Kamal started awake and almost fell off the edge of the narrow couch. He looked around, almost expecting to be back there in those woods that had always been home until they were quite literally turned into a mine field. The dim interior of the cabin assured him he had not traveled back in time and the soft mewling noises coming from the corner almost made him wish he had. Sitting up, he lit a smoke before he turned his head to look at the kid; no, he reminded himself, not a kid, not anymore. His eyes swept over the naked body of the young man who was tethered to the wall, lingering first on the limp dick that laid in a nest of golden pubic hair, then moving on to take in the slim but muscled plane of his abdomen and chest. He was well-formed and with the sensory deprivation hood over his face, Kamal could almost pretend that it was some stranger lying there – almost.
It was still early, but Kamal knew he wasn’t going to get any more sleep so he used the bathroom, dropping the butt from his hand into the toilet before he flushed. He washed his face and brushed his teeth as he remembered the things he’d read on the type of torture Julien and Koslov’s expert had intended to use on the young man in the other room. Sighing, he stared into his dark-rimmed eyes in the mirror and told himself that Orhan had ceased to mean anything to him years ago and his child had never meant much to him in the first place. Though he still felt he owed Orhan for saving his life that night so long ago, he also harbored enough anger and resentment at his later betrayal to make having someone who looked so similar to him at his mercy either the greatest or worst thing he’d had happen to him. Of course, it depended on which side a person was looking at it from, he supposed.
He went out to check on the generator which had proven to be easy to operate and, with the door to its little shed closed, almost silent. Once he was sure it had enough fuel to last through the day, he went back into the cabin. He wasn’t stalling, he was just making sure everything was as it should be. In the kitchen, he grabbed a can of pašteta and spread some on a piece of bread he’d cut from one of the loaves he’d bought the day before. It was time to feed his guest. Then they’d make the first of many videos which would torment the only man they had in common when he watched them.
Kamal grabbed a bottle of juice to go along with the food. He sat on the edge of the thin, rubber-encased mattress and listened to the soft sobbing coming from beneath the hood. His captive couldn’t see or hear anything and the fabric of the mask even held a little pouch with scented beads so his sense of smell would be of no use to him for some time even when it was removed. Kamal’s little game of good cop, bad cop would depend on keeping his captive literally in the dark at all times. He set the food and drink down next to him and reached out to pull the hood up. It was designed so the mouth, nose, and ears could be exposed easily without having to remove it completely, which kept the padded blindfold in place.
The kid jerked at Kamal’s touch, but being that he was chained to the wall with both arms stretched almost to the point of being uncomfortable, he had little room to escape his fate and only managed to knock his head against the hard wall. He whimpered, but Kamal ignored it as he arranged the mask so he could feed and water the boy. Once the fabric was lifted from the lower face, Kamal removed the ear muffs so he could be heard.
“I’ve brought you something to eat and drink,” Kamal said in his softest, I’m a nice guy voice. The kid shook his head and pursed his lips. “Mali, you have to eat and you have to be quick about it because if he gets here before we’re finished he’ll get mad and you don’t want him to be mad.”
“Please,” Zijad begged, “Please just let me go, I haven’t done anything.” His breathing was coming fast and hard as he worked himself up.
Kamal placed a hand on the rapidly moving chest, giving Zijad the first of many touches that would get him to trust and, over time, maybe even like Kamal, but he was still too terrified and tried to pull away from it because Kamal was still the bad guy. Kamal kept the contact until Zijad settled. “I know you haven’t done anything, Mali, and that is why I will make sure that you’re taken good care of but you have to do as I say,” Kamal said, planting little seeds that would grow slowly without Zijad even knowing they were there in his brain taking root.
Kamal uncapped the juice and held the bottle to the kid’s trembling lips. “Drink, I’m sure you’re thirsty,” Kamal urged. He knew the drugs he’d given Zijad would leave him with a slight headache and cotton mouth, but again Zijad refused by clamping his lips closed. “Mali, we have little time and if he sees I’ve failed at my job we will both pay the price for it,” he said, trying to build up the other by not naming him, giving the boy’s already terrified mind one more thing to fear.
Zijad opened his mouth and took a small sip of the juice, but when Kamal replaced the bottle with the slice of bread he once again refused. “I can’t, please, I can’t,” Zijad pleaded.
“Just one small bite, try it,” Kamal said, talking to Zihad as if he were a small child refusing to eat his vegetables.
Zihad opened his mouth just wide enough so Kamal could push the corner of the bread inside. Kamal watched as the perfect white teeth nipped off a small chunk and then the jaw worked as he chewed. It took far longer than it should have for Zijad to attempt to swallow and when he did he choked. He coughed so hard his face turned red, but he managed to clear the obstruction without Kamal’s interference. He drank greedily from the juice when Kamal offered it once again, almost draining the bottle.
“Try another bit of food.” Kamal once again pressed the bread at the kid’s lips.
“No,” Zijad refused, turning his head.
“He won’t be happy.” Kamal put the food back on the plate.
“I don’t care,” Zijad said, sounding like a grumpy teenager.
“Fine, that’s your choice, but don’t expect me to take pity on you when he also punishes me for failing to make you eat.” Kamal quickly replaced the mask parts he’d removed to show his displeasure at Zijad’s refusal to obey.
“Why are you doing this?” Zijad asked the question Kamal had been waiting for and was surprised it had taken him that long to ask.
“Because I once loved the man you call Father.”