Shades of Grey
There were three of them now, all issuing orders in a language he didn't
understand. And if they understood him, they weren't letting on.
An open doorway loomed at the end of the hall. Sam tried not to imagine what was on the other side. He didn't even realize his pace had slowed until he was pushed from behind. His breath caught as hands grabbed him and shoved him forward across the threshold.
The room was empty.
Sam let out a shaky breath and had trouble drawing another. He closed his eyes a moment, trying to calm down and get his mind to work.
A tug at his shoulder reclaimed his attention and he half-turned to his right as two of the men stripped him of his coat and suit jacket.
"Hey!" he protested, backing up a few steps. He kept his hands out in front of him, needing to get away but not wanting to be shot in the process.
Everything stopped. There was roar like that of a huge wave crashing in Sam's ears from the pounding of his heart. Light-headed and breathless, he waited for them to make the next move.
For the first time, he was able to actually see his captors. None of them looked any older Sam. He also saw that he was no longer being held at gunpoint. It seemed only one of three was armed. The man had his hand on what looked like an automatic rifle slung at his shoulder, but he made no move to use it.
Sam straightened slowly, lowering his hands. Some of his confidence returning, he asked, "Where's Josh?"
One of them chuckled, shaking his head. The guy in the center leaned closer to his armed associate and murmured something, pointing at Sam's belt.
Sam looked down, realizing what they were referring to, and he closed his fingers around the pager clipped to his belt. He looked up again and saw his armed captor take a step toward him. Sam backed farther away. It was crazy, really. The pager was of no use to him now. But whatever the reason, it was the only thing linking him to his friends at the White House, and he didn't want to give it up.
"Where's Josh?" he asked again, trying to divert their attention. "I want to see him!"
They came at him from three sides. One grabbed his right wrist and pulled. Grasped firmly in his hand, Sam's pager snapped from his belt. He tried to hang onto it, but as the pressure increased on his wrist, his fingers went numb. The pager fell from his hand and clattered on the wooden floor.
His fear giving way to anger, Sam lashed out with his left hand. It connected with something. One of the three fell back a few steps. He tore his wrist free, and launched himself at the doorway. "Josh!" he shouted.
The cry had no sooner left his lips than rough, merciless hands dragged him back into the room. Sam fought back with every bit of strength he had left. He knew it was useless; he could never hold off all three of them. But he also knew he couldn't give up. He had to find Josh. He had to
The blow came without warning. He didn't even see it until it was too late. The impact snapped his head to the left and set off an explosion of white and red behind his eyes. He staggered sideways and hit the wall, grasping frantically at its solidity to keep himself upright.
Words. Shuffling. He was grabbed and slammed face first into the wall. Something tightened on his left wrist. He tried to pull away, but couldn't move his arms. They were pinned. Hands invaded his pockets. They were searching him, taking what little he had left. No. Don't. He couldn't breathe.
They released him and he started to fall. A push, a shove, and he was turned around. A hand grabbed the front of his shirt and shoved him back against the wall. Sam winced as his head hit the cracking plaster. What could only be a warning was ground out through clenched teeth at him.
Then they were gone. The door slammed and a key scraped in the lock. Floorboards creaked and conversation grew faint as they moved away.
Sam felt his entire body begin to tremble. His legs gave out and he slid down the wall to the floor. Propping his elbows on his knees, Sam ran his shaking hands through his hair. His forehead touching his knees, he clenched his fists in his hair. Oh, God. Oh God oh God oh God. What were they going to do to him? What were they doing to Josh?
He shivered. Raising his head, he wrapped his arms around his knees and leaned his head back against the wall.
The roar in his ears subsided. He could hear himself breathing. And something else. Voices. Coming from downstairs. Josh? Sam listened, certain it was his friend's voice. Just his voice. But it gave him something to hang on to so he wasn't so alone.