It took a good twenty minutes for Jane to come to, more than enough time for Clara to secure the unconscious guard, strip Jane naked, and secure her to a chair. As a precaution, Clara used this opportunity to disable any panic buttons found in the room.
“What? Where am I?” Jane asked.
Clara walked towards Jane while wearing her outfit, a challenge, since she had to make creative use of the belt and bra straps to make it all fit. Still, Clara floated in these clothes which stripped her of that femininity she often took for granted. Wearing Jane’s glasses only amplified the effect, making her look mousy, nondescript and harmless. In itself, that was not a bad thing and might allow her to remain invisible to most that way.
“You tell me?” Clara asked in return.
Jane was confused by the unfamiliar voice and struggled to open her eyes. Just ahead, there was a bright light, surrounded by a halo. She noted the presence of a silhouette against the light, focused on that spot, and eventually made out Clara’s smile.
The sight of a prisoner looming over her drove Jane into a panic. She struggled against her bindings which only tightened their grip. Her breathing grew shallow, and that meant she would soon lose consciousness. For Clara, that was not a desirable outcome.
Clara smiled, reached down for Jane’s hands, and interlocked their fingers. Now was not the time to appear vexed or indifferent. This situation called for a legitimate dose of compassion.
“Shh. It’s okay. No one here is going to hurt you,” Clara said in a soft voice, the same she used to comfort dying patients during the war.
Jane eventually calmed down and relaxed, preventing the bindings from digging into her wrists. The tension still hung in the air like a thick ocean fog. Who would blame her? Most would be leery of their captor’s intentions.
“Better now?” Clara asked.
“A bit,” Jane whispered.
Clara chuckled before she said, “You know, I’ve had a really long couple of days. Setting aside all the shit I’ve dealt with, so far you’re the third woman I’ve seen naked.”
“Really?” There was a hint of excitement in the voice, so Clara assumed this one was now fishing for information.
“The first was a werewolf,” Clara said. “Feisty one, too.”
“Those don’t exist,” Jane replied.
Clara picked up on the change in respiration and heartbeat. She had been well trained, but not well enough to get a pass.
“You know they do,” Clara said. “How long have you been employing ghouls as interrogators?”
The woman stiffened at the mention of that word, causing her bindings to go taut once more. She winced in pain, paused, and calmed down.
“What are you talking about?” Jane lied.
Clara chuckled. She let go of Jane’s hands before sitting down. She opened up the woman’s purse, then poured its contents over the metal table. There was nothing of note, no identification cards, phone, or currency. Sure, there was makeup, which she applied to mimic Jane’s style. Besides that, there were tissues, a compact full of pills, and Trojan brand wrapped candy.
“Whatever happened to Hershey bars?” Clara asked nonchalantly.
Jane did not respond, but Clara was certain that this was no ordinary stockade. The fact this one knew about werewolves and ghouls meant that knowledge was no longer restricted to the few who were dedicated to eradicating them. For better, or for worse, this was the new reality.
“Make sense,” Clara said. “A ghoul can beat the information out of a captive and erase all memories of the event.”
Jane did not say a word, but her body language confirmed Clara’s suspicions. Of course, there was one question left, but she wanted to avoid asking it directly. That might establish her allegiances and give away her true intention.
“The Tower would never resort to such measures,” Clara said.
The mention of that name, did not alter Jane’s heart rate or elicit a physical response. Clara hid it well, but she was concerned. Ninety years is a long time to go dark. As a last minute thought, she searched the guard’s pockets. They were empty, save for a card, one that had an odd little hump in the middle while the other side was all black, except for the red border.
“Curiouser, and curiouser,” Clara said and found a matching card in Jane’s clothing.
That was the moment she noticed a panel near the door, one matching the hump’s colouring. It did not take much to figure out that these items might be related. She walked over to Jane and slid the cold card between her cleavage. Jane shivered and knew where this interrogation was headed.
“So?” Clara asked.
“Jane Jones, Alpha-One-Niner…” Jane rhymed off.
Clara had seen this sort of behaviour before, a sign that the interrogator was getting too close. Still, Clara had a few tricks up her sleeve.
“You know, it’s kinda funny. I had you pegged as a Jane,” Clara said. “However, I never thought you’d be a dumb dora…”
Jane continued to rhyme off that line, sounding like a politician avoiding any questions related to a recent scandal. Clara chose to ignore this broken record strategy, and attacked on a new front.
“So while you are here babbling like a baboon in heat, all bound, naked, and available,” Clara said. “You might want to consider what that ghoul will do to you when it wakes up?”
Jane showed no reaction to that threat. There was something to be said about working with monsters. It had a tendency to blind them to that creature’s particular flavour of evil.
“You know,” Clara said. “I have seen these things in action. Did you know that they love to peel back the face of their victim? They gingerly pull away at the fat, muscles, and veins. All so they can wear it like a mask… Do you suppose he’d feel sexy wearing your bloody—”
“Stop,” Jane said. She then paused, closed her eyes, and sighed before adding, “030702.”
“Thank you,” Clara said and walked away.
“Wait,” Jane said. “You aren’t going to leave me—”
Before Jane could finish that sentence, Clara was already out the door. Turns out she was right about that panel by the door.
“She’ll hate me for this, but at least that ghoul won’t be bothering her,” Clara said.
Disclaimer: This chapter is currently in development. There are likely typos, errors, omissions, inconsistencies and so forth. Please do not treat this as a polished and completed work!