I FELT THE HEAT. The glowing embers of the cigarette were inches away, drying my eyeball. In my peripheral I saw a bottle of bleach in their hand without a cap.
Blinking rapidly, I squirmed in my restraints. Whatever they thought I’d done I hadn’t. Whoever they thought I was, I wasn’t.
“Ever drunk bleach before?” they asked in deep notes. “Now, before I use your eyeballs for ashtrays, and force-feed you this, killing 99.99% of bacteria, and reducing your oesophagus to a bloody yet clean mess, you might want to consider your family, and what they mean to you..”
The burly Glaswegian moved his head closer, his broad pockmarked face unflinching as he examined me for a reaction, beady eyes searching from behind oversized glasses, his lank hair hiding the ends of the frames.
He reached out and pulled the sock from my mouth, quenched by my saliva, the very sock that he’d peeled off his foot over half an hour ago, salted and reeking.
I breathed heavy, relieved at being able to inhale through an airway not blocked by watery snot.
“Aye, you enjoy that.” He took a draw on the half a cig, blowing a smoke ring into the near naked darkness. “That’s you,” he said pointing at it as the circumference grew, then chopped at it suddenly, reducing it to fragmented wisps. “And your family. Them in particular.”
My throat felt sandy, my tongue searched for moisture, then words.
“I don’t…have a family…” I rasped, blinking rapidly.
The Chief Inspector took a moment to react, his eyes widening, eyebrows meeting indirectly. “And that, is what they all say.” Glancing at the cigarette, he then took an unnerving interest in my eyes again… “I know you know who took my stash. Sorry pal, but I cannae have the likes of you running about, with the truth ready to trip off your tongue.”
He rammed the sock back in, and I wriggled helplessly on the settee he’d duct-taped me to, my joints aching.
Reaching down he raised a dirty pint glass in his hand, and cigarette still burning between fingers, he united the glass with bleach, carelessly filling it, the smell thicker than danger, cleansing already.
Standing up, he towered over me, a wry smile on his face. “Bleach anyone?”
I’M NOT WHO YOU THINK I AM! I’M NOT WHO YOU THINK I AM! I’M NOT WHO… The sock killed my words. I screamed as the glass hovered near my mouth. I watched as the liquid neared the rim, ready to spill over, and then, then, it poured onto the sock that absorbed it, filling my mouth with a burning sensation, the liquid searching out tissue to dissolve, my eyes closed in horror.
Then it stopped.
“You woulda squealed by now,” he said gruffly, yanking the soaked gag from my mouth. “Who the fuck are you really?”