Cheshire Seals

The soldiers transferred me to a litter and carried me upstairs to the rec room, the last place I had seen the group of LMOs before Spegg dragged me downstairs and welded me into the cage. Their uniforms were black and gray camouflage and each solider had a dark patch on their left breast pocket—an American eagle clutching an anchor, a pistol, and a trident. Navy SEALs. I’d never seen a real one outside of my living room. This wasn’t going to be easy.

The soldier closest to me continued to say encouraging things and promised me a hot meal just as soon as they could get me stabilized. He was probably early thirties, red hair, and a bushy red beard. I was desperately hungry, but the water they gave me had rejuvenated my spirit, and all I could think about was how to get out of this as quickly as possible. Get out and find Spegg. I gave it a good show. I moaned a bit and tried to act a little worse off than I actually felt.

“You’re gonna be fine, buddy,” the bushy beard said.

They set me down and helped me to the couch. I could have done it myself, but I feigned weakness. The more convincing I was, the more likely they’d believe that I’d been in that cage for weeks, and not someone intimately involved in whatever it was they thought they had found. The red bearded soldier, David Evans, he told me, gave me a small chunk of a protein bar.

“Try this for now and we’ll see about getting you more in a little bit. Don’t want you to put too much down too quickly.”

Another soldier, a little taller, with a black beard, stood next to him and nodded. He handed me a bottle of water. “You’re gonna be fine.”

I shoveled the food into my mouth and drank. It was sweet, sweeter than anything I’d ever tasted and I immediately wanted more. Evans gave me another chunk, smaller than the last, and told me that would be it for now. I finished the water and felt my energy level rise. My stomach churned—awakened—and demanded more. That’s it, sorry.

I looked past Evans and the other soldier. My jaw dropped open. Blood was everywhere: the floor, the walls….What had the Russians done? I wanted to believe Spegg was alive: captured, somewhere in Siberia or Moscow by now. But there was so much blood. The furniture, the billiard table, the ceiling. Other soldiers were taking samples. I suddenly felt a terrible longing. I had to get out and find Spegg immediately.

“Hey, you ok?” The dark haired soldier asked me.

I gasped. “What? Yes, I’m ok. Starving. Weak.” The door was open, wide open, but there were so many soldiers in the room. And more outside. No way out. If I ran, they’d know. If I didn’t start talking, they’d know. Be cool, Wayne. The more cooperative you are, the quicker you’ll get out of this.

“Good. That’s a good sign,” Evans paused, smiling, then gestured to his friend. “Wayne, this is Derek. Derek Childress.”

“Hi Derek,” I said, weakly. He smiled sat down on the couch, to my right. “Save your strength, buddy. You’ve been through a lot.” He patted me on the shoulder. “You’ve definitely got some fight in you, Wayne, I’ll give you that.”

“Definitely,” Evans replied, nodding. He pulled a chair over in front of the couch, a little to the left of me. “Here, why don’t you have a little more,” he said, unwrapping the protein bar. He passed me another chunk. I ate it quickly, chased it with another gulp of water, and the two soldiers smiled.

“So,” Evans said, leaning in. “You think you’re feeling well enough to answer a few questions?”