Kate didn’t expect her cries for help would reach anyone, and she was surprised to hear somebody respond. She was still not sure if it was real or a dream.
The two men responded quickly. They released her and stood up immediately and called with respect to the direction of the door, “Boss.”
Curly-hair asked, “Didn’t you go to the resort center? Why did you come back so soon?”
Kate turned back to see a cold-eyed big man with a dark coat standing at the door looking expressionlessly at them.
Curly-hair explained hastily, “This chick clamped up and wouldn’t tell us anything. So we had to give her some motivation.”
“By stripping her?” the man ridiculed. “If I came a little later, might I have interrupted your intimacy?”
The two men wanted to explain again but seeing his face, they hushed up.
The man strode to her and looked down at Kate on the floor. She had half-opened clothes, and her shoulders were still twitching while she sobbed. Her messy bangs covered half of her face, the hair on the floor was wet, and her chin was dripping with an unknown liquid, probably a mixture of tears and snot.
He frowned and reprimanded his men. “How could you treat a lady so rudely?”
And before he heard the response, he added, “Go fetch a basin of water.”
The two men looked at each other and couldn’t figure out what their boss was thinking. Would the boss clean up for the girl? One of them asked: “Cold or warm water?”
Their boss gave them an angry stare, and they shut their mouths and ran out to get the water.
The man took off his black suede gloves slowly and walked toward Kate’s back. He squatted down and pulled her tied hands. Kate stayed still in terror. She struggled to hear what he said: “What is your name?”
The binding method was professional, and he patiently unbound the loops of rope. Her slender wrists bled because of the abrasions from the rope during her struggles. The man’s eyes lingered a little on them and then turned to untie her feet. Without getting her response to his question, he lifted her chin with two fingers and said, “Not hearing my question?”
Kate caught sight of his sharp eyes and was frightened. She curled her lips and said, “Ka…Kate.”
The man’s eyes became milder as he threw the rope to the floor. He kept the same pose and tried to talk casually, “Kate. This is the case. Your friend took some important information from us and wanted to blackmail us.” He twisted the corner of his mouth when he came to this. “I hate being blackmailed.”
“I will ask you one last time. Where is the disc?”
“Water is here.” The two men carried a big basin of water and put it down on the floor. The water was still rippling inside the basin. Except for the boss, everyone was wondering what the purpose of the water was.
Kate was thinking of the words the man said, and her brain was racing. She thought of what Caroline had told her, “You have to keep it safe. Do not tell anybody about it.” She pressed her lips tightly together. Perhaps her motion had irritated the boss, she felt the back of her skull was pulled tightly, and her whole face was pressed down into the water.
This happened without warning.
The other two men were also struck dumb. They didn’t expect their boss to take this step directly. Kate wasn’t prepared for it. She choked and tried to struggle, but her back was pressed tightly by the boss’s knee. Her limbs were spread limply on the floor uselessly.
When her mouth and nose were filled with water, and she was going to suffocate, she was lifted by her hair out of the water.
“Still won’t say it?” The voice was as cold as a demon from hell.
Kate kept coughing violently and seemed not to hear what he said.
With another splash, she was pressed into the water again before she stopped coughing.
This continued until she forgot how long she had been here, and the time between splashes felt longer and longer.
She felt a bitter taste in her mouth and coughed, not knowing if it was tears or bile. And in the end, Kate could only see two thin lips open and close silently. Her brain stopped functioning, and she was not able to receive or give any command.
The man stared at her for a while and suddenly released his clamping grip on her head. He instructed the other two, “Lock her up.”
What followed was a lasting and strange torment.
Kate was thrown into a narrow and pitched dark room. The room was small enough to fit one person. Its width was less than her height. She had to remain curled up all the time and was constantly reminded of the legendary “matchbox cell.”
Because of swallowing too much water, her lungs felt like they had exploded, her ears were pricking, and her head was aching. Her clothes were soaked in the front, and she felt seized by coldness from time to time. She shivered in coldness, hunger, and terror. She had to close her eyes and start to count as if she was playing cat and mouse when she was a kid.