This is another response to the Thursday Doors Writing Challenge. The picture I picked from my prompt comes by way of the prolific and talented Teagan Geneviene.
Dark and Deep
by Marian Allen
Steffie’s captors were as surprised as she was when their plan worked. She had been caught off-guard when a scientist she had liberated from the bad guys had called on her to find out if he was really being followed or was just paranoid. He had been nervous as he ushered her into his house and on into his living room. His hands had shaken as he poured them each a cup of tea. None of this rang any alarms, since she had never known him any way but nervous.
She had gulped the tea, eager to get on with business.
Now she opened her eyes to find herself strapped to a table, a scar-faced man standing by her side, the turn-coat scientist fidgeting by her feet.
Steffie recognized the scar-faced man. She had put the scar there, herself. His smile, when he saw that she recognized him, was not a pleasant one.
“Is … is she tightly bound?” The scientist’s voice broke as he talked, as if he couldn’t push out enough air for more than a few syllables at a time.
“Yes,” Scar-face assured him.
“Are you sure? Are you very sure?”
“Yes. And she’s going to tell me everything she knows, just as soon as you give her your little shot.”
The scientist moved to Steffie’s other side, across from Scar-face. He said, more to himself than to his co-conspirator, “She probably won’t. I don’t know how, but she won’t. This will not go well. I’m not convinced she’s tightly bound.”
“Give her the shot, already!”
“Yes, all right.”
Steffie, still silent, looked into the scientist’s eyes and was gratified to see him lose all color. She felt a pinch on her arm, and closed her eyes a second time that day.
It was almost impenetrably dark in the woods, but Steffie had excellent night vision, augmented by the special contact lens in her right eye. She had no difficulty following the faint trail to the old woman’s house.
The door opened. The old woman said, “I see you there, my dear. Come in.”
Steffie couldn’t resist. She tried to remain hidden in the gloom, but her feet dragged her forward, across the small clearing, up the stone path, and through the door shaped like an egg.
“Sit down,” the old woman said, and Steffie sat down.
“Won’t you have some tea?”
Over the old woman’s shoulder, Steffie saw a white cat perched on top of a cupboard. It appeared to shake its head No.
“No, thank you,” Steffie said. She was a cold-blooded killing machine, but she hoped she was always courteous.
“Well, then.” The old woman turned a chair backwards and straddled it, her arms folded across the back. “Tell me all about yourself.”
“I was born,” Steffie said.
The old woman snorted. “A little more detail that that.”
“I don’t know any more. I was only a baby at the time.”
The old woman slapped her across the face. The cat gasped.
“Tell me about your friends, your family,” the old woman said. “Who do you care about? Who would you do anything to protect?”
“I don’t have any friends or family. I don’t care about anything or anybody enough to betray my trust.” She looked into the white cat’s eyes and said, “Unlike some.”
“Then we’ll have to take another line,” the old woman said. “Who is your handler? How do we contact him? How do we signal that it’s really you making the contact?”
Steffie made a string of nonsense syllables, one of her trained defenses against medicated interrogation.
The old woman slapped her again.
A bit of cheerful music played, then repeated and repeated.
The old woman pulled a toad from a pocket in her skirt and looked at its belly. It was the toad who sang the cheerful bit of music.
“I have to take this,” The old woman said. She grinned at Steffie. “Don’t go ’way, now.” She poked the toad in the belly and it stopped singing. She put the frog up to her ear and spoke to its feet as she left the hut and closed the door behind her.
The white cat jumped off the cupboard and onto her lap. “I’m sorry,” it said. “I’m sorry I’m sorry I’m sorry I’m sorry.” It pawed at one wrist, then the other, jumped down and pawed at her ankles. “Wake up, now.” It jumped back onto her lap and pawed at her face. It ran across the room and back and pinched her on the arm.
She blinked, and the hut was gone. The white cat was gone, and the old woman was gone. There was, however, a great deal of blood, a dead Scar-face, and a scientist cowering in the corner muttering, “I’m sorry I’m sorry I’m sorry I’m sorry.”
Someone pounded on the room’s door with a very particular knock. Steffie let them in. It was her handler, Pete, and Agent Teagan, a woman almost as formidable as Steffie herself.
Steffie smiled at them, and said, “You’re a little bit late to the rescue, but I appreciate the thought.” She waved a hand at the scientist in the corner. “I believe he’s ready to return to our fold. But watch him. He’s a nervous little weasel, but he is a weasel. Or some other woodland creature with an unsavory reputation.”
As Steffie, at headquarters, washed the blood off her … well, everything, she thought about getting a pet. A white cat, perhaps. Then again, maybe not.
Thursday doors is under the direction of Dan Antion, photographer extraordinaire and critter daddy. Visit his site, enjoy his wonderful photographs, follow his directions, and enter a world of doors.
MY PROMPT TODAY: Teagan’s door picture.