I started writing this and I think I came upon a full story to go with it. This is a lot longer than the writing challenge is supposed to be, but I think it’s a good starting point to a longer story that I might tell.
Geoff took a deep breath in, opened his eyes, and prepared for the last moments of his life. He looked to the left and saw his friend, Bill, slumped forward on the table with a small hole in the front of his head and a much larger one in the back. Blood still dripped from the entry point and ran down the table into his lap.
You’d better clean that up before it dries on your pants. Dry cleaning’s a bitch to find in these parts, Geoff thought.
To the right was an empty chair, but only because Michael, the chair’s previous user, had fallen to the ground with a shot through his temple. Geoff considered giving himself a moment’s hope that Michael was just grazed and waiting under the table for the right moment to strike their captors, but the chunks of skull and splatter of brain and blood on the wall to the right of where Michael should have been sitting suggested otherwise.
Geoff now scanned the rest of the room. It was well lit, but the drab concrete walls did their best to mute the lighting as much as possible. There were no windows and Geoff supposed that the room was located somewhere in the lower levels of the fortress or the prison or the wherever-the-hell-this-was that they were in.
With only the cold metal table and four metal chairs in the room, his captors were forced to stand; which worked out well for them since they needed to shuffle from one side of the room to another before a shot rang out and a stray bullet could catch them. There were five guards and “El Diablo” himself; the man he only knew as Salvador. Whether this was his real name or a subtle hint as to where he was being held captive, Geoff didn’t know, nor did he care any longer. None of it mattered any more. He had the gun and he knew it was his turn to die.
He thought for one moment about turning it towards Salvador and trying to take him out. He knew he was going to put a loaded revolver to his head and pull the trigger, but if he could use that one bullet to make them suffer just a bit, it might be worth it. Just as soon as the thought went through his mind, he noticed one of the guards raise a TEC-9 toward Geoff’s hands, not his head.
So that’s how it’s going to be, huh? Killing myself will be quick and painless; killing one of you bastards could lead to missing hands and as much torture as I can take until I die. Well, maybe I can shoot myself through the bottom of the skull and hope for a bankshot into one of you.
Geoff looked down at the revolver. It was a Taurus .357 and were it not going to be used by his own hands to solve his questions as to which religion got the afterlife right, he would have said it was a beautiful weapon. The shiny metal had been well kept and there wasn’t a trace of rust or misuse on it; excluding the slight burn marks at the end of the barrel from its’ recent uses. He picked it up in his right hand and felt its’ weight. He realized this was the last time he’d hold on to anything in his life, but he appreciated it nonetheless. Holding the gun felt good and focusing on it kept him from thinking about the one thing he didn’t want to look at in the room. The one smiling face through all of the suffering he just witnessed.
Geoff suddenly changed his mind and decided that would be the last thing he would see. Maybe by staring this new prisoner down he could somehow make him finally realize just how dire the situation was. Maybe for once, this jackoff wouldn’t look like he was playing a game and realize just how real this could get. Maybe he could momentarily peer into the man’s soul and tell his life story to him without uttering a single word.
Geoff raised his head confidently and gazed at the man across from him. He peered into the deep green eyes and tried to find the soul within. The man had a slender frame and a slender face to go with it. His skin tone suggested he had been out in the sun in the past few days and got a little more of it than he bargained for. He must have been a new inmate, since Geoff himself hadn’t been allowed outside in God knows how long. The fact that the man only had a day or two’s worth of stubble on his face further suggested that he was new here. The man certainly didn’t look haggard and, now that he was focused on it, the guy didn’t even look like he’d fought a day in his life. Just why was he here? Geoff finally allowed the thought he didn’t want to have to come to the front of his mind; this man was planted here to get whatever “secrets” he might be holding.
Geoff didn’t have any secrets and even if he did, he wouldn’t have let them go with this one disturbing attempt to squeeze them out. If they wanted secrets, they should have asked politely for them. Hell, for that matter, they could have tried any time in the last three years rather than just letting him sit in his cell and wonder why he was here.
The guards only let him out of his cell twice a month and shuffled him and the two others through a quick shower and a body inspection before ushering them back in to their rooms, which had also been inspected for any signs of attempted escape. It was during these times that he could actually talk to the other prisoners, since their cells were too far apart to hear each other at any other time.
He learned that they had shared the same situation as him. They were American soldiers on duty in various places (Michael and Geoff in different parts of Afghanistan, Bill in South Korea) when they were ambushed into situations that left them alive and everyone else around them dead. Shortly thereafter, they were knocked out with a shot of some drugs and brought here. Their short talks had also led them to believe that “here” was in some Central or South American country. It was too humid for Afghanistan, and although the guards never spoke or responded to them, Bill had once tried saying a few words he knew in Korean, then Japanese, and then finally in Spanish. This last one seemed to catch the guards’ attentions better than the first two. Geoff and Michael later tried the same thing using the most insulting words they could think of in Spanish, and this seemed to at least elicit frowns, even though the guards still exerted every effort to not respond.
These moments out of their cells later gave them the knowledge of who exactly was in charge. On a few separate occasions, Geoff would hear the name “Salvador” uttered from one guard to another. The second guard would then either take a clipboard out of the room or just leave; presumably to go tell something to the man himself. It wasn’t until today’s meeting in this room that any of them had actually seen who Salvador was.
The one thing Geoff and the others kept coming back to in their conversations was why exactly they were there. No one would question them, no one forced them to give anti-american speeches into a camera, and (most confusingly) no one seemed to care that they talked to each other about anything and everything during their moments together. About two years into their captivity, they decided to test the limits of what might pique the guards’ interests. They started talking about fake escape plots and how they would kill every guard on their way out, yet none of this seemed to matter to anyone either. Eventually they decided that the guards may not speak any English; but even then, there were cameras, so someone could have been watching who spoke it. Yet no one seemed to care. the only reaction they ever received were the few times they tried to step out of the line they formed. This was usually responded to with a quick strike from the butt of a gun to their face and a motioning to get back where they belonged. Once, Bill thought he would see how far they would go, and the guards beat him until he went unconscious and they carried him back to his cell.
Bill was always the one most determined to escape. At least he found one way, Geoff thought, feeling a slight bit of envy toward Bill. He was the first one to go, the only one that felt he had a shot (hah) of getting the empty chamber, and he didn’t have to watch this asshole confidently grab the gun and pull the trigger without a second thought. He didn’t even have to watch Michael sob and whisper his girlfriend’s name the second before he left. R.I.P. Bill, you lucky bastard.
There was only one empty chamber in the gun and it was spent on the smiling jackass in front of him; which left Geoff with two filled chambers. It now seemed even more obvious to Geoff that it had been set up this way the whole time. If no one talked at the beginning, then Bill was to be the sacrificial lamb. If they still didn’t talk, then the fake and far too calm “prisoner” was to pull the blank chamber. If that didn’t work, then they’d let Michael die. Once Michael was gone, Geoff wouldn’t have any reasons left not to spill his guts and tell them everything about anything they wanted to hear.
Geoff finally began to relax. He resigned himself to the situation and resolved that if they were going to try to pick his brain, then they’d have to do it one chunk at a time from off the ceiling. Still staring straight ahead into the smiling man’s gentle face, Geoff began to smile slightly himself as he positioned the gun under his chin and pulled the trigger.