Which was why, many hours later, Kelly found himself dangling from a wall as his eyes searched futilely for a hint of light in the pitch dark room . The room was already too warm, with a sticky heat that quickly sapped energy .
The manacles rubbing his skin raw were designed for both maximum discomfort and humiliation . He hung in a spread-eagled position, which left him feeling terribly vulnerable, and open to attack . In addition, this position kept constant tension on his wrists and ankles. The chains had been fashioned so that there was no leeway, no way for him to inch up on the upper chains to alleviate some of the pull . Leighton had been right . This wasn't going to be fun .
Kelly could not and would not allow himself to yield to his feelings of terror and humiliation . He had already faced those demons and he was damned if he was going to let them gather again . No, this was simply an exercise in pain control, nothing more . He was good at that . He refused to acknowledge what the manacles were doing to his wrists and ankles . He refused to acknowledge what they were doing to his shoulders, back, and knees . In fact, he refused to acknowledge their effect at all . He'd done it before, he could do it again . That refrain played over and over in his mind, a mantra he used to stay in control .
Kelly was well aware of the newest mind game that the saboteurs were playing . He knew that he'd been left alone so that his fears could build and magnify . His captors knew all too well how effective the mind can be in destroying the will . He might be here for quite a while before he was visited again .
No more than a day or two though, thought Kelly, as he began to reason coldly and logically . No matter what his mind might tell him , it would only be days at most . The humidity in this wretched dark cellar would quickly dehydrate him, and he had seen no sign that food or drink would be in the offing . Therefore, if Leighton wanted to keep him alive for whatever nasty pleasures he had in mind, he'd have to return in a limited amount of time .
That gave him a time frame to hold on to . The fact that Leighton 's return would bode him no good didn't even matter right now. He was just searching for things of substance to hold on to .
Kelly had one more certainty to help sustain him . His partner . He didn't know how he was going to do it or when but he knew Scotty would be attempting a rescue as soon as he could . He might not be successful but that didn't factor in as yet. Just knowing he was out there was enough . The certainty that his partner would be looking for him was complete . Kelly knew Scotty and that was all there was to that .
Kelly decided to concentrate on what his partner might be up to now . He knew that the saboteurs hadn't been lying when they said Scotty was still in the area. They would have killed him and pulled out fast if Scotty had got out . That was bad . He thought he'd bought him enough time to get clear but something must have gone sour . So, alright . Scotty was still around .
His partner was going to have to somehow avoid capture and get that list
out . That would be a tall order . Kelly didn't have a clue how Scotty was going to manage that but he was betting on his partner . If anyone could do it, he could . Then Scotty' d have to figure out where they were holding him . That wasn't going to be easy either .
Kelly tried once again to shift his body in a vain attempt to ease the strain . His muscles were already objecting to the pull but there was no point in thinking about that . All the movement got him was more skin ripped off at the contact points .
So, ok, maybe Scotty could out guess these creeps . He had to realize that they were too over-confident . It was the height of stupidity to return to a known location . But these guys were so used to underestimating the opposition that maybe Scotty might guess that they would be arrogant enough to return here . Maybe .
So, say that Scotty could somehow avoid capture, figure out where he was, and get to the Leighton farmhouse . He'd still have to find a way to rescue him . The saboteurs were so busy underestimating them that it would be sheer stupidity to do the same thing back . If Scotty got caught they were both dead, no two ways around that . So his partner would have to go extra slow . Leighton would have guards posted around the house . Scotty would have to be darned careful .
Kelly cried out in the black darkness of the room . One shoulder was twitching with muscle spasms. It had started . His tired little mantra began to resound in his mind once again .
Suddenly Kelly had a bad thought . Would Scotty be able to figure out the secret wall ? He'd never got a chance to tell his partner about that . Just for a second panic threatened to overcome him as he desperately fought to keep it from gaining a foothold . Then Kelly began to laugh, forcing his fears into the deep hidden places of his mind . Why the heck was he worrying about the secret wall? Scotty was far more likely to get killed ten times over before he ever got that close . If he somehow pulled off a Superman stunt and got here then surely he'd use his x-ray eyes to find those damn stairs . His laughter continued and if it was a little wildly uncontrolled, no one but he would ever know it .
No, Scotty was a smart fellow . He'd figure it out . All Kelly had to do was hang on . The tall spy snorted once again at that thought, feeling a bubbling well of mirth spring up . Hang on . That was a good one . He'd have to remember that one when Scotty showed . When Scotty showed .
Time went on . The darkness had at first been a welcome thing, helping Kelly to hide his fears deep down in their own dark little cellar . Now it began to be one more thing to contend with . The blackness was so complete, so utter, that it began to disorient . Kelly fought the feeling, knowing that it was ridiculous to give in to it .
The quiet only added to the feeling of unreality . There was nothing substantial here, nothing to hold on to . The walls must be very heavily reinforced to create that kind of quiet . It was like he was the only being in existence, floating in a black void where sound did not exist . Kelly found himself humming a bit, just to hear sound . It also helped him to gain back a little bit of surety .
He'd already lost any feeling for the amount of time he'd been there . At first , he tried to estimate it by how hungry he was but that hadn't proved very reliable. Now he simply accepted that time had become meaningless . It didn't much matter so he intended to ignore it .
As Kelly hung there he began to go over and over the mission, the what-ifs flooding his mind . He felt nothing but bitter recrimination for his side of the mission . Obviously, he'd messed it up royally . He'd been so stupid, so easily caught . He'd been the proverbial pigeon , walking right in to the trap . Or a rat, a big fat rat . He was getting almighty tired of being that rat , too .
Only the pain kept things real . Kelly hurt . The knife wound had settled down to a dull throb but was constantly there . Everything else was screaming at him . His wrists and ankles were now the worst of it . His skin had long since been flayed raw where the manacles met. His own blood had initially flowed while his wrists and ankles were being stripped . That had actually helped for a while, adding a little lubrication to the raw areas . Now, though, everything was dry and intense, with no way to alleviate the pain .
And now Kelly was faced with a new problem . He could feel the heat of fever building in him, radiating out in an ever widening pattern from the neglected knife wound. He was going to be in deep trouble all too soon, if something didn't change . That got another snort out of him . In trouble . How much more ` in trouble' could he already be ? This was definitely not going down in his books as best mission ever .
Another man who'd been having a couple of really bad days was Alexander Scott . Scotty was even now on the run, constantly shifting his location, trying to stay one step ahead of the saboteurs . There had to be at least eight or nine now, Scotty guessed . There was no way they could have covered as much ground, kept him hopping as long, without that many . Scotty had needed to be constantly on the move, hiding in hay piles, under rotting tree logs, on rooftops, any and every place that might buy him some more time.
He was tired, mind numbingly tired . Hunger gnawed at him too but he had little time to give in to that necessity. There was no way he could go into town to find food, nor would he have any money to pay for it even if he was stupid enough to risk it. He'd found a couple of too ripe apples at his last hiding place and torn into them with gusto, half suspecting that they were pig fodder . It didn't matter . He needed them more than the pigs .
Scotty crouched down, leaning for a moment's rest on a nearby tree . His once white clothes were incredibly dirty, his normal immaculate grooming in complete abeyance . He looked exactly like the man he now was, a hunted thing, desperately staying one step ahead of the hunters .
Scotty was slowly making his way back to the place where the barn dance had ended so badly . He needed to get himself oriented so that he could find the spot where the list was hidden . He'd spent so much time dodging here and there that he felt he should have this dratted place down cold by now but his path had been a truly aimless one .
Only now was he feeling a little more confident . The saboteurs were spending more and more time concentrating on the roads out of town, and in covering places they thought he'd hit for help, like the sheriff's office . That left him more room to move about . It was time to go get his partner .
Scotty wished that he could call his superiors with the contents of the list, once he fetched it out again, but he knew the phones were all down . He'd heard all about it whilst laying in a horse trough, wishing the blasted horse would stop nuzzling him . He'd heard the farmer discussing " the funny business with the phones" with his wife , as the man went in to dinner . Scotty had listened intently, stuck tight until the two men searching the field nearby had moved on . The farmer indicated that the lines had been cut again as fast as they'd first been repaired . The sheriff thought it might be some local high school kids playing an end-of-summer kind of gag, but it was darn annoying . It was the talk of the town, apparently . Other theories ranged all the way from commie take-over to space aliens on the loose . The farmer was tired of the whole darn subject and just wished they'd get the lines back up so everyone would quit complaining . Scotty wished the same thing but for vastly different reasons .
He crouched down now, eyeing a partially open bit of ground that he would have to traverse to get to the river bank . No one in sight . Good. They were all still congregating by the roads .
Scotty figured his best option would be to try to barrel his way through the road block at the north end of town, once he got a car and his partner . The roadblocks were not that intrusive. The saboteurs still seemed not to want to alert the town's folk to their shenanigans so there were only a couple of men hanging out at the various points, parked cars near to hand .
Scotty's opinion was that the sheriff had to be a complete dullard not to be getting mighty suspicious of the men posted here and there but maybe he was too busy tracking downed phone lines . Scotty didn't care anyway . The sheriff couldn't help him . In fact, he'd be a hindrance . Just one more person to avoid, as far as he was concerned .
Yes, he'd definitely go for the north end of town . There was only one guard there and he seemed to be one of the more bored watchers, his attention often wandering . The only time Scotty had ever seen him looking even a bit alert was when he'd seen another car load of saboteurs pull up to question the man . Otherwise, he was fairly inattentive . There was also a bend in the road right there so that someone could be almost at the position before anyone would see him coming . Definitely the place to shoot for .
Scotty shot across the partially open ground, then deep into the woods surrounding the trickling river . It seemed as if it had been ages and ages since he'd last been here with Kelly, discussing the mission. Too long ago for his taste . He quickly made his way along the water's stream, eyes searching out rock formations .
There was the rock ! Scotty tossed it aside, his hands sinking deep into the overturned earth , frustrated need adding extra energy to his labor . He felt an almost frantic desire for the list now and wished he'd never taken the time to bury it in the first place . He hadn't even had any time to look at the thing but Kelly had said that there were code designations . He'd know where his partner had been taken and Kelly's rescue could finally be attempted .
Scotty could only dare to hope that he still had a living partner waiting to accept that rescue . He'd never seen Kelly move as he was drug over to that car but, surely, they wouldn't have bothered with a corpse ? Worry gnawed at him . His partner was tough, one of the toughest people Scotty had ever known . So long as he was still alive, he'd be hanging in there . He might be in pieces but Scotty could and would help glue him back together if necessary . He'd done it before . No, his partner was a survivor . He had to be alive .
Scotty's fingers stilled, then grabbed for the exposed plastic bag, ripping it open quickly to get at the list . His tired, red eyes scanned the contents, then widened in disbelief . Kelly had been taken to the Leighton farmhouse ? He would have already tried to get him out if he'd had a clue.
Scotty could have kicked himself . All he could think was that he should have known, should have guessed . He'd never supposed these clowns would go back to that same farmhouse, not when it was already blown . But he was supposed to know his quarry and he should have been able to figure it out, based on their previous actions . He wasn't even willing to grant himself any leeway for the fact that he'd been a tad busy, of late . No, he'd blown it .
Muttering angrily to himself, Scotty stuffed the list back into his pocket . He'd prefer to leave the list here until he freed Kelly but they might have to leave in a red hot hurry . Better to carry it . If he got caught the list would be a goner anyway, one way or the other .
Scotty hoofed it back up the creek area, staying constantly alert . He had to find a car to steal but it also needed to be one that might not immediately be missed . Maybe if he could get to the local tavern without being taken, he could latch onto something there.
The saboteurs were so busy guarding all the other likely escape areas that they'd spread themselves too thin . It would be easy to get to the old farmhouse without detection .