Philip Dresden was a soldier in the United States Army. He was stationed at Kabul, the capital city of Afghanistan. There he saw many upsetting and disturbing things, but nothing could prepare him for what was to come.
It was late at night, Philip was sleeping in his barracks. His commanding officer, and leader of the platoon, Sergeant O’Hagan woke Philip from a peaceful slumber.
"Corporal, get up and come with me." Philip quickly got out of the bunk, jumped into his gear, and met the Sergeant outside.
"What is it, sir?"
"We just got word from HQ. There is a terrorist cell approaching the city limits as we speak. They out number us, Dresden. They out number us ten to one. Reinforcements won’t be here ‘til mornin’."
"Yes, sir. What are your orders?"
"My orders? My god damn orders…Do you think they told me something like this would happen when I enlisted ten years ago?"
"…something like this, sir?"
"They’re coming for us Dresden! Jesus, they’re coming to kill us all!"
"Sir, what are your orders?"
"WEREN’T YOU LISTENING DAMNIT! WE’RE ALL GONNA DI-"
Before the Sergeant could finish a grenade landed in between their feet.
"Sergeant get down!" screams Philip as he runs back into the barracks and slams the door shut. "LIVE GRENADE!" Philip screams again startling awake the soldiers in his company. The Sergeant stutters in thought right before he registers the grenade ticking between his feet. In a moment’s breath he realizes he can’t run away quick enough, his only option is to get the grenade as far away from his body as possible. He kicks it with all his might. The grenade goes flying through the air, up, and over, crashing through the window of the barracks. Philip looks at the grenade twirling on the floor, and then he looks at all of his helpless comrades, struggling to get their equipment on. With little hesitation he knows what he must do. He jumps on the grenade as it goes off. Lights out.
Gunshots. Screams. Lots of screams. Flashes of light. Pain.
Philip wakes up. He can barely hold his head up, he is in so much pain. He tries to look around, but all he can see is darkness. Perhaps his eyes aren’t even open. Perhaps he is still unconscious. He tries to move his hands, but they are held down. He must be tied up. Tied to the metal chair he’s sitting in. Yes, metal, he felt the cold rusted steel on his palms and calves. His feet were tied down as well. His legs were bare from the knees down; with touches of shredded camouflage pants and smears of dried blood. For his eyes were still dark, but his feeling and his senses were slowly coming back to him. A short glimmer. A hope of sight shines for a second through the crack of a door. He is awake. Now, that is for certain.
Two guards come into the room. They talk to each other in a language Philip cannot understand. He knows now that he was taken prisoner. Why didn’t they just leave him there to die? The army would not bargain with terrorists for his release. What did they want from him? One of the guards knelt down in front of Philip. "Where is your American base?"
"I don’t…know." Answers Corporal Dresden. The other guard walks behind Philip.
"I don’t know." Philip answers once again. The guard behind him grabs his bound hands and pulls them up rigorously, snapping both of his wrists. Philip screams in torment. They echo down the cave walls. He briefly thinks of an outside world. A home. A cushy bed. But he quickly returns to his reality. Cold, bloody, steel, and a dark room. The guard interrogating him pulls out a knife. He softly sticks his own fingertip, and slowly turns it round and round. "You will tell us where your base is, filthy American. Or else we will kill you."
"If you wanted to kill me, you would have done so already."
"HA! Very good then, American. Your fate is not death. Not yet, at least. If you will not be an informant, then you shall be an experiment." The guard turns to the one that broke Philips wrists. He utters a command and the guard leaves the room upon hearing it. The English-speaking guard takes the knife and carves a line down the left side of Philip’s face, sparing his eye. Philip holds in his scream. "It hurts, doesn’t it…You don’t want to scream, but it would relieve your suffering." He turns around and looks at the door, as if he is waiting for the other guard to return. "Well allow me to ease your suffering!" The guard quickly turns around and slits Philip’s throat open. He spits blood up and onto the floor. He chokes and throws himself all around trying to get free from the chair. The English-speaking guard laughs at his suffering as the guard from before appears behind him; coming back into the room. The leg of the chair hits a small hole in the floor during Philip’s rampage of survival, and tips over, falling to the floor. He keeps fighting to stay alive as his blood leaks all over the floor. He is growing tired. Everything that has come alive in the past hour of awakening is beginning to fade away, once again, to the black abyss; as his life, slowly drains out of him.
The guard who left, comes back into the room carrying an exotic plant. The English-speaking guard pulls a leaf off the plant and rubs it on Philip’s neck, right on top of the cut. He holds it down. Philips feels a violent rush, a burning sensation on his neck. It feels...good. Steam emits from the chemical reaction. When the guard takes the leaf off of Philip’s neck, the cut is gone. The other guard lifts the chair back upright and walks out of the room. Philip opens his eyes and tries to gather himself once again. "What….what…was….that?"
"Goodnight American soldier, till tomorrow…" The other guard leaves the room and the lock sounds behind him. Philip is once again in the dark.
The next day he is awoken by the same guard he last saw. "Good morning, American."
"Where am I? Where is this place?"
"You are in the caves of the Hindu Kush. A Mountain Range spanning roughly nine hundred kilometers long, six hundred of your American miles. Your friends will never find you here."
"What is that plant you used on my neck?"
"It is a foreign plant, an exotic strain that has just recently been discovered. But unless you care that it has blue veins and sparkles, that is all I know."
"Is that why I’m here? Why you took me?"
"We saved your life. We pulled the shrapnel out from all over your body."
"What for? Why am I here? What do you people want from me!?"
"Enough! You are not the interrogator. You are in no place to be asking questions." Philip looks up over the guard’s shoulder and sees the other guard standing by the door. The English-speaking guard turns and barks an order. Moments later a cart is rolled in by another person, but he is not wearing soldier apparel. "That is the doctor. He is here to perform some tests."
"Tests like last night?"
"HA, very good. Your American wit is amusing. Yes, I hope you two have fun." The English-speaking guard walks out of the room. The doctor pulls an electric drill out from the cart and turns it on. The doctor digs the drill deep into Philips shoulder. He screams with fresh pain. And just like before, the doctor uses a leaf from the blue-veined plant to rid Philip of the wound.
The entire day is spent trying different incisions and mutilations on Philip and then curing him with the mysterious plant. The whole time Philip is thinking whether or not the plant’s treatment has any long term side effects.
Day after day, it was the same routine. Night after night he recuperated just to be put through the same harrowing gauntlet the next day. They fed him just enough to stay alive. He never left the chair. He never got to clean himself. He never got to lay down and sleep. It remained like this for months. After a while, Philip lost count of the days. Every so often, when his hands were beginning to heal, a guard would come in and break his wrists again to keep him from trying to escape. It was more to demoralize him, than sheer physical mechanics. Eventually, his hands became permanently numb. They felt like gelatin at the end of his arms He never tried to move them anymore. He spent most of his time wondering where they were finding this plant and its infinite resource. It did Philip good to think of something positive. He hoped they never ran out. If they did, he was dead.
Finally, one day, the doctor was finishing up and putting away all of his tools and instruments. He carefully returns the plant to the cart. Before he orders the guard at the door to come in and take the cart away, he places his hands gently on Philip’s head. His thumbs are positioned directly in front of Philip’s eyes. The doctor slowly sticks his thumbs softly into Philip’s head and gouges his eyes out. The gentle pretense of the doctor’s hand movements overcomes his violent action creating an uncomfortably confusing overtone for Philip. He does not know whether to scream in horror, or thank the doctor for taking such care with him as his patient. Before he can do anything there is a loud bang from outside the room.
Screams and gunshots.
A wave of heat blows over Philip's face as he hears the doctor scramble out of the room. Philip is now scared. He is afraid there is no magical plant to cure him once more of the evil he has had to succumb to since his capture. Afraid he will be the one thing that is worse than being tortured and stuck in a dark cavern for the rest of his life; blind.
A large thunder rumbles through the caves and into Philip’s ears. He screams for help. He can hear all around him, the walls are caving in. The roof above him is breaking into boulders and falling to the floor. He twists his broken wrists out of his binds and unties his legs clumsily. With barely any feeling in his fingers, he searches around the floor as he slowly moves towards the door, practically crawling. Philip reverts to stages of infancy to survive. He finds his way to the door and gets up to make a break for it.
After running two steps he trips over the cart and falls onto the floor tipping it over. He pulls himself over to the cart and feels around for the plant. He frantically searches so he can find it before somebody comes back for him. His fingers probe the inside of the cart looking for some sign of the plant. The porcelain pot, the wet soil, anything to get his vision back. "Ah!" the burning sensation gets his hand above his palm. He must have brushed up against the plant. He waves his hand around and feels the sensation one more time. He grabs and pulls a leaf from it. The roof above starts to grumble and crack. Philip crawls on his elbows to get under the door frame. The boulders fall to the ground pinching Philip's side down and scratching his abdomen. He repositions the leaf in his hand to move the boulder when suddenly he is grabbed.
Philip drops the leaf. He is yanked by his legs and pulled down the hallway, away from his room as the cave collapses all around him. "No!" he screams, "The PLANT I NEED THE PLANT! NO!" He is turned over, being drastically brought out of the caves. His head is lifted up by a short cavern ramp, off the floor, and lands roughly on the rock bed; all the while still being dragged furiously. Philip stops screaming.
He is unconscious.