, maybe thirty to forty-five minutes, one hour tops." On the screen, red was slowly turning to green on the time bar. "There's nothing we can do now except wait."
"Do you mind if I take a shower?" She was already out of her dress. "I can still smell him in my hair."
"Feel free to borrow my clothes," Fabian said with his eyes still glued to the screen.
Fabian was about the same size and height as her. His wardrobe was extensive, exceeding hers in both quality and quantity. He had a section containing women's club wear. Megan skipped the stripper club wear, opting for a denim miniskirt and a sleeveless cropped top.
"Holy cow!" She heard his high-pitched yell while she washed away the shampoo from her eyes.
She stepped out of the shower wrapped in a towel. "What do you have?"
"I cracked the initial password and got in. But when I tried to open the first folder, the system froze up and shut down. I need a stronger key to overcome the second password."
"Are you sure you know what you're doing?" She said that just to get a reaction from him. Fabian was the best computer hacker she had ever met.
Fabian ignored the question. "I am going to copy the entire hard disk when the system reboots." He unplugged the power cord, inverted the laptop, and removed the battery from the base. Then he repeated the cycle in reverse, inserting the battery, restoring power and pressing the power button. Using the same USB drive, it took exactly the same amount of time to break the initial password.
"Pass me the device inside the second drawer of my nightstand," he said without looking away from the screen." She handed him the Passport, a portable 500 gigabyte hard disk the size of a paperback novel.
"How long is this going to take?"
"Probably all night until sunrise."
"Let's go out to celebrate. No point waiting here."
"Do you mind going to a gay club?" he asked.
"Those are the most fun. Where do you want to go?"
"Let's go to JR downtown," Fabian removed his shirt and walked to the bathroom. "I'm going to need to look my best."
Her thoughts of Fabian grew cloudy as she slowly lost consciousness.
To be continued in Assassin Ch. 4