The President's Son Ch. 04byDWSimon©
The rocking of the plane was starting to annoy James. He had an iron stomach and motion sickness never usually fazed him, but, with the pain in his shoulder and the chloroform, he started feeling nauseous. And to top it off, it was very cold and getting colder. Through the lit cabin, he couldn't see anything but darkness outside the windows, but he did catch an occasional fleck of light. If he wasn't mistaken, he'd swear it was snow. Great.
Within minutes of landing, and the stopping of the propellers, the door unlocked and the man with the gun from earlier stepped in, brandishing the pistol. He was followed by two other men, dressed entirely in black, with heavy sweaters. They leaned down and grabbed James and hauled him to his feet. The marched him through the door and down a gangplank onto a dock. James blinked his eyes and waited for the darkness to become less. He spotted land at the end of the dock, barely broken by a building with a few lights on them. The shore was nearly unbroken with nothing but conifers. Unless he was vastly mistaken, he was either in Eastern Russia, Alaska, or Canada.
As they left the dock, he was led into the building. It was almost utilitarian, nothing but cinder blocks, painted a dull grey. There were four doors off the long corridor. At the end, it looked to be a bathroom. They led James into the furthest door on the right. Inside was a lone table, three metal chairs, some bare light fixtures, and a cabinet. They pushed James down into a chair, untied his arms, and secured his right arm to a metal eye in the middle with handcuffs.
The main captor was silent the entire way through the building. Once he was secured, the two other men left, leaving James with his captor. The man went to the cabinet and opened it, riffling through the contents of a drawer. When he turned around, he had a metal lock box. He sat it on the table and watched James for a moment.
When he sat down on one of the other chairs, he pulled the lock box to him and opened it. "Captain. We will need some things from you. It won't be too painful."
He pulled out a pair of surgical gloves, a pair of scissors, three manila envelopes, and a metal container. He stood and started to move around the table. Before he reached James, he stopped and took his gun out of his pocket. He slipped the safety off and looked at James. "I hope you won't make this difficult. I don't want to have to secure your other hand."
James let all the emotion off his face and stared at the man. "What do you want?"
He chuckled. "A lock of hair, the insignia and ribbons, and a vial of blood."
"Why my blood?"
The man made a negligent shrug. "How else to prove who you are and that we have you?"
The captor opened the small metal container, revealing a hypodermic, rubbing alcohol, and a tourniquet. James nodded his head and held out his left arm, palm up, exposing his elbow. A knock at the door stopped the captor. He called for them to enter, and one of his two escorts stepped inside. The captor handed the man his gun before he leaned into James and removed his collar insignia and ribbons. Taking the scissors, he cut a bit of hair from the back of James's head. He put the hair in one manila envelope, the insignia and ribbons in another. Taking James's arm, he tied the tourniquet around James's bicep and swabbed the crook of James's elbow before he stuck him, not unkindly, and drew a small blood sample. The vial went into the third envelope.
James let his arm relax once the tourniquet was off. The captor put the three envelopes into the lock box and handed it to his goon. "You know what to do with this?"
The goon nodded and left the room. He came back in after a couple of minutes with a camera. The goon nodded at the captor and he smiled. He turned to James and shrugged, his cocky grin still in place. "This should get interesting, Captain."
Without pause, his fist came out and connected with James's jaw, snapping James's head back. The second punch came just as fast, splitting James's lip. James felt the rip in his skin, tasted the slight bit of copper pool in his mouth. He stood quickly, pulling at his chained arm, unable to reach his full height. His captor moved away, feinting with his body, almost in reach of James as he punched back, missing. Tiring himself, he stood still, waiting for the next move. James's captor stood just out of reach and laughed.
James glared at him with every bit of hatred in him. It was only a small sense of satisfaction that the man's smile faltered a bit. "You will pay for that."
He chuckled and moved further away. "Not yet, Captain."
With a motion of the man's hand, the goon came up and pushed the captain back into his chair then punched James's eye again. James sat in his chair, not defeated, but deciding to merely choose his battles. The captor stood against the wall and lit a cigarette, nodding. "We'll wait a few more minutes for the bruises to show." He stepped forward and smiled. "It'll make the pictures a bit more authentic."
James felt a bit of relief; if this was only for show. He knew it was a false hope, a wrong idea, but it was hope. For now he felt afraid. Adrenaline might have blocked it, but now he really felt terrified. A bar fight, a misunderstanding in high school, a drunken brawl after basic, those James had been a part of, but he was powerless, with no alcohol to deaden the pain, no anger to fuel his body. And without being able to fight back, it only made him feel powerless. Sitting back, using his free hand to touch his split lip, he glared at the man who held him prisoner.
Before James could say anything, the flash from the camera lit the room, momentarily blinding James. The picture that came out of the camera was handled by the man who'd hit James with surgical gloves. It was placed in an envelope and the goon with the camera left. James's captor turned to face James, smiling slightly. "You'll be shown to your room shortly. But first, I'll need your uniform shirt."
James looked down. "You have everything that identifies me off of it."
He smiled as he took his gun and pointed it at James. "I didn't say you'd be comfortable while you were with us."
The captor indicated the buttons on his shirt and James stared, furious, frightened, then began to take off his shirt.
Alec awoke in a dark room, feeling very dizzy. As his eyes tried to adjust to the dimness of the room, he moved his head to catch the slight light he could see. The motion was a mistake as his stomach revolted. Biting back the gorge rising in his throat, Alec turned himself over quickly and took several deep breaths, trying to keep the meager contents of his stomach in place.
After a few moments, his stomach began to calm, but the trembling in his limbs grew more pronounced as he tried to stand. So much so, that he collapsed onto his knees. Inching his way around in the dark, he discovered a wall which he leaned against. Shutting his eyes that did nothing to help him discover where he was, he began to take stock.
The man, Paul, had lied to him. He was never supposed to leave the base. The chill made him aware that he wasn't in Hawaii anymore. But where the hell was he?
His thoughts shattered when the door opened and the room flooded with light. Alec had a split second to take in the small room, cement brick walls and a cement floor. He couldn't see any windows and there was no furniture. The light from the door was blocked as people moved about. A body was tossed into the room and two men followed him, leaning down and grabbing Alec. Fear rose in his throat that was never uttered in even a minor squeak as he was taken from the room. Before the door shut, he heard James call out to him, which did much to calm Alec. As long as James was near, nothing truly awful would happen to him.
As they dragged him down the hall, Alec couldn't stop the pounding of his heart. The raw fear had him ready to beg. If the walk down the hall had been any longer, he probably would have. As he was shoved into another room, Alec looked up, shocked to see the man who'd visited him only days before in his home in Hawaii. "What's going on?"
"Calm down, Lieutenant. Nothing but a slight change of plans."
"I wasn't supposed to leave the base. I was knocked out, didn't see what happened, a credible witness." He knew his voice was panicked, but then again, he wasn't supposed to get involved. "Why did you bring me here?"
"The Captain is a good shot. He took out one of my men, and you were needed to keep him in line."
Alec sat at the table and thought for a few moments. If he was there, James would be less likely to do something. A bit of insurance; for when they were released or rescued, he was simply a captive, just like James. He looked at the man who put this all in motion and nodded. "Fine. What do you need me to do?"
The man smiled and started across the room. "We need to rough you up a bit."
The first blow was a shock; the second and third merely painful. When it was over, the man stood back and admired his handy work. "Good, the Captain will never suspect you delivered him into our hands."
Those words made Alec stop worrying about his split lip and bruised cheek and stare at the man before him. For the first time Alec knew that it really was him. It was his fault. A simple idea, a moment of weakness, and now, James was in serious trouble. What had he done?
The plain manila envelope, no return address, printed in square block letters from a non descript pen, landed on the desk of Jennifer Trineholt. It was wedged in a stack of mail addressed to the local FBI office in Austin, Texas. Jennifer finished her cup of coffee, checked on her office email, and placed her purse securely in her bottom drawer to be locked in her desk. Taking a letter opener, Jennifer began going through the mail. The first letter was a rambling conspiracy concerning the additives in gasoline which caused the author's gas mileage to plummet in recent months.
Jennifer sighed deeply and added it to her growing pile of fact-less, ranting complaints that must be responded to, taking her away from vital work. Now, because she'd done so well, so tactfully with the crazies of America, she was given all the mail, all the correspondence. Not that she wouldn't do what she could but, it really didn't amount to much. She picked up the second and actually smiled as she read. Kentucky Fried Chicken had a secret fryer that injected cocaine into the food, making it addictive. Amusing, but clearly false.
As she picked up the third envelope, she felt something solid inside. Instantly on alert, she opened the envelope, upending it, a digital video tape, a few photos, and a typewritten letter landed haphazardly on her desk. The photos were of Captain James MacNeely, the President's kidnapped son. A purpling bruise spread across his cheek, blood trickled down his chin from a split lip. Grabbing her phone and hitting the numbers faster than she'd ever dialed before, she called her superior. Within three minutes, the vial was on its way to Washington, the photos and letter taken into evidence, and a long, twisting inquiry into the United States Postal Service began.
James's escorts took him down the hall, back to the room where he'd been punched a few times, had his uniform taken from him, and photographed for the world to see. Frankly, it infuriated him to no end. He worried about his family, his parents, Malcolm. How would they take seeing him with a cut lip and bruised cheeks? As they led James into the small, windowless room, and James saw what awaited him, his throat went dry, his pulse hammered, and he knew that his family would hurt more.
The leader stood against one wall, ankles crossed, watching James be escorted in. His eyes met James's and for one second, some unknowable emotion flashed into his eyes; gone before James could even begin to name it. He gestured to the chair against the opposite wall and the goons forced James into it. The cuffs went around his wrists, attached to the bottom legs of the chair. The goons stepped away and James rocked against the chair, testing his fetters, finding them immovable. With a sickening thud, his heart leapt into his throat as his stomach plummeted to his feet.
Shutting his eyes, taking a deep breath, James calmed himself as best he could then looked directly into his captor's eyes. "So what will it be today?"
James received a half smile from his captor before he signaled the two goons to leave. When the door shut, he turned and paused the camera mounted on its tripod and gave James an appraising look. "A little more to give the national networks."
James nodded once and looked at the camera. "All for affect? Or a personal desire?"
The captor chuckled slightly. "I don't care for torture. I care for causes." He took out his cigarettes and lit one. "Roughing you up simply makes a better statement." He inhaled deeply and blew out the smoke. "I don't want to do this, but hey, enjoyment? Why not?"
The two goons returned with a steel basin and a large water jug. James looked at the new devices and shut his eyes. He kept his eyes shut, concentrating on breathing as the goons removed his shoes and socks, placed his feet in the basin and turned the jug of icy water to empty against his feet. Two more sets of cuffs were placed around his ankles, securing him completely to the chair, bolted to the floor. James's fingers felt along the chair, hoping the metal was aluminum, but figured he wouldn't be that lucky.
One of the goons left the room, the ominous clicking of the door forced James to open his eyes and saw his captor set up the camera, positioning it to face James squarely. "You know, there is no information that you can give, because I won't ask a single question."
James focused only on the voice. "Then why do it at all?"
A small smile bloomed around an exhalation of smoke. "To hear you scream." He stubbed out his cigarette and leaned against the table, lowering his face directly into James. "The press will try to keep it private, but the video will find its way out into the world. Everyone will know about it. See it. You will scream, eventually."
James swallowed hard, felt his pulse race in his throat, choking him. For the first time, James truly wondered what would happen to him. The assurances for his safety, his eventual release could almost be believed. But hearing his own future torture, James began to wonder if he would ever see beyond the walls of his prison.
The door opened one more time with a goon carrying a car battery and some jumper cables. The icy water swirling around his feet sucked the last of his warmth from his bones and James began to tremble. The battery was set before James and his captor turned the camera on. James shut his eyes as the goon hooked up the jumper cables. The sparking arc and snap of ozone from the two ends being rubbed together brought his eyes open again.
The goon brought the two ends of the cables together once more for effect; for the camera. "Brace yourself, Captain."
Sitting shirtless, defenseless, James took a deep breath and waited for it, braced himself for the pain. When the cable first pressed against him, nothing could have prepared him. The muscles of his chest and arms instantly tightened, he felt his heart struggle, and his lungs froze. Teeth clenched tight with the electric current singing though him, James couldn't have screamed if he wanted.
As quickly as it started, the electrodes were removed and his muscles collapsed. The breath he'd been holding shuddered out of him, followed by horrible coughing spasms, as his beleaguered diaphragm struggled to find its rhythm again. Someone spoke, but James couldn't focus for the pain. When the coughing stopped, James turned tear filled eyes to his captor, focused on the man's lips, and made out what he was saying.
"We can stop or start your heart, Captain. Don't make us."
James shut his eyes and forced his aching muscles to relax as much as possible. With one last ounce of energy, putting all his hate and fear into the action, he opened his eyes and spat as hard as he could and as much as his dry mouth would allow. "Go to hell!"
The electrodes met his skin again. And finally, harshly, James screamed.
With a plain envelope, one of the eight men sequestered with James and Alec left the hideout with explicit instructions. He got on one of the boats and sailed across the water. Minutes, hours, days, time had no purpose, no meaning. The boat pulled up to a dock and the man boarded a plane, flew as far away from the hideout as possible. At the first large airport he came too, he was met by another associate who took the envelope and dropped it into the night drop at a local television station. By morning, the tape had been viewed, the stories written, and the FBI informed. Less than forty-eight hours after his kidnapping, the electrocution video was all across the world news.
Malcolm sat across the table from the President of the United States, sequestered at Camp David, waiting for some word, some clue, some hope. He had been sitting in his Georgetown townhouse for hours, the press camped outside his door, the Secret Service following him around. The guards were polite. They were courteous. But they were there, constantly; watching every move, every motion. On orders from President Baldwin, he was escorted to Camp David, on a special request from President MacNeely. He had been sitting at Camp David for six hours. During that time, he had been fed, had greeted the entire MacNeely clan, and had waited for any news.
John MacNeely looked like he'd aged twenty years in the last few days. He kept rubbing his temples. Malcolm wondered, more than once, if the man were having a stroke. With a brisk motion, he stood and paced around the room once before he stopped in front of Malcolm. "Don't ask, don't tell is utter bullshit!"
Malcolm stayed sitting, shocked at the vehemence of the man's voice. "I agree."
John walked back and forth to the window a few times before he sat down, defeated. "When I ran for office, when I first considered it, James came to me, told me the truth." He shook his head. "My baby boy told me he was gay and was entering the Naval Academy and I never thought about what that would mean to him. Not one thought."
Malcolm said nothing and watched John struggle with his emotions. "The letter of the law is simple. Don't act on it, don't talk about it, don't anything. Just live your life alone, miserable, and afraid."
John looked up at the sharp, reproachful tone Malcolm hadn't meant to use. But his anger at the double standard leaked out. John merely nodded his head. "You're right. I did this to my son. I made him afraid and hurt him more than if I'd handed him to the kidnappers."
Malcolm shook his head and chuckled. "It's hardly your fault."
John merely snorted. "He only wanted one thing, what all of his friends, what his family had. And because I was too busy being President, I kept him from having love, a relationship, the simple things that I have taken for granted."
Malcolm sat back in his chair and debated whether John needed a drink or a punch in the jaw. "You can't take all the blame. He chose this too. He just didn't have all the facts or the life experience to let him deal with his feelings. If you want one simple thing to blame yourself for, it is allowing that law to stand."
John turned his head just a bit and wiped a tear from his eye. "I promise that when I am back in office, I will do everything in my power to fix this."
Malcolm sat back and let all his thoughts percolate for a few moments. "My appointment is only until the special election in November. I sit on the armed services committee. Let me introduce it. They will expect it."