The room was considerably more spacious than he’d expected. Not that he’d been held hostage before; more that things he’d seen and read formed his idea of a cramped, darkened enclosure, with sliding slits on the door, and cold, damp, walls and floors.
This room did not confirm his perceived image.
There was a low wattage light bulb dangling limply from an electrical flex in the centre of the ceiling. It emitted enough light for him to be able to define his surroundings and the boundaries which they formed around him.
The entire room was whitewashed from floor to ceiling: the brightness of which suggesting it has been carried out recently.
He was sitting in front of a wooden table measuring approximately three metres square, on a chair constructed of a thin tubular frame, with a cushioned seat and a back rest of a blemished burgundy coloured material.
An identical chair was positioned directly across the table from him.
He rubbed his wrists slowly but firmly across the deep red marks created by the recently un-tied coarse rope. His lips and cheeks still smarted slightly where the thick insulating tape had been unceremoniously ripped from across his mouth, before being scrunched into a ball and tossed onto the table.
His eyes had quickly adapted to the light when the black hood had been removed.
It was then he had got his first site of his captor – or at least one of them. All he could ascertain was that his captor was male and had a larger than average frame. His head was hidden beneath a similar hood as to the one recently removed, with the exception that his captor’s hood had two slits in front of the eyes.
The captors clothing was made up of military camouflage shirt and combat trousers and he wore black, heavy combat boots
He could not decide if this observation warranted either concern or comfort, but given that the attire may have little, if any, formality attached to it, he decided to discard the issue as irrelevant for now. He sat in the room for an indeterminate amount of time when the door was unbolted and quickly pulled open.
The figure that rushed in looked the same as the one that had left him in there, so he assumed it was the same man.
The captor closed the door behind him with a loud clunk before striding towards the hostage and standing over him to the side.
He leaned forward to the hostage’s left ear.
“Where is it?”
“Where’s what?” His voice trembled as the words stumbled out.
“I see.” The captor straightened up and walked back over to the door, opened it and slammed it shut as he walked out. The bolt was slid across and the hostage could hear the loud steps as they faded away from the cell.
His heart was beating fast and he tried to control his erratic breathing.
He noted that his captor spoke English without any discernable accent.
Moments later he heard loud footsteps once more as they neared to door. The bolt was pushed back and his captor entered carrying a laptop computer. He placed it on the table and opened the flip lid so that it faced the hostage, before pressing the ‘on’ button.
The screen came on instantly.
The hostage stared at in and his eyes widened at the scene before him.
The captor moved around the table to face the monitor.
“Do it,” he said, impassively.
“Please. Stop!” The hostage tried to stand but was forcefully pushed back into the chair.
“Do it,” he repeated at the monitor.
The image on the monitor was of a teenage girl standing in a courtyard with a man standing next to her, dressed in similar attire as the captor.
The girl was snivelling and her whole body was shaking.
The man standing next to her took out a pistol from his belt and pointed it at the side of the girl’s head before pulling the trigger.
The girl slumped to the floor of the courtyard.
The hostage gasped in shock and stared at the monitor with incredulity.
The captor leaned forward and slammed the lid shut.
“Let me tell you what will happen,” the captor’s voice remained impassive. “We have your other two daughters. I will kill the ten year old without hesitation, but I won’t kill the little one. The two year old. Not out of any sense of pity, you understand, merely because she wouldn’t understand. And so you wouldn’t see the fear in her face. If we have to get that far, we will start on you. We will succeed. It is not in any doubt. It is a matter of when. And of that matter, you have total control.”
The hostage struggled for breath.
The captor picked up the laptop and walked towards the door.
“I’ll be back in five minutes with the laptop. If you don’t tell me where it is, we’ll kill your other daughter.” He opened the door and slammed it shut behind him. The bolt slid into place, followed by the sound of the heavy boots walking away down the corridor.
The hostage was still staring at the place on the table that the laptop had occupied moments before.
His breathing returned as short rasping breaths, gradually increasing in length. His eyes filled with tears, and he sat back slowly in the chair.
Five minutes later the footsteps echoed down the corridor once more. They stopped outside the cell door and the bolt was pulled back. The door opened, but before the captor entered, he stood in the doorway, with the laptop under his right arm.
He stared intensely at the hostage.
The hostage wiped the tears away and sat upright.
The captor walked slowly into the room.
“I do not, as well you know, have the luxury of time afforded to me.”
He placed the laptop in front of the hostage and flipped the lid open so that the monitor was in front of the hostage.
“Where is it?”
The hostage stared at the blank monitor.
“You have killed my daughter to display your ruthlessness. I must, therefore show you mine. The death of my daughter causes me great grief and indescribable pain, but it does not and never will, lie on my conscience. It is on yours, with the rest of the deaths you are responsible for.”
“And what of the deaths you will be responsible for? Thousands of deaths. Whose conscience will they lie on? Because if I can save them, then my conscience will be clear. It will have been worth it.”
“How is murder ever worth it?”
“These people are innocent.”
“So were mine. You murdered them. You won’t stop murdering them. We are merely trying to fight back.”
The captor pushed the ‘on’ button and the monitor lit up. A younger girl was standing in the same spot in the courtyard with the same man standing next to her. She had her arms held out and was pleading to her father for her life.
The hostage looked away and was quickly slapped violently across the side of his head by the captor before he stood behind the hostage and locked his head between his arms; turning it to face the monitor.
“Where is it?” This time he snarled out his words at the captor. “Do it!” He shouted at the monitor.
The man in the courtyard pulled the pistol from his belt and pointed it at the young girls’ head.
“Wait! Wait! Stop! I’ll tell you.”
The man in the courtyard paused.
“Wait.” The captor ordered. He let go of the hostage’s head.
“If I tell you, what will happen to my daughters?”
“They will be repatriated. You have my word.”
“Your word? Your word means nothing.”
“Well that’s all you’re going to get. Take it or leave it.”
“And as for me. What will happen to me?”
The captor didn’t answer.
“So be it. My daughter has died in vain. If you’d had given me the chance to perhaps save her, I might…”
“I have a job to do. I don’t play bluffing games. You needed to know that.”
A short conversation took place before the captor left the room carrying the laptop under his arm. He slammed the door shut and bolted it.
The hostage sat in silence as the footsteps echoed down the corridor.
The captor entered his office and picked up the receiver from the phone on his desk, pressing a single tab on the phone pad.
“Tell the Minister we’ve located it. There will be no traces of our task.”
He placed the receiver back down before opening the draw to his desk and taking out a pistol.
He walked out of his office and headed back towards the cell.