I’d never been in any trouble that I couldn’t sweet-talk my way out of. Inheriting my Granddaddy’’s best features – blue eyes, dimples and charming smile – didn’t hurt.
I don’t look like them, and that makes me a dangerous man. The enemy had ambushed me from behind and dragged me from my lookout post. I don’t remember what happened next, all I know is that I’m strapped to a plank, with my hands bound above my head, feet restrained.
One guard glares at me. He stands to my left, holding a crude whip fashioned from a stick and a leather cord. He’s not the one I fear.
On my right, another guard approaches holding a wad of dirty rags and a bucket of water. “Tell where they stay,” the man says with a thick accent.
“I don’t know.” I lie and he knows it.
“You choose.” The man covers my face with the rags.
My heart pounds. I feel seeping water; at first, cool on my skin, but then I can’t breathe. It seems like five minutes pass, but from my training, I know it is less than one. I also know I’ll get a few quick breaths before repeating. The cloths lift.
“You talk now?”
I gasp. “Bastards!”
He shrugs. “You choose.”
My face is covered again. More water. Less breath. Heavy weight – the lives of twenty comrades depend on my silence.
Water subsides. Air burns down my throat, into my lungs.
He smiles. “You choose.”
My airways are blocked. I know their main camp will be blown off the map tonight. Retaliation will be brutal if anything happens to me. John, our General – my Daddy’s cousin, told me that much. The attack is classified information. The promise of retribution, made in confidence, is a secret.
Rags lift. I don’t want another breath. I bite my tongue. The metallic taste slides down my throat and gags me.
I feel nothing.
I am thankful that my cousin is back on US soil after his second tour in Afghanistan and that he did not endure physical torture as depicted in the story. I’m sure he bears scars we can’t see because of what he witnessed and fellow soldiers that didn’t come home.
This is my second entry in the Week Twenty-Four Trifecta Writing Challenge. The instructions: write a 33-word to 133-word story using “confidence” with the following definition:
a: a relation of trust or intimacy <took his friend into his confidence>
b : reliance on another’s discretion <their story was told in strictest confidence>
c : support especially in a legislative body <vote of confidence>