The Erotic Mind-Control Story Archive

The Coffee Shop IV: Sex, Lies & Duct Tape.

Disclaimer. The following story, is a work of fiction. The characters portrayed within are a work of fiction as well, and any resemblance to any person, living or dead is a coincidence and unintentional.

Copyright © 2001. This story is the property of the author, Canadian Cowboy. Any duplication, in whole or in part, is forbidden without the express written consent of the author, Canadian Cowboy.

Chapter 13. The Devil You Don’t Know.

Round, hard, cold metal pressed against my left temple. Small drops of terror filled sweat rolled down the front and sides of my face. My guts felt like they had turned to water. I could barely swallow. The silence thundered through the room. Each second was an eternity. I had never felt so helpless and alone in my entire life. Fear filled my mind, and it was all I could do to keep from giving in to the terror that coiled tight around my mind like some giant boa constrictor.

I somehow managed to control my breathing, and took stock of the situation. It was not good. I was sitting in a simple wooden chair of some type. Each of my legs was securely bound to the leg of the chair with some type of rope or cord. My arms were held securely behind the back of the chair, with my wrists bound together. Painfully bound would be a better description. My fingers and palms were numb due to the cords that cut into the flesh of my writs and impeded my circulation. Several loops of the cord were wrapped about my torso, just below my underarms, securing my body to the back of the chair upon which I sat. Not a good situation, at all, and uncomfortable as hell. I mentally sighed to myself, and looked around. (Do I have a gift for understatement or what?)

The room in which I found myself was plain and colourless. White or off white walls, with recessed florescent lighting in the ceiling. There were no furnishing of any type in the room, save for the chair that I was sitting in. There was a door of some type off to the right, but I could not get a good look at it. I did not dare to turn my head. With a gun pressed against my left temple, not moving my head around seemed like a very good idea to me. I knew that I was not alone in the room. Someone had to be holding that gun to my head, but I had no idea who it was. The worst part was that I had no idea how long I remained like that. It could have been hours. It could have been minutes. There was no way to tell. All I knew was that I was uncomfortable, and getting more uncomfortable as time passed. As I sat helplessly waiting for something to happen, I suddenly wondered whether or not I’d be able to get the wrinkles out of out my suit jacket and pants. It was a silly and superficial thought to have at a time like that, but when your entire world had been turned upside down, you reach out desperately for something familiar that you can hold on to. In my case, it was the concern for my suit. It was one of my favorite suits, a simple double breasted two piece medium blue pinstripe suit. I was wearing a sky blue dress shirt and a navy blue silk tie. My good old plain black leather belt and new pair of black leather dress shoes completed my ensemble. A fat lot of good this fashion review was doing for me though. I forced such trivial thoughts out of my head and concentrated on staying calm and controlling my fear.

As I sat there waiting for Lord only knows what to happen, I closed my eyes and tried to remember how exactly it was that I came to find myself in this most undesirable situation. The details were fuzzy at best. There were a few things that I was sure of though. I had put in a full day’s work on Friday. More than a full day’s work, actually. I had decided to work a few hours of overtime to get a few administrative tasks finished. They were not critical tasks, but I was in the mood to work on them so I thought I’d deal with them and get them out of the way. I had phoned my apartment and left a message on my answering machine to let Andy know that I would be a few hours late this evening. I didn’t like for him to worry about me. I derived a small nugget of relief as that thought rolled about in my mind. Andy would miss me. In a couple of hours or so he would know that something was wrong when I didn’t show up at my apartment. I didn’t know how much time had passed since I’d made that phone call, but the time would pass, nevertheless. I clung to that small hope like a spider clinging to a web line.

I recalled walking out to the front of the building where I work, looking for the cab that I had telephone for. I remembered seeing the cab and climbing into it. No, wait a second. I tried climbing into the front seat like I usually do, but the driver informed me that I’d have to sit in the back seat as the front passenger door was stuck. So I got into the back seat of the cab and gave the driver my home address. Yes I clearly remembered that. After a few minutes of travel, I noticed a strange order in the cab and then I started feeling tired as if the day had suddenly caught up to me. I closed my eyes for just a second, and then I woke up here. I had been drugged, I finally realized. (As you can probably tell, I’m not very good at jigsaw puzzles, either.) So that is how I got from the cab to here. The problem was, I didn’t know where here was.

The sound of a door opening brought my back to the present, and my less than desirable situation. I opened my eyes, and resisted the natural impulse to turn my head in the direction of the sound. The gun pressed against my temple was more than incentive enough for me to keep my head still.

“I see that our guest is awake,” said a strange male voice.

“I don’t think much of your hospitality then, if this is how you treat a guest”, I thought to myself. I didn’t dare speak such a thought out loud. I heard the sound of footsteps approaching me. Soon a pair of black leather shoes walked into my scope of vision, attached to a pair of legs that were shrouded in a pair of black dress pants. Slowly more and more of the legs came into my view as the man, whoever he was, walked closer and closer to me. A few more paces and the knees came into view. Another pace or two and I could see the tails of a suit jacket appear. It was a black double breasted jacket, and it was buttoned up. I could see the lowest set of buttons on the jacket, but that was all. The man had stopped walking towards me.

“Mr. Red, you may withdraw the gun from Mr. Walton’s head....but only an inch or so. Mr. Walton is now permitted to move his head, but should he turn his head in any direction other that to look at me, you will immediately ventilate his skull. Is that understood?”

“Understood, Mr. Black,” replied Mr. Red in a voice that sounded so calm, so controlled, and so ordinary, that it was frightening.

“Good. The same goes for the rest of you. If any of you see Mr. Walton so much as glance in your direction you are to put a bullet into Mr. Walton’s skull. Neatness does not count. Is that clear?” Mr. Black said to several other people in the room.

‘Yes, Mr. Black.” “Understood, Mr. Black.” Two new voices replied in rapid succession, from different areas off the room. These new voices were off to my right and behind me somewhere, as near as I could tell. They had not spoken long enough for me to get anything more than a crude idea as to where they were positioned relative to me.

Well now I had a bit more information. The man standing in front of me was named Mr. Black and he seemed to be in charge of the other three men who were arranged about me. Mr. Red, the man to my left was armed, no question about that. Apparently there were two other armed men in the room, who also had their weapons trained on me. Talk about having the deck stacked against you! I was already tied to a chair, and physically helpless. Now Mr. Black was insuring that I would not have even the slightest opportunity to use my powers on any of the armed men. It didn’t require any great mental effort on my part to come to the conclusion that he knew more than just a little about my super hypnotic powers. I had no idea exactly how much he knew about them, but clearly he knew enough to avoid presenting me with any opportunity of using those powers on the armed men in the room.

These thoughts flashed through my mind as I slowly raised my head up to get a good look at my captor. Slowly the rest of Mr. Black’s body came into my view as I raised my head upwards. I looked past the lowest set of buttons on the double breast suit jacket as I let my gaze move upward across Mr. Black’s body. A black double breast suit, with a plain black silk tie and a bright white shirt met my gaze. Unremarkable.. Mr. Black’s body appeared to be of average build. He wasn’t fat or muscular, just an average build. He looked like any other fit thirty year old man that you might encounter walking down a city street. He was ordinary. In fact he almost seemed to stress being ordinary, if that were possible.

I lifted my gaze from his body and moved onto his face. If I had to guess I would have to have said that Mr. Black was probably in his early to mid thirties. His face was pleasant looking, and except for his goatee, unremarkable. His eyes were a dark and smoky gray. He was not wearing glasses. His black hair was cut short, but neatly styled. He stood there in front of me, patiently waiting as I looked him over. His demeanor was one of cool, calm and control. He was in the driver’s seat here, and he knew it. I looked at the man’s face and studied it. It seemed vaguely familiar somehow. I couldn’t help but get a feeling that I knew him, that I’d seen him somewhere before. It was an unsettling, almost frightening feeling. The longer I stared at the man, the stronger the feeling became.

Suddenly a cold chill ran down my spin as I finally remembered where I had seen this man before. It was after that failed robbery at the bank branch from a couple of months ago! He was among the detectives and police officers who were interviewing the hostages and witnesses after the robbers were safely in custody. He had never spoken with me, but he was hanging around in the background talking with other people at the bank. My mouth went dry and I gulped with shock as I realized that this man had also been at the restaurant where I had first encountered Cody and his friends, a few months before the incident at the bank. The man had been following me and my adventures for several months! This could mean only one thing. I was in deep, deep trouble.

“It took you long enough to put two and two together, Mr. Walton,” this Mr. Black said to me, grinning at the shock he saw on my face. “Yes, I have been keeping very close tabs on you and your activities for some little time now. You have been a very busy little boy, and while you have done a admirable job of keeping a low profile, you have not been able to cover all your tracks.”

I stared at Mr. Black, and remained silent. The arrogance in his voice came through loud and clear. I found it annoying and irritating, but I managed to curb my impulse to reply with a sarcastic and scathing remark. He seemed to know everything, or at least he gave that impression. I wasn’t about to provide him with any more information. If anyone needed information, it was me. I figured that I’d learn more if I kept my mouth shut and my ears open. I wondered where it was that I’d slipped up. I thought I had been very careful about concealing my abilities and tying up any loose ends. Obviously though, I had missed something otherwise I would not be in the position that I presently found myself in.

“You have followed the guidelines and convention set down by The Panel. You need have no fear of retribution,” Mr. Black informed me, in a calm and even tone of voice. “That is not why you are here.”

If that was supposed to offer me some semblance of comfort, or to calm my fears, it failed miserably. The fact that this man appeared knowledgeable about The Panel, only confirmed my worse fears. After all, if the man knew about The Panel, it was only logical that he knew at least as much about my powers and abilities as they did. I derived some small scrape of comfort that my full abilities were not known by The Panel. In all the months since that less than cordial meeting with The Panel, I had never opened a dialog with any members of The Panel. I had kept my own council as to the true extent and nature of my powers or how they had continued to grow in depth and scope in the intervening months since that encounter. I had even kept my beloved Andy in the dark regarding how much easier it had become for me to use my powers on people. I had never volunteered any information, and Andy bless his heart, had never asked. I think that somehow he sensed that this was something I just could not talk to him about. He didn’t have the proper frame of reference to understand. It would have been like me trying to understand Andy’s job as an RCMP constable. I just did not have the frame of reference to do so.

I looked at Mr. Black, and slowly locked my eyes onto his. Carefully I sent out a delicate mental feeler out towards his head. I knew better than to try anything along the lines of a direct confrontation. Even if he was susceptible to my powers, I had three other men in the room, with guns pointed in the direction of my head, to deal with. My suspicions were quickly confirmed. Mr. Black had a mental shield up around his mind. His shield was hard and tight, and the texture suggested that the shield would reflect any commands that I might try to insert in to his mind.

“That’s a very nice touch you’ve got there, Mr. Walton,” Mr. Black commented, as he complimented me on my abilities. “I am impressed with your finesse. However, you can see that I am more than ready for you. You’ll find me a most worthy opponent, let me assure you. In the unlikely event that you do manage to break through my shields, any abnormal behavior or orders on my part would result in a bullet in your brain, courtesy of one or all of my associates. So, given the circumstances, I would advise you not to try anything. You may be fast and powerful, but even you cannot stop a bullet.”

I closed my eyes and let out a soft sigh. The son of a bitch was right. Damn it! I cleared my mind and focused my powers. Now was not the time to act, but maybe I could collect a bit more information about this situation, and about my captors. I concentrated for a moment and did a quick and powerful scan of the room. I was able to pinpoint the locations of all the minds of the men in the room. That was the good news. The bad news was that they were all shielded. This wasn’t much of a surprise. These men knew about my abilities, or some of them at any rate, and they were taking precautions. I should have expected nothing less. Their positions showed up in my mind like blips on a radar screen, a very accurate and detailed radar screen. Once I had them located, I sensitized my mental scanners, my radar, to the texture and feel of their shields. In less than three heartbeats I had tagged their shields. I would now be able to track their locations in the room automatically, without having to periodically scan the room. It was only a minuscule advantage, but it was still an advantage. I didn’t know if they were aware of what I had just done, though. Frankly it didn’t make much difference if they did. The odds were four to one in their favor, after all.

“Not even going to ask why it is that you have been brought here?” Mr. Black taunted me. “I must say, I am a tad bit disappointed in you. I was under the impression that you were far more inquisitive person.”

I stonily ignored the barb. I wasn’t exactly in the mood for conversation. I looked up at Mr. Black and locked my eyes on his. I swallowed nervously, but managed to keep looking him in the eyes.

“Ah, so be it. Out of the kindness of my heart, I will answer your unasked question and inform you as to why your presence was requested,” Mr. Black continued, in a business like voice. He paused for a moment as if for dramatic effect. “It seems that you have some unusual capabilities, the details of which you are unwilling to share. This situation is going to change. Before this evening is over, you are not only going to provide full information about your enhanced mental abilities, but you will teach me in the use of these techniques. Mary was unsuccessful in her attempt to coerce the information from you. I will succeed where she did not.”

I answered him with stonily silence. It was all that I could think of to do. How could I explain something to him, which I didn’t understand myself? I didn’t know how I did what I did, I just did it. You might as well ask someone to explain the details of how you breathe. Imagine how difficult it would be to describe the exact muscles that you control and the sequence that you control them in when you take a deep breath. As I pondered that, something clicked in my head and a question popped into my mind.

“Why didn’t you drug me?” I asked Mr. Black. “If you wanted the truth from me, why didn’t you use that same drug on me that Mary used when she first met me?”

“A most perceptive question, Mr. Walton. I see you still have your wits about you. Unfortunately such a simple and painless option is not available to me. The drug only works on those whose powers are dormant. Once your powers have been awakened, the drug no longer has any effect on you,” Mr. Black answered. “Other less desirable methods must be employed.”

“Why do you want this information so badly?” I asked him as I gained a small measure of courage from his answer.

“You and your abilities are an unknown factor, an ‘x’ factor if you like. Do you really think that the government would be willing to let a someone with your abilities wander around unmonitored?” Mr. Black asked me point blank. He continued speaking before I could even begin formulating an answer to his question. “The potential harm to the general public is far too great. In order to know how to counteract you powers, we need to understand how it is that you use them in the first place. Surely you can see the necessity of that. You were given an opportunity to provide this information willingly when you met with The Panel. However, you decided to be stubborn and difficult, so I was called in to deal with you. Rest assured that you will proved this information before the evening is over.”

There was a coldness and finality in the tone of Mr. Blacks’ voice that made chills run up and down my spine. I knew that he wasn’t kidding. I gulped once as I tried to swallow my fear. If there was one thing that Mr. Black was very good at, it was intimidation. Another inspiration flashed into my mind as a few more pieces to this puzzle clicked into place in my mind.

“Since you desire this information from me, I’m willing to bet that you are unwilling to risk losing your only opportunity to gain that information,” I shot back at Mr. Black as I tried to match the coldness of his voice.

“Meaning what exactly?” Mr. Black asked with a hint of surprise in his voice.

“Meaning that you won’t risk killing me,” I said as I turned my head to the left to look over at the man off to my left. If I was wrong, I was dead. I looked over and saw a man who appeared to be in his late twenties or early thirties. He had light brown hair, cold hazel eyes, and was clean shaven. His face was average looking. He wasn’t remarkably handsome nor was he unusually ugly. He looked like any run of the mill guy that you might see on a busy street corner. Only the cold, remote, determined expression on his face marked him as unusual. He was a professional and to him this was simply business nothing more. He was wearing a two piece single breasted two button black suit with a white shirt and a black tie. It was an outfit similar to Mr. Black’s. Unlike Mr. Black though, this man had a small caliber handgun pointed at my head.

“Hello, Mr. Red,” I said coolly, when a bullet did not find its way into my skull. “In other circumstances I would say that it is a pleasure to meet you.”

“Do you often bet your life on hunches? Are you always so reckless?” Mr. Black asked me.

“It wasn’t a hunch,” I answered him as I turned my head back and looked Mr. Black in the eyes. “It was simple deductive logic. Fact one. You emphasized that I should not try to engage you in a mental battle. Reason unknown. Fact Two. You admitted that you could not use a drug to obtain the information from my mind. Fact Three. You want me to teach you how to use these techniques. Conclusion one. You cannot risk destroying me or my mind because you need the information and also my experience on how to use these abilities of mine. Conclusion two. You will not kill me, at least not until after I have provided the information you seek. Therefore, your orders to ventilate my skull were merely part of your attempt to intimidate me. I decided to call your bluff.”

“Clever. But you could have been wrong,” Mr. Black said as he indirectly admitted that my deductive reasoning was right on the mark. “You were still risking your life on very flimsy facts, if you can call them that. It was a foolish risk, nevertheless.”

“Not really. If I was wrong I would merely be dead a little bit earlier. You can kill me only once,” I answered with a sigh. “You never made any claim that you would release me after I told you what you wanted to know. So as far as I am concerned, I’m a dead man anyway. At least my secrets will die with me. I am confident that you cannot read the mind of a dead man, otherwise you would have killed me already and saved yourself all this trouble. I’ll be damned to hell before I’ll help someone like you, government agency or not.”

“Mary said that you were stubborn to a fault. I can’t believe that you would give up your life so easily. Do you value life, your life, so little?” Mr. Black asked me with a touch of wonder in his voice as if he could not believe what I had said.

“I would rather be lying dead with my face on the ground, than on my knees in front of the likes of you,” I answered him somewhat flippantly. “I value life, especially my life, a great deal, but not at the expense of others. Who knows what you would do if you had such abilities as mine? Mary explained to me that with great power, there must also come great responsibility. I have a duty to use my powers wisely and with compassion. I won’t hand over my abilities to the first thug who sticks a gun in my ribs. Death is preferable, to the pain and tragedy that would be inflicted on others.”

“Noble, foolish and stubborn. A most unlucky combination for you,” Mr. Black said with a sigh. “Since you’re so unwilling to cooperate, we shall have to try a different approach. Something with a bit more leverage, I think.” Mr. Black broke eye contact with me as he addressed the two unnamed men off to my far right. “Mr. Green and Mr. Yellow, if you would be so kind?”

“Yes, sir. Right away, sir” They replied, one after the other.

A sound off to my right caught my attention. I swiveled my head to the right, no longer worried about bullets visiting my skull. The door I had seen earlier slide open. It moved from the left to the right revealing a mysterious dark rectangular hole in the wall of the room. Two of the men guarding me, walked over to the door and left the room. They left before I could get a good look at them, though. The door remained open. I did not have long to wait. When they returned I nearly had a heart attack.

They pushed a swivel chair into the room. The chair was not empty. A man was sitting in the chair. It was Andy! He was tied up, and gagged, still wearing his working RCMP uniform. He was sitting in a swivel chair with his arms securely tied to the arms of the chair. Several bands of heavy rope secured his muscular torso to the back of the chair. His legs were bound together although they were not tied to the legs of the chair. Since this was a swivel chair on casters, that would have been rather difficult to do. Regardless, though, Andy was helpless and completely unable to move. They placed him about five feet in front of me. I studied his face. I could see the confusion and bewilderment in those soft doe brown eyes of his. He didn’t seem scared, just very, very puzzled. He wasn’t the only one.

The sight of Andy sitting in front of me, tied to a chair and gagged was more than enough to push away any thoughts I might have had about paying attention to the two men who had wheeled him into the room. Andy was foremost in my mind. I realized, with a sickening feeling, that help was not likely to arrive anytime in the foreseeable future. I had been counting on Andy to miss me, and to sound the alarm that I was missing. Fat chance of that now. Boy, when things went wrong they really went wrong. “What else could possibly go wrong now?” I asked myself silently, as I struggled to regain my composure.

“I see you know this man,” Mr. Black commented with a smirk on his face. “You might be willing to sacrifice your life, but are you so willing to sacrifice his?”

“Christ! I had to go and ask that question, didn’t I?” I mentally cursed myself. I did my best to launch a look of utter confusion at Mr. Black, once I had torn my attention away from Andy. “What in the name of little green apples are you talking about?” I shot back at him. “I will admit that I know this man. He’s a casual friend of mine, but what has that got to do with it? I wouldn’t put it past you to kill an innocent man, but that’s not going to get you anywhere with me. I’d rather see this man dead, than know that he would suffer at your hands, if I were to tell you what you want to know.” I was taking a huge gamble, and I knew it. Bluffing seemed to be my only hope. My powers were not going to get me out of this mess of trouble. At least they would not be able to scan Andy’s mind to learn just how important he was to me. If Andy was immune to my powers, I was willing to bet that he was immune to Mr. Blacks’ powers as well.

“Brave words, but futile and worthless. I know all about your relationship with Constable Anderson here. I know how important he is to you. You forget, that I know everything that The Panel knows. What’s more, I know everything that you’ve ever told Mary. It makes me no never mind that you and Constable Anderson are gay. He is but a lever to shift your position.” Mr. Black smiled at me as he finished speaking.

It was a truly unpleasant smile. Evil would have been a better word, but I was reluctant to use that word. Evil brought up a host of undesirable possibilities as to just what lengths Mr. Black might be willing to go to. I preferred not to dwell on that. I hoped that there was still some way to get clear of this mess, without telling Mr. Black what he wanted to know. Somehow, I didn’t think he’d buy my story that I couldn’t explain my techniques to him, since I didn’t know exactly how I did what I did, in the first place. How in the blue moons of Mars do you explain instinct?

“I put it to you simply. I am going to count from one to five. When I reach five, Mr. Red is going to kill Constable Anderson, by shooting him through the heart. You have that long to change your mind and agree to tell me what I want to know,” Mr. Black growled at me. “His life is in your hands. As soon as you start telling me what I want to know, I’ll stop the count. One.”

“You’ve got to be kidding!” I cried out, in disbelief. Andy locked his eyes on mine and shook his head at me violently from side to side. It was a clear ‘no’. He was pleading with me to stop this insanity.

“Two.” Mr. Black grunted at me.

“I can’t tell you what I don’t know!” I yelled out at him. I had decided to come clean. I was willing to risk my own life, but not Andy’s. I couldn’t stomach the thought of being responsible for his death. I loved him too much to risk his life.

“Three.” Mr. Black said calmly.

“I don’t know how I do what I do. I just do it, I tell you! I can’t show you how to do it. I just don’t know. Christ almighty! I can’t give you something that I don’t have!” I screamed at him as I tried to make him understand the truth..

“Four. Time’s running out, Mr. Walton,” Mr. Black said with all the concern that he would have if he were announcing the current temperature.

“I’m telling you, I don’t know how I do it! Why in the name of God won’t you believe me?! If you want to have a meeting of our minds I’ll prove to you that I’m telling you then truth! Please, in the name of God, don’t do this! Andy never did anything to you or to The Panel. He doesn’t deserve this!” I howled out at the top of my lungs as I pleaded and begged for Andy’s life. I was convinced that Mr. Black would do exactly as he threatened. I could not confirm it, since I could not read his mind, but I sure as hell wasn’t about to risk Andy’s life!

“Five.” Mr. Black called out, his voice like the chimes of doom.

From somewhere behind me and to my left I heard the crack and thunder of a gun being fired. An instant later I saw a small hole appear in the center of Andy’s chest. I wrenched my attention back to Andy’s face. Time slowed to a crawl. Andy’s eyes went wide with fright and terror. Slowly, those wonderful soft doe brown eyes of his glazed over and the spark of life and love that I had seen in them so many times, slowly faded away. His eyelids dropped down, as he closed his eyes for the final time. He let out a soft sigh as his head slumped down to his chest. It almost looked like he was going to sleep, it seems so peaceful and quiet. There wasn’t a trace of pain or shock on his face. (Somewhere in a back corner of my mind, I was thankful for that small grace. Andy had not suffered.) I looked down at Andy’s chest. The blood had started to seep slowly out of the small, circle in the center of Andy’s chest. The blood ran down the front of his shirt, in a small trail to the top of his pants. There the blood spread out and formed a small pool as it soaked into the material of his shirt and the waistband of his pants. As I watched, Andy’s entire body slowly slumped down in the chair, limp and lifeless. It didn’t seem real, somehow. I could not seem to believe it. This just could not be happening. I just did not want to believe the evidence of my eyes.

A slight tugging at my writs interrupted my study of Andy’s body. I blinked a few times at the shock of the moment, as I found my hands suddenly free of my restraints. I absently wiped away the tears that threatened to flow out of my eyes. Before I could make sense of my hands being freed up, I discovered that my ankles had been freed of their restraints as well.

“Go and examine your ‘friend’, please,” instructed the cold and sadistic voice of Mr. Black. “Check his pulse, breathing and other vital signs. I want you to know without a doubt that we are not playing games.”

Numbly I stood up as I prepared to comply with his instructions. I clung to the faint hope that this was some kind of a trick, and that I was not dealing with such callous monsters as these men appeared to be.

“Don’t try anything, though,” Mr. Black warned me. “All three of my assistants have their guns trained on you, and while they will not kill you, they are expert marksmen. They can inflict a great deal of plain without harming you seriously.”

Dully, I nodded my head in acknowledgment of his words, though they barely registered on my conscious mind. I slowly walked over to where Andy sat slumped in his chair. I ignored the painful pins and needles feeling that coursed through my hands and feet as the blood circulation was restored to my extremities. I bent down and reached out with my hands. I took Andy’s left wrist in my right hand, and felt for a pulse. Nothing. I felt the blood drain from my face. I placed my hand under his nose to check for any sign of breathing. Nothing. Suddenly I felt empty. I bent lower, turned my head to the side, and placed my left ear flat against Andy’s chest, as close to the bullet hold as I dared. I waited and prayed for a heartbeat, no matter how faint. Nothing. I waited for an entire minute. Nothing. My entire body went weak as I collapsed into a heap next to the chair in which Andy sat. As I sat there on the floor beside Andy, with my hands in my lap and my legs splayed out in front of me, I accepted the bitter truth. Andy was dead. The light of my life, and the love of my life was gone. The man who made my heart sing with joy and love had been taken from me. His life has been snuffed out, as quickly and thoughtlessly as one blows out a candle. I would never hear him call me Texas again. I would never feel him hold me in his strong powerful arms again. I would never be able to hold Andy in my arms and comfort him when he needed it most. In that moment, I felt my heart become an unfeeling cold lump of stone in my chest. It still beat, slowly and evenly. It still pumped my blood. I still breathed. I still lived, but in that moment, the man whom Andrew Anderson had come to love and know so well, that man died too.

“As you can see, we are serious. Deadly serious,” said the icy cold voice of Mr. Black.

I slowly turned about, while remaining sitting on the floor. I turned my face up to look at him. I didn’t say anything. I didn’t feel anything, either. I just looked at him in stony silence. No anger. No fear. No thirst for revenge. Nothing. It was like all my emotions had been drained out of me.

“Now, are you going to answer my questions, or do I have to bring in members of your family to help convince you to cooperate?” He asked me in that same even no nonsense tone of voice of his. He waited a minute or so before he resumed taking. “We’ll start with your parents, I think, that is unless you’ve had a change of heart.”

Slowly I climbed to my feet. If I was going to die here and now, I would do it standing on my own two feet, not on my knees or sitting on my ass. “That won’t be necessary. I will give you what you want,” I answered him calmly, in a dead man’s voice. There wasn’t a flicker of emotion in my voice. I believed that he would do exactly what he said he would do, if I did not cooperate with him. I didn’t want to see any of my family harmed, most especially my parents. I felt trapped and helpless. But only for a moment. I looked up at Mr. Black, and the sudden loss of Andy hit me a second time. The image of my parents tied in chairs seated in front of me, with guns pointed at their heads flashed through my mind. Suddenly my anger ignited. All I could feel was anger. I felt my face get hot as it suddenly became flushed. It was like a fire was burning within me, a fire that became hotter and hotter with each passing moment. In that instant, I didn’t care what happened to me. Killing me would be a mercy. I had just lost Andy to these bastards! I would burn in Hell before I’d let them harm my parents! I couldn’t give them what they wanted, but I was sure as Hell going to give them something! The fire burned away the feelings of helplessness and fear that I had felt a few moments before. Now there was only rage, blood red, white hot, and getting hotter by the second. My face was burning hot as if I had a fever of some kind, yet my mind was crystal clear and ice cold calm. Only one thought burned in my mind, “Payback.” Something inside me seemed to snap. Nothing mattered to me anymore. I didn’t care about anyone or anything, least of my life. All that I wanted was to wring my revenge out of Mr. Black’s hide, one painful drop at a time. Once again I peered down into the well of my soul. I gazed down deep in to the dark pool of black water that lay there motionless at the bottom of that well. This time, I didn’t look away. This time I embraced the darkness. This time I reached down and unchained the monster that lurked just below the surface of that forbidding pool. Power seems to flow through my mind like never before. It was heady and exhilarating, beyond anything I had ever felt before. And it was darker than the heart of Satan. I couldn’t have cared less. I embraced it like a long lost lover.

“I’m glad to hear that,” Mr. Black said his words dragging my attention back to him. “Now start explaining your techniques to me.”

Silently, I launched my attack, but not at Mr. Black. Instead I split my effort into a three pronged attack at his assistants. They were the immediate threat since they all had guns. I wanted to be sure to live long enough to wring every drop of my revenge out of Mr. Black’s hide. I pounded away at their shields with sledgehammer blows, as I turned my head to look at Mr. Red. I allowed the corners of my mouth to turn up slightly as I saw him reel backward from the force of my blows and drop to his knees, with his hands clutched at his head as he started to howl in pain. His gun lay beside him forgotten in the agony of my attack. I glanced over to my right just in time to see the other two men fall to their knees as well. I noticed that they too had started to cry out as they dropped their guns and grabbed at their heads. My anger and fury at these men knew no bounds. I pulled forth all my strength, strength that until that moment, I didn’t even know I had. I continued to pound away at their shields while lancing out at their shields with my second attack. I would most likely burn out every cell in my brain trying to launch a double attack on three minds at the same time, but I didn’t give a shit about that! One by one, starting with Mr. Red, I clamped on one of my sucker tubes. In only a few heart beats I was sucking away at the energy of their shields and flinging that energy back at them in my attack. As I saw their shields start to weaken I kept up the pressure of my attacks. I had never done a simultaneous attack on three minds of unknown strength, but I didn’t have the luxury to wonder at my accomplishment. Mr. Black still remained.

I looked over at him. His face was frozen in shock as he looked about at his assistants. Somehow I managed to focus enough of my attention at him to hurl a mental bolt at his shield. It bounced off harmlessly. I wasn’t all that surprised. I couldn’t spare enough of my attention to really attack his mind right now. I had my mental hands full. The other three men’s shields were weakening quickly. I paced the power level of my attacks to be sure that I would not break through their shields too soon and burn out their minds. I did not intend to turn them into mindless idiots, at least not just yet.

I hurled another bolt at Mr. Black’s shield. It bounced off. He turned his head and looked at me, surprise still etched on his face. At least I had his attention now. Every few seconds I shot another bolt at his shield to be sure that he would not try to come to the aid of the other men in the room. I swung my head around to my left to see how Mr. Red was doing. I could not help but smile as I saw that not only was he still on his knees, but he had folded over, with his head nearly touching the floor in front of him. His hands were clasped to the sides of his head. He was sobbing as the pain of my unrelenting attack continued to pound away at his shield. There wasn’t much left of his shield. I estimated that in about a minute I would have drained it away completely, and his unprotected mind would be open to my mental gaze and my manipulation. I switched my attention to the other two men and examined the conditions of their shields. They were in a similar state. Both would soon be drained completely, but it would take a few more minutes. I was in no hurry. I licked my lips in anticipation.

A sudden bolt of pain rocked my mind, as a very powerful mental bolt impacted on my shield. The pain was momentary. The bolt clung to my shield for only a fraction of a second (an eternity in mental combat) before I managed to increase the power of my shield enough to completely defect the thrust harmlessly away from me. Logic suggested that the thrust had come from Mr. Black, since his was the only mind in the room that I was not attacking. (That’s what I got for letting myself be distracted.) A second bolt impacted on my shield, before I had even finished deflecting the first bolt. A third and fourth bolt arrived immediately afterwards. Mr. Black wasn’t playing any games. He was launching an all out attack on my mind. He was throwing more and more powerful mental bolts at my mind as fast as he possibility could. Even with the other three men momentarily incapacitated, it was still an uneven and uphill battle. The energy from the other three men would sustain my attack upon their minds, so I didn’t have to spare much attention to dealing with them. Mr. Black was another matter entirely.

I deflected each bolt that he shot at me, but it required significant effort on my part. I had stopped shooting my bolts at his mind, since I could not spare enough of my mind to form a strong enough bolt to really threaten his shield. I was completely on the defensive. I judged our mental strengths to be about equal, from what I could feel of his mental bolts. I was pretty sure that I could continue to handle whatever he might throw at me, since the strength of his bolts were only marginally stronger each time. Of course, he could be holding back. My problem was that I didn’t have enough time to win a defensive war. At any time someone might contact Mr. Black to check on his progress with me. I didn’t know where I was, but it was a safe assumption that someone else was in the vicinity. Mr. Black didn’t strike me as the kind of man who would not have some kind of backup nearby.

As far as I knew, persons who had the gift were telepathic only when they were in physical contact with another person. So anyone wanting to contact Mr. Black would phone him (if he was carrying a cellular phone), or come into this room. As I fended off another bolt from Mr. Black, I realized that it was highly unlikely that anyone would try to phone him, since that might interrupt his concentration at a critical moment. Logically anyone else who knew of the gift would realize that mental battle was sure to erupt, and interruptions of any kind were a bad idea. My thoughts were wrenched off track as I felt one of the shields I was draining suddenly shatter like a pane of glass. I turned my head in the direction of Mr. Red.

He was curled on the floor in a fetal position with his hands still pressed to his temples. “Please, no more....” he whimpered softly at no one in particular. His eyes were closed and the pain on his face was clearly visible. I modulated my attack from a pounding jackhammer into a smooth soft mental blanket that I draped over his mind. His mind was open and naked before me. I wrapped that blanket about every nook and cranny of Mr. Red’s mind. Satisfied that I had his mind completely encased with my mental power, I walked over to where Mr. Red was lying and knelt down beside him. I placed the fingertips of my right hand on his head. I slowly released my power into his mind. I pressed down on his mind and let my mind begin a deep and powerful scan of his mind. I wasn’t interested in his knowledge, though. All I wanted to do was locate the core where his will and desires resided. Without any mental barriers or any energy to erect them, he was helpless to resist my probes. I paused for a moment as I thought about the exact commands that I wanted to insert into this man’s mind. “You will obey every command and instruction I give you. Each and every time you obey me, you experience profound joy and happiness. Your greatest joy comes from serving and obeying me in all things. My commands override any and all commands given to you by anyone else.” I sent these commands into Mr. Red’s mind. Then I imagined those commands being burned into his mind, much like a cowboy brands a cow. Surprisingly, it didn’t take long for me to feel that happen. I extracted my mind from Mr. Red’s knowing that I could safely turn my attention elsewhere. I stood up backed away from Mr. Red, breaking my physical contact with him.

“Mr. Red, please place yourself on your hands and knees and wait for further orders,” I said aloud as I looked at Mr. Red lying there.

“Yes, sir,” replied Mr. Red. Slowly he climbed up from his fetal position until he was standing on all fours. He raised his head and looked at me. A slight smile graced his face, and he was no longer sobbing. Satisfied that I would not have to deal with him for a while, I turned my attention back to Mr. Black.

“Holy shit!” Mr. Black exclaimed as he watched Mr. Red carrying out my commands. The shock on his face was only momentary. He launched a few more bolts at me has he resumed his interrupted attack on my mind.

I steeled myself to continue with my task, as I deflected a few more bolts from Mr. Black. I lashed out at Mr. Black’s shield, but this time I tried something different. I sent out a long string of mental energy and wrapped it about Mr. Black’s shield like a snake coiling about its prey. Slowly I tightened the coil, increasing the pressure on Mr. Black’s mind until I could feel his shield stiffen in response to this new form of attack. Mr. Black stopped launching bolts at my shield as he struggled to deal with my attack on his shield.

I felt another shield go pop and turned my attention to that man. I repeated the same steps with this man as I had with Mr. Red, and during the process I discovered that the name he responded to was Mr. Green. (Originality didn’t count for much around here, apparently.) I burned my commands into his mind and then told him to get up onto his hands and knees and wait for my commands. I had only just finished that, when the third shield collapsed. I wasted no time in taking care of the last of Mr. Black’s associates. I knew that an unshielded mind could be badly damaged if I didn’t halt my mental attack immediately. In only a few heartbeats this man too, who answered to the name of Mr. Yellow, had my commands burned into his mind. With the last threat neutralized I could turn my full attention on Mr. Black. I glanced back at Mr. Green and Mr. Yellow as they stood there on all fours, looking up at me and smiling a dumb smile. I felt an instant of pleasure, like a feather caressing my face. I shrugged it off, as I turned back to look at Mr. Black.

I could feel a few beads of sweat trickle down the side of my flushed face. Maintaining that coil about Mr. Black’s shield was taking more effort and energy than I had thought it would. To my surprise, Mr. Black was pushing the coil off of his shield. In a few more minutes he would have it off and be free to attack my shield again. I withdrew the coil and diverted the energy into my shield stiffening it as much as I could. I waited for Mr. Black to renew his attack.

“Well done, Paul,” Mr. Black said with a smile. “Looks like you’re pushing yourself too hard though.”

I looked at his face. The bastard hadn’t even broken a sweat! Here I was pushing myself more than I had ever thought possible, trying new forms of attack that I had never even envisioned before and my opponent was shrugging it off as it was a simple slap in the face! “Shit! I’m really in over my head!” I thought to myself. As I waited for Mr. Black to begin his attack on my shield, I suddenly realized that I would lose for sure if I continued this battle with that attitude. Outclassed or not, failure was not an option! Even if I burned out my mind and wound up as nothing more than a mental vegetable, I would still win. Mr. Black would not have the information that he wanted so badly, and I would be beyond his ability to hurt me any further. I had nothing to lose.

Mr. Black’s first bolt blasted on my shield like a small atomic bomb. I felt the impact, but it didn’t hurt. A second and third bolt followed. I deflected those bolts as well, but I could feel the strength of my shield start to dip just a tiny bit. Quickly I strengthened it.

“Impressive. But you are far from my equal,” Mr. Black replied with that damn smirk on his face.

Several more bolts lanced out at my shield. I deflected them all, but at the cost of my shield weakening a bit more. Again I reinforced it. I had a lot of energy in reserve. The question now was who would run out of energy first? Mr. Black or me? I suppose I could have launched a few blots of my own at him. but something held me back. I wasn’t afraid of hurting him, far from it. Something was scurrying about in the back of my mind, telling me that attacking Mr. Black’s shield was not the way to win this fight. As I deflected several more bolts, I struggled to snare that thought. I felt that this thought was important, and I had been too distracted to understand what my instinct was trying to tell me. Finally it clicked. Lyle! I smiled to myself as the memory of my victory of that fight flooded into my mind. “Resistance is futile. Assimilation is the key,” I finally remembered. I stopped stiffening my shield. I let my shield go as soft as I could. I imagined my shield to be a big softy comfy pillow surrounding my mind. Mr. Black’s next bolt crashed into my now softened and sagging shield. The bolt penetrated part way into my shield, and then dissipated as my shield absorbed the energy of the bolt, and made that energy its own. Finally I had remembered the correct way to fight. My way.

I smiled back at Mr. Black as I felt several more bolts of his plow into my shield and be absorbed. My smile grew bigger as Mr. Black’s face lost the smirk that he had been wearing for the last little while. After a few more minutes, Mr. Black stopped launching his bolts at my mind.

“Interesting defense,” he commented. “However, you can’t win that way. Maybe I can’t crack that type of shield but you can’t attack me while you’re hiding behind it. I would call this a stalemate, except that I can call for help, where as you do not have that option.”

“I wouldn’t think of hiding behind my shield,” I responded, as I prepared my little surprise for Mr. Black. I thrust out a soft mushy mental bolt with a long thick line trailing it, towards Mr. Black’s shield. He snorted in amusement as he saw the bolt heading his way. The instant my bolt contact his shield though, things changed. My leach bolt, as I liked to think of it. started siphoning off the energy from Mr. Black’s shield and pumped it back into my mind along the trailing line.

“What the fuck are you doing?” Mr. Black cried out in surprise.

“Defending myself,” I answered as I launched a stream of diamond hard mental bolts at Mr. Black’s shield. He had no choice. He had to continue to pour energy into his shield in order to fend off my continuous attack on his shield. While at the same time, my leach bolt was draining the energy from his shield as fast as he could replace it. Like some kind of mental machine gun, I kept firing a steady stream of mental bolts at Mr. Black’s shield. All the while I was siphoning off his mental energy like some super absorbent paper towels soaking up a spill.

‘Red, green, yellow, help me!” Mr. Black cried out to his assistants.

I looked over at the three gentlemen who were positioned on their hands and knees looking at me and smiling. I was going to enjoy this.

“No, sir.” “Sorry, sir.” “No.” They answered one after the other, as they remained where they were.

“What the fuck do you mean?” Mr. Black screamed out as fear started to place its icy hands on his shoulders. “I’m in charge here! You do as I say!”

“Only if Mr. Walton says so,” Mr. Red replied as he looked over at Mr. Black. Mr. Red turned back to look at me and nodded his head at me smiling all the while.

I looked over at the other two gentlemen. They nodded their heads in silent agreement with Mr. Red’s statement, as they stared at me.

“This can’t be happening!” Mr. Black cried out in fear and frustration as he felt his shield slipping away.

“I assure you that this is indeed happening,” I said to Mr. Black as I ignored the terror that I could see in his eyes.

“WHAT THE FUCK ARE YOU DOING TO ME????” Mr. Black bellowed at me, as panic started to overtake him.

I could clearly hear the terror in his voice, as a dagger dripping with fear plunged into his heart, but it didn’t move me in the slightest. I didn’t give a damn about him. All I wanted was to rip away his shield and exact my revenge upon him. All I needed was a few more minutes, and Mr. Black knew it. I ignored his continued pleas as I concentrated on my task. The pleasure that surged through me as I felt Mr. Black’s shield crumble away, is difficult to put into words. It wasn’t erotic or sexual in any way. It merely felt good. I guess satisfaction would be the best word to use. As I swept away the last few crumbs of Mr. Black’s shield, I pondered for just a few seconds as to what I should have him do.

“Freeze in place. You obey only me,” I said quietly as I looked directly into Mr. Black’s eyes. I put every ounce of my power and ability into those two thoughts, as I sent them out to him. I tried to think of some other command to implant into his mind, but I couldn’t think of anything. So, I fell back on what I had used with the other gentlemen. “You will obey every command and instruction I give you. Each and every time you obey me, you experience profound joy and happiness. Your greatest joy comes from serving and obeying me in all things. My commands override any and all commands given to you by anyone else,” I projected into his mind. I wanted to mentally see these commands burn into the very fabric of Mr. Black’s mind. I was disappointed with the apparent ease in which they buried themselves into his mind and were accepted by his conscious and subconscious minds. I had expected more of a fight from him. In fact I had hoped for a fight from Mr. Black. Wrestling him to the mat, in the mental arena of his mind, would have been so much more satisfying. As it was, I felt empty and slightly frustrated.

Suspecting a trick or some deception on his part, I walked over to stand next to Mr. Black. I placed the finger tips of my right hand on his unresisting forehead. I sent forth a powerful mental probe and scanned Mr. Black’s mind looking for any trace of resistance. I found no evidence of resistance or deception, but I did find something. A thin silken line, much like a spider’s thread, lying in his mind. I instantly recognized it for what it was, a tracer thread. Someone had inserted a tracer thread into Mr. Black’s mind, with or without his cooperation, and had been monitoring what had been happening to him. I examined the thread carefully. I was surprised to discover that it was cut off clean just at the surface of his mind. Whomever had been monitoring his mind had either cut that thread before I’d discovered it, or the thread had been cut during our battle. In any case, there was now the distinct possibility that someone had observed the mental battle from the perspective of Mr. Black’s mind. I filed that fact away for later consideration. Right now I had to find my way out of this room of horrors.

I blinked a few times as I focused on Mr. Black. It took me a few seconds to realize that he was now on his hands and knees smiling at me. I had not told him to do that. I wondered why he had acted without my instructions. I was about to yell at him, until I realized that he had probably jumped to the conclusion that since the other three men had been ordered to get down on all fours, that he should do the same. Even fully under my control he was an intelligent man, who kept his wits about him. But now what was I going to do with these men? I could have them shoot themselves. I knew they would do it if I told them to. The monster within me demand nothing less. “An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth, and a life for a life!” Screamed the demon in my mind. “They killed Andy! They should die! Justice demands it!” I couldn’t agree more. I couldn’t bring Andy back, but I could make these bastards pay the ultimate price. I licked my lips as I savored the thought. I look about the room, lifting my gaze from Mr. Black. The other three men were exactly where I’d left them. They hadn’t budged an inch. I complete my survey of the room and my gaze came to rest upon the crumpled form of Andy’s limp and lifeless body.

I stared at Andy, lost as the horror of the moment rained down upon me anew. I could feel the tears well up in my eyes. My vision blurred as I blinked away the tears. My cheeks felt wet as a few tears trickled their way down the sides of my face. I walked over to where Andy’s lifeless body sat bound in that chair. I knelt there in front of Andy, my heart overflowed with sorrow and sadness. The demon in my mind still demanded a sacrifice, four of them in fact, but I wasn’t listening to the demon any more. What I heard were Andy’s words telling me how much he loved me, and that what he loved most about me was my kind and caring heart. As much as I might want to do this, as much as I thirsted to see the life blood tricking out of the bodies of these four men, I knew that I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t disgrace Andy’s memory like that. Andy loved me for what I had never done. I had never crossed the line, and when I had come so close to the edge, he had been there to pull me back. He wasn’t there to pull me back any more, only his memory was. But it was enough. Somehow I managed to put the chains back on the demon and banish him back into the deep dark well at the bottom of my soul. I had lost so much today, but I would not lose the memory of the respect and admiration that Andy had once had for me. Maybe someday I’d lose my soul to the devil, but not today.

With a strength of will that I didn’t know I had, I pushed aside the thoughts of making these men kill themselves. I still wanted to make them pay, but perhaps I could make it a more positive experience. After all they could die only once, where as if they were alive I could continue to exact my vengeance from them. My memories of Andy would not permit me to consider anything demeaning, such as turning them in gay prostitutes who would trick for me. I didn’t need the money, and they didn’t need to risk their lives like that. Besides such a drastic change in behavior would be extremely difficult to explain or to cover up. So it had to be something that would give me satisfaction, be of a benefit to me, and would not attract undo attention. I puzzled over those requirements for a few minutes as I tried to think of something.

I smiled to myself as an idea came to me. I slowly stood up. “Gentlemen, pick up your guns, holster them, and then all of you come and stand in front of me,” I directed them. They scrambled to their feet as they rushed to obey me. The grins never left their faces. Moments later all four men were standing in front of me, relaxed and happy at having obeyed my orders. “Now listen carefully, boys,” I continued. “I need you to come over every weekend and do my housework. You are all going to be my house boys during the weekend. Whatever chores need to be done, from doing the dishes to washing the kitchen floors or scrubbing the walls, you will do. And you will do it with a smile on your faces. You will wear whatever clothes I tell you to wear, or no clothes if I so indicate. At the conclusion of the weekend, you will work out what you consider to be a fair wage for the work you have done, and then you will pay me that amount of money.” I waited to let my instruction sink in. The four men looked at me and smiled as they wordlessly nodded their heads in agreement. “Any questions?” I asked.

“Will there be enough work for all of us?” asked Mr. Black, as he looked at me, a slight frown crossing his face.

“I should have made myself clearer. Only one of you will come over to my apartment on the weekend, so on average you will each have one weekend a month to be my house boy. I leave you, Mr. Black to work out the details of the schedule. You must insure that there are no noticeable or unusual changes in your schedules and routines, or in those of your associates here. Except when we are alone like this, you will NOT treat me any differently than before. The weekend shift will start at noon Saturday and end when I send that person home on Sunday. When each of you in turn reports for your shift as my house boy, you will dress up in a suit and tie, and bring a change of clothes with you that includes jeans or casual pants, extra underwear socks and a casual shirt or two. You will phone my apartment before you come over to check to see if I want you to report for duty. There may be weekends when I want to be alone, and if that is the case you will respect my wishes.” I paused again to let my words sink into their minds. I thought about supplying them with my address and my phone number, but if they knew all this about me, it was a foregone conclusion that they knew my telephone number and where I lived. If not, I knew that they could find out easily enough.

“Any other questions?” I asked after a minute or so of silence.

Mr. Black looked at the other three men. They exchanged glances for a few seconds, and shook their heads slightly from side to side. “I don’t think so, Mr. Walton, sir,” Mr. Black answered me, as he glanced one more time at the other men to confirm his statement. They nodded their heads at him in silent agreement. “I would like to take this opportunity to say that my associates and I look forward to serving you in whatever capacity that you deem fit,” he said as he fawned on me. “We, look forward to providing you with a few extra dollars. It is the least we can do, to make up for all the inconvenience that we have caused you today.”

“INCONVIENCE!!!” I screamed out at him, as my temper flared white hot, and threatened to melt away what little control I still had over myself. “You call the MURDER of my soul mate, and threatening my family an INCONVIENCE?”

“Oh no, sir,” he replied, shaken at the unexpected venom of my verbal attack. “I didn’t mean that at all. Please let me explain, sir. What I meant to say was..”

“SHUT THE FUCK UP!!!!!” I screamed out, cutting off his words with my knife edged voice of fury. “I don’t want to hear another word from you about what this! Just go and stand in the corner, and don’t say a word until I call for you!” I was amazed at my self control, considering the circumstances. Mr. Black was damn lucky that I hadn’t told him to blow his brains out. The grief I was wallowing in was so overwhelming that for just a split second I had almost told him to do just that, to blow his brains out. In his current state, he would have done it. I watched as Mr. Black turned away from me and walked slowly to the nearest corner of the room. He stood there silently, trembling slightly. Satisfied that he was no longer going to need my attention, I was free to turn it back to the other men in the room.

“The rest of you go and guard that door. Don’t let anyone in. Is that clear?” I called out to the other three men.

“Yes, sir!” “Right away, sir!” At once, sir!” Came the various replies. The three of them trotted off in the direction of the door, like a squad of soldiers following their drill sergeant’s orders.

Now, finally, I could turn my attention back to Andy. Things were under control, and I wouldn’t be interrupted for the next few minutes. I looked at Andy. The cold unfeeling lump of stone that my heart had become, got colder. I dropped to my knees beside Andy, on his right side. I carefully peeled the duct tape off of his mouth. My eyes swam with tears as I placed my lips on his and kissed him goodbye. His lips were still warm and soft, and I savored the feeling of his lips against mine, unresponsive as they were. I put my head into Andy’s lap, with my face turned away from him. I didn’t want to see his lifeless face tear blurred. I wanted to remember Andy’s face alive with life, love and joy. At last the pain and agony I had been holding back broke through I started to sob and wail as the despair overtook me. I let my tears flow freely, uncaring at where they might land. I cradled my head, as best I could on Andy’s lap and mourned. I gave into my despair and grief. I let it flow over me and through me. Perhaps if you have lost a dear loved one, you have some idea of what I was going through then. If you have never suffered such a loss, I envy you.

As I knelt there weeping over my loss of Andy, other thoughts occasionally intruded. I wondered how I was going to explain this to his family, and police buddies. I was saddened even more with the knowledge that Andy’s name would not be added to list of those on the small Honor Roll monument next to the parade square at the DEPOT. (For those of you not familiar with it, the DEPOT is the Police Academy for the RCMP. Next to the parade square there is a small cairn for all those constables who have given their lives in the line of duty.) Andy had not been killed in the line of duty, so his name would not be added to that honored list. I grieved that he had been cheated out of even that small acknowledgment of his life, and his love of his duty. Life was so God DAMNED unfair, sometimes!!!!

My throat loosened, and slowly my tears subsided. I was done crying, for now at least. I raised my head and looked up into the heavens, still looking away from Andy. It was still too painful to gaze upon his lifeless face. Into the still empty air I cried out “I’d give my soul to the devil, Andy, if I could feel your arms around me once again!” Only uncaring silence answered me.

“Uh...maybe if you untied my writs I could help you with that,” croaked a raspy voice that could not possibly be.

I turned my head around so fast I nearly gave myself whiplash. I looked up to see Andy looking down at me, impossibly alive and well, it seemed.

“I’m back,” he said and smiled at me.