Nick Carter Excerpts — The Damocles Threat

Nick Carter #155, The Damocles Threat,
Ace Books 13573-0, 1982
 
 
“You have been a nuisance, Mr. Carter . . . or Dr. Larsen . . . or whatever your real name is. But a nuisance that will be taken care of this evening.”
“Here, what is this all about?” Damerman blustered.
Townsend turned to him. “I’m afraid this charlatan has taken you in, my good Doctor. He is not in actuality Dr. Michael Larsen. I don’t know quite yet who he is, but we will find out. And you can rest assured that he will not bother you again.”

“Not Dr. Larsen . . .” Damerman stammered, looking from Townsend to me. “I don’t under­stand. Just who are you?”
“My name is Nick Carter,” I said. “I work for the Central Intelligence Agency. I was sent here to act as your bodyguard while you were on your vacation.”
“That is a lie,” Townsend said. “I know that for a fact. But as soon as we do find out who he is and why he is here, you will be the first to know, Doc­tor Damerman.”
“I should hope so,” the old scientist said.
“Get him out of here,” Townsend instructed his men, and one of them stepped up behind me, grabbed my right arm, and twisted it around be­hind me. Another scooped up my gun, while the third opened the door and led the way. I was propelled out into the corridor.
The guards hustled me to the back stairwell which we took down two flights to the ground level behind the garage area. The corridor here was nar­row and made of rough stone, with a dirty concrete floor. Near the middle of it was a heavy metal door which led into a large storeroom half filled with wooden crates, automobile parts, and boat equip­ment, as well as old furniture. A single naked light bulb hung from the ceiling in the middle of the room above a stout workbench.
“Get him up on the table and tie his arms and legs down,” Townsend said.
Two men dragged me toward the bench, while the third came up behind me. I was about to turn around to see what he was doing, tensing my muscles, ready to make my break, when something very hard slammed into the side of my head, and everything went fuzzy.
I could feel myself being bodily lifted and laid on my back on the workbench, but the room was spin­ning and I couldn’t do a thing about it.
Within a minute or so, as I was beginning to re­gain my strength, my ankles and wrists were tied to the four legs of the workbench, leaving me totally helpless.
Townsend said something in rapid fire Arabic and two of his men left the room, firmly closing the steel door behind them.
Townsend took off his coat, loosened his tie, re­moved his cuff links, and rolled up the sleeves of his formal shirt as he stared at me, a slight smile on his lips.
He started to say something in Arabic to the re­maining man, but then changed his mind in mid- sentence. “No, in English. It will be better that way,” he said. “Remove his shoes and socks.”
The big man had holstered his weapon, and he came across the room, yanked off my formal pumps, and pulled my socks off.
Townsend had his back to me momentarily as he rummaged around in a cabinet. When he turned around he was holding a slender steel rod, at least three feet long. He came across the dimly lit room to me, still smiling.
“And now, my dear Mr. Carter, you and I are going to have a nice little chat,” he said. He moved to the end of the table, looked down at my bare feet, and without warning slashed the steel rod against the sole of my right foot with all of his strength.
The pain was agonizing, sending sharp stabs into my right hip and all the way up into my chest. My heart was suddenly hammering, and bile rose up in the back of my throat.
Townsend was back by my head. “A sample, if you will, Mr. Carter. One’s feet are deliciously sen­sitive, wouldn’t you agree? One would be simply amazed at the amount of pain that can be inflicted by this method with an absolute assurance that it will not kill a normal, healthy man.” He leaned a little closer to me. “You have a good heart, I pre­sume?”
It was probably not past nine thirty P.M., yet, and this was going to be a very long night. But I have been tortured before, and not broken. This time would be no different.
“What do you want from me?” I asked through clenched teeth.
“Ah,” Townsend said, “a modicum of coopera­tion. And there isn’t much I do want from you. Merely a concise report of exactly who you are— although I think I can guess—and what you and Dr. Damerman spoke about this evening.”
“My name is Nick Carter. I work for the CIA, and I was sent here to bring Dr. Damerman and his niece back to the States.”
“A half truth,” Townsend said, waving the metal rod in front of my face. I could see my own blood at the tip of it.
“What did you and Dr. Damerman talk about?”
“You,” I said, continuing to work my wrist back and forth, the rope slipping slightly each time.
“You’ll have to do better than that,” Townsend said, gently slapping the rod against his open palm.
“I told him that you were going to kidnap him and his niece. But he said he had already suspected that.”
Townsend said nothing, he just continued slap­ping the steel rod against his palm.
Slowly Townsend moved to the end of the table, his eyes on mine all the time. I tensed, the sweat suddenly popping out on my forehead.
“What about the notebooks, Mr. Carter? What did he say about them? Are they being released?”
I was going to have to stall Townsend. If I gave him any kind of information now, he would be­come suspicious. I was going to have to suffer first before he would believe anything I said.
“What notebooks?”
Townsend slashed the rod against my left foot this time, the pain excruciating. I let it build in throbbing waves, allowing it to pass through me, and then I let out a deep breath. Townsend was a master at this. He knew that anticipated pain was nowhere as terrible as unexpected pain. The mo­ment I relaxed he slashed the rod against my right foot, then my left again. My stomach heaved, my heart seemed as if it would burst from my chest, and the room spun.
“The notebooks . . . notebooks . . . note-books . . .” Townsend’s voice came from a dis­tance
.”Notebooks,” I repeated, only half acting my numbed, confused condition.
Townsend’s face swam overhead, blocking the light. I could feel the rope around my right wrist loosening as I continued to work it back and forth.
“I think there is a very good chance that you talked Dr. Damerman into revealing the location of his eleven notebooks. I want that information. Now, Mr. Carter.”
“I can’t . . .” I mumbled but then I opened my eyes, my chest heaving. “I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
“Progress,” Townsend said. “But you are such a stubborn man.” He moved once again to the end of the workbench, and I raised my head, spittle drool­ing down from the corners of my mouth, my eyes rolling.
“What notebooks?” I shouted.
Townsend slashed the steel rod across the tops of my toes on both feet, and 1 let myself scream out loud.
“Notebooks, Carter. Concentrate.”
He slashed the rod again on my toes, then across the sole of my right foot.
The blood was pounding in my ears, my entire body wet with sweat, and the pain seemed to be centered deep in my hips.
He was back again at my head. “I know that Dr. Damerman told you about the notebooks. It would be so much easier if you gave me the information. I would hate to have to torture you any longer. It might just kill you after all.”
“I don’t know … I can’t … I don’t know . . .” I mumbled as I continued to work my right wrist against the restraint.
Townsend shrugged and moved again to the foot of the table. I raised my head up again and screamed.
“No! God no! Please!” I wanted to add a little drama to the scene.
Townsend remained where he was, and he gently prodded the bottoms of my feet with the top of the rod. The pain was almost as bad as before, and my entire body jerked.
“The Bank of Switzerland!” I blurted.
“Yes?” Townsend said. He tapped the rod
against my feet again, and my chest heaved. “That’s all,” I cried. “That’s all. The Bank of
Switzerland.”
The rod slashed against my toes again, and I screamed in agony.
“There must be an account number. An identi­fier. A name.” Townsend asked. He was excited.
“Gold Century twenty-one fifty,” I mumbled. “Herr Mueller.”
“Yes. Mueller. A first name?”
I moaned.
Townsend grabbed my face in his hand and twisted it around so that I was looking directly up at him. “Mueller. What is the man’s first name?”
“Rheinhardt,” I stammered. “Rheinhardt Mueller.”
For several long seconds Townsend stared down at me, but then he straightened up, threw the rod down, and began rolling down his sleeves.
“Kill him,” he said to the other man in English.” The rope was nearly off my wrist now.
They both glanced over at me. “Au revoir, Monsieur Carter,” Townsend said. He grabbed his coat and went out the door.
My hand came free at the same moment the big man turned toward me. I just managed to get the stiletto out of its chamois sheath before he could shoot. I rolled over as I brought it around, aimed, and hit the firing stud.
He grunted as he crashed over backwards, his gun clattering to the floor.
The room was quiet at last. I quickly untied my left wrist, inserted another blade in the stiletto han­dle, and very gently cut the ropes that held my ankles. My feet were badly cut, the blood oozing out of the long wounds.
Carefully I swung my legs over the edge of the workbench, stepped down onto the cold concrete floor and then tried to stand, but my legs immedi­ately buckled under me, the pain worse than the torturing. But I could not stay here like this. Nor could I go barefoot.
I crawled over to where they had thrown my shoes and socks and propped myself up against the workbench, grabbing one of the socks.
If I could only get my shoes on before my feet began to swell too badly, the constriction would halt the flow of blood, and then I hoped I would be able to walk.
Very carefully I pulled the sock on my right foot, the pain so bad it made me see spots before my eyes. Next I pulled on my left sock, grunting with the effort.
For a minute or two I rested, my body drenched with sweat, my heart pounding. I grabbed my right shoe and tried to put it on, but my feet had al­ready begun to swell, and the fit was too tight.
I pulled myself up to my feet, the room spinning, and stepped into my right shoe, putting my weight behind it, forcing my battered foot into it. Finally I had it on, and then my left shoe. But then I laced them as tightly as I could, and somehow managed to get to my feet, the pain causing spots to dance in front of my eyes. My knees threatened to buckle at first, but then the pain began to burn out my senses so that it seemed as if I had no feet, but was just walking on thick, heavy chunks of raw meat . . . which wasn’t too far from the truth….

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