100 Themes 016 - Questioning

I debated doing lots of things with that theme, 'questioning', but then this crawled out of somewhere. It's pretty horrible, if I say so myself, and though I could have strung it out longer, I needed to end it. I knew where it was going anyway ^^


“Where… where am I?”

I blinked, but it didn’t make the bright light go away. My eyes hurt from its glare, and I turned my head, tried to raise a hand to shield myself. My wrists were tied to the arms of the chair I was sat in.

I wriggled about on the chair, but my legs were tied too. I opened my eyes a tiny sliver, enough to see against the blinding glare; slowly I adjusted to it and was able to open my eyes, for all the good it did. The light was the only thing visible to me, not so blinding any more but still my entire world. I heard cloth moving in the darkness behind the light.

I cleared my throat and tried again. “Where am I?” There. At least I managed to sound a bit more defiant that time, less feeble.

“You are in the hands of what your government would call Sil Jereem.” Terrorists. I remembered the headlines: ‘Four tourists kidnapped by terrorist mastermind Akkar.’

The voice continued. “You have been kidnapped as part of our message to the decadent west, and you will be processed as the others were.” The voice was cultured, an English accent, Oxford perhaps. This person could have lived next door to me for years. What had happened to the other hostages? I could guess.

“What do you want from me? I’ve got money, I mean, my family’s got money, we could pay you. Lots of money.” I was babbling now.

A snort of breath, then: “We don’t need your tainted money. You will not be freed. No-one is coming for you, no-one can even find you. You are going to die down here, and I’m afraid there’s no changing it.”

A second light went on, illuminating a metal table covered in medical implements. It was right next to me, far too close.

“You will answer our questions, or these will be used on you. Do you understand?”

“Wait, now, hang on a minute, surely there’s a better way,” I burbled, watching as a hand came out of the shadows and moved towards the tools. There was a large ring on the index finger that winked in the light as the man selected a scalpel and brought it towards me. “I have money, I’m rich, you need anything, I don’t know who you are, stop!”

The scalpel didn’t hurt at first, so sharp was it. It cut my cheek, and there was no feeling for a moment, then a burning line of fire from ear to nose. I felt hot blood dribbling from it. I grit my teeth. I would not give this man the pleasure of hearing me scream.

“That was the first question, and you failed to answer it. As we proceed, you will answer correctly and without hyperbole, or I will continue to cut. Do I make myself clear?”

“Perfectly,” I spat out. There was silence, the scalpel still hovering near my face, and then it withdrew. The hand disappeared back behind the light. Motes of dust drifted through the light’s beam, and I wondered distantly where I was, really.

“Your name is Benjamin Rodgers, correct?”


“34, from Oxford?”


“Which college?”

“Kellogg.” I licked my lips, mouth suddenly dry. “You?”

The hand came out again, painfully slowly, picked up the scalpel again and moved towards my face. I cringed away from it as far as I could, tied to the chair. The hand hesitated, then moved down towards my hand. The scalpel rested against the tip of my right little finger.

“I ask the questions. You answer them. This is an immutable fact.” The scalpel moved and suddenly the world went red with pain. I tried to clench my fist around my mutilated digit, but the rope was too tight. A thin howl stretched between my clenched teeth and tears bled from my eyes.

The cultured voice continued. “You work for?”

“A bank. A big one.”

“Which one?”


There was a mutter from behind the light, and then footsteps. A door opened, a rectangle of white in the blackness, enough to let a person through. It was too far to reveal anything about my location, about my questioner, about anything.

“Where is your office?”


The hand moved to the table again. “London, I mean, London. I moved recently. A promotion,” I sputtered as my eyes tracked the hand selecting a larger knife, “Oh god, I’m telling the truth. I swear.” The knife rested in the crook beneath my ear and my head. I could see it, so near to my eye, the blade and his hand and arm, stretching back into the darkness. Absurdly, he was in a blue pinstriped shirt. A watch on his wrist.

“Be more careful about the veracity of your answers, Benjamin.”

The knife moved and I screamed. I couldn’t do anything else; the pain was intense, and when it was over I could only hear rushing blood on that side. I tasted blood in my mouth, metallic, and I spat it, hoping I’d hit him. Must have bitten my lip.

He tossed the ear into my lap where it wobbled surreally. It looked plastic, quickly losing its colour.

“You know where I work, so why are we doing this?”

“Your wife. Her name?”

“Jocelyn. She’s 39, she works as a receptionist at the bank.”

“You have no children?”

I grimaced. The ear and finger were throbbing, aching, the pain coming in waves. “Joc is… we can’t have children.”

“A shame.”

There was a pause, and I began to gather a question of my own, but the sight of all those tools shining in the light, unused, made the words stick in my throat.

“What is the code to enter your building?”

My eyes widened. “I can’t give you that, my manager would kill me,” and then the knife came straight towards my right eye. The vision suddenly blacked out in that eye, but there was no pain. A hot and sticky substance dribbled down my cheek.

“4-6-3-7,” I said. Why could I not see from my right eye? Oh god, the knife had gone into my eye. I was blind in one eye. Vomit rose in my throat and I needed little encouragement to let it spill out, dribbling over my chin and on to my shirt.

“What time is the president of WorldBanq in on a Thursday?”

“He,” I started, then choked a little. My throat burned, bile fresh in my mouth. “He comes in by helicopter, same time every morning. 10.30am. You’ll never get him, though.”

“Why not?”

“He has an armed security unit with him at all times. They say he wears bulletproof armour too.”

“Thank you. Is there anything else you feel you need to tell me?”

“Die in a hole, you bastard.”

“That will be all.” I heard him get up and come round behind me. I was suddenly tired, exhausted, as a rag was forced between my teeth, gagging me. It tasted of oranges, strangely. Next to the bright light, a small red one winked on. His hands gripped my shoulders.

“People of the world. My name is Akkar.” He was putting on an accent, something middle-eastern. No wonder they couldn’t work out who he was. “I speak for Sil Jareem. Your time is over. Our next attack will rock your financial powers, destroying your capitalist ideals. Do not try to resist; you cannot. This man is like you; once a fine body, now riddled with injuries of his own making. As happens to him, will happen to you.”

The hand went past my restricted vision again, this time coming back from the table with a huge knife, almost a machete. A hand grabbed my hair and held it tight. I closed my eyes as the blade descended.