The Colonel was strapped to a chair. There was a dull ache all over his body, probably from the explosion. Opening his eyes caused pain as the lights were so bright. He could taste blood and an exploratory tongue located further blood on his moustache. As if that was not bad enough, he saw that they had ripped his battledress, probably when they were restraining him. That just would not do.
“Awake are we Monty?”
The speaker stood off to the side of his view and turning to look at him caused sparks of agony. The man was leaning against the wall of the brightly lit room, arms folded and one leg bent, resting the foot against the wall. Although he did not recognise the uniform, the Colonel knew who the man represented.
He smiled. They had to catch up with him eventually and he really wished that he had his pipe handy. The first stages of nicotine withdrawal had made their presence felt.
“Not talking Monty.” The man moved almost fluidly, to take up a position directly in front of the Colonel. “That is very rude.”
“You will address me as Colonel McSwine as set out in the terms of the galactic..” He was cut off by a suprisingly rough hand, slapping him across the face.
The man grabbed the Colonels chin and forced him to look into his eyes.
“I will call you whatever I like Monty. Those treaties are just bits of paper and you know that. Here,” he gestured behind him, “I ask you questions and you answer them. Refuse and I will make you wish you had never been born.”
The Colonel smiled again, this time wider than before.
“Do you really think you can break me Sir? Your lot took me off the board once before and look where that got you.”
The man looked quizzically at the Colonel and then turned to speak to an as yet, unseen accomplice.
There was a muffled negative response. The man turned back to the Colonel and sneered.
“Well, well Monty. You are out of your own timestream. That makes this very interesting. I know that whatever you are talking about, has not actually happened yet. At least, not for us. So I know that you will give me the answers I want”.
He let go of the Colonels chin and stood up straight, raising his arms out to his side as he continued.
“Because if you don’t comply, I will kill you and since we have not taken you off the board yet, whatever the hell that entails, means that you have already lost this encounter.”
He clapped his hands loudly and laughed.
“Oh yes. This will be a lot of fun.”
The Colonel was not even slightly perturbed. He knew all about the vagaries of time. He had been a member of the agency for many years and yet every time he went back to his old life, time had stood still. Everything was just the same as if he had never left, as if the agency was just a dream.
Everything except Mary.
Her name caused a tug to his heartstrings and he had to stop thinking about her. She was long gone.
The unseen accomplice spoke something in a language that the Colonel did not understand and the man left his view for a second. When he returned, he was holding a piece of paper. The look on his face was very serious, such a change from moments earlier. Eventually he turned the paper round so the Colonel could see it. So he could see what was written on it. So he could see exactly what he was up against.
The Colonel was stunned to silence.
The man spoke very slowly and deliberately now. A menace in his voice that no longer sounded put on.
“So Monty. Who is Mary?”