Monday, May 23, 2011
She couldn’t sit up, not all the way, and her back ached from being hunched over but the make shift cage with the chicken wire and wooden pallets didn’t allow for room to move around or get comfortable. Not that there was much chance of that. They’d taken her shoes so her feet were cold and they’d only given them one small bottle of water and most of that Veronique had already drunk. Not that Cody blamed her in the least. First of all, she didn’t belong in all of this mess, she’d just been in the wrong place at the wrong time and secondly, she’d been crying pretty much the entire time since they'd been taken, so she needed to replenish her fluids. Cody's mouth was dry though and her lips felt chapped but she ran her tongue along her bottom lip instead of taking another drink. Who knew how long it would be before she saw more water.
“It’s gonna be alright.” Cody ran her fingers through Vero’s long, soft black hair, trying to be comforting. She wasn’t at all convinced that was going to be the case. These guys had guns and were sure as hell a lot more proficient with their weapons than that meathead biker they’d sent after her a few months ago. They also had balls. They’d been taken in broad daylight, with security cameras everywhere from a spot surrounded by security. These guys meant business and something in the pit of her stomach told Cody that it was probably pretty unlikely she was getting out of here alive.
Cody looked around the small, dark, rancid smelling basement. At least she thought it was a basement. She remembered stumbling down some stairs to get here and it was cement or stone maybe, no windows, no light source. Maybe a cellar or a bomb shelter, she thought as went back to breathing through her mouth, though that only took the edge off of the smell of mold, decay and something worse that she didn’t want to try and put a name too. She was afraid it was days’ old dead meat and she was even more afraid that it was human.
“They’re going to look for us, right?” Vero sniffed and Cody immediately nodded.
“They already are,” she tried to smile down at the pale, fragile woman whose head was in her lap. She hoped it was convincing because she knew that they, the FBI, cops, someone was definitely going to be looking for them. The only hitch was these people didn’t seem to be the types to worry much about being sought or found and at that moment she doubted that either of them was going to live long enough to be here even if they did.
“I’m cold,” Vero snuggled closer, pulling her knees up to her chest and Cody was momentarily glad of the heavy fisherman’s sweater she was wearing. Her thin cotton leggings were doing nothing to keep her ass warm but that had already gone numb so she wasn’t thinking too much about it. Veronique, on the other hand, had only been wearing some kind of light sheath dress that Cody was willing to bet cost an arm and a leg and was probably silk and was obviously doing nothing to keep her cell mate warm.
Cody ran her hands down Vero’s bare arm rapidly until she got the smallest hint of a smile from her new friend. She was collateral damage, Cody thought to herself as she smiled back at her, it was the least she could do.
“Sidwhee?” He felt one of his eyelids being manually pulled open and then he saw her angelic little face above his. He tried to lift his arm, to reach up and touch her face but it felt too heavy, like it weighed about a thousand pounds, and it hurt, it hurt like hell. “Sidwhee, wake up,” she insisted, poking him in the middle of his chest, her little finger stabbing him like a knife, making him suck in a sharp breath. That hurt too.
“Rebecca! Get off of him! I told you that he’s hurt.” Sid recognized the babysitter, Mel’s voice and tried to shake his head, tried to tell her that it was okay, that Becky could climb all over him if she wanted. He was just glad to see her.
“No! It’s time him to wake up, now!” the little girl added and Sid thought he detected more than just a note of alarm in her voice. He heard panic. He heard fear. Even when she’d been taken before, in the Bahamas, she hadn’t seemed scared. He raised his other hand and touched her golden girls. It took some effort and it hurt a bit, but he managed it and the momentary look of relief on the little girl’s face was entirely worth the pain.
“Hey, squirt. Boy am I glad to see you,” he told her honestly. He tried to sit up but a sharp pain, like a lightning bolt going through his chest made him stop moving. He gasped and shut his eyes again. He’d hurt before, the high ankle sprain, his front teeth getting broken, the two cracks his head had taken but nothing had ever hurt like this. “Fuuuuck!” he hissed and tried to breathe through the pain. “Jesus Christ what the hell happened?”
“You’ve been shot mon ami.” Sid turned towards the familiar voice to watch Max pick Becky up off of the bed and put her gently down in a chair beside the bed. He remembered the muzzle flash and vaguely remembered waking up in an ambulance so the fact that he was in a hospital bed or that he’d been shot wasn’t much of a surprise. “I think you’ve got some explaining to do, tu ne penses pas?” Sid nodded but winced as he did that and little white lights shone in front of his eyes. Another one of his headaches was coming on. “Use the button,” Max put something in his hand and pressed his thumb over it and less than three seconds later something warm was coursing through his arm and the next thing he knew everything hurt a little less and he almost felt like he was floating.
“Where’s Cody?” he asked, blinking his eyes open and scanning the room. Becky had made her way back to his bedside and was climbing back up onto the pristine white sheets.
“We don’t know mon ami, that’s the truth,” Max said quietly, reaching for the little blonde bundle that was trying to curl her way into his side.
“She’s fine,” he whispered, running his fingers through her soft golden curls. “Is...someone is looking for her, right?” he asked looking at Max and then at then at the babysitter. They seemed pretty inseparable but that was a question for another time. Right now there were far more pressing matters on his mind.
“Like I said, mon capitaine, you have a lot of explaining to do. There have been cops, FBI, CI fucking A.... I knew that woman of yours was in some kind of trouble but now you’ve been fucking shot do you mind telling me what the fucking hell is going on?” Sid covered Becky’s ears as best he could, despite the immediate and blinding pain it caused him and narrowed his eyes at Max who rolled his and shrugged by way of an apology.
“No, no!” Vero’s eyes were wide and pleading as the man in the ski mask tried to tug her out of the cage. Cody held fast to one of her arms but she knew that this was one battle of tug of war she wasn’t going to win; especially not if the man behind him with the gun decided to point that thing at her. “I don’t know why I’m here, I don’t anything, s’il vous plaît!” Tears were streaming down the other woman’s face and Cody felt the hot sting of tears filling her own eyes. She was sure it was in some kind of kidnap survival handbook somewhere that you should not let them separate you and so she clung to Vero’s hand, even as it began to slip from her grasp.
“Leave her alone. She doesn’t even know me. Please,” she begged on the other woman’s behalf. If she got killed in all of this, well, it was to be expected. If Veronique was tortured or died because she had just been in the wrong place at the wrong time, Cody knew she’d never forgive herself.
The man merely grunted and tugged harder, yanking Veronique’s hand from hers’ and out of the cage, kicking the cage door shut behind him. The man with the gun drove the lock back into the hole in the ground and then waved the gun at her which she supposed was some kind of threat. Cody didn’t look at the gun. She watched Vero being dragging her across the cold concrete floor and then pushed, staggering, up the stairs towards a golden glow of light. She could hear her begging and pleading until she heard a door slam followed by the metallic scrape of a lock being put in place.
Cody pulled her knees up to her chin and tried to muffle her own sobs. Her pulse was racing and her heart was hammering hard against her ribs. When she’d shot the intruder into their house, she’d been afraid but adrenalin had gone a long way to subduing her fear. That and having Sidney there, having him take charge of the situation, of getting them out of the house had helped. Now she was just terrified.
She shut her eyes and tried not to imagine a medieval torture chamber complete with a rack, pillory, iron maiden and foot screws. Instead she did her best to imagine warm sand beneath her, the smell of salt water and the feel of Sidney’s mouth on hers’, his body pressing her down, claiming her.
“Will I ever see you again?” she asked in a whisper as hot tears slid down her cheeks and she began to tremble.
“It was a straight through and through,” the doctor in his mint coloured surgical scrubs with his bright shiny stethoscope hung around his neck explained as a nurse carefully changed the dressing on his shoulder. “Which is good for you,” he added with a measured smile that Sidney knew was supposed to be encouraging. “That means no structural damage, which would take months to get over. However, there was some tearing of the muscle and obviously a lot of tissue damage and loss, which will take a good deal of rehab to correct but in your condition, I’m guessing that isn’t something that will be new to you.” Sid shook his head and then winced as the last layer of padding was peeled painfully from the wound.
“It looks worse than it is,” the nurse whispered as she dropped the blood covered gauze onto the table beside her. The surgeon took her place and pressed at the clean unmolested skin around the wound. Sid sucked in a sharp breath.
“The trick is to keep an eye out for infection. With g.s.w.’s there can be a lot of debris in the wound. Obviously we’ve done our best to cleanse the entire area but we’ll keep an eye on you for another night and then you should probably visit your personal physician every few days for a week or so but I’m confident that you’re not looking at anything long term.” Sid nodded again and did his best not to wince when the nurse began to tape up the wound again. “You’ll want to keep that arm stable for a few days, make sure he gets a sling,” the doctor added and then turned and left without another word. Sid watched him go and then let out a sigh of relief that was echoed by one from both Max and Mario, who had followed the surgeon in.
“That’s a relief eh boss?” Max grinned like he’d just scored a goal or made a big hit and Mario nodded.
“Still, I think this is something we should keep out of the press. I’ve spoken with the surgical team and we’ll get you out of here through the laundry exit and you’ll be back staying with us for the foreseeable future,” Mario added very seriously. “You gave us a hell of a scare there son.”
“What about Cody? Is there any news?” Sid asked, looking from his friend’s face to his boss’s serious expression. The two men exchanged a look that made Sid’s heart sink. “Tell me...whatever it is...I need to know.”
“There’s no news,” Max began and then Mario put his big hand on the smaller winger’s shoulder and Max, for once in his life, fell silent.
“Vero is also missing,” Mario told him and Sid felt his heart stop beating in his chest. “The police, the FBI...they’re turning the entire city upside down Sidney. They’re doing everything they can but...it’s been two days and they say....”
“After forty-eight hours the chances of finding them alive are slim,” Sidney completed Mario’s thought and then shut his eyes and for the first time in his life, began to truly pray.