Razor Mountain — Chapter 20.2

Razor Mountain is a serial novel, with new parts published every week or two. For more info, visit the Razor Mountain landing page.

The noise came and went over and over. Christopher counted five times, then began to wonder if he had miscounted. It never seemed to be more than an hour between sessions, and he didn’t trust his sense of time at all while the noise was happening. It felt like it went on for hours. He wasn’t sure how much sleep he got in between sessions, but he knew it wasn’t remotely close to enough. He had crossed into the hazy place beyond mere sleep deprivation and exhaustion, a liminal world of almost-sleep where the world around him felt less than entirely real.

As soon as the noise stopped for the fifth time, the door to the room swung open, and a soldier entered. It came as a shock, it was so sudden and out of keeping with the rhythm of Christopher’s imprisonment thus far.

The soldier walked stiffly to Christopher’s cell, eyes staring straight ahead. The man’s demeanor called to his mind the British palace guards who assiduously ignored the tourists. When the man arrived at the cell door, he pulled out a ring of keys. He unlocked and opened the door, and his eyes actually focused on Christopher for the first time.

“Stand up!” he shouted in perfect drill sergeant cadence.

Christopher rolled over and sat up shakily on the metal bed before hauling himself to his feet. Apparently the soldier was not satisfied with how quickly Christopher was moving, because the man swept forward and turned Christopher around to slam him against the wall before he realized what was happening. He twisted Christopher’s arms behind his back and snapped handcuffs onto his wrists. Then he turned Christopher around and marched him out of the cell, over to the stainless steel table in the middle of the room.

The man pressed Christopher down into the chair, then unlocked one of the cuffs to snap onto one of the brackets welded to the table.

The endless hours of noise torture had left Christopher dazed, and the sudden manhandling had caught him completely by surprise. He felt like he ought to fight back, but he suspected that these people wouldn’t be afraid to really hurt him. Besides, he was hardly in a state where fighting back would do any good.

At the very least, it seemed like he ought to say something.

“When do I get my phone call?”

The soldier didn’t so much as blink. His job apparently finished, Christopher did not merit being seen or heard. The man walked to the door as stiffly as he had entered.

“I’d like to speak to my lawyer.” Christopher’s tongue was thick in his mouth, his words slightly slurred.

The door swung closed, clunking shut with finality.

Minutes went by, the room silent except for the sound of Christopher’s shoes on the smooth floor and the clanking of the handcuff chain on the metal table. He felt the effects of adrenaline fade, and exhaustion crept in again. He was tempted to lay his head down on the table and try to sleep, but it was clear by now that if he did that, they would just do something to jerk him awake.

He didn’t have to wait long however. The door opened again, and a man in a sharp-creased forest green dress uniform and red beret stepped into the room, holding a clipboard under his arm. He let the door close behind him, but he didn’t walk to the table immediately. Instead, he stood just beyond the threshold, studying Christopher, his face impassive.

The man walked forward slowly and sat down across from Christopher. He set his clipboard down on the table with an audible snap.

“I’m Sergeant Meadows,” the man said, “and I’m here to decide whether you deserve to rot in a cell for the rest of your life.”

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Author: Samuel Johnston

Professional software developer, unprofessional writer, and generally interested in almost everything.

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