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Chapter 11: A Shave and Reminder

Shane ran a hand along his jaw, shocked at how it felt to no longer have a beard.  Just the feeling of being clean and shaved after so long was foreign.  He set down the razor carefully, aware of the omnipresent guard hefting the AK-47 behind him.  Looking back into the mirror, he tried to recognize the stranger looking back at him.  The gaunt features, the hollow cheeks, sunken eyes -- they couldn't be his own.

He reached up and touched his hair, short and shockingly gray.  He laughed at that.  He generally had never considered himself particularly vain, but he had fought going gray for a long time.  Now that seemed so silly, so frivolous.

"Hurry up," snapped the guard.

"Very well," Shane said, tearing his eyes aware from the mirror.  There was no point dwelling on his appearance.  That he was clean was enough.  Anything else would just make him dwell on how much time he had lost, fill him with regret, and threaten to drive him crazy.  He reached for the new clothes they had given him, trousers and a starched shirt.  Not exactly prison issue; it looked like Victor had scared the guards into running to Banana Republic, an amusing thought given where he was.  He pulled on the clothes, savoring even the scratchy fabric.  Finished, he stuck out his arms so the guards could give him a once over.  They patted him down and then cuffed his wrists in front of him.  Shane did not resist.

"Mueva," came the command.  Shane moved forward as the guard shoved the barrel of the rifle against his spine.

Two guards led him down the hall, back to his cell.  As he walked, he studied the corridor, noting the five cell doors and the stairs leading to a door on the far end.  The door to the interrogation room was off to the left; Shane knew it well enough.  That was just past the table and chairs the guards used when they were on duty but paying no attention to the prisoners.  Or was it prisoner, singular, as Shane realized he had never heard noise from any other cell.

The attack came without warning.  Something hard slammed into his right side.  He didn't even have a chance to cry out, because the air rushed from his lungs as he collapsed to the ground.  Pain lanced through him.  A boot struck his hip, knocking him to his back.  Through the white spots in front of his eyes, he saw another coming at his head.  He rolled away, the boot just missing its target.  Another kick struck his shoulder. 

He was ready for the next one.  Despite the cuffs on his hands, he caught a guard's foot and shoved it back.  He heard a thud as the man fell.  It gave him momentary satisfaction, but it was short-lived as other guards joined in.  He couldn't fight them all.  The best he could do was roll against the wall, protecting his head as best he could as more savage kicks hammered his back and ribs.

"Es todo!" came a voice, and the attack halted.  Unable to do anything more than fight for breath, Shane did not move.  A couple of the guards pulled him from the ground and dragged him back to the cell.  Someone removed the cuffs and he was thrown to the floor of the cell, with the same voice laughing behind him. 

"You may have powerful friends, asesino, but they cannot save you for long."