The Mermaid Experience – Chapter 45

LTo start at the beginning, use this link:  Link to chapter 1

July 4

When the lights turned on, Katherine tried to sit up but was stopped by the manacles on her wrists. That brought back the memory of what had happened the night before. She felt a little confused. Pak had actually been very kind to her. Maybe this wouldn’t be so bad after all. Nari entered and unlocked the manacles, then pressed a hidden button on the back of the headboard. The chains retracted back into the bed posts and the metal covers clicked back into place, returning to their decorative appearance. Nari seemed to be happier this morning.

“Today you will give another performance in the evening.” She said. “As he talked to me in bed this morning, my dear Pak said he was very pleased with your actions yesterday. You must practice hard and give another excellent performance.”

That explained Nari’s cheerfulness. Katherine found herself feeling a tiny bit of resentment that Pak had gone to Nari’s bed. But that was silly. She didn’t want his attentions, no matter how kind and gentle he had been last night. She had her breakfast and then spent the day practicing. Once again she did her routine while Pak watched her through the transparent pool wall. Nari sat beside him, but she seemed less jealous and more interested in watching Katherine than she had previously. Katherine finished and then let herself be bathed and dressed for the tea ceremony. This time, the dress they gave her was much more modest, with a high mandarin collar and long sleeves, though it did fit her very tightly. They must have had a seamstress working to Katherine’s exact measurements to make it fit so well. Once she was dressed, Nari entered the room first, and tied Katherine’s arms behind her back like before. General Pak entered just as Nari finished, and she stopped to give Pak a kiss and to whisper in his ear before leaving.

“You look truly lovely.” Pak said as he knelt down across the tea table. “And your performance this evening was flawless. I find it very exciting to watch your graceful movements in the water.”

They proceeded with the tea ceremony as they had done the night before, with Pak tenderly feeding Katherine and holding the tea cup to her lips so she could drink. When they were done, he carried her over to the bed and laid her face down to untie the ropes.

“Perhaps tonight I could be permitted the opportunity to see more of your beauty.” He said as he untied her arms.

Once her arms were freed, Pak unzipped the zipper on Katherine’s dress and pulled it off over her head before once again shackling her wrists and tail. Although he left her bra in place, Katherine felt more exposed than she had when swimming without any top on at all. She could feel her body shivering again, but she was not totally sure if it was fear or anticipation that drove the reaction. Pak simply sat on the bed for a long time, looking at her, his eyes roving up and down her form. At last he laid a hand on her stomach and leaned over to kiss her on the lips. Katherine felt her body react, though her mind told her it was wrong. When Pak finished the kiss and left the room, frustration built within her. Why hadn’t he gone further? As the hormones slowly drained away and Katherine drifted off to sleep, her mind understood what was happening. The long slow seduction was designed to waken her instincts and passions and weaken her objections. Despite this realization, Katherine feared that when the time came she would likely give herself willingly to her captor.

After several hours of confused and troubling dreams, Katherine found herself waking to an unfamiliar sound. The noise repeated several times, a muffled “Crack!” that came from different locations somewhere outside her rooms. Finally, the door to her rooms opened and several people came in, the beams of flashlights bobbing and weaving as they slipped into her rooms and spread out in a search pattern. One beam slid across the bed, lighting up Katherine’s form for a moment, and soon several other beams concentrated on her and three of the people rushed to her side. They were dressed all in black, with balaclavas covering their faces. One of the people seemed taller than the others, and he uncovered his face and spoke to her.

“Katherine, this is Dave Johnson. We’ve come to get you out of here. Are you OK?”

Katherine nodded her head. Relief and happiness flooded through her body. She was going to be rescued! One of the other people with Dave held up a hand with a large key ring in it.

“Do you know what key fits the manacles?” Dave asked.

Hesitantly, Katherine nodded her head.

“Why aren’t you saying anything? Can’t you talk?”

Katherine shook her head and opened her mouth, pushing some air out without any recognizable speech.

“Just nod your head if you see the right key, then.”

Dave spoke a few words in another language to the other rescuer, who started going through the key ring, holding up each key in turn, but Katherine kept shaking her head. Finally, Dave asked “Are any of the keys on this ring the right one?” Katherine shook her head again. Dave spoke to his companion again, and he pulled a few individual keys out of a pocket. The third key out of those looked like it might be the one Nari had used, so Katherine nodded and they tried that one. It worked, and they were able to release Katherine from her bonds. One of the other commandoes picked up the dress from the floor and handed it to Katherine, who gratefully put it on. Then Dave started to pick Katherine up.

“I’m sorry we don’t have a wheelchair, so we’ll have to carry you out.” Said Dave. “We don’t have much time.”

Katherine started shaking her head violently, and pointed to her neck.

“Is something wrong?”

Katherine nodded, and made choking motions. Dave watched for a moment, then reached into a pocket and pulled out a small notebook and a pen.

“I can tell it’s something about your collar, but I’m not sure exactly what. Can you write down what you need to tell me?”

Katherine wrote quickly.

My collar is set to cut off my air if I leave these two rooms. There is a transmitter and I can’t get out of range of it.

Dave motioned to one of the people who had been guarding the door. When she came closer, Katherine could see that she was a woman. Dave spoke to her in that other language again. It didn’t quite sound like the Korean Katherine had been hearing, but it had a similar Asian feeling to it. The woman spoke back and Dave translated.

“This is our medic. She might be able to help. But she needs to know how the collar works. How does it cut off your air?”

There is a tracheostomy through my neck that feeds me air from the collar. A valve above it prevents water from going into my lungs, but also blocks air when it is closed. They have hacked the collar so the valve stays closed all the time, and the collar will stop providing air if I leave the transmitter signal area.

Dave translated Katherine’s writing, and he and the woman spoke rapidly for a few moments.

“She says she might be able to bypass the valve by putting a tube down your throat. She’ll have to numb your throat to calm your gag reflex first. If that doesn’t work, we might have to cut the collar away so you can breathe directly through the tracheostomy.”

Even while Dave was explaining, the medic was digging around in a bag she had with her and preparing a syringe with anesthetic. Katherine nodded her head to show her understanding, and the medic injected Katherine in the throat above and below her collar on both sides. Then she touched Katherine’s mouth and opened her own mouth wide. Katherine followed her example. The medic adjusted Katherine’s chin to make her airway accessible, then had Dave shine a flashlight down Katherine’s throat while she inserted the tube. Katherine could feel the tube push past her epiglottis and down to the valve below, but the numbing effect of the anesthetic prevented her from gagging on the tube. The woman moved the tube back and forth and finally pushed down surprisingly hard. The valve clicked open and Katherine tried breathing in through the tube. She felt the air flow in and she nodded her head. Dave immediately picked her up and they all moved very quickly to leave the room. When they passed through the door out of the pool room, Katherine felt the air from her collar stop, but she was still able to breathe almost normally. The tube hanging out of her mouth was annoying, but with the tube blocking the valve open, air was free to flow through and around the tube, allowing Katherine to breathe almost normally.

As they passed through the darkened house, Katherine saw a few still forms on the floor, and she could smell the coppery tang of blood and the stench of bowel from a few of them. They went down a few hallways and through a courtyard, then out a gate. Katherine tried to talk to Dave as he carried her.

“Id ooo ill aa o emm?” She said around the tube.

“Did we kill them all?” Dave asked. Katherine nodded. “No. Only the ones who threatened us.  We put most of them to sleep with tranquilizer darts.”

They ran through a grassy area, and then through a line of trees before coming to a river. They climbed into a small boat and paddled quietly away through the night. After about fifteen minutes of paddling they approached the other side of the river. Several other people waited for them there, and they helped tie up the boat. Dave lifted Katherine out of the boat and handed her to one of the men who was waiting. He carried her up a small hill to a large van parked at the side of a road that paralleled the river. Another man opened the side door of the van, and the one carrying Katherine set her down on one of the seats. She was joined by Dave after just a few moments.

“We just crossed the Yalu River and we are now in China.” Dave told her. “We’re near a town called Changhe and we’re headed to Dandong, where there is an airport. Now that we’re out of immediate danger, Ling wants to have another look at that tube in your throat.”

Dave stood up and moved to another seat so the medic could sit next to Katherine. She had her open her mouth again, and she used a flashlight to inspect the positioning of the tube and make sure it wasn’t damaging Katherine’s throat.

“Thank you.” Katherine said, able to speak a little better once the tube had been adjusted.

Her voice was still a bit muddled and her throat felt sore, but it was good to be able to talk again. Ling spoke to Dave and he translated back to Katherine.

“She says not to eat or drink until they can do something more permanent, so that no foreign matter gets into your lungs.”

“I don’t think I could eat much with this thing in my throat anyway. What language are you speaking?”

“Mandarin. This is a special group of Chinese commandos. I’ve worked with them before and they are good people.”
“You’ve worked with them before? A detective from Texas?”

“I haven’t always been a police detective, but I’m afraid I can’t tell you much more, and I’ll have to ask you not to tell anyone else. There are things neither the Chinese nor the US government wants anyone to know about.”

“OK, I understand, I think.”

“Are you OK? Did they mistreat you?”

“No, they actually treated me pretty nice. Other than being confined to two rooms.”

“The way they had you chained to that bed didn’t look very nice.”

“That is true. General Pak was getting ready to rape me, but he hadn’t got around to actually doing so yet. I think if I had been there one more night it would have happened.”

“Are you sure? We can stop at the hospital in Dandong.”

“No, I just want to go home. What about Allen and the others? Are they being rescued as well?”

“They managed to escape. They are hiding out waiting for our rescuers to arrive.”

A wave of relief washed over Katherine and the tears started to flow. All of the stress and fear of the last few weeks welled up from inside and came out as sobs and tears. She felt a sadness at the loss of Nari, Pak, Yuki and the others.  She hoped they had been tranquilized instead of killed.  Although they were her captors, they had treated her decently. And their actions were the result of a lifetime of brainwashing. Katherine had felt the effects of that in just a few days, so she could understand how her captors had been molded by the evil system they were a part of. Dave put his arm around Katherine and sat quietly while she let her emotions run wild. After a couple hours of driving, they arrived at the airport and were escorted directly to the runway and a waiting Gulfstream jet. Dave carried Katherine up the stairs and helped her into a comfortable seat for the long ride home.

Link to chapter 46

Link to chapter 44

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