Elena, if you're reading this, GET OUT! (read the end of the post to see why)
I don't know how much more I can take. I feel like a injured crab on the beach, buffeted by waves and attacked by seagulls. I can't make the shore nor the safely of the deep. Stop pecking me!
So I get up early, and drive over to the office. Building Four is half obscured by the morning mist pouring off the nearby beach. I drive into the garage area under building three, and park near the electric gate that guards Building Four. I wait there a while, hoping someone will go in so I can tail them. I sit there almost an hour, listening to my MP3 player. Finally tired of waiting, I go out and fiddle with the badge scanner. I know there are cameras around, and security is probably only moments from discovering me.
I work on the mechanism for full ten minutes with no results. I slink back to my car, and wait some more. After a while, I get out and climb up the stairs to the ground level. I walk around Building Four, trying to open the doors with my access card. I notice a guard through the mist, but I duck behind a bush. He doesn't spot me. I circle the entire building with no luck. I finally retreat to my car, determined to wait it out until someone opens the gate. I wonder if Ellie could penetrate this building. A secret agent would be really helpful right now.
As it gets towards lunchtime, my stomach starts rumbling and I need to pee. I'm starting to miss the college football games on TV. My stakeout isn't really going well. I jump out and study the mechanism one more time. It's a simple pulley system. I wonder what would happen if I cut the cable. Would that release it? I sigh, return to my car, and head home.
After I park near my apartment, I step out of my car, and bunch of people who were just sitting around run up to me and tackle me. At first I'm thinking it's a mugging, but then I feel a prick as someone injects me with something. Before I pass out, I'm thrown into a waiting van that screeches up to the scene.
I come to in some kind of cell or holding room, definitely not the place I was in before. My head feels funny, and it's a while before I can focus. Fortunately there's a commode in the room, but after peeing I feel a little dizzy and start puking my guts out. I collapse on the ground, feeling miserable. After a while, the door opens and a young Asian woman walks in carrying a tray. She wrinkles her nose at my putrid state. I managed to get most of the puke into the toilet, but not all. She places the tray down on the ground, prepares a tea and reveals a sandwich. "You eat now, make feel better" she says in halting English. I try sipping the tea, and sure enough my stomach starts to calm down. After a while I gulp down the sandwich, just a ham and cheese.
I hear the lock on the door click and in strides two short but tough looking Asian dudes. They look like they're ready to cut my throat. They pick me up onto my feet and rush me out of the room. I try to break free but they only hold me more painfully. I'm thrown into another room, this time sometime a little more like an interrogation room again. An older Asian gentleman in an expensive business suit is already sitting there. He has wispy hair and glasses, but from the looks of it, he's running this operation. They close the door behind me, and I'm alone with the man.
"Please," he says, in pretty clear but accented English, "have a seat, Mr. Ross. Let me introduce myself. I am General Tan, of the Peoples Liberation Army, Second Department. I've been reading these with great interest." He raises a stack of papers and hands them to me. It's all my blog posts that I've put here. "Are you the author of these posts?"
I nod. "Yeah."
"It seems like you've invested a lot of time into a relationship with Elena Galistina. Is that correct?"
I nod again.
He hands me a picture. "And what is your relationship to these people?"
"That's my brother Brad and his wife Marcia."
"I find it interesting that you are courting Elena on one hand, and perhaps in league with the American government on the other. I would like to know who you are working for and what your assignment is. This could be extremely pleasant if you cooperate, and extremely deadly if you don't."
He stares at me with the faintest of smiles, perhaps hoping I'll choose the deadly route. "I just work for Infinitae. Everything you read here is the honest truth. You can beat me, torture me, and do your worst, but there's nothing I can tell you that I haven't written down."
General Tan smirks at me. "It may come that. What is your intent with Agent Galistina?"
"We're just dating. Until a couple days ago, I thought she was just a nice girl I met. I never knew any of this."
"Do you love her?"
That question took me off guard. "Yeah. Very much."
He squints at me. "This is rubbish. You were ready to kick her out until she revealed herself. You were tired of her, and wanted a change. You've been told to stay with here, haven't you?"
"No! Everything was great with her. She just started acting strange. Does she work for you? 'Cause she told me that you guys wanted her to leave me, and she kinda freaked out. I got pissed that she seemed to be ignoring me, so I didn't tell her about the stuff at work. Hey, I'm not comfortable with what she is. I know she wants to leave that life. I want to be supportive of that. She's the best thing that's ever happened to me. She loves me, and I love her, and if she every can get out of her commitments to you, I know we'll be together."
The man seemed to chuckle at me. "So what is this then? Love?" He passes me a picture of Carrie. At least he doesn't have the horrible picture that Marcia has, or maybe he's just being nice.
"That was a huge mistake," I breath. "I don't know what got into me. It will never happen again. In fact, if you read the blog, I threw her out last night with her crazy stories."
"Yes, we were watching. That one is quite odd. So tell me, Alex, what did you find in Building Four?"
I sigh. "I couldn't get in."
"You spent five hours there. I find that hard to believe."
"I'm not one of you guys. I'm not an expert in infiltration. I'm just a software developer, and I don't know much about breaking in that way either. I just sat around, hoping someone else would open the gate and I could sneak in, but I got hungry."
"What does Elena see in you," he seemed to hiss. "I don't understand. Elena is capable of the most intricate and challenging assignments. She has passed through countless dangers unscathed, and yet she chooses an untalented mid-level unexciting developer to spend her time with. I find it hard to believe."
"Listen. I know I'm not the coolest, strongest, smartest guy on the planet. When we are together, we get along great and have fun. We share our lives mostly. OK, I know she hid a lot of stuff from me, but it didn't feel like that. It felt more like she was hiding stuff that she would surprise me with later. She's a great person, and I love being around her. I know she has some flaws, like everyone. She's been in what sounds like an impossible situation for years now. I wouldn't be any kind of friend to her if I wasn't there for her now, and maybe her greatest hour of need. I don't know what you guys are up to, but I want you to leave her the hell alone and let her get on with her life already. You owe it to her."
The General is silent for a moment, then claps his hands lightly. "You're almost believable in your devotion to Elena. Would you then be so kind as to tell me her location, so we can help her. She's been on her own now for months, out of contact, and we aren't convinced that she is innocent. If you truly want to stop the plot, and you want her to be free, we need to be satisfied that she has truly abandoned her old ways."
I snort at that. "I'm not telling you where she is. Heck I don't know where she is. You've read the blog, you know everything I know. My guess is that she's out of the country."
"Well, we've been finding inconsistencies with your blog. Names, dates, locations, are all changed. Certain events seem to be fabricated. We don't know if you are really telling the truth at all, Mr. Ross. Your blog could be a way to cover yourself. We checked Benson's cabin and there's no trace of her. Either you're lying or she went somewhere else."
The General's face grew grim. Ok, I admit to you readers that not everything in here is completely true as it happens. I've changed things up a bit, just to throw people off track. I've tried my best to tell you what I can.
"So I will ask you one more time, Mr. Ross. Where is Elena?"
"Fuck you." I'm getting sick of this.
"Well, then, Mr. Ross, you leave me no choice. Guards!"
The door opens and a couple men come in, one dragging a board with some metal rings on it. They grab me and throw me down on the board, cuffing my hands against the board and putting a rag in my mouth. The General hovers over my head. I try to yell but the rag prevents that.
"I find it very interesting that your government doesn't consider waterboarding to be torture. I personally find it to be quite distasteful. There are far too many 'accidental' deaths with this technique. However, times what they are, who am I to go against modern interrogation techniques? Let me explain. This man here will start pouring water on to the rag, which will drip into your throat. You will try to swallow the water, but you will be choking on it. Every part of your body will be telling you that you are drowning. If you swallow too much water, this man here will beat your stomach until the water comes back up. You understand, Mr. Ross, that you only need to give me Elena's location for this to end."
They take out the rag from my mouth. "I'd rather die than give you her location. Without her I'm dead anyways. Now I know why she won't work with you anymore. Go ahead and do your worst!"
The stuff the rag into my mouth, and a man starts pouring on the water. God...this part is hard to write. In about 5 seconds I'm writhing like I've never done before. I can't really describe it, except the time when a bug or something flew into my throat and I coughed so hard I thought I would die. I also remember one time when I dove into the deep end, and didn't come up for some reason, I just stayed at the bottom. I swam and swam and swam and I thought I would die. Well, in about 5 seconds, I knew I was going to die. I tried swallowing the water, but it kept coming and coming.
At last they took the rag out. I must have been hacking and coughing and crying like a baby.
I told them. Everything. I'm SORRY! Elena if you're reading this...GET OUT!
They cleaned me up, and surprisingly let me just walk away. I'm just huddled in bed, shaking. I don't know if I'll ever be able to go near a beach again. Thinking back on that crab...it's more like I'm stuck between the shore and the ocean, each option terrifying, and the gulls keep coming from above. I'm stuck and I have no where to go, no where to turn.