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Stargate SG-1 fic: Man In the Box (3)

Man in the Box
by jennickels (aka Jen Connelly)
Stargate SG-1
Daniel (hints of Jack/Sam)
17,645 words
rating: R
WARNINGS: mentions of torture, rape, violence towards children and other adult themes (nothing graphic, just vivid imagery)
Daniel slowly goes mad while held captive by a crazy Goa’uld that wants something from him.  But nothing is how it seems.
don’t own… wish I did, but I don’t. No infringement intended.

[start from the beginning: Man in the Box]

Man in the Box: three

I wake up an indeterminate amount of time later. At first I wonder when the threadbare blankets got so soft. My head hurts. A lot. I open my eyes but it does little to help me get oriented. I only see blurred colors—deep purples and reds. I groan and roll to my side and try to get up. The bed under me is so soft and my whole body begs to just stay put and rest. I can’t. I won’t. I think of Sam and Jack back in our cell, a man short again, trying to make quota with Jack barely functioning. No one else can die because of us.

Once on my feet I sway slightly but manage to stay upright. I’m back in the room with the bath and the comfy chairs. I squint but it doesn’t help me see any clearer. Walking is difficult. My legs are stiff and I might have sprain my ankle in the fight. My right hand is bleeding and my middle two fingers are definitely broken. I hold that hand against my body. The room feels colder than it did last time and without a shirt I shiver against my will. I start to work around the room to find a way out when a door off to one side opens and the young girls enter with deadly seriousness in their eyes.

I’m quickly stripped of my clothing and left standing naked and cold in the middle of the room. I don’t have time to consider what is going on. My captor, whatever his name is, glides from the door with is robes billowing behind him. He’s a man on a mission, his face set and serious.

“Dr. Jackson.” He’s irritated. He circles me with a critical eye. What he’s looking for I have no idea. I try not to shiver but with little success. “I had so hoped we could talk this through. I have so many questions.”

“I won’t tell you anything.”

He snorts. “Oh, you’ve already told me more than you think.”

I don’t like the sound of that. He nods off past my shoulder but I don’t turn to see what’s coming. My eyes never leave his face. There’s a rumble behind me and then I’m grabbed around the arms and hauled back, stumbling over my own feet. I struggle against the men but they’re well fed and carrying alien infants that keep them stronger than a human. And I’m starving and worked to exhaustion. I don’t have a chance. The bed has pulled back into the wall and a platform raises up with a large box. It’s not a sarcophagus. This thing is far more menacing. I shiver again. I’m not sure if it’s from the cold or fear. Sweat drips down my back and I swallow hard. There’s no fighting back, really, as they force me into the box. Inside is a seat. I’m strapped to it and something like electrodes are attached to key parts of my body. I don’t want to know what they’re for. The door closes and I’m left in absolute darkness. I blink repeatedly and stare into the nothingness. It’s unnerving so I close my eyes. There’s no difference between the two states.

I’m not sure what’s going on. I sit and wait, panic rising in my chest. It’s harder to breathe and I start to think maybe I’m not imagining it. Maybe he’s filling the box with some kind of paralyzing poison. I struggle against the restraints before forcing myself to calm down. Minutes pass. Could be more. I can’t tell time in here. I can’t see, I can’t hear. All I know is I want out. There’s a fleeting thought that Jack will rescue me. He always does. Except this time he can’t. He’s down in the bowels of this godforsaken planet digging in the dirt. He’d probably find that ironic—him digging in the dirt, he says that’s my thing. I lick my lips, scared for a moment that I won’t feel my tongue moving across my skin but I do and that calms me a little more.

Then the images start flashing before my eyes. Except my eyes are still closed. I’m sure of it. I blink a few times just to make sure. The images come whether my eyes are open or not. There’s no escape—they’re in my brain. I cry out in desperation. I don’t want to see what they’re showing me. I don’t want to relive all the horrible memories of my life. I try to think of something… anything else. Psychological torture is so much worse than physical. I can’t escape this. It’s in my head.

The images come so fast I get dizzy and throw up down the front of me, the stinking liquid pooling at my bare feet. That memory eventually makes it into the greatest hits. Tears are streaming down my face and I’m begging for them to stop when abruptly my world stills. I’m hoping I’m dead but before the thought even flitters across my mind his voice is in my head demanding to know about the Stargate, about Earth and it’s allies. I’m completely defenseless against this attack. I bite down on my tongue, the metallic taste of blood filling my mouth. But my thought betray me. He laughs at my weakness. I cry. It goes on like that for hours. I fight against the intrusion which frustrates him. I can tell. His attacks become more brutal. When he gets especially mad I’m subjected to last night’s execution over and over until I’m completely numbed to the event. It means nothing in the grand scheme of things. Just ten people that are no longer suffering. It’s a good thing. Jack did them all a favor I think. I black out for real after that.

* * *

Slowly the world brightens. I’m aware my eyes are open although I’m not hearing anything yet. I blink and slowly the blobs of color coalesce into familiar shapes. I’m back in the cell. Finally my ears pick up sounds—the clink of an axe on stone. I roll to my side and look over at the wall. Sam is banging away. Jack’s gone. That frightens me. She looks exhausted. I’m clean and well rested again. I scramble to my feet just in time to catch Sam as she collapses. She looks horrible. She’s as white as a ghost and so thin I can feel her bones. We’ve only been here a week, how could she have lost so much weight. When she’s comfortable, as comfortable as she can be, I pick up her axe and work until I can’t see straight.

There’s no way for us to make quota. I have no idea where Jack is. Sam wakes up in time for dinner. We stick close together, taking turns eating like before. No one attacks me this time but I feel their eyes on me, watching me. I don’t know if Sam gets the same feeling but I don’t ask her about it. We eat quickly and return to our cell to continue working. Every inch of my body hurts but I swing my axe with everything I have. Sam’s barely moving but she tries to help even after I tell her to sit down. I’m afraid to ask what happened to Jack. The look of hopeless defeat in her eyes scares me. She’s no longer working to survive or be rescued. She’s simply working to make quota so no one else will suffer because of her. I don’t know what else to do except dig.

I know we’ve fallen horribly short when they come for the last count. The guard enthusiastically makes a mark on our work order then gives me a devilish grin. In the cavern I’m thankful for my lost glasses—I don’t have to fully witness the beating of a grandmother. Unfortunately I can still hear it. We both collapse once back inside our cell and fall almost immediately to sleep. It’s the first night I dream since getting here. I toss and turn, trying to avoid remembering the last few days—all the death and pointless brutality. Eventually I succumb to weariness.

I only wake up when something heavy lands on me. I gasp in startled pain and manage to roll out from whatever it is. Sam’s at my side and I realize the weight is Jack. He’s unconscious but alive. I don’t know what they’ve done to him but he’s not sporting any new bruises or broken bones. Maybe they put him in the box, too. The thought of the box sparks something in the back of my brain—a nagging tickle of something I’m supposed to remember. But I can’t. I don’t have time to dwell on it before I’m off to breakfast. Sam doesn’t want to leave Jack but I pull her along. I can’t risk going to the cavern alone again and she needs to eat. She glares at me the entire time. I realize we’re not speaking. She hasn’t said a word to me since the night Jack interfered. I’m not sure if it’s because she has nothing to say or just doesn’t want to say those things to me. I sigh as she tosses her bowl down and blows past me back to our cell.

Jack comes to not long after we get back. We both stop working long enough to make sure he’s okay. He waves us off and orders us back to work. Sam’s reluctant but he uses his “colonel voice” and she obeys just like she was trained to. That voice doesn’t have as much effect on me but things between me and Jack are so strained already I don’t even consider pushing him. I work until the muscles in my arms and back cramp up. Jack ignores my writhing body, stepping over me to get my axe and takes up where I left off. Sam barely glances down at me. Eventually the convulsions stop but I’m left with muscles pulled tight and sore beyond belief. I can’t move. Jack’s pissed. He nudges me in the side and yells at me to get up. I try to tell him I can’t but he doesn’t care. A few more kicks to sore ribs and legs have me up on my knees. Tears press behind my eyelids as another cramp overtakes my leg where Jack’s boot just connected with overtaxed muscle. I’m able to work that one out and haul myself up. Jack gives a disgusted grunt when he sees my tear-soaked face. I’m reminded of 3rd grade gym class and getting whacked in the face with a dodgeball. The coach gave me that same look. I didn’t have many friends that year.

The days drag on here. There’s no lunch break, no stopping between breakfast and dinner. I have no idea how long that time period is. Time is a meaningless concept in the mines. There are only two things that matter—making quota and surviving. You don’t worry about anything else. You sleep, you dig, you eat, you make quota. That’s it. We dig on in silence forever.

A guard startles us after awhile, coming into the cell and grabbing me by the back of my now grubby tunic.

“You will come with me,” he says. Like I have a choice. I probably couldn’t toss off a ten year old I’m so tired and sore. Jack barely pays me any attention as I’m half-dragged from the cell. Sam just stares with a sad look on her face. I hear the clinking of their axes before the cell is out of sight.

I don’t even wonder where they’re taking me. I follow along, knowing the way by heart now. I stand in the middle of the lavish room and wait for “what’s-his-name” to make his appearance. The box is still out where the bed is supposed to be. I try to ignore it but my eyes keep darting back to it.

“Ah, Dr. Jackson, I’m so glad you could join me.” I hate it when he talks that way. I refuse to look at him so he comes around to stand in front of me, still smiling. “You look… well.”

I cock an eyebrow at him. He’s crazier than I first thought.

“I won’t tell you anything so you might as well stuff me back in that box right now.”

He laughs at my bravado. “Please, Daniel, sit and relax.”

He slides into one of the lounge chairs. I remain standing. Food is brought out again but I ignore it and the rumbling of my stomach.

“Can we get on with it already,” I tell him, “I need to get back to work.”

He smiles. “If that is what you wish. I was really hoping we could chat.”

“Not a chance in hell.” I sound remarkably like Jack.

He claps his hands and his guards take me over to the box and I’m strapped in. I’ve grown accustomed to the bombardment of images. I’m able to fight against them for much longer before I black out. I have no clue if he’s gotten any information from me. I hope not but I don’t have much faith left in myself any more.

* * *

I wake up clean and without pain again. I wish I could remember the actual bathing. Jack and Sam are still sleeping. I sit up and rub at my sleepy eyes, watching them. I doubt they know I’m even back. Their arms are around each other; Jack pulling Sam tight to his body with one hand in her hair. She’s been crying. I can see the tear streaks on her face. I leave them be and get up to start work early. They only wake when the alarm for breakfast sounds. I skip it and keep working. They return and Jack makes Sam lie back down. I say nothing. We dig for awhile before he starts mumbling to himself. I try to ignore the growing tension between us but it’s impossible with his muttering and grumbling.

“What, Jack?” I yell. I’ve finally cracked. I can’t take his hostility any more. “If you have something to say to me then, for god’s sake, say it already.”

He doesn’t say anything at first, just slams his axe into the wall a few more times. I know it’s only a matter of time before he snaps. I just wasn’t expecting the intensity of it. He axe hits me across the back and slams me into the wall, pinning my axe painfully between me and the wall. I’m trying to catch my breath and process the attack when he moves and I fall back with a thwump, landing on my butt. Sam just stares. I look up at Jack. At least the anger puts some color in his face.

“What did you tell them this time, Daniel?”

“What? I didn’t tell them anything.” I’m angry, too. I don’t understand why Jack is acting this way, why he’s lost trust in me. He’s never done that before. But this place is having an effect on all of us.

He picks me up by the front of my tunic and shoves me against the wall. “You’re telling me they’ve been treating you to these regular spa visits because they like your company.”

I bristle. “Apparently.” It’s close enough to the truth.

Jack punches me in the face and I slide down the wall.

“Sir-” It’s the first time I’ve heard Sam speak in days. Her voice is weak and gravely. I don’t want to know what’s been happening to her while I’ve been in that damned box.

Jack pauses long enough to glance over his shoulder at her. I wipe the blood from my busted lip. I’m tired of being hit and beaten. When Jack turns back to me I don’t give him a chance to attack again. My axe handle connects with his midsection and he doubles over which gives me the opportunity to knee him in the face. Sam’s yelling at us to stop and I don’t even know why we’re fighting. I may be better rested but Jack has rage on his side and he eventually pins me to the ground.

“I didn’t tell them anything, Jack. I wouldn’t do that.”

“Then why do you get the royal treatment and we’re-” he gestures at himself and our surroundings. It’s so typically Jack that I momentarily forget we’re not exactly friends any more.

“I don’t know.” I’m yelling even though he’s only a couple feet away, sitting on my chest. “He doesn’t answer any of my questions. I don’t even know who he is.”

“The Goa’uld?”

“Yes. God, Jack, how could you think-”

He slides off me and slumps against the wall, his head in his hands. I wipe more blood from my mouth and sit. My back hurts now, a stabbing pain just below my shoulder blades. I watch the slump of Jack’s shoulders and pained expression.

“We need to get back to work,” is all he says. I’m not really sure I’m forgiven but I’m pretty sure he’s not going to attack me again. Sam manages to get to her feet and we dig until dinner without a word or another incident. We manage to make quota but just barely. We’ll have to work even harder the next day.

They take Sam again the next morning, just as we’re returning from breakfast. Jack gets himself knocked silly trying to stop them; Sam barely struggles. I help Jack up and we get to work in silence. Sam never comes back. That night is nearly unbearable. Jack doesn’t talk, he doesn’t look at me. He curls up with Sam’s jacket and tries to sleep but he tosses and turns, thrashing out. I wedge myself against the wall and try not to think about what happened to her.

We now have to work three times as hard to keep up with our quota. There isn’t time for spats. We start to wake before the first alarm and work until breakfast. We eat fast and don’t stop working until dinner no matter how much we hurt or how little we can move. It’s agonizing. I’ve never been in so much pain in my life and that’s saying a lot considering what I’ve gone through since joining the SGC. Two days pass with no sign of Sam. Jack’s withdrawing more and more. We don’t make quota the second day but before we’re taken to the cavern for punishment the guards come for me. Jack glowers as they lead me away. I try to give him an apologetic look but he won’t even meet my eyes.

The Goa’uld gives me his friendly schpiel while I stand at attention in the room, refusing to acknowledge his existence. I don’t speak at all. This goes on for a good fifteen minutes before I see the first crack in his cool exterior. He lurches to his feet and is in my face in a flash, screaming at me to tell him what he wants to know. It registers that he must not be getting what he wants from me in the box. I give a smug snort which causes him to become irate. I’m blasted back with his hand device to slam against the wall above the tub. I slide down into the empty pool, my head throbbing. I feel blood dripping down my neck and I might have broken my wrist again on impact. I groan in pain but can’t seem to coordinate my limbs to get up. He’s looming above me with his arm outstretched and all I can see is the jewel at the center of his hand. The blackness comes blessedly quick.
four

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