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The Magnesium Ribbon
Book Two of the Anvil Trilogy
a novel by R. LeRoy Green
Author of The Zealot
CALEN AWOKE with an excruciating headache, a wrenching pain in his gut, and an overpowering nausea.
It was dark. Pitch dark. He was lying on his right side, right arm outstretched, his face against a cold, damp, gritty surface with a putrid smell. He was shivering uncontrollably.
For an instant, he could not remember where he was. His mind was foggy, numb. He tried to sit up, but a stabbing pain shot from his right shoulder to the tips of his fingers, and another from the base of his skull down the back of his neck. He collapsed again onto the filthy surface beneath him.
With his left hand, he felt the bed on which he was lying found it to be bare earth covered with a thin layer of moldy straw. Now I remember, he thought. I’m in solitary. They tried to beat it out of me again—a confession. A repudiation of my faith. Again I told them no. They must have beat me until I passed out and then dragged me back in here.
It was getting old. How many different times he had been interrogated, he had lost count. How many different techniques had they tried in an effort to break him? How many different places he had been locked up in since his arrest? How long had it been now? Months, maybe years. He could not even be sure how long he had been confined in this tiny windowless concrete cell with an earthen floor and no furnishings—not even a cot. He could not tell day from night, and at times he would be left alone for extended periods without anyone coming to bring food or to empty the small clay chamber pot, both of which were passed through a shallow opening at the bottom of a heavy wooden door.
It must be getting old for his captors, too, he though. No matter how hard they tried, they had gotten nowhere.
At least not yet.
But how much longer could he hold out? How many more months or years could he endure the filth, the degradation, the deprivation, the relentless physical and psychological agony, when there seemed no end in sight, no hope of rescue or escape? When with the stroke of a pen, he could bring his suffering to an end and purchase his freedom.
Calen rolled over onto his back and looked up at the darkness. He closed his eyes and saw the faces of his wife, Ciara, and his two beautiful daughters, Sonata and Rhapsody. He felt his daughters’ arms around his neck as they said goodbye him. He felt Ciara’s lips against his. And the longing seemed unbearable.