The Haven
Published in

The Haven

SWEAT!

The Interrogator cracked his knuckles hidden inside a pair of black gloves and stared impassively towards Barry. He hoped this wouldn’t take long, more for his sake than Barry’s. He had a dinner date set up with Maya and didn’t want to be late.

But that would all depend on how Barry behaved.

The Interrogator took one step forward and felt the loogie hit before he heard the sound. He closed his eyes and wiped the spit from the side of his face, and smiled. A part of him now wanted to miss that dinner.

“There’s no shot I’m telling you anything, so get this shit over with.” Barry’s voice sounded confident. Confidence was good, making the end result all the more sweeter. The Interrogator allowed himself a brief grin of sorts.

“You’re talking right now.” Hate radiated from Barry’s eyes.

“Go to hell.”

“I’d like to go to dinner. I’ll give you one last chance to speak up. Save yourself from what comes next. No one has ever beaten the system. If you talk now, you still won’t leave, but you will remain intact.” Barry’s lips pursed as if he was about to say something but thought otherwise. “I’ll take your silence as a no. So be it.”

The Interrogator turned his back to a naked Barry, strapped down on the table inclined fifteen degrees. Just high enough for Barry’s beautiful, some might say, breathtaking long black hair to spill over the sides and to allow Barry a glimpse of his future. The Interrogator moved towards the left and removed a tarp, allowing Barry to see “The Table.”

“The Table” was a simple piece of wooden furniture, built countless years ago and stained with the shadows of past instruments of torture. The objects changed as the years progressed, and Barry’s eyes caught today’s occupants. The band-saw. The soldering iron. The knives of various sizes and sharpened edges. The rope. The barbwire. What appeared to be a hose from a vacuum. Hammers. Pliers.

And two large black speakers, facing Barry.

“You can see what I’m looking at, yes?” The Interrogator didn’t bother to turn around or wait for a response. He could feel the shift of energy in the room. This always happened. He could smell fear, a mixture of sweat, and piss. Sometimes they even shat themselves. “Should I ask what you’d like to start with? There are varying degrees of pain on this table. Would you like me to start slow and ramp up until you’re broken, or go straight for the jugular — perhaps literally?”

A stifled moan escaped from Barry’s lips. The Interrogator knew some tears had as well and spared the man the indignity. That would be his only act of mercy.

“Here’s how this works. I’m going to hurt you, over and over, again and again, until you break and say Mercy. When you say Mercy, I will stop, and you will tell me what I want to know. If you’re smart, you’ll do this quickly. There have been men who resembled a Mr. Potato Head before they quit. That’s no way to spend the rest of your life, right? Because make no mistake, you will be spending the rest of your life here. I will keep you alive, going to extraordinary lengths if needed. The rest is up to you.” The Interrogator brushed the tips of his gloved fingers across the table, grazing the weapons of Barry’s destruction until he arrived at the end of the table:

Two large black speakers.

The Interrogator turned around to face Barry and said,

“This will be the last interaction we will have until you say Mercy. These two speakers will play music over and over, as long as it takes. Over and over and over until you say Mercy. When you say Mercy, the music will stop, I will come back to this room, and you will tell me everything you know. Understood?” Barry didn’t say a word, but his eyes did. They were white with fright. Satisfied, The Interrogator ran his gloved hand through his brittle, thinning hair. He glanced at the glove and noticed a couple of long hairs dangling from his fingers. It wouldn’t be much longer now.

“Let’s begin.” The Interrogator exited, and a blast of familiarity came forth. It took Barry a bit to realize he wasn’t hearing the start of a song, more like he jumped right into the middle. The music screamed, flooding his senses. It wasn’t until the third time he heard the music that Barry got his bearings. It was the end of a song, repeating over and over. Further concentration allowed him to truly listen, and he heard the phrase, “Dancing with myself” in the background while hearing “Sweat Sweat Sweat Sweat Sweat Sweat Sweat Sweat Sweat Sweat Sweat Sweat Sweat Sweat Sweat Sweat Sweat Sweat OHHHHHHH.”

And then it repeated.

Despite hearing the name of the song being sung, it wasn’t until the third time he truly heard the song that Barry could process what was happening. The Interrogator had recorded the end of Billy Idol’s “Dancing with Myself,” and was playing it on loop. Over and over and over again. The entire length of that portion of the song was only twelve seconds. Twelve seconds of hearing Billy Idol sing the word, “Sweat” while the rest of the band sang “Dancing with myself” in the background.

The first forty minutes went by rather fast. The song was still appealing to him. He found himself nodding along, tapping his fingers and eventually singing along with Billy, louder and louder as time ran on.

By the second hour, Barry felt his head throbbing. Was the music getting louder? He felt anxious and nauseous but pushed those weak feelings aside. He would not break. If this was the worst, well, then he would outlast it. He would sweat...

Barry caught himself. He didn’t mean to think the word “sweat.” No, he needed to keep focus. He needed to sweat.

Shit.

C’mon Barry! Concentrate! Don’t sweat them to break you! Don’t let them sweat!

Barry rocked his head back and forth, trying to shake the word out of his head. Sweat poured from his forehead, and he heard every bead sing the word “sweat” as they ran down the side of his head. Despite his attempts, he could not stop his toes from spasming to the beat. Barry pushed his tongue against the roof of his mouth as hard as he could.

Think of Sally.

She had no idea where he was or what happened to him. They were supposed to meet for brunch hours, days, years(?) ago. He had to escape. He had to stay strong. He had to sweat sweat sweat sweat sweat OHHHHHHHHH!

By the third hour, all of Barry’s thoughts were either interjected with or completely replaced by Billy Idol saying the word sweat.

An hour later, it was over. The cries of Mercy could be heard throughout the old brick building. The music ceased, and The Interrogator entered the room.

“Would you like to say something?”

“SWEAT SWEAT SWEAT SWEAT SWEAT SWEAT SWEAT SWEAT IT’S MAPLE SYRUP! I TAKE A DAB OF SYRUP AND I MIX IT WITH MY SHAMPOO!”

“What brand of syrup? What about the conditioner? Tell me!”

“IT HAS TO BE FROM VERMONT I DON’T KNOW WHY BUT IT DOES YES I ADD IT TO THE CONDITIONER TOO THAT’S IT THAT’S WHY I HAVE NICE HAIR! THAT’S THE SECRET! MAPLE SYRUP! MAPLE SYRUP IN MY HAIR! SWEAT SWEAT SWEAT SWEAT SWEAT SWEAT SWEAT SWEAT SWEAT SWEAT OHHHHHH”

Barry kept singing, over and over long after The Interrogator left the room, and the guards brought him back to his cell. He kept singing to himself as his hair became less shiny and luscious. Until it began falling out in little bits and then clumps. He kept singing every day inside his cell until his hair was gone and he was bald.

The Interrogator imagined him singing whenever he showered, and with Barry’s secret hair recipe, The Interrogator was able to seduce and marry Maya Rudolph.

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Tom Starita

Tom Starita

When asked for her thoughts about him, Oprah Winfrey said, “Who?” Tom Hanks refused to respond to an email, and Mookie Wilson once waved from a passing taxi.