“You don’t belong here …..”
Hunt had shuffled over the bare steel floor to the stranger. Hunkered down in a corner. Separate from Hunt’s buddies. No one knew who he was.
“Tell me about it ……”
The stranger sounded pissed off. He swiped his hand over the back of his head. Blood came away on his hand.
He was seated separate from Hunt’s men. In this stainless steel holding cell, windowless, bare, glaring lighting. And that tell-tale drain to wash it down after use. The junta was nothing if not thorough and clean.
Well-built, this stranger. Broad muscled shoulders, solid etched abs. You didn’t get to look like that without a lot of dedicated effort. Hunt appreciated the thick ridge on his chest. It took some work to get that far. He knew, Hunt was a devotee to his body himself.
Garth wiped the bloodstain on his shorts, all he had on.
“And you do …..?”
“ …. belong here, I mean?”
He’d been assuming they were all victims of mistaken identity. Or had he inadvertently got caught up in something serious going down?
Hunt shuffled around slightly. His head indicated to Garth the camera on the wall. Talking to Garth at an angle so his lips couldn’t be read.
“Let’s say they got what they were looking for ……”
Hunt knew their meeting in the inn had been a close-kept secret. Someone had blabbed, someone had ratted them out.
The militia came in force, massively out-numbered, massively out-gunned. Fast, devastating, brutal. Their stock-in-trade.
“When they raided, they knew what they were looking for. Or rather WHO. Someone grassed us up.”
Garth had been dog-tired, ate his dinner in the inn and went early to bed. Groggy, he heard some commotion deep in his sleep. But the time he’d got his head back, the door had crashed in. A pair of black-helmeted soldiers had pepper-sprayed him, kicked the shit out of him. Before getting his wrists cinched behind by plastic ties. Efficient, violent, effective.
Garth remembered .. after that militia man had his hands cuffed behind and clubbed him with his cosh across the back of his head .. the soldier had given him another kicking, called him rebel scum. But Garth had been too occupied with keeping his innards protected .. his head failed to react to the jibe.
Garth knew about ambushes like that, he’d run them himself. It had been well-planned, well-executed. And vicious.
Garth felt himself being looked over by the guy, himself a muscular physique. Garth was the only one undressed .. hauled out of his sleep in just his underwear. The look was the normal scouting out of one muscled hunk by another .. happened all the time in a gym. But arrested, incarcerated with strangers in this cold clinical cell .. and only Garth posing in his undershorts .. he felt at a nervous disadvantage.
The guy who’d shuffled over to him and was generously putting Garth straight spoke in hushed tones. Though from what Garth had seen of this set-up, he could suspect the whole cell was bugged. He nodded in answer to Garth’s question, Did Hunt and his guys fit in here? His gesture seemed in indicate the other men huddled in the cell.
“We were sold-out. They got who they were looking for …..”
Rebels. Fighters against the junta. What had Garth unconsciously got himself caught up in? He hadn’t materialised in this spot long enough to get the low-down on the political situation. Time-and-Space had again dumped him in some troubled spot, it seemed. He had gathered he found himself in a land ruled by an authoritarian regime. And he’d heard their military “peace-and-order” was being plagued by disparate bands of insurgents. Blowing up buildings, attempts at assassinations, guerrilla war tactics.
It seemed Garth had got swept up in a raid. Snatched out of his bed in the inn and mistakenly bundled together with terrorists.
He started to ask. But Hunt shook his head.
“Less you know the better. When they interrogate, you might persuade them you know nothing. You’ve got nothing to do with us.”
From Garth’s recent handling at the hands of these militia, he suspected they weren’t the listening type.
“I’ll see if I can put in a word for you …..”
That was the first good sign Garth had heard since he’d been pepper-sprayed out of his bed. In just his shorts. He nodded his appreciation. Hunt grinned back. A half-serious smile in his eyes.
“Not that they’re likely to listen to the word of rebel scum.”