He awoke. It was dark. He shivered violently, the cold biting into him. Hunger was gnawing at his stomach; he couldn’t remember the last time they had allowed him to eat.
He tried to move but pain shot through his body. He stilled himself.
He realised that the darkness wasn’t absolute but he couldn’t tell if it was dusk or pre-dawn. Time had ceased to hold any relevance for him.
He tried to move again but the wave of pain coursing through his body and the accompanying nausea caused him to stop. It was futile; he was obviously restrained.
He didn’t know how long he had before they came for him again. He wanted to be strong but didn’t know if he could hold out much longer. He had started out strong and determined but they were, slowly but surely, wearing him down.
His throat was parched, so dry that he doubted he could form words, any words, if they came for him again. He wanted to resist but the memory of the things they did to him and the horrendous pain came flooding back.
“Flight Lieutenant John Briggs, RAF 42434”
That was all they were entitled to, and that was all they had got out of him, so far.
The pain eased.
He must have dozed because he could tell it was perceptibly lighter but his vision was obscured. They must have returned and blindfolded him, to confuse him. He remembered not to move, almost able to enjoy the lack of intense pain. He relaxed into his thoughts, thoughts of the time before.
They had walked together on the beach, splashed in the shallows, laughed & watched the sun sink over the sea, a sea so calm, so peaceful. It was almost impossible, in those precious moments, to imagine the horrors the world held beyond that peaceful horizon. Later when it was dark they had returned to the small B&B. They had held each other so tight until the dawn broke and he had had to leave. How many years was it since he had held her tight, touched her soft skin…?
God, he was cold again, so bloody cold.
“Flight Lieutenant John Briggs, RAF 42434.” Nothing else. Be strong! The way you were!
The footsteps grew nearer. These were new footsteps, lighter than before. He was confused, perhaps this was a new technique. He tensed himself for what would come. Name, rank, serial number only, no more!
He must be strong. If he held out, he might walk free again one day. Be able to hold his head high. Then they might be together again once more, the way they had been that last leave.
The sound of the door crashing open stilled his thoughts. He braced himself once more for what lay ahead.
“Eh, Luv, has that cleaner left the window open again?”
“Oh, and Mr Briggs you’ve got ye’ssen all tangled up in that duvet again.”